HL Deb 15 June 1877 vol 234 cc1829-46

rose to ask a Question of the Secretary of State for India, in respect to the relations of the Government of India with the Ameer of Afghanistan. In doing so, he wished to explain that he had purposely framed his Notice in a vague way, because he had no wish to say anything that could possibly embarrass the Government, either at home, or in India. All he wished was to afford the noble Marquess an opportunity of making a statement that might help to extricate the Government in India out of the position of embarrassment in which it had been placed by, it seemed, unfounded rumour. The fact was, that the Foreign relations of the Government of India had been always peculiar. The relations of the Government with Indian Frontier States differed from those with civilized European nations, because the former were in a semi-barbarous condition, and the communications with, and with regard to them, had to be made in a somewhat irregular manner—we had no recognized Representatives with them, and they had none with us. Therefore Governmental communications between the Home and Indian Governments had to be conducted to a great extent by means of private letters, personal communications, and telegrams—documents that it was not easy to convey to the public in the shape of Parliamentary Papers or Returns. This had been his experience while at the India Office, and he did not suppose that of the noble Marquess who succeeded him was widely different. In fact, during his tenure of Office he had become convinced of the fact that the Government of India by telegrams and private letters and instructions must have its limits — and more especially was this so in reference to our relationship with independent States. It was, in fact, impossible to get real secrecy in India—a point to which reference was made by a noble Lord, then a Member of their Lordships' House, in speaking with reference to the transfer of the Indian Government from the East India Company to the Crown—his argument was, that you could not expect it from the servants of the Company, but might from the servants of the Crown. Now, as regarded the foreign policy of the Government of India, that policy was shaped by the Minister at home, who formerly acted through a Secret Committee, and therefore the change of name from Company to Crown did not in that respect produce any serious effect; but much depended upon the good faith of the servants of the Crown in India. No doubt the Members of the Government in India were not in the position of Cabinet Ministers at home. They were not and did not consider themselves as being under the seal of secrecy;—and; in truth, it was impossible to issue instructions in India and to act upon them without their becoming matter of public notoriety and talk in all the barracks in India; and the result was that what was intended by the Government came out, and generally came out in a most inconvenient form, and often tinctured with great exaggeration, misconstruction, and misapprehension. This misapprehension, as it seemed, existed in regard to the intentions of the noble Marquess opposite in respect to the relations of the Government of India with the Ameer of Afghanistan. Perhaps, it might be said that among the many qualities of some of the high and distinguished men forming the Government of India reticence was not the most remarkable; and certainly one of those eminent men the other day, in making a Budget speech, alluded to the question of foreign policy in a manner which gave rise to very serious speculation and alarm. So far for the form of the Question he had put upon the Paper. A few words as to its substance, as to which he had given the noble Marquess some private explanation Terrible mistakes hail been made in the Government of India which led to the war with Cabul, and which, in their results, went at one time very near to shake the power of the British Government in India. Ever since that disastrous, but ultimately triumphant, war, the relations between the Government of India and the Ruler of Afghanistan had been a matter of anxious and serious consideration. The policy of the last three Viceroys of India towards that country had been one of watchfulness and friendly support. We did not wish to tangle ourselves in any permanent, arrangements towards that Sovereign. Eastern Sovereignties were liable to sudden changes, and in the Royal Family of Cabul there had been a series of assassinations and murders under circumstances of atrocious treachery which rendered the tenure of any Sovereign of that country essentially insecure. It did not appear to the noble Lord (Lord Lawrence)—it did not appear to Lord Mayo — whose name he could never mention without an acknowledgment of the affection and respect with which he remembered him—it did not occur to his noble Friend behind him (Lord Northbrook), that it would be wise or judicious to enter into any permanent Treaty to be binding as between the Ameer and the Government of India. It was considered sufficient to show the same friendly feeling towards that Ruler as had theretofore existed, and to act towards him in a friendly manner. Above all, there was one point which was frequently a matter of discussion in the Government of India—namely, whether it would be wise to send to Cabul a resident Envoy. As to this point, he felt very much as the noble Marquess did on Monday night, when he spoke on the subject of the appointment of a Consul in Central Asia. No doubt, it might be very important to have a Resident at Cabal, if we could get a man for the place and that he was received with cordiality; but it was notorious that for a long time past the present Ameer had set his face against having such an officer at his Court, and he was bound to admit that there was much to be said on behalf of the objection of Indian Princes to having Residents at their Courts. The truth was, that by the necessities of the case the position, influence, and power of the Resident threw into the shade the autho- rity of the Native Sovereign, who knew very well that the appointment of such an officer had been one of the steps by which British aggression had gone on and British dominion had been established. He could hardly believe, after all the friendly conduct they had pursued towards the Ruler of Afghanistan, they could have any serious intention of adopting aggressive measures as regarded that country, and yet its people were so jealous and so notoriously suspicious a race that it might well be that such a suspicion had entered into their mind; and if we were to send a Resident Representative to that Court they might regard it as a serious danger. That rumours existed on the subject there could be no doubt. The noble Marquess had not perhaps heard of the reports which were in circulation; but such rumours had reached his ears through channels which left no doubt in his own mind that there was some particle of truth in them accompanied by the greatest possible exaggeration. Rumour said that the Government of India had determined upon a complete change of policy, and had resolved to insist on the Ameer receiving a Resident British Envoy at his Court. It had been said, too, that a particular officer had been appointed, or was likely to be appointed—one whom he knew to be a man of great ability and energy, and who on that very account would be regarded by so jealous a personage as the Ameer with all the greater suspicion. But there were more formidable rumours still—namely, that this change of policy had been backed by a movement of a considerable body of troops under circumstances not easily understood, but which seemed to point to aggression on the North West Frontier—even that a bridge of beats had been prepared on the Indus; and that, alarmed by diplomatic demands and military arrangements, the mind of the Ameer was thoroughly unsettled—that he was in a state of agitation and anger, and was collecting troops to resist aggression, or perhaps to make an aggressive movement upon India. The Ameer of Afghanistan was not perhaps a great Power; but another Afghan war would be, he need hardly say, a very serious matter. But though they had, of course, no cause to dread such a movement, at the same time, another war would cost several millions of money, and it would, in any event, be a great misfortune if our good understanding with the Ameer were seriously disturbed. He was bound to add that if he had put his Question 10 days ago he might have been suspected of doing so from a fear that the noble Marquess was affected by Russophobian propensities; but, after the speech the noble Marquess delivered in their Lordships' House last Monday, followed by his speech the same evening at the Merchant Taylors' Hall, he could now have no such apprehension, and he could not but thank the noble Marquess for the language he held on those two occasions. Although those speeches assumed a light form and administered some friendly "chaff" to certain alarmists, he believed the noble Marquess's language had served to calm the public mind both in India and England. It was, however, all the more important that the noble Marquess should have an opportunity of giving their Lordships' House and the country an assurance that he did not contemplate any serious change in the policy heretofore pursued towards Afghanistan; and, above all, that lie desired to continue, at all events, that friendly, but watchful, course of conduct which he believed was the only safe course to adopt in our relations with such a Sovereign as the Ameer.


My Lords, I have no cause to quarrel with the noble Duke in reference to the maxim he has laid down with respect to private letters. I quite agree with him that an over-use of them would be a thing to be deplored. But, we have a tradition in the India Office that it was with the noble Lord at the end of the bench opposite (Viscount Halifax) that the excessive use of them originated—I have no doubt that in the political circumstances with which he had to deal his success was a sufficient justification of his action. No doubt, it would be undesirable that a full record of the proceedings of one Government should not be left for the benefit of their Successors; but I need not say that it does not follow that because our instructions prescribe adherence to that system, those documents can be laid upon the Table of your Lordships' House. I am bound also to concur entirely with the noble Duke as to the singular difficulty which is placed in the way of the Indian Government by the curious talka- tiveness of the English officials in India I do not for a moment mean to include all Indian official; in that censure; but there are no doubt some who talk about the public business of the Government to their friends. In spite, however, of the gloomy picture which my noble Friend drew — and to which to some extent, I must say, I subscribe—I think that matters are mending in that respect, and that, on the whole, the Governments of India are learning the necessity of imposing greater reticence on the part of those they employ in public matters. The public of India have, however, become so accustomed to a free and frank disclosure of all the Government are doing, that when they are unable to obtain the usual information they are very apt—with imaginations perhaps warmed by an Indian sun—to supply the facts which they are anxious to obtain, and the result is these strange stories which have frightened my noble Friend as to the prospects of our Indian Empire. Of course, it is perfectly true that there has been a Conference at Peshawur. A great many subjects were discussed at it; but it will be difficult to produce Papers, because the politics of the East, much more than those of the West, are of a personal character; and often communications, which, if they occurred in Western nations, it would be very easy to lay upon the Table, involve in the East the personal feelings of Potentates to such an extent as to make such disclosures inexpedient. Therefore, the conversations which occurred at Peshawur are not matters which I could prudently place on record among the Papers laid before Parliament. There is another observation which I should like to make. The noble Duke alluded to the fact that the Ameer of Afghanistan does not allow a British Envoy to reside at his Court. The noble Duke evidently regards this refusal as an act of semi-barbarism, and said that the Ameer of Cabul was the only Potentate with whom we had relations over the globe who would not receive our Envoy. I am not prepared to dispute the liberty of action belonging to the Ameer; but the result is, that we are obliged to communicate with him in a more formal and open method than would be otherwise necessary, and that suggestions, explanations, and requests which, if we had ordinary diplomatic relations with the Ameer would be sent through a British officer residing at his Court, have, as matters stand, to be sent through some other diplomatic channel. There must be numerous Papers constantly proceeding through the Foreign Office to Ambassadors and others which are never heard of by the public. The Ameer does not think it right to have an Envoy at his Court, and many of such communications, necessarily, take a more formal shape. Indeed, the Conference held at Peshawur was arranged at his request. With respect to the information asked for by the noble Duke, I can hardly give him much positive knowledge; but I think I can give him some negative information. He has derived from the sources open to him the following statement, as I understood him—that we had tried to force an Envoy upon the Ameer at Cabul—that we had selected for that purpose Sir Lewis Pelly, whose vigour of mind and action might possibly inspire apprehension in the Councils of a Native Prince—that we had supported this demand by a large assemblage of troops on the North-Western Frontier, and that we were preparing boats upon the Indus. Now, we have not tried to force an Envoy upon the Ameer at Cabul—we have not suggested Sir Lewis Pelly as an Envoy to Cabul—the troops were assembled on the North-Western Frontier without the slightest reference to any such demand; and with regard to the beats on the Indus, I never heard of them until to-day. Our relations with the Ameer of Cabul have undergone no material change since last year, I do not believe that he is worse disposed towards us than hitherto, or that his feelings are in any way more embittered towards the British Government. I cannot follow the noble Duke into a discussion of his character; nor can I enter upon that very thorny question, how far the great movements of the principal European Powers are connected with the events to which he refers. The matter is one deserving serious attention, and when the occasion arises it will call for proper precautions. There is no doubt that the contest between Russia and Turkey has produced among the nations bordering on India a certain recrudescence of Mussulman feeling which I do not think will issue in any action attended with the slightest danger to our Indian Empire, but which may very well cause vigilance and care on the part of the British Government, and may induce those who are always on the look-out for news in India to imagine that something stronger and more definite has occurred than has really happened. If it is necessary to re-open the Conference it will be done under better auspices. I only wish emphatically to repeat that none of those suspicions of aggression on the part of the English Government have any true foundation; that our desire in the future, as it has been in the past, is to respect the Afghan Ruler, and to maintain as far as we can the integrity of his dominions. There is no ground for any of the apprehensions to which the noble Duke has referred, or for suspicions which are too absurd to be seriously entertained. The affairs of the Frontier are maintaining a peaceful aspect, with the exception of a little trouble with a local tribe—the Afreedees. We have also maintained our relations with Khelat, and the Papers we have laid on the Table will explain what has occurred. But there is no reason for any apprehension of any change of policy or of disturbance in our Indian Empire.


said, that so far as Central Asia was concerned, them was nothing to be desired beyond the statement of the noble Marquess to the House, coupled with that made "elsewhere" on the previous Monday; but, with regard to our policy on the North-West Frontier and our relations with Cabul, he feared that something more had occurred than had yet been heard of. It seemed unlikely that all the doubts, forebodings, and suggestions which had appeared in the Indian papers should have so little basis as contended for in the explanations of the noble Marquess. It was clear from the Indian papers, and he included those which supported the action of the Indian Government, that something of very considerable importance had occurred to cause agitation on the North-West Frontier of India. With regard to the late Conference at Peshawur, it was generally understood that certain demands were pressed on the Ameer of Cabul which had caused him much distress and perplexity of mind. It was asserted that this perplexity mainly arose in consequence of the movements of Russia against Turkey. He would not deny that there was a certain amount of interest felt by the Mahomedans of India in the conflict now going on in regard to Turkish possessions. From a long experience of Mahomedans, he was convinced that while a certain number of religious and learned men, leaders of the faith of Islam, as well as men who had actually made pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, would probably have strong feelings on the subject of the present war, the great mass of the Mahomedan community had no lively interest in the contest. But it seemed certain to him that some great change affecting the relations of Afghanistan with the British Government had been actually contemplated, and that this was the origin of the anxiety at Cabul. It was now 20 years since he (Lord Lawrence) had made the Treaty, which still existed, between Dost Mahommed, the late Ruler of Cabul, and the British Government. Previous to that time the Ameer had been our prisoner, and by Lord Ellenborough had been magnanimously restored to his own country. At the time of the Treaty of 1857, and before his death in 1863, the Ameer had warned him (Lord Lawrence) against lending the support of the British Government to the conflicting pretensions of his sons, and advised him to allow them to fight it out. In consequence, he steadily refused his support to any party until one got the upper hand. The old Ameer, Dost Mahommed, received two British officers, and allowed them to go to Kandahar, where they remained so long as they could do so with safety. But the elder of them, the present Sir Harry Lumsden, assured him that, owing to the espionage practised on him at Kandahar, less information was obtainable there than could be got, without difficulty, at Peshawur, where travellers and traders from all parts of Central Asia met each other and talked freely, without fear of interference. One special circumstance calculated to affect the mind and influence the policy of the present Ameer was the late occupation of Quettah, which was in the direct line of communication between Scinde, the Bolan Pass, and Kandahar. That occupation was a direct challenge to the Afghans, and an exceedingly unwise stop, if we desired to cultivate friendly relations with them. As to the invasion of India from Central Asia, he could only endorse the clear and forcible remarks made by the noble Marquess himself the other day. As regarded the occupation of Quettah, independent of the political objections to which he had already referred, it struck him that much might also be said as to the military disadvantages of such a movement. Those who had for years advocated this policy looked on Quettah, at the head of the Bolan Pass, as the proper position whereby, on the one hand, we held a command of the pass and the mountain country on both sides against an invader, and, on the other hand, would be able to move rapidly, if necessary, on Kandahar and Herat, or from Kandahar towards Cabul, so as to meet or to take in flank an enemy moving from Herat towards Cabul. A small body of troops, however, at Quettah, far advanced from effectual support, would be liable to be cut off, if attacked in force by a formidable enemy from the West, while a body of troops at Quettah, sufficient to meet such an enemy advancing from Herat, or moving by that place towards Cabul, should be of the dimensions of a considerable army, with suitable reserves in the rear. In the first Sikh war we had an instance of the evil of placing a force far advanced from its supports at Ferozepore, when it required all the courage of the late Lord Gough, and all the sagacity of the late Lord Harding, to prevent that force from being destroyed. In that instance our troops were hurried forward, and had to fight the battles of Moodkhee and Ferozeshur at great disadvantage. If what had been stated by the noble Duke, however, who preceded him was a delusion, that delusion had spread to England. The noble Duke had also made some allusion to the movement of troops. What he (Lord Lawrence) understood to be the case was, not that any troops had been actually put in motion, but that they had been told off to be in readiness in their several cantonments, and that to this end the collection of carriage and supplies in considerable quantities had been ordered. Further, he was credibly informed that a bridge of beats had been built at Koshalgurh, on the Indus, for the passage of troops to Kohat. It was impossible to guarantee secrecy or to prohibit discussion while such preparations were being made. He (Lord Lawrence) further thought that there was a third cause of probable offence to the Ameer. The Maharajah of Kashmir had been encouraged to advance troops beyond Gilgit towards Chitral, so as to obtain a command of the passes leading from Eastern Turkistan, and with that view we had given the Maharajah 5,000 stand of arms. It was impossible that these matters, even if they were no more than talk, should not come to the oars of the Ameer, and cause irritation. In fact, in the Ameer's view of the case, he, no doubt, would consider himself threatened at three different points. First, there was the occupation of Quettah; secondly, there were the rumours of troops being about to move, and the collection of supplies and carriage on our frontier; and, thirdly, the encouragement held out to the Maharajah of Kashmir. At all events, the noble Marquess might let the House have the Papers, as it was important that they should know the actual Correspondence that had passed on the subject. There was another rumour to which he would call the attention of the noble Marquess, though it was not immediately connected with this subject—namely, that the Governor General intended to divide the Punjab and place the whole of the Trans-Indus Territories under a separate Government. He had a strong feeling of affection towards the Punjab and the people of the Province, who would thereby be seriously affected, and he could not help thinking that it would be a serious political error, as well as a great misfortune, if there should be a break-up of the Punjab system and Government. His reasons for so thinking were as follows—to say nothing of the changes in the internal administration, which would require to be treated at too great length to be clearly understood, and the disruption of the frontier districts from the main portion of the Punjab, the transfer of the frontier and local force from the control of the Lieutenant Governor to that of the Commander-in-Chief would probably follow. This change had from time to time been advocated, but had hitherto been resisted with success. The Frontier Force, from its first formation—now 28 years ago—had been the main instrument whereby they had guarded a large portion of the North-West Frontier with uninterrupted success. It had borne all the predatory attacks of the adjacent hill tribes; it had secured our occupation of the Border districts; and, above all, it had proved of the greatest value in all the great troubles of the Mutiny of 1857. He might say a great deal on this last subject, but would content himself with one instance of its value. When the Mutiny broke out they had six regiments of Native Infantry and one corps of Infantry and Cavalry—the latter known as the "Guide Corps"—in the Peshawur Valley. The latter force was moved at once towards Delhi; it marched a distance of about 500 miles in 15 days, and joined in a severe action which was fought under the walls of the city on the day of its arrival. On the other hand, such was the condition of the six Regular regiments of Infantry that we had to disarm five of them and carefully watch the sixth. Of the 11 Infantry regiments which composed the Punjab Force, and which had been allotted to the Frontier defences, no less than five fought at the siege of Delhi, and, from first to last during the Mutiny, they lost from one-fourth to one-half their numbers; and on no single occasion that he could recollect failed to distinguish themselves in action. The officers and men of this Force, whether English or native, were proud to hold their position as a separate body devoted to a particular duty; and their identity, when placed under the Commander-in-Chief, would be in danger of being gradually lost. At present they were, in the discharge of their duties, closely connected with the people and the police of the districts in which they served, and depended much for their usefulness on their good relations with the villages generally, of the Border, and thus they obtained valuable information of what might be going on in the hills, and these advantages by the change contemplated were very likely to be lost. One of the main grounds, he believed, which had been put forward in favour of a change of system on the North-West Frontier was the assertion that unnecessary expeditions against the hill tribes had from time to time been undertaken. But he had found that no one of the expeditions which had been made into the hills had been made except after all reasonable attempts had failed to bring the particular tribe against whom the expedition was di- rected to reason, and to induce it to respect British territory. If we occupied the tracts lying between the Indus and the mountain ranges, and required the inhabitants to pay revenue, we were bound to maintain order and protect them from depredation; and if tribes in the hills, who from time to time invaded our territory, could not be restrained by purely defensive measures, we had nothing for it but to retaliate and invade the lands of the spoilers. These expeditions, as a rule, had the best effect. It had been rare that a second expedition against a tribe became necessary, and it might be said that from year to year this necessity had diminished. In conclusion, all the inhabitants of the Frontier districts who wished for the continuance of our rule must, he thought, be supporters of the present system. The government of that Province had now for nearly 30 years been carried on with signal success. If they broke up the Administration, divided the Province and destroyed its symmetry, they would infallibly reduce the local Government to comparative insignificance, while all that forcible and continuous unity of action, which had resulted from entrusting the internal government as well as the policy of the Frontier to one and the same hands, would be weakened, if not entirely destroyed.


My Lords, the Question put my noble Friend the noble Duke behind me (the Duke of Argyll) is one of such great importance that, having had so recently myself to deal with some of these subjects, I wish to say a few words in this debate. I can assure your Lordships that it is my most anxious desire to give all the support in my power to the noble Marquess and the Government of India in the management of the affairs of that country. I wish to add a few words to what has been said by the noble Duke, and to express the great gratification with which I listened to the speech of the noble Marquess the other night, and read the speech which the noble Marquess made elsewhere, in which he expressed in language more powerful than I can use the views which I entertain upon the subject of the alarmist statements made from time to time with regard to the possible dangers of India from Russia. It was also with great pleasure that I heard what fell from the noble Marquess to-night. I have shared very much in the anxiety expressed by my noble Friend who has just addressed your Lordships with so great authority —for there is no man in this country or in India, I may say, who has so perfect a knowledge of the whole policy which for many years has been pursued with respect to Afghanistan and the Punjab as my noble Friend—there is no man in India, to my knowledge, whose opinion carries so great weight both with the Natives and the English officials as that of my noble Friend, and therefore the language which my noble Friend has used must have great weight with your Lordships. I have shared very much in the anxiety expressed by my noble Friend lest the rumours which appeared in almost all the Indian and English newspapers touching what is supposed to have happened lately as regards negotiations with Afghanistan have been correct. Now, my Lords, we have heard from the noble Marquess that we need be under no apprehension of any substantial change in the policy pursued towards the Ameer of Afghanistan. I heard that with the greatest possible satisfaction, because I feel it would be no light matter to change a policy which has been pursued deliberately by successive Governments in this country, and which has received the cordial support and approval of men like Lord Canning, my noble Friend who has just addressed your Lordships, and Lord Mayo. We have heard from the noble Marquess that it is not correct to say that the Ameer of Afghanistan has been pressed to receive a British Resident at Cabul, or that there was any intention, as I understood the noble Marquess, of sending a British Force from India to Afghanistan with any hostile intent. Now, that was the rumour which caused me and others much anxiety. My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships by going into any historical question at any length, or stating the principle of the policy which has hitherto been pursued. I agree with almost every word that fell from my noble Friend who last addressed the House. It is necessary, in dealing with Princes of the class of the Ameer of Afghanistan, to make great allowances for the position in which they are placed, and all the circumstances connected with them. We cannot expect to carry on negotiations with the Ameer of Afghanistan in the same manner as with European States. The policy we have pursued with regard to the Ameer has been to show him that we desired to assist him with our advice whenever he requires it, and not to press upon him the presence of British officers in his territories, unless he really desires that they should go there, and will give him a welcome. I feel satisfied that if that policy is deliberately adhered to now, as it has been for many years, whatever difficulties may have arisen for the time being, and whatever suspicions may be entertained by the Ameer—from what cause I, not being acquainted with the facts, will not inquire—will disappear, and that the Ameer will soon see that his suspicions have no foundation, and will look upon us—as every sensible man in his position must—as his best friends, and as those to whom, in certain circumstances, he will have to apply for assistance. It is with great satisfaction, therefore, that I have heard the assurance of the noble Marquess that the policy I have referred to Her Majesty's Government will continue to pursue. I am satisfied that he has given us that assurance in perfect good faith, and that we may trust him to resist any attempt to put it aside. Turning to incidental matters, to which reference has been made to-night, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a word or two in favour of the Public Servants in India. It has been stated that we cannot always rely upon our Indian Public Servants preserving the secrecy that in some cases is absolutely necessary to enable us to conduct negotiations. That is not my experience of the Public Servants in India. I believe them to be as honourable and as discreet a body of men as can be found in this country, and that they may be trusted implicitly to keep secret any confidential matters that may be communicated to them. I am able to state, from my own experience, that when I had the honour of being connected with my noble Friend the Duke of Argyll, when he was Secretary of State for India, a confidential matter of some importance relating to India appeared in one of the newspapers, and the noble Duke wrote to me to endeavour to ascertain how the matter had become public. Curiously enough, I ascertained that the secret had been divulged, not in India, but in this country. I will not say by whom. With regard to the request of the noble Lord who spoke last (Lord Lawrence), that Papers relating to this subject may be laid before your Lordships, I have sufficient knowledge of what passes in those communications not to support the noble Lord's demand, because I am satisfied that there are matters in some of the communications between the Secretary of State and the Indian Government upon this subject which it would not be for the public interest to present to this House. In reference to this point, I may say that it would have been an entirely wrong course to pursue, and quite unconstitutional, had matters of this grave importance been conducted between the Secretary of State for India and the Viceroy of India by means of private letters. The Government of India is not conducted by the Governor General alone, but by the Governor General in Council. The Governor General has undoubtedly the power in matters of importance to overrule his Council; and the latter, on the other hand, have an opportunity of recording their opinions, if they differ from him. Parliament in its wisdom—and I am satisfied from my own experience—has rightly taken care that no matter of importance shall be conducted in India without consultation being held between the Governor General and his Council, in order that the latter may have an opportunity of discussing it. Therefore, I think that it is quite impossible for a matter of grave importance to be transacted in India by means of private communications between the Secretary of State at home and the Governor General in India. During the four years that I was in India, I found no inconvenience whatever arise from this arrangement; but that it resulted in the greatest advantage to the Public Service that men of Indian experience should be at hand to give me freely and frankly their opinions on all matters of importance. With regard to the power of the Governor General to enter into treaties to guarantee the integrity of the possessions of any Native Prince in India, Parliament has gone even further, and by an Act which still remains on the Statute Book, has enacted that the Governor General shall have no power to enter into such a Treaty without the express sanction of Her Majesty's Government. In these circumstances I am glad to hear from the noble Marquess that his Instructions, although they cannot be made public just at present with advantage to the Public Service, are framed in accordance with the practice I have described. With reference to a matter which has been alluded to by the noble Lord who spoke last (Lord Lawrence), I may say that I do not think that it is wise to occupy a post so far from our own Frontier as Quettah. To do so might very possibly cause apprehension on the part of the Ameer of Afghanistan, and also bring us into collision in that part of the country with tribes who are by no means quiet and orderly. With regard to another subject mentioned by the noble Lord who last addressed your Lordships — namely, a proposal that I understand has been made for some alteration in the territorial distribution of India, by which a strip of land 800 miles long by 50 broad in the other side of the Indus is to be separated from the Government of the Punjab, that proposal was very thoroughly discussed some years ago, and was put aside, and during the time I was in India it was never revived. I feel satisfied that all the reasons adduced by the noble Lord against that proposal are sound, and that it would be a grave error of policy, and attended with grave risks, to attempt to make such an alteration. India is a country in which we cannot afford to snake rash changes. Whatever may be my policy in this country, I confess that my policy as regards India is eminently Conservative. We must remember, in dealing with that country, that we have to do with a people who do not understand us, and who cannot follow our reasoning, and who are more Conservative, perhaps, than any others in the world. And, moreover, if there is any part of India to which this observation applies more particularly than to another it is the Punjab. That is a part of the country in which we cannot afford to try experiments, the people being the most spirited, and being the best soldiers in India, and hanging together more than elsewhere. I ask the noble Marquess, therefore, to let us have the Papers upon. this subject at all events laid before us, so that we may feel assurred that it is one on which due deliberation has been had, and on which men of experience have been consulted.


addressed their Lordships, but was inaudible.


,referring to a matter which had been introduced incidentally by the noble Earl who had recently spoken, said that at present he had received no Papers with reference to any territorial arrangements in the Punjab.