§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Viscount Cross)
My Lords, as I had the opportunity of explaining the provisions of this Bill to your Lordships when it was read a first time, I do not propose on the present occasion to take up further time in explanation, and I will therefore simply move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2ª"
§ * THE Earl OF NORTHBROOK
My Lords, I have read with great attention both the Bill which the noble Viscount opposite has laid upon your Lordships' Table, the Second Reading of which is now moved, and also the Papers which he has laid upon your Lordships' Table in connection with the Bill. I am glad to be able to give to the Bill my cordial support. My Lords, this question of extending the functions of the legislative Councils of India is not a new one. It has been brought for many years to the notice of the Government of India by Public Bodies of various kinds, the Chambers of Commerce of the different Presidencies, and other Associations of different kinds, and latterly by the Congress which has met in different parts of India since 1885, that an opportunity should be afforded whether legislation is brought before the Council or not for an annual discussion of the financial condition of the country, and the financial proposals of the Government. It has also more recently been suggested, and the suggestion came quite as much, I think, from the Viceroy and his Council as it has come from the public, that some opportunity should be given whereby members of the Legislative Councils might address Questions to the Government, as a course which might enable erroneous rumours 62 to be at once corrected, promptly and with authority, and so avoid agitation and the danger of false rumours being disseminated throughout the country. Besides this, there have of late been proposals made to widen the area of the Legislative Council—I mean by that to increase considerably the number of the non-official members, and it has also been suggested that some system of election or selection other than that of simple nomination should be applied for the choice of the non-official members. My Lords, here in this country and also in India, the public has been led to suppose that some action would be taken by the Government in these different directions, or, at any rate, in respect of part of them. So long back as the year 1885. a statesman who filled the office at one time of Secretary of State for India, Lord Randolph Churchill, advocated the appointment of a Committee to consider the different Acts which regulate the machinery of the Government of India, including the Legislative Councils. He, indeed, pledged the then Government, if they had remained in office, to propose the appointment of such a Committee. In the following year, 1886, my noble Friend, the Karl of Kimberley, who was then Secretary of State for India, asked your Lordships to agree to the appointment of a Joint Committee; of the two Houses of Parliament for the purpose of considering the subject and those Acts. That proposal was agreed to by this House, and I think some of your Lordships were appointed members of that Committee. The proposal, however, fell through in consequence of the question never having, from some reason or another, come before the other House of Parliament to obtain its concurrence. In India, my Lords, my noble Friend, Lord Dufferin, after two years of office, made a speech on the occasion of the Jubilee, in which there was a paragraph so remarkable that I venture to read it to your-Lordships, because I feel in dealing with this most difficult subject that whatever experience I may have had in India is of the past—comparative speaking long ago—and that your Lordships would naturally be guided far more by the deliberate opinion expressed by Lord Dufferin after having served the office of Viceroy for some time than by any 63 opinion that should come from my own own personal authority. Lord Dufferin said—Wide and broad indeed are the new fields in which the Government of India is called upon to labour, but no longer as of aforetime need it labour alone. Within the period we are reviewing education has done its work, and we are surrounded on all sides by native gentlemen of great attainments and intelligence, from whose hearty, loyal, and honest co-operation we may hope to derive the greatest benefit. In fact, to an administration so peculiarly situated as ours, their advice, assistance, and solidarity are essential to the successful exercise of its functions. Nor do I regard with any other feelings than those of approval and goodwill their natural aspiration to be more extensively associated with their English rulers in the administration of their own domestic affairs; and glad and happy should I be if circumstances permitted me to extend and to place upon a wider and more logical footing the political status which was so wisely given a generation ago by that great statesman, Lord Halifax, to such Indian gentlemen as by their influence, their acquirements, and the confidence of their fellow-countrymen were marked out as useful adjuncts to our Legislative Councils.Now, my Lords, a year later, in 1888, Lord Dufferin on the eve of his giving up the office of Viceroy, alluded to what he had said on the occasion of the Jubilee, using words which were well weighed, and which I cannot believe were uttered by Lord Dufferin without previous communication with the Government at home. On the occasion of St. Andrew's Day's dinner, having quoted the speech which he made at the Jubilee, Lord Dufferin said, after some other words—I am not the less convinced that we could, with advantage draw more largely than we have hitherto done on native intelligence and native assistance in the discharge of our duties. I have had ample opportunities of gauging and appreciating to its full extent the measure of good sense, of practical wisdom, and of experience possessed by the leading men of India, both among the great nobles on the one hand, and among the leisured and professional classes on the other, and I have now submitted to the Home Authorities some personal suggestions in harmony with the foregoing views.My Lords, such having been the intentions of the Government at home, and such having been the utterances of the Viceroys of India, in respect to enlarging the functions and widening the basis of the Legislative Councils, I do not think that the Bill now introduced by the Secretary of State for India can be said either to be uncalled for or 64 in any sense premature. I do not think that, after a perusal of the opinions given by Lord Dufferin which I have presented to your Lordships and placed on the Table, and the opinions of the present Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne, after communication with the several Local Governments of India, your Lordships can consider that the proposals contained in the Bill have not been most carefully examined into. They have undoubtedly met with the approval and concurrence of the two succeeding Viceroys, and, with a few slight exceptions, they have received the concurrence of the Local Governments of India. Therefore, I am sure that your Lordships may be satisfied that in giving, as is proposed by this Bill, additional power to the Legislative Councils for the discussion of the Budgets, and also in giving them the power of interpellation under certain restrictions, your Lordships will be doing a wise act, and an act which will strengthen the hands of the Government in India. On the subject of interpellation I should like to make only one remark, and that is, that I agree with the proposal made by the Bill that it shall not be competent to the member who makes the interpellation to follow it up by a Motion, and to divide the Council upon the question. If a latitude of that sort were to be allowed, it would have the effect of making these Legislative Councils in India, which are intended to be, and which are, practical bodies, into bodies, I am afraid, in the nature of debating societies, because there could not, in India, be the same result as there is in this country of Motions followed by Divisions. India is a long way from having what is called a Responsible Government, namely, an Administration composed of men who possess a majority in the Representative Assembly, and, therefore, Motions and Divisions in India would be more in the nature of discussions without any practical result, than in the nature of the practical business which alone ought to be carried on in the Legislative Assemblies. My Lords, in a proposal that I have seen, which was elaborated by the Congress which met lately at Bombay, it is proposed that there shall be an opportunity given in Legislative Council for such Motions to be made and Divisions to be taken; and those who have made this proposal in India, which, 65 I believe, it is not impossible may come before Parliament here, appear to have seen the same difficulty that I have pointed out—as to the practical result to such Motions, because they propose that in case the opinion of the majority should not be concurred in by the Viceroy or the head of the Local Government, they should have the power of over-ruling it; bat that, at the same time, an appeal should lie to this country to a Standing Committee of the other House of Parliament, which is to be constituted for the purpose of hearing such appeals, and that the Standing Committee should have the power to call persons before it and take evidence, and should then report their opinion to the other House of Parliament on the subject. I think that such a proposal as this, making so fundamental a change in the British Constitution, giving such executive functions to a Standing Committee of the other House of Parliament, need not be discussed further. It only shows, my Lords, how difficult it is, however able the men may be—and some of the men who are endeavouring to deal with this subject are men of great ability and great education—to succeed in devising a plan which would enable at the present time such Motions to be made in the Legislative Councils in India, and provide an appeal to any authority in this country excepting as now to the authority which has the duty of advising Her Majesty on all Indian affairs, namely, the Secretary of State for India in Council. While I say this, I must remind your Lordships that there is ample power by the present law whenever any legislation takes place in any of these Councils for Divisions to be taken upon any clauses of any Bill which is before the Council. So far, my fjords, as to the extension of the functions of the Legislative Councils in India. I now come to another part of the subject, and that is, to use the words, I think, of the noble Viscount in addressing the Governor General in Council on the subject—Her Majesty's Government have been of opinion that the time is come when it is desirable that public opinion should be more largely and variously represented in India.For the purpose of carrying out that view it is proposed in this Bill, and as I believe rightly proposed, to increase the number of the non-official members of 66 the different Councils—the number of the non official members of the Council of the Viceroy to a moderate extent, and the number of members of the local Legislatures to a greater extent. My Lords, I believe this change is a wise one. It is curious to look back even in my own personal experience to what was the case not very many years ago. In the year 1861, when the present law was passed, the great difficulty which was anticipated was to find natives of India who would be fit to be members of the new Legislative Councils. They were expected to be exceedingly few, and it was supposed at that time that they would not be of any great value; because it was supposed, if they were put into the Councils, all they would do would be to agree with the opinions of the Englishmen around them. When I was in India 10 years after that, in 1872, I found that there were in India a certain number, I cannot say very many, but there were a certain number of men who, from their education, their knowledge of English, and their ability and position, were capable of rendering most valuable assistance as members of the Supreme Legislative Council, and still more as members of the Local Legislatures, and as regards the apprehension entertained in 1861, that the native members of the Legislative Councils would not freely express their opinions, I am sure any one who has watched of late the proceedings of the Legislative Councils, especially in regard to two very important measures, one affecting the land in Bengal, and the other affecting the rights of the landowners in the Province of Oudh, would find it impossible to deny that the opinions held by the native members were pressed with great ability and firmness, and with perfect independence in the Legislative Council. Therefore, the apprehension that was felt in 1861 has been found to be removed by time, and undoubtedly there must be at the present moment very many more native gentlemen in India of education, ability, and position, who are capable of being usefully placed in the Legislative Council than these were 12 years ago, when I was myself in India. At the same time, your Lordships should not, I think, suppose that the extension of high education in India, although very re-mar table, is very general. No doubt there 67 is a very large number of natives of India who year by year acquire a moderate knowledge of our English education and a moderate education in the literature and general knowledge of the West; but, at the same time, judging' by the actual, Returns, and this is one of the things that can be reduced to actual proof, there does not appear to be a very large number of men who have received what may be called a thorough English education even now. I have seen some very remarkable figures which have been taken from the records of the Universities in India. Almost every man in India who receives a high English education goes to one or other of the Universities, and a, calculation has been made of the total number of men who have entered at the Universities in the 20 years ending with the year 1883. I have added to that, by a calculation of my own, an estimate of the number that have probably joined from the year 1883 down to the present time, adding something to the average of the former years in order to allow for the undoubted increase in the number of those who now go through the Universities. The first Arts Examination at the Universities does not give any very great test of high education; however, as far as I can make out, from the time the Universities were first constituted up to the present date— that is to say, in a period of 27 years about 17,000 natives of India, have passed the first Arts Examination; that is, out of about 80,000,000, which is the whole male population of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, and the North-Western Provinces. The next examination is that of B.A., which is a higher standard. Of course, by those who know the value of the B.A. examination, it may be said that there are many men who have passed the B.A. examination who are not thoroughly instructed men. The total number of natives of India who have passed the B.A. examination since the year 1863 is about 7,000 out of the 80,000,000 males of those four Provinces. I now come to the last examination, namely, the examination for the degree of M.A., which is very severe, and any native who has passed that examination is a very well-educated man in English knowledge and in the literature and science of the The 68 West. A very few more than 1,000 men out of the 80,000,000 of male population have passed the M.A. Examination in the 27 years. Your Lordships will see then, that although a knowledge of English has been diffused over a very large area, yet the number of really highly-educated men in English knowledge and literature is exceedingly few as compared with the vast population of that country. Now, my Lords, I do not mean for a moment to assert that it is only the gentlemen who have passed those Examinations whose opinions and assistance are valuable in respect of Indian affairs. Far from it. Perhaps the very soundest opinions upon all Indian affairs may be obtained from men who have Eastern knowledge, Eastern experience, and who thoroughly understand the country in which they live. But I only mention those facts as showing that as regards the particular class of education which is now coming so much to the front, the number of men who possess it is not so very large. My Lords, in regard to this subject, I have alluded before to the meetings of the Congress called the International Congress, which has met annually since the year 1885, and it would, I think, be wrong in me to address any remarks to your Lordships upon this question without saying a few words upon that Congress, because it has attracted so much public attention both here and in India. I know some of the leading natives in India who have taken a prominent part in that Congress, and I am perfectly satisfied of the loyalty and thoroughly good and hearty disposition towards England and the English Administration, which is felt on the part of a great many Indian gentlemen who have been concerned in the Congress. I have read a great many of their speeches and have been struck with the ability and, generally speaking, the moderation with which they have discussed somewhat difficult questions. I think that the way in which the Congress is assembled, and the necessarily short time they have for discussing important questions has very much militated against its usefulness and for I wish to speak quite frankly upon this question—I greatly regret to observe that some of the publications issued and circulated by the officers of the Congress, not, so far as I 69 am aware, from any deliberate intention on the part of the Congress as a Body, but certainly issued on the part of its officers, if not with their authority, have boon couch d in language which I believe, if read by any large number of the natives, or to any great extent, by the natives of India might be decidedly dangerous. My Lords, I am not one of those who regret these assemblies. I think there are advantages to be derived from having free expression of opinion by the educated classes of India on public affairs, but along with those advantages we see from the experience of the Congresses how difficult it is to form, even for such temporary purposes, anything like representative Bodies among the natives of India. It will be within the knowledge of those who are acquainted with the subject that this Congress has not been without its disadvantages, because it has excited very considerable differences of opinion in various parts of India, where the natives are of different religious opinions, and especially among the Mahommedan subjects of Her Majesty in India. Now, my Lords, this Congress, and also others, have recommended a much larger extension of the numbers of the Legislative Councils. I believe myself that the Bill goes far enough in that direction. I believe there would be great difficulty in making any much larger increase in the number of the Legislative, Council of the Viceroy, and a substantial increase has been made in the Local Councils. Therefore, I think, the noble Viscount in the Bill which he has laid on your Lordships' Table has provided fully for all present needs in respect of the increase of numbers. I wish to point out to your Lordships that there is an essential difference between the work done by the Supreme Legislative Council and the Local Councils. They require in my opinion very different treatment. The principle of the Indian Government for many years now past, since the time of Lord Mayo, has been to decentralise local affairs, providing for their management by the people of each municipality ordistrict, and to give to the Local Governments very much more power over their own affairs than they used to have in old times. It is only by the legislation of 1861 that the Local Legislatures have had any power 70 given them at all, and it is to them that the task is now given of managing local affairs for their own Governments. It is obvious there would be very little difficulty found in selecting natives of India, belonging to the Local Governments living in the different Presidencies who would be fit and able to give the most valuable assistance to the Local Legislatures. But the case is very different in regard to the Supreme Council. In India we do not think it necessary to have a programme put forward every year, as we have in the Queen's Speech in this country, and to be constantly altering the laws of the land. Legislation is only carried on in India when it is really required, and it may be confined to one or two different parts of India only. I remember myself during one year being occupied nearly the whole time with the Central Provinces on the one side, and with Burma on the other. I have not seen any plan or scheme under which it would be possible to appoint anything like representative Members to the Supreme Legislative Council who could lie expected to supply the whole of the information which would be wanted in such an enormous country as India, where the subjects to be dealt with are so wide and various, and where the people are so separated in interests from each other. Then how is the work done? The main part of the work in the Supreme Council in India is not done by speeches in the Council. The main part of the work is done by circulating the proposals for laws to the different Governments, with instructions to them to get opinions from all classes of people respecting those proposals, and then, having received all the information they possibly can from outside, to appoint, a Committee for the purpose of working out the details; and the matter is only brought before the Supreme Council when the greater part of the work is already done. That work is necessarily heavy, and it occasionally happens that, two or three years pass before projects of laws are ripe for decision. But the work is done with a full knowledge of the opinions of those who know most about the subject. I have not yet seen, as I said before, any plan by which the Supreme Legislative Council of India, could be supplemented by any persons purporting to represent the different 71 parts of that vast country. My Lords, it would, in my opinion, be injurious to the interests of India if the present state of the law should be altered, and the Sessions of the Supreme Council confined to Calcutta. Everybody knows that Calcutta does not in any way represent the whole of India. The people who live in Calcutta, probably know less about India than a great many of your Lordships who pay attention to the affairs of that country but who have never been there. It was always intended that the Legislative Council of the Viceroy might meet wherever necessary, so that they might on the spot get all the information which was desirable before passing laws. I well remember myself when I was in India holding a Legislative Council, lasting, I think, a week, at the City of Agra, when several matters affecting important interests of the North Western Provinces were discussed, and I had the advantage of having the presence of the Lieutenant Governor of the North Western Provinces in the Council, and also of non-official communications with those who were conversant with the matters we had to decide. My Lords, I should consider that any plan in which any attempt should be made to form a representative Supreme Council, and to make that Council sit at Calcutta, and nowhere else, is a plan which would be injurious to the interests of India. I have seen a plan which is called, I think, a skeleton scheme, proposed by the Congress at Bombay, for the purpose of establishing such a Council as I deprecate, and I have examined it with all the attention which the expression of opinion of such a Body is entitled to; but I must inform your Lordships that I can in no way recommend this plan to the consideration of Parliament. It is a plan under which a system of representation based upon population is to be carried out throughout the whole of India. There is to be a, registration of electors; there are to be Electoral Councils; there is to be representation of minorities; and there is to be vote by Ballot. And the result will be the selection of some 40 members purporting to represent the different parts of India, to form part of the Supreme Legislative Council. My Lords, I must express my deliberate opinion that in the first place 72 such a system as this, if introduced into India, is entirely unsuited to the present condition of the country, and in the second place that were the Councils of India to elect representatives in such a manner as that, it would be, in my opinion, a serious political danger. My Lords, I submit that the basis on which this scheme rests, namely, the allotting of representation in proportion to population in India, is one which cannot be accepted by anyone who has any real knowledge of the whole interests of the country. The results would be somewhat peculiar, and the mere statement of them, I think, would be sufficient to satisfy your Lordships of the impracticability of any such scheme as this. Half of the whole number of members to be elected would be elected from Bengal and Madras, leaving the whole of the rest of India to be represented by only the other half. To take another way of putting it: The province of Bengal with Assam would, under this plan, have as many members of this proposed Assembly as the provinces of Bombay and Madras, with, added to them, the Punjab. Anyone who knows anything of political importance of the different parts of India, will see at once that such a scheme would not give the necessary political weight to those parts of India which are of the greatest political importance. My Lords, I conceive in respect to the increase of the numbers of these legislative Bodies in India the wisest course is to work upon the lines upon which we have already gone, namely, decentralisation. I think that the first object should be to strengthen the hands of Local Legislatures, and I would even go further than the noble Viscount has gone in his Bill to give power to the Members of the Local Legislatures, but I would leave the Supreme Council very much as it now stands until some wider experience than we have at present is possessed of the effect of the measure upon the Local Legislatures. Having expressed that opinion upon the plan which I have seen, I wish to say, my Lords, that, on the other hand, I regret very much that the Government has not been enabled to introduce into this Bill any system whatever by which a portion of the non-official Members of the Local Councils, at any rate, could be chosen by some system of 73 election or selection, and not left entirely to the system of pure nomination as it now exists. Of reading the Despatch which was addressed by the noble Viscount to the present Governor General on the 1st of August last, and which has been laid on your Lordships' Table, I find fie following paragraph. After saying that, in the opinion of the noble Viscount, public opinion should be more largely and variously represented, he goes on, not to ask the Government of India for their views as to the best manner in which this should be done, but to express his own opinion most decidedly no in it. He goes on to say—And this may, in my opinion, be best effected by a simple extension of the existing system, such as will by increasing the number of nominations to the Councils extend the circle of selection so as to secure, as far as circumstances admit, due representation of considerable sections of the community, and of administrative knowledge and experience in the principal departments of the various Governments.Now, my Lords, I have a very high respect for the noble Viscount opposite. I believe he has fulfilled the duties of his important office with great ability, success, and wisdom; but at the same time, I may venture perhaps to say that instead of the opinions which have been expressed by the noble Viscount I should like to have had the opinion expressed by the Viceroy. I may be wrong: but I should think that the Viceroy and his Council in India are better able— upon matters of this kind a great deal better able to gauge the political situation in India, and to express to Her Majesty's Government and to the country the wisest manner of dealing with the affairs of India thin even the most able Secretary of State. And, my Lords, it is a matter of great regret to me to find that in these Papers we have not been given the opinions which have been expressed by either the late or the present Viceroy noun this subject. I cannot suppose after the expressions used by Lord Dufferin, which I read to your Lordships at the outset of the observations I have to make to the House, that Lord Dufferin is altogether against any system of election as applied to any part of the Legislative Bodies in India; and, indeed, I have seen it broadly stated that Lord Dufferin has expressed an opinion in favour of some such system. 74 But, my Lords, however that may be, I venture to express the hope that it may not be impossible for Her Majesty's Government to re-consider that portion of the Bill, and that they may think it would not be right to shut the door, as would be done by this Bill, to the introduction of some system of selection or election, at any rate, into the subordinate Legislative Councils of India. I have no hesitation in saying that with proper safeguards some system of selection of that kind might be safely carried out. While I say that I am standing at a disadvantage, and the reason why I am standing at a disadvantage in this matter is because we have not before us the opinions of the Government of India, upon this matter. If I had those opinions I should speak with much greater confidence. No man can be more convinced than I am of the necessity of dealing most cautiously and tentatively with this great question. I am, as your Lordships will have seen, in favour of no wholesale scheme of popular representation in India, as popular feeling exists in India at the present time; but I cannot disguise from myself that that idea exists in the opinion of some of the most loyal and able men in India, that is to say, an opinion in favour of the introduction of natives, either by selection or election, into the Legislative Councils. I should deprecate laying down in any Act of Parliament which might be passed in this country any plan or scheme of selection or election; for this reason, our knowledge of India is very incomplete in this country. Each Province in India differs one from the other, and I hold that it is impossible to say the same system would answer for all that the system which would suit Madras would suit Bengal; and certainly it would be impossible to assert that the system which would suit Bengal or Calcutta would suit the North-Western Provinces or the Punjab. Therefore I say that with our present incomplete knowledge it would be necessary for us to exercise great caution in introducing such a system. I myself would suggest it might be possible to introduce a clause into the Bill, enabling the Viceroy in Council in India to submit some scheme appointing part or the whole of the non-official Members of the Local Councils for the 75 consideration of the Secretary of State for India in Council, and after the approval of the Secretary of State for India in Council was given to some plan of that kind by propogation it might be carried into effect, at any rate, by the Local Councils. I myself should not be disposed at the present time to go further with respect to the Supreme Council than, perhaps, allowing the selection of a Member by each of the subordinate Legis atures. As the Bill proposes increasing the number of Members from six to 12 I cannot see any danger in four or five of them being selected by the Local Legislatures; there would then be an ample margin by allowing the Viceroy to select the number necessary to make up the authorised number to appoint any men whom he might select for the purpose of assisting the business he had in hand. That is my view of the matter, my Lords; and if I find any support to the views which I have expressed, I should attempt to put down on paper those views before the Bill goes into Committee, for the purpose of giving your Lordships the opportunity of expressing an opinion upon the measure, for I am sure it is a measure which will be greeted with great satisfaction in India, but which I think requires that small addition to make it a perfectly satisfactory measure.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, I think that it will probably suit your Lordships' convenience if I confine any observations I have to make at this stage of the Bill to the 1st clause. I therefore will not trouble your Lordships now with anything relating either to the discussion of the Budget or to the question of interpellation. I may have something to say upon those clauses at a later stage, if your Lordships will allow me; but in order not to take up your time more than I have a right to do on the present occasion, I will at this moment confine myself to what is the most important portion of this Bill, in some respects, although perhaps not in others, namely, the proposed change in the organisation of the Council of the Governor General and of the Local Councils. My Lords, upon the first blush of the matter it would seem, I think, that the proposals made by the noble Viscount in this Bill are in this respect of a very 76 limited character; because he proposes to increase the number of the nominated Members in the Governor General's Council to a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 16, there being at present a minimum of six and a maximum of 12;that is to say, he proposes to give power to add four nominated Members to the Governor General's Council, and although his proposal in regard to the Local Councils is somewhat more extensive he proposes there only that the minimum should be eight and the maximum 20;at present under the existing law the minimum is four and the maximum is eight. Therefore, on the first blush of the matter it might seem that, those proposals are not of a very extensive or very important character. But I quite agree with my noble Friend who has just sat down, to whose speech I am sure your Lordships listened with the greatest attention and interest, in the opinion which he, I think, expressed, or which he certainly implied, that any dealing with the question of these Legislative Councils in India must be a most important matter, and, as I ventured to suggest to your Lordships on the First Reading of this Bill, a matter of special importance at the present time when this subject is occupying the minds of men to so large an extent. Now, my Lords, with respect to the mode in which any extension of Members in the Governor General's Council or in the Local Councils should be carried out. I agree very much with what fell from my noble Friend the Earl of Northbrook; and I earnestly hope that Her Majesty's Government will give great weight to what he has said and to the appeal which ho has made t6 them to re-consider the frame of this clause, so as to render it possible for the Government of India to introduce into the Local Governments especially, and I would go to the extent of saying the Governor General's Council also, the principle of election or selection, whichever you may call it. Your Lordships may remember that if some such power is not given in this Bill it will require a fresh Act of Parliament before any change of that kind can be introduced even into the Local Councils; and we all know, and I think nobody knows better than the noble Viscount opposite, the difficulty there is in passing an Indian Bill through Parliament. Therefore, I 77 go quite along with my noble Friend in saying that yon should make such a Bill as this an empowering Bill; that you should lay down the principle on which these Councils are to be constituted; but that you should leave the details as much as you can to be arranged by the Government and Legislatures of India. I must strongly deprecate Bills being introduced into Parliament here containing very minute regulations in respect of these matters. But looking at the clauses as they stand, while I quite agree in the principle that adding elected Members to these Councils would be desirable, I think it would be undesirable to increase the number of the nominated Members —that is to say, nominated as they are at present. And I am much inclined to think with respect to the Governor General's Council that that is the opinion of the present Government of India; because I find in a Despatch of Lord Lansdowne's and his Colleagues of the 24th December last this passage—The majority of us "—I do not know whether my noble Friend Lord Lansdowne is himself included in that majority or notAre of opinion that there should he no increase in the number composing the Governor General's Council, and that its enlargement to the extent proposed will have the effect of adding to expenditure without increasing efficiency.Now, my Lords, I am bound to say that, as far as my own experience goes, I think that if you increase the number of nominated Members to be selected by the Viceroy or by the Governors of Provinces you will be only adding to a difficulty which already exists, and which is experienced in practice. At all events, I can only say that I myself found the duty of selecting those Members a very difficult one. The maximum number was 12. It had been the practice of some Viceroys not to fill up all the places in the Council. I think that was the case sometimes with my noble Friend behind me and with others. I thought it was my duty, as far as I could, to fill up the numbers with Members who should represent various opinions upon the Governor General's Council. I must truly say to your Lordships that I found the difficulty of selecting men who represented the 78 various classes of the community and the various sections of opinion, its well as the various localities of India, one of extreme difficulty. That these nominated1 Members were intended to be as far as it was possible under a system of nomination of a representative character is, I think, clear from a perusal of the debates and discussions up in the Bill of 1861. There I think you will find, it was obviously the intention of my noble Friend, Lord Halifax, who was then at the head of the India Office, and of Parliament that by means of this system of nomination representatives of the different parts of India and of the different sections of the community should be introduced into the Governor General's Council and into the other Councils. At that time there were no other means open to the Government of appointing men to these Councils. You could not have had at that time anything in the nature of a system of election or selection. In 1861 you had scarcely anything in the nature of Municipal Institutions in India. It is one of the many benefits which were conferred upon India by the late Lord Mayo, that he commenced to establish the system of municipal organisation in India. That policy of Lord Mayo's was followed out yet more fully by my noble Friend the Earl of Northbrook, and since then it has taken a yet wider extension. So that at the present time you have in the Municipal Bodies of India, as well as, I think, in certain other Public Bodies which have sprung up since the Act of 1861, the means of securing the selection of fitting men to serve in the Local Councils, at all events, and who would be representatives of the different parts-of the country and of different sections of native opinion. The great Education Desspatch of Lord Halifax had then borne but little fruit. Now our education is widespread in India, and it is bearing much fruit; and although my noble Friend the Earl of Northbrook spoke of the small number of men who have passed through the highest educational tests in India that number is a growing number, and already you have among those men an ample field for the selection of persons who are well acquainted with the English language (for that is essential, of course, to a Member of these Councils) and fitted to take part in the discussion and in the consideration of the measures 79 which are submitted to the Councils. But, my Lords, with respect to pure nomination, in the first place, as I have said, it m a difficult task for a Viceroy to determine who will represent in the best manner the various parts of the country, or the various interests and classes in the country; and then when he has selected the man who he thinks is most likely to command influence among his fellow-countrymen it not unfrequently happens in India, as it not unfrequently happens in every other country in the world, that the mere fact of the man having been selected by the Government and put into the Council as their nominee seriously interferes with his influence among his fellow-countrymen. Then, again, take another case, the case of re-appointments. As the noble Viscount very well knows, these nominated Members are nominated for two years. At the expiration of the two years they have to be replaced. They have either to be re-nominated or other persons are put into their place. Now, take the case of a Member of one of these Councils who, in the exercise of his functions, has thought it his duty, or has seen fit for some reason, to oppose the measures which have been proposed by the Government. Is he to be re-nominated at the end of his two years by the Governors or Governor General, or is he not? There might be many reasons in such cases which would make it a matter of doubtful propriety for the Viceroy or the Governor General to re-nominate him; and yet, if he is not re-nominated, he instantly poses as a martyr, and he is at once thought by his fellow-countrymen to have been put out of the Council simply because he had been a thorn in the side of the Government, and had opposed their measures. I have had other reasons which have led me to that conclusion, a conclusion which was strengthened during the time that I was in India with regard to the difficulty of making those selections without the aid of some outside body which can choose a certain portion of the members as representatives of native opinion in these Councils. My Lords, it is of great value to the Government of India, that their measures should be criticised in these Councils by men who are face to face with them and to whom they can give a reply upon the spot. One of the great difficulties of the Government of India 80 is the difficulty of making replies to the misrepresentations and misunderstandings which spring up, and which are propagated by the Press, whether native or European, in all directions. The Government of India has not any organ in the Press, and, in my opinion, ought not to have any organ in the Press; but I am not in the smallest degree afraid of any criticism which may be brought to bear upon the Government by the members of the Council who are face to face with it in the Council itself; and I have always been of opinion that such opportunity should be afforded them of defending their policy in Council. That seems to me to be really the difficulty of making a selection of men by the Governor General or by the Governors, and looking to the assistance which it is to the Government in these Councils to have men who will speak freely with regard to their measures, and who will afford them, therefore, an. opportunity of defending their policy, I quite agree with my noble Friend behind me in thinking that the time has come when the object of the Act of 1861, namely, the obtaining of a representation of native opinions upon these Councils may be best secured by providing that a portion of their members should be chosen by some such Bodies as the larger Municipal Bodies, or other Public Bodies, to be selected, not as I think by an Act of Parliament, but by an Act of the Indian Legislature. Now, my Lords, of course, as my noble Friend has pointed out, we are discussing this question to-night at some disadvantage, bemuse we have not before us the full opinions of my noble Friend the Marquess of Dufferin with respect to this part of the matter, and neither have we any definite expression of opinion on the part of the present Government of India, because, so far as concerns the Governor General's Council, they do not appear to agree with the proposals of the Bill. The noble Viscount opposite has laid upon your Lordships' Table an extract from the Minute of my noble Friend Lord Dufferin, made on the 6th November, 1888, and as was pointed out by the noble Lord who has previously spoken, Lord Dufferin subsequently to that date, towards the end of November, in a public speech which lie made in Calcutta, made known to the public the 81 fact that he bad submitted his opinions upon these questions to the Government at home. It is really no use to pretend that we have not reason to believe that the Minute of my noble Friend Lord Dufferin went beyond the extracts which have been given to us in these Papers, and touched upon the very question of the introduction of a representative or elective element into the Local Councils. The public has been favoured with a document which purports to give a much larger portion, at all events, of the Minute of my noble Friend. That document, I suppose, got out to the public in some surreptitious and improper manner, which recalls to us the famous incident of Mr. Marvin; but we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that that document is the public property, illegitimately obtained undoubtedly, but it is before the public; and I do, therefore, venture to think that the noble Viscount would do well while condemning, as be is most justly entitled to condemn, the means by which that document may have been obtained and made public, nevertheless not to follow a course which a little partakes of the fabled policy of the ostrich, and to refuse to put us in possession of the real facts of the ease with regard to the Minute of my noble Friend Lord Dufferin. I think that is the fair course to take towards Lord Dufferin, and I certainly think it is the fair course to take towards this House. I do not deny that I am discussing this question in the belief that Lord Dufferin has expressed an opinion which is favourable to the introduction of an electoral clement into the Local Councils. That is an opinion of the greatest importance, pointing entirely in the direction in which I myself think it would be wise and judicious to proceed, and giving great support to the views which I myself have been induced to adopt by the consideration which I have been able to give to this question, not now for the first time, with regard to the course which it is desirable to pursue. I go quite along with my noble Friend who has just down in his desire to see the elective or representative element introduced into the Local Councils. I think that if that step is taken it would be desirable to introduce an element very likely in the manner suggested by my noble Friend, namely, by the selec- 82 tion of Members from the Local Council to the Governor General's Council, but to introduce an element of election or selection, if you like to call it so, into the Governor General's Council also. And I will tell your Lordships why. I am not at all surprised that my noble Friend should desire to proceed with great caution in regard to this question; but I think it is most desirable that what you do now in the present state of public feeding upon this subject in India should be of such a kind as to afford a fair ground for expecting that it will have a reasonable degree of permanence. I think nothing would be worse than to do a little now, and then to be pushed to do a little more a few years hence. I do think that if you so far open the door of the Governor General's Legislative Council as to admit into it the infusion of a representative element, you may be able to rest for a reasonable time. Nobody attempts to talk of finality in these matters in reference to any Bill which might be passed now; but if you leave the Governor General's Council altogether out of your purview, and deal only with the case of representatives in the Local Councils, I think you will not in any degree check the demand which is being made for a representative element in the Governor General's Council; and I think you will fail in the object, which I believe to be the object of the noble Viscount opposite, namely, to make such, a, change in these Councils at the present time as will give fair and reasonable satisfaction to the public desires. My noble Friend who Spoke last said he felt this Bill was not at all premature. I entirely agree with him; indeed, I should be inclined to express a regret that some measure of this kind was not introduced at an earlier period. I regret that it was not introduced at the time when my noble Friend, Lord Dufferin, expressed his views upon the subject. I am not wishing to make any sort of attack upon the noble Viscount opposite on this point. Very far, indeed, from it. I admit all the difficulties of passing Bills of this kind through Parliament, and I do not therefore wish to make this in any sense a hostile criticism; but I do think that the sooner this question is dealt with upon a wide and sufficient basis, to form a resting place for a time, the better it will be for all parties, and the 83 more conducive to the safety of our position in India. My Lords, if I might be pardoned in regard to this question of representation and nomination for giving you my own actual experience in respect to it, I would just allude to a fact which took place during the time of the discussion of that Bengal Rent Bill of which my noble Friend spoke. That was a Bill, as your Lordships will recollect, which dealt with very important questions. It dealt with the question of the relations between landlord and tenant in Bengal. It was a very hotly contested Bill, and I was very desirous of obtaining upon the Council an able and trusted representative of the landowning interest. I wish I could have obtained a representative of the ryots' interests; but that, of course, was impossible. The Government had to represent the interests of the ryots, but it was very important for them to obtain a thoroughly trusted representative of the Bengal landowners. What did I do? I thought the best plan was to go to the British India Association and to another Association which represented the landowning interest in Bengal, and to say to them—"If you will recommend me a person in whom you have confidence to represent your views upon the Council, if I think him a fit and proper man for the purpose, I will appoint him." And I did that twice. The gentleman who was first selected resigned, and I applied again to the same Bodies and they made me a second nomination. Both those nominations were accepted. As my noble Friend has said, both these gentlemen represented the views of the landowners of Bengal with the greatest ability, and they were of the greatest service in discussing the Bill in Select Committee. I secured what I wanted, namely, that when they made any compromise and agreed to any arrangement they should do it as the representatives of the landowners; and that they should not be looked upon as Government nominees, whose proceedings could be easily and readily disavowed. My Lords, I advocate the adoption generally of a course of that description, which I am confident was of very great assistance in passing the measure to which I have referred, and I think if my noble Friend, Lord Dufferin, 84 were here to-night he would have agreed with me that the gentleman who represented the landowners in the Council when he became Viceroy was of the greatest assistance to him; and that although he fought his battle gallantly and determinedly he still was of very great assistance in passing the Bill, through the Legislature. My Lords, for these reasons I do sincerely hope that the noble Viscount will listen to the suggestions of my noble Friend the Earl of Northbrook, and will consider and somewhat widen and open the clauses of this Bill. If he does not, I shall regret the increase of the number of members if they are all to be nominated. I believe you will only aggravate the difficulties of the present situation; but if he will introduce the measure which has been suggested with regard to the election by constituted Bodies, then I believe the noble Viscount will have done a very desirable thing for the Government of India, that he will have organised these Councils upon a basis which will be calculated to possess a very considerable amount of permanence, and that he will deserve the hearty thanks of all who are interested in the future of our great Indian Dependency.
§ * Viscount CROSS
My Lords, I have to thank you for the way in which this Bill has been received. When I had the honour of introducing it the other night, certain objections were raised by noble Lords opposite to certain portions of the Bill, and I am very glad to find from the debate to-night, that by the Papers which I have laid upon the Table of your Lordships' House, since the Bill was introduced, I have entirely done away with the objections then raised to certain portions of this measure. About these questions it is unnecessary, therefore, for me to say anything further. I must thank the noble Earl opposite for the speech he has made for several reasons. In the first place, I think it was an admirable speech, and one which I believe will do a great deal of good; and, secondly, it has saved me from stating a number of things which have been much better stated by the noble Earl than I could possibly have stated them. Anyone, I am certain, who has had anything to do with the Government of India knows the necessity of care and caution when you consider the vast interests at stake in that country with which, you 85 have to deal. It is unnecessary for me to dilate in your Lordships' House upon the size of India, upon the number of races, or, I may say, nations; upon their differences in creed and in manners and customs, from one end of India to the other. As was well said by the late Sir Henry Maine, in speaking of India, there is no more resemblance between a punjaubee and a Bengalee, between an Indian of Hindustan and an Indian of Malabar, than there is between an Englishman and a Roumanian, or between a Spaniard and a Swede. But it is not only that there are differences of race and creed, but there are other distinctions, as regards education and other matters. The noble Lord has given the House several sets of statistics, about what may be called the higher education of the people of India; but I think it is necessary to give also statistics with regard to education among the lower classes of natives. We have to deal with 190,000,000 of Hindoos and 50,000,000 of Mahommedans who inhabit India. I believe, as far as the population of British India is concerned, we may take it as being 200,000,000. But the latest information I had from Lord Dufferin was that you can only take about 5 or 6 per cent, of that vast population of 200,000.000 as being able to read or write, and about I per cent, of it as being able to sneak English; and even of the 10 or 12 millions who may be said to have that moderate amount of education, namely, the capacity to read and write, about three-fourths cannot be said to have really anything more than a rudimentary education. I am in great hopes that all that has been done, and all that is being done at the present moment, will vastly increase the amount of education in that country, and more rapidly than has hitherto been the case. I think there are signs of improvement from one end of India to the other in that direction; but that all shows how careful we must be in dealing with matters of that kind, and that we should not take a step from which it may be difficult to recede promptly should it not answer. This debate has settled three points. In the first place, it has shown that no man in his senses would ever think of having Parliamentary constituencies there such as we have in England. They are absolutely unsuited to the Eastern habits and 86 absolutely unsuited to a country like India. But I go one step further, and I say that my second point is that no one in his senses would ever think of introducing into India in its present state anything like our English Parliamentary Government. That is a matter which you must put aside absolutely and entirely from your view. Just think how entirely different are the conditions of the two countries. What is the meaning of an adverse vote here? It means, according to Parliamentary Government, that the Government has to retire, and that some other Government must take its place. But in India what is there to take the place of the Government? The Government itself cannot change its officers, and that Government is net responsible, except morally, to any local authority, but is responsible to the Sovereign and to the Imperial Parliament. That Government must remain paramount, and must continue the paramount power in the country, whatever the votes of the Council may be. Thirdly, I think, that everyone was entirely agreed that there was a vast difference between the Supreme Council and the Local Councils. I thought the doctrine laid down by the noble Earl as regards the Supreme Council was that which was almost universally held, as I believe it to be absolutely true, namely, that it is one of the most dangerous things you can do rashly to touch the Supreme Council of India. But do not think, my Lords, because I say that we must exercise caution, or because I have laid down these main principles which I believe are universally agreed upon, that either myself or the Government to which I have the honour to belong have not the fullest wish to extend the representative elements as far as possible—to throw the Government of India open to the natives themselves, and that we are not glad to avail ourselves of their services in the interests of the country as far as that can be safely done. There is no doubt that the intelligence, knowledge, experience, and ability of a vast number of the natives of India is of great value to the Government of that country, and it would be very difficult to hold the position we do in that country unless we take every advantage of their services whenever we can. But have we not taken steps in that direction? First, 87 we have the Local Councils already largely decentralised; we have decentralised finance; we have increased local responsibility. I, for one, am perfectly prepared to add to that responsibility and to decentralise further as far as we c in do so. We have had the municipal legislation of the noble Earl, the Local Board legislation of the noble Marquess. All this shows that we have been willing and ready to avail ourselves of the experience, knowledge, and intelligence of the native men from time to time as far as it can possibly be of service to us. Now I must say that I have taken one or two steps still further in that direction. Acting upon the Report of the Public Service Commission, I have practically thrown open more offices to the natives than were before available to them. By altering the age of the candidates from 19 to 23, I have done a great deal in order to enable the Indian natives to take advantage of that change in the Public Service— I will not call it concession, because I believe it is an act of justice and to enable them to come over here and compete with their British fellow subjects as they may be inclined to do. All that shows that the Government are not backward in availing themselves of native assistance where they can safely get it; and I say without hesitation, and the noble Earl and the noble Marquess have I am glad to say said the same thing, that this Bill is taking a longer step in the same direction. We have enlarged the numbers of the several Councils; we have given them the power of interpellating; we have given them the power of discussing the Budget even on those occasions when it is not necessary to introduce legislation for the purpose of the year's finance. All those are steps in the same direction. Now, the only fault that is found with this Bill, as far as I understand, is not with regard to anything which is contained in it, but as to something which has been left out of it; and the sole question, as far as I can gather from this debate, is really whether, as far as the Local Legislatures are concerned, there is to be any system of election, or whether there is not. The Government came to the conclusion that the state of India was not ripe at present for this principle of election. The time, no doubt, will come when the situation 88 will be altered. We have had the Municipal Councils; we have had the Local Boards. There is no doubt that when first established they were, in many cases, comparative failures. The experience which has been gained in later years has shown that they are gradually rising to the responsibility which has been placed upon them, and on many occasions they have done excellent service, and they are very good institutions for the country. But sufficient time has not elapsed in order to enable us to form an accurate judgment as to the good work which, in the long run, they may do. Now, how is this question to be dealt with? The noble Marquess has said it is a very invidious duty for the Viceroy or for the Governors to nominate those Members of the Council. But the noble Earl and the noble Marquess have both avoided a very important point in discussing this question of representation, and that is, where are your constituencies to be found? I have heard no light thrown upon that subject by them, except the statement that there are such things as Municipalities and Local Bodies. But the Municipal Bodies are not chosen for the purpose of interesting themselves in questions which deeply affect the millions of ryots throughout India, but merely for the purpose of dealing with local matters; and I should think they were, probably, the most unfit persons in many cases to represent the mass of the ryots or cultivators from one end of India to the other. Universities are mentioned. Can anyone say the Universities would really represent the whole interests of India? There are no doubt Commercial Bodies, such as the British India Association, and Chambers of Commerce, but they are not Bodies known to the law, and it would be very difficult to give them a legal status for this particular purpose. Now, one word has fallen from my noble Friends which I think we ought to bear in mind. They have; spoken of both election and selection. To my mind it is quite clear that the Governors should have this power of selection. The noble Marquess has given an instance of what happened in his own case when he was in India. What he wanted in that case specially was to have the advice of someone who was perfectly well acquainted with all the wants and necessities of the 89 landlord class in dealing with the question of the particular Province which they were dealing with. What did the noble Marquess do? He immediately consulted the British. India Association, because he thought they represented the very class whose interests were going to be affected. When he consulted the in they selected a man whom they presented to him, and he, having satisfied himself that he was as good a man as he could obtain for the purpose, immediately accepted him and nominated him to the Council. And he says he did that twice, and that in both cases it was done with the most excellent results. In my opinion, that is very much the course that might fairy be pursued under this Bill standing as it is. I have no objection, quite the contrary, that the Viceroy should consult any of those Bodies he chooses; that he should apply, say, to the Municipality of Calcutta or to the Universities, or to the Chambers of Commerce, or to the British India Association, and say to them "You nominate one or two men to me, and I will appoint them to my Council when I am satisfied that they ought to be there." That is what my noble Friend did. But in those cases, as he says, they came practically as the representatives of the landlords: and so with regard to these representatives, nominal d by these Bodies, approved by the Governor or Lieutenant Governor, or Viceroy, as the ease might be, there would be a process of selection according to the will of these Bodies, to be followed by nomination on the responsibility of the Viceroy or Governor or Lieutenant Governor. In that way either of these Bodies might render good service to the Government of India—as good service as that which the noble Marquess received from the gentlemen whom he appointed. I do not know whether any of your Lordships happened to see in the Times the other day a short notice of this Bill. If so, if I remember rightly, this question was there raised. One of the Indian papers which generally takes rather a liberal view of there matters had said that although there was mi representation by election introduced hit the Bill yet they were satisfied that probably it might be wise to leave that for the future; but there was a statement made by one gentleman who is very well known in India and very much respected there, 90 and who has been very much interested in all these Congress movements. I mean Sir Madhava Rao. It was stated in the Times, and I have every reason to believe it to be true, that he wrote in this way to Madras—I do not much care about the non-concession of popular election, because careful observation and experience convince me that popular election at present would have ensured the failure of the extended Councils, whereas nomination would probably be their success.And as you have to make a fresh start in regard to the right of interpellation it is of the highest possible importance, when yon are increasing the numbers of natives to be introduced into the Councils, that they should be carefully selected for the purpose of assisting the Government in carrying out this new plan, and not for the purpose of thwarting it, or bringing forward crotchets of their own. I think in the few words which I have said, I have exactly stated the position. I think that it is wiser and safer to leave the power of nomination to the Viceroy, Governor, or Lieutenant Governor; and that, as in the case of the Act of 1861, a Despatch from the Secretary of State should accompany the Act, advising the Viceroy with regard to selecting the persons so to be added to the Councils that they should consult such Bodies as they might think best in their own minds and such as might be suggested to them for nomination; but that they should be nominated to the Council by the Viceroy, or Governor, or Lieutenant Governor on their responsibility, although it would be practically by the Bodies who might be consulted. I think that it would ho much safer that we should act in that way than in any other, and that you should let the Bill stand as it is, remembering that in the proposed Despatch it would be pointed out distinctly to the Viceroy that he might get all the assistance he could from the highly-educated, commercial, agricultural, and other classes, and that in regard to persons who were recommended by the Bodies to whom he had applied, he should exercise his own discretion and nominate them, if he thought fit, on his own responsibility.
* THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, first of all, I wish to assure the 91 noble Viscount that in anything I say I do not intend in the slightest degree to speak in a hostile manner of his view. I look upon the Bill not as a long step, as he has called it, because I think a long step would scarcely be wise as regards the affairs of India, but as a substantial step in some respects, and I will certainly welcome the Bill. I will presently say something on the subject of the Councils, but there is in the Bill one very important change, indeed, apart from the question of Councils, and that is a right of interpellation. To give the right of interpellation, I believe, is the right thing to do; but, at the same time, I would not have your Lordships imagine, and I am sure those who are acquainted with India will not imagine, that it is a slight matter. The giving of a right of interpellation must be, as the noble Viscount has said, very carefully guarded. It must be obvious to anyone who knows the Parliamentary system that the right of interpellation may be made the means of harassing a Government, and unless the Government retains, as it will by this Bill, the full power of declining to answer where it thinks that to answer would be prejudicial to the public interests, I think the granting of the right of interpellation might lead to dangerous consequences, but, having said that, I must say that I think the time has come—and I think that is the opinion of most men who are experienced in regard to Indian affairs when it is desirable to give the right; but in giving that right we must weigh the reasons against it, and I think the reasons in favour of conferring the right outweigh the reasons against it. The Government is perfectly helpless, as things exist, in regard to meeting the constant attacks which are made upon it. You have a free Press, which is not careful or sparing in its denunciations of the Government, and you have statements made, very often erroneous in fact, as well as poisonous and malicious in intention, and though, as it seems to me, there may be some danger accompanying the giving of this power, the reasons for giving it outweigh, the danger, and it will be for the convenience of the Government in the long run that it should be given. I will only make one remark for the purpose of the noble Viscount considering it. It has occurred to me 92 that some great crisis might occur in the affairs of India, though I hope there is no occasion to fear anything of the sort; but, of course, many things may occur in so vast a country, when the right of interpellation ought to be entirely suspended; and it seems tome to be worthy of consideration whether the Governor General should not on this subject possess the same power as he possesses on every other subject, namely, that he should be able, on his own responsibility to suspend altogether the right of interpellation. That is obviously a different matter altogether from objecting to answer questions which may be addressed, because particular questions may be in themselves a source of objection and annoyance, and it would be only for the purpose of giving the Governor that necessary power which, in the case of autocratic Government, must be lodged somewhere. With regard to the discussion of the Budget, I think no one of experience contends that that ought not to he conceded. Hut to allow Motions upon the Budget when there is no Bill before the Legislative Council, would be most disastrous and would lead to discussions without aim or objects. It would be quite contrary to our own practice that Members should be at liberty to make all kinds of proposals. It is desirable, on the other hand, that there should be some opportunity of expressing opinions upon the Budget of the year, even though no legislative measure is to be passed. Then with regard to the other matter alluded to by my noble Friend the Earl of Northbrook, as well as my noble Friend behind me. I mean the constitution for the future of the Legislative Council. I am far from not admitting that this is a matter of great delicacy, and on which there may b? great differences of opinion as to whether the time has come or not for going beyond the nomination system. I agree with my noble Friend behind me that it is unfortunate, though I do not throw the least blame on the noble Viscount in that respect, that this matter was not dealt with two or three years ago. As my noble Friend reminded the House, an inquiry was suggested at one time which would have directed itself to this point, and the result of that inquiry would no doubt have been some legislation. But that 93 inquiry did not take place, and I think it is to be regretted that an opportunity has been given for a good deal of agitation in India upon the subject which would not have arisen if the matter had been dealt with earlier. But before I go to the particular provisions of this Bill, I should like to clear myself entirely from any possible imputation on the question of Parliamentary representation. I quite concede that it is entirely chimerical to entertain the notion that you can have a Parliamentary system in India. That it would be inconsistent with the whole system of our Government in that country, and not merely inconsistent with our system of government in that country, but inconsistent with the condition of the populations of India, the state of their civilisation, and the whole of the circumstances of the country. I cannot pretend to a tithe of the knowledge of India which many noble Lords in this House possess but the slightest knowledge of that country will, I think, convince anyone that the notion of a Parliamentary representation of so vast a country—almost as largo as Europe— containing so large a number of different races is one of the wildest imaginations that ever entered the minds of men. But while I say this, I am not at all inclined to disregard the progress which has been made in that country, or the efforts which have been made by the Congresses held in that country, though I do not know that they have been on all occasions marked by wisdom and statesmanship; still I believe that the native gentlemen who have taken part in these Congresses have done so with good motives and with loyal intentions, and I think we may legitimately consider and give every weight to the opinions they have expressed. At the same time, it would be a matter of regret, as the noble Earl (Northbrook) has said, that we should not take this opportunity of taking a little longer step than the noble Viscount has taken, and that longer step is to introduce some elective elements into the Legislative Councils. The noble Viscount asks. How is that to be done? I agree with my noble Friend behind me that no one in this country is really competent to carry out a scheme in detail for establishing a system of election in India, and I should not 94 venture even to express an opinion in favour of it if I did not know that men far more competent than I am have, after full consideration of the matter, come to the conclusion that the time has arrived when that should be done. My noble Friend alluded to Lord Dufferin's opinion upon this subject. I am sorry to be obliged to repeat what he said, but it is no use to blink the matter. The opinions of Lord Dufferin are known to all the world. I smypathise entirely wthi the feeling on the other side of the House at those views having become known by a scandalous divulgence of public correspondence. The Minute which is now published I now know, which I did not know before, must be an authentic Minute, because there is an extract in the Papers which have been laid before the House agreeing with it word for word. Now, in that Minute which has been no doubt stolen and published, we have the opinions of Lord Dufferin, which, as I have said before are known to all the world, in favour of election to the Legislative Councils and however much I regret—and I cannot condemn too strongly the manner in which those opinions have been made known—we cannot divest ourselves of that knowledge which we possess. But if we had not that knowledge—improperly acquired as it has been—not by me, but by those who have published it, we should have the right to strongly press the Government to give us the opinions of Lord Dufferin. Lord Dufferin was the last Viceroy, and he could, therefore, form an opinion worth knowing on the subject. Lord Lansdowne, I am sure, would be the first to admit that he has not had sufficient time in India to be able to mature an opinion which can be possibly entitled to the same respect as that of the Viceroy, who gave his opinion after nearly the whole of his term of office had expired, and after he had had ample time to satisfy himself on any subject which he might have considered. I again say, my Lords, I do not at all wish to make this Bill the subject of attack; but I think it is scarcely fair to Parliament that we should have to legislate upon such an important matter as this without having in our hands the opinion of Lord Dufferin, who has had so recent and full an experience of the affairs and Government of India. I 95 again press upon the Government that, it being known to all the world what the opinion of Lord Dufferin is, it is perfectly in vain to attempt to exclude that opinion from any discussion of the subject My noble Friend, Lord Duferin, who is an experienced man of affairs, must have practically considered the matter, and must have brought himself to the opinion, after consideration, that there were means in India by which the selection could have been carried out. We know him too well to suppose that he would have promulgated the opinion without the fullest consideration. He so plainly alludes to it, both in his Jubilee speech and in his speech on St. Andrew's Day, as to make it certain that he would not have spoken as he did unless he had made up his mind that this was not a mere academical opinion, but was a measure which could be practically carried into effect. I should like to know what his practical suggestions were. If I had been Secretary of State I should have asked him what were the suggestions he had to make and for the details of his plan and for some notion of what he thought was best to be done. But my noble Friend, and as I thought most wisely, has abstained from going into details on this subject, and I agree with him that we should only pass an enabling Bill. If you are of opinion that election in any shape should be introduced, you should enable the Governor General in Council to frame a measure to be sent home to be approved by the Government here if they think fit. There can be nothing more disastrous in the future than to attempt to pass Bills in this country, laying down details with regard to the government of such a country as India, and there is not merely the difficulty in passing such Bills, but the difficulty of amending them. Just imagine: We might, after passing a Bill, which we hope and believe would work well—it might be, on the whole, a sound and healthy measure— we might find, as almost always happens, that there were some defects in it requiring amendment. But if that were so, they could only be amended by another Act of Parliament, and I think any of us who have been engaged in politics in this country know that, however great the necessity for passing 96 an Act may be, it is very difficult to get it passed, and although the Government might command a majority, there are very often persons who will for a hundred reasons prevent that Bill even being discussed. Consider the difficulty of the position you would be in if, after passing an Act of Parliament laying down details for the government of India, you found yourselves practically unable to get an amending Bill passed through the House of Commons. It ought to be a maxim with regard to all our legislation in reference-to India to avoid detail legislation and to-trust to the wisdom of the Viceroy in Council, subject to the approval of the Government at home to deal with details. I should have thought it was possible, my Lords, to frame some mea-sure for allowing either Municipalities or Public Bodies to elect or to send up two or three names out of which the Governor General might select such a man as he desired. The noble "Viscount says the Viceroy might practically do the same thing as my noble Friend (Lord Ripon) successfully did himself in the two instances which he mentioned. I would reply to him that you have in India as everywhere else to consider not merely the thing which is to be done itself, but the mode in which it is to be done. You have to satisfy men's minds. All these questions are brought forward by a comparatively small body, but at the same time it is a body of importance. You have created educated natives, and their influence will tend to increase, and they will hold opinions which though they may not find utterance still exist in the minds of a great many more people than appears on the surface. Looking at the state of the world at present I need not ask any practical man whether these demands will not increase. I think they will increase, and they will have to be taken some notice of. My feeling is this: that if you can safely —and upon this the whole matter turns— take some step in the direction of giving a representative element to these Councils, it will be a wise thing to do. The noble Viscount says aye; but are these representatives that you are going to obtain likely in any way to be the representatives of the great mass of the ryots, and of the masses of the population in India? My Lords, no one that you can 97 put upon these Legislative Councils can possibly represent the ryots of India. Upon the discussion on that Bill which ray noble Fiend referred to, the Bengal Rent Bill, a. Bill of immense magnitude and difficulty, the pissing of which reflected the greatest credit upon Lord Dufferin, the only representative of the ryots was the Government. Anyone who knows the circumstances of Bengal must be aware that there are no possible means by which anyone could have been found who would represent tin; ryots, and for a long time that must continue to he the case. Hut that does not entail that there are not Bodies in India whose opinions it would be desirable to have. For example, there is a mast important body which yon would have to deal with, the Mahometans of India. If you were to be guided entirely by the Hindoo popular opinion you would find yourself in great difficulty. But, I say, if you can from different Bodies obtain assistance in your legislation, based upon the selections of those Bodies themselves, you will strengthen yourself more than if you merely nominated even the s line persons, because in the cue case those persons would be respected as representatives to a, considerable extent of important Public Bodies, and in the other case they would be looked upon as only nominees of the Government itself. I believe upon that point turns the whole controversy. If the Government were able to go as far as my noble Friend suggests, I think it would be a very fortunate circumstance. I think so, especially for the reason which my noble Friend the Marquess of Ripon mentioned; for I am extremely afraid of any Bill which will give a reasonable pretence for further agitation and demands at an early date. We require rest, in these matters; you cannot always be tinkering at legislation, and you ought to be able to reply to any such demands that tae matter has been dealt with, and that you must stand where you are. I cannot but fear that this Bill may, by not satisfying legitimate aspirations in India, fail to bring about that settlement for some reasonable time which all of us desire. I have not made these observations, my Lords, in the slightest in the spirit of hostility or of finding fault; but having myself filled at one time 98 the office which the noble Viscount holds, I thought I might express my agreement in the main with my noble Friends behind me. But I go a little further on one point. I think it would scarcely be safe not to give some representation in the Supreme Council, if the principle of election is to be adopted: because if once you have given elected Members to the Local Councils I think that it would not be possible for any length of time to refuse election to the Supreme Council. In some way I should think it would be necessary to introduce the representative element there also, and that in the Supreme Council there should be the same opportunity of expressing opinions as is given in the subordinate Legislatures. My Lords, as far as the Second Reading of the Bill is concerned I most heartily support it.
§ * THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
The noble Lord who has just sat down invites us to consider the general course of events, and to infer from that, what is a perfectly legitimate inference, that we should net sec the end of this question, but that whatever we did now the matter would be raised again and again. I quite join with them in that view; but it does not appear to me that he and these noble Lords who spoke before him estimate at its right value the intense gravity of the question they have raised. They did not seem to me to recognise how deep a responsibility must or upon any Government, or upon any Parliament, which introduces the elective principle as an effective agent in the Government of India. It may be—I do not desire to question it —that that is to be the ultimate destiny of India; but the begining of that new principle is one of the gravest parting of the ways which it is possible for any Government to have to face. The principle of election or Government by representation is not an Eastern idea: it does not tit Eastern traditions or Eastern minds. We have seen some efforts to introduce it on that fringe of Oriental population with which we have some acquaintance in Europe. We know that an effort has been made to introduce it into Turkey, and I believe into Egypt, without having produced any palpable result whatever. An effort hits been made also to introduce it 99 into Crete, and there I fear it cannot be said to have been a medium for producing peace and good Government in that country. The difficulty of introducing the elective principle, largely dependent upon the peculiarities of Eastern minds, is also to a great extent, as the noble Lord pointed out due to the fact that we have to dial with a deeply divided population. Representative Government answers admirably so long as all those who are represented desire much the same thing, and have interests tolerably analogous; but it is put to an intolerable strain when it rests upon a community divided into two sections, one of which is bitterly hostile to the other, and desirous of opposing it upon all occasions. We do not know how the Mahommedan and Hindoo populations if placed face to face with each other in elective representative Government would view each other; but we know, at all events, that one of the heaviest responsibilities and severest duties of the Government of India is to prevent, the outbreak of hostilities caused by the profound differences between those two communities differences in race traditions, history, and creed. These are some among the difficulties; and there is another difficulty which was not taken notice of by the noble Lord opposite in very clear language, but which was pointedly referred to by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India, and that is that if you want to have the elective principle of Government, the first thing you have to find before you advance a single step upon your journey is a constituency; and a constituency is that which, we are at present entirely without. We have been offered as a constituency for the representation of the warlike races of the Punjaub the aristocratic people of Rajpootana, and for the vast population of the ryots, spread over the whole of India, a body elected only for the purpose of making streets and taking care of drains. I do not think, without casting the least imputation or slur upon their patriotism or their capacity, that these urban representatives are either by their education or preparation, or the life they have passed through, fitted for the function of forming a constituency fitted to represent those vast interests which we have under- 100 taken to represent. All I wish to say is this: that you must make up your mind upon the constituency that is to surmount the tremendous difficulties which the elective principle must have to contend with wherever it became an efficient force in India. You must make up your mind upon that constituency before you attempt to give legislative sanction to that principle. What appeared to me to be most alarming in the reasoning of the noble Lords opposite was that they think they can stumble and slip into this great change and that no harm would come to them if they had not taken count beforehand where their steps were to be placed or in what direction their journey was to be taken. You must not draft into an elective Government of India. Yon must make up your mind how you are to frame your constituencies, how those vast interests are to be represented before you consign yourselves to the care, charge, and government of the most powerful principle that affects political communities. Do not imagine that you can introduce it in small doses, and that it will be satisfied by that concession. At least, we know this of the elective principle from our experience in Europe, that wherever it has made for itself a small channel it has been able to widen and widen gradually, until all has been carried before it, and that is the danger of any action you may take in India. I hope we shall not imagine that when once we have consigned ourselves to this principle we can retrace our steps or take away the powers that we have given, or that we can undo the result of any mistake we may make. I therefore earnestly urge upon the House not to make so great a change without the most careful and circumspect examination of all the difficulties and dangers which surround it, not to slip into this great innovation, as it were, accidentally. But if we are to do it, if it has to be done, let us do it systematically, counting the cost, examining all the details, and taking care that the machinery to be provided shall effect the purpose of giving representation not to accidentally constituted Bodies, not to small sections of the people here and there, but to the living strength and vital forces of the whole community of India.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, it is impossible not to remark how very much more strongly the noble Marquess has met the objections which have been stated upon this side of the House than has been done by the noble Secretary of State for the India Department. Really the speech of the noble Marquess put an absolute stop to any such suggestion as has been made. I think that argument has been put a little too high in this sense; it would be really supported by the suggestion made by the noble Earl behind me, and which was supported by the noble Marquess, who, of course, was speaking with immense weight and authority upon this particular subject was as far as this House is concerned, that the House should amend the Bill and send out a complete cut-and-dried Parliamentary Constitution to India upon this occasion. But against that my noble Friend the Earl of Northbrook specially guarded himself, and he pointed out that we were not in a position to judge how anything of this kind was to be carried out, but that it was desirable to give the Viceroy or the Governor or Lieutenant Governor more power than he now possesses in order to carry out any such matters. It appears to me that the noble Marquess in his speech his dealt with the matter with great authority and weight. In regard to the opinion of Lord Dufferin, I think we are taking a very great responsibility upon our selves; and I certainly do claim what the noble Viscount has not alluded to, that we are entitled to have before us all the Papers on this subject. To that there seems really no reason to object.
* LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
My Lords, I desire to concur in the regrets which have been expressed on this side of the House upon the subject of omission in the Bill of selection or election of the new members of the Councils. The object in view is not so much representation as the independence of persons who might hold places in the Legislative Councils, and who are put there as nominees. Another objection that the Bill is too permissive has been removed by the speeches of my noble Friends the Marquess of Ripon and the Earl of Kimberley. As my noble Friends have said, the fact of the Bill being permissive will aid its passing through Parliament; and if there were anything in 102 the Bill which at a future time might require alteration, it could only be amended by Act of Parliament. My noble Friend the former Viceroy referred to the Municipalities and to the progress which they have made. Lord Reay stated last month at Poona that in 1884–5 the elective principle was in operation in 24 Municipalities only. At the end of last year it had been extended to 120 Municipalities with 896 Commissioners. So that in Bombay there would be these Bodies to be consulted. Clause 4 says that the proportion between official and non-official members under the Indian Councils Act of 1861 is to be the same as before; so that the number of new official members will be very small My Lords, if this Bill goes out to India as it is now, it will be a great disappointment to the Indian public. Some persons will not allow that there is an Indian people. The noble Viscount said that there was no real people of India, but only a collection of races of various languages, religions, manners, and customs; but there is no nation of Europe which is not so composed, even in the United Kingdom. And as Voltaire said of England, "It is a country of a hundred religions, and but one sauce," and the people of India also have one sauce, which prevails from one end of the country to the other; that is—curry. The Government will deceive itself if it does not recognise the great progress in India in regard to unity. It is becoming one through the spread of the English language, through the Penal Code, and through the railways; and Mr. Gladstone has said that he desired the amalgamation of the armies of India because it would promote unity in the same way as occurred in Italy from sending the troops from one end of the country to the other. Now, my Lords, with regard to the Parliamentary Papers, and the right of Members of the Councils to put questions, I must protest against the Secretary of State for allowing the India Government to corrupt the Queen's English by the use of the word "interpellation." What is meant by that word? It is used as meaning "interrogation," but if means nothing of the kind. Reference to dictionaries will show that in Latin and English it means interruption of a speaker: in French it is a phase of legal procedure. During 103 Louis Philippe's reign it was a constant habit of French Deputies to jump up and interrupt Ministers; and then it got to be applied in France to anything addressed to a Minister. The first time I heard the word used in this House was by the late Lord Clarendon. The noble Viscount might ask me, why I did not then object to it? It was because I had been promoted by the late Lord Clarendon when he was Foreign Secretary, and I stood in the position towards him of nominee, and therefore, I naturally shrank from finding fault with his language. I cannot help feeling what an entire absence of independence, therefore, there would be on the part of nominees if put into the Councils. With regard to the right of putting questions, I think that is most important for this reason: that every one of the acts of injustice and maladministration that I have had to complain of in this House have originated with the inferior class of Civil servants. They have gone on being supported by those above them until the Governor General has been to some extent pledged to support them. If those matters could have been brought before the Council those acts of maladministration or injustice might have been stopped. I need not mention old grievances, but will refer to an instance that is going on at this moment. As your Lordships may be aware, the demolition of a Hindoo Temple has been ordered, and the order has been carried out. No doubt, Sir Stewart Bailey will inquire into the matter; but if there had been a possibility of putting a question to the Lieutenant Governor upon it, such an abuse of power might not have taken place. My Lords, I shall put an Amendment on the Paper with regard to placing a limit upon the right of putting questions, and I hope the noble Viscount will be able to accept it.
§ On Question, agreed to; Bill read 2ª accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.