HL Deb 24 April 1891 vol 352 cc1269-71

My Lords, I rise for the purpose of putting a question to the noble Viscount opposite, the Secretary of State for India, of which I have given him notice privately. I am anxious to learn whether he is in a position to lay before the House any Papers he has received with reference to the recent deplorable events in Manipur? In doing so, I do not propose to express any opinion whatever upon those occurrences; but I hope your Lordships will allow me to say how very deeply I regret the sad loss of life which took place in connection with them, and especially to express my sorrow at the great loss the Government of India has sustained by the death of Mr. Quinton, the late Chief Commissioner of Assam. I was well acquainted with Mr. Quinton, and had much to do with him in the transaction of business in India, and I always found him a man of marked ability, sound judgment, and great moderation of character. I am quite confident that the Civil Service, of which he was so distinguished an ornament, has sustained a serious loss by his untimely death. The matters connected with the Manipur incident may be the subject of discussion at a, later period; but at the present moment I will only express an earnest hope that Her Majesty's Govern-ment|in India and at (home, in dealing with this question, will bear in mind that every step which is taken in regard to Native States in India is watched with the utmost care, and I may say jealousy, by every native prince and chief. I trust that Her Majesty's Government, in dealing with this question, will be strictly guided by those principles of policy, in regard to the Native States which were established upon the termination of the Mutiny, and which have given to India nearly 40 years of internal peace and contentment, and have done so much to increase the confidence and develop the loyalty of the native princes of that country.


My Lords, in reply to the question of the noble Marquess, I should first of all state how entirely I join with him in deploring the loss of so many valued officers in the disaster at Manipur. I should like, also, to join with him in what he has said as to the late Mr. Quinton, whose loss I deeply regret. He had been in the service of the Government of India for 35 years, and he had risen to his high position entirely by his own exertions. He had been a member of the Viceroy's Legislative Council, and had won the confidence of no less than three successive, Viceroys —the noble Marquess opposite (Ripon), the Marquess of Dufferin, and the present Viceroy, the Marquess of Lansdowne; and it was only last year, in consequence of the high esteem in which he was held, that he was appointed to the somewhat difficult post of Chief Commissioner of Assam. I deeply deplore his loss, and I desire to say that I quite join in what has been done by the Viceroy and his Council in India in publishing remarks in a special Gazette with reference to the officers who lost their lives. On behalf of my Council, as well as on my own part, I entirely endorse all that has been said by the noble Marquess, and I should like to express my deepest sympathy with the widow of Mr. Quinton and with the relatives of the other officers who lost their lives on that sad occasion. With regard to the question as to Papers which the noble Marquess has put to me, I have only one Despatch from the Viceroy of India which brings matters down very nearly to the end of February. That Despatch reached me on the 23rd of March, exactly one day after this fatal disaster took place at Manipur. Of course, I shall have no objection whatever in course of time to lay that Despatch upon the Table of your Lordships' House; but I do not think it would be right to produce it until more information is gained as to the whole circumstances, from later Despatches, which I have no doubt I shall receive from the Viceroy of India, and which will be presented in order to completely furnish the information which I agree ought undoubtedly to be laid at once upon the Table. I do not know that I have anything further to say in answer to the noble Marquess; but I can assure him, if he wants assurance, that there is no person more likely to treat the Native States of India with justice, whatever may have been the provocation given, than the present Viceroy, the Marquess of Lansdowne.