THE CHANCELLOR or THE EXCHEQUER
I rise, Sir, to move that the House will, on Friday next, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider the Act of the Queen which provides for the government of India, and in order that I may then propose the Resolutions which I have already laid on the table of the House. I think it will facilitate the progress of our proceedings connected with this great subject if the House will permit me to take this opportunity of briefly, and I hope temperately, reviewing what has occurred during the present Session with reference to it. At the beginning of this year, it transpired that it was the intention of Her Majesty's then Government to propose the transfer of the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown; and, accordingly, very shortly after the meeting of Parliament, the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Palmerston) himself asked leave to introduce a measure to accomplish that object, stating on that occasion, in great but necessary detail, what were the provisions of the Bill he then sought to introduce. On that occasion, an hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. Baring), who presided over the Select Committee on East India Affairs, which was appointed by this House in the years 1853–4, and who was well entitled, for other reasons, to claim the attention of the House—not in communication with any party, but acting entirely from his own conviction—proposed an Amendment to the effect that the House should declare itself of opinion that it was inexpedient at that time to legislate on the subject of 1655 India; and there were—whatever may be the various opinions of the House on that question—no doubt, very powerful and very cogent reasons why that Amendment should have been favorably received. The state of India, hardly at that moment reviving from an extensive rebellion, and, in a great portion, in a state of doubtful war—the suddenness of the proposition made by the Minister, and the great consequences which might result from it—all these things constituted good reasons why we should hesitate before we precipitately agreed to the introduction of so vast a measure. The Amendment of the hon. Member, I may remind the House, was amply and carefully discussed; it was rejected by a very large—by what is called an overwhelming —majority; and by that majority the noble Lord obtained permission to introduce his measure. I apprehend that the noble Lord obtained nothing else. None of the details of the noble Lord's measure were sanctioned by that vote; and, strictly speaking, none of the principles of it. But I think it would hardly be candid were I not to admit that, besides the permission to introduce that measure, we had a right, from the general tone and tendency of the debate, to infer that the opinion of the House of Commons was in favour of the transference of the government of India from the Company to the Crown. Unexpectedly—very unexpectedly—almost immediately after that large majority, a change of Government took place, and those who then became responsible for the conduct of affairs had to consider the very difficult position in which this important question was placed. They had to consider, at the outset, what was the relation in which the new Government would stand with respect to the House of Commons, which had by this large majority expressed their opinion that this transference of the government of India from the Company to the Crown should take place; they had to consider that which—I say it with due respect to you, Sir, and to the House—was even more important—the effect that vote would have on opinion in England and in India. Although it was the opinion of those who then became responsible for the conduct of affairs, when the question of the introduction of the Bill of the noble Lord came before the House, that the Amendment was a wise and prudent Amendment, and it was supported, with scarcely an exception, by those who now form the Administration, nevertheless, they felt it 1656 impossible to avoid the responsibility of action under the altered circumstances which presented themselves to their consideration. Sir, difficult as was the position in which we found ourselves, I cannot, upon reflection, feel that we ought to have taken any other course than that which we pursued. I think it was impossible, under the circumstances, to avoid offering to the House a scheme of government for India, which, on the whole, we thought would be mo3t advantageous to that territory.
Now, Sir, the House will permit me to observe, that there was some similarity, but at the same time great differences, between the two schemes which were proposed by the noble Lord and by Her Majesty's Government. They resembled one the other in one particular; they both proposed that the government of India, so far as it was conducted in England, should be conducted by a sole and responsible Minister, who should possess an undivided authority. The noble Lord proposed, in addition, that there should be a certain number of individuals—a limited number —nominated by the Crown, who should be called the Council. We, on the other hand, proposed that the Minister, with undivided authority, and with sole responsibility, should be assisted in the conduct of affairs by a Council, which, in point of number, and the quality and materials of which it was formed, should not be a Council in name merely, but in fact. Now, I would call the attention of the House to what, on the consideration of the Act of the Queen, on Friday next, and of the Resolutions which I shall then venture to propose, is the main issue which the House will have to decide. No doubt, there are a vast number of secondary considerations and arrangements with which we shall have to deal—some of them, unquestionably, of considerable importance— such as the distribution of patronage, and matters of that kind. But there is at the bottom of this question one main issue, upon which the attention of the House ought to be concentrated before they consider any other of the circumstances which will come under their attention. Now, Sir, there are two schools, if I may use the phrase, who have laid down dogmas upon which they say the new Government of India ought to be framed. The first is one which boasts of simplicity of arrangement. They tell you there is no difficulty in constructing a Government for India, and that the sim- 1657 pler your form of government the better. All you have to do, they say, is to establish a great officer of State, with undivided authority and with sole responsibility, sitting in a House of Parliament, and assisted in the administration of his office by some clerks and under secretaries. The principle on which this school found their system is simple; it is this—that India ought to be governed as every other dependency of the Crown is governed. Now, Sir, I join issue at once, with great respect, with that school. I deny that India ought to he, or can be, governed in the same way as the other dependencies of the Crown. I deny that there is any analogy between India and any other dependency of this country. India, Sir, is an empire of many kingdoms and of many nations, peopled by populations influenced by different religions, different laws, and different customs, and containing a variety of races, equal to that which exists in Europe. It follows, I think, from that, that he who governs India must be a man who should possess vast and varied information on the subject with which he has to deal; and I cannot believe that an English statesman, however gifted he may be, appointed to the office of President of the Council of India, or Secretary of State for India—suddenly and perhaps unexpectedly appointed—from his general reputation, or the possession of Parliamentary ability, can possess the requisite knowledge and information for such a post. Well, then, he must consult somebody; and who must be consult? He must consult the permanent officers of his department, and his under secretaries and his clerks become his Council. I have, as all have, I am sure, the greatest respect for the permanent civil servants of the Crown. No one can have been brought into communication with that large and valuable body of Her Majesty's servants without entertaining for them feelings, not only of respect, hut often of admiration. But, Sir, it is impossible to deny that, if they have a deficiency, the quality in which they are deficient—and necessarily so from the career they have to run—is an absence of that feeling of responsibility which we, from our training in this House, all of us, to a greater or less degree, must possess. They live, too, necessarily in a circle of peculiar opinions—opinions which they have adopted often from force of conviction, but sometimes also from the power of habit. I do not believe, then, Sir, that this system of 1658 the simple school, of suddenly effecting an immense revolution, such as that proposed by the late First Minister, and substituting for the complicated system of government which still prevails, a mere Minister of the Crown, assisted by some permanent civil servants, would be one which would work in a manner satisfactory to the country.
But, then, Sir, the friends of that school —and they are active and able—tell you that it does not much signify whether this new Minister is really capable from his knowledge or experience, or whether the civil servants to whom he trusts for the ordinary administration of business are efficient, because—and this is the second principle of their doctrine—India must be governed in India. Now, I beg the House calmly to consider how much is involved in that phrase. "India to be governed in India," means that the Governor General of India is to be placed in the possession of power which the constitution of this country has not hitherto contemplated, and which may produce effects upon the fortunes of this nation, the magnitude of which it is impossible to predict. Why, Sir, a Governor General of India would, under these circumstances, unchecked by an authority having competent knowledge in this country, occupy a position which no despot at any time has approached. Conceive the career which might tempt an individual in possession of such a power—a career, perhaps, of conquest, exercising an immense influence over the finances of India," and recoiling, perhaps, upon the finances of this country. No one would be able to cheek him, no one competent to control him. Complaints there might be of mal-administration, and of the exercise of arbitrary power; but when the complaints came home, they must be referred to him for explanation, and he would give that satisfactory information which superior knowledge can always give upon every subject. What power would not this new authority possess at homo in influencing votes? In what relations would the Governor General of India stand to the Ministry in England, and especially if it be a weak Ministry? What opportunities at his command to sustain a weak and failing cause! Inquiry into the conduct of the Administration would be stopped by providing for all claimants upon Ministers, out of a patronage which would be inexhaustible. The more, Sir, I reflect upon this "simple" plan, the more I am convinced of its danger and impracticability.
1659 Well, Sir, there is another plan which has been brought forward in this House in the form of a Bill, and that has been stigmatised as a complicated plan. I cannot say that the plan of the noble Lord deserves this epithet. The plan of the noble Lord is really—though slightly veiled for form's sake—the plan of that school of simplicity to which I have adverted; for in it the Minister would possess a very limited Council of nominees, yet those nominees could not perform the functions of a Council, for the several departments over which they would have to preside would occupy the whole of their attention. In every great department—in the military and judicial departments; in the department of finance—the Minister should be subject to the control of a Committee, whose combined mind should influence affairs; but if you have a Council very limited in number, containing only a few nominees of the Crown, you will find each department of Indian administration subjected to one individual only, as it would be to an under secretary or a clerk. Well, Sir, the Bill which I had the honour to bring forward was stigmatised as being of a complex and complicated character. Now, I am not prepared to agree that such a character, if it possessed it, would be altogether a fault in the Bill, or that in framing a government for an empire like India, we should look solely to simplicity as the great point to be achieved. A great writer has said, that of all affectations the affectation of simplicity is the most offensive; and, if I am not mistaken, what is true in literary composition and manner, is equally valid when speaking of political institutions. We have had during the last half century or so, a great many new constitutions established in Europe, all remarkable for their simplicity—constitutions the children of philosophy, the offspring of an enlightened age, and all taking as their basis first principles and abstract truth. What has been the fate of those constitutions? On the other hand, our own constitution is not a simple construction; our own constitution is extremely complicated; and yet our own constitution has worked much better than any of those modern inventions. Therefore, for my part, I certainly am not disposed to give in my adhesion to the principle that simplicity should be the chief quality to be aimed at in framing a new constitution for India. It is very easy to ridicule a proposal for a new Government. 1660 I do not believe that there is any form of Government in existence—that there is any institution that has long flourished, and that we are accustomed to look upon as a mere matter of course, that it would not be easy to prove theoretically to be utterly impracticable, although it has been in practice for centuries. I do not know any institution which appears to us more natural and simple than the mode in which the general administration of this country is carried on by a Committee of the Privy Council, called a "Cabinet." We are all accustomed to it. It seems to us the most natural institution possible—the legitimate offspring of our Parliamentary life; and yet if it were proposed for the first time, and I were in Opposition, I think I should experience no difficulty in showing that, of all the absurd inventions, of all impracticable suggestions that have ever been thought of, it was the most ridiculous. I could show how absurd it was to take one man out of one House of Parliament, and another man out of the other House of Parliament, those Houses of Parliament being assemblies between which there exists by no means an entire sympathy, but which, on the contrary, are often in a state of conflict; only think of making one man a Cabinet Minister because he is connected with the agricultural interest, another because he is connected with the commercial interest, and the third because he can make a good speech. Everybody would say at once if he heard such a system proposed for the first time, that it was the most absurd that was ever devised, that it could not work, and that the person by whom it was conceived could not possibly be entitled to the public confidence. But if it were further provided that the Government of the country should consist exclusively of men who had seats in the house of Lords or in the House of Commons, what declamation should we not hear against such a special qualification? How natural it would be to say that this absurd institution would shut out from the Government such men as Mr. Hallam, Mr. Grote, and Mr. Mill, and that it would be totally impossible it could work. And yet it must be confessed that our system, which does all this, does actually, on the whole, work very satisfactorily, and has worked very well for a century and a half. Although speaking with becoming diffidence on a subject like the government of India—on which I am bound to express my belief, from all that has passed during the last 1661 two months, there docs not exist in this country that matured opinion which should accompany, and which has always hitherto accompanied in this country the solution of great questions — still I cannot hut agree, from what I have observed to have passed within these walls, that the majority of the House are in favour of a Council to assist the new Minister for India. But if they are in favour of a Council, assuredly they must be in favour of a real Council. Now, I am the last man to deny that there are great faults in our present system for the government of India in England. Many of those faults are acknowledged even by the members of the governing body. But that our home administration has also great merits no one will dispute. It does not require any elaborate argument to prove that fact; it is amply demonstrated by the very existence and the maintenance of our Indian empire. But what are the special excellencies of the East Indian Direction which have never been questioned, and are universally recognised? The knowledge that exists there—the experience that exists there— the aptitude to deal with all the forms and details of Indian administration—these are the qualities which have made the Government of the East India Company successful, and which have counteracted the evil effects of delay and of a divided responsibility. It appears to me, therefore, that if you resolve to have this Council, it should be a real Council, and should possess those elements and aptitudes for which the Court of Directors have been eminent. I say, in the first place, that such a Council ought to be numerous. I do not think that any one who has examined with attention all the matters that come under the consideration of the present Court of Directors can believe that they could be efficiently dealt with by the limited number of mere nominated Councillors that the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Palmerston), for instance, proposes. All those great heads of business, to some of which I have alluded, into the details of which I will not now enter—for I desire to be as brief as possible—and which could not certainly be arranged under less than eight principal heads, would each require a Committee for proper consideration. A Committee in the case of the government of such distant dependencies gives that quality of criticism and control which never can result from the labours of a single individual. A single individual is a more administrator. 1662 But if you want a Council you must have committees; and if you are to have committees to deal with such large questions as the army, finance, the judicial establishments of India, the relations of the Native princes with our Government, and other subjects which I need not here enumerate you must have a Council considerable in numbers to supply efficient Members. But if you make up your minds to have a Council considerable in numbers, I believe that a proposal for entrusting to the Crown the nomination of all those members is one which this House, with the jealous feeling for public liberty by which it has always been influenced, would be very unwilling to adopt. I do not mean to enter, upon this occasion, into any argument as to what should be the exact number of Councillors, but I will assume, for the sake of argument, that it should be the number proposed in the Bill I had the honour to introduce into this House—namely eighteen. Are you prepared to entrust the nomination of these eighteen Councillors to the Crown? I believe that it would be a dangerous measure —that it would be one of which this country would not approve, and which posterity would strongly condemn. Well, then, you must come to the principle of a limited nomination by the Crown. Let us assume that the Crown should nominate nine of these Councillors, or one-half of the whole number. We proposed that when the Crown nominated those nine members the greatest security should be given that they should be efficient men—that is to say, that they should be men who had a large experience of India—men of that amount of knowledge of India that they should be able to supply the Minister for India with information upon all those matters which might be brought before the Council. We proposed arrangements which would have secured a representation in the Council of the civil servants, and of the armies of the three Presidencies, and of the members of the great Indian Governments. It has been alleged that this restriction was unwise. It has been said, that by insisting on these conditions you might shut out very able men who might otherwise be placed in the Council. Undoubtedly you might in some circumstances; undoubtedly if you make a general arrangement there may be exceptional cases in which you would have great reason to regret its operation. But you must not legislate for exceptions; you must look to the great 1663 object of your legislation—which, in the instance I am supposing is the formation, of a real Council, possessing adequate knowledge and experience; and you must endeavour to secure the services in that Council of men who, possessing special knowledge with regard to the state of the Punjaub, or of the southern provinces, or any other Indian question, may be able to give the Minister the best advice. I think, then, that our arrangement was a wise and prudent arrangement; and when I am told that some clever man might by that means not find a place in the Indian Council, I hope the House will allow me to inform them what would be, on the average, the number of individuals from whom the selection in this case could be made either from the armies of India or from the civil servants, or from the members of the great governorships. The number of those men—men who had filled the highest offices in India, would not probably, on an average, be less than eighty; and I cannot but think it would be preposterous to suppose that among that number the Minister for India could not find a person fully qualified to fill any vacancy in the Council that might occur.
But I see it stated in the manifesto of the East India Company—and here I may observe that the attack made on the privileges, and even on the very existence of the Company, have given rise to an extraordinary exhibition of intellectual power on the part of their officers—I see it stated in their manifesto that this proposition was specially objectionable, inasmuch as it would give a representation of class interests. Now, I must say that I was never more surprised than when I found this objection to the scheme urged on the part of the East India Company. I have certainly often heard it stated in this House, and elsewhere, that nothing is more baneful to a State than class legislation. That is a proposition I can understand. But what is class legislation? I mean by that expression legislation in favour of a class, because in the assembly where the legislation takes place that class preponderates; and I admit that such legislation is of a most vicious character. But the representation of class interests is not the same thing as class legislation; it is not even likely to lead to it, but naturally leads to an exactly different result. I have always heard that no basis of popular representation is more sound than the representation of classes, which is, in short, the consti- 1664 tution of this House. Is this an assembly in which we could maintain the justice or the expediency of a different basis? Have we not here Members for towns and Members for counties? Have we not Members for England, and Members for Ireland, and Members for Scotland? Are not all these classes and interests? I want to know what has made our Parliament so successful and so famous but the fact that it is a real representative assembly, and represents all class interests?
As far, therefore, as regards the construction of this Council on the principle of nominations, I maintain that if that principle is adopted by the Crown it must be limited, and that if you are to have a numerous and a real Council, it should not extend to more than about a moiety of the members of that body. But how are you to obtain the remaining members? Well, I must say that I do not see how you can obtain men of the necessary character, independence, and high qualities, and capable of bringing to the Government of India all the requisite knowledge and experience, unless you have recourse to the elective principle. But great objection is taken to that principle. The elective principle, we are told, is "unconstitutional." It is said that it is unconstitutional to have a royal and salaried councillor elected by the popular voice. Now, I admit the immense difficulty of encountering any argument that is based on the "unconstitutional" objection. I never yet have found any definition of what that epithet means; and I believe that with the single exception of the word "un-English" it baffles discussion more than any other in our language. I fully admit that it is anomalous to elect by the popular voice a royal and a salaried officer. But let us consider as practical men what it is we are dealing with upon this occasion. Are we not dealing with the greatest anomaly that has existed in modern times—the East India Company? What is the character of that Company? What has been the character of its whole career? Have you not suspended throughout its entire continuance the executive power of the Crown in order to delegate it to an elected Committee? For who are the members of the Court of Directors? Are they not, in the very language of your laws, the trustees of the Crown, but trustees chosen by the popular mode of election?—and do they not receive salaries when they are elected? And what is there more unconstitutional in a Royal and 1665 salaried Councillor than in a royal and salaried trustee? I think, then, that the objection against the election of these Councillors cannot be maintained. But if they are to be elected, the next question is, by whom should they be elected? In the Resolutions we have placed on the table of the House we have indicated one source from which they should, in our opinion, be elected; and allow me to say a few words upon that point. All persons will admit, whatever may be the faults of the East Indian direction, that limited, and even ridiculous, as the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton described the constituency that returned the Directors, very able and experienced men have been elected into that council. No one can urge it as an argument for the destruction of the East India Company, that the Directors have been inefficient men; on the contrary, it is notorious that these men, elected, according to the noble Lord, by this "limited and ridiculous constituency," have been on the average men far above the usual level of public intelligence. Well, we propose a constituency to elect a certain number of these councillors of an analogous character to that constituency which at present exists, and which has for so long a period produced such efficient representatives, but I think I may say infinitely improved in two important respects. First of all, it is much more numerous; and, secondly, it is far more varied. I hold in my hand a return, drawn up with great care, from which it appears that the constituency to which we would entrust the power of returning part of the elective members of the Indian Council would number between 7000 and 8000 persons, possessing a capital of £59,000,000 invested in India. It is hardly necessary for me to say that the members of this constituency must on the average be persons of considerable intelligence. But I am aware that what is supposed to be a fatal objection has been urged to the formation of such a constituency; and that is, that it would be impossible to canvass them. But what was the great argument advanced against the continuance of the rule of the East India Company when we renewed their charter in 1853? Every one admitted, upon that occasion, that the government of India worked well, and that very able men on the whole had been elected by the "limited and ridiculous" to the Board of Directors: but it was said that an election could only be secured by a canvass so degrading that 1666 the most eminent men would not submit to the worry and humiliation. The cry in this House then was—"Above all, we must put an end to canvassing." But the fault which is now ascribed to our proposed new Indian constituency is, that it would be impossible to canvass them. I believe it would be impossible to canvass them, and I think that is one of the great recommendations of the measure. I think it would be a very great improvement on the present system that a man who aspires to the office of an Indian Councillor should know that he had nothing on which he could rely but his capacity and his character, and that by these alone could he obtain a scat in the Council. In considering the construction of this body we had to remember the great question whether we could bring English opinion to bear on that special Indian knowledge with which we should, by the scheme we had proposed, amply furnish the Council. Unless this could be effected, an obvious evil and inconvenience might arise. Men formed exclusively in India, men brought up in the military or in the civil service of that country, might be gifted with great intelligence and possess great knowledge, but, born as they had been in the abuses of the system, they are not sensible of the existence of those abuses; and with such men exercising supreme authority you could not feel sure that you would be able to obtain for the inhabitants of India that redress from the grievances under which they suffered, that English protection ought to secure. But if, on the other hand, you selected for your Indian Government Englishmen animated by exclusively English feelings, you exposed yourselves to the danger of finding reckless innovations introduced in ignorance of the manners, habits, and laws of the various nations of India; and then you must be prepared to meet disturbance and disaffection in that country. You should in such a case try to combine the Conservative and reforming elements, so to establish a due balance of power, and obtain the advantages both of special Indian knowledge and of English progressive opinion. Now, how was that to be done? Who were the persons to be elected? You were hardly prepared to elect Members of Council from the agricultural interest. That interest is in no way instantly and immediately concerned in the welfare of India. If India were lost to us to-morrow, that loss would be no more to the agricultural interest than it would be 1667 to the great body of the people from the impoverishment of the national resources which would follow. But there were persons in this country who had an instant and immediate interest in the well-being of India, and to whom the good government of India was an object of the first necessity, because they sent their manufactures to the people of that country, and received from them ample supplies of raw materials. They had a positive and an instant interest in the good government of India, because they cannot have the people of India good customers unless they are well governed. If any proof were wanted of the truth and soundness of what I am now stating, I need only ask the House to look at what has been the course of what is called Indian reform in this country. From what quarter does the cry for Indian Reform come? Have the people of England ever cared one jot about Indian Reform? No, they have not; and for this very simple reason, which I took the liberty, on a former occasion, to state to the House, that the people of England do not pay for India; because, so long as Indian finance is separated from English finance, and so long as the people of England do not pay in consequence of misgovernment in India, so long, depend upon it, they will not care for Indian reform. But the cry for Indian reform came from a particular quarter—it came from Lancashire, and for a very good reason. The people of Lancashire know very well that if India were exhausted by unjust and impolitic wars, and if the resources of that country were not developed, their own trade must suffer; and therefore it was that they raised a cry for Indian Reform—which meant that they wished to have a government that would secure to them valuable customers, who would give them plenty of raw materials in exchange for their manufactured articles. And thus it is that Indian reform, although it involves some of the highest considerations that can occupy the minds of statesmen, and even touch the hearts of nations, has never, with all its interesting topics, occupied for a moment the attention of the people of this country beyond that comparatively limited circle employed in the great seats of our commerce and manufactures. We thought, therefore, that it was desirable that we should bring the representatives of these interests into this Indian Council. I will not now touch upon the constitutional objection to this proposal, because it is disposed of by 1668 the fact that it cannot be more unconstitutional to be elected by an English constituency than by any other constituency. We proposed that the great seats of trade should, to a certain extent, be represented in the new Council. We found, however, that we could not confine ourselves to the pedantry of selecting only those places which were most remarkable for their commercial relations with India. Dealing with the question as I believe it becomes statesmen to deal with all great settlements of the kind, we were led to consider the claims of the three nations of which this united empire is composed. We proposed that the City of London should be represented in this Council. We were not unmindful of the anomalous position which the City of London occupies with reference to the other metropolitan districts; but we felt that in legislating upon such a subject, it would be necessary to deal in a practical spirit with the materials which we had before us. The City of London is the great emporium of this country—its port is the great seat of the trade, and its relations with the commerce of India close and extensive; and we thought that if we had attempted to embrace in this scheme the whole of the metropolitan population, the whole scheme would have fallen to the ground. Then we took Glasgow, the greatest commercial city in Scotland, and a city which carries on an extensive commerce with our great eastern empire. Then, again, we felt that it would be impossible to introduce a proposition of this kind without acknowledging the claims of Ireland. I should like to know who would be prepared to bring forward such a scheme and entirely pass over Ireland? I can easily fancy the indignant invective with which such a proposal would be received. But as we passed over the capital of Scotland, so we thought that the capital of Ireland could not be offended by being subjected to the same fate; and we selected in its stead the prosperous and thriving town of Belfast. That town may not at this moment have any very considerable commercial relations with India, but we must remember that in all great commercial and manufacturing towns there is a sympathy binding them together; so that if Belfast suffers, Manchester must suffer; if Manchester suffers, Glasgow must suffer; and if Glasgow suffers, Liverpool must suffer. We proposed that the three kingdoms should be represented in this Council through these cities; and we also proposed that 1669 that special interest which is more intimately connected with India than any other in this country should he represented through Manchester and Liverpool. But how were the Councillors to be chosen? I have now conic to what I believe is the great objection which has been urged—or which has been felt rather than urged— in this House to the scheme, and which I hope I can show has been advanced without the due consideration of the subject which its importance demanded. It has been suggested to me over and over again since I made that proposition, that in the Chambers of Commerce and in the municipalities of those towns we might find sufficient constituencies for our purpose. I believe I need hardly inform the House that this is an expedient which frequently recurred to our minds. But we did not think it could be maintained for a moment that a chamber of commerce, which is a mere club, could, with its fleeting character and its evanescent materials, be regarded as a constituency; and as regards municipalities, it was obvious that they would only be the means by which the patronage of the Council would be divided between a small number of families in great towns. Under these circumstances we availed ourselves of that machinery which was at hand, and which has been stigmatised in this House with the same alacrity as in other places —namely, of the Parliamentary constituencies. Now, I have not beard much argument against that scheme; but I have heard something else which has superseded argument—I have heard the language of contumely, and the devices of invective poured on that proposal and on the bodies to which we wished to delegate that trust. Every one, in every place and upon every occasion, seemed to be astonished that what is called a "tenpounder" should for a liniment be entrusted with this franchise. Nor do I forget, nor can I ever forget, the almost horror-stricken tone with which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Thornely) asked me if I really and seriously meant to propose that this duty should be entrusted to the freemen of Liverpool. Now, I only wish to lay before the House, upon this occasion, the results of my reflection and observation; I cannot pretend to compete for a moment with that power of sarcasm, with that force of invective with which the great constituencies of England, and more especially the great constituencies of the commercial towns, have in 1670 this case been overwhelmed by the Liberal party. But I remember—and we should guide our conduct as much as possible by experience—I remember that when some forty years ago the freemen of Liverpool were called upon to exercise their trust and select a Member of Parliament, they sent to this House Mr. Canning. And what did this House do when they got Mr. Canning among them? Why, they made him as soon as possible President of the Board of Control for the affairs of India. Can it, then, be said that the freemen of Liverpool are not to be entrusted with the election of a Member for the Indian Council, while the man whom they did elect was thought worthy of being made President of the Board of Control? And what happened a few years afterwards? Mr. Canning thought fit to retire from office, and to leave those colleagues with whom he had long acted, and except that he retained his seat in Parliament, he retired into private life. There was another election, and the freemen of Liverpool again returned him, no longer a Minister, to this House. And what happened then? Why, the first thing that happened was, that King George IV., although not particularly well affected at the time to Mr. Canning, appointed him Governor General of India. So that the freemen of Liverpool were persons quite fit, quite sagacious and intelligent enough, to elect a man who was competent to be the Governor General of India. Mr. Canning did not accept this office—a higher, a nobler destiny awaited him. He remained in this House, of which he was the brightest ornament, and to which he was fondly attached; but he found the conduct of the public business of the House incompatible with the proper discharge of his duties to the constituency of Liverpool. He resigned his seat; and whom did the freemen of Liverpool elect in his stead? No less distinguished a personage than Mr. Huskisson— a gentleman quite qualified, I should think, to be a member of the Council for India. We heard a great deal the other night of the merits of Lord Canning. I am not prepared to enter into any controversy upon that subject; but, he the merits of Lord Canning what they may, this is quite certain— that Lord Canning would never have been Governor General of India if the freemen of Liverpool had not elected his illustrious father as their representative in Parliament, [Laughter.] I am afraid. Sir, that I am not quite understood. I 1671 did not mean to cast a sneer at Lord Canning; all I mean to say is, that the career of Mr. Canning naturally contributed to the eminent position of his son. I think it would be as well, on both sides of the House, if we were for a moment to consider the tone in which we are accustomed to speak of the constituencies of this country. I do not arrogate for those whom I represent, or for the great body of whom they are a portion, any superiority over any other body in this country; but I think the House will agree with me that those interested in the cultivation of land in this country form a class highly respectable for their private virtues and public spirit. Indeed, I think their importance to the State, as the principal employers of labour still must be recognised by all men in their calmer moments as one of the best securities of social order. But if an agricultural constituency, after a sharp contest, accompanied with a good deal of feeling, under the influence of considerable excitement, happen to elect a Member of Parliament, what do we hear? They are described ns serfs, they are denounced as the instruments of feudal tyranny, and the most inventive and skilful cultivators of the soil are described as illiterate boobies. That is the way in which one great portion of the constituency of the country is spoken of. Again, if the conduct of the electors who live in towns and cities is in question, you would suppose from the conversation you hear, that while the farmers of England are mere serfs, the dwellers in cities and towns are absolute and arrant traitors, disaffected to all the institutions of the country. I need say nothing about the freemen—they, are the very pariahs of politics. But, sir, if this be the true character of the great body of the constituency of England what must we be who are their choice? I, however, have no doubt—and I do not suppose that any one who hears me has any doubt— that the vast majority of the constituency of the country, whatever instances there may be of corruption and intimidation, are influenced in their conduct and in the choice of representatives by a sense of duty and a feeling of patriotism. If not, what hope can there be for the country? I have no doubt, that had not, as I think, a storm of unfounded prejudice arisen and prevented our proposition with respect to extending to the great towns the right of electing a portion of the 1672 Council of India from being adopted, the people of those communities would have acted as the people of England always act under the fair and generous guidance of their natural leaders, and would have elected men for this Council who would have been an ornament to the constituencies which sent them and of great service to the State. Nor has anything which I have yet heard induced me to falter in my conviction that the proposition which we made was a wise proposition, and I believe it is one that hereafter will be so regarded.
But let me revert to the important subject which is before us more strictly. If we are to have a Council for India—a real Council—how can you form it unless you have, partially at least, recourse to the elective principle? You may extend the application of that principle in various ways; but the recognition of it as a principle of instruction to the Committee I defy you to renounce without renouncing the means by which you can make the Council numerous, learned, full of experience, and of that high character and distinction, capable of guiding a Minister however undivided his authority, however sole his responsibility, with advantage to the state and with safety to the empire. Now that is the proposition which you have before you. All other subjects are matters of secondary importance, however great they may be; the distribution of a capital, the forms of procedure, the question whether you will send out a Commission to investigate the finances of India— and our plan for that investigation was matured and complete — all these are questions of detail; but upon the question whether you will have a real Council of India in this country or not, everything hinges. The Resolutions I have laid upon the table, if they be adopted—modified, perhaps, in some degree, expanded, perhaps, in some direction—but if the spirit of the Resolutions be adopted, I do not despair on the part of the Government of constructing a Bill which will secure a good government for India, so far as it can be carried on in England. But if the Resolutions be not adopted in the spirit in which they are introduced—if prejudice, imperfect knowledge, or political combination, arrest their course, let me entreat the House by some effort to take this great Indian question out of the dangerous sphere of political passion and party conflict. Unless you can produce a Council 1673 equal in knowledge and experience to the Court of Directors which now exists, and free from its failings, it is much better that you should not renounce, that you should not relinquish that Court—a Court which has done good hitherto, and govern by a machinery which deals with interests as vast and various as any which can be considered by this House. Unless you accept the spirit of the propositions you have had brought before you, which, if carried into effect, will create a body in this country that can control with effect the Government of India in India—if you take the contrary course, if you adopt the principle of that school of barren simplicity to which I have already referred, if you accept a proposition like that of the late Government, which only veils the hideous dangers which such a scheme of policy must entail—you may depend upon it the fate of the Indian empire is sealed; and you will deserve to lose that empire because you arrogantly declare that you will attempt to govern it without knowledge and without experience.
Motion made and Question proposed,—
That this House will, upon Friday next, resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Act of the 10th and 17th Victoria, c. 95, 'to provide for the Government ot India.'
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, anybody who had entered the House without knowing the business of the evening, and listened to the eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman, would naturally have inferred that he was moving the second reading of the India Bill, No. 2; for the able and elaborate speech which we have just heard contained hardly anything—at least, that I caught—applicable to the Motion before the House; but the whole, or at least the greater part of it, was devoted to a vindication of the unfortunate measure to which I have referred. Sir, it would seem that, following the example of those eloquent men on the other side of the Channel whose harangues upon certain mournful occasions we have heard or read with great admiration, the right hon. Gentleman has pronounced a funeral oration upon a deceased friend, the India Bill, No. 2. But while the orators in France are chosen from the friends of the dead, and had, probably, paid to them during their last illness the best offices of friendship, and all those cares and attentions which the best medical skill could devise or the most anxious solicitude render, the right hon. Gentleman has appeared as the murderer of the "dear 1674 departed" to whose eulogium we have just listened with so much surprise and pleasure. Strange that he should be the person to pronounce an unlimited panegyric upon the victim of his own hands. The right hon. Gentleman, like Antony, came to bury his Bill, and not to praise it; but carried away by his feelings, has treated us to an elaborate defence of a measure which, nevertheless, he has thought fit to abandon. We have been assisting at a sort of Irish wake. The right hon. Gentleman did not say or sing in the language of the afflicted peasant, "Och, hone, why did you die?" but we are entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman, now that he has told us how highly he estimates the merits of the deceased Bill. "Why did you kill it?" The right hon. Gentleman, to speak seriously, has referred to topics connected practically neither with the India Bill, No. 2, nor with the Resolutions before the House. He began by passing a very severe censure on the British constitution. He said—speaking no doubt from his own personal experience—"What can be so absurd as the present constitution of a British Cabinet?" "What can be so ridiculous," he said, "as putting one man into a Cabinet, because he understands agriculture; what can be so absurd as putting another man into a Cabinet, because he has an extensive knowledge of commerce?" And the climax of absurdity, according to the right hon. Gentleman, was putting a man into a Cabinet, because be could make an eloquent speech. "Ay," said the right hon. Gentleman, "if I wore on the other side of the table, if my tongue were unloosed and I were released from the shackles and trammels of office, I could tell you how absurd is the constitution of a British Cabinet." Sir, I do not follow the right hon. Gentleman through his theoretical declamations. I am content with the British constitution, and, so far as my experience of Cabinets go, I am content with them. But, indeed, the censure of the right hon. Gentleman reminds one of those Latin lines:—Balnea, vina, Venus corrumpunt corpora nostra,Sed faciunt vitam balnea, vina, Venus.A knowledge of agriculture, an acquaintance with commerce, and powers of oratory may be absurd qualifications for a public career and for official existence; but, nevertheless, they are elements of our political life. I should not upon this occasion, Sir, have thought it right to go into 1675 the comparative merits of the different measures that have been laid before the House for the government of India, if the right hon. Gentleman had not rendered some notice on our part absolutely and essentially necessary. In praising his own deceased Bill, he has pronounced a very severe censure on the arrangements which we propose—not quite so severe a censure as that which he passed on the Manchester scheme—but he declared that our plan was nearly as bad, although its bad qualities were a little veiled from sight. Both had the defect of simplicity, which the right hon. Gentleman seems to think the greatest political sin—a perfectly inexpiable offence; Certainly it is a charge which I never heard brought against the defunct Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. We all remember the manner in which that Bill was received by the House and by the country. I have heard a story of the Spanish Sovereign who reigned when Don Quixote was first published, who, seeing a man reading a book and laughing immoderately, sent a courtier to ask what he was reading and why he was laughing. The courtier came back and said that he was reading Don Quixote. "I thought so," said the monarch;" whenever I see a man laughing I knew that he is reading Don Quixote." And so it was with this India Bill. People met one another in the street, and one laughed and the other laughed and everybody laughed. "What are you laughing at?" said one. "Why, at the India Bill, to be sure. What are you laughing at?" "Why, I was laughing at the India Bill, too." That was the reception that it met with out-of-doors; and so far, the public, as well as the Cabinet, had something to do with the death of that unfortunate and immature measure. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman admits that, although the House in giving us leave to bring in our Bill, and in giving the present Government leave to bring in their Bill, did not affirm any of the detailed conditions of either Measure, nevertheless that there did appear to be a general assent to the principle that the Government of India was to be transferred from the Company to the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman laid that down as the basis on which both our Bill and his own were founded. But if that were acquiesced in by the House when we introduced our Bill, and if it were taken for granted by the Government when they introduced theirs, why are we now to go into Committee to rediscuss and to reaffirm a 1676 principle which both sides of the House have admitted to be the principle upon which Legislation should be based? I merely mention this in passing; but it appears to me that the first Resolution is the repetition of a doctrine which is generally recognised, and which only few persons dissent from. But, without adverting to the Resolutions, I shall confine my observations to one or two points arising out of the elaborate defence which the right hon. Gentleman has made of his Bill. He has argued with great perseverance and with great ability—as he always argues everything—in favour of the principle of elective members for the Council he proposes, and he has particularly dilated upon the propriety of having in the Council persons elected by Parliamentary constituencies. Now, Sir, if that be so strongly his opinion, may I be allowed to ask him whether he intends to reinsert that provision in the Bill which I presume would be the consequence of the Resolutions being adopted? Does he look upon that provision as being only, like Juliet, in a trance from a potion given by the Government for a temporary lull until it be reawakened and transferred into the new Bill, or does he acquiesce in the general verdict of the public by which that part of his measure has been condemned? I presume that his praises did not imply any intention of reviving that provision; and while we pardon the paternal affection, therefore, which was displayed by the right hon. Gentleman over the tomb of the deceased, we may assume that there will be no attempt to restore that most objectionable feature of the Measure. The right hon. Gentleman argued at great length in favour of some portion of the Council being elected; and referring, in illustration, to the example of this House, he said, "We never hear any objection to members of this House being elected— why should you object to the members of the Council being elected?" But, it seems to me, that the whole of that argument is founded upon a false analogy. Is that Council to perform the functions of this House? If so, let all the members be elected, and by Parliamentary constituencies if you will. If you intend it to be a little Parliament to administer the affairs of India, well and good; but then, what becomes of your principle of transferring the Government of India to a responsible Minister of the Crown, who, as stated in the Resolution, is to perform 1677 all the functions and to possess all the power and all the responsibility of a Secretary of State, and who is to administer the affairs of India in this country in the same manner and to the same extent as the Secretary of State for the Colonies or the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs administers the business of his department? The two things are perfectly incompatible. I will not dwell upon the principle which is admitted by every constitutional lawyer and by every man who is versed in the subject, that it is not in accordance with a fundamental doctrine of our constitution, that any person who forms part of an Executive Government should owe his appointment to any other source than the Crown acting through its responsible advisers. Here, in this House, are the elective members of the Indian Council. What we want is that the Indian Minister should he accountable to Parliament for his conduct, and that he should not be shielded from responsibility by a Council owing its appointment to independent sources, and not amenable to the Crown, the effect of which would be to oppose, to thwart, and to impede the action of the Minister. If it be thought so essential to have elected members in the Council—if you mean that a man is necessarily a better councillor for being elected than if he were nominated by the Crown, why are not all to he elected, and why should any be nominated? The right hon. Gentleman says that people have ridiculed the idea of giving the appointment of councillors to the freemen of Liverpool; but he said, "Did not the freemen of Liverpool elect Mr. Canning, and did not this House appoint Mr. Canning to be President of the Board of Control?" Why, no; this House never made any such appointment. Mr. Canning was elected by the freemen of Liverpool to represent them in Parliament because he was an eminent public man, a great orator, a great statesman, and a most able and distinguished man. They chose him, not on account of any particular knowledge which they believed him to possess of the affairs of India, hut because they believed him to be a good man to manage the affairs of England. It was not this House that elected Mr. Canning to office, but the Crown, in the exercise of that constitutional discretion which vests in the Crown the appointment and selection of public servants who possess the confidence of this House. In the same manner Mr. Huskisson was not 1678 chosen by the freemen of Liverpool that he might be made President of the Board of Control, but because he was eminently conversant with matters of trade, and had studied the principles of commerce, and because the people of Liverpool, being mainly interested in the commercial prosperity of the country, thought Mr. Huskisson would be a useful Member of the Legislature, and a supporter of sound commercial principles. Therefore I say, that the analogy which the right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to establish has entirely failed. I own that it appears to me that the Council in the Bill of the present Government is too numerous. I do not profess to have that knowledge of the working of Indian business which should make me competent to express an opinion, but it seems to me that eighteen is an inconvenient number, and that, so far from aiding, if they all take part in the discussions, you will have "too many cooks;" and although "in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" is a good general axiom, you may overdo it, and the number may he too great. But what are intended to be the functions of this Council? It was not that the Council were to be the responsible governors of India. It was not intended that they should be a Council to originate, direct, and decide; but a Council to be merely those advisers which the right hon. Gentleman so well described as so essential an element in the management of Indian affairs. The right hon. Gentleman well said that public men, who have devoted their attention to Parliamentary warfare, national interests, and European concerns, naturally come into office without that detailed knowledge of the affairs of India which is necessary to enable the Government well to administer the affairs of India. The right hon. Gentleman also truly said that India is not like one of our other possessions abroad—that it does not contain only a single population —that India is not all under our sway— that the Indian Government involves relations with independent Princes, with men of different religions, laws, habits, and institutions, and that unless you have a practical knowledge founded upon local experience, you are likely, in your ignorance, to go wrong, and do great mischief. Well, Sir, we felt that as well as the present Government. We felt that it was necessary to give counsel and support to the Government of which the Minister for India is only the organ—because the Cabinet is 1679 the quarter from whence comes the decision on all matters—and it is that the Cabinet may be furnished, through the Indian Minister, with local knowledge, that we proposed to give him a Council to advise and assist him, but not to control and overrule him—because the moment you do that the responsibility of the Government ceases, and then you have a double Government re-established for India. These matters will probably be argued at greater length on a future occasion; but I could not allow the observations of the right hon. Gentleman to pass without notice, because I think that the more men come to reflect upon that which was intended to be the principle of the change we proposed—namely, the transfer of the Government and the responsibility from the Company to the responsible advisers of the Crown—before we consent that this shall be the fundamental principle upon which we are going to act—the more convinced we must be that the Council ought to be a Council of advisers, and not of controllers. You do not want to establish a new Board of Control, but to transfer the Government in such a manner that the Ministers of the Crown shall be responsible to this House for the entire direction of Indian affairs. There seems a fatality in Indian affairs by which an inveterate principle of duality clings to everything. There appears to be a fatality attending Indian affairs. We have had for a long time a double Government—that is, two different, and, to some extent, conflicting authorities for governing India. That was felt to be inconvenient and injurious. We attempted to correct it. Fending that event, we were turned out; there came in a new Administration and a new Bill. The present Government were not satisfied with that, but adopted two methods of proceeding— by Bill and by Resolution. I only hope that they will push that principle a little further, and make it necessary, for the purpose of completing the measure, that we should have two Sessions; certainly, the course they adopt is likely to lead to that result; but I will say nothing more on that subject for the present. That which induced me to rise was to vindicate our measure from the charges of the right hon. Gentleman—to show the principal points upon which his measure differed from ours and from the principle laid down by others representing the more simple measure—and to convince the House that many of these points on which their 1680 measure differs from our simple measure are not consistent with the fundamental principles of the British constitution, and are inconsistent with the fundamental principle on which it is proposed that the transfer of Indian government should be made to the Crown. It is not my intention to move any Amendment.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Sir, the House has listened for two hours to a most interesting discussion on a subject of paramount importance. In that discussion we have had preferred the views of those who are friendly to the one plan of proceeding with regard to Indian affairs now before the House, and, to a certain degree, of those who are friendly to the other. I quite agree with the noble Lord who has just sat down that we could hardly have expected the statement which we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and my object in rising is to say a few words upon what I conceive to be the point which is to be now properly decided by the House of Commons. That point is not the one which formed the gist of the introductory speech, which was a vindication of the Government measure; neither is it that which formed the gist of the speech of my noble Friend, who in perfect fairness endeavoured to uphold his own plan in opposition to that of the Government. What is the question which we are now about to decide? We are invited to vote, that on Friday next we will resolve ourselves into a Committee to consider the Acts of Parliament relating to the government of India. I, for one, do not join in any degree in the censure which has been cast upon the suggestion of the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell), that the best method of proceeding on this question would be by Resolution. I believe that it would have been a happy circumstance—it would certainly have been so in the view of those who think that the present is the best moment for legislating for India—if the original method of proceeding had been by Resolution; and I am quite certain, from Parliamentary recollections and tradition, that there is abundant precedent, if precedent be required, to justify and recommend such a course. But the proposal of my noble Friend, whatever other effect it had, had that of replacing us practically in the position in which we stood the other night when we met to discuss the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring), 1681 We are now called upon, not to act upon any vote which we may have previously given, but to make a completely new commencement of the work to be executed. I am one of those who originally felt, and felt with great sincerity and truth, that the moment was not an opportune one for entering on so formidable a task. So long as the flames of war remain unextinguished in India, so long shall I continue to be convinced that we are acting rashly and unadvisedly in legislating for that country. But I do not ask that the House shall revive the discussion of the question raised by the hon. Member for Huntingdon—a question which was discussed with great ability, both by the promoters of the views of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon and those who took an opposite view. The decision of the House on that question is upon record, and is to be held good and sound, while the circumstances under which it was given remained unchanged. But do those circumstances remain unchanged? Was there not a hope held out to us even at that time, that before we proceeded far with Indian legislation we might have had to congratulate ourselves on the termination of the military outbreak in India? Was there not a hope that when the majority gave its decision in February, that in the month of April considerable progress would have been made towards the passing of the Bill introduced by the late Government? Well, we have since that time lost between two and three months; and I do not think that there is a man among those who hear me, however sanguine his temperament may be, who will deny the proposition, that if we have moved at all in the matter of legislation in Indian affairs since the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon, we have moved backwards. My noble Friend, in his amusing and interesting speech, adverted to that principle of dualism which has unhappily accompanied and dogged all these proceedings, and he says he hopes that that principle would not be carried any further; that we have sought to get rid of a double Government, and we had here two Governments, two Administrations, two Bills, and then Resolutions with a Bill; and my noble Friend, while remarking upon these circumstances, expresses a hope that we shall not have two Sessions also. I confess, Sir, it is sometimes difficult to me to distinguish between the ironical and the earnest; I did, however, think that the vein of irony strongly marked these observations of my 1682 noble Friend, and that he considered it as probable that this Session might not see the settlement of these India Bills; and while anticipating this result as probable, my noble Friend did not seem disposed to deprecate such a delay as a great misfortune. With great force on a former occasion the noble Viscount observed, that the evil arising from postponed legislation was but secondary in its character, but the evil of rash, ill considered, and ill-digested measures was most serious and irreparable, and was attended with immeasurable results. My right hon. Friend on this side of the House (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) made a suggestion similar to that of the noble Viscount, when he said that unless we appoint a Council equal in knowledge and experience to the present Court of Directors, we should do well altogether to postpone the consideration of this question. Now, Sir, looking not only to the time that has elapsed since this question was first mooted, but also to the validity of the original reasons for legislation on the subject—looking to the misgivings of the authors of the several Bills as to their results — looking to the present state of our public affairs, and the period of the Session at which we have arrived—combining all these circumstances together, I cannot, Sir, permit this Motion to be put from the chair without respectfully protesting against the affirmation to the proposition. I, however, have other reasons besides these. I frankly own, that if we had before us the elements of a good and efficient plan for the future government of India, or even a plan to which this House could wisely give its assent, upon the understanding that certain Amendments might be made in its details when in Committee, that then I should be disposed to admit that, under the authority of the vote of February last, we might, consistently at least, go forward with the work of legislation. But is that the state of the case before us? We have heard to-night from the Chancellor of the Exchequer an eloquent and elaborate defence of the original Bill which he introduced. Well, I do not know what effect that defence has produced on the minds of bon. Members generally; but I must confess, that if I felt any doubts and scruples as to the efficacy of the provisions of his Bill, they have not been in any degree removed by the defence of ray right hon. Friend. But my objections are not confined to the Bill which my right hon. Friend has proposed. I am bound both in fairness and candour 1683 to say, without meaning any censure or offence to the noble Viscount or my right hon. Friend, that in neither of the plans put forward for the future government of India, can I see anything like the elements of a good settlement of this question. Let me make one remark upon the plan of the late Government as illustrated by the noble Viscount himself, when my noble Friend was arguing against the elective principle in its application to the Council of India. When he spoke of the sole and undivided responsibility of the Secretary of State in relation to Indian government, I thought I traced in my noble Friend's speech, as well as in his former declaration on the same subject, an inadequate sense of the difficulties of the legislation with which he proposes to deal. I cordially subscribe to the principles laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that if we are to add a Council to the organization of the future home government of India, it ought to be a Council equal in knowledge and experience to the present Court of Directors. I should certainly be most reluctant to see any Bill going up from this House, which substituted for the present Court of Directors any body, call it what you will, and appoint it how you choose, which was not fully equal for every purpose, for advice, suggestion, and general administration— and speaking morally, I will even say control—to the present Court of Directors. Why, what is the greatest difficulty we have at present to encounter and confront in this matter? In my opinion, it is your attempting to govern, by moans of one people, another vast population separated from us not by distance only, but also by blood, by language, by religion, by institutions; in fact, by all that can serve to draw a line of demarcation between man and man. Is it not the greatest problem of politics to conduct the government of one nation by the exclusive machinery of another nation? And is it not the greatest difficulty which we have before us to provide for a system of government—to provide duly for the protection of all the interests as well as for the feelings of the people of India? I admit we may point with pride to the pages of our Parliamentary history, as furnishing evidence of the success with which we have administered the affairs of distant countries; I confess, however, I have not an equal faith in the efficacy of our Parliamentary institutions in defending the interests and the institutions of the people of India. The question which we are bound to ask our- 1684 selves before all others—with all others— and above all others—is, what is the best system of protection we can provide by law, not only for the maintenance of all those interests to which I have referred, but what is best calculated to evince our respect, our care and tenderness towards the feelings and prejudices of those over whom we happen to be placed. This I will say of the Court of Directors—that it has practically been a body protective of the people of India. I am not friendly to the operation of that body—though it possesses the elective as well as the nominative principle in its constitution—nor am I blind to its defects; I am even less friendly to the severance which exists at present between the Executive and the deliberative element in the Indian Government; but this I must say, I think we should not assent to any plan that makes less provision than that supplied by the Court of Directors for the protection of the interests as well as the prejudices of the people of India. Sir, I look in vain in the plan of Her Majesty's Government, and still more in vain in that of the noble Viscount, for any protective power that can at all be compared in point of efficacy to the system established in the Court of Directors. But there is another topic to which I wish to call your attention, and which I believe is new as far as these discussions have gone; it is one, however, which involves an important point which presses forcibly on my mind in connection with the proposed legislation. The first great want we have is, to provide adequate protection for a people against the ignorance, the indiscretion, and the errors either of the people themselves, or of the Parliament or of the Government of this country. But besides that consideration there is a second, which I am afraid has hardly yet been named since we began to debate this question. I know not what may be the feelings of others upon this point, but entertaining, as I do, so strong an opinion upon it, I am bound to give expression to it. It appears to me, Sir, that there has grown up of late years, as an unforeseen effect, partly in consequence of circumstances beyond our control and partly of our own legislation, a system fraught with danger not only to India itself but likewise to the privileges of Parliament and the public interests at home. I allude to the undue, and I will even add, the unconstitutional exercise of power by the Executive Government through the medium of the treasury and the army of India, I cannot look back to 1685 the history of our wars in connection with India, during the last twenty years especially, without seeing that the power lodged in the hands of the Queen's advisers and the Executive has been alike at variance with the interests of the country and the rights and privileges of the House of Commons. I will take the last instance as one which, I think, is more fully illustrative of the point to which I am now adverting. I will take, Sir, the instance of the late war in Persia. Now, I do not mean to discuss the policy of that war, nor the reasons which actuated the Government in entering upon it. Neither do I wish to comment upon the manner in which it was waged or the terms in which it was concluded. But this I say: if wars are to be made through the means, in the first instance, of those resources which the Indian army and the Indian finances afford to the Executive Government, without the knowledge and consent of Parliament—if we are to he apprised of the existence of those wars for the first time at a moment when we have launched ourselves into the midst of those military operations—if we are never to be consulted in regard to them until the time arrives when it is necessary to draw funds from the British Exchequer for their support, then, I say, two consequences must follow. In the first place, you establish a system destructive to the last degree to the interests of India itself, because it serves to create great financial difficulties in that country. God knows the difficulties of governing India, even under ordinary circumstances, are very great—difficulties naturally arising from the fact of taking into our own hands the management, from so great a distance, of the affairs of a nation whose characteristics are so widely different from our own. That is a state of things which in itself constitutes a problem, for which, perhaps, it is vain to look for a satisfactory solution. But, besides all these difficulties, you have been accumulating a debt which it is the fashion to make light of, but which I consider to be more crushing in its proportions than the gigantic debt of England. As regards the latter, it may be said that we are merely mortgaging our own estates; but when we are speaking of the debt of India, we must recollect that it is a debt charged upon the country whose revenues we are drawing in this country by virtue of the power of the sword. It is, therefore, an element of the greatest difficulty in our way, that of being compelled to enter into such hostilities 1686 without perhaps our knowledge or consent. But apart from that consideration, I say that it is unjust that the Executive Government, for purposes of its own or for any purposes of the people of England, should have the power of entailing those tremendous charges on the people of India. I believe that the consequences are most injurious, so far as the people themselves are concerned. But the objection docs not appear stronger or more conclusive as regards the people of India, than the objection which arises from this system in its bearings upon this country and the House of Commons. I frankly own that, as far as the liberties of Parliament are concerned, it seems to me that there is little difference between war declared without our consent against Persia and one declared against Russia. I can make no distinction in cither of the plans before us regarding India, as regards this vital question. I confess I should like to see a limitation to the power of the Queen's advisers in relation to this point. It is better to speak out. I do not think, Sir, we can be secure, nor can we be following the dictates of prudence or circumspection, unless we place a limitation on the power of the Crown in respect to the use of the Indian treasury and the army. I do not find any such limitations of powers proposed in either of the plans before the House. The plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is altogether silent upon this point. The plan of the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton is not so silent in regard to it, but the provision which my noble Friend has introduced into his Bill draws a distinction between wars in Asia and in other parts of the world; and it directs, in regard to the former, that when military operations are actually begun, a communication of the fact shall be made to Parliament within a month after it has taken place, or after the Houses have actually met. Now, Sir, I do not hesitate to say that this provision is far worse than none at all—it amounts substantially to a legislative sanction of a system with respect to which we are at least entitled to say, that up to the present moment it has never had the countenance or approval of Parliament. I do not intend to enter at large into a discussion of these matters. I mention those cases now, which in my opinion should be satisfactorily settled, in order to ensure something like good legislation for India. We should protect the Indian people against the errors of 1687 England, and we should protect the British people and the British Parliament against the undue exercise of power by the Executive Government. Now, in neither of these plans do I see any provision tending to secure either of those results. The objections to both of the measures in detail, I am afraid, are so numerous, and would involve such unlimited demands upon the time and patience of this House to solve the difficulties which exist, that I should despair of a satisfactory settlement of the question in its present shape. I complain that I do not find in these plans, either the spirit or the intention which seem to me to be essential for satisfactory legislation. On that ground, as well as upon the general grounds which have been previously urged, I must respectfully remonstrate against the Resolution which is about to be put from the Chair. Although I know not whether this remonstrance will be more than an idle sound, I nevertheless confess I do anticipate that, as the Session advances, as the weeks glide away, the satisfaction of those who concur in it will become stronger and more decided; and the disposition of those who do not concur in it will likewise gradually develop itself in regrets, that they had not, while it was yet time, taken their stand upon the same ground which I presume to occupy, in protesting against attempts at legislation, which, under the circumstances of the moment, I do not believe will be attended with any satisfactory result. I cannot conclude my observations without quoting the still more memorable language of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said—I hope I do not misrepresent him—Although we now advise the House to enter on the question of Indian legislation, yet during the last two months—since I have become a Member of the Government—every day of my experience has more and more convinced me that there does not at present exist among us that maturity of opinion which is requisite on questions of the first order in point of difficulty and importance.
COLONEL SYKES, who rose amid some confusion, was understood to commence by expressing his readiness to reserve his observations until a future opportunity, if that were the pleasure of the House; but he could not help expressing his entire concurrence in every syllable uttered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, in the course of his eloquent and convincing speech against legislating for India at the present moment.
The conviction entertained by himself on that point, when he last addressed the House with regard to the Government of India, had since been increased tenfold by his communications with India and further careful consideration. What pressing necessity was there for immediate legislation? Where was the urgency? Had the Indian Government broken down? Was not that Government putting down the mutiny in India? Had not Delhi been taken by the means then at the disposal of the Indian Government, and by the perseverance, indomitable courage, and fertility in resource of the authorities in the North-West Provinces, without assistance from the Imperial Government? It was not, therefore, because the Indian Government had broken down, that the House was asked to legislate immediately for India —quite the reverse. What said that able man, who wrote with such graphic force, the correspondent of The Times, to whom the country owed so much for revealing the shortcomings in the Crimean war, with regard to the present efficiency of the Indian Government in carrying on the military operations in India? He would quote his statement, not from The Times, but from a country newspaper, which thought it worth while to contrast the efficiency of the Indian Government during the mutiny, with the inefficiency of the English Government with respect to the war in the Crimea. That country paper contained the following paragraph:—
EFFICIENCY OF THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT.—We are told—and nowhere more loudly arid persistently than in the columns of The Times —that the Indian Government is effete and inefficient. The more valuable is the following testimony to the efficiency of the Indian Government by the correspondent of The Times, whose task it was to chronicle the utter inefficiency of the English Government, in the same department, at Balak-lava:—' At Raneegunge commences the system of conveyance for which the Indian Government deserve very great credit, and by which we were enabled to concentrate our troops with certainty and comfort. The men were sent up daily in detachments of 150 or 200 by rail to Raneegunge. There closed carriages, drawn by oxen, wore provided for them, into which they were transferred and sent up country at the rate of thirty-five miles a day. All along the road bungalows were prepared, where the detachments received their meals with the utmost comfort, and where they could rest, if necessary, during the day. These arrangements never failed on any occasion. The accommodation sheds are clean and airy, and the cooking was excellent, so that the men, many of whom had served in the Crimean war, were loud in their expressions of praise and wonder. At
present the stream of troops has ceased, but I was an eye-witness of the excellent preparations made by Captain Sadler and by the Commissariat officers for the reception of part of Her Majesty's 35th Regiment, which arrived there by rail the day after I came.'"—Bradford Advertiser, April 3.
Had the Court of Directors broken down in the performance of their duties in England? Why, Sir, 50,000 royal troops, of all arms, artillery, horse artillery, cavalry, engineers, and infantry, had been handed over to the Court for transmission to India; and this large army had been provided with every comfort, and had been landed at the several Presidencies in India, he believed without the loss of a man, except from customary mortality. It were well that the same thing could have been said in the transmission of the British army to the Crimea. Without saying anything as to the just and elaborate praises bestowed by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the late First Lord of the Admiralty on that glorious corporation which the Government now sought to abolish; and without referring to certain extracts with which he had prepared himself, but which he should reserve till a future occasion, he would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the grounds on which he called upon the House to legislate now? The first reason advanced for immediate legislation was, that it was said that the House had determined by a majority of 145, that the Government of India should at once be changed. Now, every Member of that House knew, and no one knew it better than the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, that that vote compromised no single Member of the House, and that it was simply a courteous concession rarely refused to a Government. It was said again, that the Government of India was a double Government, consisting, as it did, of the Court of Directors and the Board of Control; ergo it ought to be abolished; but, surely, before such an argument could be allowed to prevail, some stringent proof should be adduced of the absolute failure of the system of double Government. Talk of a double Government! Why, he could only say, that among a thinking people like the English he should never have expected to hear such "bosh" as had been uttered upon the subject. The very fact of there being a check in any case upon the Executive implied the principle of a double
Government, and our constitution was based upon checks. Why, the very check exercised upon a Prime Minister by his colleagues in the Cabinet implied the principle of a double government. The Prime Minister might propose to his Cabinet some measure which he deemed important in foreign or domestic policy, but he finds, on discussion, that the majority of his colleagues are opposed to his views. Is it to be believed that he would persist in carrying out his own views in opposition to the opinions of the majority; and in case he does not, ipso facto, there is a double government in the Cabinet itself. Another reason brought forward for the proposed change was an allegation that public opinion had been strongly expressed in favour of a change. Now, public opinion is expressed by means of petitions to Parliament, by articles in the public press, and by public meetings; and he could see from those sources no indication whatever of any very strong feeling in the public mind that the government of India should be transferred to the Crown. By the twenty-second report upon the petitions presented to the House, he found that 306 petitions had been presented relating to affairs connected with India, and of all that number only three prayed for the transfer of the government from the country to the Crown. So much for public opinion, then, upon the subject. To hear what had been said with regard to public opinion, and then to consider how it had been displayed, reminded him of the old story of the three tailors in Tooley Street, who used to commence their articles with "We, the people of England." It was alleged, also, that the House of Commons having decided by a majority of 145 that a Bill should be brought in by which the government of India should be transferred from the Company to the Crown, unless legislation proceeded, the government of India would be paralysed, because the present government of India had been rendered practically defunct. But he could speak with some knowledge of the people of India, and he knew the feeling of the Natives with regard to the raj of the Company. There were two words in the mouth of every Native with regard to it —Kismut and Ikhbal which signified '' prosperity" and "good fortune," and the withdrawal of the present measures against the Company would rather strengthen their belief in the Kismut and Ikhbal of the Company than weaken the influence of its raj. At
the present period, when a feeling of distrust was growing up in the Native mind, owing to the petitions which had been presented for putting down caste, the extension of Christianity which implied action and overt measures on the part of the Government, and to other causes, it was important not to weaken the feelings with which the Natives regarded the rule of the Company. The present time was most inopportune for legislation; but it was the opinion of many that after the country had been pacified, the best course to pursue would be to place a Minister of the Crown at the head of the Court of Directors. If it were finally resolved to transfer the government of the Company to that of the Crown, let the House wait until India was pacified, and then let the name of the Queen be introduced as that of an angel of mercy, with an amnesty for the past, and offering future peace, order, justice, and prosperity to the people of India.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, that he believed that since the vote of the House of Commons to which reference had been made, a great number of persons who had voted in favour of the Motion of the noble Lord had materially changed their views, and now believed that the present was not a fitting time to legislate for India. The Bill of the noble Lord proposed a great change in the system of the home government of India; it proposed to do away with the Court of Directors, which acted as a check upon the Board of Control, without adducing any instance of that check having proved injurious to the welfare of the people of India, and to substitute for it a Council for assistance. Now, the House ought not to consent to abolish the chocks which existed at present without it being shown that they had produced injurious effects. All these checks it was now proposed to abolish. Instead of weakening the existing Government, what ought to be done was to increase the efficiency of the Court of Directors, so as to enable them to prevent those costly wars which arrested the internal improvement of India. It was to the plunging of India into a series of such wars that those financial difficulties to which the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford had referred were to be traced; and had the right hon. Gentleman concluded his speech with a Motion, it would have received the support of a large proportion of the Members of the House. The day might, indeed, come 1692 when the name of the Queen ought to be made paramount in India; but for a considerable time past the public had had more confidence in the Court of Directors than in the Board of Control. His only fault with the Court of Directors was that they had not shown sufficient firmness, and had allowed themselves to be too easily over-ruled. Had they brought their knowledge to bear on the minds of the people of England, they would have been in a very different position from that in which they now stood. It had been said that we owed our possession of India to the valour of our soldiers. Our soldiers had no doubt exhibited great valour and military skill in India; but our splendid empire was chiefly owing to the high moral qualities displayed by the officers, and especially by the civil servants of the East India Company, under whom the Native population knew that they enjoyed more substantial justice and better government than under their own Princes. Many of those officers whoso services were little known at home had, by their deeds, shed a halo of glory around the British name. They had converted desert wastes into fertile territories, and transformed barbarous tribes, formerly living by plunder and every species of abomination, into civilized and humanized subjects, willing to espouse our cause and fight our battles against every foe. It was to be regretted that the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford had not concluded his speech with a Motion that would have had the effect of preventing it from proceeding in a most impolitic and unwise manner, and thus elicited the general opinion of the House; for the attempt to legislate on that important subject in the present Session was calculated to endanger the best interests both of India and of England.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he entirely concurred in the concluding observations of the hon. Baronet, for he believed that the speech of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford was consonant with the sentiments of a large portion of the House; and that if the question were brought to a vote it would be found either that the majority would be adverse to proceeding with the Resolutions in Committee on Friday, or, at least, if a majority wore not found, there would be so largo a number of Members anxious to defer the consideration of the question to a future time, that the minority would command sufficient attention in the country to enable the House 1693 to obtain further time, until they were far better prepared for legislation than at present. There were certain misconceptions which ought to be cleared up, and if that were done, the difficulties in the way of legislation would be far less. Those misconceptions existed in the minds of right hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords sitting on the front benches of both sides of the House. On the one side there were considerations of the retention of Toryism, and on the other the bringing back of Whiggery, and it was thought that these considerations were the axes and pivots upon which every political question was made to revolve. But the future government of India was in the minds of the people of this country a consideration far superior to the mere shifting of the occupants of the Treasury Bench. He wished to divest his remarks of every species of party complexion, and to address himself simply to the question; and he would say to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, "We do not mean to be factious, but we do not consider that the country or the House are at present able to draw a good bill such as would ensure the proper government of India; they are not sufficiently instructed on the subject." He hoped that such language would he fairly listened to by both sides of the House. It appeared to him that "fear," and "anger," and "triumph" were all bad advisers, and yet those were the feelings which had been passing through their minds since the commencement of the Indian mutiny. We were now at the third of these stages—the exultation of triumph. But when the work of putting down the mutiny should he over, they would be able to consider calmly what remained to be done, and they would have an opportunity of ascertaining, from those eminent men who were still spared to them in India, their opinions of the causes of the outbreak, and what course they ought to pursue hereafter. Those men at present could not give any opinion. Their whole time had been occupied in providing for the desperate emergencies of the present and the future, and they had not been able as yet to make the necessary investigation. The Natives of India might also have some reasons to give for the causes of the outbreak. Even if they went through all the letters, and speeches, and pamphlets which had been written and published, they would be at a loss to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. He was one of those who voted with the majority who gave leave to the noble Viscount to introduce his Bill; but since that discussion every day's expe 1694 rience had more opened his eyes to the difficulties of the subject, and he felt convinced that there were at present obstacles in the way of legislating which were almost insurmountable; and as a proof of that he might refer to the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, and the Bill of the noble Lord himself, which, he said himself, held water so thoroughly, but of which men of the greatest experience held a very different opinion. The truth was, the House was working in the dark, and no light had been thrown upon the path in which they were proceeding; that path was encumbered by every species of difficulty. He wished the light hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had added the sanction of his high authority to a Motion for not going into Committee at this moment. This, however, must devolve upon some Member of the House, and he would, therefore, take the responsibility upon himself, and move the following Amendment:—"That at this moment it is not expedient to pass any Resolution for the future government of India." He only made these few observations because he had precluded himself from going into a discussion of the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) in detail. He had simply confined himself to one topic—namely, that they were hurrying on in a way which he could not understand, and legislating upon no principle whatever. The flames of mutiny had not yet been trampled out in India; and, until they were, it was more than foolish to discuss the different nostrums and opinions with which the Notice Paper was covered. Peace was near at hand, and that would be the proper time to decide calmly and judicially on the future Government of India.
§ MR. W. EWART
seconded the Amendment, on the ground that, although he might not fully concur in the reasons which had led the hon. Member for Galway to propose it, he thought so much delay had taken place in dealing with the subject, and so great a difference of opinion existed, that immediate legislation was inexpedient. The Bill of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) proposed to establish a Council of a particular description; the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have established a more extended Council; and a wide difference of opinion existed on the subject between the two great parties in that House. There was, however, another party, of whom he was one, who thought it unncessary to have any Council at all. 1695 He found that the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester had expressed their opinion against the appointment of a Council, and this view had been strongly supported in some of the public journals. The Chamber of Commerce at Liverpool had petitioned the House to defer the further discussion of this subject until next Session, and prayed that a Select Committee might be appointed to consider the future government of India. He thought, therefore, that as two Bills had been laid before the House unsuccessfully, they should not further procrastinate by debating these Resolutions for five or six days, or it might be for as many weeks. He would not say that immediate action might not have been desirable, had it been taken at the beginning of the Session; but, since that time, there had not only been a change of Ministers but a change of circumstances, and he thought it would be almost impossible to arrive at any satisfactory decision on the subject during the present Session.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "at this moment it is not expedient to pass any Resolutions for the future Government of India," instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I understand the hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment to propose, in fact, that there should be no legislation with respect to India during the present Session. I think, however, as the hon. Gentleman is ready to take upon himself the responsibility of proposing that the House should reverse the vote which it came to some days ago, he should have taken on himself the additional responsibility of giving notice of his intention, and that the House should not have been allowed to disperse after the speech of my noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston), in the belief that no serious opposition was contemplated to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I would submit to the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) that, whether it be desirable or not that we should abandon all hope of legislating on this subject during the present Session, it is at least desirable that notice should be given of such an Amendment as he has proposed; and that, if it is to be discussed, it should be debated in a full House. Hon. Gentlemen will recollect that at an early 1696 period of the Session, on the proposition of the Government, after hearing the arguments so clearly and ably urged by the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring), and after full deliberation, the House determined by a majority of 145 to allow the noble Lord then at the head of the Government to introduce a Bill, the object of which was to transfer the administration of the Indian government from the East India Company to the Crown. I think, if we are prepared to reverse that decision—if we give up in despair the accomplishing this great object—the subject ought to receive equal consideration, and that we ought to have an opportunity of hearing the opinions of the most eminent Members of this House. I own that I should be very sorry to see the House thus reverse its decision. I think the present Government are perfectly justified in saying, "Although we deemed the introduction of a measure on this subject premature and inopportune, yet we see the evils which must follow if, after the government of India has been condemned by a great majority of the House of Commons, in a full House, no measures are taken to substitute some other authority." I think such an argument is perfectly just on the part of the present Government, and that they are right in deeming it their duty to place in abeyance their former opinion and to endeavour to legislate for the government of India. An objection has been taken to proceeding with such a measure at so late a period of the Session. Now, my belief is that in 1813, in 1833, and in 1853, the Bills were proceeded with in this House at a much later period of the Session—I should say at least two months later than on the present occasion; and what is the object which should prevent us from now considering this great subject? Other questions of great importance have not been brought forward or have been postponed; the Estimates for the year, at least the Military Estimates, have been nearly disposed of; and there really does not seem to be, in regard to any other business, a reason why this House should not devote itself constantly and perseveringly to the consideration of the government of our Indian empire. It is said that it is a disadvantage to consider a question of this kind when our attention is absorbed by the dangers which still surround our troops and our establishments in India. But, at the same time, the decision of the House has been already pronounced—pronounced, too, when Oude was yet in the 1697 hands of the enemy, and when we had not achieved those victories and gained those advantages the news of which have subsequently readied us. Besides, I must say that, although it may be some impeachment of the wisdom of Parliament and of the foresight of our statesmen and of the nation, it has generally happened that there has been no very earnest attention paid to the subject until circumstances rendered that attention absolutely necessary and unavoidable. My belief is that, if in 1853 the Government of Lord Aberdeen had proposed any change of this kind, we should have been met by the opinion of a great majority of this House, that, while everything was quiet and undisturbed in India, it would be most rash and ill-advised to attempt such a change. It does so happen, however, that at this period we have all had our attention called to, we have all had our minds fixed upon, the subject of India. There is hardly any Gentleman, however little he may have thought of India up to the month of April last year, who has not since that time paid considerable attention to the question. Well, suppose we hear in a few weeks that the mutiny has been actually suppressed; suppose there are nothing but those little skirmishes with small bodies of mutineers and bands of robbers who infest the country long after a great rebellion is quelled—public interest would cease on this subject; it would at least very much abate; other questions would arise, and would occupy our attention; and I doubt very much whether, if in the beginning of 1859 we were to consider the India Bill, there would be as much knowledge and as much deliberation given to the subject as will be devoted to it at present. I therefore, for one, do not see why at least in the very beginning of our deliberations we should not proceed to consider the Resolutions which the Government have proposed. No question has to-night been raised whether we shall proceed by way of Resolution or not. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman is that we should go into Committee on Friday upon the Resolutions. Most unfortunately, as I think, he gave us a long defence of his own Bill, which, as my noble Friend the Member for Tiverton truly said, he had already murdered with his own hands. We are not going now into the subject of that Bill. De martuis nil nisi bonum. We have nothing to do with the Bill. We shall frame Resolutions, and I 1698 trust we shall be able—after several days of deliberation, no doubt—to come to some conclusion upon this question. The great subject of slavery—which was likewise considered in Resolutions before the present Lord Derby introduced a Bill—occupied some seven or eight days at least in Committee. We may occupy as many days, or more, in discussing these Resolutions; but I do not think the points for consideration are so numerous as some Gentlemen seem to think. The first point is already decided, when you go into Committee on these Resolutions—namely, that it is desirable to transfer the whole authority in India from the Company to the Crown. The next question is, whether the Secretary of State or the other Minister whom you set up shall have a Council to assist him. That is one point which must employ the attention of the Committee; but it does not, I think, admit of very long argument. The arguments, either one way or the other, appear to me to he on the surface. The next question is with regard to the nature of that Council, if one should be appointed; and upon that subject I confess I entirely agree with the observations made by my noble Friend the Member for Tiverton. I think it is wise to have a Council for the purpose of assisting the House. I think it is well that the nation should be informed by persons of Indian experience what their opinion is with respect to any measure which, however plausible it may be, and however much it may be countenanced by the Minister, would involve the danger of offending either the religious opinions or the social prejudices of the people of India. I think it advisable likewise to have a Council, for the purpose of enabling the Minister himself to ascertain at every step he takes what is the opinion of men who have official experience and knowledge of the subject. But I should think it would be a very great mistake if we attempted to give an independent authority to such a Council, and in that manner again divide that Ministerial responsibility the unity of which is the whole object of the measure. Give the Minister every assistance; surround him with advisors whoso opinions may be of most value to him; do not shrink from giving them salaries and a position which may enable us to obtain the very best men who return from their important functions in India; but when you have done this, leave the Minister himself to be responsible; unless he is su- 1699 preme he could not have that responsibility: let him, therefore, be supreme in his Council, and stand up in Parliament to defend the policy of which he is the author and the advocate. There is one point of very great importance upon which the right hon. Gentleman touched—as to the election of a portion of the Council. Now, I have thought over this point a good deal, and if I could have satisfied myself that there was any body of electors who would name any members of the Council better than the Crown, I should, setting aside altogether the theory of representation, which I think does not apply to this case, have been ready to confide to that body of electors the power of nominating members of this Council as readily as I would confide it to the Sovereign. But I own I have been unable to satisfy myself either that that body of electors would not be so numerous as to be unsuitable—consisting, as it would, of persons likely to have very little interest in the good government of India—or, on the other hand, that it would not be so limited as to give rise to cabal and intrigue. I feel satisfied, therefore, that the best mode of constituting this Council of India is, with the restrictions and qualifications which both Governments have proposed to introduce, by intrusting its nomination to the Crown and by making the Government responsible for it being a good Council. I know that in the opinion of the present President of the Board of Control— than whom there are few men of greater ability, than whom there is scarcely any man who possesses greater knowledge of India— the appointments by the Crown of Members of the Board of Directors—a power which was given by the Act of 1853—have been most wisely made, and that the persons so appointed have been very fit for the office. I believe that would be the case with any Government, from whichever side of the House it might be chosen. There might now and then, at rare intervals, be an unfit or partial appointment; but I think with the limitations which would exist the tenor of those appointments would be such as would tend to the benefit of India and of this country. These very restrictions impose upon the Crown almost the necessity of appointing not only men of experience, but men who will be as little, even less, likely than any persons in this country to be political partisans. We have heard all our lives, with regard to men in India, that they take no interest in the 1700 party politics of this country. There was an instance, I think, a little while ago in which Lord Hardinge had long discussed of Indian affairs with, and had the assistance of, an officer who was constantly with him, and only at the end of two or three years discovered him to have been a man of extreme politics in England. They come back, these men, whatever their original politics might have been, with very little interest in and caring very little about the mere party politics of this country. I believe that life in India—whether in a military or a civil capacity—is so different from life in this country, it is so absorbing and requires so much attention to every step which is to be taken, that a man gets gradually weaned from those habits and those partialities which influence politicians in this country. Therefore I think there is every chance that whoever is Minister of the Crown will exercise the power of appointment without considering the politics of the men he has to choose, or, if he considers their politics, that it will be very difficult for him to nominate any persons who will aid his own party interests in this House. Upon this question, then, I should differ from the right hon. Gentleman. I have already given notice of some Amendments which I shall venture to propose upon those Resolutions, and I will not therefore go into any points beyond those which I have already mentioned. What I wish to point out is, that if this House does not think fit to consider the question of India in the present year—and with such a decision I should not agree—the matter ought to be most deliberately weighed, and that we should consider what will be the effect of making this sudden change in our course and of leaving India with its present government. I know that some Gentlemen who have spoken have rather slided from one argument into another on this subject. "Why should you legislate this year upon India?" they say, "there is surely no great hurry;" and then they add—"The government of the East India Company is as perfect a one as you can have. Why do you want to change?" But if there is no reason for alteration, why hold out the hope of legislating next year? If the present government of India is not to be changed, let us plainly say so. If you don't mean to alter it, don't hold out the hope when you advocate its postponement till next year, that you will then enter into a question which you say ought not to be considered at all. If the present govern- 1701 ment of India be a perfect government, then by all means let it be maintained. A great majority, however, of the House of Commons has decided that an alteration in our Indian Administration should be made. I am one of those who entertain that opinion. I believe the proposed alteration will tend to render that Administration more efficient, and to effect in time a great change in India itself. I do not, nevertheless, think that the immediate change will be so vast or so perilous as some persons seem to suppose. The Board of Control exercises now, as has been justly said, the supreme power in the management of the affairs of India. It can, when it pleases, overrule any decision at which the Court of Directors may have arrived. You would not, therefore, in making the contemplated alteration, be in reality increasing the power of the Crown; you would simply be providing a different mode for transacting the business connected with the administration of our Indian empire. That different mode would, I believe, lead to the further consideration of the fiscal system of India, and in the course of years to many changes which, in my opinion, would turn out to be for the benefit of that country. That is after all, the main object which we ought to have in view. If this alteration to which the House of Commons is asked to give its assent be for the advantage of India and of those millions over whom we rule in that great empire, why then let it be made. If, upon the contrary, you are convinced that no alteration can be effected which would not prove injurious to the interests of the people of India, then why should you this year, or next year, or upon any future occasion, give your assent to a proposal which, in your opinion, must have that result? I trust the House will, at all events, see the propriety of agreeing to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a Motion to which I shall certainly feel it to be my duty to give my support.
said, that the argument which had been urged by the noble Lord who had just spoken, to the effect that, because no notice had been given of the Amendment under discussion, hon. Members who made it their business to be at their posts upon that occasion were not at liberty to give a vote the result of which would be to negative the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was one to the justice of 1702 which he could not assent. If he understood the forms of the House correctly, it was not at all necessary that a formal Amendment should be moved, in order that hon. Members might be enabled to vote "Aye" or "No" upon that motion; and he believed that those forms presented no obstacle to the discharge of what he deemed to be his duty in opposing any proposition the object of which was to take away from the East India Company that power and authority which, it was his conscientious belief, it had exercised so well, and with so much advantage both to India and to this country. He had, upon a former occasion, however, declared his willingness, and he begged to repeat the declaration that evening, if Parliament should decide upon taking that step, to lend every assistance in his power, as a private Member of that House, to render as perfect as possible any scheme which might be devised for the future government of India; entirely disclaiming all party considerations, which, in dealing with so important a subject, ought, he contended, to have no place. Viewing the question, then, in that spirit, he felt bound to say that the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer were, in his opinion, so far as the constitution of the new Council and the functions which it was meant to discharge, far more in accordance with sound policy than those which had been submitted to the notice of the House by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, whose views upon the question appeared to find an echo in the noble Lord the Member for London. Those two noble Lords had spoken of the Council merely as a Council for the assistance of the Minister. Now he (Mr. Mangles) concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that if we were to have a Council which was deserving of the name, it should perform all the functions and possess all the real and substantial power which was at present vested in the Court of Directors. It would be better to have no Council at all than one which would be a mere sham; better than to leave nominally the management of the affairs of India to a body calling itself a Council, but possessing no authority, having no power even of placing its opinions on record, would it be to have, in its stead, only an Under Secretary and a number of clerks—although such a proceeding would, no doubt, be most unwise in itself, and one calculated to lead to the 1703 most disastrous results. Anything, however, he should repeat, was preferable to a sham. The sort of Council which ought to be appointed was one which should be competent to advise the Minister, and which should have the power, if that Minister took a course which was contrary to argument and to reason, to place its opinions upon record, and thus to afford Parliament and the country an opportunity of pronouncing its judgment upon the policy which, in defiance of those opinions, might have been adopted. A Council like that was what was wanted, and anything else would be a delusion and a snare. The noble Lord the Member for London had urged the necessity of the new Secretary of State for India, or whatever else that officer might be called, being supreme, and had contended that, in order that that object might be attained, it was desirable the Council should be a body without much power or authority. The noble Lord had, however, towards the close of his speech, answered his own argument upon that point, when he stated that the President of the Board of Control now exercised a supreme power. He (Mr. Mangles) should be sorry to maintain that the authority of the Imperial Government should not constitute the ultima ratio with respect to the affairs of India, but he should like to see it occupying that position to no greater extent than was under the present system the case. He should, in short, wish to see the now Council possessing an authority quite as great as that of the present Court of Directors—an authority which enabled it to maintain its independence, and to be the competent adviser both of the Minister and of the Cabinet. That responsibility should rest with the Minister; and, at the same time, substantial power in the Council was, no doubt, a problem which it was difficult to solve. It had, however, been solved in practice ever since the passing of Mr. Pitt's Bill in 1783; and it would not be difficult, he believed, to work it out for the future in the same way, if they were determined to alter the constitution of the Government. He believed it would be practicable to form a Council which would be an independent body; and, being an independent, a useful body. He should vote, of course, against going into Committee for the purpose of considering these Resolutions, or any Resolutions; but, if they should so resolve, he should turn his attention in Committee to making the 1704 Council really useful. One word more, He regretted to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer speak of the form of procedure in the case of the proposed Council as a secondary question; and he should recommend him to reconsider the conclusions in reference to that important portion of the subject at which he seemed to have arrived. He might depend upon it that the utility of the Council depended very much upon the point which he seemed to consider merely one of detail. If the Council were to see nothing but that the Secretary of State chose them to see, and were to do nothing but what he chose them to do, they would be an ineffective and useless body. The Council ought to possess, as the Court of Directors now possessed, the power of taking the initiative in preparing all measures relating to India; the power of alteration, rejection, and even of framing totally different measures, being vested, as it was under the existing system, in a Minister of the Crown. He should, of course, feel it to be his duty to vote against the Motion for going into Committee to consider the Resolutions under discussion, or any Resolutions which had a similar object, but if those Resolutions should be carried, he should lend to the Government all the aid in his power to render the new Council a real independent and useful body.
§ MR. BAILLIE
thought the House laboured under some mistake as to the real nature of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory.) The question which it had raised was not, as the noble Lord the Member for London seemed to imagine, whether all legislation for India should be abandoned during the present Session, but whether the House should proceed to legislate by means of the Resolutions which had been laid upon the table, reserving to itself the power, if it should decide in the negative, of proceeding by Bill if it chose. ["No, no!"] The words of the Amendment were, "It is not expedient to pass any Resolutions for the future government of India;" it did not therefore contain anything which would in the event of its being carried preclude the House from passing a Bill with that object. The House would recollect the grounds on which the noble Lord the Member for London had advised his (Mr. Baillie's) right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to withdraw his Bill and to proceed by Resolution. The noble Lord said that the House of Commons was 1705 called upon to legislate for the interests of 100,000,000 of people, whose future happiness and well-being depended in a great measure upon the legislative scheme which Parliament might sanction; and that he therefore thought it would be but just and reasonable that all parties should come to the discussion of a subject so important with that calmness, deliberation, and absence of party feeling which beyond all question ought to characterize their proceedings when dealing with the interests of so many millions of men not represented in that House. These were the reasons which induced the noble Lord to press the Government to proceed by way of Resolution; and it was, he (Mr. Baillie) believed, the general feeling prevailing among the great body of the Members of that House and he believed that it was a feeling of this kind which induced the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton not to press the second reading of his Bill when it stood on the paper fur the second reading. The question, therefore, now before the House, though they had been entering into a general discussion that evening with respect to the future government of India, really was a very simple one, and had reference merely to the mode of procedure; whether by way of Resolution, or whether, if that mode should be rejected, by way of Bill. With regard, however, to what had fallen from several hon. Members, who had proposed that there should be no legislation for India during the present Session, he thought that if the House came to that Resolution at the present time it would really cut a very ridiculous figure in the eyes of the country. Believing, therefore, that the general feeling of the House was that they ought to proceed by way of Resolution, he trusted that the hon. Member's Amendment would be rejected.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he certainly did not understand the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Galway in the sense in which it was understood by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Board of Control. He did not understand the issue which was now raised, and on which the House was now to divide, to be whether legislation for India was to take place by way of Resolutions or by way of a Bill. The terms of the Amendment stated that it was inexpedient at the present moment to pass any Resolution with respect to the government of India; but the whole speech of the hon. Member who moved it, as well as the speeches in other Members had 1706 been, in fact, a reproduction of the arguments used in the month of February last against any alteration of the government of India during the present Session of Parliament and during the present state of India. It was in this sense that he understood the Amendment of the hon. Member for Galway, and so, understanding it, he had been prepared to vote with the Government and against the Amendment, and to proceed, in fact, with the Resolutions on Friday next, in order not to raise obstacles to the course which the Government had chosen to adopt on their own responsibility with a view to lay the foundation of a Bill; but if he were told that the issue on which the House was to divide was whether they should proceed by way of Resolution or by way of Bill, he must then withdraw his vote from the Government. He thought that, with the confident views entertained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the principle on which the House ought to legislate, the course which the Government should have taken after withdrawing their Bill was to lay on the table another Bill, with such Amendments as they thought necessary. Such a course would have saved time, and avoided that delay which might now take place, and which might entail the risk of no legislation with respect to India being adopted during the present Session. At the same time, feeling, as the right hon. Member for Oxford University said, that there were Parliamentary precedents for the course of proceeding proposed by the Government, and that the forms of the House did not preclude the Government from adopting it, he would not interfere with that discretion which was generally allowed to a Government; and as, upon consideration, they had first laid a Bill on the table of the House, and had then with- drawn it because they afterwards thought that it would be most expedient that a Bill should be founded on Resolutions, he should not have been prepared to press his difference of opinion in respect to the course of proceeding to the extent of a division against the Government. But then they ought to understand on what the House was about to divide, and as he understood that the Amendment was intended to express an opinion that the decision arrived at in February last was a wrong decision, and that there ought to be no legislation for India under present circumstances, he should support the Government against the Amendment.
§ MR. GREGORY
explained that the object he had in moving the Amendment was to get rid, if possible, of all legislation with respect to the Government of India during the present Session; but he had worded the Amendment so as to render it applicable to the present case, thereby leaving himself at liberty, when the time came, to support any similar proposition with respect to the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, supposing that the present Resolutions should be got rid of by his Amendment.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said that, after the explanation of the hon. Member for Galway, he thought it would have been better if the hon. Member had worded his Amendment in a different form, and simply said that it was not expedient to legislate with regard to the government of India during the present Session. Such a Motion would have raised, in the simplest manner, the issue now raised by the Amendment as now explained—whether it was advisable —aye or no—to legislate during the present Session with respect to the homo government of India. Now, he was one of those who supported by his vote the Motion moved by the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Thomas Baring), thinking that legislation with respect to the home government of India was a great mistake at a time when an extensive mutiny was going on, for you thereby made it uncertain in the minds of the people of India what their government would be, and were proposing a great change when great military operations were being carried on. Having voted with the hon. Member for Huntingdon in favour of his proposition, that they ought not to legislate under such circumstances for India, he should, unless that Motion had been made and rejected, entirely have concurred in the present Amendment; but he wished the House carefully to consider whether that was a position the House could now take consistently with its own dignity. The House had affirmed by a large majority that it was expedient to legislate for the government of India—for that was the effect of the majority obtained by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton on the introduction of his Bill; and it was now proposed that they should take a step in April directly in the teeth of what might be considered a Resolution of the House affirmed most deliberately in February last. Let the House, then, be apprised beforehand that such was the proposition about to be submitted to it. Let 1708 there be due notice on the point. Whatever course they might ultimately take, let them not rescind a Resolution without notice; and if it were now the opinion of the House that legislation with respect to the government of India was not advisable, he ventured humbly to submit that the proper mode of determining that question would be to give notice that on Friday next a substantive Resolution to that effect would be proposed. By such notice all the Members of this House would be apprised of what was intended to be done, and there would be the fullest opportunity for the delivery of reasons on one side and the other. He ventured to say that they would by such a course put themselves more right in the public estimation, and be deemed to conduct their proceedings with more gravity and deliberation, than by now rescinding, without notice, a Resolution come to in February last by such a large majority of the House; for such would be the effect of passing the present Amendment. Though strongly tempted to follow the noble Lord opposite on one or two observations he made with respect to some of the Resolutions proposed by the Administration in respect to the Government of India, he forbore to enter into that discussion, because he thought it better to confine himself simply to the point raised by the Amendment; otherwise, he felt fully confident that on discussion it would be shown that the two great points of the establishment of an independent Council and the withdrawal of patronage from mere Ministerial or English influence would be better obtained by some such proposition as that of the Government than by the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
desired to make a few observations with respect to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Galway. He had voted upon a former occasion in favour of a postponement of legislation upon the subject of India, and he should give his unhesitating support to the present Amendment; but at the same time he could not but feel that there was a good deal of force in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) that if the House was to be invited to change its course it was desirable that some notice should be given. With respect to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, however, as to the inconsistency of the House in April arriving at a different conclusion from that it adopted in 1709 February, he did not attach much weight to it, because he believed that even if it did not change its opinion in April it, probably, would do so in July. He would suggest to the hon. Member for Galway that it would be better to give a notice which would bring the question fairly before the House, and obviate any objection as to the House being taken by surprise. Instead of a hurried debate the matter could be fully considered, and although the minority might be a small one, he would never be ashamed of forming a unit in it, as, in addition to reasons which formerly existed, there were now other circumstances of a domestic character—a change of Government and the state of the House—which still more rendered it inexpedient to undertake at this time legislation with regard to India.
§ VISCOUNT GODERICH
said that, having given notice of his intention under certain circumstances to propose an Amendment, he felt it necessary to make a few observations upon the state of things now existing in reference to this subject. As he understood the Amendment of the hon. Member for Galway, it was intended to raise the question whether there should be any legislation in regard to India during this Session, and if that Motion were pressed to a division he (Viscount Goderich) would feel it his duty to vote against it. But, after the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was very important that the House should determine not to pledge itself that evening as to the course it would take on Friday next. Upon that evening he conceived it would still be open to any Member to raise the question whether they should proceed by Resolution or by Bill, and he thought circumstances had occurred this evening which rendered it necessary that the House should reserve to itself a perfect freedom of action upon that point; for he could not agree with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton who had described the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a funeral oration over the Bill which he slew on Friday last, but which had a singular resemblance to the speech which the right hon. Gentleman would probably have made in moving the second reading of his measure. That speech also raised a suspicion that the point at which they had now arrived was really intended to represent the second reading of the Government Bill, and that the object of the present proceeding was 1710 to tide over the ordeal of a second reading and to go into Committee upon the propositions of the Government without submitting them to the House as a whole. If that were so, it was necessary to guard themselves against the supposition that by supporting the proposition made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in preference to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Galway they intended to express any approbation of that course. He desired to reserve to himself the fullest freedom of action upon that point. He had not proceeded with the Amendment of which he had given notice because that was contingent upon the withdrawal of the Government Bill; and that Bill having been withdrawn he did not wish to take a course which might expose him to the charge of unfairness towards the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he thought that the difficulty of legislating for India, which was before sufficiently great, and the responsibilities of Parliament sufficiently serious, had been considerably increased since the Bill of the late Government was introduced into the House. There had now been imported into the subject a new element of embarrassment— the fact of a large portion of the House who voted for immediate legislation having now changed their opinions. ["No!"] Some hon. Members cried "No;" but to warrant his remark he need only refer to the fact, which could not be controverted, that the Amendment to postpone legislation, which was now made, was moved and seconded by Members who voted in the majority upon the former occasion. When those hon. Members, in spite of their former votes, moved now to defer legislation, he was justified in saying that the House was aware of the fact that they represented a change of opinion which had spread far beyond themselves. In truth, there was an opinion growing in that House that they had committed what the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary hesitated to express, but which he (Mr. Horsman) had no difficulty in designating —a great mistake—in entangling itself with Indian legislation without some previous information of Indian requirements. There was a feeling that the House had plunged hastily and precipitately into the gulf of legislation, and had thereby done nothing but mischief; for, as it turned out, they had unsettled everything and settled nothing. He agreed with the 1711 noble Lord, the Member for London, that the period of the Session was no bar to their proceeding with legislation; but although it was true that all former Government Bills with reference to India had been introduced later than April, yet it must be remembered that every one of those Bills was preceded by inquiry; and that in former cases the House came to the consideration of the measures proposed, strengthened by previous inquiry, and with an agreed basis for legislation. But was the House now agreed upon the basis of legislation for India? He must say, that taking the two Bills together with the Resolutions about to be submitted, he could not find in them the materials of a measure which would meet the requirements of India, or raise the credit of that House. Take the first question of the Council, There appeared to be at the beginning of the Session a general agreement that a Council must be an essential part in any legislation; but when they came to the formation of that Council, as proposed by either of the Bills now before the House—a Council to be composed of able men, possessing knowledge without power, influence without responsibility, complete subordination with perfect independence; it was found that neither the Bill of the late Government, which he admired for its simplicity, nor the Bill of the present Government, which, with all its complications, contained one or two good points, provided effectually those much do- sired elements. Both measures also possessed one vital defect, of passing over the question of providing for the government of India in India. That difficulty could not be disposed of by bridging over the distance between the India House and the Board of Control. They might evade or ignore the difficulty, but the result of such evasion would only be a perpetuation of the difficulty. The House was now in this position. There were few Members sanguine enough to believe that anything like effectual legislation would take place this year, and many were now converted to the opinion that the attempt was a mistake. But, if that opinion did really exist, he would ask the House, ought they to adopt the suggestion of the Home Secretary, and out of regard to their character for consistency to allow a false pride to stand in the way of the public interest? In private life an individual who had made a mistake received the approbation of the world for the moral coinage which enabled 1712 him to acknowledge it—however unpleasant it might be to retract, yet a retraction made a man stand higher, not only with his own friends, but with the world at large, because he established his moral courage, and displayed his virtue, by sacrificing his feelings to duty. Why should it be different with the House of Commons? Many of them felt that their opinions were changed. Why should they not acknowledge it? There was no doubt some difficulty in entirely rescinding the Resolution at which the House arrived at the commencement of the Session; but since that resolution was come to, circumstances had materially changed. At that time the task of legislating for India seemed to be simple and easy. Now it had been found to be very difficult, and it appeared from expressions they had dropped, neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, were very sanguine as to settling the question this Session. Under all these circumstances, he, with great deference, suggested a means of getting out of the difficulty, preserving their consistency, and at the same time discharging their duty'. He took it that the House had agreed, as nearly unanimously as could be expected on a great question of this sort, that the Government of India should be transferred from the Company to the Crown, and to that decision he believed that the East India Company themselves were prepared to bow. He, therefore, thought that on Friday they might very easily come to a vote adopting the first Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, declaring that that transfer should take place, and so close that question against all further controversy and dispute; but that when they came to the second Resolution, it would be desirable that some gentleman who voted in the majority against the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon, should move as an Amendment, that further inquiry was necessary, and that a Committee should be appointed to devise the best means of carrying the first Resolution into effect. He believed that such an Amendment would express the opinions of a very large number of Members of that House, would be supported by some of the most distinguished of the majority, who had opposed the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon, but had since changed their opinions, would represent the feeling of a great majority of the people out of doors, and would, at the same time, relieve the House 1713 from the embarrassment under which they were wasting this Session, and might probably in a future one, return to the discussion of this subject without adequate knowledge. He should himself be unwilling to initiate such a Motion, but he thought the feeling of the House so strong on the subject, that if no other Member undertook the task, he would not shrink from it.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he did not believe that the opinions of the liberal party or of the country upon this question had altered, and would beg to remind his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) that if he or those hon. Members who had voted against the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon had since changed their opinions, all the Members of the present Ministry who supported that Motion had suddenly become enamoured of immediate legislation. At the same time he was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Walpole), while expressing his desire to go on with legislation, say that the original proposal for legislation at this time was a great mistake. The proposal of his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud, that the House should agree to the first Resolution, and then submit the other to a Committee upstairs, was the most inconvenient that he could imagine. There might, indeed, be something in the argument of the hon. Member for Huntingdon, at the time that he proposed his Motion against proceeding immediately to legislate, respecting the Government of India—that they ought to be deterred from legislation by the dangers and difficulties which they might create in India; but that was properly met by the reply, that it was not proposed to interfere with the Executive Government, the Government in India, but with the Government at home—a change which would not affect the mutiny, for as to the Home Government the mutineers cared as little about it as any one who had never heard of it. It was a mistake to suppose that the people of India had any great affection for the Company, or cared very much what was the government in this country. He had asked many experienced Indians what the Natives said of the Company, and the reply was, "Very little;" when he asked what they thought of the Board of Control, the answer was, "Nothing at all "—that the real government was supposed, as was most natural, to 1714 be the Governor General. Under these circumstances, the late Government contended that there was no reason why the Home Government should not be changed, although the country was in a state of mutiny; and all that had happened since had strengthened that argument. If the hon. Member for Huntingdon was right in saying that the introduction of that measure would shake the Government in India, ail that had happened since must have shaken it still more, and the proposal of his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud would shake it worse than anything. His right hon. Friend could not have considered this question with his usual acuteness, because it was evident that the whole question was contained in the first Resolution. Directly you adopted a Resolution to transfer the government of India from the Company to the Crown, you must reconstitute the Court of Directors and the Board of Control. The Secretary of State, the President of the Council, or whatever he was to be called, must correspond directly with the Government in India. That he did not was one of the greatest of the existing evils. His principal object in rising, however, was to say that he entirely disapproved the proposal to proceed by Resolution, and that nothing should have induced him to assent to it except his desire to lay aside all minor differences in order to carry a Bill for the government of India, if possible, during the present Session. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) thought that was not possible; but he could not be ignorant how completely the condemnation of two Administrations must have paralyzed the springs and energies of the Home Government of India. He was well acquainted with the energy and industry of the gentlemen who conducted the business at the East India House, but he ventured to say that not one of them had, since he knew that there was to be an alteration in the constitution of the Government, acted with the same spirit with which he previously discharged his duties; and such would continue to be the case until the promised alteration was made. Therefore, of all courses the worst would be to postpone legislation from this Session to another, in order that the subject might be referred to a Committee. His right hon. Friend said that all previous changes had been preceded by inquiry; but that was the very reason why none was needed now. If his right hon. Friend read the Report of the Committee of 1852, 1715 and the evidence taken before it, he would find that all the questions raised by the two Bills before the House were then discussed, and grave and weighty opinions were given upon them. He entirely agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that nothing could be more childish than now to rescind the decision upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon; but he did not wish it to be supposed that he was in favour of proceeding by Resolution instead of by Bill. His noble Friend (Lord John Russell), who was for the pro-sent the leader of the House, as they wore going to consider his Resolutions, was quite consistent, having in December last suggested to him (Mr. Vernon Smith) that it would be desirable to proceed by the introduction of Resolution. But it should be remembered, that there was some difference in the state of things between December and April. Two Bills had been introduced in the interim. But the reason why he (Mr. Vernon Smith) thought the proceeding by Resolution inconvenient was, that it was in effect a violation of the rules of the House, by going, as it were, into committee on a Bill before they had road it a second time. When his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) suggested the proceeding by Resolution, he could hardly have meant that the House should go into the consideration of a Resolution on such a question; for instance, as whether the Council should consist of 11 or 18 members. The consequence of proceeding by Resolution— before a Bill would be that, they would have a double discussion upon the details of the Bill—it was therefore merely a dilatory course, and one that must lead to confusion. He regretted extremely that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing his Motion that night, instead of simply stating his reasons for adopting the mode of proceeding by Resolution, should have gone into a wide discussion as to the comparative merits of his own Bill and that of the Bill of his noble Friend the Member for Tiverton and himself. He would not then, however, enter into that question; he would simply say, on the subject of nomination, that he entirely agreed with his noble Friend the Member for London, that if there could possibly have been devised any principle of election which it would have been a reasonable thing to attempt, he should have been ready to give such a principle his support; but he (Mr. Vernon Smith), himself, when he was at the Board 1716 of Control, went over every possible scheme-of election that could be suggested, and could find none that was at all compatible with any common-sense view of the question. One thing was certain, and that was they could not have any representation in India, because the House would never dare to face the difficulty that beset such a proposition—namely, that if they wanted a representation in India they must represent the Natives. He defied any man to get up in that House and propound such a proposition. The result was, that the Government now proposed to vest the election in the tax-consumers, for every one of the civil servants and old pensioners contemplated in their proposition, was interested in the payment of his dividends out of the revenues of India, and he (Mr. Vernon Smith) did not know what other interest they had in that country. He contended that it was a total mistake as to what representation meant to say that such persons should delegate members to an Indian Council, and therefore it was that the late Government, resorted to the principle of nomination. It seemed to be assumed in some quarters that nominated persons must necessarily be dependent. According to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) they were "the miserable tools of a corrupt Ministry," and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had that night talked of "barren nominees." Such, at least, had not been the character of the nominees that had lately acted in the direction of the East India Company; and, as for their independence, there was the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Willoughby)—did any man doubt his independence? Did the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer call him "a barren nominee," or "the miserable tool of a corrupt Ministry?" No; the nominees to whom he (Mr. Vernon Smith) had alluded, had acted in the most independent manner, and he contended that men appointed on the principle of nomination for a certain term of years would be found as independent of the Crown as the elective members themselves. One word as to an observation which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, who said there was nothing in the Bill of the late Government to limit the power of the Secret Committee. The right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in that, for there was a clause in the Bill compelling the Minister of the Crown to bring before Parliament, 1717 lifter a certain time, the orders by which he had entered upon any war in the East, and that clause was inserted partly in consequence of certain observations which fell from the right hon. Gentleman himself on one occasion in reference to the Persian war, and which the late Government had felt so much that they did—what had never been done by a Ministry before—ask the House to pay a portion of the expenses of that war, in order to bring the question fairly before the House, and show the country that where a war had been incurred, partly for European, and partly for Asiatic purposes, it was not fair to throw the whole charge upon the revenues of India. His right hon. Friend objected to the Bill of the late Government that it made that lawful by legislative enactment which before had been done without the sanction of law— namely, the declaration of a war in India without communication to Parliament. Surely his right hon. Friend must have forgotten that it was already lawful by legislative enactment that the President of the Board of Control had now power, under a clause in the India Bill, to issue orders to go to war through the Secret Committee, without informing Parliament upon the subject. He (Mr. Vernon Smith) contended that one point of superiority in his noble Friend's Bill consisted in its doing away with the Secret Committee, which was not proposed to be done either by the Bill or the Resolutions of Her Majesty's present Government. These, however, were questions which the House would have ample opportunity of discussing in Committee. He thought that the mode of proceeding by Resolution was a cumbrous and inconvenient one; but rather than oppose any plan which was likely to lead to a settlement of this great question in the present Session, he should assent to it; and he hoped the House would by a large majority reject the Motion for postponement of the hon. Member for Galway.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
said he rose to controvert the assertion of the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), that the opinions of those who three months ago were in the majority in favour of legislating for India had undergone any change. He thought the House was perfectly competent to proceed at once to legislate for the future government of India. The affirmative vote in favour of immediate legislation had been come to when our success in India was still in the balance. We had now subdued Oude, and our arms 1718 were triumphing in every quarter, and the miserable remnant of the rebels who had risen against our authority wore flying in every direction. Would it be consistent with common sense now to retrace their steps? He hoped that the question would not be discussed in the spirit of party. India was quite removed from the category of party politics, and could only he legislated for beneficially in a spirit of strict impartiality. The time for legislation had arrived, and he could not understand the reasons on which his hon. Friend the Member for Galway proposed to arrest the progress which had been made. The amount of information contained in the enormous pile of blue-books already on the table on the subject of India contained all that was to be desired, and he could not see the necessity for instituting further inquiry, or understand the object of deferring the question any longer. The period for dilly-dallying bad gone by, and India deserved to be treated in a spirit different from that in which it seemed likely that reform, church rates, and other questions would be dealt with. He trusted his hon. Friend would withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Control (Mr. Vernon Smith) had done him some injustice in the observations he had addressed to the House. When on a former occasion he (Mr. Whiteside) ventured to argue that the House was not prepared for legislation on the question of the future government of India he contended that it would be unwise to give to the Government of this country the nomination of the Council; but he had never insinuated that the five or six Gentlemen nominated members of the Council in the Bill of the late Government were not most able and excellent men. But he had a still better opinion of them now than he had before, inasmuch as the hon. Member for Reigate (Sir H. Rawlinson), himself a nominated member of the Council, had delivered as good a speech as any that had been delivered in the course of that debate in favour of an independent and elective Council. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Vernon Smith) had referred to the representative or what was called the elective system. Now the Bill of the Government was not founded upon the representative system, though the right hon. Gentleman gave it that nickname, and having assumed that it assorted a principle which it did not, next proceeded to its demolition. The Go- 1719 vernment Bill (No. 2) asserted that there ought to be an independent Council, and not one nominated by the Crown. How was it to be chosen? Upon some elective principle; and then you must get the best persons you could, not to represent the people of India or anybody else, but to be in fact a check upon the Executive and a limitation upon the power of the Crown in the Council. If he (Mr. Whiteside) could agree that it was a simple matter to legislate for India; that the less one knew about the subject the easier it was to legislate upon it; that the sooner it could be disposed of when they were not the least acquainted with the magnitude and difficulty of the subject the better—then he admitted that they could not dispose of it too quickly; but when the hon. Gentleman the Member for the King's County (Mr. O'Brien) argued thus against the formation of the Council, he thought he would find in the blue-books to which he had alluded, but which it was to he shrewdly suspected he had never read, the very strongest arguments and the most cogent evidence from the best witnesses that could be found in the world to sustain the principle asserted in the Bill introduced by the present Government; but on that subject he would not now enter. This was not a matter that could be disposed of at once. He had read that Sir William Jones once occupied himself three or four years in maturing a single principle relating to the government of India. Not so was it with certain hon. Members of this House, who at a moment's notice were prepared to throw off a plan for the government of that country. [Cheers]. He alluded to the noble Lord opposite and the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Control, who had framed a constitution for India which, like all despotic systems, was very simple, for it centred all power in themselves, and then his friends and supporters cried out, ''See how simple a thing it is to frame a constitution!" Why, the inhabitants of France might say the same! His (Mr. Whiteside's) notion was that as the House proceeded with the question they would find the difficulties which surrounded it increase upon them, and he did not think that those difficulties had been lessened by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, however they might have been removed by the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County, who had the happy talent of clearing away all obscurity and making any 1720 subject which he once took up clear to the apprehension of the House.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Galway would not press his Motion to a division. It would be most unfortunate if they should come to a decision upon a point of so much importance without its having been fully debated. He therefore entreated the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment, and that the House should come to a clear understanding that a vote on this question would be come to on Friday evening.
§ MR. CROSSLEY
said, that when this Session of parliament commenced it was generally thought it was to be one of the most important Sessions they had had for many years. They were to have had their parliament reformed; they were to have had church rates abolished; and they were to have had the present double Government of our Indian empire abolished, and a proper and responsible Government established in its place. These great promises seemed to be gliding away. The Reform Bill had been given up; and, looking to the course adopted last Wednesday, he feared there was only an indifferent chance of the abolition of church rates being carried this Session; and now if they were to postpone all legislation on India he thought they would only be a laughing-stock for the country. A great mistake, he thought, had come over the minds of many hon. Members. They seemed to think they would be much wiser next Session than they were then. Now he, for one, did not believe that they had anything to gain by procrastination. They knew just about as much now as they would then. It was not the government in India they were professing to deal with, but the government of India at home. They found, during the recent outbreak, that when they came to call the Minister to account for misdoings, he said the fault did not rest with him; that all he had to do was to throw clown the reins and stick the spurs into the East India Company. Now they wanted to alter that state of irresponsibility, and he saw no reason why they should not proceed at once to make that alteration. They seemed to be all agreed that the Government of the East India Company must be transferred to the Crown; they seemed to be all pretty well agreed that the responsibility, must rest with the Minister; the point, therefore, they had to settle was as to the kind of assistance the Minister should have. He 1721 (Mr. Crossley) thought that whilst no expense or trouble should be spared in affording him the very best possible assistance, that assistance ought not to be of such a character as would, in the least, screen him from responsibility. For these reasons he strenuously opposed the postponement proposed by the hon. Member for Galway.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he could not possibly misunderstand the feeling of the House, and would therefore ask permission to withdraw his Amendment, reserving to himself the right to bring it forward afterwards.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
That this House will, upon Friday next, resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Act of the Kith and 17th Victoria, c. 95, "to provide for the Government of India.