Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [12th February],—
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for the better Government of India. "And which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is not at present expedient to legislate for the Government of India," instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."1373
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that a more important subject than the present had never occupied the attention of Parliament. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) in the speech which he addressed to the House in introducing the subject stated, that the subjects of the Queen in India, for whom that House was about to legislate, amounted to 150,000,000; but he would have been more accurate and nearer to the truth if he had said that the number of persons in India under British sway amounted to very nearly 200,000,000; and that being the case he thought that he was justified in saying that a more important question than the present had never been the subject, of consideration of that House. With respect to the mode in which that dominion had been acquired, it was not his intention to enter into that question; but he might, perhaps, be allowed to say, that he would challenge opposition, that in making that acquisition England had broken through almost every rule of morality. She had, it was true, exhibited great valour and great intelligence, but not great virtue; and when an hon. Gentleman on the last night of the debate spoke of the acquisition of that rule as forming one of the brightest pages in the annals of the history of England, he (Mr. Roebuck) could only ask him if he had formed a picture to himself of that which really constituted a bright page in the annals of the history of a country. If the hon. Gentleman meant that British troops in India bad shown great valour, that their generals had shown great ability, and that Englishmen had shown in all cases wonderful intelligence in attaining their ends, then he thought that the hon. Gentleman was right in calling the history of the connection of England and India a bright page in British annals. But if he meant to say that England had during that period displayed a regard for the great principles of morality, that she had been in all cases faithful to her engagements, that she had shown herself incapable of receding from her word, then he thought that the hon. Gentleman was stating that which history would not support. He, for his own part, could not consider that a bright page in the annals of England, although in it she displayed great valour and intelligence, without one concomitant virtue. He believed, however, that British rule, obtained even as it had been, might be turned to great benefit for the people of India. If he thought that 1374 British dominion in India was to be for the future what it had been during the past—that the people of India would not obtain any more advantage from the improved civilization and the greater morality of the people of England than they had hitherto done—then he should consider that it would be wise and just in us to depart from the shores of India, and leave the Indians to govern themselves. He believed, however, that as the morality and intelligence of the people of England were made to bear upon the English Government in India, the Natives of India would obtain a better system of government than they had ever yet enjoyed. It appeared to him, from a careful perusal of their history, that the people of India were incapable of governing themselves, that they must be held for many years yet in a state of tutelage, and that by bringing to bear upon them greater intelligence and better morality than they themselves possessed great benefits would be extended to them. Such had not been the case hitherto; but he believed that the first step towards establishing such a state of things was the Bill of the noble Lord.
The present question to be determined was twofold—first, what was the government best fitted for India, and secondly, whether the present was the right time to establish it. That was a distinction which had been made throughout the debate; and, although those gentlemen who opposed the Bill by pressing the latter appeared to give up the former part of the argument, he thought that upon an occasion like the present, when it was most desirable to obtain the expression of the feelings and of the intelligence of the people of England, it became the Members of that House to go through the whole of the argument.
Now, preparatory to the argument which he intended to adduce he wished to make one or two observations upon the state of India at present. India, it was to be remembered, was not a colony but a conquest. A colony he conceived to be a body of men sent out from a mother country, who, settling in some distant place, took with them there the manners, the language, and the institutions of the mother country; and with regard to the British Colonies, the best mode of governing them was to allow them to govern themselves. Nearly a quarter of century, he was sorry to say, had elapsed since he had first denounced in that House interference in the affairs of our 1375 Colonies; and he recollected that his suggestions were received with strong indignation, and that very principle which at present was the main principle upon which the Colonies of England were governed,—namely, to allow them to govern themselves,—was received with a howl of disapprobation. India, however, as he had said, was not a colony but a conquest, and she could not be treated upon similar principles. Our Colonies had been planted in lands almost uncultivated and containing comparatively few inhabitants. But India was peopled to its uttermost; the people had reached a high state of civilization—a civilization indeed very different from ours; but still in a certain sense they were a highly cultivated people. They were, however, quite unable to govern themselves; and therefore it behoved us, if they retained dominion in India, to give to that people a government capable of maintaining order, and one which would conduce to their welfare and happiness. India was a conquest and not a colony, and for the purpose of governing India we must have recourse to different principles from those which we had hitherto acted upon in the government of our Colonies. It was said that in the case of our Colonies we had, from our own incapacity, been compelled to leave them to govern themselves, and that therefore we had shown ourselves unfit to govern India. But the two cases, as he had said, were different, India being a conquest and not a colony. Parliament, acting upon the teaching of experience, finding that the people in the Colonies could govern themselves better than we could govern them at this distance, had taken a wise course, and allowed the Colonies to govern themselves. But with regard to India he believed that a government established in England would govern the people of India better than they could govern themselves; and therefore he said that we must have recourse to different principles than those which governed our treatment of our Colonies, in our dealing with India. With regard to the government of India, we had the three celebrated courses spoken of by Sir Robert Peel—we might either retain the present government, or place a new government in the hands of the East India Company, or adopt the Bill of the noble Lord.
As regarded the present state of things in India the history of that state of things was very remarkable. When George III. came to the throne he was, as he thought, 1376 out of his mind, and there was one feeling which pursued him through life, and which he carried out with all the cunning of insanity. He believed himself to be in danger of being treated like certain of the Merovingian kings, and he expected to be some day shaved and sent to a convent. And he entertained on that account feelings of great alarm towards the great body of the aristocracy of the country, and the great object of his life, and one which he pursued with undeviating pertinacity, was to break down the power of the great families of the kingdom. The climax arrived when Mr. Fox himself, representing the aristocratic body, brought in his Indian Bill. That Indian Bill was, as regarded the then knowledge of the people of England, a wise measure. But the king persuaded the people—who were pretty nearly as insane as their Sovereign—that there was great danger in Mr. Fox's Bill, because the power over India was to be conferred on the British Parliament. A cry was raised against that measure. It had been his own fortune, since he had been an observer of party politics, to hear a cry raised about as unwise' as that to which he was referring, and also to see that cry go down. Mr. Fox, however, did not live to see the people of England come to their senses as we had done. This was the first great symptom of returning sanity on their part in regard to India. Mr. Pitt, taking advantage of the cry in England, palmed upon the people, through the Parliament, a great "sham." He told the Directors that he was exceedingly anxious to maintain their power, and he brought in a Bill which received the approbation of the then representatives of the East India Company. They showed their wisdom by so doing, for they thereby lost their whole power over India! That was the consequence of having "Old Indians" to govern India. Mr. Pitt cajoled them and instituted the Board of Control. And what had been the result? The Board of Control from that time to this had been the irresponsible governor of India. "A board," said Jeremy Bentham, "is a screen!" And so the Board of Directors had proved. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last Friday evening explained to them with a good deal of humour—which, coming from him, told—that the Court of Directors, as compared with the Board of Control, were nearly powerless. And it was quite clear that the real authority 1377 rested with the President of that Board, and that the only use of the Court of Directors was to take from the President of the Board of Control all the trouble of his office, and to leave him all the power. The Directors were used as a screen for him whenever any difficulty occurred. The burden was thrown upon the shoulders of the Court of Directors, who in turn threw it back, shuttle-cock fashion, to the Board of Control; while the public, with eyes open and mouths agape, stood bewildered, not knowing whom to blame. That was a true picture of the present home Government for India. The question was, should Parliament allow this state of things to continue?
It was necessary to draw a distinction. They had two things to do in the arrangement of the government of India. First, they bad to arrange the machinery which should bring to bear upon the actual governors of India the opinion of the Parliament and people of England, and their responsibility to that opinion. This was what was called the home Government. They had also to constitute the Government in India which should carry out their plans when they had been duly matured in England. For the first operation, they did not require any knowledge of the people of India. All that was requisite was a knowledge of the general principles of human nature. They wanted to bring to bear on their officials in India a responsibility towards the people of England; and if they accomplished that they would do sufficient for the good government of India as far as the home Government was concerned. By the double Government, however, under which it was hardly possible to know who was answerable for any act performed by the home Government of India, they had done their utmost to destroy all responsibility and all efficiency in that Government. The responsibility was spread until it was so weakened that no one knew who was responsible. They were bound, then, to get rid of such a state of things, as regarded the Home Government, as soon as possible. The question next arose, ought they to go back to the East India Company? True, that Company were very much in the habit of praising themselves, and when nobody else would praise one it was as well to praise oneself. But, looking to the career of that body until the Parliament of England interfered to restrain it, was ever a worse or more rapacious Government 1378 than that of the East India Company known in the history of the world? Hon. Gentlemen might refer on this matter to the pages of a great defender of the Company—Lord Macaulay—in whose Life of Clive they would find that the whole object of their Government was money!—money to the Directors in the shape of dividend—money to their servants in the shape of large fortunes; and that they had crushed and trampled upon the unhappy people of Hindostan as if they had been dirt beneath their feet, except that they were dirt out of which they could dig gold. Therefore, judging them by their past history, the Court of Directors were not fit persons to be trusted with the future government of India, But the Directors were a representative body—they represented the Court of Proprietors. On what principle were they elected? The Court of Proprietors consisted of persons who possessed East India Stock, and in a certain proportion to the amount of stock which they individually held was the number of their votes. He might appeal to the House of Commons and ask, what would they think of such a government for themselves? They took a fraction of the people of England and erected a sort of aristocracy among them, giving a man a double vote because he had a double number of shares! If the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, in his promised measure of Parliamentary Reform, were to propose anything of that kind for the people of England, he would soon be swept from place, and every one of his supporters with him. Then, what was good for England in this matter was good for India; and the very principle which rendered the Court of Directors a totally unfit body to govern England rendered them equally unfit to govern India. Then came the Bill of the noble Lord, which contained among its provisions one of infinite importance. It did away with the Government of India as at present constituted, putting in its place a Secretary of State and a Council of eight. The great mistake of the measure was the Council. The very principle which made the present Government mischievous—namely, divided responsibility—told against this Council. Moreover, the noble Lord said that the Council would be composed of "Old Indians," That circumstance greatly strengthened his objection to it; because in England at the present moment were to be found men far more capable of govern- 1379 ing India than any "Old Indian" whatever. ["No!"] No! He wanted to know, then, to whom the Company had intrusted the concoction of their own petition? Was there not among them one of the most remarkable minds of the present day? [Mr. John Stuart Mill it is supposed.] Did he not lend his valuable aid in concocting that petition, which, marked though it was by many fallacies, still exhibited great mental power? The author of that document was, he believed, far more capable of governing India than all the "Old Indians" put together. Therefore, as far as the concentration of responsibility upon a Secretary of State went, he entirely agreed with the noble Lord; and he entreated him to consider whether great mischief might not arise from the divided responsibility that must flow from the creation of this Council. He knew the Councillors would not vote. Still they would share the responsibility. He would be bound to say, that if he lived long enough to see a Secretary of State for India appointed, he would hear him declare at the table of that House that he had done his best, and that he was quite of the same opinion as the Council. The Council would not have seats in that House—it would not be under their control. The Secretary of State might be, but it would be too late; he would exculpate himself by the opinion of his Council, and the House would be bound to believe that being composed of "Old Indians" they knew something of India. That was a very dangerous principle—dangerous both as regarded the government of India, and as regarded the people of England.
And were they to be frightened by the bugbear of patronage? He was ashamed to think that such an argument should be used on such a subject. Could it be supposed that the House of Commons would be diverted from its duty—that it would be turned against the people of England by the appointment of a few cadets? Was it not marvellous that sane men, grown men, men with beards, should seriously retail the things which the House had heard last Friday? The civil appointments were to be distributed by competitive examination; and the only patronage to be retained would be the appointment of the cadets. Could not the Bill provide for these things? Why should they not apply the same principle to the selection of the military cadets as to the selection of the civil servants? If public competition were 1380 good for the writers, who were the real governors of India, was it not good also for the cadets, who were the soldiers and defenders of India? Suppose that for 500 cadetships there were 1,000 or 2,000 candidates, would not the examiners select those who were most fit to go out to India; and would not this most effectually do away with all patronage? The same result would not be accomplished by resting the patronage in these eight members of the Council. The Councillors would be powerful men on account of their power and authority in India; and if so much power was attributed to that patronage that it would destroy the efficiency of the House of Commons, if given to them, what would it do if concentrated in eight hands? According to the theory these eight men would govern England. He would never believe that any such thing would occur; but he was decidedly of opinion that the best way to deal with this patronage was to throw it open to public competition. The best home Government for India would be a Secretary of State, who should choose his own advisers, and in whom all responsibility should centre. Such a Secretary of State would be selected by the Prime Minister, who was practically chosen by that House, which was elected by the people: the Prime Minister was the expression of the popular will; the Prime Minister would select the Secretary of State; and, therefore, in the last resort the Secretary of State for India would be appointed by the people of this country. Now, if there was any virtue in representative Government that was just the thing for which it was useful; not that the people should govern themselves, but that they should choose their governors; not that they should do the duties of the office of Prime Minister, but that they should choose a man who could do that duty, and should force him to do it. Such a man would be responsible to that House, and would in the most effective manner bring to bear upon the Government of India the feelings and wishes of the people of England. If they arranged for this they would have done their best to form a good home Government.
The second ground upon which hon. Gentlemen had opposed this Bill was that it might be a good measure, but that this was not the proper time for it. That was the procrastinating argument. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), said that there had been a great mutiny in India 1381 which was not yet put down, and therefore no change ought to be made. Why, that was the very reason for the change. The present state of things in India demanded an efficient Government, and therefore if the proposed scheme of Government would be better than the existing one let it be at once adopted. If a Secretary of State would be a more efficient home Government the very fact of the outbreak rendered such an appointment necessary. But it was said that the Company's Government in India had always favoured the Hindoos; that the Hindoos had faith in the Company, and that the very parties who sought for a change of Government were desirous of proselytizing and Christianizing India. He had been quite startled to hear the statement that the people of Hindostan had confidence in the Government of the Company, because the Company had always opposed the extension of privileges to the Hindoos, and had particularly opposed making them participators in the government of their own country. Everything which had been granted to the Hindoos had been granted in consequence of Parliamentary interference, and every change for the better which had been made in their government had been the result of Parliamentary interposition. The East India Company strove to maintain their monopoly of trade, and did their utmost to deprive the Hindoos and the half-caste of the smallest participation in the Government, and it was only through this interposition of Parliament that they had succeeded in obtaining the slightest share. He maintained that the crisis at which the affairs in India had arrived did not interfere with their calmness or judgment. A calmer House than that could not be found. There was no excitement; there was no cry. The East India Company had presented a petition; it had received the support of some hon. Members, and had been gravely debated. They were perfectly calm and collected about the matter; why, then, should they not decide upon it at once? He begged and entreated hon. Members not to shrink from their duty, not to be frightened by any cry of this sort, not to allow the foot of England to be placed upon the neck of India to crush her down with a despot's heel, when they had it in their power to spread peace, to spread good government, to spread happiness from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin.
§ MR. GRANT DUFF
said, he would not have ventured to rise in that great debate, 1382 and to ask the indulgence which the House was in the habit of granting to those who addressed it for the first time, if he had not hoped that his close connection with more than one of those administrators who had won for us our empire in the East might be taken to some extent as an excuse for his doing so. The supporters of the existing Government of India had this advantage, that while the supporters of the Bill could appeal only to reason, they could enlist the feelings of their auditors, and support their cause by all the artillery of rhetoric. Such had not always been the case. There was a time when in the neighbouring hall the eloquence of many of the ablest orators whom this country ever produced found "ample scope and verge enough" in portraying the miseries of India and the cruelty of its rulers. But, at the same time, it was just to admit that since that time the Government of that country had been modified by the increasing action of public opinion, and had every day become "more benevolent in intention and more beneficent in act." To judge from the articles in those able daily and weekly journals which supported the Company, any one would suppose that they were assembled on an occasion almost as momentous as that of the. last meeting of the ancient Legislature of Scotland, held in October, 1706; that to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Sir T. Baring) belonged the merit of the patriotic Lord Belhaven, while the noble Lord at the head of the Government represented that Chancellor who at the close of the last meeting of this ancient historical assembly, said, "There is the end of an old song." Now, what was the fact? The Company, which so many affected to deplore, had for many years in reality ceased to exist, and the House was now recommended to do the last of a long series of Acts which had been gradually modifying and altering the relations of England and India. It appeared to him that the object of the Bill was simply, as it were, to alter the driving-engine which at home set at work the mighty and complicated machine of Indian Government. That machine would remain almost unchanged, and it was only necessary to consider the character of the driving-engine. Was it so good that it was impossible to effect any improvement in it? At present the Government of India consisted of three parts. First, there was the Court of Proprietors, which consisted of two parts, the great majority of whom attended simply for the purpose of assent- 1383 ing to the views of the Directors, whilst the minority attended for the express purpose of thwarting all the views of the Directors, and seemed always ready to take under their protection everything that was wild and chimerical. The second part of the great engine was the Court of Directors. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) had spoken not very respectfully of the "Old Indians," when contrasting them with Mr. John Stuart Mill. Now, he (Mr. Grant Duff) entertained the greatest respect for the "Old Indians" who sat at the Board. If they had not extraordinary talent they had at least great experience. The hon. Member for Sheffield had blamed them for not possessing the abilities of Mr. John Stuart Mill; but if so high a standard was to be applied, how many of the best known public men in Europe would be found wanting! There was another portion of the Court which he never could well understand. It was well known that there were men amongst the Directors who were no more peculiarly capable of governing India than the Aulic Council of Austria was of directing armies in the field. They were the representatives of the moneyed interests of London, gentlemen of talent and respectability, but who had no peculiar gifts or graces for the administration of India. The third portion of the driving-engine was the Board of Control—a Board which stood self-condemned by this Bill. What then was the object of his Bill? The object was to substitute for this complicated system a reasonable system, such as any sensible man would have thought right for the Government of India if his hands had not been tied by a regard for vested interests. Not that he agreed with every portion of the Bill: on the contrary, in spite of its ominous name, he should have preferred a Council of Ten to a Council of Eight, and a Council of Twelve to either. He entirely agreed with Mr. Roebuck in thinking, also, that some advantage ought to be taken of this excellent opportunity for extending the system of appointments by competitive examination. He doubted, also, whether the system of having the Presidential Councils nominated by the governors would be found to work satisfactorily. But these were all matters of detail. They did not touch the question, which was, whether they should or should not consent to the introduction of this measure; and upon that he, for one, was prepared to vote in the affirmative. There was but one argument against it, and that 1384 was, that this was not the time. That was the well-known Parthian arrow; it was the weakest of all arguments, the last argument of a failing cause. Why was it not the time? There never was a time when the attention of England was so called to Indian affairs as the present. But he was told the people of India were not ripe for it. Why, if they attempted to make a change when there was tranquillity in India, they would be immediately met by the old maxim, "Quieta non movere." They would be asked, "Why move when things were going on well?" There was now in India a fermentation in men's minds, like that which they were told by historians preceded the Christian era. The safest and wisest course was to make this change. But some people said, "Do not do so, because there is a strong feeling in the Natives; they do not wish to be placed under the Crown." Now, there were occasions when the worst kind of policy was a timid policy. God forbid that he should advocate anything like interference with the religious feelings of the Natives, or any harsh or violent courses. All that he meant was, that if we were thoroughly convinced that a change was desirable, we should carry it with a high hand. And here he could not help relating the advice given to a relative of his by a Mahratta statesman. "If you want to rule the people of India, you must twist your left hand in their hair, and hold a club with your right." At the commencement of his remarks, he had referred to the debates which took place about the Union Treaty. It was strange to look back at them now, to compare the speech of Belhaven, which gained him so much honour, with the light words of Sea-field which gained him so much odium. How right Seafield had been; how wrong Belhaven! The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) echoed, he well knew, the opinion of many of the cultivated men of London society, when he spoke in terms of warm admiration of the concluding remarks in the speech of the hon. Member for Huntingdon. Nevertheless he (Mr. Grant Duff) was persuaded that the day would come, and come ere long, when the hon. Member would be remembered as the Belhaven of this debate. Our children, if not ourselves, would give up asking what the old Company did, and what the half-reformed Company did, and what the new Government did. Attention would be fixed on the one great continuous phenomenon of British ascendancy in the 1385 East. The next generation would cease to inquire what board or what council was served by our great Pro-consuls and their great Lieutenants, by Hastings, Bentinck, Elphinstone, or Frere. Men would only remember that they had worked for England. The modifications and remodifications of the Indian Government which had been going on for the last 100 years, and had created such fierce party strifes, would then appear only as stones set up to mark the way along the line of march of the great designs of Providence which were matured—When the flat had gone forth, that the Orient was to beSlave of a northern mistress—the island of the free.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
I subscribe to the opinion expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that this is one of the most important questions ever submitted to the deliberation of Parliament. In approaching its discussion the mind insensibly reverts to those glorious days of the Parliament of England when the greatest ability, the profoundest knowledge and the clearest judgment were applied to discover the best form of government for India, while at the same time the foremost of Parliamentary orators disputed for power and fame. A hurricane of destruction has swept over Hindostan. It was, there fore, natural for the noble Lord at the head of the Government to draw the attention of Parliament to the affairs of India. It was natural that the country should expect him to explain his policy—if he had a policy—and to call upon the House of Commons to make every effort which energetic men could make to put down the revolt and re-establish the supremacy of England. The noble Lord has introduced a Bill and delivered a speech explanatory of its provisions. I heard that speech; I have read it over twice since I heard it; and I can assure the House that at this moment my difficulty is to find out what exactly is the principle of the speech, although I think I understand the principle of the Bill. When the noble Lord proposed to overthrow an existing establishment, what might one have reasonably expected to hear from his lips? That those who conducted that establishment were indolent, apathetic, incompetent, or corrupt; that some wise measures were submitted by him for their consideration and were rejected; that deserting their 1386 duty to their country they had refused to adopt the most vigorous means for the extinction of the mutiny; and, above all, that there was a reasonable certainty that, however vast are the evils of India, this Bill would remedy not all, but some of those evils, quench the flames of a raging rebellion, and give peace to unhappy and afflicted India. I appeal to the House to know what the noble Lord has said worthy of the subject, or worthy of his high position. The noble Lord spoke, as he always does, most kindly. He began with a compliment to the Company which he intends to destroy. He said they were excellent gentlemen, honourable gentlemen,—useful members of society, and indefatigable in the performance of their duties. He concluded in the same strain. All that I gleaned from him at first was, that it is a surprising thing to find we have this empire in India. To which I answer, "It is very surprising." [A laugh.] He said that he thinks the Government or the Ministers of this country never would have suffered a body of merchants to acquire such an empire; and I agree with the noble Lord that they never would, because they never could have gained it themselves. The noble Lord then proceeded to inform the House that nobody was responsible for the government of India, and his statement has been inadvertently repeated by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. Inadvertently, I say, because I am sure that a Gentleman of his clear mind and correct habits of investigation and thought would never have repeated such a statement if he had enjoyed an opportunity of considering the subject. But under what circumstances does this question come before the House? You have been told that in 1833 an eminent Whig, now a noble Lord, a man of great ability, propounded the question of the renewal of the charter in a speech of deep learning and remarkable eloquence, and that he, speaking the sense of the great party whose representative he was, convinced the Parliament of that day that the charter of the East India Company ought to be renewed. It was renewed for twenty years only. What course was taken on the approach of the termination of that period? Committees were appointed by both Houses; the subject was fully investigated; and three ponderous blue-books contain the evidence that was taken to guide the judgment of Parliament in deciding whether or not the charter of the Company should be renewed 1387 for a further period. What is the report of the Committee of each House? They state that, though they were unable to consider six, seven, or eight great heads of inquiry, they were able to consider one—namely, the political operation of the Act of William IV., as to the management of the East Indies by the East India Company as trustees for the Crown. The verdict of the Committee of the Lords is favourable to that Company, and so likewise is the verdict of the Commons. Nowhere is blame imputed to their management, no act of impropriety is brought to their charge, no act of malversation or corruption is alleged against them. There has been no inquiry since; and now, without inquiry, without any further investigation, the noble Lord proposes to overthrow the East India Company, simply because it exists. The right hon. Baronet (whom I do not now see in his place) the First Lord of the Admiralty, as the organ of the Ministry, explained to this House, in 1853, the reasons why the charter should be renewed. I heard that speech, and I have taken the opportunity of considering it since. Let any impartial man compare that speech with the recent oration of the First Minister of the Crown, and then say which of the two exhibits more respect towards Parliament, and contains more matter or the greater body of facts; though I admit that the noble Lord has this advantage—that he has said nothing in the most agreeable manner. Consider the way in which the right hon. Baronet brought the matter before the House. He said that there wore the Reports of two Committees in his favour, but that was not enough to serve the judgment of the House, and I agree with him; and he then, from the access he had to the records of the Company, and from materials supplied by those who had competent knowledge of the subjects, established upon seven or eight great heads, such as revenue, trade, justice, police, &c, the facts, which nobody has been able to controvert, of the successful management of the affairs of India by the East India Company for the last twenty years. He proceeded to discuss the interests of humanity, and showed how infanticide had been put down, how the suttee system had been abolished, and, above all, how slavery, under the influence and authority of the East India Company, had been almost entirely destroyed. The right hon. Baronet, at that period, established those facts, with the full assent of the 1388 noble Lord, who sat beside him, who heard and applauded every word he spoke, and in doing so he was also accompanied by the hearty cheers of the Secretary to the Treasury, who the other night cheered as heartily the noble Lord when contradicting every opinion of the right hon. Baronet; and was also supported by an eloquent speech from the right hon. Member for Kidderminster, who on that occasion was determined to brook no delay in re-establishing the government of the Company, and in making it, as he said, strong, powerful, and respected. Why, it behaves the great party who commit their fortunes to such leadership to ask, whether it is possible for men to bring forward solemnly before the House great questions, to advocate them on great principles, to insist on facts, arguments, and opinions, and then in a few short years, without a solitary justificatory fact, to change the opinions they held, to unsay what they said, and with great composure to call on the House to undo what it has done. In drawing the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to the satisfactory refutation given to his fallacies by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, I may have the happiness of making the noble Lord an illustrious convert; and certainly nothing would give me greater satisfaction than to convince the noble Lord that his colleague was right, and that he himself was wrong. But on the more important question of the merits of this discussion, I beseech the House to consider the justice of the arguments put forward, and the main point urged by the noble Lord, repeated by the hon. Member for Sheffield in his ingenious speech, and also by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Did they know the facts in 1853; did they understand the question of the responsibility of Ministers to Parliament? Did they understand the difficulty of governing India, and estimate the importance of ruling 160,000,000 men? Were they conscious of the important duty they undertook to discharge; and did those eminent Whigs, according to the light in them, press on Parliament to adopt their opinions, and, in so doing, were they successful because they were right or wrong? I maintain that they were successful because they were right. Well, let us see what the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty said in 1853, in discussing one or two of the points submitted to the consideration of the House in this 1389 debate. I admit that the noble Lord at the head of the Government most delicately and judiciously said, wishing to kill the East India Company without giving them much pain, that he had no charge to bring against the Company. That was a very judicious observation, for he knows that his colleague made the same observation twenty times over in 1853. The right hon. Baronet, President of the Board of Control in 1853, after touching on some of the great questions affecting India, said:—When I read these things, I am at a loss to account for the assertion so recklessly made even by some who, from their acquaintance with the country, I should have thought had been in possession of better information on the subject, that we are disgracefully neglecting our duty in India.The right hon. Baronet then proceeded to make this very candid admission:—I fully admit that it does not follow, therefore, that because all these improvements have taken place, that the Government of India either ever was or is the best that can be devised; but I say this—that if we are to test he Government by the results of that administration in the condition of India, there is no ground whereupon to condemn it as being negligent and inefficient."—[3 Hansard, exxvii. 1134.To that statement he pledged the whole character of the Administration. Now, I trust I shall be pardoned by those Gentlemen who are familiar with this subject, if I state, according to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the character and tone of which speech I admire, the mode in which he describes the business of the Company to have been discharged, in reference, always be it observed, to the question of Ministerial responsibility:—The home business of the Government of India may he divided into two distinct parts. One comprises the political relations of the Government of India with other States, and questions of peace and war. These questions are decided, not by the Court of Directors, but by the Government of this country, and their orders are sent through the Secret Committee of the India House, and for these decisions, not the Court of Directors, but the Government of this country is entirely and altogether responsible. Upon that point, therefore, there can be no question as to divided responsibility, or anything of the kind."—[Ibid. 1137.]The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has said that there is a difficulty in finding where the responsibility lies, but the right hon. Baronet declared there could be no question on that point. The right hon. Baronet then proceeded as follows:—The Secret Committee merely acts as an organ to convey to India the directions sent from the Board of Control; and the President of the Board of Control is, in that respect, only the organ of the general Government. A good deal 1390 of unnecessary importance appears to me to have been attached to a declaration made by Lord Broughton that he alone was responsible for giving an order to the Indian Government as to crossing the Indus by the army for the Affghan war. But that order must have been signed not by Lord Broughton alone, but by two Cabinet Ministers, and he was no more responsible for the order than the Secretary of State at the time for the ordering and directing the Duke of Wellington to cross the Pyrenees. The act is not the act of the President of the Board of Control alone. It must be in pursuance of the determination of the Government. There is no mistake, no concealment about the matter, and it is nonsense to talk of the irresponsible power of the President of the Board of Control, because the Government of this country is responsible for war in India as it is responsible for war in Europe, Africa, or America."—[Ibid.]There is the sound doctrine laid down by the then President of the Board of Control, speaking for the whole Administration, and therefore it will be surprising to find any hon. Gentleman on the Treasury bench standing up and taking advantage of the absurd cry of divided responsibility. The right hon. Baronet proceeded. What, then, are the functions of the Directors?Every despatch is addressed to them, all questions are considered by them, and, in the first instance, they have the initiative on every question. Grants of money cannot originate in any way with the Board of Control, and in the exercise of patronage, except in some of the higher appointments, they are entirely uncontrolled. In the greater part of their business, however, they are liable to the check and supervision of the Board of Control.He then describes how the despatches are framed, and adds—It is only just to the Directors that I should say, as far as my experience goes, I have reason to know that the most careful attention has been given to them by every important despatch. It is quite true that the President of the Board of Control has the power of overruling, in the last resort, the Court of Directors. I therefore fully admit that I am responsible to this House for any acts in the Administration of India, just as the Secretary of State for the Colonies is responsible for the acts of the Administration connected with his department."—[Ibid.]The right hon. Baronet first speaks of the responsibility of the Minister in matters of peace and war. He then speaks of his responsibility with reference to the internal administration of India; and he says that there is not in substance, though there may be in form, any difference between himself and an ordinary Secretary of State. The simple state of the matter, he adds, is, that the President of the Board of Control is responsible to Parliament for the Government of India. The right hon. Baronet next referred to the 1391 mode in which despatches are dealt with. The House has heard the serious argument of the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown on the subject. The noble Lord stated that despatches were carried about London in cabs for days together—at least, so I understood him; and then he asked the House to conceive the inconveniences of a system under which ten Directors sit at the east end of London, and ten at the west end, constant differences of opinion occurring among these gentlemen. The noble Lord spoke of the Directors as he might, perhaps, be entitled to speak of the Cabinet in which he sits; but he forgot that the Directors are men of conscience, of business, and of sense, and it does not appear that they differ and squabble when they meet, and that they transact no business before they separate. The noble Lord, having given that description, and adduced so happy an illustration, he will allow me to tell him, in the language of one of his most eminent colleagues, how despatches are really dealt with by the Board of Directors, and I am sure he will take an early opportunity of withdrawing the statement which he inadvertently made to the House, or that he will direct some of his officials to do so—Before any despatches are sanctioned by the Board of Control they must have been carefully sifted and investigated by a body of independent gentlemen, many of them immediately acquainted with the people of India, and most zealous and unremitting in the transaction of business, and so there is greater security for the good government of India than of our Colonial possessions"—[Ibid. 1139.]Yet we have a leading Member of the Cabinet bringing in a Bill to destroy this system, which, we are told on such high authority, secures to India a better Government than is enjoyed by any of our colonial possessions. What will the President of the Board of Control, as a man of candour, say to these statements which I find recorded in the sacred pages of Hansard. In the first place, are these statements true? No one can doubt that the right hon. Baronet spoke the truth, that he instituted inquiries before making such statements, and that he prepared his speech carefully and elaborately; and I must beg again to express my gratitude to him for the manliness and candour with which he avowed his sentiments on this important question. The right hon. Baronet quoted the opinion expressed by Mr. Mill—a gentleman who has been highly and properly eulogized during this debate 1392 —before the Committee of the House of Lords, and that opinion will, I am sure, carry great weight with many hon. Members. In reply to a question as to the usefulness of the Board of Directors, Mr. Mill said:—I do not think the present system is fairly described as a fiction, since it is acknowledged that not only the Board of Control, but the Cabinet, when of a different opinion, sometimes think it right to defer to the opinion of the Court of Directors.And why?No doubt" (Mr. Mill proceeds) "because they feel that the Directors are more competent to form an opinion than themselves.But, being more competent than the Cabinet, being more competent than the President of the Board of Control, why not destroy the Court, and render the system of Indian government as incompetent as the Administration itself? I have tested this opinion by reading the evidence of Mr. Mill, which, whatever may be his prejudices, is most creditable and honourable to him. The evidence of Mr. Halliday was also quoted by the right hon. Baronet, and his statement deserves the attention of the House, because it refers to a point of the utmost importance in the determination of this question—namely, how you will exclude Indian affairs from being the subjects of party disputes and conflicts in the House of Commons. Mr. Halliday says:—The system of the double Government and election by the Court of Proprietors had, undoubtedly, whatever defects may be attributed, the good effect of keeping out mere party differences and discussions from the Governors of India, and that good on no account would he do away with.But Mr. Halliday, beyond his own opinion, gives very strong and important evidence on the subject of the single Government. He sees clearly enough that none of these proposals do, in fact, amount to single Government. He sees clearly enough, and I agree with him, what a single Government ought to be, if we are to have it at all, and he says, with this view—The plain, straightforward course would be decidedly to have the Government and Council nominated altogether by the Crown; but whenever I have spoken of that with well-informed persons, I have been informed in a manner that I could not possibly resist, with my own means of experience, that such a measure was totally out of the question—that it was quite impossible.Any plan, then, which would give the nomination of the whole Council to the Crown was deemed by Mr. Halliday a measure totally impossible, on the ground that no man of sense was ever found to 1393 advocate it, except the First Lord of the Treasury on this occasion. There is, however, one question which required an answer in 1853, as it also requires an answer now. The noble Lord has told us that the existence of the double Government created difficulties and delay in the despatch of business—a good argument, if it be true. But what examples does the noble Lord give us? What illustrations does he supply? What facts does he state? Does he tell us that, on any given day, any demand which has been made upon the Directors with a view of crushing the mutiny has been refused, or that, upon any particular occasion, a wise and beneficial law has been proposed and rejected? The right hon. Baronet, now First Lord of the Admiralty, told the House, in the speech to which I have referred, that there never was a greater misrepresentation than such a statement would be, and he mentioned two cases in which decisions had been arrived at upon very important subjects within a fortnight, and before the return of the mail to India. The first of those decisions referred to the establishment of electric telegraphs, and the other to an important financial measure—the reduction of interest upon the debt; and the right hon. Baronet stated that he never witnessed greater promptitude and ability than were exhibited in the settlement of those questions within a limited time. Yet, the First Lord of the Treasury, who was a Member of the Government when the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) made the speech from which I have quoted, and who listened to that speech without adducing any facts to contradict or gainsay the statements of the right hon. Gentleman, calls upon the House to reverse the system of government which was then sanctioned. I do not, however, rely exclusively upon the authority of the right hon. Baronet, eminent though it be. At the time to which I allude, there sat upon the opposite benches a brilliant historian, an accomplished scholar, a famous orator, who had served in India, who understood the subject, and who has delighted the world by those beautiful sketches of the eminent men who distinguished themselves in that country, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has so sadly misunderstood. That noble Lord (Lord Macaulay) as I rejoice now to call him—applied the whole powers of his mind to this great question, and in support of the policy of the Ministry which 1394 now occupies the opposite benches, he addressed this House on two memorable occasions. I need not speak of the noble Lord's eloquence, but his arguments were such as might well carry conviction even to Her Majesty's Ministers. There is not one solitary figment put forward on the part of the Government in favour of this hopeless measure which the noble Lord has not demolished. Indeed, he appears to me to have foreseen that possibly, at some distant day, some incompetent person might sit down at a table to frame a Bill which would be ridiculously wrong, and he forewarned the Parliament of what would be the very worst form of Bill that could be presented for their approval. The noble Lord said:—I can see, for example, that it is desirable that the authority exercised in this country over the Indian Government should be divided between two bodies—between a Minister, or a Board appointed by the Crown, and some other body independent of the Crown. If India is to be a dependency of England, to be at war with our enemies, to be at peace with our allies, to be protected by the English navy from maritime aggression, to have a portion of the English army mixed with its Sepoys, it plainly follows that the King, to whom the constitution gives the direction of foreign affairs and the command of the military and naval forces, ought to have a share in the direction of the Indian Government. Yet, on the other hand, that a revenue of £20,000,000 a year, an army of 200,000 men, a civil service abounding with lucrative situations, should be left to the disposal of the Crown without any check whatever, is what no Minister, I conceive, would venture to propose. This House is, indeed, the cheek provided by the Constitution on the abuse of the Royal prerogative. But that this House is, or is likely ever to be, an efficient check on abuses practiced in India I altogether deny."—[3 Hansard, xix. 514.]He asks a very good question—what are you to do if you discard the Company?—If we discard the Company we must find a substitute, and take what substitute we may, we shall find ourselves unable to give any reason"—none certainly has now been given on the part of the Government—"for believing that the body which we have put in the room of the Company is likely to acquit itself of its duties better than the Company. Commissioners appointed by the King during pleasure would he no check on the Crown. Commissioners appointed by the King or by Parliament for life would always he appointed by the political party which might he uppermost, and if a change of Administration took place,"—How true this is I appeal to the noble Lord and other distinguished men on the Treasury bench, to bear witness,—would harass the new Government with the most vexatious opposition. The plan suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1395 Montgomeryshire is, I think, the very worst I have ever heard.What was that? Why—He would have Directors nominated every four years by the Crown. Is it not plain that these Directors would always be appointed from among the supporters of the Ministry for the time being; that their situations would depend on the permanence of that Ministry; that therefore all their power and patronage would be employed for the purpose of propping that Ministry, and, in case of a change, for the purpose of molesting those who might succeed to power; that they would be subservient while their friends were in, and factious when their friends were out?Then he puts a case to prove it:—How would Lord Grey's Ministry have been situated if the whole body of Directors had been nominated by the Duke of Wellington in 1830? I mean no imputation on the Duke of Wellington. If the present Ministers had to nominate Directors for four years they would, I have no doubt, nominate men who would give no small trouble to the Duke of Wellington if he were to return to office. What we want is a body independent of the Government, and no more than independent—not a tool of the Treasury, not a tool of the Opposition. No new plan which I have heard proposed would give us such a body. The Company, strange as its constitution may be, is such a body."—Hansard, xix. 516.]Therefore, according to the opinion of this distinguished man, the Bill now before you is the very worst of all the measures which have been submitted to Parliament. It is a Bill which proposes to create for a term of years certain miserable hangers-on of the Administration—men who, if they have proved supple and useful, may be re-appointed; nor would there in that case be any objection to grant them more lucrative emolument. Why, surely, if there is a Whig remaining on the Treasury bench he will follow out the principles asserted by the high authority I have quoted, and acted on by his party, and will not become a political weathercock, shifting about with every recurring breeze, without a principle to steady or guide him. But we have heard that this Government was a bad Government. I heard the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) make an observation on this point. Now, I beg to inform the right hon. Gentleman that I shall presently quote himself against himself. Meanwhile I tell him, with all respect for his abilities, and notwithstanding my admiration of them, that I do not believe in this country of ours it is possible for a man to write today one thing, and endeavour to persuade the people of England the converse of this the next day—to speak to-day in favour of renewing the charter of the East India Com- 1396 pany as a course most politic and expedient, and the next day, without a solitary fact to justify his change of opinion, to declare that we must now alter the very things which he before said ought not to be altered. As to the kind of government with which we have to deal, I will quote a beautiful sentence of Lord Macaulay. He observes:—I see a Government anxiously bent on the public good; Even in its errors I recognized a paternal feeling towards the great people committed to its charge. I see toleration strictly maintained, yet I see bloody and degrading superstitions gradually losing their power. I see the morality, the philosophy, the taste of Europe beginning to produce a salutary effect on the hearts and understandings of our subjects. I see the public mind of India, that public mind which we found debased and contracted by the worst forms of political and religious tyranny, expanding itself to just and noble views of the ends of government and of the social duties of man."—[Ibid. 522.]And then he says that, seeing these things, and considering the whole question in its breadth and depth and magnitude, he is not prepared—to do what? What is his phrase? Why, "to take up the foundations of the Indian Government." He has no superstitious objection to change, he adds:—I have no superstitious veneration for the Court of Directors or the Court of Proprietors. Find me a better Council, find me a better Constituent body, and I am ready for a change. But of all the substitutes for the Company which have hitherto been suggested, not one has been proved to be better than the Company; and most of them I could, I think, easily prove to be worse.Such is the opinion of this distinguished person. The same eminent authority, when considering what was the best form of government, said:—I believe this to be, next to a representative constitution, the constitution which is the best security for good government. A representative constitution India cannot at present have. And we have therefore, I think, given her the best constitution of which she is capable."—[Ibid. 524.]I present, therefore, to the House the views of a right hon. Member of the present Administration, as well as those of Lord Macaulay, to show that they are directly antagonistic to the views of the Government, that they have the advantage of fact and argument, and that fact and argument are alike wanting as yet to the Treasury bench. But there is another authority never to be forgotten on this question. I am not one of those who are accustomed to quote the political opinions of the Duke of Wellington as infallible. But I believe him to have been a veracious, and I am sure he 1397 was a great man. He bore testimony to what he saw. His principle of Indian government you are aware of. It is the noblest principle I have ever yet heard enunciated by any statesman. It is thus expressed:—I would sacrifice Gwalior, or every other frontier in India ten times over to preserve our character for scrupulous good faith.That is his opinion of good government. It is short, but it is satisfactory. In 1833 the Duke thus advised that House of Parliament of which he was the most illustrious Member:—If a measure which proposed so materially to change the constitution of a Government, which from the personal opportunities he had enjoyed of witnessing its operations he believed to be the best, the most purely administered government that ever existed—a government that provided best for the happiness of the people committed to its charge—Then he addresses the people of England. You know the noble Lord urged that for a body of merchants to be intrusted with the government of a country in these enlightened days was very absurd. Well, the Duke of Wellington says:—It was deceiving the people of England to affirm that a trading Company which, after nearly a century of constant wars, had acquired a sovereignty over a vast population and territory, yielding a revenue of £20,000,000, with a debt not exceeding £40,000,000, was unfit for the functions of government or unfit for the management of commerce.That is a short speech, but it is a pregnant one. It was replied to by the Marquess of Lansdowne on the part of the Government, and I invite the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what fell from him. The noble Marquess—Denied that the Ministers had ever disputed the fitness of the Company to govern India, and fully admitted that under their sway the condition of the people had been greatly improved, and that they had been comfortable and happy to an extent which they had not experienced under any other Government.That, Sir, is my evidence, borrowed from the acts, declarations, the speeches, and the legislation of the party opposite. But the noble Lord at the head of the Government started the other night a practical question. Paying a compliment to the Company as he began, another as he proceeded, and another as he sat down, he observed, "I may be asked why we take this moment for proposing a change of system?" What was the noble Lord's answer to that question? It was the best, I presume, he could give, and it was this. The Crimean war, he said, drew 1398 the attention of the Government to the complicated arrangements arising from the distinction between the War Office and the office of the Secretary of State for War. And so he argued by analogy that in consequence of the late disturbance in India we ought to change the system of government for that country. Now, I appeal to the House, to say whether there is any fair analogy between the two cases. Shades of Pitt and Fox! was this the best argument the First Minister of the Crown could give for deciding on a new form of government for India? Does a union effected between two departments resembling one another in principle apply to a change of system in a Government? Does such an alteration apply to what Lord Macaulay described as "taking away the foundations of the Indian Government?" A more frivolous or superficial argument I never heard, and if that be the best which the noble Lord can produce the case of the Government is gone. But the noble Lord instituted a comparison, and I avail myself of it. He appealed to the management of the Crimean war. I simply ask you to compare the conduct of that war with what has of late been done in India, and I think a sufficient answer will be supplied to the suggestive argument of the noble Lord. A few gallant men placed in positions of authority in India were, it is true, surprised, but not dismayed. They proved themselves prompt in action, fertile in resource, heroic in fortitude. By the exercise of those high qualities they have preserved to you an empire. Yet the return which the noble Lord would make to the body which established the system under the operation of which none but men of ability, capacity, and energy—such as the men to whom I have been referring—are raised to important situations would be to overthrow its power by force of an analogy drawn between its administration and the management under the auspices of Her Majesty's Ministers of the Crimean war. Yes, that is the course which the noble Lord asks you to take, as if he thought nobody was entitled to respect except those who starved an army, who ignored merit, who sheltered incapacity, who screened offenders, and who stifled truth. I appeal to every hon. Gentleman who hears me to say whether, by his own good sense and the evidence of his senses, to the flimsy argument of the noble Lord founded upon this analogy between the management of the Crimea 1399 war and the mutiny in India a triumphant refutation is not given? Why, then, does the noble Lord bring forward his measure at this particular moment? I concur with the noble Lord in thinking the opportunity a convenient one to Her Majesty's Ministers, inasmuch as a day of reckoning is close at hand. Inquiry into recent events in India must sooner or later take place. We must find out whether the East India Company ought to be made the scapegoat in this instance, or whether, in accordance with the constitutional argument of Lord Macaulay, the occupants of the Treasury bench, and among them the First Lord of the Treasury himself, should not be regarded as the principal offenders? We must examine into the legislation of the last three or four years, so far as India is concerned. We must see whether it has been in conformity with the customs, the manners, and the usages of the people of that country, or whether it was not in direct antagonism to their prejudices and their feelings. We must ascertain whose was the policy which left Delhi unprotected, notwithstanding the repeated representations of Sir C. Napier as to the number of men which would be necessary to man the guns in that fortress, and to guard its treasures. We ought, I think, to know why it was that Oude was invaded, and to learn, if possible, what were those measures which led to the occurrence of that terrible calamity which so lately fell upon us. All these are questions which it behaves the House of Commons carefully to examine. Are the blood, the life, the bone, and sinew of the country to be recklessly squandered by incompetent men, and yet no redress demanded? Are we to express our concurrence with the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when he says, "I will change the system of Indian administration—I will throw the blame of those unhappy events, by inference and implication, upon the Court of Directors. Her Majesty's Ministers are not open to censure. In fact, nobody is in fault. The mutiny is now a matter of history. The subject is disagreeable. Everything connected with it is in a state of the utmost obscurity. I therefore think it expedient to take a jump in the dark." It is for the House of Commons to say whether that line of argument be in its opinion either just or conclusive. The noble Lord, however, went on to say, that it was necessary that the affairs of 1400 our Indian empire should be subjected to Parliamentary interference, and upon that point the argument which he used was somewhat similar to that which fell from his right hon. Colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now, I have both heart and read the speech of that right hon. Gentleman—which has in some quarters been highly praised—and I cannot help saying—while I entertain the most sincere respect for the ability of the Speaker—that it appears to me to be the most extraordinary speech which was ever addressee to the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman is a learned man, and he commenced his observations on Friday night in a tone very different from that which was assumed by the noble Lord near him. The noble Lord was conciliatory and agreeable. The right hon. Gentleman began by being witty. He, however, very speedily became historic, and, of course, grew abusive. The first thing which the right hon. Gentleman did was, to pour out the vials of his wrath upon the petition which had been presented by the Company. The style of the composition displayed in that document he admitted to be good. Its arguments, upon the contrary, he regarded as bad, and I can quite conceive that they were by no means agreeable to a Minister of the Crown. For my own part, I feel bound to say that, having been occupied during a considerable portion of the long vacation in reading papers connected with India, I do not believe there are to be found in any service in the world men of higher literary ability than those engaged in the service of the East India Company. But to return to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was naturally very much offended that opposition should be offered to any measure introduced by the Government, and the consequence was, he attacked the Company with uncommon vigour. He drew upon the stores of his learning, and proceeded to show to the world how poor a body it really was, and how little it was entitled to our gratitude or admiration. One of the very first observations of the right hon. Gentleman was, that the acquisition of our Indian empire certainly added nothing to the wealth of England, and he added, "Whether the fact of our exercising this high sovereignty contributes to the trade of the country is a matter of opinion." That is the dogma which the right hon. Gentleman propounded, and I 1401 think it is one well worthy of the attention of the mercantile men in this House. Now, with all deference to the right hon. Gentleman, he will find, if he looks back into history—and he need not go further back than the time of Alexander—that the trade of India has added to the wealth, the power, and the prosperity of more than one country. Has the right hon. Gentleman not read the history of the Republic of Genoa in her brilliant days of freedom? Has he not had his attention called to the prosperity of Venice when she possessed the trade with India? Does he not know the consequences which were the result of its loss? Have not the aspirations of Portugal been continually turned towards India? But I need go no further. All history affords a contradiction to the dogma to which the right hon. Gentleman has given expression. The right hon. Gentleman, however, went on to contend that it was all a mistake to suppose that the East India Company had acquired for this country her Indian empire—that it had been gained by the valour of the Company's servants, who, in conquering new territories, acted in opposition to the will of their employers at home. Their servants, it seems, were insubordinate and mutinous; perhaps they should have been dogmatic and dictatorial. Why, Sir, they were men of genius, who won an empire which the present occupants of the Treasury bench are but too well qualified to lose. It is impossible to allow the historic sketch of the right hon. Gentleman to pass altogether unnoticed, and his speech was divided into two great parts; the one bearing upon the condition of India previous to 1784; the latter upon the happy transformation which took place when Parliamentary authority began to be exercised in her regard. Now, what is the account which the right hon. Gentleman gives of India previous to 1784? He quoted Mr. Burke, and then went on to say—Now, I maintain that that language, strong as it may sound at this moment to a House not familiar with the scenes of rapine, of plunder, and of every species of abomination which had then been proved by evidence, is a perfectly faithful representation of the opinions which prevailed in Parliament at that time with respect to the East India Company. I most confidently maintain that this notion which has got abroad of the great debt of gratitude which we owe to the East India Company is one that was not only entirely unknown, but most alien to the feelings of the generation who knew what the Company was before Parliament had interfered to control it. I do most confidently maintain that no civilized Government ever existed on the face of this earth which was more corrupt, more perfidious, and more rapacious 1402 than the Government of the East India Company from the years 1758 to 1784.Well that is a very distinct and unqualified statement. Now let us for a moment consider how far that statement is well founded. The right hon. Gentleman illustrated his argument by a reference to the careers of Hastings and of Clive. I shall not trespass upon the time of the House by making any comment upon the good taste which the right hon. Gentleman displayed in denouncing Clive as a tyrant, or in alluding to the circumstance of his having put a period to his life with his own hand. I very much question the propriety of that remark. If the right hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to reflect for a moment he might have found examples in Parliamentary history of men who had devoted their lives to virtuous labours, who had consecrated the hours of the night to their country's service, who were wisely and actively benevolent, yet who by some mysterious visitation of the Almighty, brought with their own hands their existence to a close. Is the sketch which the right hon. Gentleman gave us of the policy of Clive founded in truth, or was there ever submitted to Parliament a grosser perversion of historic facts than that which is contained in the statement that "no civilized Government ever existed on the face of the earth which was more corrupt, more perfidious, and more rapacious than the Government of the Best India Company from 1758 to 1784?" The right hon. Gentleman might have looked at that little book containing a sketch of Clive's policy written by Lord Macaulay. If he had done so he might have been induced to refrain from making such a statement as that to which I have referred. The right hon. Gentleman quoted Burke, and I demolish him with Burke. I say if there was one period of English rule in India when the position of this country was more glorious than at any other it was at the very time which has been distinguished by the right hon. Gentleman as one of rapacity, violence, perfidy, and fraud. In that greatest of all his speeches, upon the trial of Warren Hastings before the House of Lords, he spoke of Clive's policy, and I think his words upon that occasion will vindicate the memory of a great man whom the right hon. Gentleman has not hesitated to attack. He says:—First quiet the minds of the country; what you have obtained, regulate: make it known to India that you resolve to acquire no more.' On this solid plan he fixed every Prince that was con- 1403 cerned in the preceding wars, on the one side and on the other, in a happy and easy settlement. He restored Ul Dowlah, who had been driven from his dominions by the military arm of Great Britain, to the rank of Vizier, and to the dominion of the territories of Oude. With a generosity that astonished all Asia he reinstated this expelled enemy of his nation peaceably on his throne, and this act of politic generosity did more towards quieting the minds of the people of Asia than all the terror, great as it was, of the English arms.And having thus stated the policy of Clive by his acts, the great orator, philosopher, and statesman, who laboured for the good of India and its Natives, thus continued:—If ever this nation stood in a situation of glory throughout Asia, it was in that moment.That is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman. Now, contrast the policy of Lord Clive with that of Lord Dalhousie. Lord Dalhousie prefaces his act of spoliation by saying that the King of Oude never broke a treaty he had made with us, never violated his engagements, and had always acted with fidelity towards us up to the very last, and yet the sovereignty was changed and the titles of occupiers to the land wore disturbed. The Ministry regard these acts of the living with favour and approbation while they deprecate the conduct of the illustrious dead—of him who laid the foundation of a noble family, who was acquitted by the Parliament and was ennobled by his Sovereign. I think it is a noble descent to claim from the founder of an empire. Now, look at the character of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I hear that speeches in this House are translated, published, and read by the Natives of India. I congratulate the Ministry that in the midst of a servile war one of its Members should have made such a speech He tells us that our Government in India was based upon cruelty and rapacity from one given date to another; and will not the Natives of India say, when they read that statement, made upon such authority: "Let us rid our soil of the hated descendants of those perfidious robbers who spoiled our country, and who have perpetuated that spoliation by a continuance of fraud, tyranny, and injustice?" Our Christian countrymen in Calcutta, believing themselves oppressed by the Government of Lord Canning, claimed the Englishman's right of publishing those complaints. The press in India has been gagged, and therefore I think Lord Canning will be enabled to prevent the publication of the rash and mischievous speech of the right hon. Gentleman. For the first time in my life I can congratulate the country upon the establish- 1404 ment of a strict censorship, and I should recommend that it be maintained so long as Cabinet Ministers are to be found making such dangerous speeches. But Hastings, I admit, differed much from Clive. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that Hastings did acts in India which cannot be reconciled with the principles of morals or of justice. But does not the right hon. Gentleman in his unsparing condemnation of Hastings defame the House of Lords which acquitted him, the Chancellor, the Judges, the Bishops, the House of Commons, which stood up IN 1813 to receive the man whom they had prosecuted? Although I agree that lie did some acts which cannot be justified, yet we must consider him as one of those great men who, being invested with the conduct of an empire, show that they are endowed with a native genius for command. Contrast his policy with that of the present day. The Christian historian, Dr. Robertson, has selected Hastings as one to be named amongst the great and good men who, being invested with supreme power, endeavour to govern wisely and well. Why was that? Because Hastings said, as Alexander the Great had said before him, I could not keep this empire against the will of the people; I cannot govern them by cruelty or rapacity, but only by respecting their laws, and to respect those laws I must understand them, and the laws of Hindostan were accordingly translated by the learned Halhed. Hastings left that country a quiet and peaceable legacy to his successors, and yet the right hon. Gentleman refuses to do any justice to his character as a statesman. In 1784, says the right hon. Gentleman, began the just rule of England in India. I deny it. We ate now asked to sanction the introduction of Parliamentary influence into the government of India. I meet that issue boldly, and I appeal to history to sustain me. It is true that in 1784, through the establishment of the Board of Control, Parliament obtained an influence over the affairs of that country. Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that Macaulay has said of all histories written since Gibbon's, the greatest was the History of India of Mill, at once the most philosophical and the most truthful? The right hon. Gentleman has put the Court of Directors upon their trial, now I will put the Board of Control upon its trial. Every man who goes through the six volumes of Mill's history must come to the conclusion, that the Government of India 1405 under Parliamentary influence has been more unsatisfactory, more demoralizing, and more mischievous, than ever it was under the Court of Directors. The moment the Board of Control came into existence then Parliamentary influence was brought to bear upon the affairs of India, then there were elections to be carried, members to be smoothed, places to be given away, and the corrupting influence which is at work now, as it was then, not only demoralized the Government, but endangered the constitution of England. Mr. Mill expressed a strong opinion against the transference of power from the Directors to the Board of Control, and added that the Court of Directors never erred so much as when they followed the direction of men who claimed to be both statesmen and lawyers. This was the only time, according to this laborious historian, when the Directors committed a great and serious error; this is the judgment of history on the Board of Control and Parliamentary influence and interference; and Mr. Mill earnestly implores his countrymen, as they valued and wished to preserve their liberty, to beware of Parliamentary influence in the affairs of India. That being so, I would call attention to the argument of the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman as to the great advantages likely to result, according to them, from the contemplated change in bringing questions alluding to India within the range of Parliamentary discussion. That is the very thing of which I dispute the advantage. The noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman said public opinion would operate. Was there ever a greater fallacy than that? There is no public opinion in India, and therefore the public opinion that is to operate is the public opinion of this country, But while I admit that the public opinion of England operates on the English Parliament, I deny that the opinion of the people of England, differing as we do so completely from the people of India in their laws, customs, character, and religion, would be such as to make it a wise and beneficial thing to apply it to the affairs of India. The whole argument, in fact, rests on a fallacy. But I do admit that another issue has been raised by an observation as to the effect of public opinion on our colonial possessions. There was a Minister of England once, a man of great ability and eloquence, surrounded by scholars, historians, and men of wit; he had the confidence of his So- 1406 vereign, was popular in the country, and was supported by a majority in Parliament more guilty than himself. That Minister adopted a policy with reference to our American colony, and persevered in that policy until he drenched the soil of America with blood, and lost a kingdom to his King. That policy I believe to have been an expression of the opinion of the English people: that is, of the opinion of one country operating mischievously upon the happiness of another. Cast your eyes across the Atlantic, and what do you behold? A republic of revolted subjects seated triumphant over the raised power of their conquered masters. And what has become of the popular Minister? The pen of the historian has executed justice on the policy and the memory of Lord North, and he is now to be classed amongst those men who, made giddy by ambition, mistake the fleeting sounds of popular applause for the trumpet notes of fame. I say, then, you may lose India in the same way, if you attempt to operate on the opinions of the people of that country without reference to their laws, usages, character, and religion. There is but one question remaining, but it is a great question. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield says that the English people make all the Ministers. Do they make them all? What all? I understood him to say that the people of England have made the Ministers, even the First Minister of the Crown. But I appeal to your hearts, I appeal to your conscience, whether the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman is founded on fact? Are the appointments under the wholesome operation of public opinion in this moral country, governed as it is by a free press, are they what you can always applaud and defend? Are they always made in deference to the moral feeling, to the enlightened opinion of the great British public? always made out of regard to the utility of the public service, to the honour of the Crowe, and to the advantage of the State? Do you believe it? How do you know who may be the eight councillors at whose disposal the Indian patronage is to be placed? The flimsy excuse was made that the few first appointments were to be decided by examination, and that the persons thus appointed would be promoted. Are the Members of the House, as men of business, or sense, satisfied with this? I ask you to decide, not by any argument of mine, but by the evidence of your own 1407 senses, whether it would be a safe thing to pass this Bill? The present Government of India has lasted a good while. No doubt, as the noble Lord says, a change may be easily made. I agree to that argument. Remember how infinitely more easy it is, even on the showing of the noble Lord, to destroy than to create. It is a law of the Almighty that the work of construction is difficult and slow, the work of destruction is easy and rapid. The skill of an architect, the labour of an age, will erect the majestic edifice; a labourer with his pickaxe will speedily destroy its proportions and deface its beauty. This building still stands; it has stood the test of time. Let us strengthen its foundations, enlarge its basis, and improve its structure, if we can. But I implore you, while it is yet time, to stay your hands, and do not upon such arguments as you have heard overthrow the edifice.
§ MR. LOWE
said, he thought that even those hon. Gentlemen who had been most enthusiastic in cheering the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down would allow that it was more characterized by authority than argument. As, however, he (Mr. Lowe) had not come down to the House with a portable library, he could not say how far the authorities, which he could not verify from memory, might bear on the points to which they had been applied. But with respect to the passage which the hon. and learned Gentleman had quoted from Mill, as the testimony of that historian in favour of the Government of the East India Company, as opposed to the mixed Government which was brought into existence by the Bill of 1784, his (Mr. Lowe's) memory greatly deceived him if the passage in question did not apply to the government of the Company subsequent to that year. There was an authority from a different quarter, though not exactly upon that point, which he would venture to quote. Hon. Gentlemen who sat in the last Parliament would remember that when the last India Charter was under discussion his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Phinn) moved in Committee an Amendment to the principal clause, to the effect that India should thenceforward be governed by and in the name of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors. That Amendment was negatived, but the minority was fortunate enough to number among them the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside). He (Mr. Lowe) had not risen 1408 on this occasion to vie with the hon. and learned Gentleman, but to state the result of his practical experience of two years as Secretary to the India Board, and of three years upon the Commission for the reform of the Law in India. The assumption that ran through the speech of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring) was that the House was called on to take a great and momentous step—that they were about to throw out of gear the whole machinery of the home Government of India just to see if they could put it into gear again, and that this was a dangerous time to make so great an experiment. In that opinion the East India Company apparently shared. In their Petition they described the Government of India as having been hitherto conducted "by their joint counsels and on their joint responsibility," and they spoke of their share in the Government in these terms:That your Petitioners, however, do not seek to vindicate themselves at the expense of any other authority; they claim their full share of the responsibility of the manner in which India has practically been governed. That responsibility is to them not a subject of humiliation, but of pride. They are conscious that their advice and initiative have been, and have deserved to be, a great and potent element in the conduct of affairs in India; and they feel complete assurance that the more attention is bestowed and the more light thrown upon India and its administration the more evident it will become that the Government in which they have borne a part has been not only one of the purest in intention, but one of the most beneficent in act ever known among mankind.He wished to speak with all respect of the East India Company, but he maintained that it had not been a great and potent element in conducting' the business of India, that it did not possess that great control of which it boasted, that it had no initiative, and was not the adviser of the Board of Control, and that so far as its direct agency was concerned its functions were so slight that they might be got rid of without its being found out. It was principally since 1784 that the conquest of India had been effected. Prior to that time our Indian dominions were limited almost to the Carnatic in the south, and Bengal in the east, and the remainder of India had been conquered since that period in the usual way by wars and treaties. But were those wars ordered and those treaties ratified by the East India Company, exercising a joint control over the affairs of India? No one acquainted with the Acts of Parliament passed for the regulation of the Company from 1784 down to the present time 1409 could maintain that proposition for a moment. The manner in which Indian affairs were managed by the home Government was this—whenever the President of the Board of Control was of opinion that any particular matter required secrecy—and of this he was the sole judge, without any appeal whatever—he was allowed to frame a despatch which he sent to India through the Secret Committee of the Company. This Secret Committee the Company was required by law to appoint; the members of it took a solemn oath not to divulge the matters which passed through their hands, they had no right of remonstrance or representation, but they were bound to send out immediately the orders of the President of the Board of Control as they received them. So that in the great transactions of war and peace the Government of India was not only not carried on by the East India Company, but the Act of Parliament expressly excluded it, not only from all responsibility for them, but even from all knowledge of them. In the great acts of policy the East India Company had no share whatever, either for good or evil. It could claim no praise for its justice and wisdom, nor could it, on the other hand, be blamed for its cruelty or bleaches of faith. It was passed by altogether. It was exactly in the position which the Petitioners foreshadowed in reference to the Council which they apprehended would be set up in their place, if it should not have conferred upon it the right of nominating the home establishment. "If the officers through whom they work are in direct dependence upon an authority higher than theirs, all matters of importance will in reality be settled between the Minister and the subordinate, passing over the Council altogether." This had been the case ever since 1784 in regard to all matters which the President of the Board of Control decided should be confined to the Secret Committee. With regard to ordinary business, matters of revenue, or judicial matters, for instance, the course was somewhat different, but even here the Company did not stand in a much higher position. Every week the President of the Board of Control had a meeting with the Chairman and deputy Chairman, at which any matters requiring discussion were brought forward. The President's wishes were expressed, and then these two gentlemen went to the India House and prepared a "Previous Communication," which, if they agreed with the President, would 1410 probably be an echo of his opinions. These "Previous Communications," it must be remembered, were not prepared by the Court of Directors, but by the Chairs and the clerks in the respective departments. From the India House they were sent to Cannon Row, where they passed under the inspection of the Secretaries, and were laid before the President, who approved them just as the head of every department approved the despatches which were about to be sent out. Then, when the President had not only made up his mind as to what he would do, but also as to the very form of words in which his instructions should be conveyed, the question was brought before the East India Company, and the Court of Directors were allowed to prepare a draught despatch, which agreed with the Previous Communication or not, just as their views agreed or disagreed with those of the President. The President of the Board of Control, upon receiving that draught, might alter it, and if he did he was obliged to give his reasons in writing, which were generally brief, and much in the manner in which one would give reasons to people the result of whose opinion was not of any great consequence. The Directors gave their reasons in turn, and then the President might send out any draught he chose, which was generally a copy of the Previous Communication of which he had approved. What amount of control, advising, or initiative was there in all this? The head of a department made up his mind what he would do, and settled the form afterwards in which he would order it to be done; it was then the privilege of another department, which had no access to him, and no opportunity of discussing the matter with him, to propose a totally different despatch which the Head could alter as he liked when he got it before him, merely on the penalty of giving some short reasons in writing for so doing. Such a check as this was perfectly nugatory, and the Council proposed by the Bill would have a hundred times more influence over the President than the Court of Directors had under the present system. Further, as if for the purpose of making the present council of the least possible use, it was placed at an entirely different part of the town,navibus atqueQuadrigis petimus bene vivere"—the intercourse of the departments was carried on by cabs and river steamers. The President of the Board of Control 1411 never received advice from the Court of Directors—all he received was their opinion what ought to be done after he had made up his own mind, and the reasons which they might choose to give him for their opinions; and yet upon the strength of this the East India Company claimed to be regarded as an integral part of the Government of India. It was for this reason that he had never joined with those who had inveighed bitterly against the East India Company. Nor, on the other hand, had he ever swelled the praises of their good government. They were entitled neither to the one nor the other, not because their intentions had not been good, but simply because, for the last seventy years, they had been deprived by statute of all power of carrying their good intentions into effect. If he had given a true account of the manner in which business was transacted with the Board of Directors, and he had spoken from his own personal observation, it seemed to him that in matters of State importance they were passed by altogether, and in ordinary matters they were only allowed to interfere after the President had made up his own mind, when their interference was obviously nugatory; and, as if for fear they should exercise any influence over the President, they were debarred from all personal communications with him. Their discussions with him were carried on in writing, without any of that union of mind with mind which could alone enable a body placed in an inferior position to exercise any influence over a superior department. So far, therefore, as the direct agency of the East India Company was concerned, it was a matter of very email consequence whether it was abolished or retained. But there were indirect consequences arising from the retention of the Company which it behoved Parliament, if it were sincerely anxious for the good government of India, to get rid of as soon as possible. The existence of the East India Company necessarily produced a fearful amount of delay. The Company boasted of being an independent check on the Minister. What truth there was in that boast he had shown. If it had called itself an independent clog it would have been much nearer the mark. It was a wheel which was always locked, both going up and coming down hill—a very good thing sometimes, at others very injurious. This did not arise from any fault of its own, but from the structure of the system which held out the Company as the go- 1412 vernor of India, which carried on all things in its name, invested it with a trust for the Crown, obliged it to receive all despatches from India, compelled every one who had a grievance to write to the Company, instead of writing direct to the Board of Control, and invested with executive functions a governing body of an essentially deliberative character. He contended, then, that to carry on a serious war, with the unavoidable disadvantages of time and place, with such an organization as that, was a great evil; because, although the President of the Board of Control could issue orders directly to the Governor General, passing by the Company altogether, yet there were matters connected with the business of the Company which must be transacted by the Company itself, under the sanction of the Board of Control, and the consequence was that intolerable delays were interposed. He would state one case as an illustration, and when he stated it be was sure that the wonder would be, not that so small a length of railway had been constructed in India, but that a single sleeper had yet been laid down. Now, this was the process in the case of a railway:—The Best India Company guaranteed the dividends, and therefore, of course, they were obliged to control the expenditure. There was a Railway Board in India, and their proceedings were referred to the Government engineer; their decision went, he believed, through the Government of India; it came home then to the Railway Board in England, on which the East India Company was represented; from that board it went to the East India Company, and having passed through all the forms of the India House, it went finally to the Board of Control, first to the permanent Secretary, then to the Parliamentary Secretary, and then to the President, who sanctioned all that had been done. It then went back to the East India Company to be finally approved of. That was the process through which every yard of railway in India had to pass before its construction was commenced. As another sample of delay he might instance Lord Macaulay's penal code, which had been so often referred to in the course of the debate. That code was prepared in 1840, and from that time to this it had not been carried into effect. It was just on the eve of being acted upon when the mutiny broke out—and that, like the fire in Caleb Balder-stone's larder, was sufficient to account for every failure and every shortcoming. He 1413 believed that the Government would be very open to censure if, when these things were brought under their notice, they allowed a system to continue which from its many imperfections was so full of danger. Another great evil which attached to the position of the East India Company was this. Of course the Government being carried on in its name, the public—who did not look deeply into official matters—supposed that it was the Government, and behind that supposition, undoubtedly, the Minister of the Crown was screened, and screened, to the great disadvantage of the Indian Government, because no man was the worse for being responsible for what he did. Upon this head he might cite what the Petitioners themselves stated. The House would remember that the Petitioners drew up an imaginary scheme of Government which they supposed the Bill would provide, and then they stated their objections. They said:—That your Petitioners cannot well conceive a worse form of Government for India than a Minister with a Council whom he should be at liberty to consult or not at his pleasure, or whose advice he should be able to disregard.That was too like the present system; so they added, "Without giving his reasons in writing." That was too illusory, so they went on, "and in a manner likely to carry conviction." He certainly knew that the reasons which were exchanged between the Board of Control and the India House were conveyed in writing at this time, but whether they were ever such as to be likely to carry conviction was another question. They continued:—Such an arrangement, your Petitioners submit, would be really liable to the objections in their opinion erroneously urged against the present system. Your Petitioners respectfully represent that any body of persons associated with the Minister, which is not a check, will be a screen.Why, what was the position of the East India Company now? Did they check the Government in any way? He had shown the House exactly the power which they had, and how they exercised it. As to real power they had none, and they might read for the first time of a war, which they were said to have declared, in the morning newspapers. They had the power, which most persons had, of giving an opinion; but that was the whole of the check—that was the potent element for the regeneration of India which it was said that the Bill was calculated to destroy. They then proceeded—That it is, in the opinion of your Petitioners, no less necessary that the order of the transaction 1414 of business should be such as to make the participation of the Council in the administration of India a substantial one.How substantial it was now he had shown. They went on—That to this end it is, in the opinion of your Petitioners, indispensable that the despatches to India should not be prepared by the Minister and laid before the Council, but should be prepared by the Council, and submitted to the Minister.Was that the case at present? He had shown that the Minister virtually prepared the despatch before the Council knew anything about it, and that after they knew exactly what he wanted they had the choice of preparing any despatch they pleased, and submitting it to the Minister. If he wanted witnesses, then, to show the inefficiency of the present system of the East India Company, he could not do better than call the Petitioners themselves. In the same paragraph they said—The Minister has necessarily the ultimate decision. If he has also the initiative, he has all the powers which are of any practical moment.He had shown the House that the Minister had all those powers. They added—A body whose only recognised function was to find fault would speedily let that function fall into desuetude. They would feel that their co-operation in conducting the government of India was not really desired; that they were only felt as a clog on the wheels of business. Their criticism on what had been decided, without their being collectively consulted, would be felt as importunate, as a mere delay and impediment; and their office would probably be seldom sought but by those who are willing to allow its most important duties to become nominal.Now, he did not say that the East India Company allowed their most important duties to become nominal. He believed that they did their duties as well as they could; but they had no important duties to perform except in very rare cases, such as the recall of a Governor General, which might happen once in half a century, for in the Government of India they had, with curious ingenuity, been excluded from all important duties. But it was one of the main objections to the present system that the Company retained just and sufficient power, and were placed in such a position as to prevent the Government of India being placed unreservedly and without disguise in those hands in which it ought to be—in the hands of Her Majesty the Queen. That was the constitution of this country, and to say, as was remarked by Lord Grenville in 1813, that all property, all honour, and all power, were vested in the Crown, was only to say that we lived un- 1415 der a monarchy, and not under a republic. The only exception to this was the government of India, and how unhappy and unfortunate was the exception! Out of a vast empire one place was selected where the Queen's name should not be used as the head of the Government, and that was a place where resided an Oriental nation, in whose ideas monarchy and Government were absolutely inseparable—a nation who never heard of aristocracies, or republics, or democracies, hut who thought a King was the sole and only means of Government, whom they regarded with a sort of Sacred reverence—that was the place which had been selected for the scene of this single and anomalous exception. But more; India was full of noble families, some descended from the sun and others from the moon. Those persons had, and no wonder, great pride of birth and ancestry; and, by way of conciliating them and making them happy under the dominion of a paramount and foreign State, they were deprived of the honour, pleasure, and gratification of feeling that, if they were subjugated, it was to a Sovereign whose ancestors had sat on the Throne of these islands 500 years before the boasted empire of the Great Mogul was founded, and were made vassals and tributaries of a mercantile joint, stock Company. On the last occasion, when the East India Company came under discussion, he was told by a distinguished man, well acquainted with the Native character, that the notion which they had of the government of the Company was that it was a farm or lease, and that they were leased out by the Crown of England to be squeezed ad libitum by the East India Company; and the opinion of that gentleman was, that nothing could be so desirable for the improvement of India as to place the government in the Queen. But the matter did not rest here. We knew something of the history of India, which was indeed but one catalogue of differences and bickerings, more or less violent, between the servants of the Company and the servants of the Crown. We were now engaged in putting down a tremendous revolt; but this was not the first that had occurred. Every one knew the history of Sir A. Fletcher and his associates who mutinied in the time of Clive. They did not feel, however, that they were committing high treason against the Crown of England, but that they were revolting against a commercial Company. So, again, in Ma- 1416 dras, in the time of General M'Dowell and Sir George Barlow, when the whole force of the Deecan was within an ace of declaring itself independent of the Government of Madras. These incidents had not been confined to the military. The first event that happened on establishing the Supreme Court of India was that that Court—being the Queen's Court—held in contempt the courts of the Company, and took upon itself to interfere with every branch of the administration—with the revenue, the taxation, the police, &c.—and this, again, had led to difficulties. He was happy to say that he had the authority of the Earl of Ellenborough to confirm his statement, that nothing would tend more to produce a spirit of subordination in the servants of the Company and of the Crown in India than the placing of that country under the immediate dominion of that gracious Mistress to whom we all owed allegiance. But all that must be deferred until we could get rid of that governing body in the name of which instead of that of the Crown, the affairs of India were administered. He would mention one more very conclusive reason for the change which this Bill would effect. It was quite possible, under the present system, that the East Company might be at war with a Power with which the Queen was at peace. It was quite possible for the Minister to declare a war in which the troops and fleets of this country would be engaged, and which would entail a very heavy burden on the Indian Exchequer, without Her Majesty's name being at all involved in the prosecution of that war. This Bill provided that when wars were declared in India, Parliament should, as soon as the public service would permit, be made acquainted with them. There was only one more question—namely, that of the time at which this Bill was introduced, on which he would say a few words. On that question he must take the liberty of referring to an observation made by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he would quote himself (Mr. Lowe) for the purpose of showing that he had on one day said one thing and the contrary on the next. He had quoted so many magnificent passages that it would be too much of an anti-climax for him to have condescended to quote himself (Mr. Lowe). The hon. and learned Gentleman had, therefore, compelled him to perform what was a very disagreeable duty—namely, that of reading 1417 the report of a speech which he made in 1853. That speech, which he confessed did not make a very favourable impression on him, was made on a question exactly similar to the present. It was made on the occasion of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) moving, upon the second reading of the India Bill, a Resolution to nearly the same effect as the Amendment now before the House—that the question should be postponed. It became his duty as Secretary to the India Board to answer the noble Lord, and in the course of doing so he made the remark which he now begged to quote, not as being of any value in itself, but to show that the hon. and learned Gentleman was capable of making quotations to suit his own purposes. That remark he also conceived was not inapplicable to the question now before the House,—namely, that of time. It was as follows:—If the Company's Government was a bad one, change it; but when they had a vast empire at an enormous distance depending, not upon the army, but upon the prestige, character, and influence, and upon the unvarying success and prosperity which had attended the operations of the Hast India Company from the time of Clive to this day, he trusted they would not hold it up for two or three years as condemned beforehand in the eyes of those very people whose submission depended upon the respect and esteem they felt for it. If we were to govern India through the Company, the Company must be respectable and respected.He presumed that was the passage (for it was the only likely one) which the hon. and learned Gentleman intended to quote. He apprehended that what was true then was most eminently true now. The House had been asked to consider what would happen if this Bill should pass; but he begged them to consider what would happen if it should not pass. For many years past the powers of the East India Company had been subjected to a process of gradual diminution. Their power was cut down on every renewal of their charters. It was deprived of the India trade in 1813, and of the China trade in 1833. Its interests and connection with India were thus reduced to a mere shadow. The Court of Proprietors had no connection with India whatever, except that of being first mortgagees on its revenues; and, as if that connection were too strong, it was made less by the establishment of a guarantee fund, by the deposit of two millions of its assets, which had now increased to between four and five millions, and would at no dis- 1418 tant day be increased to twelve millions. He thought that policy could not be said to be a wise one for the very reason he had given, for as long as we elected to govern India through the East India Company we ought to do everything in our power to make that agency powerful and respected. We substituted for the name of a powerful and respected Queen that of a Company, and if we were not to place India in the hands of the Crown we ought at any rate to take care that those whom we made trustees of the power of governing India were respectable and respected. After the debates which had taken place in that House, after the exposure which the whole of the present system had undergone and would yet undergo, the report of which, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had said, would be read by the Native population of India, what did the House think would be the position of the East India Company? What idea would the Native Princes of India have of it? Would not they feel that the sword of Damocles was suspended over the Company, from which it might be respited for a few months or a few years; and would not, therefore, that very agency on which we must depend, not for conquering—for that we should do by our arms—but for pacifying and reorganizing India, be weakened if not destroyed? That was one argument that deserved the consideration of the House with reference to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, what would happen if this Bill should pass? The hon. and learned Gentleman said they ought to wait for quiet times. But how long must they wait? Did the hon. and learned Gentleman imagine that 100,000 rebels were to be killed, and India then to be legislated for, just as Tom Thumb said, "So now rebellion's quelled, we'll go to breakfast"? He believed that when this mutiny was entirely put down, we should still have a mighty task before us. Many old ideas, feelings, and prejudices would have been dissipated never to revive, and we could not hope that India would adapt itself to the new state of things and settle down into a state of perfect tranquillity till the lapse of many years. Was the House to adjourn this question till then? Was the agency of the East India Company, which had now undergone disparagement by being brought before Parliament in order to be abolished, on the authority of a person having such experience and knowledge of public affairs as the noble Lord 1419 the First Minister of the Crown, and brought in a manner that must satisfy any one disposed to look at the matter fairly that the proposition originated, not in any animosity to the Company, not in any crotchety desire for change, but in a conviction, practically forced upon the mind of the Government by recent events, of the unfitness ef the machinery for accomplishing the purposes for which it was devised—was that agency such a one as to merit any longer the sanction of Parliament? He would ask the House to look at this question honestly, and say, whether by consenting to the proposed change of Government they believed they would he doing everything in their power to destroy our Indian empire. He, for one, had no dread of the bugbear held up to them—the intervention of Parliament in Indian affairs. He had been a British colonist, and great use had been made of the argument as to the misgovernment of the Colonies by the Colonial Office. He begged to distinguish the case of India from that of the Colonies. The Colonial Office had misgoverned and mismanaged the Colonies. Nothing could be more true—and why? The Colonial Government, with the best intentions, erred through ignorance. It had to deal with communities that had recently sprung into existence. The transition of the state of things in those communities was so rapid, that in the course of five years a new world was formed around the colonist. Many of those who went to the Colonies to earn their livelihood were in indigent circumstances. A few of them came back to London, and by them false and interested information was given to the Colonial Office, which took steps not, he admitted, for the good of the community, however well designed. Was that the case with regard to India? No Minister, who was willing to open his ears and listen to what was told him, need be long in want of the very best information with respect even to the most distant and most obscure parts of that country. There could be found within the four seas of England men who were able and willing to give disinterested and detailed information about every point, in respect to which it might be desirable to obtain information. It was said, "Oh! what a dreadful thing it is to discuss Indian affairs in Parliament!" But all that he could say as to the feeling of the Colonies on the intervention of Parliament in colonial affairs was, that so great 1420 was the desire of the colony in which he had lived to have their affairs discussed by Parliament that they suggested, half in joke and half in earnest, that a sham rebellion should be got up, in order that the attention of Parliament might be drawn to them, for they felt satisfied that the result would be the grant of a constitution to the colony, and that they would be relieved from their sufferings. So he believed it would be with India, if Indian subjects were discussed in that House. The Government of India was at present a bureaucracy—a Government of tradition—and like all bureaucracies, it had no faculty for reforming itself. He was not able to conceive why the House of Commons should be the only body that was to have no credit for common sense, honesty, and patriotism; that it was the only body incapable of informing itself, and was subject to rash presumptions and violent resolutions. That was what was insinuated, but he believed otherwise of the House of Commons, and the Acts of the House of Commons showed that the view he took was a correct one. When the House of Commons, owing in a great measure to the exertions of his lamented friend the late Sir W. Molesworth, became satisfied that the mode of administering the affairs of the Colonies was faulty, they gave those Colonies institutions which not only deprived the House of Commons of their power over them, but which put it out of the power of the House of Commons to take that power back again. He did not believe that the House of Commons would lose its good sense and its dignity in discussing and dealing with India. He believed that the passing of this Bill would be the means, by bringing the Government of India more closely under the observation of Parliament of ameliorating the condition of the millions of India, and he hoped that, by placing the Government of that country in the hands of the Crown, they would enable the Government to herald to the people of India the assumption of the empire by an act of grace and mercy on its part. Severity had necessarily been exercised by us in India hitherto for the suppression of the mutiny, and he trusted that the change of Government would be ushered in by an act of grace and clemency, than which nothing could be more consentaneous, as we all knew, with the sentiments of our Queen. Be that as it might, they had a great duty to perform. The existing machinery was manifestly unfit for the objects for which it was designed, and, although 1421 its existence could be accounted for upon historical grounds, it was only upon those grounds that it could be accounted for, and he certainly could Bee no reason for protracting such a state of things at a time when, above all others, unity of action and of purpose were necessary in the administration of the affairs of India.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, most hon. Members would remember that, within the last few years, there had been established in this country a society called the "Administrative Reform Association." The views of that association had been preached in that House and elsewhere on several occasions, but he had heard them sounded that evening in a strain very different from that in which they had been proclaimed to the House on a former and not very distant occasion. On the last night these views were put forward there, there was war to the knife between the bench on which the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) sat and that occupied by the leading members of the Government; but, on the present occasion, they had heard the chairman, or ex-chairman, of the "Administrative Reform Association," in one of his able speeches, advocating the transfer, into the hands of those whose system of government required so much reform as to call for the formation of that society, the administration of the entire affairs of India. The association of which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) was a member demanded that the Government of the United Kingdom should be conducted by practical men. Now, this was the very class of men who composed the Court of Directors of the East India Company. What was the great feature of this Bill? The destruction of the independent element. To this he objected, as he, for one, was not prepared to hand over the government of India to the nominees of the Crown. It had been urged, as an objection to the present system, that the constituent body who elected the Directors were old ladies of Bath and London. Now, there were old ladies in other places than among that constituency, who had the additional disadvantage of being partisans; and at all events, the East India proprietary returned men of business, and that was a great point. He thought that the miserable stipend proposed to be provided for the eight new councillors, coupled as it was with a disability to sit in that House, was not at all sufficient to secure the services of able and efficient 1422 men. Much had been said of the value of Parliamentary control; but could they be sure that Parliament would always have the means of acquiring accurate information on questions which it might be called upon to decide without much delay? If he could feel convinced that the action of Parliament would be always based upon a knowledge of the facts and an acute appreciation of those facts, he should feel less apprehension at the passing of this Bill; hut he had already seen instances of Parliamentary interference. Important changes had already been made in our Indian system. One of these had had the effect of destroying that esprit de corps which had formerly existed amongst our civil servants in India. They had destroyed Haileybury, and thereby had thrown open to public competition offices which were formerly reserved for servants of the Company. Now, they had not as yet had any means of judging of the effects of those changes; yet, in the absence of this experience, they were called on to take so important a step as to pass this Bill. He did not wish to be considered as one of the ultra opponents of this measure. He believed that there might be objections to the present round-about system of business and correspondence which had been so clearly described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe). He thought the bringing of the Council and President together under one roof by the Bill, would save time and trouble, and that the permission given to the minority to record their opinion was a most valuable part of the measure; but he was really astonished that the present time should be selected for making so great a change as that proposed. It seemed to him to be a confession of weakness on the part of the Government to bring forward this Bill at present. It was as much as to say that they had a difficult task to perform, and that they had not the machinery to perform it. Now, with India in convulsion, was it judicious to proclaim to that empire that their machinery was not sufficient for its government. In the speech delivered by him in introducing the measure, the noble Lord at the head of the Government was generous, at least towards the Company; but, in the speech delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday night, that right hon. Gentleman was not only not generous, but he was barely charitable. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the corruption which 1423 had existed in the government of India during a particular period at the close of last century; but he ought to have reminded the House that that was a period of general corruption. He (Mr. Liddell) ventured to think that, if the records of the Treasury during the same period were searched, they would afford, perhaps, instances of as flagrant corruption at home as any that could be brought against the East India Company or their servants. The House had been told of the advantage which would be sure to accrue from the proclamation of the Queen's name throughout India; but one of Her Majesty's titles was "Defender of the Faith," and he did not know whether that would sound pleasantly on the ears of the Mahomedan and the Hindoo. He did not know that, when proclamation of that title was made by a Government not altogether unconnected with Exeter Hall, and backed by 80,000 British troops, the Natives might not think that their own faith was going to be wrested from them, and the religion of this country forced on them instead. No one respected our religion more than he did; but he believed that nothing could be more fatal to its success in India, and to the future prosperity of that country, than any attempt to compel the Natives by force to adopt the faith of England. They were told that the Company was a phantom; but phantoms sometimes produced awe, particularly when endowed with invisible force and supernatural energy; and he believed that the Natives of India knew perfectly well the Company was supported by the whole power of England. It was a matter of doubt whether the word "sovereign" would produce any particular benefit, for in India rapine and murder were connected with sovereignty in the minds of the people from past historical associations. He thought it a remarkable fact that no one connected with India had stood up and advocated this measure. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had announced that, if this Bill passed, the contract of the Company's soldiers would be at an end, and they would be at liberty to leave their colours. Now, the House ought to consider what might be the effect of such a liberty at such a time upon soldiers engaged in an arduous campaign. The remodelling of the army of India would, doubtless, be one of the most difficult tasks the Government would have to undertake. It was not for him to laud the East India Company; but they might rest assured that 1424 though it might suit the Government of this country to cast a shadow—for a time, and for a purpose of its own—over their services, and the people of England might in a moment of excitement be induced to forget past days, yet their deeds were stamped indelibly and eternally on the pages of history, and would secure to the Company for ever the gratitude of England and the world. Notwithstanding that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had said that the argument of time was a paltry one, he (Mr. Liddell) wished it to be understood that, in the vote which he should give, he was not actuated by strong opposition to all the provisions of the Bill, but by a firm conviction that it was brought forward at a time when it would be fraught with injury to the interests alike of England and of India.
§ MR. SLANEY
regretted that the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, whose eloquence and ability every one admired, had not regarded the main question, which, apart from party arguments and party tactics, was, what form of Government would be best for the welfare of 150,000,000 of their fellow-men? He thought it incumbent upon them to look upon the matter in that serious light, and, at all events, to allow the Bill to be introduced in order to discuss its provisions, and to see what improvements could be made, in the management of a vast empire, and the welfare of a great people. He was ready to acknowledge that the East India Company had done many things for which they deserved our gratitude, and words could not express his admiration of those distinguished men and glorious warriors who had under every difficulty so nobly fought our battles in India. The East India Company had put an end to continual invasions and devastations, which destroyed life, left crops to rot upon the ground, and invited pestilence to follow in the wake of famine. The Company had also improved the police of the country, had put down customs of which no one could speak without horror, had deterred infanticide, had extirpated systematic societies for the purpose of murder, had prevented the immolation of widows, and abolished slavery. These and other benefits he honestly and gratefully acknowledged, but would they not have been conferred under the rule of Her Majesty the same as under that of the Company? On the other hand the great bulk of the population of India were in a lower 1425 and more degraded state than any people on the face of the globe. They inhabited one of the richest and most fertile parts of the world, and yet they were worse paid, worse fed, and worse clothed than any other people on the face of the earth. It might be said that all this was according to the climate. Food cost only a penny a, day, and clothes not so much—not perhaps 2s. a year. It might be said that they were contented. But how was it that famine broke out from time to time, and destroyed and decimated the population? What was the cause of this? How was it that a Government formed from the most intelligent people in the world, and ruling over a most fertile land, should have a population so miserable? The reason was that for a lengthened period they had been the most heavily taxed people in the world. The taxes were levied in the shape of rent, and exacted from the cultivator of the soil under three different denominations of rent. In some places there were zemindars, who had cultivators under them; in others the ryots paid direct to the Government; and in the third class the tax was levied on the community of the village. The main question, however, was, what was the amount? In this country the amount of the rent was generally about one-fourth of the annual produce; hut in Hindostan it was nearer two-thirds or three-fourths, and left the wretched cultivator nothing but a paltry pittance to live on. The existence of such a custom was a sufficient reason for some change. What had the Company done in return for these exactions? For want of works of irrigation whole populations were periodically decimated by famine. Canals, railways, and other improvements had indeed, within the last few years, been tardily set on foot; but by a wise and humane Government these enterprises, so essential to the welfare of the millions under their sway, and at the same time so reproductive to the public revenue, would have been commenced long ago. These works had returned 30, 40, and even, in some cases 100 per cent; and Colonel Cotton stated that the benefit to one district amounted to £3,000,000 a year, and £7,000,000 to another. There were only 400 miles of railroad completed in all the vast Peninsula, and the overwhelming majority of the passengers being third-class, showed that the humbler orders were anxious to avail themselves of the most rapid communication when brought within their reach. The heavy rents, however, was not the only 1426 burden they had to bear. An impost, which pressed with peculiar severity on the poor peasant, who lived upon rice, was the tax on salt, the price of which was raised at least 100 per cent by the Government. He did not, however, mean to blame the Company for all the evils that existed in India, hut these facts showed that improvement, alteration, and change were required in the condition and state of those persons, who were by this Bill to be brought under the protection of the House of Commons. They would receive all care from that House, and if they were oppressed the House would see that inquiry was made into the cause. It might be asked where were they to get a revenue. The way to raise a revenue was to lower the taxation and increase the comforts of the people, and give them an opening for their energy and enterprise. There were no two countries in the world which, under a wise system of administration, could be of more mutual service to each other than India and England. India, blessed with a fertile soil and rich in tropical productions, could supply us with cotton, tea, silk, sugar, indigo, rice, and various other articles of which we stood peculiarly in need; while, on the other hand, if her resources were properly developed, she would be able to take vast quantities of our manufactures in exchange. At present the population of India consumed less than 1s. worth of our goods per head, whereas an English peasant consumed at least £2 or £3 worth. The exports from India amounted to £23,000,000 per annum, and her imports are only £13,000,000. It was with a view to provoke inquiry into this unfortunate state of things, and to arouse the House of Commons to a faithful discharge of its high trust to the Natives of India, that he should support the Bill of the noble Lord. But these were, after all, minor considerations. There were higher and purer reasons than those, which ought not to be absent from their minds. It was not alone to increase revenue or trade, or even the improvement of the condition of the people, that they ought to look; but it should be remembered that when their physical condition was raised, it would he followed by an improvement in their moral feelings also; and when that was the case, they might rest assured that hereafter—it might be in the hazy distance—it would lead to the introduction of a purer system of religion. Thus would these countless millions be permanently elevated in their 1427 moral, social, and religious state, to the mutual advantage of both countries.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, that when he rose on Friday night to second the Amendment of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring) he abstained from offering any observations to the House, because he felt the great disadvantage of following a speaker who had treated the subject so ably, so forcibly, and so comprehensively. Having; however, accepted the responsibility of seconding his hon. Friend's Motion, on Friday night, he felt it due to himself, to his constituents, and to, the House,, to state the reasons which had induced him to do so. There were few Members, unconnected with the Government of India, who were better acquainted than he was with the course of proceeding of that Government both in India and, at home, or with the peculiar anomalies which marked it. He admitted there were anomalies; but what system was without them? He had listened in, vain to the speech of the noble Lord and to that of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the, Exchequer for game better explanation than they had received of the policy on which this change was founded, and the improvements which it was intended to introduce. The noble Lord commenced his speech by repudiating in positive terms any imputation against the government of the East India House. He said:—I do not do it in any spirit of hostility to the East India Company. I do not mean thereby to imply any blame or censure on their administration.The Chancellor of the Exchequer said:—I entirely concur with my noble Friend at the head of the Government, that there is no ground for imputing any blame to the East India Company with respect to the present insurrection. I do not believe it possible to show that any vigilance on the part of the Directors in London could have guarded against the occurrence of that mutiny, or that when it did occur it would have been possible to suppress it by measures more vigorous or rapid than those which have been taken. I do not in the smallest degree impute blame to the East India Company or to the individual Directors.Such an avowal of opinion on the part of a leading member of the Government was an important admission at the very moment when an investigation was about to take place into the causes which prevented the reinforcements from being sent to India as speedily as might be. The noble Lord said, that the commercial character of the Company was lost of late years, and that it had become entirely a politi- 1428 cal body. He (Mr. Crawford) begged the House to remark the inconsistency of the noble Lord, who, in reviewing what had been done in 1813 and 1833, stated it was a matter of surprise to him that as the commercial privileges of the Company were withdrawn, its political powers were increased; and he emphatically said, that the effect of the legislation of 1833 was to convert the East India Company into a body essentially political, and take away its whole commercial character. Yet one of his great reasons for taking the government out of their hands was that it was a commercial body. He spoke in contemptuous tones of the merchants; nay, he used an expression which would not be altogether palatable to the merchants of this country, when he asked the House would they allow the government of India to be carried on by "a set of merchants." Surely it was not for the noble Lord to cast any reflection on the commercial community; it was the commercial members who constituted the backbone of his support. To say that the East India Company was a set of commercial men, using the word in what was an offensive way, was certainly an exhibition of assumption on the part of the noble Lord which he (Mr. Crawford) was sorry to witness. In referring to the various changes which had taken place in the Government of India, the noble Lord had forgotten to state that on all previous occasions when any organic change was proposed it was always preceded by inquiry before a Committee of the House, and when he looked to the nature of this Bill he did think it was due to the country that inquiry should be made into the grounds on which the change was based. What were the changes which it was proposed to introduce? In the first place, with regard to the Council, it was proposed that it should consist of eight members; but why that number rather than six, or ten, or twelve? There was a great difference of opinion on this point. Many persons well acquainted with the duties of the East India Board of Directors assured him that when these duties, together with those now discharged by the Board of Control, were thrown on the Council of eight, they would be totally unable to discharge them. The reasons for which that number was selected ought to be submitted to a Committee, that the House and the country might have an opportunity of judging of them. With regard to the composition of the body, the question had been ably 1429 treated by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), and Ireland shown how impossible it was that selection should be made free from the influence of political opinions. Again, the noble Lord made an appeal to the House, and said he did not think it was just to suppose that the Members of this House, for any factious purpose, or for the momentary triumph of party would trifle with the great interests of the country as connected with the administration of Indian affairs. He (Mr. Crawford) had not been long a Member of the House, but from what he had read and seen of the House, he did not feel altogether disposed to adopt the view propounded by the noble Lord. How had it been when the case of the colonies, Canada, the Cape, Ceylon, came before the House? By looking to the side of the House from which the Motion came, it was easy to tell what the decision would be. It was impossible that the selection of members of this Council should be made without some reference to political feeling, and any Member who held opinions which were known to be opposed to those of the President would be very apt to find himself supplanted by a more pliant successor. With regard to the number, it was wholly insufficient, and they would find it impossible to get through their duties. How were all the duties connected with finance and the army to be discharged? It was not to be expected that those duties which occupied eighteen gentlemen at one end of the town, could be adequately performed by eight in Cannon Row. He doubted also the wisdom of the exclusion of all the Members from Parliament. If the number was increased, room might very well be found for some members who were not qualified by service in India, and a seat at that Board would hold out a very beneficial prospect to many Members looking forward to political life. The President of the Council, it appeared, was to be entrusted with all the powers of the Secret Committee, so that if Parliament were prorogued on the last day of July, the President might send out instructions to the Governor General to commence a war, and it might be the 1st of March before Parliament knew anything of it. With regard to the patronage. He understood that the President was to monopolise all the patronage which now attached to what were called the "Chairs" at the India House. This included the appointments of the Governors of the Presidencies, 1430 of the Commanders in Chief, Judges of the Supreme Court, Advocates General, Chaplaincies, Superintendents of the Indian Navy, Assay Masters at the Mint, and Masters' Superintendents of the Ports: all this was now to be centred in the President; and when it was borne in mind that, in addition to all this, he would have a large share of the additional patronage arising from the diminution in the numbers of the Board, it was an amount of patronage which it behaved the House to be very careful in guarding. He had one other observation to make on a remark he had heard with little satisfaction; and which appeared to him to be only. a. piece of rhetorical claptrap. The noble Lord said that the Proprietors of India Stock knew nothing about Calcutta, Madras; or Bombay, except what they learned from the candidates for the Directorship, as to the Presidency to which the cadetship was to belong which was promised in return for their votes. He (Mr. Crawford) did not know upon what authority the noble Lord made this statement, but he must say there were many independent men on that Board who would scorn to barter the freedom of bestowing their patronage as their duty and conscience dictated, and if any such instance had ever occurred it must have been in the case of a defeated candidate. The reason which urged him to give his support to the Amendment was, that a great and organic change of this kind ought to be preceded by inquiry. Before such a change was proposed it was the duty of the Government to satisfy the House and the country, by the ordinary mode of obtaining information, that such a measure was requisite. Let it go to a Committee and be subjected to their decision, and if they reported in its favour, or not, the House and the country would be in possession of information to enable them to decide whether to refuse or assent to the demand. There was one other subject to which he would refer. The noble Lord had said that the Native army in India would probably no longer be maintained at the same amount. From this he inferred, that there would be a considerable increase in the European force; he said the force would be recruited in that country. As far as his (Mr. Crawford's) knowledge of the country went, it would not be possible to recruit any European forces there. But if they were to have a permanent addition of something like 50,000 or 60,000 men to the standing army of this country, there 1431 would be the germ of a large additional amount of Government patronage; and it behaved the House to consider that well before granting the powers required for the raising of that force. With respect to the control which the Council would exercise over the finances of India, he would observe that although the Indian Loan Bill limited the Company's power of borrowing on its own authority to £10,000,000, there was a clause in the Bill which, if it passed, would authorise the Company, or the body which would succeed it, to receive subscriptions to any amount which the Government might authorise. Practically, therefore, the Government would have the power of raising an unlimited sum of money in this country. When the House saw that such extensive powers would be given, whether intentionally or not, to the successors of the East India Company, he thought it ought to exercise great caution with reference to the body by whom India was in future to be governed. The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) said the Natives of India considered the Queen's name a tower of strength, and fled to it as a refuge. He differed altogether from the hon. and learned Member in that view. He did not think the Natives of India appealed to the Queen in Council from any strong feeling that they would have justice, but from the litigious spirit with which they were actuated, and the inducements held out to them by those whom they consulted. He did not think the Queen's name would, as the noble Lord said, be equal to a reinforcement of troops in India. The Natives did not disturb themselves with these things, and he believed that not the slightest effect would be produced on them by the change; therefore, he could not agree with those who thought the present a wrong time to effect any change on account of the impressions which would be made on the minds of the Natives. He believed, however, that neither the House nor the country were in a position to deal with so important a question, and therefore he could not give his support to the Bill of the noble Lord.
§ SIR HENRY RAWLINSON
said, he would not have risen to address the House so soon had he not thought that a few practical observations, the result of at least thirty years' experience, might be of service in enabling the House to come to a decision on the important question before 1432 it. He should not attempt to enter upon the historical questions connected with this subject, which had been already so ably and luminously discussed by others, nor would he discuss the particulars of the Bill which had been alluded to by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He would confine himself to the points really before the House, and that he considered to be, first, whether any change in the Government of India was required; and secondly, if it was required, whether this was a proper time to introduce it? Now, a change in the Government of India must be twofold. There must be a change in England and a change in India; it must have reference to the position of the double Government at home and the proclamation of the Queen's name in India. If hon. Gentlemen would only refer to the voluminous proceedings of the Committees of 1852–3 they would find such a mass of evidence condemnatory of the system of the double Government as made it a mystery how that system could have continued to exist to the present time. He could only explain its continuance by an allusion made in another place by a member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, from which it appeared that the defects of the double Government were admitted at the time by the Ministry, but that an abrupt change was counted dangerous; and accordingly the Court of Directors was continued as an interim arrangement, with an infusion of nominees, in order to break the fall of the Company. In speaking of the double Government it would be more graphic to state particular facts to prove its inconvenience than to deal in generalities. He would, in doing so, refer to the constitution of the Secret Committee, and to the relationship between the Court of Directors and the Board of Control. It was considered in popular estimation that the Court of Directors were as a body responsible for measures referring to the internal government of India; and in the petition of the East India Company that responsibility was assumed to exist jointly with that of the Board of Control. But, in reality, in all matters relating to peace and war, negotiations with Native States and other proceedings that belonged to the Government of India, it was not the Directors, but a quorum of three out of the whole eighteen who had anything to do with them. It was a positive fact with respect to the late Persian war that the Directors as a body were ignorant of the 1433 origin of the war, of the negotiations during its continuance, and of the settlement that was at last come to, till they read the despatches in print in the Parliamentary blue-books. He was not prepared to say whether it was just or wise that such a regulation should exist—all he desired to point out was, that if the power was really monopolized according to law by three individuals, and not in the hands of the Directors as a body, it was an anomaly that the whole Court of Directors should in public estimation be held responsible fur what the three had done. The other point to which he would refer was the relationship between the Court of Directors and the Board of Control—a point which had already been alluded to by a right hon. Gentleman, who described the system from the official point of view with which he was cognizant. He (Sir Henry Rawlinson) would, on the other hand, try to explain it from the point of view with which he was acquainted. The most graphic illustration he could give of the system would be to describe the gestation of an Indian despatch from the first moment of its conception to the last stage of parturition. The ideas expressed in a despatch were first conceived by one of those able Secretaries whose fine Roman hand might be recognized in the petition which had been presented to the House. Having been thus conceived, the despatch was communicated to the Chairman. If approved, it was draughted or embodied in writing. The Deputy Chairman and one or two other Directors, who were supposed to know something about the matter, were then consulted, and if the draught was approved it was sent marked "P. C." (Previous Communication) to the Board of Control. It went through a certain manipulation in that Department, of the details of which he was not cognizant, and came back to the Directors embellished with red ink—those mysterious looking characters in red ink being of the essence of the whole document. When there were additions or alterations marked on the margin it was submitted to a Committee of the Court—a body consisting of five or six individuals. The despatch was examined by them, and compared with the collection of papers referring to the subject, and it sometimes lay for a week or even three weeks on the table of the Committee. If there was any disagreement in the Committee with regard to the despatch the Chairman and Deputy Chairman were 1434 consulted. Finally, it was passed either as it came up in red ink from the Board of Control or with alterations. All these were merely preliminaries. It now went before the General Court to be examined by the whole eighteen Members, and lay on the table a week for inspection—sometimes even three weeks, or a month. He had known such a document lie on the table for more than a month. If it was agreed to, it was passed on a second time to the Board of Control for approval; but if the Board of Control found that it differed from the state in which it was sent to the Directors, the alterations were reintroduced in red ink, and it was sent back again to the Court of Directors. When it arrived a second time it was again submitted to the Committee of Directors, and went through the same process as before, being either altered or approved. If approved of, it was passed; but frequently it was not approved of as altered. If it was not approved of, it was necessary to draw up a remonstrance, which remonstrance after having been discussed in Committee, was transmitted along with the despatch back again to the Board of Control. Some of the members, perhaps, entered their dissent from the remonstrance, and this also was sent to the Board of Control. If the President thought that the original alteration should be adhered to—the remonstrance being of no avail—he was bound by law to give his reasons in writing; and the Despatch was sent back once more to the Court of Directors, upon whom it was then imperative to transmit it to India. Now, he asked any reasonable man whether a more destructive or un-business-like series of proceedings could possibly be conceived. It was true that in cases of emergency the forms might be simplified and moderate despatch might be attained; but what was to be thought of a system which, whenever a time of trial arrived, required to be superseded? His belief was that when the present system of double Government had passed away, the only feeling it would leave behind would be one of astonishment that it ever could have existed. In considering the second part of the proposed change with regard to India itself, he would take the liberty of looking at it from two points of view,—in the first place, as it would affect and be judged by the European community, and, in the second, as it would affect and be judged by the Natives. With respect to the Europeans, so far as he had 1435 had an opportunity of forming an opinion, he believed that, with the exception of a very small section of the old exclusive covenanted civil service, there was no party in India that would not prefer the Government of the Crown to that of the Company. There was probably no gentleman who had enjoyed better opportunities of forming an opinion upon this question than Mr. Halliday, the present Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, and there was certainly none on whose judgment we could more safely rely. The following was a portion of his evidence before the Select Committee:—Do you think that there is any practical loss of power to the Government of India by its being carried on in the name of the Company?——I think there is. One sees every day in India among the Natives a disposition, erroneous, and ignorant, and prejudiced it may be, but still undoubtedly prevailing, to exalt anything that belongs to the Crown over anything that belongs to the Company. In the army, officers are proud of being in the Queen's army. I think that a disposition may be traced among the officers of the Indian army to desire that they should be considered or placed upon the same footing with the Queen's officers generally. So, in other things, the Queen's Judges and all officers belonging to the Crown are looking on in a higher light than officers belonging to the Company.I understood you to say that you believed the Natives would regard with much more reverence the Government of the Crown than that of the Company:—I think they would be apt to do so. It is consonant to the general national character, I think; and it arises out of the kind of idea they would form of a Government farmed out, in consequence of their historical experience of the result of such methods of administration in India.Without making yourself responsible for the mode in which a Government under the Crown administered directly from the Crown, should be carried on in India, or without pretending to say how that could be made to work in unison with our representative system here, is it your opinion that the Government should be carried on in the name of the Crown?—I think so.I understood you to state that in saying so you were expressing the opinion of many intelligent persons in India also engaged in the service?—Undoubtedly I am.Mr. Marshman, who was examined shortly afterwards, was a man of extraordinary intelligence, whose knowledge of the Native character was second to that of no European in India, and who might be taken as the representative of the independent European community in India. He was asked—Is it your opinion that if it were known that the country was governed directly from the Crown of this country it would increase their reverence for the Government?—I think if the name of the Crown were brought forward more prominently it would certainly be highly advantageous.1436What is your opinion on this point—Do you think that the Government should be carried on in the name of the Crown or of the Company?—There would be great advantages, I think, in carrying it on in the name of the Crown—that is, in substituting universally the name of the Crown for that of the Company.His own experience of the military service certainly pointed to the same conclusion. No doubt among both the military and civil officers of India there was a strong esprit de corps. They prided themselves on belonging to the Indian service, which had produced such great names in history from Clive and Hastings, in the days of their fathers, and the Lawrences and Outrams of the present generation; but they did not entertain any feeling of reverence at all for the East India Company of London as represented by the Directors and Proprietors in Leaden-hall Street. On the contrary, all their aspirations were associated with the name of the Queen and with the rewards bestowed by the Crown, from which they received their rank and honours. The warrant issued a few years back, recognizing the validity of their commissions in all parts of the world, was hailed as the greatest been that could have been conferred upon them, and he was satisfied that—always provided the substantial benefits attached to the service were continued—the transfer of the government from the Company to the Crown would be received throughout India with great and general satisfaction. With regard to the Natives he was persuaded that in ordinary times the change from the government of the Company to that of the Crown would not produce any appreciable effect upon the agricultural population or even the lower military classes. The uneducated people of India were much more susceptible to individual or local influences than to the effect of any abstract questions of government. There was no such thing as public opinion or a feeling of nationality in India; but in its place there was extreme docility, and the working classes were much more under the influence of the immediate and visible superior than under that of the invisible power which ruled them from beyond seas. Two remarkable illustrations of this were afforded by what had occurred last year. The Scinde horse were composed of the very same inflammable material as the Bengal army—the high-caste Hindoo and the sensitive Mahomedan—and yet there had not been a murmur of dissatisfaction 1437 among them throughout all the disturbances, simply on account of the individual character and conduct of Colonel Jacob, their commander. So with the Punjab. With the exception of the Sikhs, who were a small minority, the population of the Punjab consisted of men who shared all the feelings of the rebellious Sepoys, and yet they had remained perfectly tranquil, simply because they had full confidence in the honour and ability of Sir John Lawrence. It was impossible, indeed, to overestimate the power of individuals when brought into communication with the Natives of India, and he was justified in saying that the local authorities had far more influence over them than any abstract question of government, whether in the name of the Company or of the Crown. But the case was different with the educated classes, who were constantly reading translations of English newspapers, and, in fact, were rather prone to discuss abstract questions. They understood the difference between the Crown and the Company as well as we did; and, although he had conversed with thousands of them—not merely in India, where they were under some restraint, but in Turkey, Arabia, and other countries, where they spoke more unreservedly—he never found any difference of opinion among them as to the superiority of the government of the Crown over the Company. On the contrary, the tendency with them was rather to overrate the political power of the Company and underrate that of the Crown. If he were asked what would be the effect upon them of the proposed change he would reply that the question was simply one of the loyalty or disloyalty of individuals. If they were loyal they would like it, as increasing the power of the Government; if disloyal, they would dislike it, as affording less scope for agitation and intrigue. He now came to the question whether the change—supposing it to be desirable in itself—should be carried out at the present time. The demand for delay was a very specious and attractive one, and likely to have the support of many sections of the public. It would be agreeable to those who were opposed to the Bill on principle; it would be agreeable also to those who, though approving the principle of the Bill, really thought that the present was a bad time for introducing it; and it would be agreeable further to those who had not yet quite made up their minds on the subject, 1438 and who required more time for its consideration. He thought, however, that the reason for delay must be peculiarly strong, and the dangers to be apprehended from immediate legislation clearly proved, before the House would consent to hang up a great question like the present, when they were actually engaged in discussing it at the request of the Government. The statements made by the advocates for delay in order to deter the Government from legislation are irreconcilable one with the other. On the one hand, it is said, that if the change were accomplished, the mutinous Sepoys would consider that they had obtained a great triumph; and, on the other hand, it was supposed that the people of India would be filled with alarm at being handed over to. the Queen's Government. It was quite impossible that both these anticipations could be true, and it was his belief that neither one nor other of those results would take place. The evil-disposed could not become elated at finding that a stronger Government had been, substituted for a weaker one, that there was no cessation of hostilities, and that the officers acting against the insurgents were able to act with greater harmony, and consequently more force, because they would belong to one service. It had been said that the mutiny should first be put down before the proposed legislation took place. Now, if it were a mere military mutiny we had to deal with, he thought he might say that the mutiny was put down. It was true that we still encountered considerable opposition in Rohilcund, Central India, and Oude, but the disorder now existing partook more of the character of a civil revolt than a mutiny, and as such the supremacy of the Government must be reestablished by force of arms, or otherwise, as was most consistent with it own dignity. Now, he would not contend that the name of the Queen would operate as a charm in pacifying the troubled waters of India; he doubted, indeed, whether the country at all appreciated the extent of the civil difficulties in India. He had seen letters from the first civil officers there, describing a deplorable state of things. They complained that there was now a great chasm between them and the Native population, which could not be bridged over; that there was no common ground on which they could approach the Natives, in order to draw their sympathies towards them; that all the old land- 1439 marks were cut away, and mutual confidence destroyed. How, then, was order to be restored? He did not suppose that the Queen's name would do everything; but he believed it would prove a powerful instrument for the re-establishment of tranquillity. He therefore looked upon a proposition like the present a most wise proceeding. It met the requirements of the occasion,—served, in fact, as a new starting point, and as a basis for the construction of a new Government. It invited the people to look forwards, instead of backwards, and to indulge in hopes for the future, instead of regrets for the past. Moreover, there were a number of changes which it was essential for our rule in India should be introduced at the present time. All the requisite ameliorations could not be hung up and delayed, but must be brought on whether the proposed Bill pass or not. There were considerations of finance of the most important character, and there was the subject of the re-organization of the army, which was of absolute necessity. Then, the question of the tenure of land was of equal moment; and, above all, there was the system of administration which must be reformed. Was it not, then, a common-sense view of the subject, when it was desired to induce the people to forget the past, and when certain changes must be introduced into the administration, that this occasion should be taken advantage of, in order simultaneously, or nearly so, to introduce the proclamation of the Queen's name as the immediate ruler of India, to inaugurate the new system? The effect would not be to alarm or depress, but to elevate and encourage the minds of the Natives. That was his honest and positive opinion; and, in corroboration, he would read a passage or two from some letters recently printed, written by an officer employed in the disturbed districts in India, and who was a competent judge on the point. Captain Meadows Taylor said,—"I adhere to my opinion that a Government on the part of the Crown will be the best policy to pursue, and there can be no doubt that a double Government will not answer." In another passage the same officer said—"I am delighted to see the question of the Queen's Government openly canvassed, and it should be carried steadily through till Queen Victoria's proclamations are in every village of India belonging to her." He (Sir H. Rawlinson) entirely agreed in that opinion. He 1440 had only one further remark to make in regard to the apprehension of danger on account of the time of the introduction of the present proposition. It was now three months since this subject was openly announced as a subject for legislation. Another period of three months would probably elapse before the Bill assumed a definite form; and it was therefore self-evident that, if danger was to be incurred from the proposition, it would have been incurred before the Bill ever came into operation. At any rate, the hanging up of the Bill for an indefinite period was fraught with exceeding peril. Publicity was given to all these discussions, and the people of India had been led to believe that the East India Company was doomed. A mere respite would have a most prejudicial effect. The authority of all the Company's officers must be weakened; disorganization must follow, and a state of things ensue which might cause the new Government, when introduced, to fail. He trusted that, while supporting the Bill and deprecating delay, he might not be considered as committed to an unqualified approval of the details of the measure. There were many minor points which he wished to see altered. he quite agreed with those who thought that the number of Councillors was too little, and that the Council would not be sufficiently strong for the transaction of the business devolving on them. He also looked to see the independence of the Council more effectually provided for. Whether that might be done by the introduction of the elective element or otherwise he should not at present presume to say; for he thought such points would be more conveniently discussed in Committee on the Bill. He thought that until they had some definite idea of the exact provisions of the Bill it would be almost out of place to attempt to discuss them: but he should be quite prepared in Committee to disagree from the Government on other points on which he thought the provisions of the Bill inadequate.
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down was a formidable witness against the merits of the double Government, for he united a perfect knowledge of the mode of procedure with a very inimical spirit towards the whole system. It did not appear to him, however, that the hon. Gentleman had completely established his case. His statement seemed to amount to this,—that this double Government was not 1441 merely a form, but had a practical and real existence, and exercised some influence over the march of events in India. Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman wish it to be otherwise? Would he wish it to be a mere phantom? In such a case, the sooner so empty a form was abolished the better. He thought the hon. Gentleman had shown in his interesting account of the progress of a despatch that when a difference of opinion occurred upon any important subject the Court of Directors, or the Secret Committee, did not as a mere matter of course bow to the dictum of the Board of Control, but that these questions were duly discussed and considered. It was true that such a process might entail some delay. There were occasions on which the least delay of despatches might be dangerous, but in most cases it was desirable that the questions to be dealt with should be duly weighed in all their aspects, and that the suggestions of the members of the Court of Directors, who were supposed to possess some acquaintance with the internal affairs of India, should receive due consideration on the part of the Board of Control. He thought, therefore, that the double Government was not a mere phantom, but that it had a tendency to prevent the Board of Control from arriving at rash conclusions. The principal objection urged against the double Government was that it was cumbrous and inconvenient, but that objection applied to all contrivances for the limitation of absolute power. The noble Lord had especially dwelt upon the difficulty which was caused by the distance of the two establishments in Cannon Row and Leadenhall Street from each other. No doubt Ministers found the doings of deliberative bodies occasionally troublesome, and tending to delay that speed which just now they seemed so much to affect. There were other deliberative assemblies besides that one in Leadenhall Street; there were two great powers in the State whose respective places of meeting were by no means so far apart as Leadenhall Street and Cannon Row; and yet these bodies sometimes interfered, delayed, or stopped altogether projects which Ministers would no doubt much rather have had at one coup become statutory enactments. But the public had found, not without passing through some tolerably sad experiences, that speed might be a very good thing in its way, but, that the constitutional check of deliberative assemblies was a better. The 1442 inconveniences complained of therefore were among the necessary conditions of anything like free government, or any approach to limitation of authority. He (Sir J. Walsh) had been surprised at the paucity and poverty of the reasons alleged by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) for the overthrow of the existing system of Indian Government. He had supposed, when the noble Lord gave notice of his intention to introduce this Bill, that he was about to bring forward some strong case against the East India Company on the ground that their conduct had led to the calamities which had recently occurred. He was surprised to find, however, that instead of taking such a course, the noble Lord addressed the Chairman of the Company in terms of laudation, assuring him that no blame was imputed to the Company, and that he regretted to be under the painful necessity of extinguishing a body of gentlemen for whom, upon public and private grounds, he entertained such sincere regard. If, then, the Court of Directors had no connection with the calamities which had occurred in India, what was the secret of this particular moment being selected for proposing the abolition of that body? It appeared that so lately as 1853—having, no doubt, given full and anxious consideration to the subject—the Cabinet arrived at a unanimous resolution to maintain the existing system, which as the lion, and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) had shown, had been defended not only by the votes, but by the elaborate arguments, of some of the leading Members of the present Government. Hazarding a. conjecture, he (Sir J, Walsh) could only suppose that the measure was brought forward in consequence of the unfounded public clamour which had been directed against the double Government. At the present day it was rarely that a Government originated a measure, it only yielded to pressure from without, but in the present case it was not impossible that Government, not unwillingly, caught at the popular cry, through the desire of acquiring additional power, popularity, and patronage. When the noble Lord proposed to extinguish the Company without assigning any reason for it which did not exist in 1853, he could scarcely be in earnest, but rather indulging in that vein of vague pleasantry for which he was so remarkable. The noble Lord had denied that any considerable amount of patronage would accrue to the Government under the operation of 1443 this Bill; but it was impossible that new and important offices could be created in this country and in India without increasing to some extent the patronage of the Ministry. It was surely idle to contend for a moment that this great change could be made without throwing an immense amount of patronage into the hands of the Government. What was that change? The noble Lord had stated that the Council was to be appointed by the Government. They were not to be appointed for life; they were to go out of office in rotation; and necessarily there would be more or less of political partisans who would look to the Government of the day to re-elect them, or to confer upon them still more lucrative appointments. Was it to be supposed that the Government would confer these offices upon any but their own friends? Was there a case in Ireland or in England, with a very few and rare exceptions, where it was not perfectly well understood, without any blame being imputed to them, they would confer all offices of trust upon their own supporters? But this was not all. The Governors of the different Presidencies were also to be rendered absolute in their own sphere, because they would have the appointment of their own Councils, which at present were appointed by the Court of Directors; and these Governors themselves would be taken from the political supporters of the Ministry. When was it ever heard of that a Minister took his Governor General or Governor of a Presidency from the Opposition side of the House? It therefore appeared to him that the new President or Secretary for India, the Councillors he appointed, the Governor General, and the Governors of the Presidencies, with the Councils they respectively appointed, would all be necessarily tinged with party feeling. They had been told indeed that there would be little patronage connected with the Indian army, because that army would necessarily be reduced. It was, perhaps, premature to speculate upon what the changes in the Indian army might be, but they were sure of this, that there would be a great increase to the English officers of the Indian army. If the revolt were suppressed, as he fully believed it would be, there must be a great infusion of European blood, in order to counteract those tendencies which had already so seriously shaken our authority, and thus a new species of patronage would be largely 1444 and indefinitely extended. It appeared to him, moreover, that the gravest constitutional difficulties would soon arise from the control possessed by this new and absolute government over Indian finances. The revenues of India were, he believed, now about £30,000,000, the whole disposition of which was to be centred in the new authority, while the responsibility of this House would be very limited and illusory. The noble Lord's proposition was, not that Estimates should be presented, and that there should be no previous discussion as to the necessities of the service, but that some months after the Council and the Secretary for India had raised the funds, and applied them according to their own pleasure, there should be an audit of these accounts, which should then be laid on the table of the House. Under such circumstances, was it not evident that the supervision of the House of Commons would be a mere phantom? Generally speaking, unless some special point had roused public attention, the accounts would pass sub silentio, and in point of fact the whole of this vast revenue would be placed entirely in the hands of the Government and their dependents in India. Another point for consideration was that the double Government now served to prevent the collision of two systems utterly opposed to each other, and which he was convinced could not come into close proximity without danger. He alluded to the absolutism which was necessary in India as contrasted with the free constitution which existed here. There was not one Member who had addressed the House—not even the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) so well known for his devotion to the cause of free government—but had acknowledged that it was impossible to extend free institutions to the people of India. We must govern India and well, we must govern her beneficently and unselfishly; for her own benefit rather than ours, but we must apply to it the famous Austrian maxim—"Everything for the people, but nothing by the people." He believed that the arbitrary system necessary in India would not work in unison with our own, that collisions would ensue, the principles of the two Governments would encroach upon each other, and the consequence would be either that disorder, anarchy and confusion would arise in India, or else that our own free institutions would be insensibly modified by the contagious example of arbitrary 1445 government. This was the danger to be apprehended from the establishment in India of a pure autocratic and absolute form of government of the most unmixed character, sweeping away entirely the limitations which had hitherto prevented it from assuming that character. It was said that by the plan proposed you would let in upon India the influence of British public opinion, which would work miracles. Now, he had a great respect for public opinion, though he confessed he had not that implicit belief in it which inspired some hon. Members. Public opinion was the great motive-power of society here, but it was one which must be regulated and directed, which must have its cogs, its wheels, and its governor, as well as its piston, and above all, it must have its safety valve; and if you sent English public opinion to run riot in a country without the knowledge requisite for its wise and salutary influence, it would, instead of proving a source of happiness and improvement, throw the country into confusion and be the destruction of our Indian empire. It appeared to him most necessary that a body of men well acquainted with India, and with the peculiar characteristics of the Natives of that country, should be constantly interposed between them and the direct influence of opinion in this country. There was an immense difference between the Asiatic and the European character; the fixed way in which the one clung to the usages, the laws, the ideas, and the customs which had been handed down to him, and the incessant activity of the other, his constant enterprise, his perpetual love of change, his yearning after improvement. In England they were scarcely the same people now that they were ten years ago. In India they were scarcely changed since the days when Arrian wrote the history of Alexander. It was therefore in the highest degree expedient that in bringing into closer contact elements so dissimilar that the greatest caution should be observed. There was another question which he wished to approach with the greatest delicacy, conscious that it excited a great and natural interest in the country—he meant the religious question. One consequence of the passing of this Bill would be, that public opinion which would in that case be brought to bear with tremendous effect upon India, would demand, as it was now demanding, that our policy should be changed with regard to the propagation and extension of Christianity in India, and 1446 he thought the adoption of such a change would be fraught with inevitable destruction to the Indian empire. Every one knew that the greatest been to India would be the conversion of the Natives to the pure religion of Christianity. But they were also aware that there was great difficulty in the way of realising that object; that the great landmark of the Native religion had been scarcely changed for centuries, and that they were more wedded to the dogmas of their false religion than the inhabitants of any other nation on the face of the earth; and that it was only by proceeding with the most cautious steps—by convincing them of the truth of what we all said, but which they did not believe—that we did not intend to resort to compulsion—it was only in that way we could tranquillise the people. On all these grounds it appeared to him that the time for the measure was singularly ill-chosen. He saw no emergency—no case made out against the present system—nothing to prove that those who had carried it on were to blame. He believed that was an ill-considered measure, and that Ministers in introducing it were bowing to a short lived popular cry; and believing that, he would vote against the introduction of the Bill.
§ MR. ARTHUR MILLS
said, that the various subjects connected with the local administration of India had in his opinion been somewhat unnecessarily dragged into the discussion of the question before the House, which was simply whether leave should be given to the Government to introduce a measure for the simplification of a system which, if the testimony of the hon. Member for Reigate (Sir II. Rawlinson) was to be accepted, was a cumbrous contrivance for the promotion of delay and the concealment of responsibility. He had studied this question with all the ability he possessed, and for his own part he was utterly at a loss to understand how anybody could arrive at a different conclusion. It was impossible, he thought, to read the evidence of Mr. Waterfield and Sir J. Melville without being alive to the fact that it was extremely difficult to ascertain with which branch of our Indian administration the initiative rested, whether with the Court of Directors or the Board of Control. The apportionment of the duties of government between the two bodies rendered the working of the system to so great an extent impracticable and incapable of explanation that it could with no degree of justice be denied that a fair 1447 case had been made out for its abolition. While, however, he entirely concurred in that view of the question, he was altogether opposed to regarding the measure before the House in the light of a Bill of indictment against the East India Company, nor did he believe that it had been introduced in any such spirit by Her Majesty's Ministers, notwithstanding certain observations which had on the Friday previous fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had, indeed, been not a little surprised to hear Borne of the charges of mal-administration which had been made against the Company; and those who urged it as an offence upon the part of the Court of Directors that a sum of £80,000 had at one period been spent in a single year in the shape of secret-service money would, he thought, do well to bear in mind that a very large portion of that sum had been expended in bribing Members of Parliament, and that it had been laid out, too, in times such as those of Sir R. Walpole, when corruption pervaded more than one department of the State. To say that the East India Company was corrupt at that time was only to say that it was not advanced beyond the then prevailing standard of political morality. Neither could he (Mr. Mills) consent to make the Company the scapegoat for all the recent troubles. In dealing with a question such as that raised by the Bill, having reference as it had to a season of public calamity, the first point for consideration which occurred to some minds was, who was to be hanged? and in the present instance the President of the Board of Control, the Governor General of India, and the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) and his colleagues, had each in turn been suggested as proper subjects for execution. He, however, had no desire to see execution done on anybody, inasmuch as he was disposed to believe that those various functionaries had performed very perplexing duties with integrity and intelligence, and had failed in discharging those duties effectively only because the system was one the difficulties of which it was out of their power to overcome. But what he wished to see was, that in any case of future maladministration—and there might be such a thing in future—they might know at once where to fix upon the wrong-doer without preliminary inquiries by Parliamentary Committees. But on this occasion they were met by the plea of the hon. 1448 Member for Huntingdon, that, this was not the time. In his opinion, if they did not seize the present opportunity of making a reform in the Indian Government, they would not have another. It was only under the pressure of calamities which compelled us to consider the subject, that we ever legislated for our dependencies. The arguments for delay were of very little weight. He looked upon the present measure as one of the most essential steps towards civilizing India, and, therefore, reserving his objections to certain points in which he thought the measure was objectionable, he should support the introduction of the Bill, in the confident hope that it would be the commencement of a new and brighter era in the administration of our Eastern empire.
§ MR. WYLD
said, it was his intention to support the Bill of the noble Lord on wholly different grounds to those on which its advocates had generally rested their support. He would not go into the history of the Company for past years, as it was his opinion that the renewal of the East India Company's charter had been a condonation of their past shortcomings. They had to deal with the India of to-day, and his objection to the present system of government was that it consisted of what was called a double Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade had shown that there was no double Government at all—that the Government of India was bureaucracy, at the head of which was the President of the Board of Control, and that the Board of Directors were only his servitors. They had not even the power of writing a despatch to any of the Governors of the Indian provinces. If that were so, and the monarch of Canon Row were the real Governor of India, then the Court of Directors was but a screen to cover his errors. His (Mr. Wyld's) objection to the present system was, that it was unfitted for the requirements of the age. The Bill of Mr. Pitt, constituting the double Government, was passed at a time when our possessions in India were comparatively limited in extent, and had that statesman survived to witness the present enlargement of our empire he would never have agreed to so unsatisfactory a form of administration. It must be remembered, too, that our interest in India was continually increasing. The Russian war had been undertaken in great part to check the aggressive designs of that Power in the East, and the recent 1449 Persian war had been commenced with a similar intention. No movement in Asia could take place without affecting imperial interests, and therefore he deemed it to be most desirable that some legislation should take place upon this most important subject.
§ MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
said, that the discussion was in the extraordinary position that all the speakers were on one side; for, in the course of that evening, only those hon. Gentlemen had a word to say who were against the measure of the Government; consequently he felt it his duty to make a few observations. The only argument he had heard that evening which appeared to require notice was that of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), who complained that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had not made any accusation against the East India Company. The fact was that, up to the present time, the Board of Control and the Court of Directors had acted well together, and there had been no difference between them; but the ground upon which a change was proposed was not any fault on the part of the Directors of the East India Company; it was a distinct objection to the system which prevailed at present. That system, he thought, fully deserved the epithet of cumbrous, and its working had been well exemplified in the history of a despatch which had been given by the hon. Member for Reigate (Sir H. Rawlinson). Those who were interested in railways or other industrial undertakings in India were fully acquainted with the difficulty of obtaining decisions upon particular points, from the necessity of reference from one branch of the Government of India to the other. There was no secretary to a railway company but what must have found the difficulty of getting answers to his inquiries, when it was perhaps necessary for him immediately to send out letters to India. He came to the Board of Control, and stated that the India Board declared that letters asking information had been delayed there, and vice versa, so that business which ought to be transacted in a day or two often took months to get through. Surely this was a cumbrous system with reference to the Government of India, which ought not to be allowed to continue. Changes had been made in India itself of late years; a centralization of authority had taken place; Boards had been abolished, and individual responsibility introduced. The alterations now 1450 proposed at home were of the same kind which had been made in India itself, and were only intended to simplify the administration of affairs, and to fortify our rule on that vast empire. It was surely time to attempt to see what could be done to remedy defects in the home government of India, which were acknowledged by all, instead of continuing to perpetuate them. An energetic race of administrators had sprung up in India, of whom men like the Lawrences formed the type, and it behoved the Parliament of this country to encourage their efforts. The Court of Directors was surrounded by traditionary influences, and he could refer to many instances in which, under the operation of those influences, it had prevented measures being carried into effect which would have been eminently beneficial and successful in India. Again, was there any difference of opinion in India as to the necessity for the proposed change? What said the people, composed alike of Native and European inhabitants, who had for years past petitioned the Legislature in reference to grievances under which they laboured? Almost without an exception they attributed those grievances to the existence of the double Government at home, and prayed for its abolition, as the first step to reforms which they wished to see carried out in India, and at the same time that they prayed for the abolition of the double Government, they also asked to be placed directly under the sovereignty of the Queen. One objection taken in that House was, that with the proposed change in the home Government, there would likewise be a change of policy in India; but he saw no strong grounds for believing that any such change of policy would be attempted to be introduced. He did not think that the Natives would anticipate such a course being taken. The principal change that might have been apprehended was a change in religion; but he thought the discussions which had taken place in the two Houses of Parliament were calculated to reassure the people of India on the subject, and to convince them that the spirit, not only of the Government, but of the Legislature and the people of England, was diametrically opposed to everything like forcible conversion, whatever else might have been inferred from the tone of certain religious meetings outside the walls of Parliament, and that, on the contrary, as we valued liberty of conscience ourselves, we would not see it violated in the 1451 case of the people of India. The Company had been much blamed for not assisting the spread of Christianity in India, but they had been much misrepresented. No doubt the policy of the Company had been one of strict neutrality in matters of religion; but he would remind the House that that policy was not a whit more attributable to the Directors than it was to the Board of Control, which represented the Government. There was another question on which the minds of the people of India might be reassured, and that was the employment of Natives in offices of trust. A considerable portion of the country remained as it was before the mutiny, and the people continued firm in their allegiance to our rule. He thought he might state that it was the will of this country that an independent policy should be followed out in the employment of the Natives of India. That policy was recommended by Lord William Bentinck; and, so far as it had already been adopted, it had been entirely successful. But there was one change which he thought might be beneficially carried out, and that was the encouragement of English settlers in India. The policy of the Company had certainly been opposed to the settlement of independent Englishmen, notwithstanding, twenty-five years ago, Sir Charles Metcalfe, in a remarkable paper, strongly recommended its encouragement. The result was, that the number of British settlers at the present time was scarcely larger than it was then. What had been the case in the neighbouring colony of Ceylon? Not many years ago Ceylon was a dependency of the East India Company. It was subsequently transferred to the Colonial Office; and what was its condition now? There was a vast number of English settlers in Ceylon, and a large amount of capital had been transferred there, which was now being profitably employed. At the time the East India Company held it, not a pound of coffee was grown in the island; but now the exports in coffee alone amounted to between 40,000,000lb. and 50,000,0001b. a year. Some years ago it was proposed to re-transfer Ceylon to the East India Company; but the settlers petitioned, as a body, that they might he allowed to remain under the Colonial Office: and yet, look at the opposits coast of India, which possessed the same soil. The people of that coast emigrated to Ceylon, to Singapore, and even to the West Indies, to find a 1452 field for their labour, while there was little or no coffee grown on that coast. Sir Charles Metcalfe always held that, without colonization, and without a sufficient European army in India, he could never hope to secure favour for our empire there in the eyes of the Native population. He (Mr. D. Seymour) held, in conclusion, that this was the very time when, as he hoped, the terrible crisis was passed which, had convulsed that unfortunate country, and when peace was about to be re-established—to make that change in the government which must have come sooner or later, and to show the people of India that henceforth their allegiance would be due, not to the East India Company, but to the Queen.
§ MR. ADAMS
said, he would not have risen to address the House had it not been for the surprise expressed by the Secretary to the Board of Control at the one-sided character of the debate. The hon. Gentleman seemed not to be aware that it was the duty of Government, when it came forward to propose the abolition of an ancient body, such as the East India Company, to show that it had in some way forfeited its claims to the confidence which it had so long enjoyed, and that it did not lie on the defenders of the Company to prove that it had done nothing wrong. It was not for lack of argument that the opponents of the Bill had remained silent, but because they were, in fact, listening to know to what they would have to reply, and having followed the noble Lord and those who had succeeded him in favour of the Bill with the greatest anxiety to discover what were the delinquencies of the Company, the only-reason which he could gather from them for the proposed change was, that Leaden-hall Street was too far from Cannon Row. Surely that difficulty might easily have been got over by accommodating the Board of Directors in some part of the magnificent new public offices which were in contemplation. As to the charge of delay produced by the roundabout mode of procedure described by the hon. Member for Reigate (Sir II. Rawlinson) in his amusing sketch, it was scarcely necessary to go as far as Leadenhall Street for that. The East India Company was certainly not the great original of the Circumlocution-office, and the picture which the hon. and gallant Member had drawn would do very well for offices not quite so distant as Leadenhall Street. One argument in his mind against the Bill was that if it passed, the House 1453 would lose the benefit of the practical knowledge, joined to admirable powers of expression, possessed by the hon. and gallant Member for Reigate, for it was quite clear, with the great accord existing between him and the Government on this question, and the little accord existing between him and his present colleagues, what would be his destination when the new system was established. The noble Lord had argued that, as the war in the Crimea showed the impossibility of carrying on a war with a divided military administration, so the mutiny in India had shown the deficiencies of the present system of governing India. But were the two cases at all comparable? In the Crimean war our military administration got into a state of inextricable confusion—cannon sent out without shot, shot without cannon—troops without the means of moving from the shore on which they were landed—men dying by hundreds for the want of stores which were rotting in a transport close at hand—all went wrong, and a change of some sort was imperatively necessary. But had any complaints of a similar nature been brought against the administration of India? On the contrary, the language of compliment had been exhausted by the noble Lord, and those who had followed him, towards the Company. Every speech that had been delivered in favour of the Bill either proved that there was no necessity for any change, or else that this Bill would in fact effect no change at all. It was said that all the old modes of administration were to be retained, but the real question to be answered in reference to that part of the argument in favour of the Bill was, what would be the effect of the change on the Natives of India? It might be that this was in reality only a change in appearances, but would that be the aspect in which it would appear to the Hindoos, so easily imposed upon, and so open to the misrepresentations of designing persons? The Sepoys were at present in open rebellion against the Company, and if they were to learn now that the authority which they had cast off had been destroyed by the strong arm of the home Government, the effect, as regarded the suppression of the mutiny, would be most disastrous. Therefore, whatever necessity there might be for making a change, this was not the time. If the Government had stated that the abolition of the Company was necessitated by any neglect of duty or by the obstacles 1454 which it had thrown in the way of suppressing the mutiny he would have supported their proposition, and been ready to place the Government of India in more efficient hands. But there was no such insinuation. On the contrary, when the matter came to be inquired into he believed it would be found that "throwing the reins on the neck of the Company" was not quite a correct definition of the conduct of the Board of Control in the late crisis, and that if there had been any delay it had been created not by the Company, but by the unnecessary meddling of those much less competent to manage Indian affairs. Another reason for not making the change was that it was scarcely fair to take from the officers of the Company, who had gone through all the danger and labour, the crowning honour of restoring peace and tranquillity. There were men on the India Board in whom the utmost confidence might be placed—men who might challenge comparison with any department of the Government—men who were certainly sneered at as being commercial men; but he knew no men who were more competent to conduct affairs of business than commercial men. Bach of the Directors had been chosen by the possessors of stock, who had a strong interest in selecting men most likely to promote the interests of India. Some hon. Members had referred to the former state of India, and the mode in which the government of that country had been carried on, and any one who was unacquainted with the real state of the affair would imagine that the existing Company were the parties who had practised the enormities which were committed 100 years ago. It was most unfair to hold the improved Company responsible for the evils of a system which ceased before many of them were born. This was distracting the attention of the House from the real question. In what respect, he asked, had the Company failed in its duty in the government of India? Up to this time he had heard no evils alleged which might not be remedied by improving the Company. Nor did the Company at all object to adopt improvements. They had always shown the utmost readiness to accept every suggestion which had been offered to them. If they could only be shown that advantages would result from their assenting to modifications they would he ready, as they always had been, to adopt improvements, however extensive, which would be likely to conduce to the benefit of the Natives 1455 and of the public of this country. As to the question of whether it would be necessary to interfere more directly with the religion and various forms of belief of the Natives, he apprehended that the House would agree with him that we were not to force our religion upon the Natives of India. We who claimed for ourselves the utmost freedom of conscience were bound to believe that they were sincere, and to respect their convictions; but while we did that we ought not to be ashamed of the religion which we professed; we should never hesitate to avow that we were Christians, for nothing would so certainly and so rapidly lower us in the estimation of conscientious Natives as that we should be ashamed of the faith which was in us. Here, then, was the true line to be observed. We were not to propagate our religion by the sword, for ours was the religion of peace; but we were not to hesitate to declare our faith. It appeared to him that the great fault hitherto had been that while, on the one hand we had assisted too much at the mysteries and delusions of the Natives, we had been either afraid or ashamed to avow that we were Christians, and above all, we had failed to act up to those Christian principles without which mere professions went for nothing. Upon the principle that this was not the proper time, but the very worst time, for the introduction of the change now proposed, he should give his support to the Amendment.
§ MR. ELLIOT
said, that, speaking upon the authority of a thirty years' residence in India, he could deny the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, that there was any desire on the part of Englishmen in India either to deny or to conceal their Christianity. On the contrary, he declared that the profession and practice of Christianity in India were just as open and as fearless as in this country. His noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston) had given two principal reasons in support of this Bill. One of these was that the present mode of government at home was cumbrous. Now that delays occasionally occurred between the Board of Control and the India House was perfectly true; but he must say that, during the time that he was Secretary of the Board of Control, those delays had been so rare as almost to excite his surprise. They certainly never extended to such a degree as to be a real inconvenience; and he could confidently appeal to those who knew the working of the different offices, 1456 whether the delays at the Board of Control wore greater than those of cither the Treasury, or the Colonial, or other Government Office where there was no double Government. He could say, from experience! while at the Board of Control, that he had waited longer to get an answer from the Treasury than he ever had from the India House. Yet they did not, on that account, propose to remove his noble Friend from the head of the Treasury; these delays, it was clear, might be remedied by reforms in the offices themselves. The other reason stated by his noble Friend in support of the Bill was, that it would be very beneficial to India to bring the affairs of that country more under discussion in the House of Commons. Now, he hoped that he should not be regarded as saying anything offensive or disrespectful to the House, if he' said that, in his opinion, they could do nothing more detrimental to the interests of India than to bring Indian affairs constantly into debate in that House. There were not, probably, above 100 or 150 hon. Members who knew anything about India, and therefore when Indian questions were before the House upwards of 500 Gentlemen were called on to vote upon a subject of which they were ignorant. It was dangerous at all times to vote upon questions which one did not understand, but it was more particularly dangerous to do so where the prejudices and religion of the people were involved. There were many excellent and conscientious people in this country who, notwithstanding, were very imprudent; they would not let you alone; they would insist on introducing their wild notions, and having them debated. Discussions on such subjects were always out of place in that House; but, when they referred to such a people as the Natives of India, and to their religion, their caste, their prejudices, or their rights, they became both mischievous and dangerous. Very intemperate and injudicious language was occasionally used, which was sure to be transferred to the Indian papers, and the greatest mischief was the result. In proof of this, he need only refer to the discussions on the Bill of 1853, when most violent and virulent speeches were made with regard to the Company's servants, both military and civil; the former were declared to be utterly unfitted for the duty which devolved on them as officers, and the latter to be indolent and useless. All these speeches went out to India, and would, of course, be published in the Native 1457 newspapers with such exaggerations as would suit the purposes of the ill-disposed. And, although he did not pretend to say that this had actually caused the mutiny, yet he would say now what he had said at the time, that they were well calculated to create disaffection, and to lower the respect of the parties towards their European superiors.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
If the House desires an adjournment of course I shall not object; but I hope that if the debate be adjourned it will be continued and brought to a conclusion to-morrow.
§ MR. GROGAN
said, he had a notice on the paper for the next day, and he hoped that the noble Lord would adjourn the debate to some other day. He had spoken to the hon. Gentleman who had a notice next to his own on the paper for to morrow, and he had assured him that he was determined on going on with his Motion.
§ Motion made and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 280; Noes 32: Majority 248.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he hoped that the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Grogan) and the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Baillie) who also had a Motion on the paper for to-morrow, would give way, so as to allow the adjourned debate to take precedence that evening.
§ MR. GROGAN
said, that he felt so greatly the importance of the subject to which his Motion referred, that unless the noble Lord would give him the Committee which he asked for, or would give him next Friday, he should feel bound to proceed.
MR. GUMMING BRUCE
said, that he believed it was also the intention of his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire to proceed with the Motion which stood in his name.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.