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Third Reading

Volume 160: debated on Monday 20 August 1860

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Order for Third Reading read.

was anxious before the Session closed to ask the Secretary for India what amount of Native and European force he proposed in future to maintain in India. In the discussions it seemed to be taken for granted—

The question before the House relates to the East India loan, and the hon. Member's observations must be confined to the subject-matter of the Bill.

said, the loan was rendered necessary by the enormous amount of military force which was to be maintained in India.

said, he simply wished to ask what amount of force was to be maintained in India. The Commissioners had recommended a force of 180,000 Natives and 80,000 Europeans, in addition to which there were upwards of 100,000 armed Native police. What could be the reason for maintaining so large a force in time of peace? The Commissioners gave no reason for it, and, sitting in London, they could not be very good judges of what was necessary. The Native force in Bengal was at present 183,000 men, while in April last Sir Patrick Grant was of opinion that 54,000 would be sufficient. Then as to Bombay and Madras, the Commissioners recommended a force of 30,000 Europeans to be kept up, while Lord Canning and other competent authorities thought that 18,000 would be ample. In Bengal the Commissioners recommended that a force of 50,000 Europeans should be maintained; while eighteen out of twenty-seven witnesses were of opinion that a smaller amount, ranging from 20,000 to 45,000, would be sufficient. Not only were the number of witnesses against the Commissioners' recommendation, but also the weight of authority, including the names of Generals Low Browne, Pollock, Ashburnham, Wilson, Jacob, Cotton, and Colonels Wylie, Master, Durand, and Steel, and Sir Charles Trevelyan. The maintenance of so large an European force would necessarily involve immense loss of life from the climate. He wanted to know what were the motives for maintaining an army of 350,000 men in time of peace, constituting an enormous burden upon the finances of India. Against what enemy was that large army required? Experience had shown that the only enemy we had to fear in India was the Native population whom we armed, and yet in defiance of that experience we were putting arms into the hands of 300,000 Natives.

said, he did not rise to oppose the Bill, very far from it; because he believed that if the present extravagant policy were continued in India the right hon. Gentleman would have to come annually for even larger amounts than he now asked for. The right hon. Gentleman did not appear to contemplate the expenditure he was incurring for European troops in India. By a Return dated April of the present year, now on the table of the House, it appeared that there were then in India 94,829 effective troops of the Line, and 17,376 Europeans of the local army, together 112,205. Admitting that 10,000 had since been sent to China, there remained 102,205 European troops in India, besides 15,000 in depots at home; while the Estimates of the right hon. Gentleman only covered the expense of 80,000. Instead of 80,000 European troops in India, we had, in fact, 117.000 men to be paid from the revenues of India. The number of European troops recommended by Lord Clyde for the defence of Bengal alone was as follows, his Lordship giving only the number of batteries and regiments, which are necessarily considered of the usual strength, namely:—40 troops or batteries of Artillery of 200 men each, 8,000 men; 17 reserved companies of 100 men each, 1,700; 10 regiments European cavalry of 650 each, 6,500; 43 regiments European infantry of 1.050 each, 45,150, making in all 61,350 men; Now before the mutiny, in April, 1857, there were in Bengal, the North-West Provinces, Oude, and the Punjab, 22,907 European troops, namely:—2 regiments Dragoons, 1310; 15 regiments Royal infantry, 13,956; Local horse Artillery, 999; Local foot Artillery, 1,899; Local European infantry, 3 regiments, 2,460; Native Horse Artillery, 447; and Native foot Artillery, 1,836:—Total, 22,907. That force, with some small assistance from the local force of the other Presidencies, had broken the neck of the rebellion, and yet now, when all India was at our feet, Lord Clyde thought a force of 61,350 men was necessary. Common sense pointed out that such an increase was uncalled for, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would exert his authority to prevent such waste of the revenues of India. There was also the cost of passages to be considered. Colonel Tulloch, the supporter and advocate of the amalgamation system, said that the re- lieving regiments would require 8,000; the relieved coming home, 8,000; recruits, 5,600; invalids, 4,000; recruits to replace invalids, 4,000; in all 29,600 passages to be provided annually, which, taken at Colonel Tulloch's estimate of £12 each, would make £355,200. Let the House contrast that amount with that of 1856 and 1857, when the number of troops required to be sent out and sent home, on the average of the two years, was 5,798 soldiers, instead of 29,600; at an expense of £69,576, instead of £355,200. Then there was the additional expense, which Colonel Tulloch had omitted to calculate, for the passages of wives and children. In 1856 and 1857 the average number was 1,007 out and home at a cost of £12,084. It must be estimated for the future at 5,035, and the cost of the passages £60,420, instead of £12,084. There must also be estimated the difference between the expense of maintaining an army of 80,000 Line, and a force partly local and partly Line, which was stated by the actuary in the Papers upon the table of the House to amount to £448,000. These sums added up would give the expense consequent upon the amalgamation at £888,820, which would annually fall upon the revenues of India, instead of £81,660 when the European troops were partly Line and partly local! With the increased expenditure for the civil and political establishments it was impossible that the revenues of India could meet the drain, and he repeated that if the right hon. Gentleman did not exercise the power he possessed of greatly reducing the expenditure in India he would be under the necessity of coming to the House annually for constantly increasing sums of money.

complained that more than £140,000 should be exacted from the people of India, who did not agree with us in religion, for the maintenance of a religious establishment. Some years ago it used to be urged on the part of the Government that the introduction, or even the talk of Christianity in India, would set the country in a flame. Surely we had enough on our hands, in this country, of ecclesiastical matters, without troubling the Hindoos and Mahometans with an Establishment of any kind. Almost every denomination from this country had representatives in India, who were respected and peacefully dealt with by the inhabitants. What need was there for a Bishop and cathedral, and a whole ecclesiastical staff, where so many Christian denominations, supported without Government patronage, had their missionaries and their teachers?

regretted to find that an erroneous impression had been produced by his speech on a former stage of this Bill. It was quite erroneous to suppose that Sir Charles Trevelyan had been influenced in his opposition to the measures of Mr. Wilson by any feeling of rivalry and hostility to Mr. Wilson. On a re-perusal of the despatches it was perfectly impossible to maintain such an opinion. Nothing could be clearer than that Sir Charles Trevelyan a year ago, and before Mr. Wilson went to India, most fully and fairly declared his opinion that the deficit must be met by a reduction of expenditure, and not by an increase of taxation. He was bound, therefore, to acquit Sir Charles Trevelyan of any personal motive or enmity to Mr. Wilson. He was persuaded that in the line he took Sir Charles Trevelyan had been influenced by patriotic motives and by his experience and observation in India. There was another point to which he wished to advert. The Secretary of State for India had never shown the House why he allowed 400,000 Native troops to be kept up in India. That was a larger number than we had before the mutiny, and the idea was preposterous. This vast army was the source of all our financial embarrassment. The police throughout India ought to be placed on the same economical footing as in Madras. Mr. Wilson stated that the deficit might be reduced to £5,700,000 if the extra military expenditure were cut off; but the right hon. Baronet estimated the deficit at £7,000,000. What was the reason of that discrepancy? He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman allowed sufficient for the Indian balances. He urged the right hon. Gentleman to lose no time in reducing the excessive expenditure of the local Government.

said, that as he had not anticipated a discussion on the military arrangements of India to come on that evening, he was not prepared to state the precise number of troops now in India. He thought the statements which had been made erroneous, because the papers from which they were taken referred to a distant period. His own belief, though of course he could not speak positively from recollection, was, that there were under 90,000 European troops in India. He could not venture to order the reduc- tion of the number of troops in the face of the opinion of the Governor General and of the authorities in India, who, being on the spot, had the best means of forming a correct judgment, and who had repeatedly and deliberately declared that, under present circumstances, they did not consider India would be safe with less than about 80,000 European soldiers. The calculations of the Indian Government as to expenditure were based on the amount of troops whom they proposed to retain in India. As to the matter of the ecclesiastical establishment in India referred to by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Had-field), he had simply filled up such vacancies as occurred. It had always been understood that the means of spiritual instruction should be furnished to the Civil and Military Service of India, and some superintendence was certainly required. As to the observations of the hon. Member for Poole, he was very glad to hear the explanations which his hon. Friend had felt bound to make in reference to the attack which he had made some nights ago on the character of Sir Charles Trevelyan. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not again make an attack, as he did on the former occasion, wholly unsupported by the Papers on the subject, which he had clearly not even read. His hon. Friend had been anxious to make an attack on him (Sir Charles Wood). In order to make out his case the hon. Member made a most unwarrantable assertion in regard to Sir Charles Trevelyan, which, he was happy to say, he had retracted that evening. On the former evening he had made an ingenious structure of assertions. He said that Sir Charles Trevelyan and Mr. Wilson were rivals in this country, that they carried their rivalry to India, and that Sir Charles Trevelyan was actuated by that feeling in his public conduct. The hon. Member then went on to insist that he (Sir Charles Wood) must have been aware of this, and ought to have written minute after minute to put a stop to this rivalry, and asserted that he had not done so, and went on to say that if, instead of doing so, he had written private letters, to the same effect, it only made matters worse. Now, the hon. Member must have been perfectly ignorant of these things; he could not have known what minutes or what private letters were written. This sort of hypothetical imputation, however, signified very little, but the whole attack was based on that assertion with regard to Sir Charles Trevelyan, which was utterly unjustifiable. He, Sir Charles Wood, had thought it better at the time to allow it to pass unnoticed. His hon. Friend, with great credit to himself, had to-day retracted the imputation. Having read the papers, his hon. Friend had now shown most distinctly that the imputation that Sir Charles Trevelyan was actuated by a feeling of rivalry to Mr. Wilson was totally unfounded. His hon. Friend might have known that before he made the attack, if he had taken the trouble to read the Papers; and he did accuse his hon. Friend of having utterly disregarded the character of a public man, in order to found upon it a very puny attack upon himself. He (Sir Charles Wood) stated at the time that the measures proposed by Mr. Wilson were measures introduced long before by the Government of India, and that Sir Charles Trevelyan expressed his opinion upon them before Mr. Wilson arrived in India. He was glad to find that his hon. Friend had discovered that what he had then stated was true; but, if his hon. Friend bad taken the trouble to read the Papers before he made the assertion, he would have discovered that fact before he made an accusation which was very painful to Sir Charles Trevelyan. He entirely believed, as his hon. Friend admitted now, that Sir Charles Trevelyan was actuated by no such motives. Sir Charles Trevelyan might have been imprudent in the course which he pursued, but he was convinced that that gentleman was prepared to sacrifice himself and his own position for what he believed to be necessary and advisable for India. His hon. Friend had, in another instance, shown that he had not read the Papers, or he would not have repeated the statement that he (Sir Charles Wood) had never enjoined economy in India. The letters in the Papers before the House were not the only financial letters addressed to India. They were only such as related to the recall of Sir Charles Trevelyan, but even in them there were two at least distinctly pressing economy on the Government of India. On the 10th of May he wrote to the Governor General in Council:—

"I shall be glad to think that, if possible, within a short period you will be able to reduce the expenditure within the present income, and I cannot refrain from again urging upon you the necessity of making every effort to effect a reduction of expense."
On the 9th of Juno he again wrote:—
"In my despatch dated the 10th of May last, I repeated the injunction of Her Majesty's Government to reduce the expenditure in India—especially that in the military department—to the lowest point consistent with efficiency and safety; and adverted to the importance of imposing on the people no further burdens than the financial condition of the State rendered absolutely necessary."
He did not know what stronger expressions he could have used to show that reduction of expenditure was never absent from his thoughts; and he did not believe that a mail left without letters to the Governor General and Mr. Wilson urging on them the necessity of strict economy in the expenditure of India. The hon. Gentleman said that nothing had been done in the way of police. His hon. Friend made that assertion in utter ignorance of what had been done. That subject had formed the substance of three or four despatches to India. Sir John Lawrence differed from Sir Charles Trevelyan as to the description of force, but Sir John Lawrence had established a most efficient body of police in the Punjab. Detailed information and suggestions had been sent out, and the Government of India had been left to decide in what shape the police should be established. The hon. Gentleman had affirmed what was utterly groundless—that he had not taken into account the possible reduction of £800,000 referred to in one of M r. Wilson's Minutes. After that reduction was made the deficit was left, as he stated it, at £7,400,000. The first estimate of military reduction for the year 1860–61, was £1,700,000. By the addition of £800,000 it was brought to £2,500,000. Mr. Wilson stated in one of the last Minutes, and he (Sir Charles Wood) had stated on introducing the Budget, that the military reductions last year were £3,500,000, and this year £2,500,000, making together for the two years the sum of £6,000,000. When Mr. Wilson made the 3peech to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, stating the probable deficit at £6,500,000, he was not in possession of the information as to a considerable increase of the home expenditure. The information was sent from home. Mr. Wilson then framed his final calculations, which were shown in the figures in the papers before them—and these papers showed that the £7,400,000 deficit were, in point of fact, the figures of Mr. Wilson. He was sorry to say that he did not state the worst with regard to the state of affairs in 1860–61, because he referred to the year 1856–57 as presenting a balance of income and expenditure, but he found on further investigation that in that year there was a deficit of £400,000, owing to the guaranteed interest on railways. The deficit, therefore, in 1860–61, would be rather larger than he stated. The hon. Gentleman asked why he did not utilize the balances. Now, he did utilize the balances, for he paid the whole deficit of the year out of the balances; and he did not see what more could possibly be done with them. The loan was not for the purpose of defraying any portion of the Indian charges, but simply to provide against the contingency of the railway companies not paying in all the money required for railway expenditure during the year. If the railroads paid in the money they were engaged to pay in the course of the year, he should not borrow any money. He hoped that the explanations which he had given would be satisfactory, and he was glad his hon. Friend had made the amende honorable to Sir Charles Trevelyan.

disclaimed having mentioned Sir Charles Trevelyan in order to make an attack on the right hon. Gentleman. He had no intention of making any attack. It would give him far greater pleasure to agree with than to differ from the right hon. Baronet.

Bill read 3o and passed.