House Of Commons
Friday, 26th June, 1874.
MINUTES.]—NEW WRIT ISSUED— For Launceston, v. James Henry Deakin, esquire, void Election.
SELECT COMMITTEE— Report—Public Accounts [No. 242]; Explosive Substances [No. 243]; Jury System (Ireland) [No. 244].
SUPPLY— considered in Committee—Committee—R.P.
PUBLIC BILLS— First Reading—County Courts * ; Public Worship Regulation* ; Powers Law Amendment* ; Customs (Isle of Man)* .
Select Committee—Merchant Ships (Measurement of Tonnage) * , Mr. Puleston and Mr. Macgregor added.
Report—Colonial Clergy* [125–173].
Considered as amended—Civil Bill Courts (Ireland) * [152–174].
Third Reading—Courts (Straits Settlements) * , and passed.
Army—Royal Military Academy, Woolwich—Vacancies
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true that the number of vacancies in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich to be offered for competition in July next is only about half the number offered for competition in January last; and, if such is the case, whether he will state what is the reason of such diminution; and, whether it will be possible in future, so far to consider the convenience of intending competitors as to give early notice of any considerable reduction in the number of vacancies to be offered for competition?
, in reply, said, the reason why there were not so many vacancies in the Royal Military Academy at the present moment as in January last was, that the Engineer and Artillery force was more nearly being filled up. There were 30 vacancies now against 36 in January last, and it was probable that the number would not rise at present for the reason he had stated.
Borough Police—Grants In Aid
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he will extend to boroughs with a population under 5,000 (whose police are not consolidated with the county police) the Government grant of one fourth (now increased to one-half), the charge for the pay and clothing of their police, in all cases where such boroughs are efficient as regards "the stat of their police stations, charge rooms, cells," &c, and the other provisions of the Act 19 and 20 Vic, c. 69, s. 15, entitled "An Act to render more effectual the Police in Counties and Boroughs in England and Wales?"
, in reply, said, that it was certainly not his intention to recommend Her Majesty's Government to take the course proposed by his hon. Friend. He thought that if the 15th section of the Act of Parliament, which required the efficiency of the force before the making of grants, was wise, the 17th section, which limited the grants to places with over 5,000 inhabitants, was still more wise. If places with small populations were to be indulged with the expensive and somewhat extravagant luxury of having a police of their own, he was afraid they must also be indulged with the still more extravagant luxury of paying for it themselves.
Army—Royal Military College, Sandhurst—Sub-Lieutenants
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether Sub-Lieutenants who (in consequence of the late changes made with respect to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst) have been unable to finish the proscribed course of instruction, will receive their Commissions at the expiration of two years from the dates of their appointments, as contemplated by previous regulations?
, in reply, said, the subalterns who were completing their education under the altered conditions imposed by the changes referred to by the hon. Member would receive their commissions just in the same way as formerly, on the completion of their course.
New Public Offices—War Office
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, with a view to remedy the want of accommodation and the inconvenience of the premises at present occupied by the War Office, he is prepared to take steps for the erection of a new building suitable to the wants of the Country; and, whether he is prepared to take powers for the purchase of the block of buildings between Parliament Street and King Street, with the object of erecting public offices thereon?
There certainly, Sir, is a great want of accommodation and great inconvenience in the premises at present occupied by the War Office, and I think it will be necessary to take steps to obviate that inconvenience, but I must say that I am not prepared at present to state what those steps should be.
asked the Secretary of State for War, If his attention has been called to the Report of the French Special Commission presided over by Marshal Canrobert, in which it has been virtually decided to abolish the use of the sword-bayonet; and if, in face of that decision, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to persist in the adoption of this weapon?
, in reply, said, his attention had not been called to the Report referred to in the Question of the hon. Member. He was not in possession of the document, nor had it been sent to the War Office, and he was therefore unaware of the decision which had been arrived at. He might add that Her Majesty's Government had come to no absolute decision as to the adoption of the sword-bayonet.
Re-Organization Of The Customs Service—Question
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If any provision has been made in the late reorganization of the Customs Service for the promotion of Clerks of the First Class at the undermentioned Ports, viz. Aberdeen, Cardiff, Dover, Dundee, Exeter, Falmouth, Folkestone, Gloucester, Grimsby, Hartlepool, Limerick, Londonderry, Manchester, Newhaven, Newport, Portsmouth, North Shields, Sunderland, and Swansea; if not, if it be intended to alter the present regulations in order that Clerics of the class mentioned may not be debarred from promotion?
, in reply, said, no provision had been made for the promotion of clerks of the first class at the ports mentioned by the hon. Member. The re-organization referred to did not embrace that question, and it was not the intention of the Board of Customs to make any proposal on the subject. The matter was a very complicated one. It was connected with the whole question of the re-organization of the service, and would affect many classes of officials other than the clerks of the first class, He believed the subject had been brought under the consideration of the Commission which was now sitting, under the presidency of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair.)
Dwellings For The Working Classes (Ireland)—Loans By The Board Of Works—Question
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether it is the fact that the Board of Works (Ireland) can only lend corporate bodies one-half the amount they may require for the erection or improvement of dwellings for the working classes, and that corporate bodies can only levy a rate for the moiety so lent, and are therefore unable to avail themselves of Loans for such purposes; and, whether he will, in the Public Health Bill or otherwise, provide for this difficulty by enabling the Board of Works to lend the whole amount, and by giving corporate bodies power to levy rates to pay the interest thereon?
, in reply, said, it was a fact that the Board of Works could only lend to corporate bodies in Ireland one half of the amount they might require for the erection of improved dwellings for the working classes, and, unless the corporate bodies were possessed of landed property sufficient to secure the other half, a rate levied under the Act was the only fund available for the repayment of the Loan. With regard to the second part of the hon. Member's Question, he must remark that the matter was one rather for the consideration of the Treasury than of the Irish Government; but if the hon. Member liked to propose a clause for insertion in the Public Health Bill, he should then be prepared to announce the intentions of the Government on the question.
Ways And Means—Board Of Lunacy—(Scotland)—Question
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the Government has considered and come to any decision relative to the question of extending to pauper lunatics confined in licensed wards of poorhouses, or boarded out under authority from the Board of Lunacy in Scotland, the benefit of the allowance proposed in the statement upon the Budget to be given in respect of pauper lunatics confined in asylums?
, in reply, said, that the proposal which was originally made by the Government had reference in all parts of the United Kingdom to lunatic paupers who were placed in asylums outside the poorhouse, and it would hardly be consistent with the proposal that was made or with the Estimate formed that the Grant should be extended to any other class of pauper lunatics. He was, however, bound to admit that some of the representations made to Her Majesty's Government from Scotland seemed to show that the case of that country required to be more fully considered. There would be plenty of time for such consideration, as the Grant would not be payable until the end of the year and it would not be necessary to take the Vote until the expiration of the financial year. In the interim he should give his attention to the subject in communication with the authorities in Scotland.
The Public Offices—Purchase Of Sites—Question
said, that as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) had not answered the latter part of the Question which he put to him a few minutes ago; he was desirous of learning from him, Whether the Government intend to purchase the block of buildings between Parliament Street and King Street?
Sir, I quite understand the scope of the Question of the hon. Member; but I must say I do not think it for the public advantage that I should at the present moment express in any distinct or definite manner what are the steps which Her Majesty's Government contemplate to effect the object we have in view.
Parliament—Launceston New Writ
"That Mr. Speaker do issue his Warrant to the Clerk of the Crown to make out a new Writ for the electing of a Member to serve in this present Parliament for the borough of Launceston in the room of James Henry Deakin whose election has been determined to be void."
said, he was aware that, in accordance with the Rules of the House, he was not entitled to submit any Amendment having reference to the Report of the learned Judge who had tried the Petition against the return of Colonel Deakin. The circumstances, however, were so extraordinary and unprecedented that he did not think the Motion ought to be allowed to pass without attention being drawn to the subject. He had endeavoured to understand the certificate of the learned Judge, and thought he was warranted in saying that if full effect were given to his Report, the result would be that they should hold that corruption did extensively prevail at the late Election, as, if the Report meant anything, a great many people appeared to have been corrupted, notwithstanding that the learned Judge reported that corrupt practices did not extensively prevail. He wished, however, to draw attention specially to the serious result of the case. A punishment all but criminal in its effect had been inflicted upon a former Member of that House under circumstances which he believed to be altogether unexampled. From that sentence there was no appeal, and from its consequences the gentleman to whom he referred could not purge himself for seven years. Such a state of things must necessarily claim the very serious attention of every hon. Member of that House to the risk each one of them might run if he ever again entered into an Election contest; for, according to the learned Judge, there was in the present case an absolute absence of corrupt intention. He distinctly negatived any such suggestion. The observations in respect of which he was ultimately unseated were, according to the Report, made by the candidate suddenly—upon the spur of the moment, and without any consideration as to the consequences of making them, or the audience to whom they were addressed. The House was placed in an unfortunate position, because while they could express an opinion upon a decision which affected the constitution of the House they could not in any way resist the legal consequences of that decision—the allowing that a vacancy had occurred and the consequent issue of the New Writ. It was, indeed, only by ordering another Election that they could do justice—scant justice it would be—to the constituency in question. A Motion was, he understood, likely to be made that night for the printing of the evidence taken at the inquiry and of the judgment delivered by the learned Judge, of whom he desired to speak with the highest possible respect; but he thought that before the House was asked to assent to the continuation of the Election Petition Act, the present and other cases which had been reported to the House ought to receive the most anxious attention of hon. Members. He hoped they would not continue to place any subject of the Crown in the position of having an all but criminal sentence passed upon him by one person against whose decision, even if it were founded on a misapprehension of the Law, there was no possibility of appeal.
said, he had given Notice of a Motion for that evening for the printing of the evidence and judgment referred to, because he thought they ought to have before them the grounds on which the decision was based. They had no power to review it, and he did not even suggest that it was not perfectly right. There was no doubt, however, that the judgment had excited some surprise, and not the less that the learned Judge had pursued the unusual course of mentioning a number of circumstances tending to exculpate Colonel Deakin. It was desirable that the House should know the extreme peril in which each individual Member of it was placed. They had now no authentic record to refer to in order to ascertain what the law really was as laid down by the Judges. Formerly such was not the case, for there was a regular series of Reports which recorded the judgments of Committees of the House of Commons. He would suggest to the House the expediency of agreeing to a Standing Order to the effect, that in each case a printed Copy of the Judgment should be laid upon the Table of the House in order that hon. Members might know the perils which they would have to encounter.
Motion agreed to.
Convocation—Letters Of Business—Question
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it be true that Her Majesty has been advised to issue a Letter of Business to Convocation; and, whether a Copy of that Letter will be at the same time presented to Parliament?
, in reply, said, it was quite true that Her Majesty had been advised to re-issue or renew the Letter of Business, which was issued to Convocation in the year 1872. The Letter was not on the Table, but if the right hon. Gentleman wished to have a Copy there would be no objection to granting it.
said, he had only asked the Question in case the form should have been varied.
said, he understood there was not the slightest change, it being merely the renewal of the Letter granted in 1872, which fell to the ground in consequence of the Dissolution of Parliament. If, however, there should be any difference he would lay the Letter upon the Table of the House.
Order for Committee read.
Motion made and Question proposed,
"That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
Egypt—Consular Jurisdiction And The Suez Canal
, in rising to call the attention of the House to the difficulties which arise from the Consular Jurisdiction in Egypt, more especially as it affects our relations with the Suez Canal Company; and to move—
said, some years had now elapsed since a Commission at Constantinople had considered the important question he was desirous of bringing before the House, and still the matter remained in a state of uncertainty. He had on a former occasion called attention to the matter, but nothing had since been accomplished to remedy the defects of a system which concerned all European nations. It was important that the House should express some opinion on the unsatisfactory state of the Consular jurisdiction in the East, and in the first place, he would point out its present condition, then the recommendations of the Commissioners, and finally how they bore upon our relations with the East generally, and the question of the Suez Canal especially. The present Consular jurisdiction was the growth of three centuries, and the French were first to have their Consuls established in the East. At first, the Consuls only demanded the right of being present at the trial of British subjects, and no doubt when their jurisdiction was originally established, the state of Turkey was such that it was very essential that the Consuls should have great power, it being then impossible to leave English interests in the hands of Turkish tribunals. But the Consuls gradually extended their authority, until at last they claimed the power of trying cases themselves. That led to a most anomalous and unsatisfactory state of things, and one that did not exist in any other country, for there were in Alexandria no fewer than 100,000 foreigners belonging to 17 different nationalities, and every one of those persons claimed the right to have his case tried in the Consular Court of his nation. The result was, that in Egypt the Viceroy could not impose taxes without foreigners refusing to pay them, and when his Government brought an action against them, it was tried in a Consular Court, when the verdict was given in favour of the foreigner; and the consequence was, that when foreigners escaped from paying the taxes, the Viceroy's own subjects refused to pay them also. How could affairs be expected to go on where such a state of lawlessness prevailed as took away all power from the Government of the country? The effect of this system was, that in a country where there was a surplus revenue of £1,600,000 or more, they could not obtain money at less interest than 12 or 14 per cent. Lord Stanley, in his despatch of the 18th of October, 1867, speaking of Consular jurisdiction, described it as—"That the commerce of this Country being so deeply interested in the uninterrupted navigation of the Suez Canal, it is desirable that Her Majesty's Government should at once give its adhesion to the proposed judicial reforms in Egypt, suggested and approved of by the representatives of all the European Powers, by which tribunals will be created for the better administration of justice in Egypt and the adjudication of differences which may arise between British shipowners and the administrators of the Suez Canal Company,"
and his Lordship added, that—"injurious to British interests and derogatory to the character and well-being of the Egyptian Administration;"
Again, Lord Granville, writing to Lord Lyons in 1870, said—"Her Majesty's Government are certainly not inclined to hold out for a jurisdiction for which they have no treaty right, which they admit to he an usurpation, though brought about by force of circumstances."
Lord Granville had the weakness, as he must call it, to say that he could not act in the matter until they had the acquiescence of the French Government; and the whole thing, therefore, was at a standstill, and likely to continue in that state, if they were to wait for that acquiescence. Nothing could be fairer than the Report of the Commission on that subject. They proposed that there should be established not only an original Court, but a Court of Appeal and a Court of Revision, with Judges composed one-half of foreigners, and one-half of Egyptians, whose proceedings were to be conducted in French, the language of diplomacy. Those Courts were to have cognizance of all cases which might be brought before them. If that system were adopted it would produce a most beneficial change in the whole state of affairs in Egypt. He now came to the question of the Suez Canal—one of immense interest to this country. Great difficulties had lately arisen on the subject of the tonnage rate, and he complained that the original rates of tonnage had been departed from. In the original Convention made by M. de Lesseps with the Turkish Government, it was distinctly stated that the rate should be estimated according to the actual carrying power of the ship. Afterwards, M. de Lesseps adopted the principle of charging not upon the net, but upon the gross tonnage of the ship, which made a difference of over 50 per cent to the Peninsular and Oriental Company and others, who had been heavily mulcted in consequence. For the last two years he had been charging on the gross tonnage, and no vessel was permitted to enter the Canal without paying on that scale. He was speaking under the correction of the Foreign Office. Protests were made and some proceedings were taken, and a decision was given by the Court of Paris on the subject. It was denied that the Egyptian Court had any authority at all in the matter. The Sultan of Turkey took the question in hand, a Commission sat, and they came to the decision that M. de Lesseps was in the wrong, but he might surcharge three francs per ton, subject to a small reduction, for a certain amount of additional tonnage. M. de Lesseps, however, complained that he had been ill-treated, and he threatened all kinds of proceedings when he had the power to carry them out. They were accustomed to hear continually that this was a French Canal, constructed by French enterprise and French money. It was also well kown that Lord Palmerston was opposed to the construction of the Canal, and he was right, because at one of the early meetings of the shareholders the project was spoken of as a sword to stab the heart of England. No doubt, the French at all times had the greatest jealousy of English influence in Egypt, and as a proof of that, he might refer to the expedition of the First Napoleon to that country in the beginning of the present century; and there was little doubt that jealousy of the facilities afforded to this country by the railway from Alexandria to Suez had been the main cause which led to the construction of the Canal. When, however, they were told that the Canal was constructed by French capital, it should be remembered that £14,000,000 was contributed by the Khedive, and £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 by the French. The greater part of the capital, therefore, was supplied by Egypt, and not by France, and this fact appeared to be entirely ignored by M. de Lesseps. The Khedive had also, under the terms of the concession, to find a certain amount of labour, and failing to do that, he had to compensate the Company for his breach of engagement, and the matter having been referred to the late Emperor Napoleon as arbitrator, he decided that the Viceroy should pay a further sum of £3,800,000, for which he was not to receive any interest for 25 years. That fact did not, however, prevent the Khedive from being a real Power in connection with the undertaking. Notwithstanding all that contribution the whole management of the Canal was in the hands of the French, for there was not a single employé engaged on the Canal who did not belong to that nation; and that it was not now closed to British shipping was due solely to the energy of the Viceroy. What the French claimed, indeed, was to deal with the Canal independently of the country to which it belonged. M. de Lesseps remarked at the last meeting of the shareholders that all the projected improvements were stopped, and that he renounced for the future any generous action. This declaration was received with great enthusiasm—"The Governments of England and France agreeing to the proposed reforms, it seems to Her Majesty's Government that the fact of that accord should be made known to the other Powers who are represented on the Commission that sat at Cairo. It remains for the Viceroy to obtain the consent of the Sultan to these proposed reforms, and it is for the Sultan to inform all the Powers that these reforms are sanctioned by law."
Upon this The Messager de Paris observed—"What is remarkable," M. de Lesseps added," is that these improvements are suggested by the English Government to enable their transports of 4,500 tons to pass through the Canal."
It was time, when these statements were made, that we should learn what was really our position with regard to the Canal, for it was not becoming the dignity of this country, especially as she was the best customer of the Canal, that she should be placed in a position of inferiority in Egypt. The last Return of the number of ships which passed through the Canal that he had by him was that for 1872. In that year 1,082 vessels passed through the Canal, and of these 761 were British, 80 French, 66 Italian, 61 Austrian, 83 Turkish, 16 German, 13 Dutch, 10 Russian, and 10 Portuguese. They might perhaps be told that if the Canal were closed, they could again revert to the old route; but they might as well be told that if the railway system were abandoned, they could recur to the older modes of conveyance. This question was one intimately connected with the Amendment he had placed on the Paper, and with proper Egyptian Courts, questions affecting the Canal would come before them for decision, instead of being submitted to the French Consul, and the country which actually possessed the Canal would have a share in its control. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice."It is the English Government which has imposed its resolutions on the Sultan. It is with profound regret our readers will learn that it is England which has shown this contempt for French interests."
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the commerce of this Country being so deeply interested in the uninterrupted navigation of the Suez Canal, it is desirable that Her Majesty's Government should at once give its adhesion to the proposed judicial reforms in Egypt, suggested and approved of by the representatives of all the European Powers, by which tribunals will be created for the better administration of justice in Egypt and the adjudication of differences which may arise between British shipowners and the administrators of the Suez Canal Company,"—(Mr. Baillie Cochrane,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
thought that there was no subject more worthy of consideration, as affecting English interests, than that which had been brought under their attention by the hon. Member (Mr. Baillie Cochrane), but he had been disappointed in the wording of the Resolution and in the speech of his hon. Friend, because he had mixed up two subjects which ought to be kept quite separate, namely, the question of the judicial system in Egypt as regarded the Consular jurisdiction, and the question of the Suez Canal. The latter question not only affected the interests of Europe, but also of England, and it was necessary, therefore, that the attention of the House and the country should be drawn to the issues connected with it. The present judicial system was based on no right that could show a legal title, and was merely the outcome of abuses which had existed for centuries. He believed, however, that Consular jurisdiction abroad involved no more than a fair and right guarantee which was demanded by civilized Governments for the protection of their subjects from Governments which were not civilized. The present condition was this in regard to Egypt. An international Conference met at Cairo, and, after conferring with the Egyptian Government, proposals were made and accepted for a new judicial system, with certain guarantees. But when, two years ago, the question was brought before the House by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight, and the hon. Gentleman drew attention to the fact that, although the Convention had been signed, and the draft adopted unanimously, that draft had never been put in execution; the then Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs said he felt confident that within six months a judicial system of reform of the whole Egyptian Empire would be put in operation. Nevertheless, it appeared that although two years, instead of six months, had elapsed, the same judicial system existed now which existed seven years ago. What had stopped the way in the execution of a reform which had been decided to be necessary by the Representatives of all the European States? He believed that what had really slopped the way was the unfortunate jealousy of France as to exercising a certain kind of Protectorate over the Latin Christians; but it seemed to him that where there was a concurrence of opinion among the chief maritime countries of Europe, it became a question whether some pressure should not be put upon the Egyptian Government. He thought the present position of affairs was one which had deleterious consequences both to Egypt and to our own commercial interests. It was not a question of M. de Lesseps, but the real question was, whether any action was going to be taken to carry into execution a sound and approved proposal for an improved judicial system in Egypt. Such a course would tend materially to the interest of all concerned.
held that England had no special interest in Egpyt, except in so far as that country was the high road to our Indian possessions. Their only possible difficulties, therefore, in connexion with Egypt must have reference to the possession and working of the Suez Canal, and he could not help saying that they might have appropriated it if they had not exhibited that absurd commercial jealousy which was now charged upon France. So far, however, from M. de Lesseps having a jealousy of English commerce, he (Sir Edward Watkin) could say from personal knowledge that he had ever wished to cooperate with England as his best customer, and that he was willing to accept our assistance with a view to the improvement of that great work. There was no doubt that Lord Palmerston, in particular, had shown a remarkable prejudice in the matter, and he (Sir Edward Watkin) remembered having heard Mr. Robert Stephenson, the celebrated engineer, declare, in effect, in that House, in 1857—first, that the Canal could never be made; secondly, that if made it could not be kept open; and, thirdly, that if made and kept open, it would never be of use to any one. When asked afterwards why he had condemned the scheme so strongly, Mr. Stephenson simply said—"Palmerston told me to speak." Now that the Canal was constructed we recognized its value, and it seemed to him that some scheme might readily be devised by our own Government, in concert with others, with the object of making the Canal as deep and wide as had originally been intended, and of obtaining a guarantee which would be the means of obviating a recurrence of difficulties in the future. It should also be placed under a judicious police control, for if anything was likely to arise to complicate our arrangements with France and Turkey, it would result from disputes relative to this high road between Europe and India, seeing that no engagements had been entered into which would secure the neutrality of the Canal in time of war. That it was our shortest way to India, and that that advantage was appreciated, was shown by the fact that it was already traversed by 700 of our vessels (luring the year. He thought, therefore, that if the Government wished to promote the interests of British commerce, to facilitate our access to India, and to prevent diplomatic difficulties, they must purchase the right to interfere in the police and management of the Canal.
said, he trusted that the recommendations which had been made would be carried out by the Government. He rose to defend the policy of Lord Palmerston with regard to the construction of the Suez Canal; for he (Mr. Kinnaird) contended that the noble Lord's opposition was not to the construction of the Canal, but to the terms of the proposed concession to France, which would have given her sovereign rights over a large extent of territory, and would have authorized the construction of the works by slaves instead of by free labour. He trusted that the Government would not shrink from securing this highway between Europe and India, even if it were by means of a guarantee, seeing that even if they were ever called upon to repay any portion of the borrowed money, the loss would be amply compensated for by the commercial advantages which this country would obtain from the Canal being kept open.
said, that no one would regret that this subject had been brought before the House by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight, seeing its important character. The increasing cultivation of cotton, and the commercial enterprise dependent upon, and the amount of capital invested in, the Suez Canal, had rendered a judicial reform in Egypt absolutely necessary; and beyond that, their communications with India and other places were also daily becoming more important. No one could deny the evils of the present system. Under the treaties and capitulations now in force, each European Government had acquired a distinct jurisdiction, with unlimited power over its respective subjects. Thus, groups of people of different nationalities in Egypt formed distinct colonies, having different laws, Courts, procedure, prisons, and judicial staff, and the result was that 16 or 17 Consulates and Consular Courts exercised jurisdiction on different principles. The universal rule was, that each defendant must be brought before his own tribunal. That rule was almost invariably taken advantage of, and the result was, that there was a direct premium upon breaches of contract, because the plaintiff in an action could not possibly toll in which of these numerous Courts his remedy against the defendant must be sought; and beyond that, each party to a suit wished to be made defendant, so that he might choose the tribunal. If a plaintiff brought an action against one member of a firm consisting of a Greek, a Russian, and an Austrian, and recovered judgment in the Greek Court, the execution of that judgment was sure to be opposed by the Russian and Austrian Courts, and it would be necessary to recover judgment in both those Courts before the plaintiff could obtain payment of his debt. In the case of an execution, the property of a debtor was sometimes assigned to another nationality, and then the Consul of the country of that person who occupied the property, stepped in to prevent the enforcement of execution. In cases of bankruptcy, too, when the firm consisted of persons of different nationalities, there might be three or four sets of assignees and as many modes of proceeding. But when the question was between the Egyptian Government and a foreigner, the case became more difficult, because if the foreigner refused to go into an Egyptian Court, the claims were settled by diplomatic action upon the Report of the various Consuls, instead of being settled as they should be, by the judicial power. It was, therefore, in the interest both of Egypt and Europe that the Egyptian judicature should be reformed. The case of the Suez Canal had nothing to do with the question before the House. Her Majesty's Government had always held the Suez Canal Company to be an Egyptian Company, and therefore the rule applied, that if it were sued, it must be in a Court of its own country. His hon. Friend had suggested that the Suez Canal Company had an interest in keeping up the present condition of affairs, and that it was the duty of this country to take steps to carry out the judicial reforms which had been recommended, even without the intervention of France. Such a proceeding, would, however, be likely to defeat its own object. The result would be, that France would refuse to recognize the judicial reforms when they were effected, and would retain the same power she now had under treaties and stipulations; and if she were so inclined, she could recommend the Suez Canal Company to resort to the Consular Court when they had occasion to sue. That, he thought, would be an undesirable course for the Government to take; while, as to the objects of M. de Lesseps or the interests of this country in purchasing the Suez Canal, that also was not the question before the House. This country had all along held the same language—that any reform of the Courts of Alexandria must be beneficial; but if the European nations abandoned the Consular jurisdiction, it was absolutely necessary that the tribunal to be established should be one in which perfect confidence could be placed, in which the law to be administered should be clear and uniform, its procedure simple, and its practice well defined; that there should be an appeal from its decisions, and that its decrees should be carried out by officers belonging to the Court itself. His hon. Friend suggested that the Papers on the subject should he laid upon the Table. Well, the negotiations with various Powers were very voluminous, extending over 600 or 700 pages. They might be thus summed up—In 1867, Nubar Pasha brought the subject before Her Majesty's Government, and they acceded to his view. An International Commission was appointed, which sat at Constantinople, and which made a recommendation that was accepted by this country, but some of the details of which were objected to by Prance. The French Government suggested another scheme, and that also was accepted generally by Her Majesty's Government, the Law Officers of the Crown declaring, on inspection, that it was immaterial which was adopted. Circumstances, however, arose which prevented the scheme being carried into effect. Questions arose between the Porte and the Viceroy, and then the Franco-German War intervened, and caused further delay. Last year a Conference was held at Constantinople, and the Viceroy and the Representatives of the various Powers assented to the scheme of Prance. Since that time, however, France had raised some difficulty as to a question of detail relating to fraudulent bankruptcy. Her Majesty's Government were now in communication with the Government of France, and were not without hope that those difficulties would be over come. If they were not, it would be open to Her Majesty's Government to act upon the suggestion made, and to adopt the scheme without France joining them. That was a course which the Government would much regret to adopt, because they felt satisfied that if those judicial reforms were to be successfully carried out, all the Powers should join together in giving effect to them. With respect to the Papers, any one conversant with foreign affairs must see that, as the negotiations had been pending almost continually since 1867, it would have been prejudicial to their success had they been produced. When, however, a conclusion had been arrived at, either with or without the assent of France, he should be prepared to lay on the Table all the Papers that were necessary to elucidate the question. They were most anxious to aid the Viceroy in his reforms. He had long shown that he entertained most enlightened views upon the subject, and they were very desirous, in the interests of Egypt and of the commerce of this country, that, in giving effect to those views, he should receive the cordial assistance of Her Majesty's Government. He hoped that, after the statement he had made, his hon. Friend and the House would see that it was impossible the Government could accept the Motion he had submitted.
said, he had hoped to hear from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, some explanation of the circumstances which were detailed in the Report of the Suez Canal Company. That Report led him to the conclusion that the diplomatic influence of England had been exerted in a sense ungenerous and unfair towards the Company. In the scheme which would shortly be laid before the House, for forming a friendly legislative connection on equitable terms between this country and Ireland, the foreign relations of the Empire would of course be referred to. These foreign relations the Irish Members intended to leave, as at present, to the control of this country; but the sentiment and opinion of Ireland would, he hoped, exercise some influence over the foreign policy of England. But the people of Ireland would never be able to sympathize with a policy that was greedy or selfish; and he feared that it had been selfish in the case of the Suez Canal. It would be very ungenerous and very unfair if England, who owned seven-tenths of the vessels which passed through the Canal, so acted as to prevent the shareholders of the Company from deriving a fair profit from their undertaking.
Question put, and agreed to.
Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
Welsh County Court Judges
I rise, Sir, to call attention to a question which I had the honour of bringing before the House two Sessions ago—the propriety of appointing to the office of County Court Judges in Wales, gentlemen who are themselves conversant with the Welsh language. And although some of the remarks which I shall have to address to the House are applicable doubtless to otter parts of Wales, I ought to state that in placing this Notice on the Paper, I have had more particularly in view the district known as the Mid-Wales County Court Circuit. That district comprises the whole of Merionethshire, with portions of the adjoining counties of Carnarvon, Montgomery, and Cardigan. It lies in the midst of the Welsh-speaking portion of Wales; a district as yet unsophisticated by contact with the Saxon, and to which, therefore, that eminently Saxon vice of drunkenness—which the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) the other night, speaking, no doubt, from his own unfortunate experience, attributed to the whole Welsh people—has not yet penetrated. Indeed, few people who have not resided in that district know to what an extent the Welsh language still prevails there. It is not an exaggeration to say that nine-tenths of the population habitually speak it, and probably one-half speak nothing else. They use it not only for the ordinary intercourse of life, but for the purposes of business—they write their letters, they draw up their contracts, and they make their wills in that language. Now I should have thought that to have required a County Court Judge administering justice in such a district, to understand that language would have been almost a matter of course. It is no answer to say that justice is efficiently administered in this very district in the Superior Courts by Judges who do not understand Welsh. Admitting that to be true—though I am disposed to think that there is another side to the question—there is, really, no analogy for this purpose between the Superior Courts and the County Courts. In the former the cases are sifted by intelligent solicitors who understand both languages, who take the instructions from their clients in Welsh, and communicate them to counsel in English, and who are at hand to correct any slip into which an interpreter may be betrayed. Moreover, the interpreters are generally men of skill and education, and last, but not least, the verdict is found by a jury conversant with both languages. It is obvious, therefore, that the risk of a miscarriage of justice is reduced to a minimum. But the County Court Judge in most cases is his own jury. His functions, too, bring him into more immediate contact with the parties, being often more those of an arbitrator than those of a Judge. But above all, he has to have the case stated by the parties themselves. Now, to give evidence through an interpreter is an awkward business, but to make a speech or state a case through an interpreter is utterly impossible. The result is that the unfortunate Welsh suitors—who constitute by far the larger number of litigants in the Mid-Wales County Court—are compelled to choose between placing themselves at an enormous disadvantage by conducting their own cases, or engaging the services of an advocate at a cost probably disproportioned to the amount at stake—a serious tax upon poor men. The case, then, bears a far closer resemblance to the local Courts in India, or our colonial possessions, where the Judge administering justice is always required to understand the language of the district in which he holds his Court. But, be that as it may, Lord Lyndhurst, in whose time these Courts were first established, made it a sine quâ non that every Judge whom he appointed to a Welsh-speaking circuit, should understand the Welsh language, and Mr. Richards and Mr. Johnes, both of whom acted as Judges of what is now the Mid-Wales County Court Circuit, spoke that language with ease and fluency. I lay particular stress on the fact, for I have been accused of seeking to establish a new precedent, whereas, in fact, I am only endeavouring to follow out that which was set by Lord Lyndhurst and his successors. When, however, Mr. Johnes retired about three years ago, Lord Hatherley (then Lord Chancellor) appointed in his place, a gentleman of high legal attainments, but one who, unfortunately, did not know Welsh. I mean Serjeant Tindal Atkinson. He held the post only a short time and was succeeded by another gentleman (Mr. Homersham Cox), of whom I wish to speak with all possible respect. He is not only, I believe, a good lawyer, but a very prolific writer, having written upon a great variety of subjects, beginning with the "Differential Calculus" and ending with the "British Constitution." And I am quite willing to admit that he was qualified for his post in every respect but one—he, too, did not know Welsh. Now these two appointments following close upon each other naturally produced a great deal of discontent in the district, and the result was, that a number of memorials, signed by several thousand persons of all classes and shades of opinion, were addressed to the Lord Chancellor, praying him to transfer Mr. Cox to some other Court and to appoint a Welshman in his place. Lord Hatherley did me the honour to address his reply to me, and that reply, together with a letter which I toot the liberty of addressing to his Lordship on the subject, has been printed by Order of the House, and was delivered to hon. Members some six weeks ago. The House will see that besides adverting to the analogy between the Superior Courts and the County Courts—with which I have already dealt—he relied upon three grounds in refusing the prayer of the memorialists. First, he took his stand upon an old statute of Henry VIII., passed immediately after the incorporation of Wales with England, which required all persons holding office under the Crown "to speak and use the English language only, upon pain of forfeiting their offices." Now, if that statute were literally enforced, I am afraid it would deprive Her Majesty of the services of some most valuable public functionaries, including those of a most eminent Equity Judge. But, as a matter of fact, that statute has been a dead letter for generations. To my own knowledge, magistrates in petty sessions and County Court Judges also, who knew Welsh, have, where the parties and the witnesses understood no other language, heard and determined cases in Welsh to the satisfaction of everybody concerned, and nobody ever thought of questioning their right to do so. But apart from that, even where proceedings are conducted in English, a Judge who knows Welsh can himself act as a check upon the interpreter; and this power is in itself often a very valuable one. But Lord Hatherley was also of opinion that—" a Judge selected for his Welsh acquirements would become subject to mistrust on the part of English litigants." Now, if we had been asking his Lordship to appoint a Judge who did not know English, I could understand that there might have been some force in this objection. But surely Welsh litigants—who, in this district, form an immense majority of the suitors—have at least as much ground for "mistrusting" a Judge who cannot speak Welsh as English litigants would have for "mistrusting" a Judge who could speak both Welsh and English. Besides, as a matter of fact, no English litigant ever thought of "mistrusting" Mr. Richards or Mr. Johnos, who were in some sense "elected for their Welsh attainments." The third ground taken by Lord Hatherley was, that the existence of the two languages was in itself an evil, as it tended to keep apart two nations which ought to be connected as closely as possible. But admitting that to be so, the obvious answer is that we must take things as they are, and considering that there are at this moment 500,000 of people who speak little but Welsh, it does seem a strong thing to say that in order to drive the next generation to learn English, you have a right to subject the existing generation, who, through no fault of their own, have not learnt English, to what is practically a denial of justice. But besides that, all these attempts to stamp out a living language by such means as this, even if justifiable, are utterly futile. The attempt has been made more than once. It was made in Wales about a century ago, when the Government of the day thought that they could wean the people from their mother tongue by sending down to Wales Bishops and clergymen who spoke what was to them a foreign language. And what was the result? The people did not abandon their mother tongue, but they did abandon their mother Church; and in the end Dissent obtained a hold upon the people of Wales which has never been relaxed. Well, Sir, Lord Hatherley having very courteously, but very decidedly, refused to entertain our request, I was compelled very reluctantly,—for I need hardly say it was anything but agreeable to me to impugn, however indirectly, the conduct of a high public functionary, particularly one for whom I entertain so genuine a respect as I do for Lord Hatherley—to bring the matter before this House, which I accordingly did on the 8th of March, 1872. Upon that occasion I cited the opinions of a most able Welsh County Court Judge, and of a most experienced Welsh County Court Registrar, to the effect that no Judge who did not understand the language could possibly do justice to Welsh litigants. I also cited several cases in which miscarriages of of justice had arisen from the proceedings being conducted exclusively in English—one of a farmer who had travelled 20 miles to Llanidloes, in order to conduct himself a case in which he was defendant, and who not understanding a word of English, had sat in Court while his case was being disposed of as an undefended cause, and found at the end of the day that judgment had gone against him by default. Several speakers followed me, none of whom seriously opposed my Motion. Lord Aberdare, who then filled the post of Home Secretary, after expressing his own concurrence in my Motion, said—
Eventually, my Resolution, with the slight qualification suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hanbury-Tracy) was carried without a dissentient voice. That Resolution was to the following effect:—"In this case the Lord Chancellor had authorized him to say that he admitted the force of much which had been urged. Legal fitness would, of course, he always the first consideration; but after the representations which had been made by hon. Members connected with Wales, the Government—as also, he was sure, all future Governments—would have regard to a knowledge of Welsh.…He agreed with his hon. Friend (Mr. Richard) that the Welsh could only be won over by kindness, attention to their wishes, and ample provision for education. It was a mistake to suppose that the life of the Welsh language would be prolonged by insisting on County Court Judges understanding it, for the only effect of such a change as that implied in the Resolution would be to impart in the minds of the people a feeling that they were treated with a degree of justice and consideration which he was bound to say they had not hitherto received. That was what the Government were desirous of doing, and therefore he would, on their part, say they were willing to accept the Motion with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montgomery."—[3 Hansard, ccix. 1672–73.]
Now, Sir, that Resolution was directly pointed at the Mid-Wales Circuit, and was introduced by a reference to the gentleman who held the office of Judge there. And certainly we did hope that after it had been passed, some arrangement would have been made by which Mr. Cox might have been transferred to an English speaking district, and a Welshman appointed in his place. But although numerous vacancies have occurred, of which advantage might have been taken to carry out such an arrangement, no such changes have been made, and although I several times called attention to the subject, the Resolution has practically remained a dead letter. Do not let my right hon. Friend think that I blame the present Government for it. Since they were in office they have not had an opportunity of giving effect to my Resolution. But be that as it may, the disregard shown to it has created a deep and growing feeling of disappointment in Wales. And in order to show that that feeling is not without justification, I may refer to an incident which occurred in a case of Jones v. Price, tried at Bala in October last, which, in order to prevent mistakes, I have had authenticated by the written statement of the plaintiff's advocate. That statement was to the effect that a plaintiff who declared that he could speak nothing but Welsh had been nonsuited, because he refused to give his evidence in English, the Registrar having deposed that the man was to his knowledge, acquainted with the English language. Well, the explanation was this. The poor man really did not know a word of English; but his name (Jones) being, unfortunately, not an uncommon one in Wales, the Registrar had mistaken a namesake of the plaintiff for the plaintiff himself, and had sworn to the accomplishments of the wrong man. I am bound to say that when the mistake was discovered, the Registrar paid the plaintiff's costs, and I believe the poor man ultimately got his rights, but I think the House will agree with me that the incident was not one likely to inspire much respect for the administration of justice. I ought not to omit, too, that Mr. Cox, who, when he first came to the district expressed a strong opinion that a knowledge of Welsh might be dispensed with in a Welsh Judge, appears from a newspaper report to have lately changed his opinion on the subject. At any rate, when lately disabled by illness, he selected as his substitutes three gentlemen all of whom were distinguished lawyers and good Welsh scholars, and who gave the greatest satisfaction by their decision. Of course, I do not mean to say that there are not many others similarly qualified in both respects, and that fact is a sufficient answer to the only argument which has been seriously urged against the proposal—namely, that its adoption would limit the area of selection, and therefore necessarily lower the standard of qualification in a Judge. But I think there is a fallacy in this, for it does not follow that because the area is limited the standard is lowered. If you have a dozen men from whom to select, every one of whom is perfectly competent, you are as little in danger of lowering the standard, as if you had a hundred, and it would be an insult to the Gentleman to whom I have referred to suggest that the appointment of any one of them would involve any lowering of the standard of qualification. I remember exactly the same argument being urged against the appointment of a Welsh speaking Bishop. It was said, that as only a small portion of the clergy spoke Welsh, you must necessarily have a worse man for a Bishop, if you selected one from that small proportion. And yet my right hon. Friend the late Prime Minister did manage to appoint a gentleman, who was not only an excellent Welsh scholar, but who in character and attainments, and, above all, in good sense and moderation, will compare with any Prelate on the Bench. Sir, I now leave the question in the hands of the House. I repeat I have brought it forward in no spirit of hostility to the Government, and I have therefore purposely abstained from concluding with any Motion. All I have to say is, that if my right hon. Friend opposite will give to the question that fair and impartial consideration which he is in the habit of bestowing on all questions, I for one shall be quite content. And he will, I feel sure, understand that I claim that consideration as due not to myself, or to my arguments, but to a Resolution of this House which so long as it remains unchallenged, no Government, however strong, can afford to disregard or despise."That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable, in the interests of the due administration of justice, that the Judge of a County Court district in which the Welsh language is generally spoken should, as far as the limits of selection will allow, be able to speak and understand that language."
said, that the subject to which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire had directed the attention of the House had excited great interest in the Principality. It was an important subject, because it closely concerned the administration of justice, and on that ground it merited, in his opinion, the careful attention of the Government. It was not a question of sentiment, of separate nationality, or even of language, but a question as to the due administration of justice. If it were not so, he should not trouble the House with a speech in favour of the Motion. It was one of the first principles in the administration of justice, which had been acted upon in all civilized countries, that every opportunity should be given to the litigant to state his case fully before the tribunal which had to decide his case. So far as the County Court Judges were concerned, it was perfectly impossible to give a full and effective hearing to the litigant, unless the Judge understood the litigant's language. There was a vast difference between the Superior Courts in Wales and the inferior Courts there as regarded the question of language. In the Superior Courts each party was represented by counsel and attorneys, and had others to speak the language for them; but in the County Courts the case was different—there the cases were mostly from the Welsh speaking parts of the country, and the sums involved were very small, not exceeding 40s. or 50s.; and it was idle to suppose that the litigant could employ counsel and attorneys in cases of that sort. He came from the mountains or the farm, was a stranger in Court, and was brought face to face with a Judge who did not understand the only language he himself could speak. It was impossible for a Judge to understand that man's case unless he could speak and understand the Welsh language. The least that could be done in a case of that nature would be to have a competent interpreter who could be relied upon. As matters stood, the thing was a mere farce. It might be said that those who did not understand the English language, or could not speak it fluently, were the exception and not the rule. They might be the exception in the course of the next 20 or 30 years, but at the present moment there were about 500,000 Welshmen who spoke nothing but the Welsh language, and to whom English was practically a foreign language. He did not mean to justify that state of things. That was an open question. The real question at the present moment was—given a state of things which did exist—what was to be done in these circumstances for the proper administration of justice? It was obvious that the only way of providing a satisfactory remedy was to give the Welsh people Judges who could understand them. Better have a man of inferior learning than one who, however high his other qualifications, did not understand the language of the people amongst whom he had to administer justice. Objections had been taken to the proposal under consideration. One was, that there existed a statute forbidding the use of the Welsh language in the County Courts of Wales; but at the time when that measure was passed, legislation and legislators were very different from what they were at present. It was at a time when there was passed a solemn Resolution of the House appointing a Commission to inquire into the pedigree of the reigning Monarch, and which Commission ultimately reported that His Majesty Henry VII. was the 105th in descent, by direct male line, from Brutus. That was a specimen of what was thought and done in those days. But the times had changed, and Resolutions of a more practical nature were expected from the present Parliament. He trusted that the House and the Government would give the matter its best consideration.
thought that if the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire wished that where two men had equal qualifications in all other respects, and only one of them possessed a knowledge of Welsh, the latter should be preferred for a judicial appointment in Wales, then he could agree with him; but if he meant, as one could not help suspecting he did, that the area of competition should be restricted to persons who could speak Welsh, then he thought the disadvantages of such an arrangement would more than counterbalance its advantages. During his own experience of more than a quarter of a century as a Chairman of quarter sessions, he had often had cases brought before him in which almost the whole of the evidence was given in Welsh, but he had not the slightest reason to think that there had been any failure of justice on that account, and he had never heard any complaint on the subject. There was in such cases a sworn interpreter, who gave his evidence in open Court, and whose words were watched by persons who never hesitated to correct him if he said anything that was wrong; while the whole of the evidence was deliberately taken down, and that part of it which was interpreted was usually better reported in the Press than the rest. He might add that, although a Judge might have a good knowledge of the Welsh language, he would hardly be understood in many districts of Wales unless he were able to speak the patois of the locality. He recollected a case in which a Welsh Judge addressed a jury in their native language, and the observation they made was that he would have been more intelligible to them if he had spoken English. The Registrar of the County Court in the part of the country with which he (Mr. Scourfield) was connected had written to him to say that a Welsh speaking Judge would not, in his opinion, render an interpreter unnecessary; on the contrary, as many of the advocates and their clients did not speak the language, they would not be able properly to conduct their case without an interpreter, and would not be satisfied with the Judge's interpretation of the evidence. That cry about Welsh Judges for Wales was equivalent to the cry of Wales for the Welsh. They should take care it was not met by the cry of England for the English. If it were so, he was afraid the Welsh would have the worst of the bargain. While he thought that a competent lawyer who spoke the Welsh language should have the preference over one who did not, he should be sorry to see a knowledge of the Welsh language made the sine quâ non in the appointment to a legal office in Wales; for he hoped he might not be considered unpatriotic if he said he should prefer a right decision given in English to a wrong decision given in Welsh.
reminded the House that very often cases occurred in which no counsel or attorney was employed, and the Judge was called upon to exercise the multifarious functions of jury, counsel, and attorney. Hon. Members would be able to imagine the confusion likely to arise, if a Judge who was called upon to examine a Welsh farmer, or publican, was not able to understand the language he heard. In regard to interpreters, he observed that where cases had come before him and an interpreter was engaged, the first question was, who should pay the interpreter? He (Sir Eardley Wilmot) generally ordered the cost of the interpreter to be divided between the parties, but it necessarily made the cost of litigation much greater, and was therefore to be avoided if possible. He quite agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire, that when a competent man who understood "Welsh could be found it was desirable that he should be employed; but, in the absence of that competency, he thought it was desirable that the best selection possible should be made from among the members of the Bar.
, while observing that the Welsh Members were much indebted to the hon. Baronet for his remarks upon the subject, regretted that the hon. Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Scourfield) should have deemed it to be consistent with his duty to throw cold water on the proposal under discussion. He respected the hon. Gentleman very much, but he could not attach very great weight to his testimony in the present instance, because he resided in one of the most Anglicised counties in Wales. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that it was necessary not only that a Judge should know Welsh, but that he should be conversant with a particular patois. He (Mr. Richard), however, did not share that opinion, and he undertook to say that there was no such thing as Welsh patois. He could understand the language spoken by any Welshman in any part of Wales, from Cardiff to Holyhead. Everybody acquainted with Wales knew that, especially in the rural districts of Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire, and in the counties of North Wales, there were many persons who spoke the Welsh language only, or who, even if they had a smattering of English, did not know sufficient of it to enable them to state a case clearly in a Court of Law. There were at least 12 newspapers published in Welsh, and having enormous circulations, 2 quarterlies, and 12 or 14 monthlies—a fact which proved that the Welsh language still prevailed to a large extent. He stated that fact because he knew there were some Englishmen, not in that House, but outside, who thought that a man could neither be civilized nor a Christian unless he could speak English. He would remind those who imagined that by appointing Judges who only spoke English to the Bench in Wales, they could stamp out the language, that the same experiment had been tried in the case of Bishops, and without success. When the late Government came into office, the Prime Minister sought out with great pains, for a vacant Welsh Bishopric, a clergyman who was a perfect master of the Welsh language. It was reported that another vacancy of the kind was about to occur, and he heard with regret that Her Majesty's Government was likely, in filling it up, to return to the old system. As a Welshman, he resented such a course of action as a slight upon his countrymen, amongst whom there were plenty who were competent to sit on the Episcopal Bench with efficiency and dignity; but as a Dissenter, he might rejoice over it, as nothing tended more to strengthen Nonconformity in Wales than such alien and unpopular appointments. If a competent lawyer, who knew Welsh, could not be found for a Judgeship, it would be necessary to appoint some one else; but where other qualifications were equal a knowledge of the language ought surely to decide the choice.
observed that there was a great difficulty in regard to interpreters, and also a great waste of time. He know of two appointments of Welsh speaking Judges, which had given general satisfaction in the districts in which they administered justice. It was a curious fact, that on one side of the boundary the people spoke Welsh, and those on the other side English.
testified, from his own experience, that the aid of an interpreter was far from adequate as a means of enabling a County Court Judge in Wales who did not know Welsh to discharge the duties of his office. If that was the case, the expediency of appointing Welsh speaking Judges in Wales was obvious. The business of the Court was much of the nature of Petty Sessions business, for it often happened that no attorney appeared in a case, and considerable skill on the part of the Judge was required in order to extract the real grievance on the one side, or the defence on the other. And when an attorney was engaged he was often able, by questioning the interpreter, to give to evidence a particular shade of meaning which the witness had not intended. Indeed, a fair estimate of the value of the evidence could not be formed if the Judge did not understand the language. Should the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire be pressed to a division, he would feel bound to vote in favour of it, for he believed that the appointment of gentlemen to the country districts in Wales as County Court Judges, with a knowledge of Welsh, would give great satisfaction, and he hoped the practice would be adopted whenever it was practicable.
said, that although great interest was naturally taken in the subject, he did not think it necessary to prolong the discussion. He for one—and he could say the same on the part of the Government—deeply regretted the line of conduct pursued in regard to the Welsh Church, to which persons who could not speak Welsh were expressly appointed to teach the Welsh. He had lived long enough in Wales to regard Welsh as one of the most beautifully-sounding languages; but, in his opinion, although Welsh might continue to be spoken for a long time to come, the fact could not be concealed that English was rapidly spreading throughout the Principality, so much so that in the course of the next generation there would propably be no one in all Wales unable to speak English. It could not be denied that it was a great advantage to have a Judge conversant with the language of the people who came before him. With regard to the question of interpreters, the more important trials before the higher Judges of the land would probably with the aid of sworn interpreters go on very well, although the Judges did not know the language; but in smaller cases, where it was necessary for the Judge himself to sift the evidence of contending parties who had not previously been examined, the matter was very different. At the same time he believed that an able Judge, perfectly versed in law and in the system of evidence, would not rest content, although unacquainted with the language, till he had ascertained the actual truth of the case. His hon. and learned Friend when bringing this subject before the House in 1872, acknowledged that first of all due regard must be paid to the legal qualification. There was practically no difference between those who were in favour of and those who were against the Motion. As he had said, in cases of great importance, he thought that Judges not familiarly acquainted with Welsh might be enabled to decide questions rightly, but in more minute cases the difficulty was greater. What they wanted was to appoint the best qualified men to judicial positions, and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would hardly desire to bind the hands of the Government by an iron rule which might every now and then be found to work very hard. It must be remembered that there were parts of Wales which had become almost Anglicised—to repeat an expression which an hon. Member had used—and, therefore, what was proper in one part might be undesirable in another. This was a matter which might safely be left in the hands of the Lord Chancellor, whose duty it would be to see that the person appointed was thoroughly fit for the particular work; and, no doubt, the special qualification which was desirable in a man sent as Judge to a peculiarly Welsh part of Wales would always be borne in mind. Let the House take an analogous case—that of police magistrates—some of whom whilst well fitted for certain places, would not be qualified for the post of stipendiary magistrate in London. In making appointments in Wales he assured the House that the Government would well consider, not only legal qualifications, but special qualifications for Judgeships.
thought the promise of the Home Secretary to give due consideration to the matter would not accomplish the object of his hon. and learned Friend, which was to give confidence to the people of Wales that their claims were fully and fairly considered, and especially to give them confidence in the administration of justice. He had formerly directed the attention of the House to the question of appointing Welsh speaking Bishops, and he thought that in the matter of Judges, as in that of Bishops, the wishes of the Welsh speaking population should be considered. He trusted the Home Secretary would give his earnest attention to the statements which had been brought before the House.
said, the remarks of the Homo Secretary must, on the whole, be accepted as satisfactory; but he would, at the same time, caution the right hon. Gentlemen against placing too much confidence in the "Anglicisation" of Welsh districts. His district bad increased, of late years, more in population than any district in the Kingdom, and although there had been a large immigration of English and Irish, yet the Welsh language was still the language in which the people at large thought, and to which they preferred to resort when they were called to express themselves in words. He believed it would always be desirable to appoint Welsh speaking County Court Judges; and, as far as possible, also stipendiary magistrates in the whole of the counties of Wales, and he trusted therefore that duo weight would be given to the recommendation of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire.
said, he knew of a case where the proceedings were conducted in Welsh, by reason of which the business was despatched in half the time that would otherwise have been occupied. Apart from that, if the Welsh language were adopted, the people would feel that their cases had been fully gone into. He supported the Motion, and hoped its intentions would be fully carried into effect.
Army—Pay And Position Of Sergeants—Observations
, in rising to call attention to the present rate of pay and the general position of Sergeants in the Army, and to move—
said, the question was one of great importance to sergeants in the Army, and he wished it had fallen into abler hands to bring it under the consideration of the House. He thought it deserved that consideration, for they could not combine to bring forward their grievances, neither could they strike with a view to their relief. It was unnecessary for him to dwell upon the importance of their duties. The whole work of turning a recruit into a soldier devolved upon them, and owing to the close connection that existed between the sergeants and the Army, it was a matter of great importance that the tone set the Army by the sergeants should be kept as high as possible. The good example of the sergeants was, perhaps, of even more consequence than that of the commissioned officers, as the men, generally, felt these latter to be beyond the reach of their imitation, while every private soldier could hope to become, himself, one day a sergeant. The questions of the position and pay of the sergeant and of the rank and file of the Army were almost inextricably mixed up together, and with regard to the present system of enlistment, it was a question whether the supply met the demand. He maintained that it did not. On the score of "political economy," reasoning by analogy in reference to the enlistment of the soldier and the employment of the working man, the master got the workman as cheaply as he could, but he had to give the wages current in the labour market. This necessity the military authorities strove to elude by binding the soldier to long engagements, and by anticipating the age at which soldiers were physically fit for their profession. The supply of recruits was not equal to the demand, hence, in the first place, the soldier was compelled to enter into a long engagement, and hence the State did not, and could not, get a good market article for the money they paid. In time of war they would find that it was false economy to enlist boys of 17 because they were to be had at a cheap rate, for in the case of a campaign, a large number would be found to fill the lists of the hospitals. On the other hand, what were the advantages of promotion in the Army which were supposed to induce young men to enlist? The abolition of purchase had had a very good effects as related to officers, but with respect to young men who enlisted, its advantages did not yet appear. They might, if well-behaved and moderately educated, be promoted to the rank of sergeant, or even of colour-sergeant, or sergeant-major; but, however, few commissions were obtained by men from the ranks. The case of riding masters and quartermaster commissions must be excluded, as these fell rather to men who were in special grooves of the military profession than to the general soldier, but except that about two-thirds of the cavalry adjutants had been in the ranks, it might be said that the commissions of combatant officers were practically unattainable by the private soldier. This fact was proved by the Report of Commissioners for the abolition of purchase. He did not mean to say, in reference to the non-commissioned officers, that there was any great jealousy at there not being a facility to their becoming commissioned officers. This, however, he might say, that it had been a feeling in the mind of the man after entering the Army, and he had often been heard to express it—"I have not been born to become an officer." They also knew that formerly there was a golden bar between them and a commission; but now that the abolition of purchase had removed the bar, they would feel aggrieved if they were not promoted, and would attribute the circumstance to the social position they occupied. Jealousies of that kind might be removed in two ways—either they might make sergeants hope to become commissioned officers, or they might make them much more comfortable in their existing position, by raising their pay and pensions. The hon. Member entered into statistics in comparative reference to the scale of pay of sergeants, and wages of artizans, and private soldiers, and labouring men. He commenced his investigation of the subject as far back as 1285, when the pay was 4d. a day, being the same as the wages of carpenters and master masons, and more than double those of the agricultural labourer, who received only 1½d. per day. In 1600 the pay of a sergeant was 1s. a day. In 1793 and 1795—a succession of bad years—the pay of the sergeant and private soldier was increased. In 1806 the pay of the sergeant was raised to 1s. 6d. a day, and that of the private soldier to 1s. a day. In 1848 "good conduct" pay was introduced, and a well-conducted private might get as much as 3d. a day increase; but that was an advantage that did not now reach the sergeant. Their pensions were, however, reduced within the last 15 or 16 years; and contrasting the wages of the agricultural labourers in some counties in England with the sergeants' pensions, the labourers were better off. The sergeant's pay was now 16s. 6d. a week, which was lower than that of the agricultural labourers in the North of England. In 1867 a table was drawn up to show how much better off the sergeants and privates were than before, and in the same year a comparison was made between the pay of sergeants and the wages of agricultural labourers in the North of England, showing that the wages of the labourers were 22s. a week, which was a large increase over that of the sergeants. The pay of a sergeant was now what it was in 1867. By an alteration which Lord Cardwell made about six months ago, a private soldier obtained a clear addition to his allowance of at least 1d. a day, and the pay of a sergeant was increased nominally, but not in fact, ½d. a day. On the whole, he thought the pay of a sergeant was now only 1s. or 2s. a year more than it was in the year 1867. But in the interval between 1867 and the present year, there had been a considerable advance in the wages paid to agricultural labourers; and in some parts of this country the weekly pay of an agricultural labourer exceeded the weekly pay of a sergeant. He would also remind the House that the movements of soldiers from place to place involved considerable expense over and above what they received, and that sergeants, in addition, had to keep themselves better dressed than most persons in their class of life. Again, the soldier was obliged to live in garrison towns, where he had to meet greater expenses than the labourer incurred in the rural districts. The agricultural labourer, too, had many opportunities of obtaining employment for his family, while no such chance was open to the sergeant residing in barracks. That being so—and the wages of agricultural labourers in Ireland having risen 00 or 40 per per cent. in England 50 per cent. and the pay of the private soldier 23 per cent. although that of the sergeant had only increased 18 per cent—he thought the House would be of opinion that he had made out a good case on his behalf, and that the House would be of opinion that the position of a most deserving body of non-commissioned officers in the Army was not satisfactory, and ought to be improved."That, in the opinion of this House, the position of the Sergeants in the Army is unsatisfactory, and demands the immediate attention of the Government, with a view to its improvement,"
thought the House would agree that the pay of the Army, whether of a general or of a private soldier, was not excessive, and everybody therefore would be anxious that this important subject should be carefully considered. The sergeants were the backbone of the British army, and consequently if there was any dissatisfaction on their part it would interfere with the discipline of the whole Service. He had listened for a long time in vain to ascertain what the grievance was of which the hon. and gallant Gentleman complained. He did not dispute the figures which he had quoted, running from the time of Edward I. to the present, because he had no means of correcting them, as to the relative pay of sergeants and agricultural labourers, but as the disadvantages under which the former laboured had been dwelt upon, he hoped he might be allowed to refer shortly to the advantages which they enjoyed, and which an agricultural labourer did not enjoy. First of all, the pay of the sergeant had been increased in 1866 and 1867 2d. a day by General Peel. An additional ½d. had also been given him by the late Secretary for War. Now, as a mere matter of pay, he did not mean to argue that these advantages were very great; but then in comparing the position of the agricultural labourer with that of the sergeant, the indirect advantages which the latter received by belonging to a noble profession must not altogether be set aside. The comfort of the sergeant was much better provided for than it was 10 years ago. There was, for instance, a noncommissioned officers' mess, and if he happened to be married, they had, in the case of three out of four, the privilege of quarters. He would say nothing about clothes and hospital attendance, but he might remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that a sergeant's children were educated for next to nothing. Again, there were many opportunities of obtaining employment in civil life open to a well-conducted man when he retired from the service, while a considerable number of Commissions—30 or 35—of one sort or another had been given within the last 10 years. This, however, was a question on which his right hon. Friend could not at the present moment give an absolute answer, and he did not suppose the hon. and gallant Gentleman expected one. All he could say was, that the question with many others connected with Army organization and pay, occupied the attention of his right hon. Friend, who was most willing and anxious to do justice where hardship was proved; but the question could not be decided by any mere comparison with the pay received by mechanics and labourers in the North or elsewhere, without taking into consideration the whole circumstances of the case. This, he would say, that his right hon. Friend fully recognized the fact that the sergeants of the Army were a most important and most meritorious body, and he would add that the question having been brought forward and gone into so exhaustively he would give his very best care and consideration to it; and if anything could be done to improve the condition of the sergeant with advantage and with due justice to the service, he was quite certain his right hon. Friend would give it every attention.
said, he fully concurred in what had been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway in regard to the absolute necessity for improving the condition of the non-commissioned officers of the Army; but at the same time he was sorry that his hon. and gallant Friend had not suggested any mode of doing so. He thought an improvement in our present system would result, and that it would facilitate recruiting, if measures were taken to induce good soldiers to remain in the Army, and thus endeavour to regain for the service those good old non-commissioned officers whom the recent changes had totally removed. The pecuniary position of the non-commissioned officers was unquestionably a bad one; and they had received a great blow when the purchase system was done away with. Formerly it was a most desirable thing for a sergeant to obtain a commission, as the sale of it was at least certain to produce him a moderate competency when he retired; whereas now it would be a misfortune if he were promoted, as he would only incur a certain amount of expense, and at the end of his service would be deprived of the ability to sell his commission. At a meeting of the United Institution, a year ago, at which Lord Derby presided, it was suggested that a number of civil appointments should be given to old non-commissioned officers, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take that suggestion into his consideration.
said, he had listened with satisfaction to the remarks of the noble Lord when he enumerated the advantages which belonged to the position of sergeants in the Army; but he had not heard the noble Lord say anything with regard to the corresponding disadvantages which had fallen upon the sergeants by the late changes. The non-commissioned officers were really the moving springs of the whole machine, and they were the class upon whom the daily labour of the Army mainly fell. He believed there was no way in which a greater stimulus could be given to recruiting than in some degree raising the pay of the sergeants, and he thought a material improvement might be made in their position, if it were recognized that after a certain length of service, with good conduct, there were appointments in the Civil Service to which they should be considered to have a prescriptive right.
merely wished to say, that he certainly considered it was the duty of the Secretary for War to secure that there should be good non-commissioned officers in the Army. The education and training which they received not only qualified them for rising in the service, but also made them coveted by mercantile firms and others, and they were consequently tempted to leave the Army by the higher rate of pay they would receive in civil life. It was very desirable that the services of these meritorious men should be retained for the service of the Army, and he could assure hon. Members that his attention was fully directed to the subject.
India—The Nawab Nazim Of Bengal
Motion For A Select Committee
Mr. Speaker—I have undertaken to ask the attention of this House to the complaint of the lineal heir and recognized successor of the most confiding and most useful ally we ever had in India, who is now a suppliant for justice at your Bar. And what is the plaint of the unhappy Prince, who, against his will, is compelled to sojourn afar from home and country, to the detriment of his family and affairs? He fears, and with too much cause, that designs are harboured to disinherit his sons at his death, and to deprive them of advantages they have hitherto been taught to regard as in-defeasibly theirs. The evidence of such a purpose I shall lay before you, not with the fullness of detail with which it would be brought before a Committee, but with sufficient palpability of outline to satisfy the least credulous that his complaint is not without reason. I am authorized to state distinctly that from Parliament or from the Executive he asks neither favour nor indulgence; all he asks is what he can prove to a Committee of this House to be his own. All he wants is justice—fidelity to engagements—the same fair play which, if this House were sitting as a Court of Equity, it would decree between man and man. It is not his fault if he has to come to Parliament, because this is the only Court in the Realm to whose jurisdiction the Executive cannot plead in Bar. I wish with all my heart, as I have on former occasions stated in this House, that Parliament would constitute a suitable tribunal from selected Members of the two Houses, with a Judge of the highest class as Assessor, to whom might be referred questions of political jurisprudence between the Crown and those Princes and dependencies whose interests sometimes clash with the views of the Secretary of State. Until such, or some such, provision is made, no alternative is left, in cases of this kind, but an appeal to the justice and wisdom of Parliament not to allow a great wrong to remain unredressed. I say a great wrong, because after long consideration, and the devotion of much care and reflection to the subject, I do not hesitate to say that I can satisfy any impartial mind that Syud Ali, now in this country, is entitled to the fulfilment of the Treaties made with his ancestors, and confirmed to him in the name of Her Majesty; and further that, if all those Treaties were put into the fire and not a vestige of them remained, it would be inconsistent with the duty, the fame, and the honour of this House, after confirming to his family, rank, dignity, and income for 100 years, that any Minister from this side of the House or the other should contemplate disfranchising them as if they had no pretensions to princely rank and heritage. I ask the House to take nothing from me for granted; but I will give them authorities which nobody of either party will gainsay. Little more than a century ago, as venturous traders in the East, we were but too glad of leave from the Princes of India to dwell in peace, to buy and sell, to rent land and build factories, and to arm sufficient followers for watch and ward, especially so to the Nazim of Bengal for the countenance and protection he afforded us. Lord Macaulay, whose name is still familiarly cherished in this House, not merely as a statesman, but as an author of imperishable history, whose name is identified with the English language of the 19th century, has left on record that at this period Bengal was ruled by one of "those great Mussulman Houses" who "had as many subjects as the King of France or the Emperor of Germany." That is said of a family whom we have beard described as no Princes at all. What was their rank, and whence their authority? Hear Lord Macaulay again.
Political power and function in Bengal we then had none; but in the words of Lord Brougham, spoken in the great suit brought by the Mayor of Lyons against the East India Company—"Though," he says, "they might still acknowledge in words the superiority of the House of Tamerlane, yet in truth they were no longer lieutenants removable at pleasure, but independent hereditary Princes."
Sir, it is only necessary for me to add to this the testimony of history, that when the great founder of this House, Aliverdy Khan, died in 1756, his foolish son, like James II. in this country, became unbearable as a tyrant, and his nobles and officers combined against him and sought foreign aid to emancipate themselves from the yoke they could no longer bear. The pioneer Company, who, under Clive, furnished a contingent to aid this domestic revolution, were paid for their services, partly in money, and partly in land; and the chartered Company, whose executors and heirs we are, were glad to accept jaghires or freeholds, and zemindaries or leaseholds from Meer Jaffier, the progenitor and predecessor in the male line direct of the present Nawab of Bengal. And yet there are those who would have us now believe, and act on the belief, that the dynasty with whom we were glad to bargain, from whom we were glad to take lands in chief, and to whom we were glad to hire our bayonets, had never at any time claim to princely rank or any pretension to independent power. From 1757 to 1770, five separate treaties, agreements, capitulations—what you will—were made with these Princes, who having the power of life and death, and the right of peace and war, we thus acknowledged and treated as the Sovereigns of Bengal. By the first Treaty in 1757, signed by Clive, Vansittart, and others of the Company's Council, we stipulated for £2,500,000, the Zemindary of Culpee, subject to the land tax, and the effects and factories of the French. In return, we covenanted to aid the revolt which overthrew Suraja Dowla at the Battle of Plassey, and made Meer Jaffier, Soubadar. By a second Treaty in 1763, we covenanted to maintain a body of troops to be at the service of the Nawab Nazim, in consideration of three jaghires or grants in fee-farm of Birdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong, and exemption from all excise duties. Now, will anyone have the goodness to tell me how sharp practitioners like Vansittart, Carnac, and Warron Hastings, came to sign a deed with a Prince who was not a Prince; to take grants of the soil in fee from one who was not lord of the soil; to accept exemptions from inland tolls and taxes throughout a territory as large as France, from somebody who after all was nobody in particular; and to engage for so many British troops as escort to a country gentleman when he went out tiger shooting? But there is something more curious still in the second Treaty, which now we are told was not a Treaty—only a Christian cheat to amuse Mahommedans. We read—not between the lines, but plainly and roundly writ—this curious clause on the part of Meer Jaffier—"Their territorial settlement was effected by leave of a regularly established Government, invested with the right of Sovereignty. Calcutta and the lands adjoining were held under it by the Company as tenants rendering rent, and afterwards as officers exercising by delegation part of its authority;" namely, the "Receivership of taxes, in Bengal, Behar, and Orissa."
And who was sent as our Envoy, to feel his way to further acquisitions, and to negotiate new engagements? Why, no other than the aspiring, subtle, and insatiable Warren Hastings, who, at Moorshedabad fashioned the master-key by which he afterwards unlocked so many cabinets and treasuries. The third Treaty was made on the accession of Meer Jaffier's son in 1765, ratifying and confirming all that the former contained, and extending its provisions somewhat further. The Company engaged to keep up a subsidiary force for the defence of Ms Provinces against external enemies, and thus relieve the Nawab from the charge of all but those "necessary for the dignity of his person and Government." In this way began the armed ascendancy of the Company in Bengal. This is our third title-deed, and having netted the golden fruit that came of it, do you seriously believe that Europe, that America, that your own children will believe you when you say that that fruit grow on the points of fixed bayonets, that you won Bengal, Behar, and Orissa by fight in the open field, and that you have a right to treat it as the spoil of conquest, and the sons of its Princes as captives and dependents on your grace and favour? I say that as a matter of fact the allegation is untrue, and that Parliament ought once and for all, for the sake of its own character and honour, to silence the misrepresentation. I shall not stop to argue hypothetics, or debate what the Company might have done had they invaded Bengal as they afterwards invaded Rohilcund. They preferred the way of diplomatic acquisition. They trafficked with successive Nawabs, and, step by step, won peaceably their way, never firing a shot in anger, but bargaining for each jaghire and pergunnah—each privilege and each function; and now, having got all they desired, I say it would be unutterably base, contemptible, and infatuated, to higgle or to huckster about the price which they agreed to pay. In the same year—1765—there was a fourth Convention, memorable in its way. By this the Company obtained the office of Dewan, or Farmers General of the taxes in Bengal; the conditions of the grant being that they should become security for the more punctual payment of the tribute to the Mogul, and that a suitable Civil List of £530,000 a-year should be paid to the Nawab. After disbursement of these two charges. "whatsoever might remain," was to be their own, to assist in defraying the cost of the troops they had covenanted in the previous Treaty to organize. On the succession by inheritance of another son, a fourth Treaty was made, embodying all that had gone before, but reducing a portion of the charge for Nizamut expences. It is nothing to the purpose to say now—What fools the Nazim and his Ministers were to cut down their guards on the plea of economy! History will say of England at this period—What fools your King and Cabinet were at that very hour! With all your boasted enlightenment, classical learning, freedom of the Press, and Parliamentary rhetoric, what were you about? Why, nothing less than elaborately cutting adrift an Empire a thousand times more valuable than Hindostan, and with idiotic ingenuity contriving to charge yourselves £110,000,000 for the operation. Why, the Moslem Prince at Moorshedabad was acting like a philosopher, compared with His Majesty of England; and Mahommed Reza Khan, the Finance Minister, who counselled the transfer of the Dewanny, was a frugal and successful financier compared with George Grenville, who invented the Stamp Act for America, or Lord North, who would enforce the duty on tea. Here, then, we have four Treaties and a Convention, framed in European fashion, and consecutively executed by the Company on one side, and by Meer Jaffier and his two sons, who succeeded him, on the other, in which the diplomatic parity of the contracting parties is never so much as questioned, and the precision and completeness of whose provisions is as cavil-proof as if the ratifications had been exchanged at Vienna. And yet we are told that they were not Treaties at all; or, if Treaties, merely personal, and binding the Company only during the life or reign of each Nazim, although, by the nature of their conditions, they bound the country of the Nazim, and, of necessity, whoever might come after him, irredeemably and permanently. The distinction between real and personal Treaties is an elementary one in all works of authority on International Law. From Grotius to Wheaton, the greatest of modern jurists, the fundamental distinction is broadly traced. Differences of opinion, on points of less importance, there are among these authorities; but upon this point there is no difference. The tests universally and uniformly recognized by all of them are simple and obvious. If a Treaty is made for personal benefit only—that is, for the benefit of a Sovereign or his family—it is personal, and not real. If it is made, or professes to be made, for the benefit of the country or the community, it is real, and not personal—that is to say, terminable only by mutual consent or war. There are cases, of course, where the benefits on one side are personal, and the benefits on the other side are real, and then the interpretation of common sense and common equity, admitting of no serious question, is, that the obligation follows the nature of the benefit, and imparts its own character of reality to the whole. What is the case before us? Relying on a guarantee of dignity and income for themselves and their family, three successive Sovereigns of Bengal agreed to enfief the Company with lands, and to appoint them to great posts of Administrative trust. But they recite expressly, as the joint inducement to the adoption of this policy, their perfect confidence that the engagements thus entered into would be for their own honour and the "good of their country." There is no question here of severance, for there has never been a blow struck in anger; and as for mutual renunciation, that is ridiculous. It does not lie in the mouths of us, who are the heirs and successors of the Company who made these Treaties, to say that we will not hold to them. From generation to generation the Company, by themselves and their dependents, their apologists and their chroniclers, never ceased to chant thanksgivings for the transfer of power thus begun from Native to European hands. We are always assured that it was for the spread of commerce, civilization, and Christianity, that these triumphs of astute diplomacy were made. Well, but if so, the recitals of 1766, about the "good of the country" were true as well as binding on the parties to the contract; and, if true and binding then, they are so now as much as on the day they were written. Thus these engagements are plainly and palpably real, and not personal Treaties. In point of fact, what was done in Bengal at this period is acknowledged on all hands to have been the foundation of the gigantic structure of empire reared by the Company. It did not suit their purpose to unsettle the foundation while the business of building was going on. Accordingly, they never said a word casting doubt on these fundamental compacts—they kept them ostensibly, nay, ostentatiously, to the end. Disputes there were, in the course of years, regarding the application of the stipend thus guaranteed; but, as Clive had said—"Let it be remembered there is always a Soubah," or native form of government; and for 80 years the Company never proposed to set aside the Soubadar, or to withhold from him the means of maintaining befittingly his inheritance. But there is another test of real or perpetual Treaties which all publicists of reputation recognize. Grotius says—"Wherever I shall fix my Court, an English gentleman shall reside to transact all affairs between me and the Company; and a person shall also reside on my part at Calcutta to negotiate with the Governor and Council."
Von Martens and Wheaton say the same. In all the four Treaties I have cited, it may be frankly owned there are not the words which, in a technical sense, are held to make a compact perpetual—that is, the expression that it shall be "inviolable always." And, to my astonishment, I have found that a remarkable document, issued by the India Office not very long ago, in referring to these Treaties, has not only pointed out the omission of these words from the four Treaties first made, but has committed the strange blunder of saying that the fifth and last Treaty in which all the relations of England with Bengal were finally settled in 1770 was identical in terms with the previous four, and, therefore, in no sense more binding. This Treaty of 1770 was made with the fourth Prince of the dynasty. It confirms all that had gone before, solidifies the whole, and then baptizes it with a blessing. Now, I assert, and challenge contradiction or dispute, that if that final Treaty was made, not for a time, but for ever, by Mr. Cartier, then Governor of Bengal, and his Council, in the name of the King, it will be still subsisting, and cannot be made away with. Now, Sir, here is the document—the original Treaty—signed, sealed, and delivered in the year 1770. Here is the broad seal of the Mussulman Prince, and here are the signatures of the Christian statesmen, the chartered merchants—there they are for anyone to look at, and they are appended to these concluding words—"This agreement, by the blessing of God, shall be inviolably observed for ever." Now, I ask any honourable man what was meant by those words? Has anyone the face to say they were all badinage or blasphemy, or to say that we are now to act the menial part of political scavengers, to sweep up and hide away dead roguery? What a function that would be for a great Government to perform! Sir, I hope that while I have had the honour of a seat in this House, no man has heard from my lips anything that could be mistaken for profanity; but this is a topic with which it is hard to deal without liability to be misunderstood in that respect. This Treaty, the foundation of this petitioner's rights, is sealed and signed under "the blessing of God." Some future critic exegetically may ask, What God can here be meant? Not Mars, for there was no fighting between the parties—not a blow was struck at any time. Not Mercury, for he was the god of thieves. My private opinion is that it was Plutus. Mammon was uppermost in the thoughts of the contracting parties. Well, then, to Mammon let us go; and I say that when the millions upon millions of revenue levied since then from Bengal, Bekar, and Orissa, subject only to the rent of 16 lacs to its former Sovereigns are taken into consideration, no judge in Mammon's Courts would rule in favour of the stronger party. For my part I do not believe that the Company, Directors, Generals, or Agents meant either subterfuge or trick. I believe they thought they were making an excellent bargain when they agreed for ever to pay the occupant of the Musnud a yearly rent charge; and the best proof that they meant it is that they paid it uninterruptedly for 100 years, and that it is payable still. Upon a special pleaders' quibble, unsustainable as I believe in point of law, the five Treaties under which our ascendancy in Bengal was secured, confirmed and ratified, are now said to have been personal only; but the common doctrines of equity override, by the inferences from fact, all hypercritical distinctions of form. Taking them only as documentary evidence of an old subsisting agreement freely entered into in the face of day for public objects, they are conclusive of the case. The logic of mutual liability is irrefutable. The Native Princes of the House of Aliverdy Khan bound themselves in various acts to the Company, which every one of them confessedly performed; and nothing under Heaven can release the power that made with them these Treaties, or the power that has bound itself to stand in the shoes of the Company, in all respects from keeping and observing the spirit, if not the letter of the bond. I do not stop to ask whether the letter has always been observed. In the pranks of statesmen, like those of boys, it is frequently agreed that "cheating shall be in;" and if it were worth while I think I could show not a few over-reachings in the lapse of time. But I am not here to make a petty-fogging case, or to cast odium on the grave of the Company. I am not here to go into old reckonings, or to ask this House to appoint a Committee to go into past accounts. I demand nothing but security for the future against forfeiture and defeasance. I claim only on behalf of the descendant of your first great territorial ally in the East—an ally with whom you have never had a quarrel, a contest, or a suit—the scant and bare justice of guaranteed rank and guaranteed income; and I say that were it possible to burn the five Treaties, counterparts and all, or to forge five red Treaties framed on the memorable model furnished by Clive instead of them, you would still be bound by uninterrupted user to keep in substance the bargain they embody—bound by policy in the face of disaffected Asia, bound by self-respect in the face of Europe, bound by every sense of shame in the face of nations, bound by every sense of justice in the sight of Heaven. But it may be asked, why have there been no more Treaties of recognition and confirmation? The answer is clear, and weighty with meaning. Because the engagements having been summed up and settled in this Convention of 1770, there was nothing more to debate about; and because at each new accession the rights, dignities, and advantages of the family were duly, promptly, and unreservedly recognized by the Anglo-Indian Government. Because every Governor-General, from Warren Hastings to Canning, including Cornwallis, Minto, Wellesley, and Auckland—every man, in short, whose name is associated with the acquisition of our Empire in India—every one of these great functionaries on taking office intimated either in writing or otherwise to the Nawab of Bengal that he recognized his state and dignity, that it should be his object to maintain amity and intimacy with him, and that nothing should be done during his vice-royalty contrary to the honour and the maintenance of the Nawab's rank and state. All this time, too, they were authorizing the payment of £160,000 a-year to this Prince, who we are now told was no Prince, nobody in particular, only the descendant of an officer of a bygone Government, whom we were not hound to, after the period of our magnanimous grace and bounty had expired. If anyone doubts my assertion, here are the collected letters of these noblemen and Viceroys. Let any man read them and refute them if he can. Let him dispute their authenticity if he dare. Let any man dispute the inference I draw from them, which is, that there was a continuous stream of acknowledgment from the time you got the country at a rent-charge from the Princes of Bengal in 1770 until the present day; that you continued to pay and still continue paying that money, and that the design harboured to determine that payment upon the expiration of the life of the present incumbent is wholly inconsistent with policy, good faith, and fair dealing. But, Sir, I should be very sorry to rely upon general statements; you would like me to give particulars and you shall have them. There was once a man—I much mistake, Sir, if his image is effaced from your early memory, it is certainly not from mine—whom I saw in his old age sitting on yonder bench as Member for the town of Glasgow. I refer to one of the best and most courageous of men, a noble by birth, a soldier by profession, a statesman by experience—Lord William Bentinck—who governed India for seven years without shedding a drop of blood, and who left that country followed by the regrets of all creeds and classes. He had for his Secretary in Council a man entitled also to great honour for services rendered in civil departments of the State—Sir Charles Trevelyan. In 1834, some zealous suttler of the camp of conquest sought to degrade the Nazim by making him amenable to legal process, when Lord "William Bentinck instructed the Advocate General, through his Secretary, to resist by every lawful means the attempt to harass the Nawab by civil suits—"If it be added to the Treaty that it shall stand for ever, it will from hence appear that the Treaty is real."
mark these significant words—"By the Treaty of 1770 annexed," he said, "His Highness the Nawab has been recognized by the British Government as an independent Prince; and "—
This was more than 60 years after the Treaty had been signed, four devolutions of inheritance having taken place in the interval. May I ask, what is the meaning of public faith and public law, if all this can be set aside at the selfish will of one party to engagements so solemn, so mutually beneficial, and the intent of the parties to which is so confirmed by assent and consent, by public documents and by public payments to heirs and successors during the period ordinarily assigned for the life of man? What is to be held sacred or binding if user like this can be set at nought? With all freehold property any contest of title is barred after unquestioned possession during 60 years, and a Bill is actually before Parliament bettering the claim by user still more, and giving indefeasibility of possession after 40 years. A squatter on a common; a usurer who has reduced his mortgage to possession; the bastard's son who has contrived to keep the manor house, and to let the land without disturbance or contention three-score years, cannot be ousted by the rightful heir, too late awaking to the claim on which he has slumbered; and yet it is proposed to set aside the unimpeachable title and undisturbed possession of more than a century in the case of a man who has never boon so much as suspected—or any of his race—of political infidelity to British interests, or to any of the engagements to which his fathers bound themselves and him. I have recited one refutation of the unworthy plea of the unreality of these Treaties from the lips of the Company's highest officers 60 years after they are now said to have expired, and to my mind this one emphatic avowal is sufficient of itself to destroy that plea. But the tale of testimony does not end in 1834. In a despatch of 14th November, 1838, the Court of Directors in Leadenhall Street forbade the support of a collateral branch of Meer Jaffier's family, being made a charge on the Nawab's income, because they said that support was—"the national faith is pledged for nothing being proposed or carried into execution, derogating from his honour. If the liability of the Nazim were to be admitted, there is no degree of indignity which might not be inflicted upon him in contravention of the pledged national faith, and of that respect which is obviously due to the representative of our oldest ally on this side of India. The case of Raja Hurraneath Rae does not appear to his Honour in Council to bear any analogy to the present. Raja Hurraneath Rae was a subject of this Government from whose gift he derived his title; while the Nawab Nazim is a Prince whose independence has been recognised by a Treaty with one of his predecessors."
Still later in April, 1840, they rebuked the assumption of a zealous subordinate at Calcutta, who proposed to pay for municipal improvements at Moorshe-dabad, out of the Nizamut Trust Fund, with this explicit declaration—"Anterior in its origin to the Treaty which settled 16 lacs of Rupees per annum on the Nizamut, and could not therefore after a contrary understanding had been so long acted on he made a charge on those 16 lacs."
Furthermore, in the devolution of heirship, whenever a Prince of this House succeeded his father or his uncle, as the ease might be, a Proclamation was issued at Calcutta, publicly announcing the fact. Thus on the 19th December, 1838, a Proclamation was issued by order of Lord Auckland, informing the"The Deposit Fund is not public money, but part of the assignment by Treaty of the family, of which part is allowed to accumulate for its general benefit."
A pendant to the Proclamation is a garrison order that a salute should be fired of 19 guns and three rounds of musketry. Are these announcements and concussions of the air usual on the death or accession of a private citizen, of an officer of state, or even of a Prince of the Blood? I have certainly no particular love for salvos of artillery, and I should be sorry to be cross-examined on the moral value of blank shot; but if you think it necessary to testify your respect for Her Majesty the Queen by 21 guns on her birthday, be good enough to explain what you mean by 19 guns, to say nothing of the musketry on the accession of a man who is now alleged to be no Prince, but a dependent whom you have a right to despoil at pleasure. It may be said these are mere unmeaning ceremonials; but are you prepared to open up the discussion of the value of political symbols, or can you afford in the East of all places in the world capriciously and suddenly to turn Jacobin or quaker in your mode of carrying on government? I have the misfortune to be short-sighted, but I think I see something on that Table wrought and embossed with images, and all of gold, the precise use of which I do not think I ever heard. We know who would have said—" Why should not this bauble be sold, and the produce given to the poor?" But you will not quote him as an authority; and yet no power on earth could get you, Sir, to leave that Chair, until the noble Lord, who is the armed guardian of order in this House, takes a walk up the floor and back again to remove that bauble from the gilt spurs on which it rests, and put it down on the little shelf which I believe to be an essential part of the British Constitution. For my part, I have no objection to see our grand old mace maintained, believing, as I do, that symbolism is the natural and legitimate way of appealing to the historic faith of the people in our great and ancient institutions; and I think, that while we value symbolism as expressing our constitutional feeling, we cannot tell those whom we have contrived to over-reach or overcome, and whom we now seek to over-awe, that when their interests are concerned we regard these formalities as meaningless and vain. Relying on these Treaties, these acknowledgments, these reiterations of good faith, for 15 years the present Nawab dwelt in peace. How should he mistrust pledges and assurances so cumulative? But in 1853 that infatuated policy of aggression on, and absorption of, Native States, seems to have become fixed in the mind of Lord Dalhousie. In the words of Sir George Clerk, when courageously dissenting in Council from a course he could not control, Lord Dalhousie "led off with that flagrant instance of bare-faced appropriation," in the annexation of Sattara. This was followed, at brief intervals, with similar confiscations of Nagpore, Kerowli, Jhansi, Arcot, and Mysore—in some of which the Native families were disinherited, the furniture of their palaces and the jewels of their women sold by auction, and their territories annexed to those of the paramount power. The Viceroy cast his eyes on Moorshedabad, and wrote an elaborate Minute, in which he declared that the Nawab had no right or title whatever to any allowance by Treaty or compact; that the old Treaties were purely personal; and that the 16 lacs a-year had been all along paid only by the free grace and favour of the British Government. He then suggested that, on the death of the present Prince, the Government should not be bound to the existing payments. State secrets, as we know, have a wonderful power of escape, and this unexpected danger soon became known at Moorshedabad, and remonstrances, in the shape of memorials, were addressed by the Nawab to the Governor General, but without extorting any reply. On Lord Canning's appointment these expostulations were renewed, and a memorial was forwarded to the Court of Directors. Then came the Mutiny, with its terrors and its horrors; and there was a time when every Native Chief or Prince was viewed with distrust, and when no man could say what aggravation of our difficulties a wavering allegiance might entail. But the Petitioner at your Bar is, on all hands, admitted to have never wavered in his fidelity. When things were at the worst, spontaneously he sent to Government a timely contribution of elephants for draught use, and employed his guards to prevent incipient tendencies to disturbance. For this he had no lack of acknowledgments at the time; and when the storm had subsided, and Lord Canning sought to point the moral of the fearful outbreak of popular hate and princely disaffection excited by the Dalhousie policy, he put on record, in 1860, words of rebuke, protest, and warning that, except by madmen, will never be forgotten. With the moral courage worthy of his father's son, Lord Canning did not hesitate to renounce and denounce the infatuated course of expropriation and forfeiture, which had spread fear and misgiving through the whole of Hindostan. In his celebrated despatch of the 30th April, 1860, he warned the Home Government that—"Allies of the British Crown and all friendly Powers of the death of the late; Nawab," and the "succession to the hereditary honours and dignities of the Nizamut and Soubadarry of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, of his son Syud Munsoor Ullee."
Lord Canning, indeed, was mindful that it was he who had promulgated, in 1858, Her Majesty's first Proclamation as Queen of India, which contained the memorable pledge that—"Our supremacy will never be heartily accepted and respected so long as we leave ourselves open to the doubts which are now felt, and which our uncertain policy has justified, as to our ultimate intentions towards Native chiefs."
All Treaties and engagements! What do these words mean? Surely not a flourish, a fanfaron, a quibble, or a cheat. Loyalty, policy, decency forbid the thought that anything open to imputation of the kind should have been placed by the Cabinet Minister for India in the mouth of the Queen. And why? Because the Queen is that Sovereign of all her race who has written her name indelibly in the history of the nation as the faithful Priestess of truth, and because the Minister was the present Earl of Derby. He is not a man to palter with great words of State, and I call upon his Colleagues to stand by his words, and to make them good. It is the duty of the Chancellor, in matters doubtful, to keep the conscience of the Queen, but it is the duty of Parliament, by the interpretation, application, and vindication of Treaties and of laws to keep the word of the Queen. Here is Her Royal word to the Princes of India, uttered while the smoke of civil war and the groans of civil carnage still filled the air; uttered in redemption of the promise given to Parliament that if the government of India were given over to the Crown, that government should be conducted in loyal observance of those compacts, bargains, engagements, and Treaties by which we first gained footing, then gained power, and ultimately gained ascendancy in Southern Asia. But what are engagements, if those recognized by letters, Proclamations, accredited Envoys, and salvoes of artillery do not warrant the appellation; and what are Native chieftainries, if one transmitted from sire to son through 10 successive holders of the dignity, without interruption, without question, without pretence of failure in fidelity and loyalty, does not constitute such a position? Did Lord Canning doubt them when he wrote to Syud Munsoor Ali, the petitioner for your justice, telling him he might rely that the—"All Treaties and engagements made by the Company with Native Princes would be scrupulously maintained, and that She would respect the rights, dignity, and honour of Native Princes as her own."
Though warned of his danger by what took place under Lord Dalhousie, Syud Ali could not persuade himself to believe that the peril which had overtaken other princely houses hovered over his own. His expostulations drew forth no reply, and when he visited Calcutta in 1859, though received with all the usual marks of ceremonial which have since been continued at the Court of Her Majesty, he was told that the Viceroy could not enter into discussions with him during a personal interview. Still his misgivings slept. At last a reply to his remonstrances against these indications of an altered policy was received at Calcutta. In this despatch, written by one who was long a Member of this House, and who occupies a considerable position in public life in England, the Treaties are declared to be no longer binding, upon the ground that they were each and all of a personal character. I have already alluded to the circumstance, which would be comical if it were not deplorable, that when quoting these Treaties in argument, Lord Halifax omits the words in the Treaty of 1770, "inviolably observed for ever," and then coolly says its language was the same as the others, which did not contain these words. The unhappy Prince might well be startled at the levity and the licence with which established rights were thus treated. The obligations derived from long continued usage were, however, generally admitted in this remarkable document, and unpleasant though its contents inferentially were, they were so wrapped up in smooth and conciliatory language as not to excite alarm or resentment in the mind of the Nawab. But here, too, a secret existed; and information soon reached the Prince that the despatch had been mutilated in transmission, and that the part which, more than all it concerned him to know, had been excised at Port William. The original despatch consisted of some 18 or 20 clauses, and paragraph 12 suggested that the future position of the Nawab's sons should be fixed and defined with as little delay as possible; that they should, in fact, be made to understand that they were to earn their bread, instead of relying on any share of patrimony in the future; and there were certain philosophic common-places about young men having suitable avocations instead of being brought up in the pursuit of pleasure. The paragraph, in short, was such a one as the members of the Committee of Public Safety in 1793 might have indulged in when binding the son of Louis XVI. to a working trade. What the avocations were which the descendants of Aliverdy Khan were to be indentured to does not appear; but of the sinister meaning of the recommendation there could be no doubt. Paragraph 12 was left out of the copy sent to Moorshedabad, and the others renumbered to hide the omission. ["Shame!"] Was that done, I ask, in the name or under the blessing of God, for the honour of the Queen? No choice was left the Nawab but to appeal unto Cæsar, to come to this country—to the seat of power—and to lay his case before Her Majesty, before you, Sir, and the Parliament of this Realm. Here he learned that the advisers of the Crown must answer to that Parliament not only for their acts, but for their avowed intentions. The despatch of 1864 was moved for by Mr. Bagwell in 1870, and the Minute of Lord Dalhousie by another hon. Member. Both were produced, and the whole scheme was laid bare. A further despatch was likewise produced, in which I regret to say Lord Mayo acquiesced in the policy which he had reason to suppose his predecessors had determined on. But no acquiescence by him or any other official, however high and reputable, can exonerate this House from judging for itself whether the thing be right or wrong, the policy sound or unsound, the obligations invoked binding or not binding. It is said, Sir, as a last excuse for the breach of agreement and threatened withdrawal of half the Nawab's income, that the Indian Exchequer cannot afford it; and it is plausibly asked—Shall we tax the impoverished ryots for funds wherewith to enable one historic family to live in luxury? We have frequently had a deficit in the finance accounts for the year, and though things look better just now, we have nothing to spare, and we may have a deficit again. Which shall we choose—exaction from the community, or extortion from a mediatized Prince? The question, mutato nomine, is that which Robert Macaire puts in the play. Deliberating as to the course to be taken in a pecuniary strait, he says—" Now what's to be done, or rather who's to be done; somebody must, that's evident." But, seriously, this is the language and this is the thought which every day is reprobated in the Insolvent Court, and in the Court of Chancery. If it be true, which I wholly deny, that India cannot be governed so as to pay 20s. in the pound, the obvious and just—nay, obviously the only just course to be taken is to pay all who have claims, 18s. or 19s. in the pound; but not by unrighteous preference to pay any of them in full, and fleece the few of all. We know how our Judges designate preferential payments of this kind, and the case before us will be precisely one of them, if you permit it to be so. You have full notice of what is intended; there is yet time to interpose. If you have doubts regarding details, appoint a Committee to winnow the facts, and report the fruits of inquiry to you. About the principle there is, I submit, no room for doubt. Will it be said that since the Government was taken over in the name of the Crown, frugality has kept expenditure at the lowest possible point, and that whatever comes, you must pay the interest on £117,000,000 of debt, the cost of the Army, and the charge for civil administration? These are very fine phrases; but what do they really mean? That you may put up the expenditure—Civil and Military—to any unassigned figure, and then turn round on your old contract creditors, and say—"You see we have not enough for you." Why, this was the logic of the Cabal when they shut the Exchequer in Charles II.'s time, and this is the transparent pretence of every prodigal executive in Christendom and Heathendom. But justification in this case there is none. While the prudent rule of the old Company lasted, the total expenditure did not exceed £30,000,000 a-year. To glut the insatiable greed of centralized patronage and power, you swept the Company's Government away, pretending that you would be able to do it cheaper. Have you done so? Have you nearly done so? Have you done so at all? You pulled down the old pent-house pile in Leadenhall Street, and sold the materials and site, and the old Board of Control in Cannon Row has been converted into a school for competitive examination. But the Secretary of State for India has had a Palace in the Park put up for him, at a cost of nearly £1,000,000 sterling, and filled with a whole hierarchy of right honourable and honourable, gentle and simple, inventive and idle hangers-on, whom the Ins and the Outs alternately add to as suits their pleasure. I have a good many friends on both sides of the House, and I am quite impartial. I have watched the proceedings of the two great parties that mutually relieve guard as Governors of England, and I am bound to say that I never was yet able to make out which of the two had the neater hand or the readier knack of jobbing. But of all the jobs that, in my time, have ever been perpetrated, the most costly and uncompensated has been that of superseding the wise and frugal government of India by merchants, and substituting a government by noblemen and gentlemen having no previous knowledge of the wants of that vast dependency; supported by a myrmidon host of paid officials—soldiers, lawyers, and men about town—through all the degrees and declensions of capricious patronage. What has it cost? Putting quite out of sight the exceptional outlay during the Mutiny, and the years that followed it, and putting aside the increased expenditure, wasteful and profitless as it is thought by many to have been, on military railways, the charge for governing India has been permanently increased of late years by nearly £17,000,000. But if you have money enough, notwithstanding your fear of a deficit to add, and to go on adding to the crowd of English officials, civil and military, who are to be paid out of land tax and salt tax, tax upon imports and tax upon exports, profits on the administration of justice and profits on the cultivation of poison; if from all these sources you have enough, notwithstanding the yearly recurring fear of a deficit, to provide handsomely for an ever extending host of English officials; with what face can you gravely affect to say, that you cannot afford to go on paying the quit rent at which you obtained peaceful possession of Behar, Orissa, and Bengal? Read the Correspondence of the last two years, not between political rivals, but between Colleagues in the late Cabinet (the Duke of Argyll and Lord Cardwell), about the charges on the Indian Exchequer for the costs of recruiting and depôts, and what not in England, and see what the Secretary for India avers as to the scandalous way in which Army Estimates are cut down for the House of Commons by throwing the charge on Indian taxation, on the unrepresented millions whose poverty is to be made the excuse when convenient for not paying your covenanted and customary debts. Or look at the Correspondence between a Tory Governor General and a Whig Secretary of State concerning the number of troops maintained in time of peace. The Duke of Argyll began his administration by declaring that great reductions were indispensable, and Lord Mayo responded by saying he would make them if he were supported from home. But after two years of scheme and counter-scheme, plan and anti-plan, reciprocally found fault with by the wise men of the East and the wise men of the West, the Correspondence ends with regrets that so little was likely to be done, and that the Secretary of State has no further instructions to give on the subject. Well, but in face of such facts as these, is it to be endured that the Government of 200,000,000 of people and 1,500,000 square miles of territory should seriously contemplate the confiscation of half the means of a family, who, for generations have never given them cause for an hour's uneasiness? Economy is the last thing against which I would say a word. Economy by all means, as far and as fast as you can; but extortion is not economy. If you must tax something or somebody, then either tax many things and everybody, or tax all round, rateably, the incomes of all your officials and creditors, and so make both ends honestly meet. But politically it is not honest to eke out the means of extravagance by lawless exactions from individuals. This is expropriation, not economy. It is the act and the language of the moss-trooper levy done into modern sophistry. It is communism from above instead of from below. Have a care how you preach such doctrine and set such an example. Sir, if it be too late in the Session—as perhaps in some respects it is—to appoint this Committee, then I venture with great respect to press the Government to consider this matter during the Recess, and, at least, to accord the Nawab the courtesy of a reply to his letters now left unanswered. I entreat them and this House to consider whether it becomes our dignity as a great State, whether it becomes us as an exemplar of Christian morals, whether it becomes us as desiring to keep the peace of India, as desiring that we should not be subject in history to the reproach of sowing serpents teeth and wondering that they should spring up as armed men, to refuse this man the bare justice of a hearing. He asks not a single shilling from the English taxpayer. If he asked for such a thing, I should oppose it. He asks only for the security of that which was his father's and his grandfather's before him; and I say it is intolerable that you, who have added to the burden of taxation in India, and have given the benefit of those burdens to English officers, civil and military, who have gone there to make fortunes; I say it is intolerable in you, to tell the descendant of the old Princes of the land, the rulers of an enormous territory, and the undeviating allies of your power in the East, that you will despoil him of his possessions, disfranchise his children and put them to professions to earn their bread. I protest most strongly against such treatment, and I can never think of it without feelings of shame that we who are so high-minded and so lofty-spoken in our proceedings should be sullied with even the imputation of such acts. Sir, I have shown you the weight of authority there is against this policy of confiscation, and I could go on accumulating proof upon proof, citation upon citation to the same effect, but I do not think it would be agreeable to the House. The Session is late, and we have much to do. I do not press the noble Lord opposite to give me an answer off-hand upon all that I have said. He is new to office, and I hope he may not be tempted, for the sake of a passing cheer, into adopting a course which afterwards he may not find it possible to carry out. I ask him for nothing but consideration; for nothing but to do justice. I ask for nothing on behalf of this man, but for that which so long as there is an independent Member in this House, will and shall be pressed for. I may not be here myself; my voice may be dumb, for I am getting pretty well worn out in the service; but others younger and better able will take my place. I will only make this promise, that the cause which I have argued in this imperfect manner will not be lost sight of, or injured to-night by any rash or inconsiderate words. This claim is a thing which touches the honour and dignity of the nation; it is regarded with secret and selfish sympathy by every Native Prince in India. If you touch one you make the others wince; for how can they tell if you fall back a second time upon precedents like Jhansi, Mysore, and others, if you recommence that system of annexation—how can they tell whose turn it will be next? You have on your Table a very remarkable document—the secret despatch of Lord Napier of Magdala, written three years ago at the instance of Lord Mayo, in which he warns the Government of India that two of the great Indian Chiefs are to be regarded as men against whom we know not how soon our guns may be pointed. These are the men on whose amity and friendship you rely for the quiet possession of India. That is what your Commander-in-Chief confidentially advised you; and why you ever published that despatch Heaven only knows. But having published it and given us the truth, we are bound not to forget it. It is impossible that Russia should forget it, or that America should forget it, and I pray God that England may not forget it before it be too late. [The hon. Member was precluded by the Forms of the House from moving his Resolution.]"Just regard to the honours and dignities duo to his hereditary rank, guaranteed by the stipulations of subsisting Treaties, and long established relations observed by former Governors General, would on his part be fervently fostered and punctually fulfilled."
Mr. Speaker—As one of that Irish party who desire, as I have said on a previous occasion, to form a friendly and voluntary connection with the English people; who desire to form a friendly arrangement with them by which we will consent to their foreign policy; and who desire, therefore, that the foreign policy of England should be in accordance with the national sentiment of Ireland—should be fair, just, and generous—I will say that as to this Indian question I am in accord with the hon. Member who has last spoken. I may frankly tell the House that the people of Ireland have never been satisfied, are not satisfied, and perhaps never will be satisfied with such a foreign policy of England as is characterized by Alabama payments, Ashantee wars, and Indian famines. We desire that the foreign policy of the great Empire of which we now express our willingness to form a part, should be characterized by measures of equity and generosity; and in that spirit I implore the House to take into its most serious consideration the speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down.
Sir—If I was not tolerably well acquainted with the facts of this ease which my hon. Friend has laid before the House, and if I was not further well aware of the great ability with which he can place a subject before this House, I confess that I never should have believed that the dramatic picture which he has drawn was one which conveyed the case of the Nawab Nazim of Bengal. Sir, my hon. Friend has very kindly impressed on me the importance of using no sentence which I shall not hereafter be able to fulfil. I will therefore be as moderate as I possibly can in replying to the speech which he has just made. But before I do so, I must remind the House, in a few words, of the case which has been laid before it. The case which my hon. Friend has laid before the House, is the case of one whom he describes as an independent and hereditary Prince who has suffered wrong and injustice, with whom Treaties confirmed by Her Majesty have not been kept; and he calls upon the House not to assent to the dastardly purpose of robbing his children. Sir, I am afraid I shall be compelled by the inextricable logic of facts, to rudely dispel much of the picture which was laid before the House. My hon. Friend concluded his harangue—or rather in the middle of his speech he produced a great effect—by producing an old Treaty, the last few lines of which he read, but the main portion of which he was far too astute to lay before this House, because my hon. Friend knows quite well that the words he has quoted in that Treaty refer to an agreement contained in it, and unless we know what the agreement is, the last paragraph is absolutely useless. I will endeavour very shortly to place before the House the facts connected with this case, and if any hon. Gentleman questions my facts he can easily refer to the historical records. My hon. Friend spoke a great deal of certain Treaties which had been negotiated between the East India Company and the ancestors of the present Nawab Nazim, but I am bound to point out to the House the great discrepancy which exists between the Motion of my hon. Friend as it now stands upon the Paper, and that which he first put upon the Paper. The Notice which my hon. Friend first put on the Paper was to move for a Committee to report on the claims of the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, and the rights, privileges, and advantages granted to his family under the Treaties of 1757 and 1770. That is a clear and intelligible proposition. But he has altered his Motion, and it now stands as a Motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into and report on the hereditary rights and dignities claimed on behalf of his family by the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, whether founded on Treaty obligations or on interpreted user for upwards of a century. If my hon. Friend was so positive that these rights and privileges were granted to the Nawab by Treaties, why did he not adhere to the first Notice which he put upon the Paper. But my hon. Friend knows well that every opinion almost which has been given has pointed out to the Nawab and his advisers, that the stipend which he now enjoys is secured to him by no treaty, grant, or contract. I will place before the House what are the indisputable facts of the case. As to the Nawab being descended from an independent or an hereditary Prince, I think I can prove in a few words that the office which his ancestor held for a short time was neither independent nor hereditary. The outer Provinces of the great Mogul Empire belonged to the Emperor of Delhi, and the Emperor of Delhi appointed officers to represent him in them, and the Soubadar of Bengal was one of the most important of those officers. But the right of the Emperor over those Provinces was not questioned up to the date of 1715, as I can prove by two facts. In the year 1715 a deputation from the East India factories at Calcutta proceeded to Delhi for the express purpose of laying before the Emperor the excessive taxes which were imposed upon them by his representative, the Soubadar of Bengal. If the Soubadar had been an independent Sovereign, it would have been useless for them to go to Delhi. But what happened then? The Emperor happened to be very ill at the time, and among the deputation was a gentleman named Gabriel Hamilton, a doctor, who cured the Emperor, and the Emperor showed his gratitude by giving certain parts of Bengal and Orissa to the East India Company. If the Soubadar of Bengal was an independent Prince, what right had the Emperor of Delhi to grant that territory, and also to grant, as he did, certain remissions of taxation? Shortly afterwards, in the year 1725, the Soubadar of Bengal died, and was succeeded by his son, who was deposed by a very able man, of the name of Ali Vavdi Khan. What did he do? The first thing he did was to appeal to the Emperor, and to ask him to confirm him in the position of Soubadar of Bengal, and the Emperor did so confirm him. He died in 1757, and was succeeded by his grandson, Surajah Dowlah, who had a most important officer about his Court, of the name of Meer Jaffier, the ancestor of the present Nawab of Bengal, and the claim of the present Nawab is founded on the claims of Meer Jaffier. But what was his position? He was merely one of the officers of Surajah Dowlah, the grandson of an usurper, and the only hereditary right he had then was a right to betray his master, which he took the first opportunity of doing. When Surajah Dowlah attacked Calcutta, and sanctioned that foul atrocity where upwards of 100 Europeans were murdered in the Black Hole, Meer Jaffier was with him. Surajah Dowlah and Lord Clive negotiated a Treaty which was signed on the part of Surajah Dowlah as the servant of the King of Delhi, and that was witnessed by three Natives, one of whom was Moor Jaffier, who signed himself as the servant of the King of Delhi. If, in that year 1757, the Soubadar of Bengal was the servant of the King of Delhi, I cannot myself see anything in the various Treaties he negotiated with the East India Company to alter that position. After a short time, Lord Clive found it impossible to deal any longer with Surajah Dowlah, and he entered into negotiations with Meer Jaffier, who was only one of the officers of Surajah Dowlah, by which he undertook to place Meer Jaffier in the position of his master if he would assist him. Meer Jaffier did not hesitate; the Battle of Plassey followed, and Meer Jaffier was made, by Lord Clive, Nawab of Bengal. My hon. Friend did not tell us how Meer Jaffier got rid of his master. Surajah Dowlah. Surajah Dowlah was handed over to the tender mercies of his son, who murdered him in his palace. Meer Jaffier was placed in his position by the East India Company. He was appointed to that position by them, and he had no hereditary right of any kind to that office;—more than that, the East India Company had great difficulty in maintaining him in that post. A short time afterwards his conduct caused disasters in Bengal, and he was quickly put on one side, and his son-in-law, Meer Kossim, succeeded. His conduct did not give satisfaction, and he was soon afterwards put on one side, and Meer Jaffier was brought back in his place. The only right of Meer Jaffier was given to him by the East India Company. He died in the year 1765, and the Company recognized his son as his successor. Well, Sir, the next three engagements between the Company and the Nawabs were personal agreements; for if they were not personal agreements, it is clear that each Nawab who succeeded to the post of his predecessor would have taken advantage of the Treaty which his predecessor negotiated. No such claim was made, however; and not only that, but as each succeeding negotiation was made, the stipend given by the Company to the Nawab was diminished for a very obvious reason. In the year 1765, a Treaty was negotiated with the King of Delhi, by which he undertook to hand over the whole of the revenue of the Provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa to the Company; and the first condition was that a sum of 26 lacs should annually be paid to him as tribute in recognition of his rights to those revenues; and the second condition was, that a certain provision should be made to him for his representative, the Soubadar of Bengal, in order properly to maintain his dignity. Shortly after that, in the same year, the Nawab, a very young man, died, and he was succeeded by his brother, to whom an allowance of £410,000 a-year was made by the Company; and he held that post for some five years, and then he died in the year 1770. And in that year a fresh arrangement was made by the representatives of the Company out at Calcutta, by which an allowance of £320,000 a-year was in that Treaty arranged as the sum to be paid to the representative of the King of Delhi. That is the Treaty on which my hon. Friend bases his case, and he produced it to this House, and spoke of the wording of the latter part of it, in which it says—"This agreement, by the blessing of God, shall be inviolably preserved for ever." That Treaty was never sanctioned by the Company, and never ratified by them; and not only that, but that Treaty, so far from ever having been in force, was not agreed to; for instead of being paid £320,000 a-year, which is the amount contained in this Treaty as the sum to be paid to the Nawab, he never received more than £160,000. The first condition was that a large sum should be annually paid to the King of Delhi—to the Sovereign of those territories. That sum has never been paid, and therefore nothing can be more clear than that that Treaty was not sanctioned or ratified. The second condition was that a certain sum should be paid to the Soubadar or Nawab of Bengal, and that was to be paid in consideration of his carrying on the Governorship, and performing the duties of the Executive government of the Province. What happened afterwards? The King of Delhi was taken prisoner by the Mahrattas, and the Company, finding the greatest inconvenience had existed from the double government of the Nawab's officers as well as of the King's officers, and that a great deal of money was taken from the ryots, paid the Nawab the sum which was stipulated in that agreement for his personal expenses, but did not pay him the sum which was to be paid to him for performing the duties of government; and I am astonished that my hon. Friend should base his case on a Treaty which merely undertakes to pay money for certain duties performed, and which for 100 years have never been performed. Yet he produces the Treaty, and quotes with great effect the last words; but he never alludes to the agreement contained in it. Well, Sir, from that day until now, the Nawab has been in receipt of £160,000 a-year. He may have been an ally of ours at a critical moment; but I think the House will admit that whatever services he has rendered to us have been well requited, when I toll you that from the time he has been unconnected—directly or indirectly—with the duties or offices of government, his family have received a sum of £18,000,000 sterling from us. That is what my hon. Friend calls one of the gravest blots upon our history; but I am not certain that one of the gravest blots upon our history would not be found in our having placed upon the Throne the ancestors of this man. He held that position for eight years; and upon this ground alone we have paid his ancestors for more than 100 years £160,000 a-year. Successive Governors-General have intimated to the Nawab that they entirely reject his claims so far as they are founded on the assertion of any Treaty rights, or any hereditary rights; but the Directors of the East India Company laid down this principle—a principle which has been acceded to by successive Governors-General—that so long as policy recommended the maintenance of the dignity of the Nawab, and while it was so maintained, justice recommended that it should be continued in Meer Jaffier's family. I hope I have now shown plainly to the House—and my facts cannot be questioned—that the ancestor of the present Nawab never had any hereditary rights, or was an independent Prince; that the only right he had was one which we ourselves granted and maintained by force of arms for eight years. For five years we kept his ancestors in a position for which they were in no way qualified, and from that time until the present we have paid them this enormous stipend of £160,000 a-year. Let my hon. Friend recollect these facts. The hon. Member talks about Her Majesty the Queen, but lot him remember that Her Majesty's Civil List is only £360,000 per annum, and with that sum heavy and onerous duties have to be performed; whereas the Nawab Nazim has, happily for himself, nothing to do but to enjoy himself. My hon. Friend pointed with some effect to the Mace upon the Table—that "bauble," as it has been called—and said he should be the last to desire that it should be taken away; but if it cost £160,000 per annum, would not my hon. Friend be the first to denounce the extravagance of maintaining a "bauble "from which nobody derived the slightest advantage? I am not sure that that description could not be applied to the Nawab of Bengal. I do not know what may happen in the future, but of this I am perfectly certain, that so long as I have in any way the honour of being connected with the India Office, or so long as the present Secretary of State for India holds the position he now fills, he will never consent to any such proposal as that which my hon. Friend has made. And I think lie may congratulate the Nawab that we do not consent to that proposal. At the present moment great attention is being directed to Indian Expenditure and Indian Finance. I am not quite certain that any Committee of the House of Commons, or any impartial tribunal which might be appointed to inquire into these claims, might not consider, when we are bound by no Treaty, obligation, or contract, that £160,000 a-year was a very large sum for the maintenance of what may be fairly called an "empty bauble;" and therefore I think that my hon. Friend may be glad that we do not assent to his proposal. If he has any influence with the Nawab or his family, the best advice he can give him is to return to his country, and there let him occupy, as I have no doubt he can well do, the proud position which by the liberality of the English Government he is able to maintain. But if the Nawab Nazim, by his pertinacity and by continual airing of grievances—which I do not believe in the smallest degree have any real existence—should even be successful in getting an appeal to an impartial tribunal, of this I feel confident, that he and his family will rue the decision of the tribunal before which they brought their claims.
Sir, it is somewhat difficult to follow the noble Lord in his indignation at the course adopted, and the extent of the liberality which has been extended to this Prince. It has been stated by the noble Lord that the title to these rights is derived by the Nawab Nazim from his ancestor, Meer Jaffier, and that Meer Jaffier had no rights of his own as a Prince, and having no rights for himself, had none to convey to his descendants, so that none of his successors had any claim. Now, in referring to a work of some authority as descriptive of what took place after the Battle of Plassey, I find it mentioned in the preface to these Treaties that were entered into, that—
Now, was there attached to that position any right, any title, any prerogatives? From 1757 to 1770 we have successive Treaties entered into by the East India Company with successive descendants of Meer Jaffier Ally—acts of State, in themselves indicative of sovereign or semi-sovereign powers. It is said that the Emperor of Delhi was the legitimate potentate and Monarch, and that the rights of these Soubadars were not recognized. Sir, I turn to a Memorial of the East India Company, dated in 1760, when difficulties arose between themselves and the Dutch. The Directors of the East India Company on that occasion drew up a Memorial to George III., in which they used these terms—"A confederacy was formed amongst Surajah Dowlah's officers to enter into a Treaty with Meer Jaffier, and as at the Battle of Plassey, which was fought on the 23rd of June, 1757, the power of the Surajah Dowlah was completely broken, Meer Jaffier Ally Khan was settled by Clive as Soubadar of Bengal."
That is the statement of the Directors of the East India Company as to the status of the Nawab of Bengal. That statement of his being de facto, if not de jure, a Sovereign Prince is confirmed by various documents of various Departments, which I shall not trouble the House by reading, and from successive Governors of India, each recognizing the position as a Prince of the Nawab of Bengal. But now, it is said by the noble Lord that this Treaty, produced by my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury, is one the contents of which he wisely refrained from reading to the House. It terminates, as has been stated, with these important words—" This Agreement, by the blessing of God, shall be inviolably observed for ever." But the noble Lord says they do not mean that the whole of it shall be observed for ever, but they merely refer to some portion of it. Now I have no objection, if it will not impose too much trouble on the House, to read the entire of this Treaty, because I venture to say that the interpretation which any impartial tribunal or individual would put upon it would be that the whole of this Treaty must be taken together, the covenants on one side with those on the other, and that if the concessions made by one side were to be observed for ever, the benefits reciprocally obtained from the other were likewise to endure for ever. The Treaty is headed—"The Nawab makes war or peace without the privity of the Mogul, and although there appears to he some remains of the old constitution in the succession to the position of Nawab, yet in fact the succession is never regulated by the Mogul's appointment. The Nawab, if possible, is desirous of verifying his succession by the Mogul's confirmation, but the Court of Delhi, conscious of its inability to interfere, readily grants its consent. The Nawab of Bengal is, therefore, de facto, whatever he may be de jure, a Sovereign Prince."
It is sealed with the seal of the Company. It is signed by six or eight names, which, I presume, were those of the Governor and Council of the Company, and this is the document—"Articles of Treaty and Agreement between the Governor and Council of Fort William on the part of the East India Company, and Nawab Mobaruk-ul-Dowlah, dated the 21st March, 1770."
Was not that part intended to endure for ever? Was that meant to be merely a temporary transaction? Were not the general words at the end of this Treaty quite sufficient to carry that part of the contract to the Nawab and his successors for ever? Then we come to this—"On the part of the Company, we, the Governor and Council, do engage to secure to the Nawab Mobaruk-ul-Dowlah the Soubahdarry of the Provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, and to support him therein with the Company's Forces against all his enemies."
Was not that meant to be included in the general words—"This Agreement, by the blessing of God, shall be inviolably observed for ever?" Here you have the successor to three Princes ratifying and confirming the Treaties made by them with the East India Company, and making concessions which are detailed in Article No. 2, which, if necessary, I shall read in the same way, specifying the sums of money which the Company were to secure in return for the concessions made to them and which they thus derived."On the part of the Nawab. The Treaty which my father formerly concluded with the Company upon his first accession to the Nizamut, engaging to regard the honour and reputation of the Company, and of the Governor and Council as his own, and that entered into with my brothers, the Nawabs Nudjm-ul-Dowlah, and Syef-ul-Dowlah, the same Treaties, as far as is consistent with the true spirit, intent, and meaning thereof, I do hereby ratify and confirm."
Will the hon. and learned Member read it all?
a very misplaced confidence I may be permitted to say—"The King has been graciously pleased to grant unto the English East India Company, the Dewannyship of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa as a free gift for ever; and I, having an entire confidence in them and in their servants "—
he was very much mistaken—"settled in this country, that nothing whatever be proposed or carried into execution by them derogating from my honour, interest, and the good of my country "—
"do therefore, for the better conducting the affairs of the Soubahdarry, and promoting my honour and interest and that of the Company, in the best manner, agree that the protecting the Provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, and the force sufficient for that purpose, be entirely left to their direction and good management, in consideration of their paying the King Shah Aalum, by monthly payments, as by Treaty agreed on, the sum of Rupees two lakhs, sixteen thousand, six hundred and sixty-six, ten annas, and nine pice (Rupees 2,16,666–10–9); and to me, Mobaruk-ul-Dowlah, the annual stipend of Rupees thirty-one lakhs, eighty-one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-one, and nine annas, (Rupees 31,81,991–9), viz.—the sum of Rupees, fifteen lakhs, eighty-one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-one, and nine annas (Rupees 15,81,991–9) for my house, servants and other expenses, indispensably necessary; and the remaining sum of Rupees sixteen lakhs (Rupees 16,00,000), for the support of such sepoys, peons, and burkundauzes as may be thought proper for my suwarry only; but on no account ever to exceed that amount.
"The Nawab, Minauh Dowlah, who was at the instance of the Governor and Gentlemen of the Council, appointed Naib of the Provinces, and invested with the management of affairs, in conjunction with Maharajah Doolubram, and Juggat Scat, shall continue in the same post, and with the same authority; and having a perfect confidence in him, I moreover agree to let him have the disbursing of the above sum of Rupees sixteen lakhs, for the purposes above mentioned.
Now I have read everything. It is said that the money was not paid, that the Treaty was never acknowledged by the East India Company, and that therefore it is not binding. It has the appearance of all solemnity. It has the seal of the Company and the seal of the Nawab Nazim. But let us see now whether the position of the Nawab has not been acknowledged by the very highest authority. I shall not weary the House by reading many extracts, but will take the last I have here in the life-time of the present Nawab and from Lord Canning. This letter is dated 11th March 1850, and addressed.—"This Agreement, by the blessing of God, shall be inviolably observed for ever."
"Nawab Sahib, of high worth and exalted station, my good brother, I wish you peace.
"After expressing devoted desire beyond description for a happy interview, I would announce what you will have gleaned from the newspapers of the 29th February last, that this friend has been appointed to succeed the Most Noble the Marquis of Dalhousie, K.T., as Governor-General of India. Permit me to add, this friend entered Calcutta, the seat of Government, and assumed the duties of this high office on the 26th February 1853, corresponding to the 22nd Jumadee-ul-Sanee, 1272, H.
What does that mean?—"Your Highness may be assured the consideration, respect, and friendly interest in the prosperous administration of your affairs, and just regard to the honours and dignities due to your hereditary rank and the prescriptive privileges of your high station "—
I say that if between ordinary individuals there was evidence of contract so clearly established as there is here of a contract commenced in 1757, summed up in 1770, and recognized by successive Governors-General down to the time of the late Lord Canning and the present Nawab; and if between the private individuals there was an attempt made to break the contract, by alleging that the parties could not contract or did not contract, and there was evidence also of such falsification of documents as has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Finsbury, the parties who resorted to such a plea to escape from their just, if not absolutely legal, liabilities in return for the enormous amount of territory and the enormous sums they acquired by these Treaties, such conduct would be anything but honourable; and I think that is a very mild word. Now, Sir, the noble Lord has stated that so long as he can advise and control the course to be taken by the Government, the Nawab has no hope of being able to justify his assertion of these claims. I am sorry the noble Lord has arrived at that conclusion, for it does appear to me that upon a calm and dispassionate examination of these documents, from the Battle of Plassey down to the succession to his dignities and ancestral rights by the present Nawab, that the position of this family, as Princes de facto, has been clearly and indisputably recognized and established. It may be said that these various Treaties do not contain what lawyers call the words of limitation "to his heirs and assigns for ever." I could understand a lawyer resorting to such a plea as that, and thereby advising a dishonest client to escape from a just debt. But here, from the very nature of the contract, such pleas are inadmissible and unworthy. We find the East India Company receiving large accessions of territory, and deriving great advantages from successive Treaties, and, they being the stronger party—and particularly when dealing, as in 1770, with a boy 10 years of age—reducing the amount of the consideration for which such advantages were granted, and, later on, applying a portion of these revenues, which formerly belonged absolutely to this Prince, to a fund which has been most unsatisfactorily expended, and which, I think, has been entirely diverted from the object for which it was ostensibly formed. It is impossible to read these Papers without seeing that there was a contract, for full consideration given, entered into with the ancestor of the present Nawab. That contract is one which he on his part and his ancestors on their part have faithfully discharged, but which I regret to say the East India Company—a British Company—have endeavoured to ignore."guaranteed by the stipulations of subsisting Treaties and long established relations, observed and cherished by former Governors-General, will on the part, also, of this sincere friend, be fervently fostered and punctually fulfilled."
Sir—After the long and exhaustive speech of my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State, it will not be necessary for me to detain the House with any lengthened remarks upon this subject, but inasmuch as this is by no means the first time we have been favoured with a long discussion as to the same case and the same contention, I think it right to refer hon. Members of the House, or at any rate such as were not in the last Parliament, to a similar discussion which took place no longer a time than three years ago. On that occasion, Sir, the then Member for Christchurch, I think it was, moved for a Committee in the same manner as has been done now by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fins-bury. The then Under Secretary of State entered upon a long and exhaustive reply like that which has been given by the noble Lord. If any hon. Gentleman is curious in this matter, he need only refer to the debate of the 4th of July, 1871, and he will there see set forth everything that can be said pro and con in this matter. But, Sir, besides my hon. Friend the Member for Elgin, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer also spoke on that occasion—and he spoke, Sir, with all the authority of a man who had himself been Secretary of State for India, and who during his presidency at the India Office had found it his duty to inquire into this very matter. With the permission of the House I will read what he said on that occasion. It is not long, but it is very much to the purpose, and contains the whole marrow of this matter in a small compass. He said—
These were the words of Sir Stafford Northcote—I may name him, as he is not present—spoken with all the weight of his authority. But there is something else which I wish to draw attention to, and which is also very much to the purpose. It is very short, but it is the opinion of the present Lord Selborne—then Sir Roundell Palmer—upon this very hereditary claim. These are the words—"The discussion would be much shortened, and a decision upon the Motion facilitated, if hon. Members would bear in mind the particular proposition submitted to them—namely, whether certain treaties and agreements have been faithfully observed by the Indian Government, and to what claims, if any, the present Nawab Nazim might be entitled under them. If treaties had been entered into with this family and not fulfilled, that was a question which touched the honour of a great country like England; but if the allowances given were merely given as customary donations and as a matter of grace and favour, then the controversy assumed a very different aspect. The whole question was, what were the relations of those high personages who held the title of Nazim 100 years ago to the Indian Government. Were they powerful Princes or not, and did we enter into treaties with them as Sovereign Powers or not? What was conceded to us was the collection of the revenues, and the Emperor of Delhi cared little about anything but that we should pay his tribute, and provide for the expenses of the Nizamut. That bargain having been made 100 years ago between competent authorities, it was useless to go into the motives which led to the arrangement. What was given to us was the collection of the revenues, and we had nothing to do with the administration but to see that it was provided for. Fresh bargains were afterwards made with the different succeeding Nazims. The Commissioners afterwards took the administration into their own hands and performed the duties themselves. If the House would endeavour to avoid mixing up questions as to the treaties with other questions, they would perceive, he thought, that the matter was hardly one to be referred to a Select Committee.…This was not a question upon which a Committee could throw any light, for the matter rested, not upon treaty, but upon the liberal arrangements of the Indian Government, and if this House were to undertake to revise the daily administration of the affairs of India it would be found unable to do so."—[3 Hansard, ccvii. 1161.]
Well, Sir, it is not necessary, I think, to insist on this point. I have no doubt that the hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House from the other side, and taken up this case, thoroughly and entirely agree in the justice of the case. I believe that the House, as it has before refused, will not now grant this Committee for the investigation of claims which have been pronounced again and again to be untenable; and therefore I think that my hon. Friend, and those who, with him, are advocating the appointment of a Select Committee, are doing the Nawab himself a very bad service, for I have great confidence that if these claims came to be tested by a Committee, they would be pronounced to be groundless."We look in vain for any words of inheritance or succession in any of those several treaties, or, in fact, for any expression to show an intention on the part of either of the contracting parties to include the heirs or successors of any such several individuals. Our attention has been specially directed to the concluding lines in the last of those treaties—viz., that of 1770—in which the words 'forever' occur; but upon reference to their context, it clearly appears that the intention in using them was that the 'agreement' (whatever it was) contained in that Treaty should be inviolably observed for ever; and we have above stated what, in our opinion, is the nature and extent of that agreement. We are further of opinion, therefore, that the above words 'forever' cannot alter or extend the meaning and force of the express agreement in the body of the Treaty."
I think the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and also the noble Lord the Under Secretary for India, have used very extraordinary arguments. The hon. Member who has just sat down has expressed a strong conviction that whenever a Committee should sit upon this case, if ever it did—and he also thought the House would never consent to a Committee—that the decision of that Committee must necessarily be against the Nawab. Now, if that be the case—if there is such a conviction in the hon. Gentleman's mind, and if there be such a conviction in the minds of hon. Members who take part with him, surely the plain course would be to say—"Let us get rid of this case; let us investigate the case; let us hear what can be said for and against it; let the whole trial be had impartially and judicially, and not with a partizan spirit; let each point be stated, and examined, and adjudicated upon by an impartial Committee of this House—as impartial an Assembly as ever sat in any country in the world." Let that be done, and hon. Gentlemen on this side who advocate the case will be satisfied. If two parties in private life have a controversy, and they are so advised, the merits of their respective claims can be ascertained by trial at law. If one of them objects to such an arbitration of the ease, he practically condemns himself and refutes his own pretended claim. He admits that his own conscience tells him that right is not with him, and that he dare not set his case before a fair arbitration. Is not that the case of the hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side, who now refuse to appoint this Committee to hear the case of the Nawab Nazim? They assert that he has no claim, that he has no rights, that there has been no violation of the Treaty with him, that there was no Treaty with him at all, and yet they refuse to come and hear his case impartially stated. [Mr. BECKETT-DENISON: No hereditary Treaty.] No hereditary Treaty! What is the difference between a Treaty made on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen and one made on behalf of those whose successor she is? Because she is by Act of Parliament the successor of the East India Company, and the Company were bound by their Treaties, and admitted that they were, and whether those Treaties are personal Treaties or hereditary Treaties, they signed, them, and sealed them, and authenticated them, and for 100 years they have been acted upon. [Mr. BECKETT-DENISON: No, they have not.] For 100 years it is in evidence that they have been acted upon. For 100 years a stipulated sum named in these Treaties, and agreed to be paid to the predecessors of this Prince has been paid to them, to him, and to his family; and yet hon. Gentlemen stand up in this House and tell us that there were no Treaties; and then, fearing that the effect of these Treaties themselves might be placed upon the Table of the House, they say that there were Treaties, but not hereditary Treaties. Yes; they were unmistakeably real and hereditary Treaties, and the parties who were declared the recipients of the sums mentioned in those Treaties received those sums which were paid them from time to time, until the spirit of Mammon entered more deeply into the hearts of our officials, and they determined that they would rob this Prince of what he was hereditarily entitled to, and what was confirmed to him by the very word of Her Majesty herself. I confess, Sir, that as a subject of the Queen, and as one anxious to look forward to the time when every subject of the Queen will be proud of that position, and will honour the Ministers of the Queen, and will recognize everything done by them as eminently honourable, worthy of the Sovereign, and worthy of the Constitution, and worthy of this House, I was pained beyond expression at some of the words which fell from the noble Lord the Under Secretary for India. I heard him argue with great emphasis, but with very little force, as it seemed to me, that we should ignore the claims of this Prince; a course which I hold to be unworthy of this House, unworthy of a Minister of Victoria, unworthy to be listened to by any man of honour in this House. ["Oh, oh!"]
The hon. Member-is exceeding the licence of debate.
I am very sorry that I should be said to exceed the licence of debate, but I scrupulously avoided—["Oh, oh!" and laughter]—I scrupulously avoided saying anything that seemed to me possible to be offensive to the noble Lord, whose speech I listened to with much attention. I speak of the sentiments which he expressed, which were threats to a suitor at this Court; threats to a claimant before this Court to have his case heard.
I rise to Order. I used no threats. What I said was—and what I repeat is—that if these professed claims were submitted to any tribunal, I care not how composed, he would rue the day when he submitted them.
I wish to assure the noble Lord that nothing could be further from my intention than to say anything that could possibly be personally offensive, and if I said anything in violation of the rules of debate, I apologize to this House—nay, to him—for saying it; because I should think it improper of a Member of this House to disregard its Rules. But, with all due respect for the noble Lord—and I have much respect for him personally, much respect for his family, and great respect for his position as a Minister of the Crown—with all due respect, however, to the noble Lord I do affirm—subject, of course, to your decision, Sir—that for a Minister to use a threat of this sort to a claimant for justice at the Bar of this House—to assert that a man in the position of a Prince; a man who has been recognized at the Court of Victoria as a Prince; a man who has been presented to our Sovereign as a Prince; a man who is received at the Court of St. James's with all the honours due to a Prince; a man who has had appointed for his escort a special officer, such as is never given to any person except a person in the high position of a Prince and an equal—to assert, in regard to such a man, that he is a mere pretender, while the Sovereign treats him as a Prince—and to tell any man, be he Prince, or Peer, or peasant, that he would rue the day that he came here to ask for justice—to assert that he and his family, whom it is now sought to cast on the tender mercies of the world, would rue the day when he appealed to the British House of Commons for a fair and honest hearing of his case, was to adopt a course which, with due submission, Sir, to your opinion, was not worthy of a British Minister, and was not worthy of a subject acting on behalf of his Sovereign. If that be a wrong sentiment for me to utter, Sir, I will bow to your decision; but until you pronounce it to be a wrong sentiment to be expressed by a freely-elected British Representative, I must continuo to hold it, and be prepared at all proper times to express it. If, how-over, you pronounce it wrong, Sir, then I will apologize, and adopt any course that you may adjudge requisite and proper. Now, Sir, passing from that, I wish to ask why was it that the Treaties were entered into with the predecessors of this Prince if their descendants were not afterwards to be recognized as persons on whoso behalf those Treaties should be held inviolable and safe? We were told, Sir, as one of the reasons why faith should not be kept with this Indian Prince, that he had betrayed his master. But, Sir, that comes ill from the lips of a British Minister. Many and many a man has betrayed his master, and his Sovereign, and his country, and has been richly rewarded by British Ministers, honoured by British Sovereigns, sustained by British Parliaments; and yet we are told in this House, by a British Minister, that the man who betrays his master ought not to have faith kept with him. But who taught him to betray his master? Who bribed him to betray his master? Who tempted him that wealth and honours, protection and security, should be his if he betrayed his master, and sold for British guns that which it was his duty and his honour to defend? Of such we have been told by the Foot, that—
Is this a policy to be defended? On one side you hold out promises, make Treaties, and pay money under those Treaties; and then you turn round and toll the man, whoso ancestor, we are told, betrayed because he was bought to betray, that the Treaty shall not be kept faithfully with him; though the name of God was invoked to give solemnity to the compact, and the honour of Ministers, Parliament, and the Sovereign, were plighted to maintain it inviolable for ever. One hundred years of continuous payments have confirmed that Treaty, and proved that we felt bound to keep it inviolate. I would suggest, then, Sir, that if the noble Lord, and those who support him, are so confident of the justice of their case, and are so certain that any impartial and just tribunal will decide against this claim, let them appoint that tribunal now. In no place in the world can you get so impartial a tribunal as in the British House of Commons. Then let a Committee of the House of Commons be appointed now to inquire into the matter, and those who defend the cause of this Indian Prince—who defend truth, honour, Treaties, and justice—and who hold that a long-continued system of payment under those Treaties have confirmed them, will abide the judgment of that tribunal, whatever its decision may be."Undistinguished they live, till they learn to "betray."
Contagious Diseases (Animals)—Report Of Committee, 1873
said, he had given Notice of a Motion to the effect—
He was prevented by the Forms of the House from moving his Resolution, but as it was a question which directly affected Ireland, and affected also very closely the interests both of England and Scotland, he would venture to press his views on the House and the Government. Last Session a Committee was appointed to inquire into the operation of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts, and also into the constitution of the Veterinary Departments of Great Britain and Ireland. The Committee, which was presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the late Vice President of the Council, held 28 sittings, and examined a large number of witnesses from England, Scotland, and Ireland; and, after due deliberation, arrived at certain recommendations as to the best method of dealing with the cattle disease in future. As to the best mode of dealing with the importation of foreign cattle there was great difference of opinion; but as to the points to which he was specially desirous of directing the attention of the House the Committee were practically unanimous. The first and principal recommendation of the Committee was, that any regulations dealing with cattle diseases should be uniform throughout the Three Kingdoms, and that they should be imperative on all local authorities—the reason being that it was found that while the Orders in Council were permissive, and some local authorities carried out the regulation and others did not, any legislation on the subject was practically without beneficial result. Another recommendation to which the Committee agreed was, that the Privy Council should cease in future from attempting, by Orders in Council, to check: the spread of the foot-and-mouth disease. A third recommendation was that all cattle suffering from pleuro-pneumonia should be slaughtered. Upon those recommendations the late Government immediately took action. All the Orders in Council upon foot-and-mouth disease were withdrawn, and a new Order in Council was passed, making it imperative upon all local authorities to slaughter animals affected with pleuro-pneumonia. What, however, had been the action of the present Government in respect of dealing with the foot-and-mouth disease? The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council laid upon the Table of that House, a few days ago, an Order in Council by which the whole policy which had been shown by the Committee of last year to have been ineffectual was again renewed, and an Order in Council had been issued, giving power to local authorities to deal with foot-and-mouth disease. This, he thought, was a great mistake—the experience gained in the last six years was disregarded, and they were about to re-enter upon the policy which that experience had condemned. Then, as regarded pleuro-pneumonia, the late Government issued an Order in Council that all cattle labouring under that disease should be slaughtered, and their owners compensated. It might be doubtful whether this was a judicious proceeding, because, although the Government had the power under the English Act to order such cattle to be slaughtered and the owners to be compensated, yet very considerable doubt existed whether they had the power of compensating the owners of animals slaughtered in Ireland. It seemed injudicious for this reason that although the local authorities in this country might act with the greatest promptitude and decision, it would be in vain for them to attempt to exterminate the disease so long as the trade in cattle with Ireland remained unrestricted and uncontrolled, and no security taken that animals affected with that disease were slaughtered in Ireland. He did not mean to say that there was any greater amount of disease in Ireland than there was in this country; but the question of the soundness of Irish cattle was of the very greatest importance to the farmers of England and Scotland; for Ireland had become the great source of supply of store cattle to these countries. The trade had of late years risen to great magnitude, and the increase in the last two years had been very remarkable: for in 1871 the number of cattle exported from Ireland into Great Britain was 423,364; and it had increased in 1873 to 684,618. It was very evident, therefore, that if the value of these cattle was depreciated, by doubts as to their soundness, even 10 per cent—and he was sure it was not less—it was a very serious matter for all parties con-corned. On the other hand, while in 1871 the supply of foreign cattle amounted to 247,426, in 1873 it had fallen off to 198,968. It was therefore very evident that the graziers of this country must look to Ireland in the future for a supply of grazing cattle; and both on behalf of Ireland and of the farmers in England and Scotland he urged upon the Government, that the policy which had been carried out in this country as regarded pleuro-pneumonia should be followed in Ireland, and that policy thus carried out simultaneously and effectually throughout the whole of the United Kingdom. Complaint had been made in England that success had not attended the efforts to exterminate disease in those counties where slaughtering had been most vigorously carried out. That might be due to several causes. In the first place, any legislation purporting to deal with cattle disease would not be successful unless the farmers cordially and earnestly cooperated in carrying out the law. That he considered to be a fundamental condition necessary for success in dealing with any cattle disease with a view to its extermination. In the next place, very considerable difficulty must arise in regard to the nature of the disease. In those cases where experienced veterinary surgeons were not employed, it was quite possible that ordinary pleuro-pneumonia might be confounded with contagious pleuro-pneumonia, because, except in the more developed cases, great difficulty existed in distinguishing between the two. Then so long as diseased animals were not slaughtered in Ireland, and the practically uncontrolled importation of Irish cattle permitted, diseased animals would be brought into this country, for if diseased cattle were allowed to go on board the vessels, it was not simply these animals which arrived here in a diseased state, but there was great risk of the disease being communicated to the whole of those on board. This brought him to one of the recommendations of the Committee of last year, to which he wished to direct attention. It was that the Irish Government should take steps, by inspection at the ports of embarkation, to prevent shipment to Great Britain of any diseased animals. He understood the Government did take certain measures to this effect, but he had strong reason to believe that there was only a small proportion of the Inspectors employed who were qualified veterinary surgeons. He was quite sure that ah increased stringency of inspection on this side would be of no use, because great mischief would be done during the voyage—and the development of the disease was so slow that it would be impossible for the Inspector to discover those only recently infected, He thought that inspection should be made as thorough as possible before the animals were put on the vessel. He hoped that the Government, instead of going back to the policy adopted some years ago, would insist on following out the recommendation of the Select Committee of last year—recommendations arrived at after the fullest consideration, and after having heard the views of all parties interested in the subject."That, in the opinion of this House, the Government ought to take the necessary steps to carry into effect the recommendations of the Select Committee of last Session on Contagious Diseases (Animals); (a.) that the regulations in Great Britain and Ireland with regard to cattle diseases should be similar; (1).) that such regulations should he carefully enforced at the landing places both in Great Britain and Ireland; (c.) that the Irish Government should take steps by inspection at Irish ports to prevent the shipment to Great Britain of any diseased or infected cattle; "
said, the question under consideration was a most important one, and he hoped the Government would adopt the suggestions of his hon. Friend who had just spoken. The importance of the matter in reference to the interests of Ireland could scarcely be exaggerated. Considerable anxiety had been created by a report that more stringent rules were to be enforced in connection with the import of cattle from that country, and strong feelings were entertained upon the point. The diseases of pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth were very different, and required totally different treatment. The restrictions were so very great that it would be quite impossible to put them in force. An Order in Council had been recently made to greatly increase the Inspectors in reference to this subject, which would increase the taxation on the people of this country. In his opinion the cattle about to be exported should be inspected at the port of embarcation, and if found diseased, there slaughtered. Such a course as that would prevent all the mischief which followed when diseased cattle were imported into a country. It would also be for the benefit of the cattle dealers themselves, for it would be a greater hardship to them to have their cattle confiscated, after the cost of the voyage had been incurred, and on the authority of an Inspector, than it would be to have them destroyed at home. The people of Ireland felt it was their interest that their cattle should be healthy; and with regard to pleuro-pneumonia, great restrictions seemed necessary and required to be enforced. He trusted that the subject would receive full consideration at the hands of the Government.
said, it was quite necessary that this matter should receive full consideration at the hands of the Government. The great point was that the inspection should be thorough without unduly interfering with trade; for if the orders were of too stringent a character, great opposition would be raised; and if rigorous regulations were enforced an army of Inspectors would be required, who would have to be maintained at large expense when perhaps there was no disease in the country. Now in all the recommendations of the Select Committee he did not think the House would agree, and one part could not be well considered without taking other parts into account. The Committee advised that no notice should be given by the police of the outbreak of disease. His own experience, as chairman of a local committee, with regard to that matter was, that it was very important that all possible publicity should be given to the outbreak of disease, and that that was one great means of arresting the spread of it. He also maintained that power should be given to the Privy Council to allow the movement of animals for feeding and other purposes necessary for carrying on the operations on a farm. That was a very important matter. He knew a case in which a farmer, in a locality where foot-and-mouth disease was raging, was unable to move some sheep from a field where they were in danger of starving to another where there was plenty of food, because the local authorities were unable to give him permission to do so. There was another point which deserved the attention of the Government, and that was that it was desirable that a higher rate of compensation should be allowed for the slaughter of animals infected with disease than was allowed at present; and that compensation should be given not merely in respect of the value of the animal, but also in respect of the loss which the owner suffered. To illustrate his meaning, he would suppose that a milch cow or the top of the grass was infected with a dangerous disease. Not only would the farmer in that case lose the value of the cow, but he would also lose the value of the produce of that cow, and he believed that if the local authorities had the requisite power they would almost invariably award compensation for the actual loss sustained by the owner. It was, he thought, agreed on all hands that the compensation was at present insufficient; and not only was it insufficient, but it was also very difficult sometimes to obtain it. The hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay) had spoken of the great importance of having a uniform system of action in enforcing the Order in Council in contiguous districts. He (Mr. Stewart) thought that such an alteration would be a very wise and proper one. His hon. Friend had also spoken of the necessity of careful inspection at the ports of embarcation; in his (Mr. Stewart's) opinion there ought to be the closest inspection on the disembarking of cattle. He lived in a part of Scotland which carried on a very large cattle trade with Ireland, and there was constant danger—he meant danger of infection being introduced into their midst—arising from the peculiar system of husbandry which was practised there. The farmers there never reared any young stock, but bought young stock from a distance as it was required to fill up vacancies. Owing to that system, there was great danger of inroads of disease in connection with importations. For these various reasons, he thought the questions raised by the Motion should be brought more forcibly than they appeared to have been, under the attention of the Government; that the Privy Council Orders should be more carefully attended to, and their practical meaning well worked out before they were sent forth to regulate what was done in different parts of the country. At that period of the Session it might be impossible to make much alteration, but he hoped that next session, at all events, many of the recommendations of the Select Committee would be embodied in the shape of law.
agreed very much with the spirit of the recommendations of the hon. Member for Forfarshire, though to some part of their wording objection might be taken, and more especially as regarded the proposed restrictions on the transit of cattle between England and Ireland. If it were found possible to assimilate the regulations of Great Britain and Ireland, it would, in his opinion, be very desirable. With regard to the foot-and-mouth disease, most of the restrictions which might be enforced in England were optional with the local authorities. It was hardly to be supposed, therefore, that they were very similar all over England; and, if so, it would be very difficult to make them similar all over Ireland. With respect to pleuro-pneumonia, he wished the compulsory provisions, as to slaughter, could be extended to Ireland; for there was no doubt that compulsory slaughter and compensation were the only means of stamping it out; but as regarded the foot-and-mouth disease, a pack of foxhounds running through a farm which was infected with it might carry the disease over the whole country, and he did not see how it could be checked unless by perfect isolation. The disease was imported into Ireland by some calves brought over from Cheshire.
admitted that the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom on this subject were the same. The county of Derby, which he had the honour to represent, would be seriously inconvenienced if the importation of cattle from Ireland were stopped. He agreed with the last speaker that compulsory slaughter with compensation was the best means for stamping out pleuro-pneumonia; but, experience showed that the foot-and-mouth disease might be kept in check, if the Orders in Council respecting it were put in force. He hoped the local authorities would lose no time in taking that course. Although the regulations as to compulsory slaughter were inconvenient, yet, on the whole, the result had been beneficial to Derbyshire, and he thought local authorities should have the power of putting those regulations in force. A strong opinion existed among all those who were engaged in agriculture in Derbyshire that the foot-and-mouth disease was spread more by the railway trucks in which cattle were conveyed than by any other cause, and that it was necessary to have more stringent regulations with regard to railway companies disinfecting those trucks. The matter was, he considered, well worthy the notice of the Department.
, as a Member of the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society of England supported the spirit of the Resolution, although he did not think that many diseased cattle were exported from Ireland. As a rule, he believed that Irish cattle were sound, and he was not in favour of prohibiting the importation of Irish cattle into this country. The Government were asked by the proposition' to enforce a more vigilant inspection of cattle at the port of embarcation and at the port of landing. Two years ago, the Royal Agricultural Society commissioned their Secretary, a very able man, to make careful investigation for six or eight weeks with regard to the foot-and-mouth disease. The Secretary published a Report of his investigations, which was a textbook on the subject. He ascertained that the disease was the consequence of neglect and of a want of care in the transit of cattle; that the railway trucks were not sufficiently clean; that the animals were very often starved, and then sent long distances without proper attention. The pecuniary losses occasioned by foot-and-mouth disease annually were enormous. It was, therefore, most important that there should be a careful inspection at the ports of landing in this country, and he hoped the Government would seriously consider this matter. It would not do to impose vexatious restrictions on farmers; but such would become necessary if the disease they were discussing got a real hold in this country.
said, he was of opinion that, as a general rule foot-and-mouth disease might be best left to the farmers themselves, except when, as periodically happened, it appeared in an unusually virulent form, when it might be well to give discretionary power to local authority. He wished to point out that there were great practical difficulties in dealing with the case of Ireland in respect to the slaughter of cattle at the various points suspected to be suffering from pleuro-pneumonia. Those difficulties arose from the system of compensation, from the absence or inadequacy of a local authority in the country, and the obstacles which stood in the way of obtaining properly qualified Inspectors, the result being that it was found necessary to rely on the Constabulary to act in that capacity. There were, no doubt, considerable difficulties, and as hon. Members connected with England and Ireland had now spoken in the matter, he hoped some Member of the Government would at once rise and announce to the House the views which they entertained on the subject.
said, he did not know that he need dwell on the first Resolution which had been placed on the Paper by the hon. Member for Forfarshire. If the regulations in Great Britain with respect to the foot-and-mouth disease in cattle were not of an entirely satisfactory character, that was hardly the fault of the Irish Government. There was, at all events, a uniform system in Ireland, which was very much wanted in England, and to the absence of which very many of the difficulties which arose in this country in connection with the subject were attributable. He did not doubt, he might add, that several hon. Members who had spoken in the course of the discussion fully appreciated the difficulties which stood in the way of the compulsory slaughter of cattle for pleuro-pneumonia in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken referred to the undoubted deficiency in that country of properly qualified Inspectors, who would see that the cattle slaughtered were really affected with pleuro-pneumonia. But he had not alluded to another point which made the difficulties greater, and that was that the funds out of which compensation would have to come in Ireland were levied in the shape of a national rate and not out of the rates of any particular locality, so that many persons might be tempted to slaughter their cattle improperly, because they would not directly fool the burden of having to pay for them. He wished the House to bear those facts in mind before they blamed the Government for not taking hasty action in the matter. Again, if the undoubted want of properly qualified Inspectors were supplied by sending veterinary surgeons over from England with largo salaries, an enormous expense would have to be incurred. If such a staff were not established, the Constabulary would have to be employed, and, however well qualified they might be for the discharge of their ordinary duties, he was afraid they would hardly be the most competent persons to distinguish pleuro-pneumonia from any other form of cattle disease. Thus, with the inducement of compensation by the country, there might be a system of slaughter which would be practically unchecked; and there would be, he thought it was evident under those circumstances, great obstacles in the way of applying compulsory slaughter for pleuro-pneumonia to the case of Ireland. Then came the question, whether the system had been successful in those countries to which it had been applied? He believed it had been tried in several countries of Europe, and had, after a fair trial, been abandoned because of its enormous expense. It had not, he might add, during the time it had been tried in England, nine or ten months, been so successful in checking the spread of pleuro-pneumonia as had been anticipated. The disease, he might further observe, according to recent Returns, furnished by the Veterinary Department of the Irish Government, prevailed only to a very small extent indeed in Ireland. There were, he believed, only 75 separate farms in Ireland in which the disease at present existed. It was said, no doubt, by those connected with agriculture in England, that a great amount of the disease which prevailed in this country was due to its importation from Ireland, but those who were conversant with agriculture in the latter country would not, he believed, concur in that view. He thought it by no means improbable that, owing to the value which was set on Irish cattle in the market, cattle which were sold as such in England and Scotland had never been out of Great Britain. The voyage across the Channel, too, and the change to cold trucks from the heated holds of ships, rendered, he believed, cattle which had not been previously well-fed, liable to contract disease on their arrival in England, and it was hardly fair, therefore, to accept to the full, the statements which were made on this side of the water as to the importation of pleuro-pneumonia from Ireland. As to the system of inspection, he admitted the difficulty of getting proper Inspectors at the ports of embarcation; but the Irish Government had already a staff of Inspectors thus employed, and were prepared to use their best endeavours to improve it. The proper place for the inspection of exported cattle was at the port of exportation. Before any animal was allowed to leave an Irish port it was branded with a mark which would make it possible afterwards, by application to the Veterinary Department of the Irish Government, to find out the date and place of its shipment and the very farm from which it had come, if, on being sold in England or Scotland, it was found to be diseased. But, although that was the ease, no single complaint had been made to the Irish Veterinary Department by an English or Scotch purchaser; and if disease was imported so largely as was alleged, it was strange there had been no complaints. He quite agreed that every possible way should be tried of detecting and cheeking cattle disease, so long as they did not unduly interfere with a trade which was mutually advantageous both to Ireland and to England, and that it was the duty of the Irish no less than of the English Government to carry out that object in every way compatible with the interest of the country and the economical management of the funds intrusted to their care.
held with respect to foot-and-mouth disease that no other measure was necessary than a strict inspection at the ports, and with respect to that there would be no difficulty in finding proper Inspectors, provided they were paid. With regard to pleuro-pneumonia, whenever the police in Ireland learnt that that disease existed on a farm, a cordon was drawn round the farm and no cattle were allowed to leave it. The Irish farmers were in favour of compulsory slaughter, but thought they were entitled to compensation. At present they were practically compelled to slaughter without receiving any compensation. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his temperate and sensible speech, which he hoped would allay the panic which seemed to pervade English and Scotch agriculturists. It was wholly a question of liberality as to the application of the Imperial funds for inspection and for compensation to the Irish farmers.
said, if anything could be more disheartening to the English stock-owner than the action of the Privy Council in this matter, it would be the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland. There was an universal concurrence of testimony that the great losses from pleuro-pneumonia in the Eastern, Midland, and Western Counties had been traced to the importation of Irish cattle; and the country demanded that a strict inspection should be maintained in Ireland as well as here, and also a better system of inspection at the ports, both of embarcation and debarcation. It was no use closing their front door against Continental infection, and leaving their back door open to Irish disease. Possibly cattle, healthy when they left Ireland, might sometimes acquire disease on shipboard and in railways, for he was aware of oases which had arisen apparently in that way; but whatever precautions might be thought necessary, the demand was universal among all reflecting men that the Privy Council should enforce one uniform system in the United Kingdom, instead of leaving independent local authorities to frame different, and sometimes conflicting, regulations, as at present; also, that ships and railway trucks should be effectually cleansed and disinfected, and not become the source of disease, as they too often now were.
said, one gratifying result of the discussion had been to show the importance of giving to the Government as much power as possible to inspect cattle both at the ports of embarcation in Ireland and at the ports at which they were disembarked in England and Scotland. On that point the Lord President of the Council was taking very active steps, in conjunction with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to carry into effect what seemed to be the wish of the House. The Lord President was also giving attention to the question of improving and inspecting the railway trucks used in the conveyance of cattle, and he hoped good results would follow from the steps to be taken in reference to this matter also. With regard to the general question of the treatment of cattle diseases, he should say nothing at that late hour—in the first place, because it was not raised by the Motion of the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay), and, in the second, because there existed wide difference of opinion among competent authorities on the subject both in that House and out of it. The best authorities were divided on the question whether foot-and-mouth disease should be dealt with by the Government at all; and surely, in face of that great contradiction of opinion, it was not desirable at present to take action upon this branch of the subject. All he could say was that the Lord President would anxiously co-operate with the Irish Government, so as to secure as far as possible similarity of regulations with regard to cattle disease in the two countries. The Lord President would also keep steadily in view the one great principle, that the great object of checking cattle disease was to provide a supply of food for the people rather than to promote the interest of cattle breeders and dealers.
denied that the general opinion of the House as to inspection went beyond inspection at the port of embarcation, and contended that all the evidence at present taken on the subject had gone to show that Irish cattle were not more extensively subject to disease than animals bred and sold in either England or Scotland. He approved the proposals made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and hoped they would be carried into effect without delay.
said, the precautions taken in the county Down had been effectual in stamping out disease among the cattle there, and he believed very few affected animals were sent from that part of the country either to England or Scotland.
Excise—Adulteration Of Whiskey—Observations
, in rising to call attention to the system which at present prevails in Her Majesty's Bonding Stores in Ireland of allowing a cheap spirit, which is imported from Scotland, to be mixed in those Stores with Irish whiskey, and re-shipped direct from thence to this Country under Bond, which leads the purchaser to believe he is buying Irish-manufactured whiskey, which practice is calculated to injure the character of the Irish spirit trade, and to move a Resolution on the subject, said, the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer previously given on this subject, that the word "mixed" was branded on casks of such spirit, was altogether unsatisfactory, and he hoped to hear from the Government an announcement of a policy more in accordance with what was its obvious duty in the matter. Whiskey was one of the few industries of Ireland, and it was discreditable to the Government of this commercial community that the dishonest practice of introducing an impure spirit into the genuine article should be allowed to take place in the Queen's bonding stores. They had read of two adventurous young gentlemen who were convicted in the City for painting sparrows and selling them as canaries; but he thought that the conduct of the Government was far more serious in allowing inferior Scotch whiskey to be "painted" with Irish whiskey, and sold as pure Irish manufacture. In the case of the sparrows, it was only a loss of a few shillings to the old lady who was humbugged into purchasing them; but in the case of the whiskey, the "painting" was far more serious, because many a man was sent to an untimely grave by drinking impure spirits. [Laughter.] Well, hon. Gentlemen might laugh; but it was a most important question to Ireland, as it was one of the few remaining branches of Irish industry. It was not a party question—it was a question of justice and fair play. All that he asked was that Parliament should not allow the trade, which was one of the few remaining industries of Ireland, to be destroyed in an insidious way, and its character ruined by foreign whiskey.
thought the subject was one which well deserved consideration by Her Majesty's Government.
said, he could assure the hon. Member for Limerick that he fully agreed with the statement that the question was one which ought to be considered. In point of fact, however, it had been considered, and was continually attracting the attention of the Government, and it had always received from the Government that attention which was its due. The Government fully recognized the importance of preventing any adulteration of articles sold under one name, but which were really of a different character; and orders had been sent out in the present week which would to a great extent meet the difficulty he had touched upon, but it was impossible for the Government absolutely to guarantee the quality of articles which passed through its hands. All they could undertake to do was, to make it secure that everything should be sent out with a true name and a true description. There was a complaint from one gentleman, who desired that Scotch spirits should not be sent out as Irish spirits, but looking at the whole country it was extremely difficult to maintain the distinction. The aim was, that the produce of a distillery should go out with the name of the distiller upon them; but it was impossible for the Government officers to follow the spirits up into the public-house or the grocer's shop where they might be sold. Spirits which left the bonded warehouses should go out with their true mark, showing what they were, and after that the public would have to take care of themselves, as they did with reference to other articles. If more stringent regulations could be devised, consistent with the freedom of trade, the Government would be glad to enforce them, but all they could do was to give every security that the true character of the article should be made known.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
SUPPLY— considered in Committee.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
House adjourned at One o'clock, till Monday next.