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By the Act of 1838 one of of votes at a Council.” The her Majesty's Principal Secret- second proviso, which was inaries of State exercises all serted after grave discussion in powers and duties which were the House of Commons, is the exercised by the Company or more important one, that “ the Board of Control. A cept for preventing or repelling Council was established, called actual invasion of her Majesty's the Council of India, which Indian possessions, or under was not to be a mere consulta- other sudden and urgent necestive body, but “shall, under the sity, the revenues of India shall Direction of the Secretary of not, without the consent of State, conduct the Business both Houses of Parliament, be transacted in the United King- applicable to defray the exdom in relation to the Govern- penses of any military operation ment of India and the corre- carried out beyond the external spondence with India." All frontiers of such possessions by correspondence was, however, her Majesty's Forces charged to be in the name of the
upon such revenues.' The Secretary of State. The spirit, if not the letter, of this Secretary of State is ad- provision was broken when, in dressed in name by the Indian 1878, the very day after ParliaGovernment, and signs all the ment was adjourned, the Indian despatches from the India Government received orders to Office. The Secretary of State send native troops to Malta. sits and votes as President of No
acquainted with the Council of India, and ap- Indian affairs would like to points a Vice-President. He see a more active interference has the power, subject to the ex on the part of the House of ceptions which will be mentioned Commons with the details of immediately, to decide ques- administration ; but much tions on which members differ, danger lieth in the Governbut any dissentient member ment of India or the Secretary may require his opinion to be of State being allowed to evade placed on record —a privilege Acts which Parliament has which has proved of consider- passed on the recommendation able service. The Secretary of of Committees of both Houses, State is bound to give reasons, which sat for long periods of except in urgent cases, for any time and took the evidence of exercise of his veto. The Act as many Indian experts as of 1858 contains two provisions were available whenever the which to a certain degree limit time came round, at intervals the power of the Secretary of of twenty years, for renewing State: “No grant or appropri- the East India Company's lease ation of any part of the Indian of government. If the Acts Revenues
of any other have grown obsolete let them property coming into the pos- be repealed, but they cannot session of the Secretary of be evaded without far-reaching State in Council by virtue of disturbance. this Act shall be made without The Counoil of India was the concurrence of a majority created to supply the know
ledge of Indian affairs pos- are not communicated to the sessed by the Court of Directors, members of the Council unless and to be a restraint on the the Secretary of State 80 power of a Minister, in pos- directs. “Such questions as sessing no knowledge of the an Afghan war,” writes Sir subject, to administer India John Strachey, one of the according to his individual ablest and strongest men that pleasure. The powers given over ruled an Indian Province, by the Act to the Council were “negotiations with Russia and not, however, as great as they the Amir of Kabul regarding seem to be or as they ought to the affairs of Afghanistan, or be, if the Council is to be more the annexation of Burma, do than a consultative body. The not come before Council. Its functions of the Secret Com- members have not only no mittee were transferred by the power of interference, but they Act of 1858 to the Secretary have no recognised means of of State, and he may send to obtaining information in reIndia, without consulting the gard to such subjects other Council, any orders (except in- than those of the general structions dealing especially public.” But these are matters with finance, which still re- which essentially ought not to quire the concurrence of a be concealed from the view of majority of the Council) which, the whole Council. In the before the passing of the Act, days of the East India Commight have been sent by the pany the Chairman and Board of Control through the Deputy-Chairman of the Court Secret Committee of the Court of Directors were members, as of Directors. In matters re- we have stated, of the Secret lating to war and peace and Committee. It was considered to negotiation with the native essential that these two chief States, and the policy to be functionaries of the Company pursued regarding them, the should be acquainted with all Secretary of State is em- and everything relating to the powered to send orders direct Government of India, and it is without submitting them to equally necessary that certain the Council or recording or members of the Council of giving notice of the reasons India should enjoy the means for making the order. Thus, of knowing, as they ought to though he may not send in- know, all that is passing which structions dealing especially can immediately or incidentally with finance, he may and has affect India. ordered military operations to It is a matter of regret that be undertaken by the Govern- the Act of 1858 did not bestow ment of India, involving an on the Council of India the expenditure of millions of important power of initiation money, without the cognisance which the Court of Directors of his Council. Despatches possessed. The Court of Difrom India on high political rectors used to receive the desmatters are as a rule marked patches from India in the first “Secret” in India, and they instance, discuss them, and sub
mit to the Board the drafts of Council table for the perusal the despatches which they pro- of those Councillors who are posed to send in reply. The not members of the Committee, President of the Board might and then come on for discussion alter these drafts or substitute by “the Secretary of State in others in the place of them. Council.” They are then either The present procedure is en recommitted to the Committee tirely different. The Council or the despatch goes to India. is divided into several Com- To bring before the Council mittees, each dealing primarily subjects only after the Secre. with one special department of tary of State has made up his the State. The India Office mind is a grave inroad on the is also similarly divided into usefulness of the Council. As departments. When a
John Stuart Mill wrotemunication is received from
“Unless the forms of business are India, a brief summary of its such as to ensure that the Council contents having been made shall exercise its judgment on all for the Secretary of State, it questions ; that all matters requiring
decision shall be considered by them goes to the special department and their views recorded in the initito which it belongs. The head atory stage, before the Minister has of the department or some
committed himself to an opinion,assistant makes a précis of the they will possess no more weight or
influence than the same number of matter, and drafts the des- clerks in his office (whom also he can patch which he proposes should consult if he pleases), and the power be sent in reply. This is sub- of the Minister will be practically mitted through the Under- uncontrolled.” Secretary to the Secretary of If the power of the Minister State. If the latter approves, is not to remain practically the despatch is sent to the uncontrolled, changes will have Committee, who consider the to be made, not only in the papers and send them back form of business but in the to the Minister with any alter- constitution of the Council. At ations in the draft they recom- present the members of the mend or observations which Council are appointed by the may occur to them.
But as a Secretary of State, and hold rule the Committee do not care office for a term of ten years, to criticise a draft which has with a power of reappointment the sanction of the Secretary under special circumstances for of State. If the Minister a further term of five years. differs from the Committee, he The original term should, as in sends the paper back to be the case of the members of the reconsidered, and occasionally Governor-General's Council, be himself visits the Committee for five years, for after that for personal discussion of busi- period a retired Indian official ness with the members. He has no knowledge of what is then finally sends the papers, going on at the moment. The with or without remark of his Secretary of State's power of own, to the Council. They re- reappointment must also tend main for a certain time on the to destroy independence. As
VOL CLXXVIII. —NO. MLXXVIII.
our territories in the East Privy Councillors who “at the ought to be placed under other same time were possessed of control than that of the com- great and distinguished offices pany of merchants in Leaden- with large emoluments and hall Street, but the change little labour would no doubt ought to be made with as be found to accept of their little violence as possible; it duties without any additional ought to be made by the con- reward." The jealousy of the viction of the Company, and King and the suspicion of the not by violence. In this the country as to the increase of Company agreed with him.” the power of the Prime MinPitt desired, like his father, ister were disarmed by the to place the whole government Commissioners being appointed of India under the control of by the Crown and holding the Crown ; but when in op- office during pleasure. The position he had gauged the authority which the Gov. power of chartered rights. ernment had of seeing all Fox still commanded a major- papers sent to and from India ity in the House, and Pitt's was transferred to the Board. Bill was rejected. Every The Commissioners were further student of English history empowered to call upon the knows the story of the elec- Court of Directors to prepare tion of 1784, and Pitt's despatches on any subject, to triumph and return to power. be submitted for their revision On the 13th of August he and alteration, and on their again introduced his first East failure within fourteen days to India Bill, slightly modified, write them themselves. All and obtained a decisive ma- high political matters were jority, 271 to 60, in its favour. placed in a Secret Committee Never was a bill framed which of the Court, limited to three so well concealed, by vague members (in practice to two, and ambiguous language, its the Chairman and Deputy real aim. It was said to be Chairman), who alone comdrafted by Dundas, and that municated upon them to the able Scottish lawyer displayed Board. When the Chancellor all the worldly sagacity of the of the Exchequer and one of race. The Company were con- the principal Secretaries of ciliated by being allowed to State were absent, the senior keep their trade privileges, of the five presided. In and by the Court of Directors early times the Commissionhaving their powers continued ers did sit as a Board, and merely subject to the revision in a letter to Lord Cornof a Board of Commissioners wallis, of July 1787, Dundas for the Affairs of India. It says: “Mr Pitt is a real was to be an ideal Board, active member of the Board, consisting of certain members and makes himself thoroughly of the Privy Council. The master of the business.” But Commissioners were to have the Board soon became the no salary and no patronage. shadow of a Board, and Pitt stated in his speech that practically ceased to exist.
India " whipper in. of 1784 placed the
By the Act of 1793, which of our Indian Empire, the confirmed the Company in happiness of the people, were, their privileges for twenty as Sir John Kaye pointed out, years, the Board was made less dependent upon the will to consist of certain members of a deliberate body, a large of the Privy Council (of whom majority of whom had studied the two principal Secretaries India, “than upon the caprice of State and the Chancellor of a single man, who may be of the Exchequer were to be gone to-morrow—who may prethree), and two other members. side over the India Board and The first named in the letters govern India for a fortnight, patent constituting the Board and then be suddenly deposed was to be the President. A by some gust of party caprice, salary was to be paid by the by the mistaken tactics of an Company to certain of the inexperienced party leader, or Commissioners. An India the neglect of an inefficient Office was created by the whipper in.'" Commissioners being author. Pitt's Bill of 1784 placed the ised to appoint secretaries, East India Company in a and enjoined to “enter their subordinate position with reproceedings in proper books." gard to its governing powers, The President was from 1811 but it did not touch its coma member of the Cabinet and mercial privileges. In 1813 practically Minister for India, the second great Charter Act as from 1841 he was the only was passed, granting all existpaid member of the Board. The ing rights, powers, and priviPresident acted entirely on his leges to the Company for a own responsibility, but, as the term of twenty years. But, law declared that two members owing to the jealous outcry were competent to transact raised in Bristol, Glasgow, and the business of the Board, it Liverpool, the East India was thought advisable to ob- Company were deprived of the tain for the document record. privilege of the exclusive trade ing the Board's decision the with India, “without which signature of one of the ex not a rood of land in India officio members. The ex officio would have owned the rule of members were the Lord Presi- Great Britain.” The Ministry, dent of the Council, the Lord not wishing to hazard the Privy Seal, the First Lord of diminution of a revenue so the Treasury, the principal valuable and so easily realised Secretaries of State, and the as the duty upon tea paid by Chancellor of the Exchequer. the Company, allowed them to The law gave the President retain their China monopoly. the power to override the In 1833 they were not only deCourt of Directors if he chose prived of the China monopoly to exercise it. The stability but also prohibited from trad
The 100llor of theate, and the
1 The Act of 1793 was the first of those comprehensive Acts which, from the extended duration of the grant, and the specific detail of the provisions for the constitution of the Company and for the scheme of their government in India, came to be denominated the Charter Acts for India.