Imágenes de páginas

enjoyed. This grasped at no more than what was essential to the object, and he with confidence trusted to the impartiality of the House of Commons, that they would approve of a measure calculated to effect all the purposes required, by means less violent than those of the late plan; and he had this confidence, notwithstanding the impression of the times, which he confessed to be new and extraordinary. His plan aimed at beneficial control. - He meant not to rob nor to steal the rights of the company. .. He knew that the merits of his plan must be comparative; and that the House would give the preference to that, which, in the comparison, was proved to be the best in the two great points of sufficiency and vigilance of control. The public required secu. rity. What was the security which they had in the projected board of commissioners? Was it the greatness of their character, or the circumstance of their being appointed by the House on the nomination of the minister ? If this was all, might not others be found as great in character, and found constitutionally by the executive power ? And would it be a less recommendation of such men that they were not a' new and independent institution, unknown to the constitution and uncontrollable by the crown ? The persons, that had the control, should be persons capable of giving time and attention to the objects of the trust—they should have leisure for activity and exertion, that it should be no longer subject to the imputation of a sleepy and ineffectual control, but deserve the character of an active and efficacious one. But this could not be done, perhaps, without the creation of new officers; for, in the present state of administration, the ministers through whom the crown should speak, that is, the two secretaries of state, were so occupied as not to be able to give the business all the time and attention which would be necessary. To provide for this, there should be joined to the minister other assistance to expedite the affairs, that they might not be delayed or neglected, at the same time that the crown's control was signified through a minister.

His proposal therefore was, “that a board should be instituted to be appointed by His Majesty, consisting of one of the

principal secretaries of state, the chancellor of the exchequer for the time being, and a certain number of the privy concil.” The number of the board would be left blank for the consideration of the House. The privy counsellors were not to be as in the constitution of the privy council itself, to attend precariously; but such as His Majesty appointed were to give regular attendance at this board, and devote their time and study to its objects. But it might be asked, were there to be salaries given to the mem. bers of this new board, and was it to be productive of additional bürthens to the people? He knew that in the last bill, though there was no salary mentioned, it was the general rumour, if not the general intention, that they should have a remuneration. It was his idea, however, that in the present establishment, any expense might be avoided. There were in this country a number of persons, who, from their rank, were members of the privy council, and who at the same time were possessed of great and distinguished offices, with large emoluments and little labour. There was no doubt but a number of such persons might be found to accept of this important duty without any additional reward. It was what they owed to the country, from which they derived splendid incomes for no service; and he was sure that if it fell to his lot-which was a question to be decided --he would think it his indispensable duty, and would give up his time and attention most cordially to the object. . .' wris

A board thus constituted, it might be imagined, would have the qualities of activity and vigour. It would be derived coristi. tutionally from the executive power. It would create no new office of emolument. It would load the subject with no new bur then. It would be as efficacious as the board of seven commissioners. That board undoubtedly was composed of men of great integrity and fair honour; but he might be allowed to add, some of them not possessing much knowledge of, or interest in the subject of their control. But this new board would be at least equally intelligent and as efficacious. It would be as good, only with this difference, that the rights of no company would be violated is only with this difference, that they would not be uncontrolled

or uncontrollable; - only with this difference, that they would not possess the whole of the patronage, to the great danger of British liberty. The dispatches of the company must be submitted to this board, and be made subject to their control, their opinion to be given in a reasonable and competent time, and the dispatches countersigned by the board, by which a complete responsibility was vested in them. This was no ambiguous system-it was clear, public, and administrative.

In the next place, though he had no wish to interfere with, much less to control, the commerce of the company, yet as the commercial acts might be connected with the political, because they might have an aspect leaning both to the one and to the other, he also proposed, “ That all the commercial dispatches of the company should also be submitted to the board, whose control should be signified in a reasonable and competent time; but the court of directors, if they agreed not with the opinion of the board on the decision of the question, whether it had a political or merely a commercial tendency, might appeal to the king in his council, whose decision should be final.” This he hoped would not be considered as a security nominal and frivolous, when it was remembered that this was to be a public appeal and public trial. He was sincere in his ideas on the subject of the security ; and being so, he regarded neither the sneers nor the smiles of gentlemen : this appeal he considered as a guard to the company, and chiefly because it was liable to be discussed in both houses of parliament.

This board possessed not the patronage of the company. They had the power of a negative, indeed, but they could not alter the names that were sent them by the company; they could not make use of this power in the way of patronage, for it was his idea that this should be a board of political control, and not as the former was, a board of political influence. He stated what the constitution of that board was, and what the constitution of this was to be. That board was to seize on the rights, patronage, commerce, and property of the company. This left to the company the uncontrolled possession of their commerce,

their treasury, their patronage, their contracts, the appointment of their writers and cadets; by which, in the course of things, all the officers and servants in India were in their immediate appointment.

He then came to state what was to be the nature of the government abroad: “Their authority should have the powers of large discretion, accompanied with the restraint of responsibility." They should be bound to obey the orders of the board at home, but at the same time they should have a sufficient quantity of power for all the purposes of emergency, and all the occasions which the immense distance might give rise to. He went into a long detail to shew how much the influence created by the last , bill exceeded the influence of this. Here the government abroad

eould at best but select from among the appointments of the company - they could not make original appointments of their own. In addition to this, there was in the crown, and consequently in the two Houses by an address to the crown, the power of recal.

It was to be enquired by whom the members of the councils abroad were to be appointed. The company had cheerfully yielded this point also to the crown. He however had his doubts on this subject, and therefore in his bill the matter should be left for the wisdom of the House to decide; but “the appointment of the commander-in-chief he thought should be clearly in the crown,” for the duties which he had to fulfil were so essentially connected with the great operations of the state, that there could be no doubt on his appointment.

The next consideration was the number of the councils abroad. His idea was, “ that their number should be four, the governor. general to have the casting vote.” But this also he would leave to the House. The number of the council at Bengal he did not mean to reduce; for in this he followed the example of the right honourable gentleman, in not making the system a personal question.

The late bill thought fit to vest all the power in the government here, and none or little in the government abroad. His idea was vtherwise. He thought there should be a power in


the government abroad, large and broad, but guarded with ' responsibility.

He proposed that there should be “ a revision of all the establishments in India, to see where retrenchments might be made with safety—to see what were necessary, what were useful, and what, on account of their inutility, inconvenience, corruption, or abuse, ought to be extinguished.” This he recommended, for he believed that many of the abuses in India arose from the establishments being overloaded.

Another reform struck him as essential, and which indeed was only an enforcement of an old rule. This was, “ that all appointments in India should take place by gradation and succession." Influence would by this means be very much diminished; and indeed, without entering much into the nature and amount of the power, he imagined the government might be framed to possess all that was necessary to its purposes, without having so much as to create influence. He would speak only therefore of the great lines of power, without entering into the little detail.

His last proposition, he said, was, “ that there should be erected a new tribunal for the trial of offences in India." He explained the necessity of such an institution, and said, it would be for the wisdom of the House to determine its nature and authority. His idea was, that it should consist of a number of the principal persons in Westminster-hall in the first place; that civilians should also be joined; and also a number of peers, and a number of the members of the House of Commons. A tribunal thus constituted might, in his idea, embrace the great object. The culprit might have the power of challenging; and, before this tribunal, evidence might be admitted which the courts of law could not receive. They should be directed to question, to arraign ; they should determine the nature of offences; and in offences he would reckon the disobedience of orders, theacceptance of presents, oppressions of the natives, monopolies, rapacity, and all the train of offences which had tainted the national character in India. They should enquire into the personal fortunes of the delinquents; they should have the power of confiscation, and

« AnteriorContinuar »