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every thing but capital power. In regard to the Zemindars, though he admired the spirit of the right honourable gentleman's intention towards them, yet he could not imitate it on account of its impracticability. General indiscriminate restitution was as bad as indiscriminate confiscation. He proposed, therefore, “That an enquiry should be instituted into the confiscations, for the purpose of restoring such as had been irregularly and unjustly seized; and that they should be secured against violence in future.”
He had taken notice of many more points, he said, than were included in his motion ; but he had thrown them out for the consideration of the House, as a subsequent bill must be brought in for regulations, or what he believed would be effectual, the bill of the right honourable gentleman now in the House might be modified to his purpose. He again gave a comparison betwec his bill and that which had been thrown out ; and he declared, that the establishment of a moderate and effectual system of government for India, was the great and immediate object of his mind. He did not wish to gratify young ambition by the place to which he was called; he was not attached to his eminence. I am not, said Mr. Pitt, governed at this moment by motives of personal interest, or of personal fame. I have introduced this plan as the deliberate conviction of my mind, made up on the most serious consideration of the most intelligent men. Accept the ideas if they are worth your notice; strengthen them with your wisdom; mature them with your experience ; or, in their room, establish a more adequate system, and I am happy.
However unpleasant to me a majority of this House, and insinuations against me, must be, I shall incur the danger of them all on this great point-establish a good, rational, and safe system, and dispose of me as you will. I have the consciousness of a good intention, and therefore, without having the serious fear, that personal consideration will be imputed to me, I conclude with moving, “ That leave be given to bring in a bill for the better regulation of our Indian concerns."
The motion was seconded by Mr. Dundas, and, after some discussion, agreed to; and the bill was ordered to be read a first time on the Friday following.
January 23. 1784.
On a motion for the second reading of Mr. Pitt's East-India Bill, and after Mr. Fox, Mr. Erskine, and other members had expressed their objections to the measure,
Mr. Pitt rose, and spoke to the following effect :
Notwithstanding the vast variety of auxiliary matter with which the right honourable gentleman *over the way has thought proper, according to his ordinary manner, to aid and to embellish his speech ; notwithstanding also his learned friend t, in a speech equally diffuse, has followed his right honourable leader through a most faithful repetition of the same arguments; yet I cannot help thinking that I meet the question fairly, when I say that all the objections made to the present East-India bill, reduce themselves to these two :
In the first place it is said to want rigour and effect; In the second place to want permanency. Now, Sir, with regard to the first of these objections, that it is a plan of patronage, and not a plan of vigour, effect, and of power ; that it gives to the crown a new and enormous extent of influence, while it furnishes no new means of controul ; to this I must reply: Is it possible that gentlemen who argue thus can have read the bill? Sir, I defy any man to contradict me when I say, that while there is every possible guard against patronage, the crown's vigorous, effectual, and authoritative command over the politics of Indostan, is clearly the main object of every line of the bill. It was the acknowledged fault of the regulating act of 1773, that it left only a dormant power among His Majesty's ministers to negative and regulate political orders sent out to India. This power, I allow, was not usefully, nay, not at all, exercised; responsibility lay not then with the crown; but, Sir, does it follow, when an express board is appointed, and devoted to the object of EastIndia politics, charged with the whole responsibility, furnished * Mr. Fox.
† Mr. Erskine.
with every means of information, as well as every power that can possibly be necessary to the dominion of the East - does it follow, I say, Sir, that by means of such a board, there will be no active, no efficient control? How does the right honourable gentleman torture the imagination, and strive to mislead the common sense of the House, in order to persuade them into this absurdity: He introduces a most curious dialogue between the government-board and the directors; the directors appoint a servant, whom (according to his train of argument) the board object to, and say, “No, you shall not appoint this man your servant, for if you do, we will punish you, by insisting on such and such a measure.” “Whom shall we appoint then?" say the directors.. “Why we choose you should appoint such an one,” says the board, “and then you shall order what political measures you please.” The right honourable gentleman, therefore, in order to prove that the new board will have the patronage, while the directors will keep the control, argues exactly thus : The board, he says, will barter their control for patronage; ergo, the board will have all the patronage, and none of the control. But, Sir, will the directors agree to such a bargain ? Will they give up all their right of naming their own servants, for the pleasure of dictating political measures? Is it possible to conceive such a perversion of common sense? I say, therefore, away with such arguments as these. If any honourable gentleman can fairly devise the means whereby the patronage of the crown can be still farther restrained, and its authority in India at the same time supported, I am not only willing, but I am ex. tremely eager to listen to any such propositions ; but the committee, I conceive, will be the place for observations of this sort. What I contend, and insist at present, is only this, that to give the crown the power of guiding the politics of India, with as little means of corrupt influence as possible, is the true plan for India, and is the true spirit of this bill.
Next, Sir, with respect to the permanency of this system. And here I am forced to confess, that I, for my part, can never expect any duration, any consistency, any degree of permanency in the government either of India or any other of our dependencies,
without a strong and permanent government is established in this distracted country. The right honourable gentleman has boasted that his system is able to maintain itself unshaken amidst all the changes of administration here : perhaps I may deny to the right honourable gentleman's plan even this quality: and here I beg the House to recollect an argument which the learned gentleman pressed most forcibly the other day; for when it was justly objected to that bill, that the seven commissioners would support the right honourable gentleman's party whether in or out of power, “Oh (said the learned gentleman) we all know that any new minister would be able, by carrying an address through either House of parliament, to displace any of these commissioners, and they must depend, therefore, on the good graces of those who have the majority of parliament,” that is to say, on the minister for the time being; and, in short, Sir, it was the common answer to this very serious objection on our part, that the India commissioners would naturally and necessarily have a good understanding with the minister for the time being. Why, Sir, if they will turn round with every new minister, how is the system said to be thus permanent amidst all the changes of administration ? and yet I, forsooth, am the man accused of aiming at inconsistent advantages! Sir, I do wish the persons who shall rule India to maintain always a good understanding with administration. The right honourable gentleman compares the duty of the board appointed by this bill, to the duty of a new secretary of state, and laments that such a new office should be created : I accept of his comparison, and I say that the power of government over India ought to be in the nature of that of a secretary of state. The seven commissioners were secretaries of state set over all India, but independent of, and unconnected with the government of this country; and is not this a new and unheard of power, in this or in any constitution ?
Earl Fitzwilliam, Sir, by that bill, had power to involve this country in war with France or with Holland, not only without the direction, but without the privity of the government of this country. Sir, he and his board were to manage all the politics of Indostan, implicated as they are with the politics of European
powers, without the least knowledge of the politics subsisting in the King's cabinet;without the least co-operation, without the least kind of official communication with any one of His Majesty's servants. What an imperium in imperio was this! The East-India company is said to be already an imperium in imperio ; but, Sir, they at least hold some communication, they render up some information, they act in some concert with the government of this country; for the very ground on which government's right of interference has been built is this: That inasmuch as European politics were become involved in the politics of India, it was necessary that one executive power should have the superintendence over the whole empire. When the right honourable gentleman therefore calls his system permanent, because his commissioners were thus sepa, rated and insulated from the crown, I should lament such permanency, if it were possible ; but I deny the possibility : for all our dependencies cannot continue to exist, unless in our Asiatic and European politics there be some unity of action. His permanency therefore was only this: it was a permanency of men, not a permarency of men and measures. The present bill, indeed, gives to no set of men a permanent, indefeasible power ; but it establishes a permanency of system; it gives to the crown of these realms the sway over its Indian, much in the same manner as over its other dependencies, and insures to it a permanent, regular, systematic, and supreme controlover all the political affairs of that vast country.
I must say a few words, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the inAuence which this bill adds to the crown; for the right honourable gentleman has insisted, with no little acrimony, that the whole drift and spirit of thisbill is to give an unbounded patronage to the crown ; that I am become the champion of influence, and no wonder I am so earnest in this bill. The learned gentleman has even asserted, with a perfect air of confidence, that this bill takes more patronage from the company than the former bill itself; the former indisputably took the whole ; the present as indisputably takes but a part : the learned gentleman has therefore asserted that a part is greater than the whole—an assertion which, I am sure, to his mind it were in vain to attempt disproving, and pre