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often unknown to the public even by name; official reserve precludes the possibility of ascertaining what advice they give, and they are responsible only to the Minister himself. By what application of terms this can be called responsible government and the joint Government of your Petitioners and the India Board an irresponsible Government, your Petitioners think it unnecessary to ask.
That without knowing the plan on which Her Majesty's Ministers contemplate the transfer to the Crown of the servants of the Company, your Petitioners find themselves unable to approach the delicate question of the Indian Army further than to point out that the high military qualities of the officers of that army have unquestionably sprung in a great degree from its being a principal and substantive army, holding Her Majesty's commissions and enjoying equal rank with Her Majesty's officers, and your Petitioners would earnestly deprecate any change in that position.
That your Petitioners having regard to all those considerations humbly pray your Honourable House that you will not give your sanction to any change in the constitution of the Indian Government during the continuance of the present unhappy disturbances, nor without a full previous inquiry into the operations of the present system. And your Petitioners further pray that this inquiry may extend to every department of Indian administration. Such an inquiry, your Petitioners respectfully claim, not only as a matter of justice to themselves, but because when, for the first time in this century, the thoughts of every public man in the country are fixed on India an inquiry would be more thorough and its results would carry much more instruction to the mind of Parliament and of the country than at any preceding period.
Criticism of the System of Double Government
Source.-Viscount Palmerston. Speech in the House of Commons, February 12, 1858, in introducing the first Bill for the Government of India. (Hansard.)
I believe that the East India Company has done many good things in India. I believe that its administration has been attended with great advantage to the population under its rule. It is perhaps one of the most extraordinary facts in the history of mankind that these British Islands should have acquired such an extensive domination in a remote part of the globe as that which we exercise over the continent of India. It is indeed remarkable that those regions, to which science and art may be said to have first dawned upon mankind, should now be subject
to the rule of a people inhabiting islands which, at a time when these Eastern regions enjoyed as high a civilisation and as great prosperity as the age could offer, were in a state of utter barbarism. That is a remarkable circumstance; but still more remarkable, quite as singular, that a nation like this, in what the science of government is perhaps better understood than in any other, in which the principle of representation has so long been established, should have deliberately consigned to the care of a small body of commercial men the management of such extensive territories, such vast interests and such numerous populations.
But this country never designedly did any such thing. The existing state of things grew up gradually from a very small beginning. The original settlers began with a factory, the factory grew into a port, the port expanded to a district, and the district to a province, and then came collisions with less civilised neighbours, injuries to be resented, attacks to be repelled, and conflicts which always ended with victory and extension of territory. So, gradually, from one transaction to another, grew up that state of things in which the East India Company found itself invested with vast commercial privileges and with most important political functions. This state of things continued up to the year 1784, when there was an infusion of responsibility in respect of its political administrative functions with the affairs of the Company by the establishment of the Board of Control. Matters went on under this new arrangement for a number of years, during which the Company continued, subject to a slight interference from the Board of Control, to discharge its political functions, and at the same time to exercise all its commercial rights. One would have imagined that in a country like this that first step would have been followed up; that before anything else was done the reflective British nation would have pursued the course inaugurated in 1784, and that as the effect of the measure then adopted was to limit to a certain degree the political functions of the Company, the next step would have been to take them away altogether, and to leave the Company in its original position as a trading association. However, it happens that in this country commercial matters often attract more attention and excite deeper interest than political affairs, and the next step was, not to meddle further with the political functions of the Company, but to take away all the commercial privileges which originally constituted the foundation of its existence. Accordingly, in the year 1833 the Company altogether ceased to be a commercial association, and became, one may say, but a phantom of its original body. It lost the commercial character for which it was originally founded, and continued to be merely a political
instrument, by means of which the administration of India was carried on.
Now, sir, I venture to think that the arrangement so made was a most inconvenient and most cumbrous arrangement. The principle of our political system is that all administrative functions should be accompanied by ministerial responsibility— responsibility to Parliament, responsibility to public opinion, responsibility to the Crown, but in this case the chief functions in the Government of India are committed to a body not responsible to Parliament, not appointed by the Crown, but elected by persons who have no more connection with India than consists in the simple possession of so much stock. I think that this of itself is a most objectionable arrangement. In this country we are slow to make changes. The indisposition to make changes is wise and useful. As a general principle it is wise, and nations do themselves great mischief by rapid and ill-considered alterations of these institutions. But equally unwise and injurious is it to cling to existing arrangements simply because they exist, and not to admit changes which can be made with advantage to the nation.
What can be more cumbrous than the existing system of Indian administration which is called by the name of the" double government"? In the debates of 1853, when the last India Bill was passed, the right honourable gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) asked who was the Government of India, and to whom he was to look as the authority responsible for the administration of that vast Empire. Why, sir, there is no responsibility, or rather there is a conflict of responsibility. The Directors possess a power paramount, as the right honourable gentleman said, to everything else, the power of recalling the Governor-General, by which any great system of policy may be at once interrupted. And they have this power, although the Governor-General must have been appointed by the Crown, and the appointment sanctioned by the Directors. The functions of government and the responsibility have been divided between the Directors, the Board of Control, and the Governor-General in India; the Board of Control representing the Government of the day, responsible to this House, responsible to public opinion, appointed by the Crown, and exercising functions delegated to it; the Court of Directors, elected by the gentlemen and ladies who happen to be holders of India stock, many of whom are totally ignorant of everything relating to Indian interests, and perhaps knowing nothing about Calcutta, Bombay, or Madras, except what they learn from the candidates for the directorship as to the presidency to which the cadetship is to belong which is promised in return for their votes. The Directors are undoubtedly, in general, men
of great experience and knowledge of India, but they are elected by a body of persons who have no particular faculty for choosing persons justified to govern a great Empire in the East. Then comes the Governor-General, invested with great, separate, and independent powers, and among these authorities it is obvious that any despatch and unity of purpose can hardly exist. Then what, let me ask, is the position in which Her Majesty's Government stand in this House? When Indian questions are discussed, it is the constant habit of those who take part in the debate, criticising and impugning what has been done, to hold Her Majesty's Government responsible for everything that occurs. But Her Majesty's Government cannot be fairly responsible for things over which they have not a perfect control, and which they cannot entirely direct. It frequently happens, indeed, that the Government of the day are made responsible for acts which were done without their consent, and probably in some cases much to their dissatisfaction.
Ideal Arrangement for Ruling a Dependency, being a Defence of the Company's Government
Source-Mill. Considerations on Representive Government. It is not by attempting to rule directly a country like India, but by giving it good rulers, that the English people can do their duty to that country; and they can scarcely give it a worse one than an English Cabinet Minister, who is thinking of English, not Indian politics; who seldom remains long enough in office to acquire an intelligent interest in so complicated a subject; upon whom the factitious public opinion got up in Parliament, consisting of two or three fluent speakers, acts with as much force as if it were genuine; while he is under none of the influences of training and position which would lead or qualify him to form an honest opinion of his own. A free country which attempts to govern a distant country inhabited by a dissimilar people by means of a branch of its own executive will almost inevitably fail. The only mode which has any chance of tolerable success is to govern through a delegated body, of a comparatively permanent character; allowing only a right of inspection and a negative voice to the changeable administration of the State. Such a body did exist in the case of India, and I fear that both England and India will pay a severe penalty for the short-sighted policy by which this immediate instrument of government was done away with.
It is of no avail to say that such a delegated body cannot have all the requisites of good government; above all, cannot have that complete and ever operative identity of interest with
the governed which it is so difficult to obtain even when the people to be ruled are in some degree qualified to look after their own affairs. Real good government is not compatible with the conditions of the case. There is but a choice of imperfections. The problem is, so to construct the governing body that, under the difficulties of the position, it shall have as much interest as possible in good government, and as little in bad. Now these conditions are best found in an intermediate body. A delegated administration has always this advantage over a direct one, that it has, at all events, no duty to perform except to the governed. It has no interest to consider except theirs. Its own power of deriving profit from misgovernment may be reduced-in the latest constitution of the East India Company it was reduced-to a singularly small amount; and it can be entirely kept clear of bias from the individual or class interests of any one else. When the home Government and Parliament are swayed by these partial influences in the exercise of the power reserved to them in the last resort, the intermediate body is the certain advocate and champion of the dependency before the Imperial tribunal. The intermediate body, moreover, is, in the natural course of things, chiefly composed of persons who have acquired professional knowledge of this part of their country's concerns; who have been trained to it in the place itself and have made its administration the main occupation of their lives. Furnished with these qualifications, and not being liable to lose their office from the accidents of home politics, they identify their character and consideration with their special trust, and have a much more permanent interest in the success of their administration and in the prosperity of the country which they administer than a member of a cabinet under a representative constitution can possibly have in the good government of any country except the one which he serves. So far as the choice of those who carry on the management on the spot devolves upon this body, the appointments are kept out of the vortex of party and parliamentary jobbing, and freed from the influence of these motives to the abuse of patronage, for the reward of adherents, or to buy off those who would otherwise be opponents, which are always stronger, with statesmen of average honesty, than a conscientious sense of the duty of appointing the fittest man. To put this one class of appointments as far as possible out of harm's way is of more consequence than the worst which can happen to all other offices in the State; for, in every other department, if the officer is unqualified, the general opinion of the community directs him in a certain degree what to do; but in the position of the administrators of a dependency where the people are not fit to have the control in their own hands, the character of the government entirely