Page images
PDF
EPUB

For the despatch of business

• The Directors are divided into three committees :-finance and home, eight Directors; political and military, seven; revenue, judicial, and legislative, seven. The duty of each is partly defined by the title: but there is a Committee of Secrecy forming the Cabinet Council of the Court, and consisting of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and Senior Director; its functions are defined by Parliament.'-Martin, ii. p. 5.

The distribution of business amongst the Directors—liable as it is, with the exception of the Secret Committee, to alterations as circumstances may require-does not call for much observation. This is not the case as regards the number of Directors. If the patronage be left to them, the share of each would, under any considerable reduction of their number, be greater than would be tolerated by public opinion, and really might throw too much influence into the hands of individuals. There is, as respects business to be done, no disadvantage in the number of Directors now on each committee, for the correspondence with India affords ample occupation for them all-and, as to the economy of the matter, the salary of a Director being but 3001. per annum, the difference of charge between twelve or fifteen and twenty-four of them can hardly be regarded as of serious consequence. The patronage annually exercised in England by the Directors, extending over the civil, military, medical, and marine services, is in pecuniary value, were the nominations susceptible of sale, considerable, and certainly constitutes a public trust of great importance. Parliament has a right to ask-how has that trust been performed? But we have no doubt at all that, on candid inquiry, the answer would be creditable to the Court. It must be that, emanating from their nomination, there exists a body of public servants, than which none more distinguished for probity, zeal, and capacity, could be pointed out in any dominion or in any age known to history. In India there are no sinecures. As the conditions of promotion are much less affected by favour or party than in the dependencies of the Crown, public servants of whatever order, feeling confident of obtaining the just measure of recompence, are laborious in habits as well as independent in spirit. Finally, no individuals are brought into high and responsible office without having had previous training; and thus there is hardly a chance that the real work may be done by subordinates, while the larger emoluments go to indolent or incapable chiefs.

If this general description be accurate—and it would be easy to support it by details—the patronage could not, for the welfare of India, be better placed than it is: nor when we look at this disposition of a vast patronage, in reference to domestic interests,

do

do we find that the influence of the Company has any disturbing effect on the course of public administration. There is no great East Indian party in either House of Parliament; the patronage is noiselessly exercised, and never affects the acquisition or the loss of ministerial power. Many are the schemes that have been devised for the exercise of this patronage, in the event of Parliament thinking fit to create another machinery for the government of India; in no one of these, however, do the propounders themselves seem to have any great confidence. Some have suggested the sale of appointments; others, that a larger share of them should be assigned to the Universities; others, that they should be divided among the proprietors of India stock, or given to the sons of persons who have served in India. We will not go so far as to say that all these schemes, or parts of them, are utterly impracticable—but we do not see in any of them the saine individual responsibility that attaches to the Directorsand we are quite convinced that none of them would produce a result more beneficial than that which is now obtained.

Mr. Campbell thus sums up his observations on the Indian civil servants :

I should say that in all administrative duties they succeed, generally speaking, exceedingly well, but that the judicial part of the work is very indifferently performed. It has long been remarked that they are not juris periti ; and they are not likely to become so, unless we have, first, good, clear, intelligible codes-and secondly, a good judicial training.'—p. 281.

We agree with the writer, and are convinced that the training should begin in England. Special nominations should be made to the judicial department, and a certain amount of legal knowledge required. If the establishment at Haileybury be maintained, that line of study might well be pursued there, but it would be necessary to provide the means of instruction in the laws of British India, whether originated or adopted by British authority. Two years (the period of residence in college present) would not be sufficient for this; and on arrival in India, some increase of salary might be given as a compensation for the postponement of actual service.

While none deny that the fitness of candidates ought to be tested by a searching examination, great doubts have of late been expressed as to the necessity for a special collegiate establishment here at the expense of India. It is argued that the preliminary education might be safely left to the families or friends directly interested in the final success of young aspirants, and the public charge altogether avoided. We must refer our readers to Mr. Campbell's work (p. 264, &c.) for the details of

the

the course of education at Haileybury. Our own conclusion is that the college has fairly answered the objects of its foundation; and that on the whole-more especially as still further benefits may be anticipated from it--the expense is not sufficiently heavy to justify the risks of its abolition.

As the sovereignty of the Indian territories has never passed from the Crown, although the adıninistration of them has, by successive acts of the Legislature, been intrusted to the Company, the Crown has always reserved to itself the right of controlling the Trustees, and has practically exercised that right through a board entitled “The Commissioners for the Affairs of India.' This arrangement finds no favour with the ‘ Friend.' He says:

• By the Act of 1833 the territory of India is placed under the government of the East India Company, in trust for the Crown ; but hardly is the ink dry of this enactment than another body is created, with such powers as completely to override the so-called Trustees, and to make them a positive encumbrance on the estate. This body is a Board of Commissioners, composed entirely of Her Majesty's Ministers, who are invested with full power and authority to superintend, direct, and control all acts, operations, and concerns of the said Company which in anywise relate to or concern the government or revenues of the said territories. And by the same statute the Directors of the Company are prohibited from issuing any orders, instructions, official letters, or communications whatever relating to the territories or governments of India, until the same shall have been submitted for the consideration of, and approved by, the Board of Commissioners.'— Friend, p. 8.

The Directors are moreover required to elect from amongst themselves a Secret Committee, through which the Board of Commissioners may, in all matters wherein Indian or other States are concerned, and which, in their opinion, require secrecy, transmit orders to the Governments and Presidencies, by whom such orders shall be obeyed as if they had been sent by the Court of Directors. The members of this Committee-namely, as we have seen, the Chairman, the Deputy-Chairman, and the senior member of the Court-are bound by oath not to disclose these communications. The Friend' observes, and he is, to a certain degree, borne out by the words of this particular clause, that it is impossible Ministers could have been armed with more persect powers if the Act had, in express terms, made them the Trustees instead of the Company.' The force of the conclusion at which he arrives will, however, be much shaken by the consideration that this absolute power in the Board of Commissioners is exceptional. In no department of affairs excepting the political, does the Board of Control originate any communications or orders to India, unless the Court of Directors

shall

shall have omitted to prepare and submit the necessary despatches for consideration ; and in the event of despatches submitted to the ministerial Commissioners not being approved of by them, they are bound to give their reasons in writing for the dissent, which reasons receive the attention of the full Court of Directors, and are subject to remonstrance from that

quarter before the matter is finally disposed of. This proceeding takes place, not as between superior and inferior, but as between co-ordinate authorities. The decision is indeed with the Commissioners; for, in administration, action cannot be indefinitely delayed, nor consultation pushed beyond a certain limit. Still the Commissioners are responsible to Parliament for the exercise of the powers of control, and the result, in practice, is, that the official intercourse between them and the Court of Directors is generally harmonious, and such as ought to exist between two bodies so constituted and for such an object. A provision, first made in the Act of 1833, is as follows:

If the Court of Directors deem the orders of the Board contrary to law, a case, agreed upon between them and the Commissioners, shall be submitted to the Judges of the King's Bench for their opinion, which opinion, when duly certified, is to be conclusive.' This provision seems greatly preferable to the former remedy --that of suing for a mandamus, which exposed a conflict between authorities whom the Legislature meant to be jointly consulting and executive.

It would be hazardous to assert that the exceptional authority given to the Board of Control as to the political department may not, on some occasions, have been pushed beyond the actual necessity, and almost in contravention of the deliberately expressed purpose of the Legislature that British India should remain under the government of the Company. We do not, indeed, apprehend that the 36th clause of the Act of Parliament, granting this secret and peremptory authority, is often enforced without some modification. The Chairman and DeputyChairman are in constant and confidential communication with the President of the Board ; and as they are cognizant of the events respecting which secret instructions are to be issued, some - at least verbal-discussion must take place on the purport of them, and differences of opinion then expressed may not be without influence on the measures finally adopted. But we cannot pretend to be quite satisfied with this state of arrangements. If the Company is to exercise, even under control, the government of India, the great questions of peace and war, and of political relations with the native princes, should never, we

must

must think, be decided without the knowledge of the Court of Directors, or, at least, of an official committee chosen from among them. It would, we must add, be highly expedient, were the latter method favoured by Parliament, to modify and strengthen the actual Secret Committee of Directors. In the supposed case, its number ought not to be less than fiveincluding of course the Chairman and Deputy-Chairman, while the three others should be chosen annually by the whole Court, without reference to seniority.

Our belief being that, in the words of the Preamble of the Act of 1833, “It is expedient that the territories now under the Government of the Company be continued under such Government,' we would increase rather than diminish the weight and efficiency of the Court of Directors, and therefore we should regret to see the power of recalling the Governor-General withdrawn from them. The Directors, as

a body, are free from the influence of political party. With very few exceptions, the Court has been found ready to accept the individual recommended for the high office of Governor-General by the Ministers of the Crown, and to conduct the official intercourse with him on terms of courtesy and consideration. A determination to remove the Governor-General can seldom, on the part of the Directors, be the result of prejudice or personal resentment; it must, in all probability, arise from a painful conviction of an imperative necessity; and as a power of removal is vested in Ministers, we do not see any principle of policy or analogy upon which it can be withheld from the co-ordinate authority.

An alteration was made by the 23rd clause of the Act of 1833 in the composition of the active part of the Board of Control. The two paid Parliamentary Commissioners were abolished, and two paid secretaries, capable of sitting in Parliament, were established instead of one chief secretary. Unless as reducing in some small degree the Parliamentary patronage of the Ministry, we do not understand what advantage any one could discover in the new arrangement. The ex-officio Commissioners, with the exception of the Prime Minister, take no part in the transaction of the business, and he only on those few occasions when important nominations are to be made, or when serious differences of opinion have arisen between the President, who is practically the Board, and the Court of Directors. In general, when Downing Street receives a new set of masters, both the President and Parliamentary secretaries of the Board of Commissioners labour under such a deficiency of information as would be almost fatal to the exercise of control, if the first part of the

business

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »