Imatges de pÓgina

was entitled to as speedy a determination made. Was it to be inferred that a goas the circumstances of the case would vernor general was to be impeached, for admit of; but he could have no right, nor having conceived that it was right to levy if he could, would it prove a beneficial a fine on a contumacious zemindar, and right, to a determination, under circum- for going to obtain that fine in the mildest stances which rendered it impossible for way possible, by putting the zemindar the real sense of the House to be under- under an arrest, rather than resorting to stood; which must be the consequence of the more violent means of procuring it, by proceeding at so late a period of the ses- making war upon him? What an effect sion. As to the consequences in idea, as must this doctrine have in India upon the represented by the hon. major, who, on other native princes, tributaries to the Brithis occasion, seemed more tinctured with tish government? What would the rajah despondency on the subject of Indian of Tanjore think of it, whose capital had affairs than was usual with him, he con- been sacked, and was now filled with fessed he could not join with him in his soldiery, and whose country had been apprehensions of any such consequences. taken from him, and a large tribute deFor his own part, he felt, from his own manded and exacted to this day? Would opinion of the question on the subject of not he talk of the wrongs which he had Benares, that there might be, and were, suffered, and, being induced by the congrounds on which that question could have duct of the House in the instance of Cheit been decided, which would not by any Sing, claim and expect retribution? It means warrant the inference which the hon. was true, indeed, that Mr. Hastings in his major seemed to fear would follow from conduct in India had not always paid the it. He had voted for the charge; but, strictest attention to the natural rights of notwithstanding his having so voted, he mankind; but he had never violated them protested against any inference that the but where the interest of the Company, executive government of India were not his employers, actually required it, and at liberty to demand extraordinary aids therefore it was an ill return after all his from the zemindars on extraordinary emer-zeal and all his services, to let him remain gencies. He protested against any in- in suspense, liable to the injurious conference, that if such aids were refused, structions which would not fail to be put they had a right to punish the delinquency, upon the vote of Tuesday se'nnight. and enforce obedience by an exorbitant and unreasonable fine. He protested against the inference that Cheit Sing, under the circumstances of the case, had been unjustly or improperly dispossessed of his zemindary. He had voted the article merely on the ground of the exorbitancy of the fine proposed to be inflicted. He could not but think that it was, for many reasons, improper to proceed in the business during the present session, and that the proceedings which had hitherto been had, might be presented, and hung up by a bill for that purpose, that so they might be resumed at the commencement of the next session.

Mr. Dundas begged to remind gentlemen of the propriety of permitting the vote of Tuesday se'nnight to rest till the day of discussion came, free from any speculative construction upon it, and not by the aid of their own imaginations to give it a meaning which might not ultimátely appear to have belonged to it. As to the hon. gentleman's ideas of our hold. ing India by dint of power, we certainly did so; and by what other tenure did any sovereign state hold territorities acquired by conquest? As unfortunately the government of our Indian possessions was necessarily despotic, it surely the more behoved that House to take particular care that the government of India was conducted as well as possible; and, for that reason, it was right the inquiry should proceed in the manner, and at the time, most likely to answer the ends of substantial justice. He could assure the House, that so far from the last accounts from India describing the state of our affairs there to be worse than they were a month ago, they stated them to be rather better.

Mr. Hamilton persevered in his inten tion to take the sense of the House on

Mr. Dempster assigned, as his reasons for seconding the motion, that he considered it as an act of merely common justice to Mr. Hastings, that the charges should be all gone through this session, and he was convinced that they ought to be concluded with all possible dispatch, after the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday se'nnight, and more especially after the manner in which the right hon. gentleman had repeated his arguments in the speech which he had just

sumption of a contraband commodity, had given a vent to a great quantity of · tea which would otherwise have lain by in the Company's warehouses perhaps for: many years to come. Still, notwithstanding the great and extraordinary receipt of each, an addition of capital was requisite for making investments adequate to the increased state of their trade: this arose from certain very heavy expenses under which the Company of late had laboured, chiefly owing to the extraordinary charges attending the winding-up of the late war. The Company did not come to Parliament to ask for the aid of the public in raising the money of which they stood in need, but merely to obtain leave to make use of their own credit for that purpose, which at present they were restrained from doing by the provisions of the laws now subsisting. After enumerating the several objects for which the money to be raised was wanted, as the discharge of certain debts due by the Company to the public, part at home and part in India; the purchase of silver for exportation, and the completing their commercial investments, which in all would amount to 2,000,000l.; he concluded by moving, "1. That the East India Company be enabled to raise a sum of money, for the purposes mentioned in their petition, by the sale of 36,226. 16s. being an annuity due to them from the public, in consideration of 1,207,559. 15s. part of 4,200,000l. advanced by the said Company to the public under the authority of several acts of parliament. 2. That the said Company be enabled to raise a further sum, by adding 800,000l. capital stock to their present capital of 3,200,000. so as to make their whole capital stock, in future, four millions; and that such addition be made by opening a subscription to the amount of the said 800,000l. capital stock, at the rate of 1601. for every 100l. of such capital stock, or at such other rate as the court of directors of the said Company, with the approbation of the commissioners of the Treasury, shall direct; and that the subscribers to the same be declared entitled to the like profits, benefits, and privileges, in respect thereof, as the proprietors of East India stock are, or may be, entitled to in respect of their present stock."

Mr. Sheridan said, that the necessity for the present application must have been known early in the session, and that the directors had no manner of occasion to have waited under the expectation of re

his motion a division accordingly took place, when the numbers were, Yeas, SO; Noes, 99.

Mr. Burke declared, that he had adhered to the rule which he had laid down of being in all respects throughout the business bound and governed by the opinion of the House; and therefore he had neither debated nor voted on the question of the call.

It was then agreed that the committee on the articles of impeachment should immediately sit, in order to examine Messrs. Williams and Middleton, that the oral evidence might be completed before the rising of parliament. The House accordingly resolved itself into a committee, in which these gentlemen were examined.

Debate in the Commons on the East India Company's Relief Bill.] June 9. The House having resolved itself into a committee to take into consideration the petition of the East India Company, to be allowed to raise money by a sale of annuities, and by increasing their capital stock,

Mr. Pitt observed, that he should avoid going into any detail on the subject, unless called upon by gentlemen to enter into an explanation on any particular parts of it. The estimate which had formerly been delivered in by the Company, was found to fall considerably short of the amount necessary for carrying on their trade. This did not arise from any want of accuracy in forming that estimate, but from a material alteration in the circumstances of the Company, which had since taken place. Their trade had been of late considerably increased; and it was obvious that in proportion to an increase of trade, an increase of capital became indispensably necessary. The increase of the Company's sales of tea was from about six millions of pounds anuually, its former amount, to fourteen millions; and here was besides an increase on some other articles of their dealing. This increase, in a certain degree, proceeded from an extension of their markets; but he need not inform the committee, that the principal cause of it was, the operation of the Commutation Act. That Act had considerably promoted the trade of the Company, and in so doing, had given rise to the necessity of an increased capital; but it had also in some degree tended to forestall that necessity, for by increasing their trade, it had considerably added to the gross amount of their profits; and by preventing the con

ceiving additional information by the last ships from India. He entered into an examination of several parts of the report of the situation of the Company's affairs which had been laid on the table. He asserted, that the calculations were mostly erroneous; the deductions false, and the result of the whole of such as he had touched upon, consequently fallacious.

After a short conversation, the Resolutions were agreed to, reported to the House, and a Bill ordered to be brought in thereon.

June 26. The report of the Bill "to enable the East India Company to raise money by a sale of annuities, and by increasing their capital stock" being brought up, the amendments were read and agreed to, after which,

Mr. Sheridan said, that the more he examined the subject the more reason he had to complain of its having been delayed to so late a period of the session; a delay which he had no manner of doubt was contrived on purpose to prevent discussion, and elude the detection of those fallacies on which the Bill was grounded. In order to shew this, he read extracts from the accounts in his hands, particularly from the Bengal letter to the directors, whence it appeared that no additional information on the leading points had been received from Bengal since the 1st of January; and consequently, that most of the statements in the directors' report, were mere assumptions. He next entered into an investigation of the two great questions in dispute between him and Mr. Dundas, viz. the quantity or amount of the remittance to China, furnished from Bengal, and the amount of the surplus revenues of Bengal. He referred to a variety of statements in different accounts before the House as evidence, that although it had been contended that India furnished a remittance to China to the amount of 275,000/.,that not more than 60 or 70,000l. appeared to have been furnished. He endeavoured to prove that 1,400,000. was the full amount of the surplus of the revenue which could be expected from Bengal to go towards the investment, and towards the relief of the other presidencies. He quoted a pamphlet, which came from the pen of a person rather a favourite authority with Mr. Dundas, and upon whose argument he was himself inclined to rely in the particulars to which it referred, although he did not agree with

him in many others. The pamphlet in question was written by Mr. Hastings, and suppressed by him upon better recollection. The extract stated, that the drains of Bengal ought always to be allowed for, and that the utmost surplus revenue that could be expected from Bengal was a crore of rupees, or one million of money. Mr. Sheridan dwelt on this point, and opposed the authority of Mr. Hastings respecting it to the arguments used by Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas upon the subject in former debates. He also said, that he expected to hear no more from the former of these gentlemen respecting the 275,000l. sent from India to China, unless he meant positively to contradict the papers which had been printed. He argued upon the immense quantity of bills drawn from India upon the Company at home, declaring, that in ten years time, bills to the amount of twelve millions would be due. He asked, whether the Lords of the Treasury, in permitting bills to so large an amount, and which were to be outstanding till so distant a period, did not pledge that House to renew the Company's charter, when it should next expire? He reasoned upon the probable effect of such a load of debt, and contended that it must prove ruinous to the Company. He took notice of the declaration made by Mr. Dundas in a late debate, that the public were not pledged as a security for the money borrowed by the Company, and said, that if the fact were so, it could not be too well understood; he should therefore move the insertion of the following clause: "That as nothing in any former Act relating to the affairs of the East India Company, so nothing in this Act contained, shall be construed to extend to pledge the public faith, or in any respect to make the public responsible for the present or future claims of any of the creditors of the Company, or in any way to bind the public to the renewal of the charter of the said Company."

Mr. Dundas said, he had, on a former day, declared himself ready to answer any objection made to the Bill, and to justify both its principles and its provisions. He was ready to do so still, but he must hear the objections stated before he could answer them. He had listened with a good deal of attention to the hon. gentleman, and though he did not expect to be able to afford him satisfaction upon all the points to which he had alluded, he would endeavour to do so; but, as an hon. baronet had

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some objections to state to the principle of the Bill, he should be glad to know what those objections were, as it would, perhaps, save much time, if he were in one speech to answer all objections.


the Bill was founded, than he had heard. It was easy to prove that the hon. gentleman was much mistaken in his notions of the remittance furnished for China, from India, and also in his ideas of the probable surplus of the revenues of Bengal. He entered into a detailed discussion of the former, in order to prove that it amounted to 275,000l., He denied that he had ever said that the remittance was made in specie. Undoubtedly it was not. It was made in a manner beneficial to the interests of the Company, because it consisted in a great measure of an export of opium and of cotton, for which the money was paid into the Company's treasury in China. He stated that in proportion as the commerce to Canton increased, in like proportion would the export of opium and cotton increase; and inferred that full 275,000l. would be remitted from India. He next proceeded to the other head, viz. the surplus of the Bengal revenues, and declared it to be his opinion, that comparing the effect of the reduction of the establishments with the former establishments, and the increase of the revenues naturally to be expected, and all other circumstances of India taken into consideration, the surplus would amount to eighteen lacks or 1,800,000/. But this opinion, though it was one which after a minute consideration of the whole of the case he had made up his mind to, was not an opinion to which he had pledged himself, or chiefly relied on in the argument upon which he should rest the justification of the present Bill. He would allow a third of this sum to be taken away by contingencies, and would leave no more than 1,200,000/. for the investments to be sent home. He stated a variety of particulars to be provided for, such as the half-pay of the Company's servants discharged, &c.; and said, in answer to that part of the speech of Mr. Sheridan, in which he had stated the extracts from Mr. Hastings's pamphlet, that he had no difficulty in admitting that Mr. Hastings was a favourite authority with him, because he was, generally speaking, an authority to be rested on; but in the particular which the hon. gentleman found it convenient to hold up as authentic, although in almost every other particular he professed to dispute the credit due to Mr. Hastings, he must beg leave to differ, and that without throwing the smallest imputation upon the argument urged by Mr. Hastings in the pamphlet

Sir Grey Cooper went into a detaial of the history of the East India Company, tracing it from its origin down to the present period, and stating the amount of the joint stock or capital at the era of incorporation, and upon each renewal of its charter; whence it appeared, that the Company's capital was originally a few hundred thousand pounds only, that it doubled it more than twice or thrice, till at last it possessed its present capital stock of 3,200,000l. Sir Grey stated the loan to the public of four millions, and suggested, that it was probable that loan was made by Government in order to give the proprietors of India stock a collateral security, by their having a claim upon the public for as much as they had subscribed towards their capital. Sir Grey endeavoured to prove, that the Company's being, in the manner the Bill warranted, empowered to admit not only their own proprietors but all the world to subscribe at 160 per cent. to the new stock, were authorized, as it were, to put their credit up to public sale. He described the precedent as a dangerous departure from the particular conditions of incorporation, and pointed out the different conduct of other great incorporated companies, particularly the Company of the Bank, who had uniformly adhered to the conditions of their charter.

Mr. Dundas went through the whole detail of the state of the affairs of the Company in Bengal. He set out with denying that he had waited for more news from India than he was in possession of before he brought in the Bill. He admitted that he knew as much of the state of the affairs in Bengal six months ago as he knew at that hour. Indeed it was impossible that the reductions ordered by Government in the establishments of Bengal, and from which so much was to be expected, should have taken place till about the time that the measure proposed by the Bill was to be brought into parliament, and therefore it would have been ridiculous in him to have said he waited to hear their effect before he offered it. He had waited merely till the directors had thought fit to apply. He confessed that he had entertained an expectation of a more severe and minute animadversion on the principles on which

in question, and for this reason; the whole of Mr. Hastings's argument, when he stated that a crore of rupees would be the utmost which could be expected to be the tribute from Bengal, the drains of that kingdom properly allowed for, was grounded on the actual expense of the Bengal establishments at that time. The reductions since ordered from home had been so important and effectual, that they had totally altered the argument, and made the case widely different. Mr. Hastings had shewn his good sense, in allowing the drains Bengal was liable to sustain; he would be a shallow politician indeed, who did not make that allowance, and it was with a due attention to that necessary consideration, that he desired to be understood as arguing all along. From this remark, Mr. Dundas proceeded to evince the sound policy of permitting the Company's servants in India to transmit their fortunes home to England, through the medium of investments of the Company's ships, but for which they took bills on the Company at home. He stated that the practice had been for the ships of other European powers, our rivals in the commerce of India, to sail for the Ganges, that they trusted for the money to purchase an investment solely to the Company's servants wishing to send their fortunes home to Europe, and that they thus found a British capital ready for them in India. He urged the ruinous tendency of this practice, and more especially since the means which had been lately adopted for confining the tea trade to England to the East India Company. He observed, that it was our essential interest to throw difficulties in the way of our rivals, and to take into our own hands the advantages we had long suffered them to enjoy that by permitting the servants of the Company in India to assist the government there with their fortunes, we opened a new source of advantage and accommodation to them and to ourselves. The hon. gentleman had talked of the Treasury-board's allowing bills from India to so large an amount to be drawn on the Company at home, and had said they might have sent them back, if they chose it. The Lords of the Treasury had the power, no doubt; but they would have acted in a most foolish, unjust, and impolitic manner, had they done so. Would any gentleman seriously contend, that after having made use of the fortunes of the Company's servants in India, after

having purchased investments with their money, and derived a considerable degree of profit from the sale of those investments here at home, it would be just in the first instance, or wise at all to return their bills, and refer them back for payment in India? Surely no man would stand up and maintain so unfair an argument. Gentlemen talked of the enormous debt accruing upon the Company at home, and said, that in ten years twelve millions would be owing. Was that the fact? Most undoubtedly it was not. Instead of twelve millions of debt, a new capital to the amount of twelve millions was forming. As fast as it accrued, so much in proportion flowed into the Company's treasury at home, and the means of discharging the debt uniformly accompanied its accumulation. Having avowed himself a zealous friend to this system, declaring that he never would consent that the Company should call itself a wealthy and flourishing Company at home, and a poor and distressed Company in India, he begged leave to appeal to Mr. Hussey, who had taken pains to make himself master of the Company's affairs, and had been on various committees, and to desire him to point out a better mode of relieving Bengal; and declared that he expected gentlemen who objected to the system laid down, would specifically state a more practicable one. He next entered into an examination of the principles and conditions on which the Company had been incorporated, tracing its existence to Queen Elizabeth's time, and stating the union of the two Companies, which had at one time existed, to have taken place in 1699, or thereabouts. He denied that the debt of the public to the Company, was intended to be any sort of collateral security to the Company's stock, and said, that the arguments that the two debts (that of the Company to their subscribers, and that of the public to the Company), were correspondent, had any sort of connexion, or would run together. He mentioned that the terms were optional. The bond-holders might either keep their bonds or subscribe to the annuity. He said that it was true that India, greatly exhausted by the late ruinous war, required, as this country did, to be managed with every possible care and attention; but then, in proportion, India had less difficulties to struggle with than Great Britain. He hoped to see India with a powerful army (on which her

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