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there seems no reason for thinking that they would not afford as good a basis for selecting representatives of Mahommedans and of landowners, as the district and other boards afford for the selection of representatives of the middle professional classes.
Before leaving this branch of the subject it is worth while to stop for a moment to consider what is the object of creating electoral colleges instead of adopting a system of direct election. It would be interesting to know what induced Lord Morley to make the suggestion. It is obvious that if the primary electors choose a body of weighty and well-informed men, and leave the selection of the members to them, much good might result; but is there any chance of this happening? In the election of the President of the United States the delegates assemble pledged to one particular name, and the intermediate electoral college seems to serve no useful purpose. There are only two instances known to the writer of the existence of such a system in Europe. The electoral body which chooses the French Senate resembles closely the district and other boards which are to choose their own representatives on the Provincial Councils ; it is merely a machinery by which scattered bodies may conveniently make their voices heard. The other precedent might perhaps be useful to consider in India-the three-class system, by which the members of the Prussian House of Representatives are chosen. The voters are divided into three classes, according to the amount of taxes they pay; the largest taxpayers, who pay one-third of the taxes, form the first class, the next largest the second class, and the remainder the third class. The first of these classes contains necessarily a much smaller number of voters than the second class, and the second than the third, but each selects an equal number of electors, and the whole number so selected meet together to choose the representative of the district. It is said that this system is valuable as an attempt to represent social interests instead of geographical districts, and it seems possible that the idea might be utilised if the boards, associations, and Anjumans fail to secure suitable representation of their different interests. It must, however, be noted that the system seems to be in disfavour in its own country, and is likely to be abolished in the pending revision of the Prussian franchise.
To many Anglo-Indians, and indeed to many philosophical political thinkers in England, all this talk about the ways and means of electoral representation may seem highly unpalatable. A A school is growing up among us which holds that representative institutions are based on a mistaken conception of human nature, and do not really achieve what they profess to aim at, an adjustment between the wishes of the population and the actions of the Government. Mr. Graham Wallas, in his Human Nature in Politics, gives an amusing account of his own experience in popular elections, showing how little
' A. L. Lowell, Governnient and Parties in Continental Europe, p. 303.
& candidate comes really in contact with the mind of the electors, and how little the electors are influenced by such intellectual processes as they vaguely pass through in their choice of candidates. He goes on to raise the question (which Plato decided in the negative) whether the consent of the members of a community is a necessary condition of good government, and he turns to the Civil Service in India with the claim that they, from their experience, should supply an answer.? It is doubtful if his demand can be met by any reasoned and authoritative reply. Men who have led useful and self-sacrificing lives in the belief that they must have won the love and gratitude of the people, recall with a shudder the upheaval of concealed passions in the Mutiny of 1857 and the anarchical conspiracies of 1907–8. Still they would probably not admit that the existence of representative institutions would have afforded any better warning of coming events, than had been given them by their long experience and friendly relations with the people. At all events, if we are driven to tread the well-worn path of electoral representation, it is something to be assured that we are treading it delicately and have not decided how far it is to lead us. The breath of cool philosophy meets us in Lord Morley's assurance that “if it could be said that this chapter of reforms led directly or necessarily up to the establishment of a Parliamentary system in India, he, for one, would have nothing to do with it.'
In one other respect Lord Morley modified the proposals of the Indian Government. Their scheme provided for the appointment of such a number of officials that under the circumstances it should be impossible for the Government to be in a minority. But though this had been the rule established in 1892, Lord Morley remarked that the Bombay Government had not appointed the number of officials authorised by the law, and no disastrous consequences had occurred. He argued also that with such an increased number of non-official members representing so many different interests it was most unlikely that the whole of them should ever combine to throw out a Government measure, and if such a thing should ever occur there would probably be good reason for it, and the local government would do all the better if it had some time to reconsider the matter. This reasoning, however, he did not apply to the Imperial Legislative Council, holding it to be 'an essential condition of policy that the Imperial supremacy shall be in no degree compromised.' It is possible that his decision will on the whole commend itself to the best judges ; but we think the danger involved is greater than he has realised. History records that every Act for the defence of the poorer and weaker classes has been forced through the Legislative Council by the efforts of officials, and has been opposed by the native members whose interests were affected. Any Tenancy Bill brought in in future, for the protection of the rights of
? Graham Wallas, Human Nature in Politics, pp. 199-202.
tenants, will meet strenuous opposition from non-officials, almost all of whom, lawyers and professional classes, Mahommedans and landowners, members of the planting communities and of Chambers of Commerce, are either proprietors of land themselves or are likely to be on the side of the Zemindars, and the difficulty of passing such laws will be far greater than it has been. If such legislation is blocked in future, not only will the prestige of Government be affected in the eyes of the outside world, but, what is more important, the faith of the great mass of the ryots in its power to stand as their protector against oppression and exaction may be shaken. Of course the heads of Government retain the power of vetoing any recommendation of their Legislative Council when they think it necessary to do so, but it must be foreseen that if such a power has to be frequently exercised the whole structure would collapse. It is confessed that grave risk is run, but I am inclined to think it is worth running in order to obtain the end of enhancing the self-respect and dignity of the councils.
The next important item in the scheme of reform to be noticed is the enlargement of the powers of these councils. Under the existing law their discussions are confined to legislative proposals in the form of bills initiated by the Government and to a debate on the annual financial statement. The Government of India proposed to enlarge these powers, holding that benefit would be derived from a discussion of administrative subjects, whether initiated by the Government or by a private member. To this end power should be given to move resolutions taking the form of recommendations, relating to matters of public and general importance, but not to isolated incidents of administration or to personal questions; and it would rest with the Government to take such action on them as it thought fit. The President would have power to disallow any resolution which in his opinion could not be discussed consistently with the public interests. Rules of business would be laid down as to procedure and as to the time allotted to the discussion of a resolution. These proposals are accepted by the Secretary of State, except the condition excluding 'isolated incidents of administration and personal questions. These, he remarks, may often be matters of public and general importance, and it would be sufficient to trust to the President's power to exclude any proposed resolution which does not satisfy this condition.
The power thus conferred on private members by the right of moving resolutions hostile to Government and censuring the actions of its members is a very serious one and may lead to disastrous results. It is well known what a tremendous weapon interpellation has been in the French Chamber of Deputies, where, as Mr. Lowell states," out of twenty-one Ministries that have resigned ten have fallen in consequence of orders of the day moved after an interpellation. No
Government and Parties in Continental Europe, pp. 119-124.
doubt in large matters of administration not affecting their class interests it is unlikely that private members, drawn from such various sources, would combine against the Government. But a disaffected party would certainly show their ingenuity in framing resolutions so as to catch the votes of members who are in general sympathy with the Government but do not approve of the particular act in question, and the Bengali mind is peculiarly adapted to the exercise of such ingenuity as this. A Government would be superhuman which never made mistakes, and by this method any of its acts could be brought before the Council and a vote taken as to whether a mistake had been made or not. An adverse vote would not, as in France, lead to the resignation of the Government, but its authority would be enfeebled by hostile votes and its prestige would be destroyed if constantly censured and put in a minority in matters of detail. It is essential therefore that such votes should only be taken on matters of great importance; and it is well known, both in London and Paris, that questions which seem trivial at first sight and are passed by the President as such may lead to important discussions and sudden outbursts of hostility. One must hope that especial care will be taken in framing the rules of business to avoid this danger.
This completes our review of the major part of the scheme of reforms, but two items remain to be noticed which are of extreme importance, though one of them is but lightly touched on in the Blue-book and one finds no place at all in it. In a short paragraph * at the end of their letter the Indian Government observe that these proposals will throw a great increase of work and of responsibility on local Governments, and it may be that experience will show the desirability of strengthening the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor in the larger provinces by the creation of Executive Councils and by enlarging the Executive Councils in Madras and Bombay.' But they say it would be premature to discuss this without more experience, as it would be a large departure from the present system, and the change could only be recommended after consultation with the heads of the provinces concerned. It must have been with some surprise that the Viceroy's Council learned from the Secretary of State's despatch that this hesitating suggestion of theirs, hardly more than an obiter dictum, was accepted by him as a deliberate recommendation, and that he proposes definitely to act upon it and to ask for power to create Executive Councils from time to time as may be found expedient.' He justifies this decision by the remark that the question was much discussed in 1868 ' by men of the highest authority on Indian questions, and that it is hardly likely that further consultations could bring any new arguments of weight and substance into view. This is a very singular position for Lord Morley to take up. In 1868 the creation of an Executive Council for Bengal was supported
+ Par. 76,
by Sir Bartle Frere and Sir Henry Maine, but was vehemently opposed by Sir John Lawrence; it was rejected by a majority of the Council, and the subject was dropped by the Secretary of State. Many things have happened since 1868, and the trend of official opinion has been rather in the direction of abolishing the Executive Council in Madras and Bombay than of extending the system to other provinces. Moreover, it is only three years ago that the question was elaborately discussed by the Government of India in connection with the partition of Bengal. No single official then suggested this creation of an Executive Council as a mode of lightening the intolerable strain on the Lieutenant-Governor, but it was proposed in resolutions passed at a public meeting in Calcutta and unanimously rejected by the Viceroy's Council, who believed it to be 'totally unsuited to the circumstances of Bengal.' They showed that the system was introduced and maintained in Madras and Bombay' not so much to promote the despatch of business by subdividing work as in order to guide and keep from error a Governor appointed from outside and wholly ignorant at starting of the conditions of Indian administration.' If introduced into Bengal the disadvantages of the system would be enormously increased. The two Councillors would be drawn from the same service, probably from the same province, as the LieutenantGovernor, and might be smarting under the sense of supersession themselves. They would regard their opinion as of equal weight with his.' The ‘most beneficial measures of Sir George Campbell's eventful term of office would, with scarcely any exception, have been bitterly opposed by a Council composed of Bengal officers and could only have been carried through by the Lieutenant-Governor persistently overriding his colleagues.' 'The crowning drawback of the system is that what is best for a province in India is not the rule of a Committee, but the rule, or at least the responsibility in the last resort, of an individual.' Holding such strong opinions as these in 1905, it argues not a little levity-or at least forgetfulness-that the Government of India should execute a complete volte face and recommend in 1908 the policy they had so recently condemned ; and it is equally strange that Lord Morley should have been led to suppose that the question remains as it stood in 1868, and that nothing new has occurred since then to bear on the subject.
The last item in the list of measures of reform is perhaps the most important of all—the appointment of a native of India to the Viceroy's Executive Council. It is not a little remarkable that the intention to take this step was announced by Lord Morley in his speech, and that not a word is said on the subject in the despatches of the Government of India and the Secretary of State published in the Blue-book. He told us, indeed, that the first suggestion came from Lord Minto, and that the step has his "absolute and zealous approval and concurrence '-he did not add · and that of his Council.'