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Having discussed this matter very fully, Mr. Pitt proceeded to state, that much would depend on the manner of administering the government in India, and that his endeavours should be directed to enforce clear and simple principles, as those from which alone a good government could arise. The first and principal object would be to take care to prevent the government from being ambitious and bent on conquest. Propensities of that nature had already involved India in great expenses, and cost much bloodshed. These, therefore, ought most studiously to be avoided. Commerce was our object, and with a view to its extension, a pacific system should prevail, and a system of defence and conciliation. The government there ought, therefore, in an especial manner to avoid wars, or entering into alliances likely - to create wars. At the same time that he said this, he did not mean to carry the idea so far as to suggest, that the British government in India was not to pay a due regard to self-defence, to guard against sudden hostilities from the neighbouring powers, and, whenever there was reason to expect an attack, to be in a state of preparation. This was undoubtedly and indispensably necessary ; but whenever such circumstances occurred, the executive power in India was not to content itself with acting there, as the nature of the case might require ; it was also to send immediate advice home of what had happened, what measures had been taken in consequence of it, and of what farther measures were intended to be pursued. He mentioned also the institution of a tribunal to take cognizance of such matters, and state how far such a tribunal should be empowered to act without instructions from home. He next said, that the situation of the Indian princes, in connection with our government, and of the number of individuals living immediately under our government, were objects that ought to be the subject of an enquiry. The debts due from one Indian prince to another, over whom we had any influence, such as the claims of the Nabob of Arcot upon the Rajah of Tanjore, ought undoubtedly to be settled on a permanent footing : this, and the debts of the natives tributary to us, ought also to be the subjects of enquiry. Another object of investigation, and an object of considerable delicacy, was the pretens
sions and titles of the landholders to the lands at present in their possession : in the adjustment of this particular, much caution must be adopted, and means found that would answer the end of substantial justice, without going the length of rigid right; because he was convinced, and every man at all conversant with Indian affairs must be convinced, that indiscriminate restitution would be as bad as indiscriminate confiscation. Another very material regulation, or rather principle of reform, from which solid hopes of providing a surplus adequate to the debt in India might be drawn, was, the retrenchments of our establishments in that country. At present it was a well-known fact, that all our establishments there were very considerably overcharged; at any rate, therefore, there must be no augmentation suffered; and in order to prevent the possibility of such an improvident measure, a return of all the establishments must be called for. gard to the means of reducing them, they ought to be laid before parliament, and submitted to the determination of both Houses. Every intended increase of the establishment ought also to be submitted to parliament, and the company to be immediately restrained from sending out any more inferior servants. He stated that it would be necessary, by proper provisos, to compel the execution of these points: and the better to guard against the continuance of that rapacity, plunder, and extortion, which was shocking to the feelings of humanity, and disgraceful to the national character, he proposed to render the company's servants responsible for what they did in every part of India, and to declare it illegal and punishable, if they, on any pretence whatever, accepted sums of money, or other valuables, from the natives. This would be hoped, tend effectually to check corruption. There were, he was aware, a certain species of presents, so much a part of the ceremonies inseparable from the manners of the East, that an attempt to direct that they should. not be received, would be utterly impracticable; but even as much as possible to guard against any bad consequences resulting from the continuance of the practice in question, he meant that the bill should oblige the company's servants in India to keep an exact and faithful register of all such presents.
With regard to those of the company's servants, who did not comply with the directions the bill would hold out to them, and to such other directions as should, under the sanction and authority of the bill, be transmitted to them from home, such persons should be considered as guilty of offences punishable in the degrees stated in the bill, which should contain a special exception of those guilty of disobedience of orders and other crimes, which from their consequences, being of a most fatal tendency, must be punished with great severity. In respect to this part of his subject, the House, he had no doubt, would go along with him in feeling the necessity, and at the same time the extreme difficulty, of providing a proper tribunal, before which persons charged with offences committed in India should be tried. He owned he had an extreme partiality to the present system of distributing justice in this country; so much so, that he could not bring himself for a moment to think seriously upon the idea of departing from that system, without the utmost reluctance : without mentioning names, however, or referring to recent instances, every man must acknowledge, that at present we had it not in our power to do justice to the delinquents of India, after their return home. The insufficiency of parliamentary prosecutions was but too obvious ; the necessity for theinstitution of some other process was therefore undeniable. A summary way of proceeding was what had struck him, and, he believed, others who had thought much upon the subject, as most advisable: the danger, however, was the example that must arise from any deviation from the established forms of trial in this country, it being perhaps the first, the dearest, and the most essential consideration in the mind of every Englishman, that he held his property and his person in perfect security, from the wise, moderate, and liberal spirit of our laws. Much was to be said with respect to the case in point: either a new process must be instituted, or offences equally shocking to humanity, opposite to justice, and contrary to every principle of religion and morality, must continue to prevail unchecked, uncontrolled, and unrestrained. The necessity of the case outweighed the risk and the hazard of the innovation; and when it was considered that those who might go to India hereafter, would know the danger of transgressing before they left England, he trusted it would be admitted that the expedient ought to be tried. Should such a law pass, every man who should go to India in future, would, by so doing, consent to stand in the particular predicament in which the particular law placed him; and in thus agreeing to give up same of the most essential privileges of his country, he would do no more than a very numerous and honourable body of men did daily, without the smallest impeachment of their characters, or the purity of the motives that impelled their conduct.
Mr. Pitt suggested loosely what his idea of the summary species of trial he meant to authorise was. He said, there must be an exception to the general rules of law; the trials must be held by special commission: the court must not be tied down to strict rules of evidence: but they must be upon their oaths to give judgment conscientiously, and pronounce such judgment as the common law would warrant, if the evidence would reach it. Much, he was aware, would depend on the constitution of the court. His design, therefore, was, that it should be composed of men of known talents, unimpeached character, and high consequence; that their impartiality should be farther secured by their election being by ballot; and that a certain number out of the whole nominated should make a court, in order that there might exist the chance of a choice by ballot. The persons to be bal. loted for, should be some of them from among the judges, some mombers of the House of Lords, and some members of that House. Such a mixed assemblage, from the very first characters in the kingdom, would leave no room for suspicion, or possible impeachment of justice; and, in order still more strongly to fortify the subject against injustice, they should not be chosen till the hour of trial, and should then be all sworn. To effect the purposes of the institution of such a tribunal, they should be empowered to take depositions, and receive information, commuaicated by witnesses who were in India when the delinquent was stated to have committed the offences he might stand charged with ; and farther, they should be judges both of the law and the fact. With regard to the punishments, they should be go. verned by the punishments the law, as it stood, authorised in cases of misdemeanour, viz. fine and imprisonment; but the extent of these should rest in the discretion of the court, to apportion according to their opinion of the proved enormity of the crime: and as a farther means of rendering such a tribunal awful, and of giving effect to its plans for preventing the perpetration of crimes shocking to humanity, it should be armed with the power of examining the parties charged as delinquents, by interrogatories, as to the value of their effects, in order the better to be able to govern the quantum of the fine to be levied in case of conviction: it should also be armed with the power of examining the amount of any man's property on his arrival in England from India: and since purity and abstinence were the objects which every man must desire should characterize the conduct of their countrymen in Asia, the company should not have it in their power to employ any one of their servants convicted of a misdemeanour while he had been in India, nor should any person be suffered to return to that country after his stay in this beyond a certain limited period. Mr. Pitt interspersed his notifi. cation of the different principles and regulations which his intended bill went to establish, with a variety of illustrations and arguments; and concluded with moving, “ That leave be given to bring in a bill for the better regulation and management of the East-India company, and of the possessions in India."
The motion, after a few observations from Mr. Fox, was agreed to.
February 22. 1785. The House having, on Mr. Pitt's motion, resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House, for the purpose of taking into consideration that part of His Majesty's Speech which recommended to their earnest attention the adjustment of such points in the Commercial intercourse with Ireland as were not yet finally adjusted; and the eleven resolutions agreed to by the Houses of Lords and Commons of Ireland, being read,
MR. Pitt rose, and opened the system of commercial inter