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Proceedings in Parliament respecting the Renewal of the Charter of the
East India Company. THE
great business East There are three propositions India Company's Charter, in this question which his Majesty's concerning which so many peti- ministers had to consider ; Whetions had been presented to parlia- ther the existing government in ment, was brought regularly before India should be allowed to conthe notice of the House of Com- tioue in its present state-whether mons on March 22nd, when that an entire change should be effected House resolved itself into a com- in it or whether some middle mittee to consider of the affairs of course could be adopted that would the Company
be satisfactory to all parties. With Lord Castlereagh introduced the respect to the first, he was strongly subject with observing, that as the impressed with a conviction that East India charter was on the eve the present system could not be of expiring, it fell to the lot of properly persevered in by the leparliament to decide on the future gislature. There was no reason government of a country contain- for tying up, during the period of ing threefold the number of inha- another charter, the commerce of bitants existing in this kingdom. the country from half the habitHe said, that if he and his col- able globe, by placing it under the leagues had conceived that the ar- administration of the Company rangements they had to propose alone, and excluding all other perwould shake a system which had sons except foreigners. The comunquestionably answered all the mercial sphere was become too exgreat purposes of government, they tended for the limited powers of a should have hesitated before they chartered company, and it was the had suggested them; but his pro- duty of parliament not to consign position would not only
, abstain the private trade to the control from touching the principle of that of their shipping system. The system, but would render it more noble lord said, he was prepared applicable to the circumstances of to contend, that the Company had the times. He then spoke highly taken a burthen on their shoulders in praise of the government of the beyond their power to administer Company in India, and of the per. with justice to their own interests sons who conducted it; and he as- and to the public ; and that the sured the committee of his readi- evil rising from a want of capital, ness to change his opinions on the compelled them to withdraw from subject, though they were the branches of commerce which it result of mature consideration, if would be most beneficial for them they should be convicted of error. to exercise, and to engage in other
transactions attended with clear the 5th regulated in like manner loss. He gave some examples of the application of the proceeds these facts, and inferred that it from their sales of goods, and the was highly expedient that the na- profits of private trade. The 6th tional capital should be let in to directed the application of the surthe relief of the Company, upon plus revenues of the Company afthe principle of the regulations of ter the reduction of their debt in 1793, or the improved system India to ten millions sterling, and adopted in 1802. The other al- that in England to three millions. ternative, of abolishing the present The subsequent resolutions desystem, he was certainly not dis- clared the expediency of allowing posed to admit, unless all arrange- British ships built in the East Inments between the Company and dies to import goods, &c. from the public should appear impracti- that country during the present eable. Dismissing therefore the war, and to an assigned period aftwo extremes of the question, heter it-of making provision for would proceed to state those mo- further limiting the granting of difications of the existing system gratuities and pensions to officers which were the subject of certain of the Company-of continuing resolutions to be laid before the the power in the court of directors committee. After opening the na. to supply vacancies occurring in ture and purpose of these resolu. the chief offices in India—of limittions, they were handed to the ing the number of king's troops in chairman of the committee, and future to be maintained by the read. They commenced with a Company in India-and of placing declaration, That it is expedient the church establishment in the that all the privileges, authorities, British territories in India under and immunities, granted to the the superintendance of a bishop East India Company, shall conti. and three archdeacons. nue and be in force for the further It is unnecessary to give the term of twenty years, except as particulars of the conversation far as the same may hereinafter be which ensued in this early stage modified and repealed. The 2nd re of the business. Several of the solution was to continue the present speakers urged the propriety of restraints to the commercial inter- hearing evidence at the bar recourse with China, and the Com- specting certain points, which was pany's exclusive trade in tea. The agreed to by lord Castlereagh. 3rd contained a permission to any On March 30th the examination of his Majesty's subjects to export of evidence commenced in the to, and import from, all ports House of Commons before a comwithin the limits of the Company's mittee of the whole House, with charter, such goods, wares, &c. 'as that of Warren Hastings, esq. are allowed by law, under certain and was continued through a enumerated provisions. The 4th number of meetings, in which a regulated the application of the great many individuals who had rents, revenues, and profits accru served in high stations in India ing to the Company from their were examined. On April 13th, territorial possessions in India; and so much of the time of the House
having been taken up with this If it were an anomaly, it had been matter, that the general business found very good in practice. Proof parliament was interrupted, ceeding to particulars, he said he lord Castlereagh moved for the was of opinion that the India trade appointment of a select commit- was essential to the Company in a tee for the further inquiry into the commercial point of view ; and on affairs of the East India Company. considering the resolutions, he A debate ensued on the subject, dwelt upon the evils that would which ended in a division, when arise from admitting British subthe noble lord's motion was carried jects to trade to all the countries by 95 against 37. The examina- within the Company's charter. He tions were then carried on before remarked upon various omissions the select committee for a consi- of important points in the resoluderable time longer; and in the tions; and concluded with moving mean time some of the same indi- for a number of papers which he viduals were examined before the specified. House of Lords. The mass of The Marquis was replied to by fact and opinion thus produced, the Earl of Buckinghamshire who was of a bulk sufficient to fill a produced several arguments for the volume, and will not admit of an advantage to be derived from abridgment compatible with our opening the India trade to indivi, limits that could afford any idea of duals. its substance. It stands upon re
Lord Grenville then rose, and cord as a curious document relative delivered his opinion at length on to the state of India, though occa- the general subject. He thought sionally marked with the particular that the manner in which it had views and prepossessions of the been taken up laboured under one persons contributing to it.
fundamental defect, that of treating The examinations in the House as principal what was in its own of Lords were soon concluded by nature subordinate. The interests a motion of the Marquis of Wel of the East India Company were lesley for the production of certain made the first object of considepapers on East India affairs. In ration, whereas that of the British his speech introductory to the mo- crown, as sovereign of our Indian tion, his lordship charged the mi- possessions, ought to be regarded nisters with having brought in as paramount. It was now become their resolutions unexplained, un a measure of absolute necessity to considered, undebated; and he make a public assertion of the thought that their lordships were sovereignty of the crown in India, called upon to retrace their steps, and parliament must give laws for and to revert to the general sources India, pronouncing not upon a sin. of the principles upon which they gle and separate question of genewere to legislate on this arduous ral or local legislation, but upon question. He deprecated any at- the whole principle and frame of tempt to decide it upon the prin- government under which the Briciple that it was an anomalous state tish dominion in that country shall of things that the same person henceforth be administered. On should be merchant and sovereigo. this enlarged idea his lordship
made a number of particular ob- point of opening the trade to the 'servations relative to the policy Company's possessions in India, ocproper to be adopted in Indian cupied the committee on June 2nd affairs, which are incapable of and 3rd, and was productive of a 'abridgment: but upon the whole great variety of statement relative · he decidedly approved of admitting to the Company's principles of goprivate merchants to a participa. vernment in that country, the contion in the trade.
dition of the natives, their capabiLord Wellesley's motion for the lity of improvement, the effect of production of papers was then put intercourse with strangers, and the to the question, and carried. probable consequences at home of
On May 31st, Lord Castlereagh rendering the trade free, which was moved the order of the day in the chiefly a repetition of topics alreaHouse of Commons, for resolving dy frequently discussed in speech itself into a committee of the whole and writing. The question was at House, to consider further of the length put, and carried without a affairs of the East-India Company. division. After a debate concerning the or A number of other resolutions der in which the resolutions were were agreed to, some only pro for
be considered, his lordship ma; and Mr. Lushington reported 'moved the first, which was, to from the committee all the resoludeclare the expediency of the con-' tions, in number fourteen, which tinuance of the East-India Com were ordered for further consider"pany with its privileges, &c. for a ation, further - period, with the exception On June 16th, the resolutions of certain limitations and modifi- being brought before the House, cations. This motion gave rise to several were read and agreed to. some long and eloquent speeches, The 8th, relative to India-built in which the friends and opposers shipping, was negatived, lord Casof the company's exclusive privi- tlereagh having stated that he inleges produced their copious store tended omitting this subject in his
of facts and arguments. The reso bill. lution, however, was agreed to The discussion of the third bewithout a division.
ing resumed, Mr. Baring moved On June 1st, Lord Castlerèagh an amendment, to confine the removed the second resolution, de turn of vessels from India to the clarative of the expediency of leav- port of London; and he intimated ing the intercourse with China, that if this amendment was agreed and the tea trade, in the hands of to, he should propose to limit this
the Company. A debate followed, arrangement to the period of five - in which the Company's monopoly years. A debate ensued, in which was opposed by some speakers, as many
of the former arguments reinjurious and unnecessary, and de- lative to opening the trade were fended by others. The resolution repeated. On a division the votes was, however, carried without a were, for the amendment, 43; division,
-against it, 131. Majority 88. The debate on the third resolu Some other proposed amendtion, comprehending the important ments were negatived without a
division. Lord Castlereagh then adopting them. The resolutions proposed an amendment, providing being read and agreed to, the that with respect to places out of Earl of Liverpool moved that the the Company's charter, an appli- report be received to-morrow. cation for licences to trade should The Marquis of Lansdowne be made only to the Board of Con- made a number of animadversions trol, who might, if they thought upon the resolutions, in which it necessary, consult the directors. there were several points of great It was objected, that there appear- importance and delicacy which reed no occasion for licenses at all quired the most deliberate consideto places not within the charter. ration of the House ; and he mov. The amendment was, however, ed, as an amendment, that the recarried by 122 votes against 19. port be received that day three The third resolution was then months. After some debate on the passed. All the other resolutions merits of the resolutions, in which were agreed to, except the 13th, nothing new was advanced, the relative to the propagation of the House divided. For the original Christian religion in India, the de- motion, 49; for the amendment bate on which was adjourned; and 14. Majority 35. leave was given for a bill to be The adjourned consideration of brought in on the other resolutions, the 13th resolution, relative to the and they were ordered to be sent propagation of Christianity in India, to the Lords.
was resumed in the House of ComOn June 18th, the Earl of Buck mons on June 22nd. The extraoringhamshire stated his intention to dinary zeal for religion which is a move for a committee on the next prominent feature of the present Monday, upon the resolutions re- time, had displayed itself in a great ceived from the Commons.
number of petitions to parliament The Earl of Lauderdale depre- from different places and societies cated precipitation on such an im- in the island, during the course of portant business, and said that he discussions on India affairs, rehad moved some days ago for the questing that, in the new arrangeproduction of papers essential to ment, provision should be made its due consideration, which had for the instruction of the natives not yet been laid before the in the principles of the Christian House.
faith ; and so much attention had The Earls of Liverpool and been paid to these applications in Buckinghamshire spoke of the ne- framing the resolutions, that the cessity of proceeding without fur- 13th expressed the opinion of the ther delay; and it was understood committee, “ that such measures that the papers would be ready at ought to be adopted as may tend the time mentioned.
to the introduction among the naOn June 21st, the House of tives of the British dominions in Lords having resolved itself into a India of useful knowledge, and of committee, the Earl of Bucking- religious and moral improvement, hamshire, on moving the resolu- and that, in furtherance of the tions, went into a detail in order to above objects, sufficient facilities shew the policy and expediency of shall be afforded by law to persons