Affairs of the East India Company: Letter and papers from Mr. Rickards

Pages 1098-1100

Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].

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Note.-On Friday the 4th of June The Lord President read to the Committee the following Letter, which he stated he had received from Mr. Rickards, with his Evidence revised, and the Papers subjoined:-

My Lord, 54, Wimpole Street, 3d June 1830.

I have the Honour to return my Evidence before your Lordships Committee on the 28th Ultimo, corrected; and regret that Illhealth has prevented my doing it sooner. The same Cause obliges me, under the most positive Injunctions of my Physician, to retire from all Business or Occupation of a laborious or exciting Nature; and as this will necessarily prevent my attending the Lords Committee, or that of the House of Commons, for further Explanation, I have been anxious to render my present Evidence as complete and explanatory as the State of the Company's printed Accounts will admit. The Importance of the Question here discussed renders indeed a full Explanation quite indispensable. I have been accused, but unjustly, of Hostility in these Discussions to The East India Company; whilst my Feeling is decidedly the reverse. In the Evidence I have given before your Lordships, and before the Committee of the House of Commons, my sole Object has been to convey the Conviction of my own Mind, that the Company's Trade has been as injurious to themselyes as to the British Public at large, and the whole of the Eastern World; and that, without Commerce, they would be the fittest Medium His Majesty's Government could employ for the Political Administration of India; that in fact their Government of India, without the present Admixture of Commercial Objects, would be both profitable and creditable to themselves. Under these Impressions, as well as the Circumstance adverted to in the beginning of this Letter, I have made some Additions to my last Evidence; but as these Additions are merely explanatory, and do not alter in the least, but on the contrary corroborate the only Point I was anxious throughout that Examination to impress, I should be glad if your Lordships could allow them to stand as Part of my Evidence on that Day. At all events, the Explanations now given will lead to the Ascertainment (my sole Object) of whether there be or be not a Surplus Revenue in India, a Fact which I take to be of vital Importance in the present Discussions.

I have the Honour to be, with great Respect,

My Lord,

Your Lordship's most obedient humble Servant,


The Lord President of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on East India Affairs, &c. &c.

Paper A. [See ante, p. 491.]

ANALYSIS of the Account No. 2, or Statement of the Revenues and Charges of India, &c. from 1809-10 to 1827-28, and contained in the Collection of Papers relating to the Finances of India, February 1830.

£ £
In the Columns of the "General Result" the Surplus Revenue amounts to 4,036,928
And Surplus Charge to 20,181,493
Apparent Charge 16,144,565
Deduct Interest on Debts 32,887,975
And there remains an actual Surplus Receipt of 16,743,410
Sums which it is conceived may be added to the Receipts, to shew the Amount of Financial Resource within the Period:
1. Loan from Government in 1812 2,500,000
2. Portion of Nizam's Peshcush not appertaining to this Account, Vide No. 2. B. 840,841
3. Loan from the Nabob of Oude in 1815-16, for which he was reimbursed by a Territory conquered from the Nepaul State, and which it is admitted, in Account No. 1. A, ought to be added to the Bengal Surplus Revenue of that Year 1,109,975
Total Surplus in 19 Years 21,194,226


Paper B. [See ante, p. 492.]

There is another and perhaps a simpler Course by which a Surplus may be deduced from these Accounts. The Statement No. 2. now before me is a regular Cash Account of Territorial Receipts and Disbursements. If then it be insisted on that the Debt is wholly Political, and incurred to defray Political Charges, it is but fair that the Account which bears all the Charges should likewise have the Benefit of all the Receipts; in other Words, that if the Account is credited with the Interest paid on Loans, it should also be debited with the Principal, or the Amount received. With this Adjustment, the Account would then stand thus:-

£ £
On the 30th April 1793, the Indian Debt is stated in Appendix No. 7. to the Second Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons of 1810, to be 7,971,665
And on 30th April, 1827, it is stated in No. 4. of Papers relating to Finances of India, &c. Feb. 1830, to be 42,870,876
Increase of Debt, or Money raised on Loan, during the Period 34,899,211
Brought forward £34,899,211
Deduct the Surplus Charges during the Period as follows:
Excess of Political Charges from 1792-93 to 1808-9, as per No. 6. of Appendix to the Second Report of Select Committee 1810 5,078,015
And the Political Charges paid in England, as per No. 46. of Appendix to Third Report 6,138,448
Add, £11,216,463
Surplus Charge from 1809-10 to 1826-27, as per No. 2. of Papers, &c. February 1830 £13,589,894
Total of Surplus of Charges for both Periods 24,806,357
Net Surplus £ 10,092,854
But the Interest on £7,971,665 of Debt, which existed previous to the Period, should be deducted from the whole, Charge of Interest. This may be moderately calculated at 8 per Cent. for the whole Term, as during a Part of it it bore 10 and 12 per Cent.
For 35 Years, it would amount at 8 per Cent. to 22,320,655
Which being deducted from Charges, or added, as here, to the Surplus, makes the Surplus of the whole Period 32,413,509

This Account admits of Adjustments which would probably increase the Surplus; but as it stands it is sufficient to prove the Fact exhibited in the printed Accounts before the Public, that for the whole 35 Years here adverted to there has been a large Surplus of Territorial Receipts. It is then precisely this Surplus which requires to be satisfactorily accounted for; for if it cannot be shewn to have been wanted to defray Territorial Charges over and above the whole Supply from Revenue, the Conclusion is inevitable, that it must have been absorbed by Commerce.

Paper C. [See ante, p. 495.]

In respect to the Difference of Ten Millions to be accounted for in this latter Period, there is a curious Coincidence in the Series of Accounts on the Table, which, although they do not admit of our deducing from them precise Results, still afford Data for general Conclusions, which, if not correct, must at least be admitted to require Explanation.

In No. 21, which purports to be a General Statement of Receipts and Payments, Territorial and Commercial, in and from the Home Treasury, from 1814-15 to 1828-29, there are Two or Three striking Appearances which deserve Attention:-

First-This Account contains from Year to Year the Sale Proceeds only of Goods imported, amounting in the Aggregate to 85,459,872
Of which were returned to India in Goods for Sale and Use 14,500,042
And in Bullion 1,899,131
Total 16,399,173


And as the exported Goods are known to have sold at a heavy Loss, it follows that the Difference between the Out-turn of their Sale and the Value of Investments for Re-consignment to England must have been supplied from the Indian Revenues, or, what amounts to the same thing, from Loans charged on the Revenues.

Secondly-As the Total Receipts and Payments in this Account balance each other, with only a trifling Surplus at the End of the Term of £385, 703, it is manifest that the whole Sale Proceeds of the Goods are absorbed in each Year in these Payments, save the small Returns to India above mentioned, and without any Reference to Prime Cost and Charges, (Freight only excepted;) whence it follows that the whole of the Investments Homewards cannot be supplied from Capital, but gratuitously, as would appear, from Year to Year, out of Territorial Funds.

But, thirdly-The Act 53 Geo. 3, C. 155, Sec. 56, provides, that for Payments made out of Home Funds on account of Territorial Charges in England, Advances shall be made from the Revenues of India equal to the Payments so made in England, to be remitted through the Medium of Europe and China Investments, or by direct Remittances, at the Option of the Court of Directors; but every Excess of Advance over said Payments in any One Year shall be taken into Account in diminution of the Sum to be so applied in the Year following. According to this Clause, these Remittances ought to be accounted for separately from the Commercial Concern; but they are not. In No. 21. they are blended, that is, the Sale Proceeds of all the Goods supplied both for Territorial and Commercial Purposes are classed under the Head of "Commercial Receipts," which consequently amount

In the Aggregate to £96,516,263
Whilst the Commercial Payments are only £58,239,228
Leaving thus an apparent large Balance in favour of Commerce.
But if a Sum equal to the Balance of Territorial Payments for which these Goods were in part remitted, and are by Law directed to be appropriated, be deducted from the Sum of "Commercial Receipts,"viz t. 37,775,154
It leaves only, as actually applicable to Commerce, the Sum of £58,741,109

and therefore no more than a bare Sufficiency to cover the Sum Total of Commercial Payments; whence the Prime Cost of the Homeward Goods and Charges thereon (Freight only excepted) must have been supplied from other Funds; and this may possibly account for the Excess of Loan above specified.

This Conjecture is strengthened by Reference to No. 13. of this Series of Papers, wherein the Supply for the Purchase of Investments from Commercial Funds Abroad for the Period in question is no more than £6,207,019, whilst the Cost of the Supplies from Europe is, as above stated, £16,399,173. If then the Difference on £10,192,154 be the actual Deficit requiring to be supplied for the Purchase of Return Goods on Commercial Account within the Period, it corresponds so nearly with the Excess of Loan above specified as must be admitted to be at least a striking Coincidence.

At all events it will be found, on Inspection of this Account No. 21, that in every Year throughout the Period the Commercial Receipts, after appropriating what by Law attaches to Territorial Payments, are wholly absorbed by Commercial Payments, in like Manner as above mentioned regarding the Aggregate. It thence follows, that if the exported Goods, whether from delayed Sales, or Charges and Losses, &c. or from all together, only produced net during the Period £6,207,019, as above, whilst £16,399,173 were required, the Difference, or £10,192,154, could only have been supplied by the Revenues; and the Revenues accordingly falling short to meet Political Emergencies, Loans were raised, which according to usual Practice were then charged, but unfairly as I conceive, on the Territorial Department.

In adducing this Coincidence, however, I do not mean to assert that the one Ten Million accounts for the other; the Amounts in each Case may be accidental; but the Facts from which they spring are corroborative of what may be deduced in various other Ways from the Official Documents before the Public; viz. that there is and must be a Deficit of Commercial Funds, which the Revenues, or Loans charged on the Revenues, are made to supply; and without which the Company's Commerce, as I apprehend, must long ago have ceased.

Paper D. [See ante, p. 499.]


My Reason for coming to this Conclusion it may be as well to explain.

Nos.20. and 21. are General Statements of Receipts and Payments of the Home Treasury, Territorial and Commercial. In No.20. this Sum of £2,500,000 is entered as a Receipt, together with sundry small Payments in redemption thereof. In this Account the Territorial and Commercial Branches are not separated, being previous to the Commencement of the present Charter; but the Balance of No.20. is carried over to No.21, where the Receipts and Payments are separated; and this Loan is carried forward in each Year under the Territorial Head to 1822-3, when it was finally liquidated; but in this Year, although the whole Sum of £2,500,000 had been debited in No.20. as a Receipt, the £1,300,000 before mentioned, forming Part of the other Sum, is again debited as a Receipt in No.21, therefore a double Entry.

But the Territorial Payments in No.21. seem to be of the Description of those enumerated in former Documents as the "Territorial Charges paid in England;" and as the Balance of Payments for the whole Period, after deducting Bills for Interest and Principal of Indian Debt, correspond very nearly with the Sum Total of Territorial Payments in No. 2, (or with as little Discrepancy as we find in the other printed Statements, with the Exception of the Years in which Bullion is imported from India and exported to reduce the Indian Debt, when the greatest Discrepancy appears,) I therefore conclude, more especially as the Sum Total of the thus adjusted Payments is greater in No. 2, as well as from the Entries above described of the £1,300,000 that the whole of the Repayment of this Loan is also included in the Political Charges Abroad and at Home of No. 2. If it be otherwise, the Notes appended to No. 2, more especially when coupled with the Explanation of this Transaction given in the Act 3 G. 4, C. 93, are calculated to mislead. I have therefore been induced to place the Sum of £2,500,000 in the Analysis as an Item to be added to the Surplus Receipts, subject to further Explanation.

It will be obvious too, on Inspection of the Analysis, that the Adjustments marked 1, 2 and 3 are only intended as Additions to the Receipts, for the Purpose of ascertaining the real State of the Company's Financial Resources during the Period.