Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
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By The Lords Committees appointed a Select Committee to inquire into the present State of the Affairs of The East India Company, and into the Trade between Great Britain, the East Indies and China; and to report to the House; and to whom were referred certain Petitions and Papers and Accounts on the Subject of the said Matters submitted to their Consideration;
The Committee have met, and they first directed their Attention to the Situation of the Territorial Finances of India, and examined the Accountant General and the Auditor General of The East India Company, with the view of placing upon their Minutes a concise Statement of the Financial Results of the Years which have elapsed since the Commencement of the existing Charter:- showing the Manner in which the Deficiency of the Territorial Revenues has been supplied, the Extent to which they have received direct and indirect Assistance from the Commercial Resources of The East India Company, the present Inadequacy of these Revenues to meet the Charges, and the Amount in which the Charges are expected to be diminished in future Years by the various Reductions of Civil and Military Establishments which either have been actually effected or are now in progress.
The Committee likewise inquired into the Official Constitution of the local Governments, for the Purpose of ascertaining whether there be due Controul over the Expenditure of the several Departments, and whether Power be so distributed as to secure the individual Responsibility of the several Officers employed.
It was necessarily a Subject of primary Importance to know the various Modes of assessing and collecting the Land Revenue; the comparative Advantages of the different Kinds of Revenue Settlement; how far the Pressure of this Impost be equally distributed; whether, in certain Districts, it may not constitute so large a Proportion of the Produce of the Soil as to be injurious to Agricultural Industry; and whether, under the peculiar Circumstances of India, it be possible or expedient to introduce into that Country Taxation of an indirect Character.
The Committee extended their Inquiries into the Revenue Arrangements of such Native States as have enjoyed a good Administration, for the Purpose of comparing these Arrangements with the several Systems practised under the British Government.
They were desirous of forming an Opinion as to the Effect which would be produced upon the Revenue by the Freedom thus given to the Opium Trade of Central India, which finds its Way to the Indus through Territories not under the Rule of the British Government.
It became naturally a Subject of Inquiry whether a larger Amount of Revenue might not be derived from Salt, by issuing a larger Quantity to the People at a lower Price, and whether a Commutation of the Transit Duties might not be effected, which would give entire Liberty to the internal Commerce of India.
The chief Manufactures of India having been supplanted to a great Extent by the Manufactures of England, not only in the Market of this Country, but in that of India itself, it had become an Object of the deepest Interest to improve the Productions of the Soil: The Committee therefore instituted a full Inquiry into the Quality of the Silk and of the Cotton of India, and into the Measures which might be adopted for their Improvement: They likewise made Inquiries as to Sugar, Tobacco and other Articles of Indian Produce.
In the Course of this Investigation they were led to inquire how far the Residence of Europeans in India, for the Prosecution of Commercial Objects, had been productive of Benefit; and whether it would be expedient to remove all Restrictions upon such Native Subjects of His Majesty as may desire to establish themselves in the Interior.
The first Question which presented itself was, under what Law such Englishmen should be placed; and the Committee made Inquiries from retired Judges of the Supreme Courts, and from other equally competent Persons, as to that important and difficult Question, and generally as to the Mode of distributing Justice, and as to the Laws and Regulations under which it is administered.
They inquired whether the Judicial Functions were exercised in the Provinces by Persons possessing a competent Knowledge of the Law; what Means of acquiring that Knowledge were within the Reach of the Company's Servants, and what Means existed for preserving it amongst the Natives. They obtained much Information upon all Matters connected with the Police of the Country and with the Administration of Justice; and they regarded with particular Interest the Evidence as to the Fitness of the Natives for the Discharge of Judicial Functions in the several Capacities of Judges, Assessors and Jurymen.
The general Fitness of the Natives for Civil Employment has been the Subject of anxious Inquiry, in the Hope that it might be found practicable to raise them to higher Stations in the Service than any they have hitherto enjoyed, and thus to elevate their Character, and give to the Country a cheaper and a more popular Government.
With this View it became necessary to inquire into the Means of Native Education; and Evidence was obtained, not only as to this Point, but as to the best Mode of educating the European Servants of The East India Company, both in England and in India.
General Information has been obtained as to the State of the Country now and in former Times, and as to the Condition of the People; and particular Inquiry was made into the Extent and Nature of the State of Slavery as it exists in Malabar and in other Parts of India.
Having examined the Gentlemen now in England who seemed most competent to afford Information as to the State of India now, and during the Period under their Review, the Committee proceeded to inquire into the Manner of conducting, and into the Profits of, the Trade with China. They were desirous of comparing the Conduct of that Trade by the Americans and by the Officers of the Company's Ships with its Conduct by the Company's Servants at Canton, and of comparing likewise the Charge of Freight now borne by the Americans with that borne at present by the Company, and with that which would be incurred by Private Merchants of England. They thought it particularly expedient to inquire into the Result of that Portion of the Trade with China which has been carried on by the Americans in the Export of British Manufactures, and to contrast it with the Result of similar Exports made by The East India Company.
It was likewise necessary to inquire what Quantity of British Manufactures had been imported into China by means of the Country Trade, either directly from India, or from the free Port of Sincapore, and what had been the Result of any such Importations.
Endeavours have been made to ascertain whether, in the event of any considerable Extension of the Exports to China, profitable Returns could be obtained in Tea and in other Articles of Chinese Produce; but particularly whether a much larger Quantity of Tea could be obtained at Canton of the same Quality as that now furnished to the Company, without occasioning a proportionate Increase of Price.
The comparative Statement at Page 509 of the Evidence shows the Relation which the Price of Tea sold at the Company's Sales bore in the last Year to that of Tea of the same Quality sold on the Continent of Europe and in America.
How far the Trade of Foreign Nations now derives Advantage from the Influence of The East India Company with the Authorities at Canton, and whether without that Influence the apprehended Exactions of the Chinese Authorities and of the Monopolists of the Hong could be so resisted as to secure the Continuance of a profitable Commerce, are Questions into which much Inquiry has been made.
It has appeared to the Committee to be particularly important to obtain Information and Opinions as to the Effect which the present Restrictions upon the Trade with China produce, not only upon the direct Trade between this Country and Canton, but upon the valuable and increasing Trade of the East to which they have just adverted.
The Committee have not considered it necessary to make a Statement of the different Opinions they have received in Evidence upon these several Points, as the full Index which will be formed to all the Evidence given under these and other Heads of minor Importance will enable the House to refer without Difficulty to the whole Information which has been obtained upon each distinct Subject of Inquiry.
The House not having required from them an Opinion upon the great and complicated Questions which were submitted to their Investigation, the Committee have thought it most advisable to confine themselves to a Statement of the Manner in which they have endeavoured to perform the Duty of Inquiry which was imposed upon them.