Page images
PDF
EPUB

The two first were presented and printed in June 1805 and May 1808.* They contained a review of the accounts between the public and the Company, and a statement of the disbursements on behalf of the public for the expeditions undertaken to the French Islands, the Cape of Good Hope, Manilla, to Egypt, and to the Dutch settlements in 1801.

The outlay on account of those operations, together with the state of hostilities on the continent of India, pressed most severely on the financial means of the Company, who consequently sought a settlement of their demands on the public. The Committees, after a minute investigation, reported that £2,500,000 was due to the Company. This is one of the occasions to which the epithet of “sturdy paupers” is applied to the Company for seeking payment of what was admitted to be due, for the purpose of enabling them to carry on the government intrusted to them!

The second report already alluded to was laid before the House in May 1810,* by a Committee appointed to inquire into the state of the Company's affairs, with their observations thereon:

“ Your Committee propose in this report to submit " to the consideration of the House a detailed state“ ment of the ordinary revenues and charges of the 6 East-India Company's territorial possessions, and a

comparison of the amount of those revenues and “ charges at the last renewal of the Company's charter “ in 1793, with their present amount, according to 66 the latest advices which have been received from " India.”

The

* That of 1805 presented by John Pattison, Esq.; those of 1808 and 1810 by the Right Honourable Sir John Anstruther, Bart.

The Committee then bear testimony to the correct observance by the Company of the enactments prescribing that they “ should annually lay before Parliament dis“ tinct accounts of the revenues and of the disburse. ~ ments in India, with the amount of the sales of “ goods and stores received from Europe, the state of 6 their debts and assets, together with an account of " the proceeds of the home treasury and of the debts 6 and assets in England.”

And the Committee remark, that “ the directions of “ the act before referred to have been obeyed on the 6 part of the Court of Directors as far as practicable.”

The revenues of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, are then detailed seriatim : each branch of mint duties, post-office collections, Benares revenue, land revenues,-judicial fees and fines,-customs,salt sales, opium sales,—stamp duties,-farms and licenses, subsidies,- and revenues of ceded and conquered provinces. The charges are then described, the military branch being first touched upon : the cause of the increase is clearly set forth, as well as a variety of points which had come under review in the consideration of the whole of the extensive subject.

The third report was laid bef printed in June 1811,* in which “ a general combined “ view is taken of the whole of the concerns of the “ East-India Company, both abroad and at home, as “ respects their existing property and the amount of “ their debts, in order to lay before the House, as “ accurately as circumstances will admit, the final re“ sult of the various financial transactions, both poli

.“ tical

* Presented by the Right Honourable Thomas (now Lord) Wallace.

“ tical and commercial, from the year 1793 to the year " 1810."

After entering very fully into the receipts and disbursements comprised under the head “ Extraordinary," derived from the two-fold source, viz. credit in India and by supplies from the treasury in England, in consignments of goods, stores, and bullion, or payment of bills of exchange, and which amounted to not less than £52,293,289, the Committee remark :

« Combining then the whole application of the funds “ according to the view now given, it will appear that “ the total expenditure of the extraordinary funds, “ both in the advance for which property might be said “ to remain in England or India, and in direct charge, “ is found to amount to the sum of £52,293,289 ; “ which, though less than the amount of these funds “ by £16,135, your Committee do not doubt will be “ considered by the House as a display of order, re“ gularity, and precision, as satisfactory as could be “ expected, in the management of the extensive and “ complicated finances of this great empire, from em“ bracing at the same time both the political and “ commercial branches of its government and ma“ nagement.”

In adverting to the general result of the affairs in India in a financial point of view, by the various operations of a political and commercial nature between April 1792 and April 1809, the Committee point out the increase in debt beyond the assets to amount to £12,590,393, and then remark, that “ as “ the details of the several items contained in this ac“ count have already been explained, your Committee “ need only advert, at present, to the total of them, " and which will be found as near to accuracy as,

• upon

“ upon full consideration of the general principles “ by which the inquiry has been directed, could “ possibly be expected, when it is considered that “ that inquiry embraces the receipt and application “ of a sum approaching two hundred and forty-five “ millions sterling."

The Committee then, alluding to the Indian debt, « considered it as due to those intrusted with the “ government of India, to state that the growing « amount of the debt has, from a very early period, been the subject of their anxious observation, and that “ it has always been an object of their earnest solici“ tude to devise practicable plans for its reduction.”

The fourth report was laid before the House and printed in April 1812,* one year immediately preceding the discussion in the House of Commons in 1813, when the Company's privileges were last renewed; it enters into the Home concerns of the Company. In the early part of this report the Committee make the following remarks with reference to the China trade :

“ The trade with China has for a very long period “ formed a part of the exclusive privilege of the Com“ pany, and has been carried on upon principles con“ ducive, in a very eminent degree, not only to the “ advantage of those embarked in it, but likewise to “ the interests of the British empire, in its revenue, in “ the employment of its shipping, and in a steady and “ continued demand for its manufactures."

Alluding to the aggregate of the several heads of receipt in the Home Treasury, between the years 1793-4 and 1809-10, including the balance of cash on the 1st March 1793, and the balance of tea duties in

March * Also presented by Mr. Wallace.

March 1805, the Committee stated, “ that it appeared “ to have amounted to the sum of £143,593,248. “ Deducting from this sum the amount borrowed or “ raised on the credit of the Company, the tea duties, " and the sum advanced by government for the pur“ chase of hemp, it will be found that the affairs of “ the Company, partly political but mostly commer“ cial, produced the receipt of monies into the Home “ Treasury to the amount of £115,643,987; and that “ the revenue drawn by the state during the sevens teen years amounted to £39,348,358. . A reference to the detailed proceedings which took place at the several periods alluded to, viz. 1773, 1784, 1793, and 1813, of which the foregoing is an outline, will satisfy any impartial inquirer, that so far from the agreement between the East-India Company and the public at those periods having been entered into without due deliberation, no subject ever engrossed more of the attention of the Government and of Parliament ; and certainly there are no affairs on which the public possess more full and more ample information. It is rather a redundancy, than paucity of information, which is generally complained of.

The next point which was insisted upon in the de. bate on the 17th June last on the Stamp question, is the inefficient mode in which the East-India Company have administered the government of the country en. trusted to them. It was remarked:

“ Our grand error has been, that we apply the « maxims of factories to the government of a mighty “ empire. As we have never calmly examined the “ whole of our system at once, we have never purified “ ourselves from these paltry and peddling principles.

c 2

" We

« PreviousContinue »