Excerpt from The India Council: Written for the Cobden Club
It is but due to the Council to state that it is in no way to blame for the secrecy and irresponsibility of its proceedings. It is also due to those Interested in India to assert that although theoretically the Council has no power, except that of advising the Secretary of State for India, yet there are so many changes of this official (from 1878 to 1882 there were no less than four different Secretaries of State, three of whom were new to the office), that practically the administration of India rests with the Council, who, as already named, is responsible to no one - not even to the Secretary of State, Parliament, or public opinion. In the nature of things it is impossible that during the existence of this Council burning questions should not have arisen, leading to strong ex pressions and variations of opinion. Yet a case has never been known of a member resigning in consequence of a policy being sanctioned which he thought inimical to the interest of India. How very different with the men who are the ultimate repositories of power in this country; for during the same period how often have members of Parliament, to whom the: emoluments of office were a consideration, sacrificed both position and emoluments rather than continue in a Cabinet whose proceedings they could not approve. This exemption from responsibility has far more serious consequences than at first sight appears, as it is unreasonable to expect that Parlia ment can hold a Secretary of State responsible for acting upon the advice of a Council he never elected. Were either of these parties, in the strict sense of the term, responsible, and bound to report their proceedings for sanction in the same manner that the Cabinet did before the Egyptian finance arrangements were finally settled, it is quite inconceivable how sanction could have been obtained for the purchase, in 1869, of the Elphinstone Land and Press Co., Bombay, for rupees per share, when the selling price was 330 rupees; or for the purchase, in 1870, of the East India Irrigation and Canal CC. For with to as a bonus, whilst the works were unsaleable in the open market at It may safely be said that none of the gentlemen who represented India in these two transactions would have entertained for one moment such a transaction on their own account. We know the exact loss which the empire has sustained through these two transactions, but we cannot estimate the injury which India daily sustains by the confused statements presented (it is but fair to presume by the sanction of the Council) to Parliament, as also to Parliamentary committees, representing imaginary expenditure on exchange transactions with London, as also imaginary deficits made good only by additions to the national debt.
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