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territorial revenues up to March 1 in that year, and their former privileges were extended until three years' notice after March 1, 1791. By the same Act they were authorized to pay a dividend of 8 per cent. out of their clear profits, but three-fourths of the remainder were to go as a tribute to the public.
By way of repayment of the military expenses incurred by the State on their behalf, the Company were required to pay two lacs of rupees annually for each regiment of 1,000 men sent to India at the Company's desire. The Act further authorized the Company to enlist soldiers , and punish deserters, and prohibited British subjects from residing more than ten miles from any of the Company's principal settlements without a special licence.
Two Parliamentary committees on Indian affairs were appointed in the year 1781. The object of the first, of which Burke was the most prominent member, was to consider the administration of justice in India. Its first fruits were the passing of the Act, to which reference has been made above, for further defining the powers of the supreme court. But it continued to sit for many years and presented several reports, some written by Burke himself. The other committee, which sat in secret, and of which Dundas was chairman, was instructed to inquire into the cause of the recent war in the Carnatic and the state of the British government on the coast. This committee did not publish its report until 1782, by which time Lord North's Government had been driven out of office by the disastrous results of the American war, and had been succeeded by the second Rockingham ministry. The reports of both committees were highly adverse to the system of administration in India, and to the persons responsible for that administration, and led to the passing of resolutions by the House of Commons requiring the recall of Hastings and Impey, and declaring that the powers given by the Act of 1773 to the governor-general and council ought to be more distinctly ascertained. But the Court of Proprietors of the Company persisted in retaining Hastings in office in defiance both of their directors and of the House of Commons, and no steps were taken for further legislation until after the famous coalition ministry of Fox and North had come into office. Soon after this event, Dundas, who was now in opposition, introduced a Bill which empowered the king to recall the principal servants of the Company, and invested the Governor-General of Bengal with power which was little short of absolute. But a measure introduced by a member of the opposition had no chance of passing, and the Government were compelled to take up the question themselves. It was under these circumstances that Fox introduced his Fox's East
Parliamentary inquiries of 1781.
1 This was the first Act giving Parliamentary sanction to the raising of European troops by the Company. Clode, Military Forces of the Crown, i. 269.
India Bill. famous East India Bill of 1783. His measure would have completely altered the constitution of the East India Company. It was clear that the existing distribution of powers between the State, the Court of Directors, and the Court of Proprietors at home, and the Company's servants abroad, was wholly unsatisfactory, and led to anarchy and confusion. Dundas had proposed to alter it by making the governor-general practically independent, and vesting him with absolute power. Fox adopted the opposite course of increasing the control of the State over the Company at home and its officers abroad. His Bill proposed to substitute for the existing Courts of Directors and Proprietors a new body, consisting of seven commissioners, who were to be named in the Act, were during four years to be irremovable, except upon an address from either House of Parliament, and were to have an absolute power of placing or displacing all persons in the service of the Company, and of ordering and administering the territories, revenues, and commerce of India. Any vacancy in the body was to be filled by the king. A second or subordinate body, consisting of nine assistant directors chosen by the legislature from among the largest proprietors, was to be formed for the
purpose of managing the details of commerce. For the first five years they were given the same security of tenure as the seven commissioners, but vacancies in their body were to be filled by the Court of Proprietors.
The events which followed the introduction of Fox's East India Bill belong rather to English than to Indian constitutional history. Everybody is supposed to know how the Bill was denounced by Pitt and Thurlow as a monstrous device for vesting the whole government and patronage of India in Fox and his Whig satellites; how, after having been carried through the House of Commons by triumphant majorities, it was defeated in the House of Lords through the direct intervention of the king ; how George III contumeliously drove Fox and North out of office after the defeat of their measure; how Pitt, at the age of twenty-five, ventured to assume office with a small minority at his back, and how his courage, skill, and determination, and the blunders of his opponents, converted that minority into a majority at the
general election of 1784. Pitt's Act Like other ministers, Pitt found himself compelled to of 1784.
introduce and defend when in office measures which he had denounced when in opposition. The chief ground of attack on Fox's Bill was its wholesale transfer of patronage from the Company to nominees of the Crown. Pitt steered clear of this rock of offence. He also avoided the appearance of radically altering the constitution of the Company. But his measure was based on the same substantial principle as that of his predecessor and rival, the principle of placing the Company in direct and permanent subordination to a body representing the British Government.
The Act of 17841 begins by establishing a board of six commissioners, who were formally styled the Commissioners for the Affairs of India ' but were popularly known as the
24 Geo. III, sess. 2, c. 25. Almost the whole of this Act has been repealed, but many of its provisions were re-enacted in the subsequent Acts of 1793, 1813, and 1833.
Board of Control. They were to consist of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and one of the secretaries of state for the time being, and of four other Privy Councillors, appointed by the king, and holding office during pleasure. There was to be a quorum of three, and the president was to have a casting vote. They were unpaid, and had no patronage, but were empowered 'to superintend, direct, and control, all acts, operations, and concerns which in anywise relate to the civil or military government or revenues of the British territorial possessions in the East Indies. They were to have access to all papers and instruments of the Company, and to be furnished with such extracts or copies as they might require. The directors were required to deliver to the Board of Control copies of all minutes, orders, and other proceedings of the Company, and of all dispatches sent or received by the directors or any of their committees, and to pay due obedience to, and be bound by, all orders and directions of the Board, touching the civil or military government and revenues of India. The Board might approve, disapprove, or modify the dispatches proposed to be sent by the directors, might require the directors to send out the dispatches as modified, and in case of neglect or delay, might require their own orders to be sent out without waiting for the concurrence of the directors.
A committee of secrecy, consisting of not more than three members, was to be formed out of the directors, and, when the Board of Control issued orders requiring secrecy, the committee of secrecy was to transmit these orders to India, without informing the other directors 1
The Court of Proprietors lost its chief governing faculty, for it was deprived of the power of revoking or modifying any proceeding of the Court of Directors which had received the approval of the Board of Control 2.
1 See Digest, s. 14
s. 29. The Court of Proprietors had recently overruled the resolution of the Court of Directors for the recall of Warren Hastings.
These provisions related to the Government of India at home. Modifications were also made in the governing bodies of the different presidencies in India.
The number of members of the governor-general's council was reduced to three, of whom the commander-in-chief of the Company's forces in India was to be one and to have precedence next to the governor-general.
The Government of each of the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay was to consist of a governor and three counsellors, of whom the commander-in-chief in the presidency was to be one, unless the commander-in-chief of the Company's forces in India happened to be in the presidency, in which case he was to take the place of the local commander-in-chief. The governor-general or governor was to have a casting vote.
The governor-general, governors, commander-in-chief, and members of council were to be appointed by the Court of Directors. They, and any other person holding office under the Company in India, might be removed from office either by the Crown or by the directors. Only covenanted servants of the Company were to be qualified to be members of council. Power was given to make provisional and temporary appointments. Resignation of the office of governor-general, governor, commander-in-chief, or member of council was not to be valid unless signified in writing ?
The control of the governor-general and council over the government of the minor presidencies was enlarged, and was declared to extend to 'all such points as relate to any transactions with the country powers, or to war or peace, or to the application of the revenues or forces of such presidencies in time of war.'
A similar control over the military and political operations of the governor-general and council was reserved to the Court of Directors. “Whereas to pursue schemes of conquest and extension of dominion in India are measures repugnant to
1 8. 28. See Digest, s. 82. This was probably enacted in consequence of the circumstances attending Hastings' resignation of office.