Skip to content

Response to Review of Financing the Raj: The City of London and Colonial India, 1858-1940

This is a very fair review by an academic whose work I greatly admire and respect. To clear up a number of the points raised:

  • Although the evidence given in the 1875 Select Committee on Loans to Foreign States does not specifically relate to India, I strongly suspect that the India Office’s brokers adopted similar market manipulation tactics.
  • The syndicates were organised by the broker and comprised the unofficial and later official underwriters, who would lose money if a flotation failed. Their aim was to boost demand, but also to act against other syndicates/brokers that had shorted loans.
  • The India Office brokers were Mullens and the Scott family in its various corporate guises, followed by Mullens and Nivisons in the 20th century. I apologise for the confusion.
  • The other suspects for the planted question in the Commons on the 1912 secret silver purchases are the Office’s silver brokers. However, acting in such a manner would have reduced the likelihood that the brokers would obtain future business from India and damaged their City reputation.
  • To be fair, in the conclusion, I do point out that the Office’s relationship with the Bank of England was atypical (‘The exception was the Bank of England, the self-interest of which could be constrained by neither trust nor power’ – p. 212). The Bank had a similar relationship with the Crown Agents.