HC Deb 05 April 1883 vol 277 cc1476-7

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether the Secretary of State has considered the inconvenience arising from the migratory character of the Indian Legislature, and the constantly decreasing fraction of the year during which the Government and Legislature are at the nominal Capital; so that, in the present year, after a Legislative Session of barely three months at Cal- cutta, it has been necessary to hang up for eight or nine months a petty measure, the discussion of which gives rise to a continually increasing irritation between Europeans and Natives, and a very important Land Bill, the main features of which have already been discussed for years; and, whether there is any probability of a decision being arrived at which may make some one place the real headquarters of the offices of the Government of India; and, whether the Secretary of State's attention has been called to the great aggravation of the Legislative inconvenience above mentioned, due to the technical constructions and other processes, by the operation of which, of late years, the local Legislatures of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay have been deprived of many of the powers which the Indian Councils Act purported to confer on them, and it has been rendered necessary to introduce into the Supreme Indian Legislature many Bills on subjects really local, and pertaining to those Provinces respectively?


Some inconvenience may, perhaps, occasionally arise from the migratory character of the Indian Legislature. The recent Legislative Session at Calcutta lasted three months; but there is no ground for the suggestion that it was its shortness which led to the postponement of the Bengal Kent Bill, or the Criminal Jurisdiction Bill. The Home Government recognizes the fact that Calcutta and Simla are, at different times of the year, the head-quarters of the Government of India; and no change is contemplated. The powers of the Council of the Governor General and of the local Councils of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal respectively, depend entirely upon the provisions of the Indian Council Act of 1861; and local Councils could not, by technical construction or otherwise, be deprived of any powers which that Act confers upon them. There is, at the same time, reason to believe that the Government of India is considering the best mode of so framing its own legislative measures as not to limit inconveniently the powers of the local Councils to legislate afterwards on the same subjects.