HC Deb 05 June 1893 vol 13 cc203-5
MR. SEYMOUR KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury what steps the Government intend to take to carry into effect the Resolution of the House as to the holding of simultaneous Civil Service examinations in India and England?

LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)

With the permission of the House, I wish to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman which I will confine as near as I can to the strict form of a question. But the subject is of such great interest that perhaps I may be forgiven if I stray for a moment. I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, viewing the circumstances of the Debate on Friday night on the question of the natives of India passing into the Covenanted Civil Service of India without going through the examination held in this country, he will, on certain arguments bearing on the question, give the House of Commons another opportunity of re-considering the subject? Hon. Gentlemen opposite will find that the demand I make is one of extreme moderation. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Representatives of the India Office, after consultation with the Secretary of State, are opposed to the change proposed in the Resolution, which was submitted to a very thin House and carried by a very small majority? Is he aware that the subject has occupied the most attentive and profound study of a succession of Secretaries of State for India, and does he know—


I rise to Order. I wish to have your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether it is in Order thus to question a Resolution of this House?


I do not understand that the Resolution is in terms questioned. The noble Lord asks the Government what they propose to do upon a Resolution passed the other night; whether they propose to act upon it, or what course they intend to adopt.


I rise to ask whether the House did pass any Resolution on Friday night? The Question was, Mr. Speaker, "That you leave the Chair."


The words were added. The hon. Gentleman in charge of the Resolution moved the Closure. I said it was not necessary to move the Closure, and put the Question, "That those words be there added." Then, after it was too late to make objection, an hon. Member said, "I object." That was after the words had been added. I may now say that if it had been necessary I should have accepted the Motion for the Closure made by the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Resolution.


As to the point of Order, of course, Sir, I would not think of disputing your ruling. I had nearly completed my question when I was interrupted. I will still keep within the form of a question, and, under the very exceptional circumstances, when the question involves the defeat of the Government on a matter on which I think the general body of the House would be prepared to support them, I will ask whether a long succession of Indian Secretaries, belonging to both Parties, have ever had a doubt—[Cries of "Order!"]


I am afraid the noble Lord is giving a reason why the Government should take a particular course. The noble Lord may ask what course the Government intend to adopt.


I will say no more than that the matter is far more important than any other of which I know, and I thought it necessary to give an explanation. The Government will understand my motive.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I would ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the noble Lord did not think it worth while to come and vote against the Resolution?


I may say, with respect both to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Elgin, and to that of the noble Lord, I entirely agree with the motive at the root of them—namely, that this is a matter of very deep importance indeed, and as to which, no doubt, as the world at large is aware, there has been a great deal of inquiry and consideration in India. The time has been very short. Not a moment has been lost in giving attention to the subject, both by the Secretary of State for India and by the Government; and if my hon. Friend will postpone his question for a couple of days, I shall be able, I think, to give him an answer as to the views which the Government take of the present situation. That, perhaps, is the best answer I can give to the noble Lord opposite.