HC Deb 19 February 1895 vol 30 cc1096-7

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been directed to the statement of His Excellency the Viceroy of India, in the Debate in Council on the Indian Tariff Bill, as published at page 53 of the Indian Tariff Act Blue Book, that members of the Indian Legislative Council are only free to speak and vote in the Council for the measure they honestly think best, when that is in accordance with the "mandate" they have received from London; whether he is aware that the late Right Honourable Sir Barnes Peacock and other Authorities on Indian Constitutional Law have denounced that doctrine as an infringement of the rights and privileges of the Council; and, whether, seeing that the Secretary of State for India, in a Despatch dated 15th October, 1874, distinctly stated that the object of the instructions given to the Government of India on this subject was not to fetter the discretion which the Law has vested in the various Legislative Authorities of India, the doctrine now laid down by the Viceroy of India was sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government?


The question of the hon. Member raises the important and delicate subject of the relations between the Government of India on the one hand and the Home Government and Parliament on the other. It is impossible within the limits of an answer to deal in a satisfactory manner with this matter; I will, therefore, merely say that at the proper time I shall be prepared to main tain that the course which has been taken by Her Majesty's Government and by the Viceroy upon recent occasions is in strict accordance both with the Acts of Parliament regulating the Government of India and with the constitutional and uniform practice under those Acts. In order that the leading precedents may be known to the House, I propose to lay upon the Table the relevant portions of a Despatch of the Duke of Argyll, dated 24th November, 1870, and three I despatches of Lord Salisbury, dated, respectively, 31st March, 1874, 15th October, 1874, and 31st May, 1876, in which the relative positions of the Secretary of State and the Government of India were clearly laid down.