HC Deb 01 June 1904 vol 135 cc609-12


Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)

said he should like to know whether there was any intention of appointing another member to the Council of the Governor-General of India, and whether he was to be an Englishman or an Indian.


said that at present, under the Indian Councils Act of 1874, there was authority for six members of the Council of the Governor-General of India. Up to 1885 there were six members, but then an attempt was made, on the grounds of economy, to reduce the number to five, and the work was apportioned to these five members. Hon. Members who took an interest in India must acknowledge that within the last ten or fifteen years the in -crease in the work in all the departments of Indian Government had been excessive. Some members had forgone their holidays on that account for ten years, and it was imperative that relief should be given. That it was impossible to do without appointing another member of Council. It was intended by this Bill to repeal so much of the provisions of the Act of 1874 as rendered it necessary that the sixth member of the Council should be member for public works purposes. It was proposed that there should now be a member for commerce and industry.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.)

said he thought that the Secretary of State for India did not appreciate what the import of the Bill was. Anyone who knew India understood perfectly well that there should be a representative on the Governor's Council of the Department of Public Works. Parliament recognised that in the Indian Councils Act of 1874, but under this Bill the Public Works Department might be unrepresented on the Council. The scheme of the Bill was a very serious departure from the original formation of the Council of the Governor-General of India. If the Government wanted to appoint a sixth member of Council well and good, if they could make out a case for it; but they should not take away, as was proposed in this Bill, the essential qualifications of the representatives in the Council provided for in the Act of 1874. He did not want to move the rejection of the Bill, or do anything discourteous to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India in a matter which the right hon. Gentleman had obviously not thoroughly considered; but he thought, as the Bill had come on that night almost by way of surprise, it should be taken at a later period of the session.


said it was proposed to place the Department of Public Works in the hands of two members instead of one, as the present representative was over-worked. Civil works and irrigation would be in the province of the member for revenue and agriculture, and railway works in that of the member for commerce and industry.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

said he was quite mystified as to what the Bill actually meant. It had been said that this was a measure of economy, but he did not see where the economy came in if the members of Council were to be increased from five to six. Indian matters were treated very shabbily in this House, and the Secretary of State should allow the Bill to stand over, to enable the hon. Member for West Denbighshire, who had a notice on the Paper on the subject, and had something important to say in regard to it, to be present.

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

said it had been generally understood in times gone by that it was necessary to have one man responsible in the Governor-General's Council for the Public Works in India. There might be very good reasons for the extraordinary change proposed by this Bill, but there should be some further explanation given by the Secretary of State for India.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said that the Act of 1874 declared that one member of the Council should represent the Public Works Department. By this Bill the Government were getting rid of that statutory obligation, although the right hon. Gentleman had stated that there were to be two representatives of the Public Works Department on the Council.

And, it being Midnight, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday.