§ Order for second reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed "That the Bill be read a second time."
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY for INDIA (Mr. Buchanan)
in moving the second reading of the Indian Councils Bill, said: In what I have to say I shall assume, on behalf of hon. Members, that they know the outlines of the scheme of reform as 497 they were set out in detail by the Secretary of State in December last, and as summarised by myself in this House. Since December a good deal has happened, perhaps the most important is the generally favourable reception that those details have met with, I think I may say, from all classes of the community, both in India and at home. Of course, I am not here to assert that every one, or every section of the community, either here or in India, approves of everything, but there has, I think, been a general approval, and all are convinced of the necessity of an advance and of the necessity of an advance along the lines upon which we are going. It is an enormous advantage to us in dealing with a difficult subject like this that we should, on the whole, have obtained so much agreement from all quarters, and I should hope to-night, here in the House of Commons, whilst there will be, and there ought to be, criticism of details, the House will not, by voting against the second reading, depart from the good effect already produced in India by the friendly attitude that has been taken up generally to these proposals by all parties in this country. We, and by we I mean not merely the Government, but the majority of the people of this country, are anxious that Parliament should pass this scheme as a whole, without any serious deviation of opinion, and with as much unanimity as possible, and also, if I may venture to say so, with as little delay as possible.
For myself, I do not care by whose name these proposals are called—whether they are called Lord Morley's reforms or Lord Minto's reforms, or anybody else's reforms. What we want is that they shall be proposals offered by the British Parliament and by the British people to India, which is the greatest of our possessions. I hope in the course of the remarks which I make that I shall deal with some of the questions raised in the various Amendments which are down upon the Paper. The first appears in the name of the Noble Lord opposite, and I hope I may be able to show him in the course of my speech that there is no serious divergence of view between the Government of India and the Secretary of State as his Amendment would appear to indicate, and before proceeding further I would refer him to a speech delivered by the Viceroy in Calcutta last Monday in a financial discussion, in which he maintained—and justly maintained—that the foundation of these proposals and the structure which is to be raised upon that 498 foundation was really, in all its main features, the work practically of the Government of India. Any important points of difference I shall notice as I go on, but there is a group of Amendments moved by ms' hon. Friend the Member for Newbury and others, and to them I would earnestly express the hope that to-day we might debate this Bill and what it contains on its merits, and that we should not be induced on this occasion, at any rate, to discuss the merits or demerits of certain definite action which was taken by the Government of India, which we have already discussed to a considerable degree. Now, as regards the Bill itself. The Bill contains an amendment and an extension of the law that necessarily have to be made here in the British Parliament.
Before proceeding to what is contained" in the Bill, however, there are certain matters outside it I must deal with. There; is one to which I alluded when I spoke last December, and that is a matter connected with the reform and enlargement of local government in India. We do not attempt to deal with that part of the subject on the present occasion or in this present Bill. Hon. Members are aware that it has formed the subject of a special inquiry by the Decentralisation Committee, which was presided over by my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury with such industry and labour. The Report, which he presented about a couple of months ago, is now under the consideration of the Government of India and the local Governments there, and we hope within a reasonable time to get recommendations from them as to how much of that Report they are prepared to carry into action. We are earnestly anxious that this very important matter of reform of the local Governments of India should not be unnecessarily delayed. Now with regard to the Bill. The Bill practically contains two things. It proposes the enlargement of the Legislative Councils and the extension of their powers, and secondly it proposes the enlargement of the Executive Councils of Madras and Bombay. As it was originally introduced in another place it contained an enabling clause to set up Executive Councils in other provinces whenever necessary. This clause we hope to see restored to the Bill and I hope we shall do this in a spirit of friendship and co-operation with the other House, because, in the discussion upon this clause in the other House the responsible Members of the Opposition themselves expressed a spirit, at any rate, of not unwillingness to have a further 499 opportunity of discussing and considering that question. I earnestly hope they may have that opportunity, and that we might be able to present this scheme as a whole, and as the work of the British Parliament to deal with the difficult emergencies which have arisen in India.
In clause 1, with regard to legislative councils, in what we are proposing there, we are proceeding along the lines which have already been laid down for us in the Indian Councils Acts of 1861 and 1892. I observe in some criticisms which have been passed upon our scheme that some of our critics are disposed to demur to this, and say that we are going so far and so fast that the analogy fails. But on that I would make two observations. First of all it is essential that in this matter we should be led and not driven. In the second place, it is not we who are going fast, but India which is going fast, and particularly in the last three or four years, and the problem we have before us is to endeavour, so far as we can, to satisfy the political aspirations of the loyal people of India at the present moment, and not what they were eight or 10 years ago. It is essential that we should endeavour to deal with the situation as it is at present. Hon. Members are acquainted with the general purport of the large extension of powers which is proposed from the despatches which we have issued. To save time I will only deal with certain criticisms which have been made upon certain points.
Sometimes it is said that the numbers proposed are unduly large. In response to that criticism I would say that here we have accepted entirely the numbers proposed to us by the Government of India after consultation with the local Governments. They are naturally the responsible authorities upon this subject, and their interest would lie in the direction of limiting the numbers if possible. Then we are told by some of our critics that our councils, or the elected portion of them, are too much a representation of the interests of communities rather than a representation of the people themselves. But we are not attempting to introduce into India a final system of popular representative government after the model of the British House of Commons. Our object is much more modest and more practical. What we desire is to bring the Administration of India more into harmony with present requirements, and to associate the Indians themselves much more largely 500 in that work. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Walworth rather points in that direction, but let him and other hon. Members consider what is the problem before the Government of India. There is no merit in merely enlarging the numbers of the non-official Members in the Legislative Council unless in a large number you get a better representation of those classes in India which have a right to be represented. It is acknowledged in these Blue Books, and in the various correspondence and memoranda contained in the Blue Books, and it is acknowledged I think on all hands that hitherto the elected places in the councils have in the main been filled by representatives of one class only. That class, undoubtedly, is the class which is most receptive of our education and our ideas. It is a highly intelligent body of men, mainly the professional class, but representing after all only one set of ideas and interests, and it is necessary, if this scheme is really to do something better for the representation of the varied opinions of large and important classes in India, that other sections of the community, and notably amongst them the Mahomedans and landholders and others, should have a clear and adequate representation secured to them. If you start from our democratic theories of representative government, of course, all such special representation is an anomaly, but we have to deal with the practical problem which is before us—the best practical solution which is available. And more than that, particularly with regard to the Mahomedans, they have a special and overwhelming claim upon us, namely, the solemn promises, given by those who are entitled with full responsibility to speak for us, that they would get adequate representation to the amount and of a kind they want—a promise given to them by Lord Minto specifically in October, 1906, repeated in a despatch by the Secretary of State in 1907, and again repeated by the Secretary of State to a deputation here and in a speech in another place. From that promise we cannot go back, we ought not to go back, and we will not go back.
Let me for a moment deal with what has caused a certain amount of misunderstanding. There was a suggestion in a despatch of the Secretary of State for India that it might be possible to secure the representation of the Mahomedan minority, and other minorities of those sections of the community which claimed representation, 501 by some general system of minority representation. The object that we had in view was certainly a good one. We thought we might bring in the whole of these various bodies of men under a general system of representation, particularly the Mahomedans, and if they were so brought in they would occupy undoubtedly a somewhat stronger position in the Legislative Council than they otherwise would have. It was merely a suggestion sent out by us to the Government of India. But the moment it was made it was viewed with the utmost suspicion and distrust by those chiefly concerned, by the Mahomedans, and it found no friends in other quarters in India. The result of that was that it was dropped the moment it got to India.
The consequence of that is this, that that suggestion having been dropped, we have fallen back on the proposals of the Government of India contained in their despatch in this Blue Book, summarised in paragraph 30, with the result that the Mahomedan representation will be obtained in future in different ways in different provinces. In some by a system of Mahomedan electorates specially constructed; in other cases by asking Mahomedan associations to name representatives; in other cases, at any rate, for a time, by nomination. I cannot give the House full particulars as to the various policies in the various provinces; but after having been in telegraphic communication with India, I can say with regard to the United Provinces that we have the assurance from the Lieut.-Governor that he holds to the scheme proposed in the Blue Book in the letter from the Government of the United Provinces, par. 24 of enclosure No. 20. The substance of that is this, that of the four Mahomedans to be placed on the Legislative Council of the United Provinces two will be elected by the Mahomedan electorate and two by the Lieut.-Governor. With regard to Eastern Bengal, the two Mahomedan representatives who are included in the constitution of the new council will be on that council in accordance with the ideas submitted in the big Blue Book from the Government of Eastern Bengal—that is to say, certain Mahomedan representatives of Eastern Bengal will be asked to choose two representatives. The only other province that has advanced a recommendation at the present moment is Madras. They are unable for the time being to devise a scheme of Mahomedan electorates; and have pro- 502 posed, at any rate at first, to nominate two Mahomedan representatives to that council.
Hon. Members will bear in mind that, of course, we are stirring up the local governments in India as far as possible, because we desire that if this Bill becomes law we shall get these new bodies into operation at the earliest moment possible. But it does not follow that the actual methods adopted will not be subject to modification and enlargement in future. Hon. Members who are acquainted with India know better than I do how great is the variety of the population in the different provinces; how varied is its distribution; how different are the characteristics of the same body or class in one part or province of India from another. And they will recognise, therefore, how difficult and how intricate is the task of framing regulations in all the provinces of India that will suit their various needs. That is the work in which the Government of India are now strenuously engaged. It can only be done by the action of those on the spot, having intimate local knowledge of the population. Complaint has been made of our leaving so much to regulations. How could it be otherwise? I think hon. Members will fairly consider that we could not do anything else. What we do here in this Parliament is to lay down the general principles in this Bill along which the Act must move. We must leave it to the people of India to apply that Act, as they have got to apply it to six or seven different provinces. I say provinces, but they are really vast countries as large as European countries, some of them larger and more populous than the United Kingdom, and with infinitely more varied population than we possess. It would not be possible for us in this House to settle the details. They must be settled in India; but they cannot be finally settled in India, or nearly so, until the Bill becomes an Act. In taking this course we are pursuing the same lines as were pursued in regard to the Act of 1892. I am sorry it is not possible for us to lay upon the Table draft regulations; but hon. Members will, I hope, see that it would not be possible for us at this period to have draft regulations in anything like their permanent form. However, we have ascertained from the Government of India that these draft regulations, which will no doubt guide the constitution of these legislative councils, will be on the same model as the draft of the Bill under the Act of 1892, and 503 these are in the possession of hon. Members in a Paper which was laid before this House in the spring of the year 1894. We are going to pursue along the same lines, and the regulations that we hope to get in a final form from the Government of India are to be adapted to the new emergencies.
There is one other point which is the subject of criticism with regard to the constitution of these councils. It is with regard to the doing without of the official majority in the provincial councils. Now just let us consider what the proposals of the Government of India and our proposals in this Bill actually are. The proposals in the despatch of the Government of India were that, excluding in all cases the Governor-General and the Lieutenant-Governors, there should be an equal number of official and non-official members. Added to their proposals there was this proviso: "We do not think it necessary on all occasions to fill up the number of the official members." We thought, on the whole, that that was not a good proposal, and we suggested an alteration to them in two ways. One was that we thought we ought to have a firm, stable, and permanent official majority in the Governor-General's Council. That we have secured. On the other hand, we considered it was unnecessary and unwise to insist upon the maintenance of the official majority in the provincial councils, and we were induced to take that view on several grounds. On general grounds there was this to recommend it—that if we were extending the powers of discussion and enlarging the scope of the legislative body, it was better to give their work a better appearance of reality, than it might appear to possess if there was always an official majority provided. I can say more than that: We have got to act upon the result of experience. For years past the body in Bombay has been working, and satisfactorily working, with a non-official majority of 14 to 10. And so in some of the other councils, so that really I think the apprehension entertained in certain quarters are not worthy of being entertained. But if they are seriously entertained I should like to point out that there are several considerations to be borne in mind.
In the first place, there is the question of the combination of all the non-official members. That is a most unlikely thing, if you think of the various bodies whom they represent. But if a combination of all the 504 non-official representatives—considering the various bodies they represent—was apprehended, I think a prudent Governor would pause before he endeavoured to enforce a measure upon the consideration of the legislative councils. More than that, there are restrictions on the powers which the legislative councils possess. There is the veto in the hands of the Governor, and there is a general power of legislation for India reserved to this House. I do not think, when you come to consider the existing method by which legislation is carried on in the provincial councils, that anything but good can result from this proposal. With regard to the extension of powers, as regards business, and particularly the discussion of finance and the support of resolutions on public matters, I do not propose now to delay the House, and for this reason, that in this respect we have adopted altogether the proposals of the Government of India as set out in paragraph 57 and following paragraphs of their Report.
With regard to the proper arrangements of a better and freer discussion of finance, either in the Governor-General's Council or the local council, or with regard to the extension of powers, and the limitations within which such powers should be granted, of discussing public matters, we thought that their proposals were reasonable, and that they were the best authority for judging on the subject. There was only one respect in which we made a suggested alteration to them, and that was with regard to questions in the Assemblies. At the present moment, in most of the legislative councils, in all, I think, save the Punjab and Burmah, the members have the right of putting questions to the Government, but they have no right to put supplementary questions. We have suggested to the Government of India that this power might be extended, and that within certain reasonable restrictions members might have the power of putting supplementary questions for the elucidation of previous questions to members of the Government; and no doubt, under reasonable restrictions, it will be found that good results will ensue from this enlargement of powers. Formerly on those benches I put a great many questions in my time, and on this bench I have had to answer a great many, and I think that it did good to me then and that it does not do me any harm now. I think it enables a Minister not merely to learn the answer to the question but to endeavour to acquaint himself with the subject on 505 which the question is put, and I think it is a useful thing for another reason it prevents Ministers here certainly, and perhaps it will also in India, from suffering from the disease which I think Mr. Speaker once described as elephantiasis of the head. I hope that the same result will follow elsewhere.
I come now to the second great part of the Bill, and that is the proposals contained in clause 2 with regard to the enlargement of the Executive Councils of Madras and Bombay. By that clause we take powers to raise the numbers of the Executive Councils of Madras and Bombay from two to four. The House is probably aware that in former times there were three members of these Executive Councils when Madras and Bombay had a separate Army and a separate Commander-in-Chief, and we are advised on legal authority that we could at the present moment add a third member to these Executive Councils, but the Secretary of State thought it better to ask Parliament for the wider powers contained in clause 2, namely, to enable us to add if need be an additional two members to these Executive Councils, but he has stated in another place that it is not the Government's intention to appoint more than one additional member at the present time. But for the future—because after all we hope that what we are doing now will last for some time—and as India is rapidly developing, and in face of the development of India we thought it would be useful and desirable that we should have enabling powers to increase the numbers of the Executive Councils, just as we thought it desirable that we should get enabling powers to set up Executive Councils in other Governments if and when it should become necessary.
The form of government would be a Governor and Executive Council as it exists and as it has existed in Madras and Bombay. It is a form of government which I am informed commands general approval, and certainly to the ordinary person like myself it seems only reasonable that in exercising supreme executive powers over vast countries like Madras with its 38 millions of inhabitants, or Bombay with its 19 million inhabitants, that the Governor should be assisted in his most responsible work by a small body of responsible Ministers. At present two members of the Executive Council in Madras and Bombay, roughly speaking, -divide the work among them, one official 506 work, and the other revenue work; but they do a great deal more than that. There is a great number of the Departments of the Governments of Madras and Bombay that the official or revenue members have to be responsible for, and the Governor himself has been directly responsible for a large number of the Departments, railways, education, and a variety of others, and those who have recently taken part on these bodies will admit that there will be no lack of work for the third or even the fourth man to do. More than that, with the larger council and the extension of their powers, there will undoubtedly be a larger amount of work. Administrative questions will command no doubt more attention, and will have to be dealt with more promptly, and possibly in some respects more sympathetically than they have been in the past. I do not think anyone need fear that there will not be ample work for the members to be added to these councils.
It is intended, as I stated last September, that these additional posts shall be opened to Indians as well as Europeans. Of course, whether given to Indians or Europeans, they will only be granted on the clear grounds shown of fitness for the post. That is an important part of the general policy of His Majesty's Government. The Secretary of State has already shown part of his policy a few days ago by the appointment of Mr. Sinna as an original member of the Viceroy's Council. He has done that in the exercise of the power in his hands, and which has been in his hands and those of his predecessors for the past 50 years. It is not in any way contained in this Bill, but just as no racial disability at present exists against the candidate who is otherwise qualified so we do not desire in what we are doing to bestow any racial privileges on Indians more than on Europeans. Our main object, the great work we have undertaken is to associate Indians to the fullest extent possible with the work of administration, and we have thought it right that where properly-qualified Indians can be obtained for these high responsible positions that they should not be debarred from them. One word further. What we are doing implies a belief, in the first place, in the fitness of the Indians selected and their capacity for the highest executive work. On that point those acquainted with India inform me that there is no lack at the present moment, and there is less likely to be any lack in future, of 507 fully-qualified men of administrative ability to fill these posts, and we know already that in the higher ranks of the judicial hierarchy in India native Indian judges have highly distinguished themselves. But we require something more than that. Their appointment implies not only confidence in the abilities of these men, but confidence in their good faith and in their loyalty, and a confidence that they will discharge the functions entrusted to them not only with zeal and industry but with absolutely honourable devotion to the best interests of the Government of India as well as of the population.
Before I sit down I would like to say a word on the general aspect of what we are doing. No one will deny, and least of all will I deny, the importance of the work in which we are engaged to-day. Great achievements and great possessions entail upon us great responsibilities. The immediate responsibility falls Upon us, but an equal or a greater responsibility in working out these reforms when they become law will fall upon Europeans and Indians alike in India. We cannot expect that either here or in India everyone will agree with everything that we propose, but I think we have already clear evidence to show that we have, on the whole, received even a larger amount of general agreement and support than we had anticipated. It is but natural, however, and hon. Members will recognise it, that there are members of the Civil Service in India—a highly-trained official body—who are full of the justifiable self-confidence that the bigger mind and great devotion to duty and unsparing work give them, and it is quite natural for then to have a certain reluctance to admit that the old order is rapidly changing. Their ideal of a perfectly administered district or province under the supreme and autocratic direction of a single individual could only be retained as it has been retained under a state of things that is rapidly passing away. In the future the same end will have to be attained by association, by cooperation, by persuasion in the day-to-day work of government, instead of by direction, instruction, and command. And there is ample evidence to show that the civil servants, old and young, in India, are alive to the new conditions under which they will have to work, and will adapt themselves to them, and will work as loyally and as devotedly as before. If we make an appeal to them we are also entitled to make a similar appeal 508 to the Indians, that they, too, shall endeavour to loyally co-operate to make these administrative changes which are being introduced a success, and a real advantage to the Indian population as a whole. I see that one of their leaders has described what we are doing as "a commencement of a new era of peaceful progress under British rule." That is the attitude which I hope others will adopt towards what we are doing. If Indians do that, if they adopt that attitude loyally, and in a spirit of goodwill, I think there need be no fear of the result. I would hesitate to draw the curtain that hides the future, and, most of all, would hesitate to draw the curtain that hides the future in India; but of this I am persuaded and quite clear upon; the road we are now travelling upon is not only the road we must travel, but it is the road we ought to travel. It is the right road. If India is to be contented, prosperous, and progressive, first of all, first and foremost,. British rule must be strong and stable beyond all dispute. But if it is to be strong and stable it must be progressive, and it can only be progressive by giving to the Indians something to live for; by associating them freely and generously in the administration and Government of the country. I sincerely believe that this Bill helps forward both these objects, and on these grounds I commend it to the favourable consideration of the House of Commons.
§ Earl PERCY
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has moved the second reading of this Bill with all his accustomed facility and ability. With the criticisms and answers which he gave by way of anticipation to the criticisms which apparently he thought likely to be directed against this scheme by Members of his own party I, for one, entirely agree. But I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman himself would claim that he has succeeded in throwing much more light upon the subject, or in adding much more to our information with regard to those points which have been the subject of criticism hitherto from those who belong to this side of the House. In rising to participate in this debate I confess that my principal feeling is one of sincere regret that an Indian question, for the first time since I have been in Parliament, should be the subject of an acute difference of opinion at all. We have always hoped that Indian questions might be treated apart altogether from the atmosphere of party con- 509 troversy, and now that the Government has introduced a Bill, with a large part of which it would be hypocrisy to pretend to be in complete sympathy, the question arises whether any public object is to be served by emphasising more than necessary the differences of opinion which exist, by pressing these differences of opinion to the issue of a Division, which, as everybody knows, will be decided upon party lines. I think that question must be answered in the negative. In the first place we are in too small a minority to force upon the Government any substantial alterations in this Bill, even if we thought it desirable to do so, when we have been kept in the dark with regard to much of the material which has presumably guided the Secretary of State in arriving at his decision, and also kept in the dark as to the opinions which are held by the official advisers of the Governor-General of India, and of the Secretary of State himself. In the second place, this Bill has been presented to us by the Secretary of State and the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, as an instrument carefully devised to meet the needs of the particular situation, which he described, as, at all events until recently, both anxious and critical—a scheme which is inter-dependent in all its parts, and which, therefore, cannot be substantially modified in any particular without greatly imparing and endangering its authority as a whole. In the third place—perhaps the most important consideration of all—it is quite obvious from the moment the Secretary of State committed himself publicly and definitely to some of these concessions, it became difficult, if not impossible, for him to withdraw without creating a feeling of disappointment, perhaps even resentment, which never would have been occasioned if he had been willing to proceed on more tentative lines. Therefore, although it is our duty to warn the Government of the dangers which in our opinion attend many of these steps which they are recommending us to take, the responsibility for acting upon or neglecting that warning must rest with them, and them alone. They are not entitled to claim, as I think the Secretary of State did claim in another place, if in response to their appeal for an apt parent, a general, a substantial unanimity of opinion upon the desirability of reforms, if in deference to that appeal we refrained from pressing the matter; they are not entitled to claim that that indicates that we share their feelings as to the wisdom of many of the steps they are asking us to 510 take. On the other hand, I cannot help thinking that the very fact that they have committed us in advance to a scheme in which we could hardly have been expected to concur, a scheme which differs in many most important particulars from anything which they led us to expect, surely justifies us in saying that it is only reasonable that they should be willing to meet the reasonable objections of their critics, as far as they could do so, without destroying the fundamental framework of their scheme. The right hon. Gentleman seems to have assumed—I think in fact the advocates of this measure do the same—that it will be welcomed or criticised according as those who discuss it belong t0 one of two schools of political opinion—the school, on the one hand, that believes in political efficiency, and the school, on the other hand, that believes in political concessions. On the one hand are the advocates who believe in a liberal policy of confidence; on the other, the more cautious and conservative road of advance. Speaking for myself, the point of view from which I approach the consideration of this scheme does not admit of any rough-and-ready method of classification. The question which I ask myself is: not whether you are justified in sacrificing efficiency in order to secure other objects that you think more important, but whether, in point of fact, you are likely to attain these objects by the particular concessions you are making. I ask not whether you are justified in going fast or slow, but whether, as regards a large part of this scheme, you are going in the right direction at all? What is put forward as a justification of this measure? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down talked of the necessity of progress. I do not know what meaning he attaches to "progress"; but, so far as I am aware, it has never been suggested that the existing system of administration in India has given rise to any abuse or the need for particular reforms in the political machinery, which we are now to consider, will be followed by something of a more practical and more definite character. On the contrary, in any criticism at all brought against the present Administration it is that it errs on the side of excessive efficiency. We are told, however, that the efficiency necessarily occupies a weak position if it is obtained at the cost of inequality upon a considerable and substantial portion of the community, and that it is not unnatural that they should feel irritation by their virtual exclusion 511 from participation in all the higher executive administrative appointments. We are told, in the second place, that these aspirations for some degree of partnership in our Administration are the direct results of the kind of education which, rightly or wrongly, we have given to India; that, therefore, we are under a moral obligation to find some outlet for these aspirations if we can. And we are reminded, further, that any concessions which we do make ought to be substantial in their character, so that we may not hear -even a faint imputation that we are trying to evade the claims which, in substance, we admit to be legitimate, by concessions which, though specious in appearance, will in practice be found to be largely illusory. That is really the case which is made out. Well, to every one of those proposals I can give a hearty support. If I differ from the right hon. Gentleman's conclusions that that supplied any justification for the present Bill, it is because I really cannot see as regards many of the concessions which we have been asked to make, that they have any relation to those aspirations or to any other class of political reform aimed at, which Lord Morley professes to have any sympathy, or which he is desirous to meet. He tells himself that political reforms in India may be roughly divided into two classes. On the one extreme you have the party which aims at the total exclusion from India of Great Britain altogether, the class of reformer concerning whom Lord Morley has no other prescription except—to use his own words—"stern, unbending repression." On the other hand, you have those who undoubtedly recognise the necessity for British Administration. They only desire it to be assisted by the influence of native advice. Between these two extremes you have a large body of native opinion, which fixes its eyes on the dream of Colonial self government, an ideal which Lord Morley tells us he himself believes to be wholly impracticable, and which he thinks these reformers are going to abandon as a result of the concessions which he is now conferring. If I really entertained that view I should certainly not criticise this Bill, but be enthusiastic in its favour. Is there the slightest solid reason to believe that the effect of this Bill will be what Lord Morley thinks? Primâ facie, if we take that part of the Bill which refers to legislative councils, is it reasonable to suggest 512 that that part of the Bill is likely to divert the political energies and capacities of the people from the more barren task of irresponsible criticism, into the more fertile but more laborious task of active administration? I should say it was likely to have exactly the contrary effect. I am confirmed in that view by the published opinion of one of the leaders of the various reform parties in India. It was published a few days ago in "The Times." Perhaps the House will allow me to read it:—Mr. Mitter struck me as holding inure advanced views than any other Bengali I encountered; but perhaps it was only that he declared his convictions with a more engaging frankness than the rest. He spoke of the reform scheme with contempt. He had declared it to he utterly inadequate on the day it was announced, and he adhered to his view. No one was really satisfied with the scheme. They would never be satisfied, and never rest, until they had complete control of the finances of their country. The money was theirs, and they had a right to say how it should be spent. Not only would the scheme not allay agitation but it was certain to increase it.Then there is the following:—Dr. Ashutosh Mookerjee, Judge of the Calcutta High Court, and Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University, stands in yet another category among the public men of Bengal. He has always held aloof from the Congress, but in breadth of knowledge and intellectual power he is probably the greatest living Bengali. Dr. Mookerjee in a conversation expressed general approval of the reforms, which he thought more than generous'; but with characteristic candour he added that he did not think they had made any deep impression upon the political tendencies now at work in India. The effusive expressions of thanks in Bengal had been 'forced' and 'unreal.' and a different, note would soon be sounded. No concessions would really satisfy any but the must moderate groups of politicians in India, and the British Government must be prepared for a steady continuance of agitation. He saw no sign of lasting political peace.Then lastly:—Mr. Surendra Nath Banerjee, the editor of the "Bengalee," belongs to another school of political thought, but at present he claims to be heart and soul with the Moderates, is an enthusiastic supporter of the whole of the reforms, but only us an instalment. He and his supporters, he said, would never be satisfied until they had attained self-government on colonial lines,' but he admitted that they had received as many concessions as they could expect just now, though, there ought to have been some degree of real financial control.The "Pioneer" noted an earlier opinion of his, at the moment when this reform scheme was first published, in which he said:—We asked for definite and effective control over finances and executive Government. T cannot say we have got either, but we have obtained substantial concessions which will prepare the way for those great ends. I regard the new scheme as a beginning of Parliamentary institutions,That seems to show that so far from native reformers in India being willing, as the result of this scheme, to abandon their own ideals of Colonial self-government, on the contrary they regard these concessions 513 as merely affording a vantage ground for claiming further constitutional changes. As regards a considerable part of these proposals in reference to Legislative Councils set forth, it is in any case probably inevitable, certainly a perfectly legitimate and defensible development of the policy which the right hon. Gentleman referred to as the policy of 1851 and of 1892. I do not, for instance, quarrel with the proposed increase in the size of the legislative councils, although I am not quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman is correct in stating that the total numbers insisted upon in the case of the legislative councils are those which were recommended by the Government of India; it is certainly not the same as was recommended by the Government of India in its published despatch. Of course it has certain disadvantages. It will throw a great deal of work on the officials. But I quite recognise that any disadvantages of that kind may be more than outweighed by the advantage gained in giving to these councils a more representative character. At any rate, a somewhat considerable increase in the size of these legislative councils is indispensable if you are to retain the official element in anything like its present form. Nor do I quarrel with the power proposed to be given to these new councils in regard to questioning Ministers or criticising their general financial and administrative policy. I think the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly justified in saying that such occasions will give to the Government itself opportunities which it does not now possess of defending and explaining its policy and of repudiating misrepresentations. All this harmonises naturally with the conception of making these legislative councils more useful as advisory and consultative bodies. But when you go further than that, when you give to these legislative councils power to initiate legislation themselves, when you give them the power of not only criticising but of passing resolutions condemning the financial policy of the Government, when you give them the power of passing motions which are nominally and theoretically regarded as only a recommendation of advice to the Government, but would in fact be regarded as tantamount to a vote of censure on the Administration, and when, lastly, you go further and give to unofficial members of these councils an actual majority, then it seems to me perfectly idle to suggest that you are merely developing and extending the principles of 1892. You are in fact transforming and 514 revolutionising the whole character of those bodies. Nothing that the right hon. Gentleman has said this afternoon has in the least explained to me why in the teeth of the opinions of the Government of India the Secretary of State for India should insist on abolishing the official majority on these legislative councils. The Government of India has clearly expressed no opinion on that subject but one. When the subject was first raised in the despatch of August, 1907, they used these words, which do not merely apply to the officials of the legislative council, but apply to all legislative councils. They said:—We have stated our reasons for deeming it essential to retain the power of procuring in the last resort the support of a majority of officials In our Legislative Councils.The principle of an official majority was accepted by His Majesty's Government in the correspondence which took place last year, and was embodied, with their authority, in our letter of 24th August, 1907. We can discover nothing in the present correspondence that would justify us in proposing its surrender. It is obvious that under existing constitutional conditions the Government cannot resign; it must be able to settle the Budget and procure supplies for the service of the country; and it cannot divest itself of the power to give effect by legislation to the decisions of His Majesty's Government. Those non-officials who approach the subject from its practical side, clearly realise the anomaly of the Executive Government being placed in a permanent minority. In the scheme submitted to us by the Hon. Mr. Gokhale, who may be taken to represent the better-informed section of Indian publicists, he carefully guards himself against any such idea. On the Councils outlined by him the Government is 'assured of a standing majority behind it,' and the head of the Government is further vested with a general veto. He asks only for 'a minority—but a respectable minority' of non-official members.' In all provinces the opinions which carry most weight, owing to the position of the writers or their experience as members of a. Legislative Council, proceed on similar lines; though the strength of the official majorities proposed by them differs slightly.They have not changed their views in the last despatch published in November. There is another consideration which, to my mind, makes it all the more regrettable that Lord Morley should insist on the abolition of the official majority, contrary to the opinion which he originally expressed, and the views which the Government of India entertained apparently up to a very recent date. The Government of India itself, in dealing with the question of the constitution of the provincial assemblies, have gone considerably beyond anything which the Provincial Governments had recommended themselves. With a passion for uniformity, which, I confess, I find I have a good deal of difficulty to understand, in view of their own statements repeated by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon as to the impossibility of applying to all the different 515 parts of India precisely the same principles and conditions—they have insisted, in spite of the advice of the provincial councils, on levelling up the total numbers of these legislative councils in every case except Assam, to the number of fifty. In every case they have insisted on increasing the number of elective members, and in. every case insisted on equalising the official and unofficial members of the council in spite of the opinion, apparently, expressed by Madras in a despatch that they were very doubtful that under these conditions they could carry on the Government at all. Therefore, even under the proposals of the Government, there was to be a balancing, an equality between the official and the non-official members, and the only way by which the Government could obtain an official majority was by the casting vote of the Lieutenant-Governor. And now the Secretary of State comes down and sweeps away even this precarious safeguard without being able to quote in favour of his action a single opinion of any kind except that quoted by the right hon. Gentleman just now, the opinion of the Government of Bombay. The opinion of the Government of Bombay, as cited in the despatch of the Government of India to the Secretary of State, was cited only to be rejected. Therefore, if we are to attach any importance to the language, or any great weight to the opinion of the Government of Bombay on this subject, does it really justify any other conclusion than that they should allow the Government of Bombay to try this experiment of the unofficial majority which they themselves recommended in propria personœ before they enforced it on all the other local Governments? As to the argument which Lord Morley adduced in favour of the unofficial majority, it seems to me that in so far as it is valid at all it would carry him very much further than he is himself prepared to go. The argument, for instance, that a set of politicians who find themselves in a permanent minority are likely to become sulky and irreconciliable, the argument of the right hon. Gentlemen that, after all, it is not very likely that all the unofficial members, the nominated and elected members, will combine together against the Government—those two arguments are arguments for doing away with the majority of the. Viceroy's Council, just as much as the majority of the provincial councils. On the other hand, if it is true, as Lord Morley 516 himself said, that it is inadvisable to bring the veto of the Govenor-General into play more than can be helped, it is surely pro tanto undesirable to bring into play the veto of the provincial governors in the case of the provincial councils oftener than is necessary, and still more inadvisable, at the moment when you are asked to go further in the direction of decentralisation, that you should bring in the veto of the Governor-General in the last resort in order to override the opinion of a refractory provincial council. Lord MacDonnell pointed out in another place that one of the items in a programme of the Congress party many years ago was that the Govenor-General should have the power to override the majority of his Council, but in that event an appeal should lie to a Standing Committee of the House of Commons on Indian Affairs, which they desire to see established, and I cannot help thinking that this change is very likely to give rise to a renewal of a demand of that kind. Then there is another consideration about doing away with the official majority, which was alluded to by the Government of India, and which has been overlooked by the Secretary of State. The Government of India, in dealing with the question of representation, said:—In framing these proposals we have not lost sight of the fact that the interests of landlords and tenants are by no means identical, that our electorates will consist mainly, if not exclusively, of the former class, and that no means can at present be devised of giving" the great body of tenants direct representation on the legislative councils. Their interests, however, are in no danger of being overlooked. In the debate in the House of Lords on 6th March, 1890, both Lord Ripon and Lord Kimberley pointed out that when the Bengal Tenancy Act was under discussion in Lord Dufferin's Council 'the only representative of the ryots was the Government.' Among the official members of the legislative councils there will always be some experts in Indian land questions, who will be qualified to represent the views of the cultivators.Lord Northcote pointed out when he was Governor of Bombay when a Bill was passing through that Council to protect the interests of the tenants against the moneylenders it was received with unequivocal opposition by the whole of the unofficial members. I submit to the House that in their great anxiety to disclaim all bureaucratic sympathy, the Government of India, in abolishing this unofficial majority, are in reality running the risk of depriving of the protection and security they have hitherto had a very large class of the population for which the Government of India itself acknowledges it cannot devise any satisfactory system of representation at all. There is really only one argument that I know of that can possibly be brought forward to justify abolishing the 517 official majority on the provincial councils while you refuse to do it on the Viceroy's Council. That was the reason given by the hon. Gentleman in his opening speech. You can do it, they say, with comparative safety, because these provincial councils cannot do much mischief; the number of subjects is limited by Statute, if they refuse to pass legislation which is desired the Governor General can exercise his concurrent powers of legislation, and if they propose legislation of which the Governor General disapproves he can always exercise his veto. That is an argument which cuts both ways. I cannot imagine anything more detrimental to the interests of sound finance or more likely to demoralise politics in India than to place politicians under the temptation that they can always vote for a measure which they know to be popular, although they know it to be unsound, with the' certain knowledge that in the last resort they can depend upon some other authority to step in in order to avert the consequences of their own decision. I cannot see any public object to be observed by giving to these councils a show of control without the reality and giving them the power of discrediting the power of the Administration without having the responsibility of creating another. I do not believe you could take a step more certain to make the local councils centres of political agitation and more certain to shake the general confidence of the public in India in the firmness, strength, and stability of our rule.
Before I leave the question of the legislative councils I must deal with one or two other points. I want to ask the Government what their intentions are with regard to the composition and constitution of these other bodies. The object is that we should obtain in the legislative councils a far more representative reflex of the various classes of ideas from the different communities in India. This Bill leaves us wholly in the dark as to the manner in which we are going to do this. All we know about it is contained in the maximum number of figures given in the schedules. We do not know either the proportion of the representation which is to be given to the various classes of the community or the method by which that representation is to be secured. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we cannot settle details of this kind in this House, and they must be worked out by the Government on the spot. The point, however, is manifestly one of very great importance, and 518 it is all the more important because, by abolishing the official majority and by substituting in the vast majority of cases the elective principle for the principle of nomination we are depriving minorities of the security they have hitherto enjoyed, and we are taking a step, the wisdom of which, according to the statement of the Government, depends very largely on the assumption that the Government will be able to count in the future on the support of large elements in the population which hitherto have not been represented on these councils at all.
I should like to ask a question in regard to the portion of representation which is to be given to the Mahomedans. The right hon. Gentleman said very truly that Lord Morley, in replying to the Mahomedan deputation which waited on him at the India Office the other day, had agreed to their request that they should have representation on these councils in excess of that which they would be entitled to upon a strictly numerical basis. So far, so good; but the Mahomedan deputation pointed out that in the scheme for the constitution of the Viceroy's Council, as contained in the Government of India's despatch, so far from getting even the representation they were entitled to numerically, they were only assigned five sixteenths or one-thirteenth of the whole council, whereas they represented one fifth or one-sixth of the whole population of India. Under the scheme of the Government of India they could get Mahomedans elected in other ways in excess of the five seats allotted to them, but the whole point of the Mahomedan deputation was that nothing should be left to chance, and that the proportion to be assigned to the Mahomedans should be fixed by executive authority. If we pass this Bill as it stands, with the schedule we are stereotyping for all time, the maximum number both of the Viceroy's Council and of the local bodies, and in the case of the Viceroy's Council the Government at home have reduced the proportion suggested by the Government of India by at least two. That is the only case in which proposals of the schedule differ from the proposals of the Government of India, and they reduce the number of the Viceroy's Council by two.
I confess that I do not see how, either in the case of the Viceroy's Council or any of the other councils, it will be possible to vary the proportion, or to increase the proportion which is to be assigned to 519 the Mahomedans without withdrawing some part of the representation which, under the scheme of the Government of India, was to be assigned to other elements of the population. If that is the case, I am afraid it is likely to give rise to considerable discontent. The maximum figures of the various councils included in the schedule follow the principle proposed by the Government of India except in the case of the Viceroy's Council, which is absolutely two less.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN dissented.
§ Earl PERCY
I will not press that point with regard to the Viceroy's Council, but I want to know whether it is the intention of the Government that the proportion to be assigned to the Mahomedans in excess of what they are numerically entitled to is, or is not, fixed by rule in the first place; and, in the second place, I should like to know how the Government propose to carry out that principle without diminishing the representation which is to be given to other interests, unless they have some latitude in increasing the total number of the provincial or the Governor-General's Councils beyond the maximum included in the schedule. I think we ought to have some assurance before we pass the schedule that the Government of India do see their way to readjust the representation in proportion to the size of the various communities in accordance with the pledge of the Secretary of State for India.
There is one other point in regard to the manner in which Mahomedan representation is to be secured. Lord Morley has decided to abandon his scheme of electoral representation to which the Mahomedans so strongly objected, and he has agreed that whatever system of election should be resorted to the Mahomedans shall be elected upon a separate register of their own. I will not follow the hon. Member for Walworth in regard to his Amendment, in which he asks us to regret that questions of representation should be mixed up with questions of religion. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading that it is absurd not to recognise the fact that the Mahomedans are not only a separate religion, but also a separate race. If the differences between Mahomedans and Hindus are tending to get more acute I am afraid it is the result of our insistence upon applying to these different races a nationality and an electoral system which is only 520 suited to a Western country. But, apart from that fact the Mahomedans ask not merely that they should have a separate register of their own, but also for a purely Mahomedan form of election for the Mahomedan members. I understand that the Secretary of State for India endorsed that demand. They wanted a separate register for elections to all the district and municipal councils, which are the constituent bodies for election to the legislative council, and I gather from the right hon. Gentleman's speech in moving the second reading of this Bill that so far there is no intention of carrying out that demand, because he said in the case of the United Provinces that Mahomedan representation was to be secured, and there were to be four Mahomedan members, two to be elected and two to be nominated. Does that mean elected directly by Mahomedan electors to the provincial councils, and do the Mahomedans form a separate electorate for electing them? I know this may seem a small point, but unless you carry out this principle of a separate register throughout the electoral system; if you allow the Mahomedans to elect their members direct to the legislative councils, while the Hindus in the legislative councils are elected indirectly by the municipal councils, the result will be the Mahomedans on the legislative councils will be at a disadvantage as regards administrative experience with their Hindu colleagues. The Hindus on the legislative council will be practical administrators who have served on the municipal councils, while the Mahomedans will not, and it will be impossible under these circumstances to carry out the suggestion of Lord Morley himself that it should be made a qualification for candidature for the Legislative Council that natives so standing should have had administrative experience.
I pass now to the second part of the Bill, which deals with the Executive Councils. It may be said that the very reasons which made us look with suspicion on the proposals of the Secretary of State with regard to the legislative councils ought to incline us more favourably to the proposals which he is making for admitting natives of India to a larger share in the administration. I frankly admit that the objections which may be urged against this part of the general scheme are of a totally different kind from those which I have urged against the part of the Bill dealing with the legislative councils. I do not think that the amount of interest which 521 the mass of the population of India take in administration is great, and the proportion of those who vote at any municipal election is an infinitesimally small proportion of those who have the right to do so. On the other hand, the desire for cooperation apart from administration is undoubtedly widespread among all classes, and I can well understand that there is no part of the scheme of the Secretary of State which would have been received with more general satisfaction had it not been for this fact alone—that the scope of the Executive appointments is so small that the concession appears likely to benefit only one class of the community. The objection to the appointment of natives to the Executive Councils is an objection, not of principle, but of expediency. I do not think anybody denies, so far as the principle is concerned, that if you have a native in every way qualified to serve as a member of the Executive—qualified by character, by training, and by capacity—to refuse to admit him would certainly be a breach of the intention and of the spirit of the pledge given in the late Queen's Proclamation to the effect that race and creed should be no bar to any appointment in India. But if we differ from the Secretary of State in thinking that the time has come for the appointment of natives to the Viceroy's Executive, it is really not, because we differ about the theory, but because we differ abut the facts. Lord Morley himself admits that the number of appointments to the Viceroy's Council, which may under any conceivable circumstances be conferred on natives is very small—probably one or two at the most. Indeed, he has refused to give representation to the Mahomedans on the ground that, if he did, one-third of the whole council would consist of natives. And there is this further consideration to be borne in mind—that not only are the portfolios which a native can hold very few, but the mere fact of membership of the executive council, whether in connection with any portfolio or not, implies knowledge not merely of circumstances which affect the interests of India, but of the relations of this country to a number of foreign States—an intimacy of knowledge as great as, probably greater than, that which is shared by the members of any Executive Council in the Colonies, and which, therefore, I think implies a sense of Ministerial responsibility for which no native can in any circumstances have had any training at all.
522 Before we commit ourselves to an opinion in favour of the admission of natives to the Viceroy's Council, it seems to me that we have to ask ourselves three questions. In the first place, supposing you can find a native who has all the technical qualifications necessary for the administration of a great Department, can you find one with the general breadth of outlook which is necessary in one who has to decide a host of questions which must fall altogether outside the range of subjects with which his professional experience has made him familiar? In the second place, supposing you can find such a native, will he carry into the Viceroy's Council that general reputation for impartiality which is extremely important in one who has to decide upon such delicate issues as questions of succession in native States and a host of questions affecting the religious susceptibilities and rivalries of different races and creeds—the reputation for impartiality which is enjoyed by Englishmen not in virtue of any merit of their own, but because they are not members of any of these rival races, and therefore are not suspected of having any personal interest in the settlement of the questions coming under their notice, or of being liable to the kind of political pressure to which an Indian native will and must be liable. Let me refer to a point in illustration of this question of impartiality. I observe that Mr. Sinha, who has recently been appointed to the Executive Council, expressed only lately, though before his appointment, a strong opinion in favour of that system of electoral colleges which Lord Morley in deference to the Mahomedan protest has already abandoned, and a strong opinion against that separate Mahomedan register which Lord Morley in deference to Mahomedan representations has decided to adopt. I do not for a moment suggest, and I do not believe that Mr. Sinha was influenced in expressing that view by the fact that he belongs to the Hindu community himself. On the contrary, he went out of his way to express the most liberal views of the intellectual qualifications of the Mahomedan community. But does it not stand to reason, when you have a number of questions of this sort vitally affecting the interests of rival communities, and when you have a member belonging to one of those communities, who will be regarded as the special advocate of the interests of that community on the Viceroy's Council, and you do not have a member or an advocate 523 of another community, that that very fact must tend to destroy the general belief in the impartiality of any decision at which the Viceroy's Council may arrive?
My third question is this: Supposing you can find natives who possess these qualifications, are there a sufficient number of natives as yet qualified in these ways to afford that wide scope of choice which is absolutely necessary if you are to get rid of the suspicion that you are giving a concession to one race which you are not giving to another? In view of the fact that the Government of India, so far as we know as the Government of India—I am not dealing with the personal opinions of the Viceroy—have expressed no opinion in favour of this change, and that notoriously almost everyone who has had practical experience of administration in India has expressed himself distinctly against it, and in view of the fact that it has aroused the violent opposition of the whole Mahomedan community, I cannot help feeling that it is very difficult to answer any of these questions in the affirmative, and if we cannot answer them in the affirmative surely we are justified in believing that the step which the Secretary of State is taking is premature. Of course this question of the appointment of natives to the Viceroy's Council does not come within the four corners of this Bill, and, moreover, the appointment has been already made. But considering that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition pressed the Prime Minister, I think in the debate on the Address, certainly in the opening days of the Session, to give us an early opportunity of discussing this very question, and the Prime Minister replied that we should have an ample opportunity of discussing it when this Bill came before the House, I cannot help thinking that it would have been at all events more courteous and complimentary if the appointment had not been made until the discussion had taken place.
There is only one other criticism I want to make in this connection, and it is that even if I entertained no persona] objection to this step, I should entertain a very strong objection to the particular way in which the step has been taken. It would have been one thing to have said: "There is going to be a vacancy on the Viceroy's Council; I propose to appoint so-and-so because he is the man best qualified to occupy the office, and I am not going to 524 refuse to appoint him simply because he is a native"; but it is quite another thing to come forward and say: "There is going to be a vacancy on the Viceroy's Council, and I am going to appoint a native because he is a native," and to say, as Lord Morley said to the Mahomedan deputation, that he thought this step desirable because the Viceroy's Council would be all the better for having native assistance and advice. To use language of that kind seems to me inevitably to create an impression, which is quite unfounded, that native advice is not freely resorted to. It gives the idea that you are going to alter fundamentally the whole character of the Council by introducing a new kind of qualification, which excites the antipathy or opposition of every section of the community which declines to consider itself represented because a member of another race or community is placed upon the Council. And last, but by no means least, it seems to raise the presumption that you are setting a precedent which must infallibly in practice, if not in theory, hamper and tie the hands in regard to these appointments of every future Secretary of State. I have detained the House at great length, and therefore I will not read in extenso extracts from the speeches made on this subject in another place, but this is a subject on which it is extremely desirable that we should have a clear and authoritative expression of opinion from the head of the Government. I will read one sentence from the speech of Lord Morley in the House of Lords. Dealing with this question of the claim of the Mahomedans that they ought also to have a seat on the Viceroy's Council, he said:—Then there is the question, what are you going to do about the Hindu and the Mahomedan? When Indians were first admitted to the High Courts, for a long time the Hindus were more tit find competent than the Mahomedans but now I am told the Mahomedans have their full share. The same sort of operation would go on in quinquennial periods between Hindus and Mahomedans.Anybody reading that statement would infer from it that in Lord Morley's opinion the proper course to pursue was to appoint a Hindu for five years, to follow him with a Mahomedan, and then to go back to a Hindu again. Lord Crewe, who spoke subsequently, adopted a very different attitude. He pointed out that in his opinion this proposal to put an Indian on the Viceroy's Council was really analogous to the removal of Roman Catholic disability, and he thought that a far better parallel would be the removal of 525 the disability in the case of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. He said that the removal of that disability would not necessarily mean that a Roman Catholic would always be appointed to the particular office; it would mean that, other things being equal, a person who held that creed would be as fit as any person to hold that particular office. I hope it will be clearly stated that that is the view of the Government, and that they do not take the view that this appointment creates a presumption that an Indian will always be appointed under any circumstances to the Viceroy's Council, or that one seat upon it will be hypothecated to an Indian as such, because unless that is clearly understood in connection with every vacancy the exercise of the patronage of the Crown will be made the subject of agitation in India and of controversy on the floor of this House. I cannot help thinking that this appointment of an Indian would have excited much less opposition and alarm if it had been done quietly and without this great blowing of trumpets, and if, perhaps, in the first instance, Lord Morley had been content to recommend for the appointment an Indian not of the predominant creed.
I pass from the consideration of the question of the appointments to the Executive Councils to the questions raised by clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill. Councils to the somewhat different questions raised by clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill. The appointment of a native to the Viceroy's Council does not involve an increase of size or of any new qualification, but the old clause 3, if it be reinserted in the Bill, involves the creation of Executive Councils in provinces where they do not exist at present. Clause 2 involves the expansion, probably the doubling, of the existing Executive Councils of Madras and Bombay, and the abolition in certain cases of the qualification which has always been insisted upon in the past—namely, that the members so appointed must have ten years' service under the Crown, or, in other words, must have had long administrative experience. I do not know the reason which has determined the Government to ask for these additional members. The hon. Gentleman has told us that they do not intend to use the power when it is given, and that they only mean to appoint three—that is, one extra member. I do not know that it has ever been suggested that the existing members are overworked, and although the enlargement of the Executive Councils will 526 throw additional work on the officials, I should have thought that that would be, in the form of secretarial work, and that the appointment of one additional member would have satisfied all reasonable requirements. May I point out to the Prime Minister that it seems to me there are two great practical objections to giving this power to add two additional members instead of one to the existing Executive Council. The first is the expense, mat objection will not apply if you are not going to exercise the power. It is a very serious consideration, I think, for if you are going to appoint two it will involve a total additional cost of something like £50,000 a year, quite apart from the cost arising in connection with the legislative council, which would be very considerable. The members of the Council would be paid travelling and board and lodging expenses while the Council is in session, and all that expense is entailed at the time when apparently India is likely to experience another period of distress.
§ Earl PERCY
I am dealing with the Executive Council apart from the increase of the expense in connection with the legislative council. The increase will be £50,000 on the principle I have described. There is another strong objection to appointing a fourth member without administrative experience, and that is that the result of it would be that as the Governor of Bombay or Madras is an Englishman, without any experience of Indian administration, you would have for the first time what you have not had in the past, namely, that the members of the Executive Council who have had any administrative experience at all would be in an actual minority on that Council. In regard to the old clause 3, which the Government tell us they are going to reinsert in this Bill, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat clown has told us that the Government of India are in favour of it. That we knew from the telegram which was quoted by the Secretary of State in another place. They are in favour of it on the ground that they think that the powers to be given to the new legislative council will greatly increase the work which is thrown on the Lieutenant-Governor, and they desire the general power of creating Executive Councils in all the major provinces. There are two questions with regard to that opinion of the Government of India which we have 527 never had explained. The first question is: If they hold that opinion now, why did they hold an exactly contrary opinion as late as last November, when all the proposals which are now before us were before, the Government of India? What new circumstances have arisen to change their views?
I do not know why the Government of India have changed their opinions; but perhaps the Prime Minister will be able to tell us. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us that they only propose to utilise the power in the single province of Bengal. If the argument for exercising it is that fresh work is to be thrown upon the Lieutenant-Governor by the enlargement of the Council, it applies also to Bombay and the Punjab as much as to Bengal. The hon. Gentleman said that if the Executive Council is necessary to assist the Governor of Bombay and Madras, surely the presumption is that it is equally necessary to assist the Lieutenant-Governors in the other provinces. That is not the opinion of the Government of India. It is not the opinion of the only authority which, so far as I am aware, has yet expressed an opinion in favour of the solution which the Decentralisation Commission recommended. Although they recommend the appointment of Executive Councils in these other provinces, they recommended them on wholly different ground and on wholly different conditions from those proposed by Lord Morley. They recommended that the Lieutenant-Governor should be superseded by a Governor. They proposed that instead of being an appointment from the Indian Civil Service he should be sent out from home, and they proposed in order to avoid the friction which they feared would probably arise between these Governors and the Governor-General that the power which now exists of direct communication with the Secretary of State should be taken away. These were the conditions under which the Decentralisation Committee recommended the creation of Executive Councils, but Lord Morley specially repudiates any such idea. Therefore there is really only one reason for clause 3.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
May I ask if the Noble Lord is in order in this protracted discussion of a clause which is not in the Bill before the House.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the fact that the clause has been in the Bill shows that it is 528 germane to the discussion, and, therefore, the Noble Lord is quite in order in discussing it.
§ Earl PERCY
Really the only justification for reinserting the clause is that the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal is in favour of it and all the others opposed to it. I should have thought that an admirable reason for not taking the course which the Government propose to take, but I understand it is their reason for inserting the clause, and giving power to create Executive Councils in Bengal. From the point of view of the Indian reformer the reason why they welcome the appointment of these new Executive Councils is, not that they will assist the Government in the administration of local affairs, but will afford openings for appointments to natives. That is not the idea that is suggested by the Government of India, but surely the fact that you are going to throw open in one province another opportunity for appointing natives will make it difficult not to take similar steps in the other provinces. The only result of giving to the Government of India this power which they do not propose to exercise will be to expose them to constant pressure and agitation to take steps which in their opinion it is extremely undesirable that they should take.
This is rather a long and complicated question, and considering the number of Members who are anxious to take part in the discussion I think we ought to have been allowed more than one day for the discussion. I have really gone over all the main features of the Bill. I have criticised them severely, and I hope I have criticised them in no party spirit. I have pointed out that to do away with the official majority serves no public object which the Government have yet been able to explain, while it does open the door to considerable objection. I have pointed out that by the enlargement of the Executive Councils and the withdrawing of the qualification of administrative experience in two cases you change the whole of the original character of the Executive Councils, which were to form a trained body of expert advisers and a Governor appointed from home who might be ignorant of Indian conditions.
I have pointed out shortly with regard to clause 3 that the power which the Government of India proposes is not a power which if given to them they would exercise, while at the same time it will expose India to a great deal of agitation. To re- 529 move those three features you will do away with many of the misapprehensions that many of us at present entertain. So long as they remain in the Bill you are asking us to take a great leap in the dark, and to take it not upon the advice of the House of Commons, upon whose advice in these matters we have been accustomed to rely, but on the advice of the Secretary of State for India. We have great respect for his judgment, but he has been at the India Office only three years, and within the last week he has abandoned one of the most important features of the Bill. The Bill has been accompanied by the more violent form of agitation which characterised the agitation of last year. I do not think many Members have seen in a review the opinions of a distinguished Indian in which this scheme is denounced. He pointed out that he believed the critical character of the situation in India was due very largely to the fact that the Secretary of State had disappointed hopes which were raised in India, and that something was necessary to establish Lord Morley's reputation for political consistency. No one believes that Lord Morley has been actuated by any personal motives, but I am afraid that such an idea could be entertained in any quarter in India does suggest the spirit with which this scheme will be received by the political reformers of India.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have no complaint to make with reference to the able and exhaustive speech of the Noble Lord. It has been a lengthy one, and it has covered so much of the ground that I cannot help thinking that the House will allow me to treat it in regard to the subsequent course of the debate. I should like to make one observation before I come to deal with his criticisms. Everyone must agree that the proposals which he has discussed mark a momentous stage in the British rule of India. It is not a revolutionary stage. In this proposal there is no sudden or violent break at all. This Bill is merely an extension of the development which have existed for many years past, and the extension of which was always in contemplation by the great and wise men who founded and developed our Government in India, and in particular by those who carried through Parliament with general assent the Act which provided India with its present Constitution. It is said that there is nothing gratuitous or uncalled for in making proposals of this kind at this stage. It is perfectly true to say that we have in the service of the 530 Crown in India as great a reservoir of practical administrative ability as any country has ever been able to utilise at any stage of its history or in any quarter of the world. The changes by this Bill are in no sense to be understood as reflecting on the ability, the patriotism or the flexibility of that great hierarchy which for more than two generations has given us the present state of things. But the fact remains that there are in India things which are inevitable, but which were not foreseen. Such, for instance, as the spread of education, the great inter-communion between the East and the West, and the infiltration among the educated classes of the Indian people of ideas which 50 or 60 years ago were perfectly alien to (hem and which nobody ever imagined would exist. These have brought about a different state of things. Owing to a number of causes of this kind you cannot rest where you are, and if your Indian administration is to be efficiently conducted and founded on a stable basis, it must be done cautiously. I agree that it must be done prudently I agree that it must be done more and more and step by step by associating the people of the country with the Government that exists for them. That is a trust which this country exercises on their behalf. That is a state of things which must inevitably have led whatever Government was in power to the gradual transformation and reconstruction of the existing machinery of Indian administration. I should like to quote some words used the other night in this connection by a great authority, certainly as great an authority in our time as lives. I mean Lord Cromer. What does Lord Cromer say? He said:—The position of India at the present time is almost unique. It is, so far as I know, the only important country in the world where education has considerably advanced, which is governed ill all essential particulars by non-resident foreigners. It is also the only country where the Civil Service in all its higher administrative branches is in the hands of aliens appointed by a foreign country under stringent educational tests.And at the same time what do you find?I do not think it is possible to blind ourselves to the fact that there is throughout Asia now a movement going on having for its object the association to a greater degree than formerly of the natives of those countries, not merely in the framing of their laws, but also in the direction of the appointment of natives of considerable capacity to high administrative posts. I do not think it would be politic to oppose an absolute non possumus to this movement in respect of the largest and most important of these Asiatic countries. Not only that, if we consider our own democratic institutions, the sympathy which is felt with native aspirations by very large and influential bodies in this country, and also the effects of the educational system which, whether wisely or unwisely, we have adopted for the last fifty years in India, I do not think it would be possible to resist this movement for any very considerable length of time.531 Those are the words of a man whom everybody will agree has earned the title of being one of the most honourable personages in the service of this country. That is his diagnosis of the condition of things. If that be so, I will come now to consider the criticism on the actual scheme which the Government proposes. The Noble Lord has said that Indian reformers will not be satisfied with the proposals in the Bill. It is not unimportant to point out the language of Indian reformers. As late as Monday last Mr. Gokhale considered the nature of Indian reform. The language which was used by Mr. Gokhale fairly represents the opinions of Indian reformers. He said he had a perfectly impartial mind in dealing with the question. He eulogised Lord Minto and Lord Minto's attitude with regard to this particular proposal, and he declared that Lord Morley has saved India from being driven into chaos. I do not say that the aspirations of Mr. Gokhale are met by this Bill, or those of his friends, but it is a step which will avert the serious danger which has been confronting us for the last few years. The Noble Earl agrees, as I understand, entirely with that part of the Bill which proposes to increase the number of members of the legislative council, and to give them a larger right of discussion and criticism than they at present possess.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is a matter of detail. The Noble Lord, I understand, thinks they ought to be increased?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Then, so far, the Noble Lord has no complaint. His main criticism on that part of the Bill which deals with the change in the constitution and composition of the legislative council was, that outside the Viceregal Council the non-official element would be in a majority. In regard to that the. Viceregal and official majority is preserved. With regard to the nature of the regulations the Noble Lord has quite treated them as though they were the subject-matter of consideration in this debate. The practice of creating a non-official majority is, I must point out to the House, not at all the same thing as creating an elective majority. They are not representative at all. The non-official element is 532 largely composed of nominated members. Therefore it is not at all the same thing as if you were giving the elective representative of particular classes or communities a voting majority on the council to which they belong. That distinction must be carefully observed. The non-official majority already exists in the Council of Bombay—under the Presidency of Bombay—and, as has been pointed out by my right hon. Friend when making the Motion for the second reading, whatever dangers may be apprehended—I think they are very shadowy—from the recognition of this nonofficial majority, they are amply safeguarded against by the security which I think the Noble Lord rates a little too low—namely, the initiative of the power of the veto by the Viceroy, or, in the case of the other councils, by the Lieutenant-Governors, which I think may be regarded as very adequate safeguards against anything in the nature of violent or revolutionary legislation.
§ Earl PERCY
My criticism was if you exercise these safeguards you create a sense of irresponsibility on the part of future majorities.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is always said in regard to any power, whether in this country or anywhere else, in regard to the veto. We have here in this country the power in regard to the veto, which resides not in the Sovereign, but elsewhere, and it sometimes creates a great deal of irritation, but still we go on. I do not know how long it is going to last, nor whether it will bring the community in India to anything like the state of irritation which the Noble Lord has indicated, and which the long-suffering people of this country have endured. I do not think we need be very much alarmed about that. On the other hand, it is most desirable in the circumstances to give to the people of India the feeling that these legislative councils are not mere automatons, the wires of which are pulled by the official hierarchy. It is of very great importance from that point of view that the nonofficial element should be in the ascendant, subject to proper safeguards. In that way you obtain some kind of security that the legislation which finally passes through the mill of the council reflects the opinion of the community.
The Noble Lord spoke of the position of the Mahomedans. Speaking generally with regard to that, the Noble Lord has stated that my Noble Friend dropped his original proposal in regard to the elec- 533 toral college—dropped them in deference for objections made to a large extent by the Mahomedans themselves—and that when the Bill comes into law it will be a matter prescribed by regulation in each of the particular provinces as to how they shall elect their representatives. Undoubtedly there will be a separate register for Mahomedans. To us here in this country at first sight it looks an objectionable thing, because it discriminates between people, segregating them into classes, on the basis of religious creed. I am sure the Noble Lord will not regard that as a formidable objection, because the distinction between Mahomedan and Hindu is not merely religious, but it cuts deep down not only into the traditions and historic past, but into the habits and social customs of the people. Provided that, as we may assume, the regulations adequately safeguard the separate registration of the Mahomedan electorate, I do not think any practical suggestion has yet been made for more completely giving that kind of representation which undoubtedly as a minority they are entitled to demand. The number of Mahomedans on the Viceroy's Council are only five; but, on the other hand, as the Noble Lord knows, on the Viceroy's Council there will be 20 nominated members, of whom 17 are to be officials, and there is no reason why the Mahomedans should not come into that category. In addition, there are to be Mahomedans elected by other communities—chambers of commerce, and so forth—and it is not improbable that, among this category, Mahomedan representatives might be found. I do not think there is any serious danger, or any danger at all, of the Mahomedans not being adequately represented on the Viceroy's Council. I now come to what the Noble Lord regarded as a more serious matter, though it is one not directly dealt with by this Bill, that is, the nomination of the native members of the Executive Council of the Viceroy. The Noble Lord said that his objection to such an appointment was not one of principle. He admitted that the King's Proclamation announced absolute equality as far as race and religion are concerned, but that his objection was one, not of principle, but of expediency. He took the point so often taken in the course of these discussions, that if you put a native member on the Executive Council of the Viceroy, you admit him to a knowledge not merely of what I may call local administrative matters, but you give him access, at any 534 rate, to what may be described as the Arcana of Government. The noble Lord thinks this is a dangerous step to take. Why? In the first place he says because the gentleman so appointed, whoever he may be, cannot have any previous experience in these high matters. But that is an argument you might carry to very great lengths not only in India, but elsewhere. A gentleman is admitted for the first time to the Cabinet in this country; he has had no previous experience on official matters of this kind. But he becomes familiar with high secrets of State, and he acquires experience and justifies the confidence reposed in him after he has got there and upon such presumption as his previous training and reputation may create. And unless you are going to lay down as a proposition that no native Mahomedan or Hindu, whatever be his intellectual eminence, whatever be his practical training, like that of Mr. Sinha in a great profession like the profession of the law, however high he may have attained in that profession in competition I not only with men of his own race, but with Europeans and Englishmen—unless you are going to lay down the fact that he is an Indian, born in India, and that that in itself, for all time, permanently and irredeemably disables him from being put into this great position of responsibility, I fail to see how it is possible to justify the exclusion of Indians from positions of this kind. Let me point out also that if you talk about previous experience, who are the people whom we appointed, the men of eminence and distinction who thoroughly justified their selection, whom we have sent to India in days gone by? As a rule, in the vast majority of cases the Legal Member of the Council and the Financial Member of the Council have come from England, and, as a rule, they have been men without any previous experience of India before he landed there. Lord Macauley, one of the most distinguished Englishmen, had never been in India before his appointment, and had never paid any special attention to it. On his way out he studied the works of St. Chrysostom. It is quite true when he came back he wrote most brilliant essays on the heroes of Anglo-Indian history, but he landed in India with as small an amount of expert knowledge of Indian affairs as any man who ever sailed across the Indian Ocean. So it has been constantly with the Financial Member. As a rule, he goes from here to India without previous expert acquaintance with the problems of Indian 535 finance. How is it possible for us to say then that we are in the habit of filling these posts in that way? Be it observed I am not in the least disparaging the men who have gone there. How is it possible for us to say, when you get men like Mr. Sinha, a distinguished gentleman, actually at the head of the legal profession, a man born and bred in India, who has studied the Indian law, common law, customary and statute law—how is it possible to say that he is not fitted for such a post as that of Legal Member of the Viceroy's Council? I undertake to say with the greatest confidence you could not find a man so qualified to discharge the duties of that particular position as the distinguished Hindu Lord Morley has got. The question really is: Are you going to say it is to be one of the inflexible rules of the Empire that, in spite of the terms of the King's proclamation, a man so eminently qualified, so preeminently qualified, as Mr. Sinha is for this place, is to be disqualified because he was born in India and is not a member of our own race? The proposition is not an arguable one; and I believe that my Noble Friend's action in that appointment will carry with it the assent of the vast majority of the people of this country. Let me say at once that I disclaim on the part of my Noble Friend, that because Mr. Sinha has been appointed to this position he is to be a see-saw between Mahomedans and Hindus in this particular position, and that a new rule of succession is to be established. Nothing of the kind! My Noble Friend plainly indicated when the Mahomedans waited upon him that he did not regard himself in any sense pledged to anything of the kind. The appointment of Mr. Sinha must be taken as an act which has nothing to do with this Bill, but an appointment made under the powers of the old Act, and not under the new power which would be set up under this Bill. The point is whether a man so eminently qualified for one of these posts on the Viceroy's Council is to be disqualified because he is an Indian and not an Englishman. I come to the criticism which the Noble Lord passed on that which is not now in the Bill, but which used to be in the Bill, and which we hope will be in the Bill again, viz., the for the moment defunct clause 3, or the clause which I prefer to say is for the moment in a state of suspended animation. He said that he objected and his friends objected to the em- 536 powering—that is all clause 3 did—to giving power to the Government of India from time to time, if it should think fit, to create these Executive Councils. First of all, let me say on the point of precedent that we are wisely following the example of the Act of 1861, which gave power from time to time—a power which has been more than once exercised—to create new Lieutenant-Governorships and Executive Councils.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Oh, yes; and I think it has been exercised in the case of Burmah and the Punjaub, and in the recent creation of the new Province of Eastern Bengal. If I am not mistaken all that was done under the powers conferred by the Act of 1861. So that it is no new thing to confer upon the Government of India power of this kind to be exercised from time to time, and it has the obvious convenience that you have not got to come to Parliament each time that the situation arises for the creation of one of these new Executive bodies. So much for the precedent. Then as to the reasons. They cannot be better stated than they are stated in the passage which my Noble Friend has already read elsewhere in the despatch of the Viceroy of March 9th. The right hon. Gentleman, having read a lengthy extract, proceeded. That is the expression of opinion of the Government of India. They say that after many months' deliberation—there is no question here that the matter has been rushed—they say they desire after full consideration that this power should be placed in their hands; that they shall exercise it first probably in the case of Bengal, and that they shall in the light of experience cautiously and gradually apply it in other provinces.
It is a power they say we wish to have, and through the Secretary of State we ask that Parliament should grant it. What possible objection can there be to that course? I could not quite gather from the speech of the Noble Lord whether he would be opposed to this clause if it is applied only to Bengal.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
If it had been limited to Bengal, if it had been confined to establishing an Executive Council for Bengal, he would have agreed to the clause. Is it making an undue draft on the part of the Government of India and the Secretary of State, on the confidence 537 of Parliament, to say that that which you admit at the present moment to be good, to be not only expedient, but necessary, for administrative purposes in Bengal, may and probably will become expedient and necessary in other parts of India from time to time. "We ask you therefore," the Government of India say, "to give us the power if and when the occasion may arise to establish these Executive Councils elsewhere, and we hope that in the interests of India you will not refuse us that power." I do not see how any more reasonable or moderate proposal could be made than this appeal to the wisdom and the confidence of Parliament. I think I have dealt with all the main points which the Noble Lord raised in his speech. I submit, with some confidence, first of all that this Bill is no breach of the great traditions of our Indian Administration. It is, on the contrary the natural and legitimate development of the principles upon which, for the last 50 or 60 years at any rate, the Government has been avowedly and explicitly founded. I submit, further, that in regard to its practical effect—the enlargement of the Legislative Councils, the introduction into them of the elected element, the predominance, except in the Viceroy's Council, of the non-official element, and as regards the power which it gives the Government of India first in Bengal, and then from time to time, as occasion arises, in other provinces, to assist Lieutenant-Governors by the aid of Executive Councils—all these are provisions carefully thought out, moderate in their scope, calculated to associate gradually but safely more and more the people of India with the administration of their own affairs, and consistent in every respect with the maintenance of our Imperial supremacy.
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
I have an Amendment down on the Paper which I still think to be amply justified, if it be considered solely on its own merits; but I quite recognise that any Motion for the rejection of this Bill moved from these benches and pressed to a Division would inevitably be interpreted as though we were making a party matter of a question which ought to be dealt with as a great question of Imperial policy. That is a charge to which I do not propose to lay myself open, and I do not propose, after what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, to move the Amendment which stands in my name. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Government 538 scheme and the whole scheme is necessary to deal with the situation, which is one of admitted gravity and considerable difficulty; and, that being so, although I have criticisms to make on the proposals of the Government, I do not propose, so far as I am personally concerned, to make any attempt to place any obstacle in the way of the Bill receiving a second reading this evening. The proposals of the Government are designed primarily, of course, to meet the aspirations, and the natural aspirations, of the educated classes of India, and are designed to associate Indians themselves with the Government of India. Yes, I think that is all very well, but do not let us forget in our enthusiasm for the ideals of democracy that while proposals of this kind may prove extremely gratifying to the educated classes, who are, after all, but a very small portion of the population, they must also have their effect—I think it is possible, and even probable, an evil effect in some cases—upon the great, silent masses of India, who constitute the vast majority of the population. I believe that if you could explain to these people—the teeming millions of India—if you could put before these people the dicta of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, that good government is no substitute for self-government—I believe they would repudiate it with a vigour and unanimity which would be surprising. Let it be thoroughly understood that these proposals are designed to satisfy the aspirations of a very small, though, I admit, a very important, class of the Indian community. How small that section is is clearly disclosed by the census return. According to the last census return 86 per cent, of the male population of British India—of course, the percentage would be even higher if I took the whole population—but 86 per cent, of the men are returned as being illiterate. In other words, out of a total male population approximating to 150,000,000, something like 130,000,000 can neither read nor write.
There is another point to be borne in mind, and that is, that the educated people of India are concentrated in a few classes of the community, and those are indisposed to assist in any wide distribution of education among the masses. It is further admitted that the educated themselves are divided into two classes; on the one hand the Moderates, and on the other hand the Extremists. It is further admitted that no conceivable constitutional reform could or would meet the case of the Extremists. I think the 539 Secretary of State has said that stern and unyielding repression is the only way to deal with that part of the community which has been described as the "Physical Force party." I regret that there are some Members of this House sitting on the opposite side of the House below the Gangway who feel it necessary, from the highest motives no doubt—I do not question that they act from the highest motives, but with the most mischievous results—who feel it necessary to endeavour to embarrass the Government by calling into question the measures which they think fit to take, and which it is inevitably necessary to take to deal with anarchism and sedition.
Things being as I have described, the Government of India, when they decided upon introducing a considerable scheme of reform, were bound to take into consideration these three main points. The first is the acknowledged fact of the existence of a physical force party whose case could not be met by any constitutional scheme of reform. They had to take into consideration in the second place the fact that the educated people of India are concentrated in a few classes, and consequently if any scheme in the direction of wide popular representation were adopted political power would inevitably fall almost exclusively into the hands of a very few classes. They had thirdly to take into consideration the fact that the vast majority of the people of India, the silent, millions, would probably not be benefited, probably very much the reverse, by any wide scheme of popularisation of the Government, unless careful safeguards were introduced into the scheme. I think the Government of India did take these points into consideration. In December last they passed the Summary Justice Act to deal with the case of the extremists. On the other hand they put forward proposals for the reform of the Government, in which care was taken as far as possible to safeguard the interests of the masses, and at the same time to prevent political power from falling too exclusively into the hands of a single class. It is here that I find myself coming into conflict with His Majesty's Government at home. The Secretary of State has somewhat ostentatiously told us that never were a Viceroy and Secretary of State in such complete accord as are he and Lord Minto at the present time. But nevertheless he made very important alterations in the proposals which the Government of India put for- 540 ward, and, more than that, he introduced what I think almost revolutionary innovations of his own into the scheme.
May I put the four points upon which I think there is a wide difference in the scheme now before the country and the original scheme proposed by the Government of India? In the first place, the Government of India determined to retain the official majority upon the legislative councils. Lord Morley has determined to abolish the official majority of all legislative councils except the Viceroy's. The Government of India sought to obtain the representation of interests and minorities by election if possible; but if not, by nomination. Lord Morley, on the other hand, appears to be mainly concerned with the introduction of the elective principle as opposed to the principle of nomination. The third point is the introduction by Lord Morley of a clause—deleted now, of course, but which is to be restored—giving power to the Secretary of State to create Executive Councils in the provinces, and he also proposes in this Bill to double the Executive Councils in Madras and Bombay. That is a matter on which I admit the Indian Government have changed their minds, but which in their original scheme was described as being absolutely premature and not ripe for consideration. The fourth main point is the appointment of natives of India to Executive Councils. Not a word suggesting any proposal of this kind appears, as far as I can find out, in the scheme of the Government of India; but Lord Morley proposes to appoint natives to all Executive Councils, including the Executive Council of the Viceroy. We have had the opinion of the Government of India upon one of these changes, but upon one only, and I have not been able to discover in the speeches to which we have listened this afternoon from the Undersecretary of State or the Prime Minister any expression of opinion uttered by the Government of India, or by authorities in India, upon any other of these wide changes which have been made or introduced into their scheme of reform. The Prime Minister, a few moments ago, read out a telegram which Lord Morley had received from the Government of India with regard to the late clause 3; but the end of that telegram, as quoted by Lord Morley in the House of Lords, is as follows:—We are altogether opposed to the proposals which we understand has been put forward to create councils in all the larger provinces and we desire to make that point clear. We see no present necessity for a change of this character, and it should be made, if it is to be made, in the light of experience.541 It seems to me that that is rather faint praise of one aspect, and one aspect only, of one particular proposal. Not a word is said about the appointment of Indians to Executive Councils. In regard to the appointment of natives to the Viceroy's Council the ground is already cut beneath our feet. We are face to face with an accomplished fact, but I entertain in the very fullest degree the grave apprehensions which have been expressed with grave force, backed by a great weight of authority, in another place with regard to this step. I think it is a step which is already viewed with intense dislike by the whole Mahomedan community in India, and, if possible, with greater dislike by the ruling princes of India, and I do not doubt that it is viewed with something like consternation and dismay by the millions of our fellow subjects in India who look upon the officers of the Executive Council as the final arbiters of their destiny.
I would ask the Government if they have considered whither the appointment of natives to the Viceroy's Council will inevitably lead? Have they considered that the arguments which they use for taking this step can be, and no doubt will be, used with equal force for the proposal for appointing natives to any other office under the Crown of the Indian Government? Are they prepared to drive their argument to its logical conclusion, and appoint natives to other high offices under the Crown, such as that of Lieutenant-Governor, or even Governor, of a province? I do not know whether they are or are not, but the arguments which they use in support of their proposal can be and will be used with equal force in support of a proposal for appointing natives to any other office. Upon the other points of divergence, as it seems to me, between the present scheme and the original scheme, the first is the question of the official majority. If there was a point upon which the Government of India have given to the public in this country the most; definite and explicit expression of their views, it is upon the question of the necessity of retaining official majorities on these legislative councils. In their circular of August, 1907, they say:—It is the desire of the Governor-General in Council that the legislative councils in India should now be enlarged to the fullest extent, compatible with the necessary authority of the Government. In carrying out this system they consider it essential that the Government should always be able to reckon on a numerical majority, and that this majority should be strong enough to be independent of minor fluctuations 542 which may be caused by an occasional absence of an official member. The principle of a standing majority is accepted by the Government as an entirely legitimate and necessary consequences of paramount power in India, and as far as they know it has never been disputed by any section of Indian opinion that does not dispute the legitimacy of the paramount power itself.They return to the charge in a later paragraph of the same despatch. They say:—The general principle to be borne in mind is as already stated that the widest representation should be given To classes, races, and interests subject to the condition that an official majority must be maintained.That seems to me to be a perfectly plain and explicit expression of opinion. Have the Government of India changed their mind upon that question? If not, do they dissent from the proposal of the Secretary of State to abolish these official majorities? Experience in the past undoubtedly has shown that without the official majorities measures of immense benefit to the Indian cultivators and tenants and the masses of the population can be and have been brought to nought. The case has been quoted by the Noble Lord of the measure introduced by the Government of Bombay in 1901 to relieve the cultivators of Gujerat to a certain extent from the rapacity of money-lenders, and he has reminded the House that that measure was bitterly opposed by the non-official portion of the council, and that without the official majority that measure undoubtedly would not have been passed into law. I should like to call attention to an expression of opinion which we have recently had from India with regard to this very matter. It is a quotation from an article by a publicist of vast experience of Indian matters, as is admitted by Lord Morley himself—" The Times" special correspondent now in India. This is the expression of opinion which he has collected from among the people. He says:—The masses of the cultivators will have far less protection than before, and it may be predicted that with the abandonment of the official majorities on provincial councils it will be difficult to pass any land legislation whatsoever.I believe it is widely admitted that this is a very serious step, this abolition of the official majority. It is admitted even by those spokesmen who have the reputation, at any rate, of holding advanced Liberal views upon this question. May I give a quotation of the opinion of the hon. Member for Walworth on this particular question. He says:—It seems quite manifest that if the British Government is to have the responsibility for Indian administration the British majority must be maintained.
§ Mr. C. J. O'DONNELL
I intended that to apply to the supreme council and not the legislative councils or the executive councils of provinces. I should be sorry to see the official majority reduced.
§ Lord RONALDSHAY
Well, of course, I accept the correction of the hon. Member. Perhaps the quotation which I have read has been wrongly copied. The quotation which I have in my hand is as I have stated. He was dealing with the question of the councils as put forth in the circular and the words which I have here are: "On the new councils, as on the old, it is proposed to maintain a large official majority." Of course, if that is wrongly copied from the original article, I entirely withdraw it. It is suggested that there is difficulty in securing officials to form an official majority. There are other ways of getting over the difficulty, without placing the Government in these Provinces at the mere;' of the non-official majority. If you find great difficulty in finding sufficient official members to make an efficient majority, you can halve "officials" and give each two votes. With regard to the elective principle, Lord Morley goes further than the Government of India are prepared to go. I find that the opinions of the Government of India are well summed up in the Blue Book of 1908. They say:—Some Governments may he able to form electorates based upon payment of land revenue or income tax, or upon the income derived from land; others may permit associations to recommend members and others again may have recourse to nomination. It must be understood, therefore, that in describing certain classes of members as 'elected' we use that term subject to the reservation that in some cases election in the ordinary sense may be found impossible or inexpedient.Lord Morley referred to the electoral colleges. Well, it has been admitted that the principle of electoral colleges has hopelessly broken down in the case of the Mahomedan portion of the community. But we are not told that this principle is not to be pushed in regard to other classes of the community. Is it only in the case of the Mahomedans that this principle has been abandoned or is it abandoned once and for all? If the elective principle is to be pushed the observation which I have to make is this, that the elective principle is wholly alien to Indian thought and to Indian traditions. You are trying to plant on Eastern soil a plant which comes from the West, and judging by results which have accrued up to the present time you have not yet been very successful in your experiment. It is quite obvious to any- 544 body who is acquainted with India that the social conditions of India are unsuited to election. The Indian gentlemen are averse to canvassing, and they will not run the risk of being defeated by rivals of perhaps an inferior caste. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh. Do they dispute that? If they do, let me refer once more to the circular letter issued by the Government of India, in which the Government of India say:—Indian gentlemen of position sometimes refuse to offer themselves as candidates to a wide electorate, partly because they dislike canvassing, and partly by reason of their reluctance to risk the indignity of being defeated by a rival candidate of inferior social status. For these reasons it would probably be advisable to reserve a proportion of the seats to be filled, as at present, by nomination.My point is that the elective principle is not suited to the conditions of India. I do not know whether the attention of hon. Members has been called to a series of essays written by Indian gentlemen of various communities and sent home for competition for a prize. In the report of the judges who decided who was the winner, I find the following declaration:—It is further universally admitted in the essays written by Indian gentlemen that British rule suits the masses and that there is no enthusiasm for either municipal or local self-government. The demand for self-government conies from a small but growing body of professional men who have sprung up under British rule and British trade.I think that confirms what I have said as to the elective principle, as far as it has been tried, being unsuited to India, and that it is unpopular in India and has not been attended by the results desired from it. It was desired that the elective principle should send forward representatives of the different classes. It has done nothing of the sort; it has thrown the representation and political power into the hands of a single class. The local district boards were expected to return to the provincial councils members of the land-holding class to represent the interests of the landed people. But they did not do that. Out of 54 representatives no less than 36 proved to be pleaders, or barristers, and only 10 representatives of the landed class. In the case of the municipalities we find that out of 43 representatives sent to the provincial councils no less than 40 were pleaders, or barristers, and only three represented the landholders' interest. There is another innovation of Lord Morley's not mentioned in the original scheme of the Government of India—the right he proposes to confer on members of the legislative councils to ask supple- 545 mentary questions. I can understand that to the working official who has to run the gauntlet of the subtle-minded Hindu lawyer that reform may seem alarming. If there is any hon. Member under a delusion as to the way that reform is to be used, may I commend to his most careful consideration an extract from an article which appeared recently in an Indian periodical:—The power to ask supplementary questions in the hands of well-informed and skilled interrogators must result in exposing the jugglery and fraud of official replies. A skilful cross-examiner may fairly hope to put an official member to shame by making him appear either ignorant or dishonest.It would be interesting to know what is the opinion of the Government of India upon this beneficent reform which is going to be used for putting Government "officials to shame by making them appear either ignorant or dishonest." The sum total of my criticism on the reform scheme amounts to this, that it will not have the results which the Government of India desire to secure. The Government of India palpably desired not to pander to the extremists, but to introduce into the government of the country the conservative and the staple elements which are to be found in the Indian community. No scheme of reform will meet the requirements of the present time which does not make provision for the adequate representation of the landed aristocracy, the commercial classes, and that great body of moderate men who have not up to the present time taken their due share in the government of the country. It does seem to me that the scheme now before the country is very much in the nature of 'Capitulation to the agitators among the professional classes. India desires to secure what is deemed a requisite counterpoise.
I may quote to the House one more expression of opinion from India in support of what I say. The writer tells us that in Bengal some of the big landowners, men of great stake in the country, are already making quietly known their dislike of the new reforms. They think we have gone too far in one jump. They fear that power will pass too exclusively into the hands of the professional class, which has everything to gain and nothing to lose. He goes on to say, "I have undeniable proof that these views prevail with very great intensity among the Princes of India, the men on whose loyal co-operation we may have largely to rely if trouble arises." That seems to bear out what I said about giving the professional classes a virtual monopoly of power, which you are not in your 546 scheme giving to the staple and conservative elements of India. You are going to place more and more power in the hands of these very men against whose undue influence the Government of India definitely declare they desire to find a counterpoise. One more expression of opinion. It is not from any publicist who holds the views I hold on this question, but from a member of the Indian National Congress in this country. The opinion I am about to quote only seems to me to give too great a foundation for the fears which I have. Mr. Surrendranath Bannerjee, at the recent National Congress of Madras, declared that the present constitutional scheme was a great improvement on the proposals of last year:—The council of notables in the proposals of the Government of India have disappeared, and very properly too. The advisory councils have also disappeared. We have a scheme which is much more important and much more welcome for what it concedes than for what it gives up. I will not say we have got all we want. We want absolute control of our own finance and executive administration. We have got neither, but I believe that these reforms and proposals in their normal development and in their ultimate evolution will give them both.While I do not propose to endeavour to interrupt the passage of this Bill, for the reasons I have already given, I do frankly confess to the House that these latest reform schemes do arouse in my mind very grave apprehension and very serious misgivings as to the future of British Government in India.
§ Mr. C. J. O'DONNELL
The Bill that is before the House is so wide that it is quite impossible for one Member to deal with more than one part of it. Therefore I desire to-night only to draw attention to that part of it which is covered by the Resolution which I have placed on the Paper; for although the Prime Minister stated there was nothing revolutionary in this measure, yet the proposal with regard to religious discrimination is a revolution of a kind that we will ultimately regret. The Prime Minister also stated that this Bill was an extension and development of the present system. Under the present system of legislative councils some members are appointed by election and some by nomination. At the present time there is no suggestion of religious discrimination. At the present time there are on the Viceroy's councils 16 non-official members. Of these three are Mussulmans, two nominated and one elected. I mention this as showing at the outset that there is no necessity for this system. I am one of those who very, very warmly 547 accepted the measure introduced by the Secretary for State into the House of Lords last December, but since then I hope to show that there has been a very great change indeed. That message was accepted in India as a message of peace and goodwill to all classes, all religions, and all communities. My attitude towards this measure is very much the attitude of several hon. Members towards the late Education Bill. That also was a measure of conciliation which it was hoped would bring together all classes in this country in educational matters, but it contained one bad proviso, and that was contracting out, and on the strength of that anyone who had an interest in education rejected it. Similarly this measure is an admirable measure as a matter of progress towards introducing the people of India into the councils of the Sovereign or of the Viceroy. But it also has one great defect, and that is the religious discrimination.
I do not wish to say one word—it would be impossible and unjust—to say one word unfavourable to the Mussulmans. Their faith is a noble one, and contains some of the very finest ideals of Christianity besides the conception of one great', all-merciful God. But while one may regard the Mussulman community with affection, it is most regrettable that any religion should be brought down into the arena of political controversy. It was mentioned by Lord Morley in another place last December that while he proposed there should be separate Mussulman representation, he disliked religious discrimination. I was prepared to accept that, and the Hindus also in India in a most broad-minded, kindly, and willing manner were also prepared to accept the idea that a certain number of members of the legislative council should be Mussulmans. But there is a difference when you propose to select these members by a strictly sectarian vote. This is an idea that has never existed in India before down to three months ago. Up to that time it was still the proposal that there should be a certain number of Mussulman members, but that they would not be elected by sectarian votes, and it was also recognised, and justly and properly recognised by Mussulmans and Hindus alike down to three months ago, that Mussulmans should be represented in proportion to their number. Clearly and manifestly that was a just idea, but it is now proposed that the Mussulmans should have a preponderance in excess of their 548 proportion of the population. Three months ago an agitation was started that I extremely regret to obtain for the Mussulmans specially favourable terms, not only a larger number in proportion to the population, but also this special electorate. A deputation waited en the Secretary of State, and was received by him with great courtesy. It was a deputation of Mussulmans. I cannot help remembering that three years ago the Hindus of Bengal, the nobility, the great traders, the loyalists, the landlords of Bengal, desired a deputation from their body to be received by Lord Morley, the Secretary of State for India, to protest against the partition of Bengal. Lord Morley, then in this House, in answer to a question from me, declined to receive that deputation. I must say I feel, and feel strongly, that even then, three years ago, there was religious discrimination in the treatment of Indian questions.
This great change that has passed over this measure, the special favour to the Mussulmans both in regard to the special electorate and in regard to numbers, I am glad to say, was not acceptable at first to Lord Morley. In his speech in the House of Lords on 23rd February he distinctly said:—To the best of my belief, under my construction, the plan of Hindus and Mussulmans voting together in a mixed and composite electorate would have secured to the Mahomedun' electorate, wherever they were no minded, the chances of returning their own representatives in their due proportion.He went on to say thatthis idea of promoting harmony was held by men of very high Indian authority and experience who were among my advisers at the India Office.It is most important to recognise this fact, that the advisers Parliament has given to the Secretary of State on the Indian Council advised Lord Morley to have the original arrangement by which the Mussulmans received no special favour but were treated in the same reasonable and proper manner as Hindus were. Unfortunately the idea of promoting harmony was not the idea of the Government of India. It is a regrettable fact. Lord Morley distinctly said that "the Government of India doubted whether our plan would work, and we have abandoned it." Why has it been abandoned? The reason of the abandonment is that the Mussulmans protested that the Mussulmans elected under the ordinary system might be pro-Hindu. I don't suggest that the idea is that these men should be anti-Hindus. It is a charge I should be extremely slow to make against any section of the Govern- 549 ment of this country; but none the less the fact remains that because there was a certain fear expressed that the men who were elected would be pro-Hindu, the Government of India protested against it, and the Secretary of State, I greatly regret, abandoned his own wise decision. What would be the effect of anti-Hindu members of the legislative councils? It would be exactly the effect that we know in Ireland of the Orangeman, the man who is not only a good Protestant, but is also an anti-Catholic, and that is an idea which I hope the Government of India on reconsideration will refuse to introduce into India. And this policy is only a continuation of that which created such extreme bitterness in Eastern Bengal. It was only when the Hindus began to appreciate that the result of the partition was that the Mussulmans were put in a specially favourable position that they lost their temper, and broke into that series of violences which I believe the Secretary of State and the Government of India have at last put down. In this matter my sympathies were entirely with Lord Morley. I cannot imagine a Liberal Secretary of State put in a more difficult position than he was in having to deal with the anarchy and crime that broke out in India. I dislike the idea of the bastille and deportation, but, taking it all in all, it is a better system than the cruel way in which anarchy is put down in Russia. It is with the very, very greatest pleasure that I recognise that the nine Bengali gentlemen, though I believe unwisely arrested, have been treated in an admirable manner while under arrest. But why I still more and more object to this system is that in the second page of the Memorandum it is stated that one of the objects of this Bill is the election of a certain proportion of members by popular vote—that is, by the vote of the people—and the proposal is that we should go down to the people of India and spread amongst them these ideas of sectarianism, which now do not exist, and which up to the present have found no part in our system of government. Let there be Mussulman members. Nobody objects to that. Let them be elected in the ordinary way. If a sufficient number are not elected, there is nomination. Hindus and every man who takes any interest in India would be delighted to see Mussulmans nominated, if not elected. It seems to me, after all, this introduction of religious test is entirely unnecessary. At the present time the Hindu population of Madras, in a proportion of 90 per 550 cent, to the rest, is represented by a Mahomedan. The same thing has happened in several other provinces. When you find Hindus so willing to return Mussulmans to the legislative council, does it not seem unwise, intensely unwise, to listen to a few gentlemen who assemble here in London—I might mention that there are practically no names of authority connected with these Mussulmans except one Prince, and he is not an Indian at all; he is a Persian. His ancestors only 80 years ago were driven out by some palace feud or intrigue at Teheran, and came to Bombay. There is no such thing as a Mussulman nationality. You might as well talk about Baptist nationality. Anybody who reads the papers, particularly the Indian papers, will see that the Hindus feel themselves being put in a position of inferiority. There is no shadow of a doubt that throughout India at the present time the people will say that the Government, through the instrumentality of this Bill, is favouring the Mussulman. If it were not so, why give them representation larger than their population entitles them to? Why give them a separate electorate? Why not give a separate electorate to the Sikhs and others? That there is unwise favouritism going on seems certain. I believe it is temporary, and intended to be so, but I am afraid it will have results that will be eminently bad, because the great princes are Hindus, the wealthy and educated classes are Hindu, the vast mass of the people are Hindu. I am sure that the Secretary of State, Lord Morley, has no intention of that description, but you must consider what the effects will be on the Hindus of India. They know what it has been to be under the heel of the Mussulman for centuries, and there is a feeling spreading throughout India that is much to be deplored. Amongst the Hindus there are some of the finest warlike races of the world. The Sikhs and others have supplied quite three-quarters of our fighting men in the native army of India. Amongst them the idea is spreading that the favourites are their old conquerors. As there have been so many quotations from newspapers, particularly from "The Times," I tender one from the "Westminster Gazette," which says that—Thoughtful men will feel that separate representation is impossible… Ton will embitter mutual relations…. You will poison social life in district and village homes: you will make a hell of India and shake British power to its foundations if you provide the numerous races and creeds with separate representatives and mutually hostile political aspirations.551 I venture in conclusion, to appeal to the House to maintain the great tradition, the old policy of this great Empire. Our power has grown up, and will grow stronger on the principles of equality, by the principle of treating all races, all religions, all creeds, with equal justice. I especially turn to the Conservative benches. I believe that we should move cautiously there; slowly and conservatively. I opposed the partition of Bengal because it was the breaking up of one of our great principles in India. That was not only to treat the creeds with justice and propriety, but also to treat nationalities with justice. We broke up a great nationality—the greatest nationality in India. We abandoned in India the Conservative way. Before us to-night there is a still greater principle, and that is the old principle that we should treat all religions with equality. The danger that lies before us—and I cannot exaggerate it—is that we are face to face with a calamitous experiment with the most treasured, the most successful portion of our Administration. I beg right hon. Gentlemen not to awake the fanaticism of the Hindu and of India.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member who has just sat down did not fall into the temptation to survey the whole of the vast subject opened up by this Bill. I think he was wise to confine himself to the point in which he felt the deepest interest. That point was the suggested special representation of the Mahomedan community. It was impossible to take any other view than that of the very real dangers of the proposals. The religious distinctions of India are very different to those with which we are familiar in this country. There they cut far deeper than here into the social fabric, and divide far more fundamentally man from man, family from family, and even village from village. Though I entirely agree that there may, and very likely will, arise out of these proposals certain benefits, I do not think that anybody will be seriously disposed to question that if you are going to make this great change you cannot really ignore the vital religious differences, remembering that these religious differences are the mark and symbol of other differences, not strictly or technically religious, but which even as much as religion itself separate and segregate the members of what externally appears to be a single community. As the hon. Gentleman has raised that point, I must again press upon the Prime Minister 552 to answer the question which was put by my Noble Friend, and which, I think, was not adequately dealt with in the reply of the Prime Minister earlier in the evening.
My Noble Friend asked by what machinery you were going to secure that representation of Mahomedans in excess of their numerical and proportionate strength upon these councils. The Prime Minister, I think, only observed that there were five Mahomedan members already provided for, and that, no doubt, amongst the members elected, other Mahomedans would find a place. As we understood the general tenor of the statements made by Lord Morley, they were to secure by administrative arrangement, by some definite number, a number not fixed, but which was definitely stated to be something in excess of that to which they had a claim in the strict arithmetical ratio which the number of Mahomedans bears to the population. I do not think that we were told how that was to be provided, and I think it is a subject on which, before the debate ends, information should be given to the House. The other point raised in connection with the subject of religion as to the position of Mahomedans is this: I understand that they ask, and ask with a considerable show of reason, that there should be some machinery by which they could obtain some representation on the municipal councils as a stepping-stone to the legislative councils. They point out that if they have not that stepping-stone granted, they will be at a permanent disadvantage as regards their Hindu fellow-countrymen. I do not think that point was touched upon in the speeches of either the Under-Secretary or of the Prime Minister. Those are the two definite questions which I wish to ask, and they are really the only two questions I propose to put to hon Gentlemen opposite.
The very few points I desire to raise I raise with very great diffidence, because they go to the root of the whole, method of dealing with the problem. I am quite conscious that I have not got that minute knowledge of Indian administration to which many hon. Gentlemen in this House can well lay claim, as well as perhaps, a larger number of Noble Lords in another place, where this matter will be very thoroughly dealt with. I necessarily speak under disadvantages under which they will not labour. The difficulty I feel in regard to this measure is that I cannot quite see on what principle it proceeds. Everybody in this representative chamber is prepared to accept the proposition—it 553 is a commonplace of our discussions—that representative institutions are the highest development as yet discovered by the human race in dealing with its national affairs. Although at one time there were doctrines fashionable that no Government could be a good Government unless it was based upon the rights of man, and that the rights of man carried with them the right of representation and with them apparatus of a highly abstract and abstruse theory once so fashionable, yet I think that view of the world has vanished or is vanishing, even from democratic debating societies in provincial towns. ["No."] I really did not suppose there was anybody left who held that the only possible way, the only right, the only expedient, and the only sensible way of managing the affairs of the community was to give every member of the community above the age of 21 years—I do not know why we should have that limitation—male or female, an absolute and equal right to carry on by way of debate the business of the nation. We all admit that representative Government, government by debate, is the best form of Government where it is suitable, but it is only suitable, really I think everybody must admit, where you are dealing with a population in the main homogeneous, in the main equal in every substantial and essential sense, in a community where the minority is prepared to accept the decisions of the majority, where they are all alike in the traditions in which they are brought up, in their general outlook upon the world, and in the broad view of national aspirations. There, and only there, can you really deal effectively by debate and by representation with the affairs of the nation. We quarrel so much in this House that we suppose ourselves to be violently separated, but if the substantial basis of common agreement were not incomparably greater in this House than it ever can be in a community like India, our debates would be perfectly useless, government would come to chaos, and administration would be impossible. Everybody must acknowledge that Lord Morley would not differ from anything I have said. It is, I think, almost a commonplace. Lord Morley has stated as clearly and effectively and strongly as any man could state that, in his opinion, not only is India not fit for representative Government, but, unless I am misrepresenting him, it is difficult to conceive how it ever can be fit for representative government until the whole structure of Indian society, with its traditions going back for centuries, based on 554 conditions compared with which our conditions are almost of yesterday—unless that society undergoes radical and fundamental modifications. We have not to legislate in these days with those modifications which will not take place in our time, nor in the time of those who will immediately succeed us. Therefore there is no question of this being a representative Government, and I do think there is a question of its being a step towards representative Government. Is it contended by anybody, is it contended by the authors of the Bill, is it suggested by the Indian Government that this is a step towards representative Government? I say it is not; I do not think it is even pretended by anyone who really understands the matter that it is a step in that direction. Representative Government with all its enormous advantages has this immense disadvantage—it makes government an extraordinarily difficult, laborious, and elaborate affair. We live in it perpetually, and are so accustomed to it that it seems to us to be quite natural, and the unnaturalness of it does not suggest itself to us. We live in a difficult and complex society, and we have to manage the affairs of the country which has difficulty in every part of the world, and we carry on that enormous task under what I am probably obliged to call the burden of perpetual Parliamentary controversy—the Minister guiding the plough with one hand and holding the sword in the other. He comes down to the House in the afternoon after having already worked laboriously, and he has to run the gauntlet of perpetual criticisms and questions and comments. He has to appear on the platform, he has to defend the policy of his party and of his Government in every corner of the United Kingdom, and the labour thrown upon him and upon his Department is inevitable, whether you like it or not, under popular government. There is thrown on the individual a burden which it is extremely difficult for him to bear. We can undergo it, and do undergo it, because we know that the advantages are far greater than the disadvantages. But you are not going to have popular government in India like that, you are not going to have any of its advantages, because you are not going to give it. Are you quite sure that you will not have some of its disadvantages? You are not going to have government by consent, and you do not pretend that you are going to have government by consent, where every class in the community has only to get a 555 majority to have its desires carried out by the Government which represents that majority. That is government by consent, that is popular government; but you are not going to have that in India; you do not pretend that you are going to have that in India, and the advantages which that system carries with it are not the advantages which your Bill confers on any section of opinion, or any section of Indian society. If you do not get any of the advantages, do you not get any of the disadvantages? My Noble Friend said he had raised no objection to any of the increased numbers of these legislative councils. I quite agree with him that it is very difficult to know how you are going to manage under this new system. When you get a council of 50 or 60 in number, when on those councils you have a nonofficial majority, when they have got practically unlimited power of discussion, when they have an opportunity of orally putting questions and supplementary questions, of which we are such admirable masters in this Chamber, do not you think that you will throw upon the men responsible for Indian administration some of the labour which we now throw upon the members of the British Administration, without having the corresponding advantages, such as I have described as being associated with government by consent? The Prime Minister said that many non-official members would be elected to the Governments of the various provinces, but that very likely, even though the Government of India might not command a majority of members, there would be occasions when they would find that they were not in the minority. That may be so, and I hope it will be so; but the large councils of 60 members must become acquainted with all the Parliamentary arts, all the Parliamentary debating dialectics, all the methods of embarrassing administrators, which we have perfected here through many generations, and are more or less accustomed, and to which those who are in the Government have been trained by practice either in Government or Opposition. They breathe familiar atmosphere, and they are accustomed to defend their opinions in public. They are not embarrassed by that, they are not put out as a practical man often is put out, by being suddenly called upon to defend a perfectly sound view in accordance with common-sense, but possibly before a hostile assembly where his opponent has greater dexterity of tongue and a 556 more practised rhetoric than himself. I may be quite wrong, but I am really greatly afraid that you are going to hamper an administration already almost overburdened by compelling gentlemen whom you sent out to India after competitive examination, and who when they get to India have immediately to learn the immensely difficult and complicated problems essentially connected with the Administration—you are going to ask them in addition to be ready to defend themselves against some ingenious native lawyer whose delight and pleasure, and perhaps whose road to fame, and it may be to income, consists in embarrassing the Administration in respect of which he is absolutely independent. That may work very well if the people who carry out that policy are, if successful, to take the places of those they criticise. Even in the history of British parties there have been cases—we can all recollect them—which are most unfavourable to our opponents and favourable to ourselves in which the Opposition of the day found it extremely embarrassing, or somewhat embarrassing, when it has suddenly been obliged to carry into practice the doctrines they have irresponsibility advanced. We can all cheer that sentiment in the example that commends itself most to our own prejudices. But at all events it does act as a great check upon an Opposition to reflect that it may be called upon to take office. But these people will never be in office. You give them the right and the duty, or, at all events, you give them the opportunity of practising all the most skilled arts of Parliamentary fence, but you never give them the calming reflection that if they talk like that they may have to act some day in accordance with the principles they so glibly defend, and find that practice in office is very different to theory in opposition. I do not think that you can help Indian administration in that way. What are you going to get? You are not going to get better consideration for the great mass of population, that is quite certain. My Noble Friend gave a most striking case—so striking that perhaps the House will forgive me for repeating it—in which there was legislation proposed in the Bombay Presidency in order to protect small cultivators against the ruinous exactions of the money-lenders, and he reminded the House that it was the official majority, and that alone, which enabled them to carry that legislation against the unanimous dissent of the non-official native members of the Council. That is only an example of what 557 everybody knows occurs under British administration in India. British administration, good or bad, lacking or not lacking sympathy with native feelings in all directions, is at all events an honest administration, sincerely desirous of protecting the poor and the masses of the community by stopping corruption and oppression, which are too common in all countries, and which are the special and poisonous growth of Oriental despotism. Such a Government you do not want to control by these unofficial majorities, because to control them in that way prevents them carrying out their duties impartially. What you do want to see is that there is sufficient native opinion to make them thoroughly acquainted, as far as possible, with every need and changing circumstance of a great collection of communities, for whose fortunes they are responsible. That I agree you must do by having natives on the Council; but why you should have a majority, why you should encourage this style of supplementary questions, why should you do everything to make assemblies, which are not representative, and which you do not intend to make representative, mimics of all the worst and most laborious parts of our procedure; that I admit absolutely passes my comprehension. It seems to me that, although you claim to be bringing in a Bill to satisfy native aspirations, all you do and can mean to do, is that you are going to give an opportunity to a certain number of able and highly educated natives to express their views brilliantly in public, to make themselves a name, and to play a very prominent part in the eyes of their fellow countrymen without giving them the real responsibility which would foe a check upon any incautious action on their part. What does the Prime Minister tell us? What is he obliged to tell us? He says it is quite true you give a majority to the non-official members on these legislative councils, but remember over this majority there is the provincial Governor who can veto them; and over him there is the Governor-General in Council, who can also veto; and the Governor-General in Council can legislate over their heads. Is that the way to bring peace to India? Can anything be worse than for a non-official majority deliberately passing, after long debate, some Bill, and then finding it vetoed by the provincial Governor, or, perhaps, by the Governor-General, or to have legislation passed over their heads against almost their unanimous voice.
558 That seems to me to be a hopeless system, and it has not got any of that flexibility which we have in our institutions. An effective system of veto over a really powerful assembly has never been successful. Here, as everybody knows, the veto has gradually abated as the power of the House of Commons has increased. In our earlier history the Crown was extremely powerful, and the popular branch of our assembly was still in a semi-embryonic condition. Here you have the veto, and if you use it do not tell me that the result will not be that all India will ring with indignation if the non-official members are over-ruled on some big question either by the provincial councils or by the Governor-General. That seems to me a grave objection to your plan. Of course, when I say that all India will ring, I mean the Press of India and the literary public opinion of India. When you glibly, and rather thoughtlessly, tell us this is a step in some evolution, I fear I must ask how is it a step, and what is the evolution? A small franchise was a step to a larger franchise in this country, and that is evolution. In the early days the House of Lords—I do not wish to go into that controversy—was incomparably the more powerful, and accepted as a most powerful part of the Constitution other than the Sovereign and the general will. Those days have gradually vanished as the franchise has gradually increased. The word evolution is an intelligible word when you see where it begins and where it is going. Where does this go? It has no seeds of a popular institution, it is not really an early stage of representative Government, and it has nothing to do with it. It does not help us towards it, and it does not educate the people towards representative government. It may excite in the minds of theorists some idea that it is a sort of similitude representative government, but it is not that, and it is not going to be that. Its authors do not wish it to be that. What is it a stage of then? I confess, for my own part, I am very much afraid that it may be a stage towards a condition of things in which the political ideas absorbed in Western sources by educated classes in India will only feel more aggrieved and embittered than at present. I hope there is not much of this feeling at present, but whatever evil of this kind exists, surely this is going to add to it. I acknowledge that things having got to the point where they now are, this Bill having been debated in public and in private, having been canvassed and criticised by 559 the Press of India, having been recommended by the Secretary of State and debated in another place, all that makes it impossible to stop now. I grant it, but I cannot help regretting that the Government—I do not wish to exaggerate, and I will not say that—but I cannot help feeling much misgiving that the Government have made a mistake in initiating the policy they have. I may be mistaken. They have better sources of information than I have. They may sympathise with my views to a certain extent, but they may say that this is the least of two evils, and possibly they may be right. At all events, I am sure that having gone as far as they have gone it would be impossible for this House to reject the Bill or to mutilate it beyond recognition. I hope some Amendments may be accepted, but I quite agree the Bill in its broad lines must now pass. I must, however, disclaim on my own behalf, and on behalf of those whom I have a right to speak for, any responsibility. That the Government are actuated by the best intentions I do not doubt. They may avoid an immediate difficulty, and it may possibly be the least of the evil courses open to us; that I am not prepared absolutely to deny. But so anxious or doubtful do I feel about its future effect upon the Government of our great Dependency, that I could not allow this stage of the Bill to pass without in the most serious manner I can and with the arguments which I have ventured—I hope not polemically—to lay before the House—I wish to disclaim on my own behalf, and on behalf of those who usually act with me, any responsibility for the consequences which are likely to follow this legislation.
§ Sir H. COTTON
I am sure the House has listened with the greatest interest to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, and though I cannot follow him in the somewhat subtle argument in which he has indulged, yet I think I may be allowed to say that in the decisive point of his speech he was on entirely erroneous lines. It cannot be denied by any practical man that the effect of this Bill is to extend the principle of representation in the legislative councils. The germ of representation was introduced by the Act of 1861. You cannot have legislative councils without the element or idea of representation exists. That was extended by the Act of 1892, which distinctly recognised that the councils were being placed on a more or less 560 representative basis. It may have been less rather than more, but it certainly was an improved basis. I had the honour of serving on legislative councils under the old Act, and I was also for some years a member of a council under the Act of 1892, and I can say that the extension of the representative principle was a very great improvement. There was a great improvement in the standard of excellence of the debates in the councils under the law Act 1892. It was recognised at the time that that legislation was not final in its character, but that it was, in fact, introductory of further changes which are now, none too soon, taking effect. It is 17 years since the first step in introducing the principle of representation. The present Bill extends that principle somewhat widely, and to assume, as the right hon. Gentleman did, that the Bill does nothing in the direction of introducing representation into the Government, is, as I have already implied, a complete misconception of the facts. It does so, and will no doubt be succeeded at some future date by a further development in the same direction—a development which we may not live to see, but which is as absolutely certain to come as that the present Bill is a continuation of previous legislation.
I should like to make a few remarks in regard to the Mahomedan question. I can speak with no authority as representing the Government on this point; but I heard' what the Under-Secretary of State said' in introducing the Bill, and from his observations I gather very clearly what course the Government intend to pursue. I am one of those who deeply regretted the somewhat unqualified admission of the Secretary of State in the House of Lords in regard to this matter. There is no doubt that the Secretary of State did say that the Mahomedans would receive separate representation, and that they would also have a larger representation than their numbers would justify. The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon explained what, would actually be done in this direction. I gathered that there would be wide diversity of procedure in the different provinces. In the United Provinces, where there are to be four Mahomedans, under the new scheme two will be nominated, and two will be elected by a system of separate election. I do not know what that process may be, but I can easily understand that no very great difficulties will be presented in the United Provinces, where the number of Mahomedans is comparatively small, and they are no doubt separated from the 561 Hindus in regard to both creed and race. But in other parts of India other procedures are to be followed. In Madras, where the number of Mahomedans is extremely small in comparison with the total population, the Mahomedans will be nominated by the Government. In Bengal, which, after all, is the critical province, 26,000,000 out of a total of 58,000,000 Mahomedans in the whole of British India, or nearly one-half, are to be found. It may be said generally that the Mahomedan question is a Bengal question. What is going to be done in Eastern Bengal? There they have a population of 17,000,000 Mahomedans, and two Mahomedans will be nominated by the Government, and other two will be elected, not by a separate system of election, but by representative associations of Mahomedans, an arrangement which I venture to think is infinitely preferable to the elective basis, which may be more appropriate in the United Provinces. These remarks clearly indicate the course which the Government intend to follow, and I heartily congratulate them on having adopted arrangements of this nature which, it almost goes without saying, are infinitely preferable to the hard and fast procedure which I had feared was contemplated by the Secretary of State in the admission made in the House of Lords. The majority of the Mahomedans of India are practically one and the same people with the Hindus. The Noble Lord opposite could never have spoken of them in the way he did, referring to them as a separate race, if he had had the least acquaintance with the actual facts of the case. At the outside there are 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 in India of separate race. They are the Moguls or descendants of Persians, but the great mass, as we were told by my hon. Friend behind me, of the Mahomedans in India are of the same race as the Hindus themselves. They are converts to Islam. It may be two or three hundred years ago, and the numbers have gradually increased. They were welcomed by Islam, which is the most democratic creed in the world. I wish to remind my hon. Friends opposite of that fact. Islam has attracted thousands and millions of people of low caste and low status, who have raised themselves in the social arena by accepting the creed of Mahomed. The result is that this great mass of Mahomedans, numbering tens of millions, who now exist in India, represent the lowest classes of the people. Their interests, status, and posi- 562 tion in life are identically the same as that, of the Hindus by whom they are surrounded. I have lived among them more than 30 years, and in portions of Bengal where I served you cannot tell the difference between a Hindu and a Mahomedan by his language, his conversation, or his manner of life. Even the very names are identical in many cases, and their interests, it goes without saying, are identical also, and to assume that people of this class require separate representation and separate organisation of electorate is to presume upon: fundamental ignorance of the actual facts of the case. All this Mahomedan agitation of which we have heard so much in England is really not a representative agitation at all. It is an agitation of a certain: sect among the Mahomedans, who have been pressing their claims on the Secretary of State and the Government of India. Even His Highness the Agha Khan is the last man in the world to claim to be a representative Indian Mahomedan. His followers exist for the most part in East Africa, and he himself is a Persian, whose grandfather migrated from. Persia to Bombay. There is a growing feeling in India among the Mahomedans, a feeling which is growing every day, that it is the real interest of the Mahomedans to identify themselves with the Hindus as one people. A great Mahomedan, Sir Syed Ahmed, one of the wisest Mahomedans in the past, said that Hindus and Mahomedans were the two eyes of India, and that one could not exist without the other. The interests of both are one and the same, and to attempt by legislation, or by administrative acts, to place those religious communities apart from one another, or in antagonism to one another, is to lead to the greatest trouble in administration which it is possible to imagine. The echo of this difficulty has; already reached us from India. Protests on all sides are being made there, and if the original suggestion of completely separate representation and a separate electorate, were carried out, it would, in my deliberate conviction, lead to even greater trouble in Bengal than has been brought about by the unfortunate Partition of that Province. But I rejoice to be able to infer from what the Under-Secretary said' this afternoon that the original scheme has been substantially modified, and that the dangers I anticipate will be avoided.
I rose primarily to accord my unqualified support to the Bill which is now before the House, or rather, I should say, to the dispatch of the Government of India of 563 27th November last, which is the basis of this Bill, for the Bill itself is a very small matter. It is limited practically to authorising the Government to appoint additional members to the Executive Councils and enlarging the Legislative Councils. It is difficult to conceive a smaller measure than that, but what is of real importance in the Bill is the power it gives to the authorities of India to prepare rules and regulations which shall enable those councils to be enlarged, and which will give them all the flesh and blood and power which they will be able to exercise. The Bill is a mere skeleton. The rules and regulations are the heart blood and life of the Bill. The Bill has justly been called a blank cheque to the Government of India. What we have to look to is how that blank cheque will be filled up. When I regard the dispatch of 27th November I can feel no doubt that the rules and regulations will be framed on most liberal lines. That despatch is one of the most remarkable ever issued from the India Office. It breathes throughout the spirit of diplomatic statesmanship, and I trust that no successor in the office of Secretary of State will ever dare to diminish or to weaken any of the concessions or principles which it lays down. But it is not the India Office or the Secretary of State who is primarily responsible for the drafting of these rules and regulations. It is the Government of India, and while I hope that that Government will approach the drafting and framing of these rules in a liberal and considerate spirit of mind, we have no guarantee to that effect. Certain measures have lately been taken by the Government of India to which I need not refer at length. I refer to the unwise and dangerous resort to the old regulation of 1818. When I reflect on this action of the Government of India, I must say that I have some misgivings, and these misgivings are not removed when I further reflect that the right hon. Gentleman who is the India Office representative refuses to give the House any information whatever on the subject of the recent procedure of the Government of India. The despatch of the Secretary of State of 27th November fills me with confidence: the action of the Government of India fills me with grave distrust. I feel, also, that these are matters not of detail but of principle, and of principle of the most important character. There is no analogy between the importance of the present Bill and the 564 Bill of 1892. This is a step which carries us a considerable way in advance. It does not follow in any way from the procedure then adopted that the Government of India ought now to be given a free hand in framing the rules and regulations. The point which I wish to make is that Parliament, and especially the House of Commons, should bear a great deal of responsibility in the matter. After all, we Members of the House of Commons, as we were told on a memorable occasion, are Members for India, and yet when we try to recognise that responsibility we find a great check and obstacle in our way. This is a grievance on our part, and I take this opportunity of bringing it to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. It is a grievance which we feel on these Benches. We feel that we have a great responsibility for India, and we feel that we have no direct opportunity of taking action in the matter. These rules offer an illustration of what I say. They reflect the future history of India, and the House of Commons will have no voice, no part, no lot whatever in framing them. There is no responsibility on our part as to what rules and regulations will be enforced. I do not regard that as safe or adequato. It is one of the points on which T shall feel it my duty to move an Amendment when the Bill comes before us in Committee.
In another place I heard Lord Morley utter observations with regard to the present Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal—Sir Edward Baker. The statesmanlike words of Sir Edward Baker which were quoted by the Secretary of State deserve all the praise which Lord Morley gave to them. I hope they will he borne in mind by my own comrades in India. It is absolutely essential that if the Government of India in future is to be carried on smoothly and without friction and danger that the members of the Civil Service should realise that the times have changed, and that they must change with them—that in the future they must administer the affairs of the country not as autocrats, but as men who have to work through and by and with the consent and concurrence of the people of India. No man in power, no man in high office has ever relinquished or given up power or office without grave reluctance and without protest. The civil servants in India will not welcome this diminution of their powers. The experience of the past does not offer any great encouragement. It is now 25 years and more since reforms were en- 565 couraged by the best of Governors in India, but little was done to carry out his policy, because the Government of the country, under the system of Civil Service, was opposed to that policy, and it has been reserved for Lord Morley, in that despatch to which I have referred, to reproduce again in Lord Ripon's words the essence of that policy, and to impress upon the Government of India the necessity of complying with the Instructions which were then issued. I hope it may not be reserved for a Secretary of State 25 years hence to call attention to Lord Morley's despatch and to urge the carrying out of the wise and liberal sentiments it contains. The Civil Service in India has proved equal I must say in the past to all emergencies with which it has been confronted. But it has now to meet problems of a very difficult character, and not hitherto met with at all, and under which it must abnegate to a large extent its own powers and agree in the necessity of governing the country upon more democratic lines. I hope and pray that the wise advice received from Sir Edward Baker will sink into its ears, and that it may prove itself equal to the numerous responsibilities and graver duties which are now imposed upon it by the recent scheme of reform.
§ Mr. MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I think It is a great satisfaction to all of us in this House that up to the present the dabate has been marked by an absolute absence of anything like a party spirit, and I shall certainly endeavour as far as possible not to import any suspicion of party politics in the few words I have to say. I must add I have a great deal of sympathy with the Indians, having travelled in India last year, and it would be extremely ungrateful of me if I did not entertain such opinions, as I met with the most universal kindness from Indians of all ranks, high and low, during the whole of my stay, and I shall ever look back with great pleasure upon the very kind way in which the Indians came forward and tried to make me feel at home in their country. I speak with great diffidence because I was such a short time in India. It would be perfectly impossible that I should get more than a superficial knowledge of the people. I did, however, learn one or two facts, the first being how very large and complicated a question the Government of India was, and how very little one can learn not only in the short time that I spent there, but even after considerable residence in that 566 country. I must say I was very much struck with the remarks made to me by Sir Denzil Ibbetson, who was Governor of the Punjab, and whose loss the whole country deplores. He said to me:—Before we begin to talk about India I want you to understand fully that all I claim is to know a very little about one comparatively small part of the country, and if you ask me my opinion upon other parts I can give you no information that is worth having and I shall confine all I have to say to the Punjab of which I understand something, though not much, despite my long time there.I contrast the modesty of great men like those, who thoroughly understand the subject they were talking about, with the conduct of people like myself who presume to address this House upon this great Indian question from the very slight knowledge we have had of the facts. I must say another thing I learned out there was this. I learned to appreciate very much the opinion of "the man on the spot." I learned how often men like Sir Denzil Ibbetson and Sir Harold Deane very modestly acknowledge that, after all their years of service, they never get really at the back of the Indian's mind; and that being so, surely we ought to be very careful in this House of giving our definite opinion without consulting very fully "the men on the spot," and gaining all we can from their experience and knowledge of the country which they are helping to administer. I was immensely impressed by the members of the Civil Service out there, with their efficiency, their energy, and their self-devotion to the service in which they spend their lives. Every member of the Civil Service, from the highest to the lowest, was absolutely willing to give his whole time and energies to advance the cause of that great country. We have a carefully trained body of men going from post to post carrying greater responsibility with them; men who struck me as being eminently distinguished for their re sourcefulness, their self-reliance, and for their cheerful self-sacrifice, always ready to give their energies at all hours of the day and night to further the interests of the districts in which they live. I must say I formed a very great admiration for the service as a whole. One great point, which I am sure is appreciated by the Indians, is the absolute integrity of every member of the Civil Service. I never heard from any Indian while I was in the country any question of the slightest imputation being cast upon the honesty or impartiality of any of our Civil servants, and I found this, too, in the long conversations that I had the advantage 567 of holding with many of the high officials out there, that they have the deepest and the most real sympathy with the natives who come under them. They did not make it a weak, sentimental sympathy, but a real feeling of real interest in the natives, shown by their determination to do the very best for those who were under their rule. They spared no pains to consult native opinion when any changes were made, and they never spared themselves in their efforts to right any wrong which had been committed. In any reform which is proposed it behoves us to be most careful not to impair the usefulness of this splendid body of men, and, above all, not to distrust or discourage the Civil servants in the work which they are doing so efficiently and so well—not to embarrass them, but rather to help and strengthen their hands in carrying out the great work which they have done so efficiently in the past, and which they are carrying on with such ability and zeal at the present moment.
It is precisely because I believe the reforms proposed will not make for greater efficiency, will not assist the Civil servants in carrying on their work, but rather tend to throw a greater tax upon their energies and their time, will increase their work, and make it more difficult for them to do it really efficiently, that I oppose the extreme reforms which I think have been put forward. Another great fact struck me, especially in India. That was the enormous increase in prosperity under British rule. If we think what India was, when our great factories were first established there, when there was constant bloodshed and anarchy, and our own factories were the subject of constant attack, one cannot help seeing what enormous benefits the Indians themselves have derived from British rule. If you think of the security to life and property, if you think of the enormous advantage of the country being opened up by roads and railways, if you take the great schemes of irrigation which have enabled large tracts of country to be cultivated, which are now bearing heavy crops, but which were formerly deserts, you should surely be willing to risk, by any so-called reforms, the march of progress which is going on, and which any mistake which we might make in legislation might tend very much to throw back. One great satisfaction to us all, I am sure, must be the way in which the famines are dealt with under our British rule. I had the ad- 568 vantage of attending famine relief meetings some three months before the famine became acute, and I do not think it is always realised in England that, as soon as the Monsoon fails, the officer responsible for the district immediately calls the officials together to organise relief works, which may become necessary, consults with the Indians and the English; and the officials as to what works are needed to confer relief and what works will be useful and effective. These things are all got ready months before the famine is severe, and every step is taken to mitigate the evil when it arrives. Before, under native rule, we all know that in the case of famine the natives died in hundreds of thousands, and indeed in millions, and that when first British rule was established there was still great mortality, which now by our organisation and administration is reduced to a minimum.
We are constantly told of grievances under which the Indians labour. There are grievances I quite allow. There is the question of the partition of Bengal. I am not going into that very vexed question, which has been argued ad nauseum, again, but I think this has been lost sight of, that it was because of the prosperity under British rule—the enormous increase of population and the increase of material prosperity which took place in Bengal—which made that partition necessary. Whether that partition was absolutely the best that could have been made I do not say. It has been put forward that it was made on behalf of the Mahomedans to the injury of the Hindu; but I think that the partition having been made, the administration of the province of Eastern Bengal is much more efficient than before, and the Hindus equally with the Mahomedana will in a very few years feel the benefit of the step. Other grievances which have been advanced are in connection with railway travelling. The native must not travel in the same carriage as the sahib, but the same rule holds good conversely, and you find carriages which are held exclusively for the natives. When you have such arrangements I do not see that it is a greater grievance for one race more than another, but is for the mutual convenience of both races. I think that most of the grievances which have been put before the country are social and sentimental grievances, and not really grievances against British legislation and administration. I would put this, that no law which we could pass for extending the powers of the Executive Coun- 569 cils or appointing an Indian on the Executive Council of the Viceroy—nothing of that kind could remedy the social grievances which are put forward and which can only be overcome by time, and which will be most surely overcome by the Indians getting over any feeling of being slighted and rising superior to petty pride. They must admit that the English do govern the country well, and show great devotion, and by degrees, as they show themselves more and more capable of helping their country forward, so they will gain more and more the sympathy of the English, and the social grievance will have a tendency to come to an end. The Under-Secretary for India this afternoon spoke of the necessity of advance in bringing the Indians in touch with the Government. We all agree in that, and I am sure that on this side of the House, as much as on the other, we wish to approach that question in no grudging spirit. He went on to say that these reforms must not be unnecessarily delayed. I grant that, but I also say that they should not be unnecessarily forced on, and I think that is the more important consideration of the two. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was not we who were going fast, but India which was going fast. That, however, is a very weak argument, because if he was driving a conveyance in which the horses had got out of control that would not be a reason for giving them their heads and letting them go at a high rate of speed to the bottom of the hill. If you do not do that, and let them get out of hand, what will be the result? You will do no good to the horses by letting them go. It will mean the over-turn of the coach. You will have an accident to your passengers, and very likely maim and kill the horses themselves. If India is going too fast, all the more reason for putting the brake on before we see how far we can meet their wishes. We are told they must have a representative on the Viceroy's Council to represent the people of India. I think the English people frequently fail to appreciate that there is an enormous number of religions and races. I think something like 130 languages are spoken in India, and I cannot imagine that a Rajput or a Burman would be any more satisfied to be represented by a Bengali on the Viceroy's Council than a Bengali would be satisfied to be represented by a Pathan.
570 The great point after all in connection with these reforms is, while attempting to accelerate the progress of India, not to interfere with it. I myself am entirely against legislation for the sake of legislating. If I believed these reforms would strengthen the hands of our civil servants and of our Government in India and would be to the real advantage and benefit of the Indian people, I should be the first to advocate them; but I think they go too far. I think we could make a reasonable concession to the wishes of the Indian people, we could enlarge the legislative councils safely, and then I should wait and see the result of that before I went into further reform. Lord Morley's action has been talked of as a leap in the dark. Surely no statesman should take a leap in the dark. We should rather take a step in the light, and in the light of experience take step by step safely and surely, and so advance the real interests of the country and not take this leap which may end disastrously, and by which we run the risk of throwing back the country once more into a staff of anarchy and delaying the very progress which we are all anxious to promote. For these reasons I shall not oppose the second reading of the Bill, but shall reserve my right to criticise the Bill when it goes into Committee, and I hope when it does pass it will pass in such a modified form as will be for the real and lasting benefit of the country, and not merely some startling reforms which aim at a policy of perfection.
§ Mr. D. M. SMEATON
I was very gratified to hear the remarks of the last speaker in regard to the service to which he has paid such a handsome tribute. There is one clause in the original Bill, clause 3, which, if reinserted—I say so with the very greatest reluctance—would, in my opinion, result in the disappearance of that service. I reserve my remarks on that clause for Committee stage.
I was rather disappointed to hear the hon. Members for East Nottingham and Walworth import into their speeches what they called the religious and sectarian differences and discrimination in reference to the proposed special electorate for the Mahomedans. I can claim, I think with all respect, wider knowledge of the populations of India than either of those two hon. Gentlemen. My knowledge extends to the vast bulk of the Mahomedan populations outside Bengal, and I must challenge the historical accuracy of my hon. Friend when he declares 571 that there is no substantial difference in race or manners or interests between the Mahomedan population and the Hindus. The Mahomedans of Eastern Bengal are, I know, of the very meanest sort of the followers of Islam, and they were comparatively recent converts to Mahomedanism; but when he talks of recent converts he really means the converts of five, six, or seven hundred years ago. That conversion really connotes a difference in race, because during these several hundred years social distinctions have been gradually widening between them and the Hindus, until now they really are not only a different religious sect, differing on every conceivable point of religion, but they have become a different race. In the parts of India which I know well—that is the whole of the northern part of India, in which the fighting Mahomedan races live and flourish—not only are they of a different race and speech, but are of a totally different nature altogether. They will have nothing to do socially or politically or in any other way with the Hindus among whom they live. They are a completely separate community, and to tell me they are to submit to an election by a numerically superior body of Hindus to what is called a representative council is reducing the whole principle of election to an absurdity. The only solution is that which has finally been adopted by the Secretary of State, namely, to give the Mahomedans a separate representative and a separate electoral register, and enable them to secure for themselves on those councils where their great interests are at stake such a representation as is approved by their co-religionists.
I was also sorry to hear the hon. Member for East Nottingham import into his speech a reference to the action of the Secretary of State in regard to the deportation ordinance of 1818. There has been a great controversy with reference to the operations under that ordinance, but, after all, that ordinance is the law of the land, and the Secretary of State, in sanctioning and approving the operations under the ordinance is only obeying the law of the land. It would never do for him to override the law. It may or may not be in the present condition of civilisation a wise provision, but as long as it remains the law of the land the Secretary of State was bound to see that it was enforced, and, for myself, it is not such an iniquitous ordinance as it appears. I had to administer it—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Emmott)
The hon. Member is referring, I think, to the Deportation Ordinance. I do not think that question arises on this Bill.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I was merely remarking on the words used by my hon. Friend in regard to the law of 1818, as he attempted to show that the Bill as at present drafted would suffer if the law was to be carried out as it is being carried out. The Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey made two statements which struck me as somewhat odd in regard to what he called the elective principle He said the elective principle which was observed and laid down as a part of this measure was new to India. I hardly thought the Noble Lord would have made such a mistake. Why, if there is one thing in India more pronounced than another it is the democratic character of the old village community. Power has passed into centralised institutions, and the more is the pity. Time was when everything connected with the village was decided upon by the will of the elected elders, and often even now in certain parts of India the whole administration of the village—criminal, civil, and social—is decided by a body elected by the village itself. That was a democratic principle which was universal all over India, and under this very measure which we are discussing it will become universal again. Some of the difficulty arose because no power was given to the village elders by the Government. The whole power was centralised in the hands of the collector, and the people said "What is the use of our voting if we have no power?" When their power is restored they will come up vigorously and attack the problems before them.
I wish to deal with the remarks of the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington, for he attacked a vital part of this measure, and I think he completely missed the whole point. He said words to this effect: In the non-official majorities which this Bill sanctions in the provinical council there was a semblance of power but not a reality. The whole thing was hypocrisy, and seeing that the veto was in reserve in the hands of the Government, he urged that the non-officials who would form the majority, with a full sense of their want of responsibility, might vote for a measure which they really did not desire, trusting to the veto of the Governor to put a final stop to it. That, 573 I maintain, was a very unworthy view to take of the action of men on the councils. This dispensing with the official majority in these councils is, to my mind, the very heart and core and virtue of the Bill. And why? My reason is this. Heretofore in England there has been no working plan, no real steady working plan, recognised in governing India. Successive Secretaries of State, one after another, have really gone on in a haphazard fashion, with no recognised system. Progress in Indian administration has been chiefly based upon precedent. The Government has been largely dependent upon the needs of the moment. Each Secretary of State has been more or less groping very often in the dark. That absence of system, that absence of plan in the Government of India—and it has been one of the greatest defects in modern times in the system of government—is put an end to by this Bill. This Bill lays down what I might call a great working plan, and through these nonofficial majorities it gives the Viceroy and Secretary of State the advantage of having representative public opinion on every public question in a living and corporate form. The Noble Lord said what is the good of the non-official majority, because there is the veto? True. But is it reasonable to suppose that a Lieutenant-Governor who has around him men of sound common sense will wantonly neglect that corporate statement of opinion by these men? Surely not. Surely he would be wise to be guided by a unanimous corporate statement of these men. I have been a Governor myself, and I know what goes on. I might ask a native for his advice. He might come and give it to me. He might have any kind of motive behind him. He gives advice because I ask him, but with no sense of responsibility; but when you get a body of men who are under obligation to make recommendations to the Council, does anybody mean to tell me that the results of that advice and recommendation will not be an enormously valuable asset to the Government? Surely it would, and therefore I hold that this nonofficial majority will be of value incomparably greater than any help or assistance the Government can have at the present time. I think the Secretary of State will gain knowledge far more useful than any knowledge he may gain now. The Leader of the Opposition said the Bill is not intended to be a step towards representative Government. Now, I hold that the Bill is intended to be a step towards 574 representative government—I do not say entire representative Government, but at any rate quasi-representative Government.
My reason for saying that is found in the very words of the Government of India itself, of Lord Minto and his Council: "Both in the Imperial and provincial councils these reforms will place the representatives of all classes of the community in a position to take a more effective part in shaping the policy of the Government and exert a real influence upon the actual work of administration." I ask the House if that does not mean an approach to something like representative government? I do not know what else it can mean. On the general question of the Bill itself; the Bill has to be read with the despatches which accompany it. The Bill is only, as my hon. Friend said, a skeleton. It is the framework. The substance is found in the Blue Books here and the despatches. There is a very interesting little note which shows how completely the man on the spot has seized the real importance of the measure. What are the words? "The election is to be according to the wishes of the people; representatives of all classes are to take effective part in shaping the policy of the Government and to exert a real influence on the administration from day to day." The cumulative effect of these guiding principles of the Bill is that India has got a constitution, and that it places the Government more or less on something approaching a democratic basis.
The legislative councils are to be enlarged. The methods of nomination and' of election are by regulation, and these regulations may be trusted to be on very liberal lines. I have no doubt of that. The present Viceroy has exhibited a very remarkable liberality of sentiment in dealing with this very vital question, a liberality of sentiment which, judging from his previous political career, one could hardly have expected, and I say that it redounds enormously to his credit that he should have placed on record views of such an eminently liberal description as he has done. The official majorities are to be done away with on the provincial councils. On the Imperial Council the official majority is to be maintained, and rightly so, because in the last resort it is obvious that an emergency may arise in which the Imperial Government will find it requisite either to pass a measure to maintain British supremacy, which is in my opinion absolutely essential, or to withhold its 575 assent from a measure sent on to it from a provincial assembly, which it considers the provincial assembly, which it considers either detrimental to public interest or to public policy. It is an absolutely essential foundation of the whole that the Imperial Council should have a standing majority; otherwise, how could it answer to His Majesty's Government or to this House? The result of this development under this measure is simply this: that these provincial assemblies are really as free in debate as is this House of Commons. They are enabled to divide on questions of public policy or even on incidents of administration, and on that division they make recommendations, which recommendations will have enormous weight with the Government, -and will only be disallowed in the event of some consideration arising which proves them to be contrary to public policy.
The Secretary of State for India demurred, I notice, the other day in a speech made in another place, to the opinion that he was conceding something approaching to Parliamentary institutions. I do not know why he should have demurred to such a thing, for I maintain that subject to the necessity of the Imperial Council having its own way in cases of emergency, the Secretary of State has really granted in this measure, and under the despatches which accompany it, something very little short of Parliamentary government. And I ask, what more can the most advanced reformer wish, short of surrendering our supremacy altogether? The most ardent reformers in India and here—and we have got some very ardent reformers sitting around us—cannot wish anything better or higher, or more adequate, than "the reforms which are adumbrated in this Bill, and I think that the only step which could be taken in advance of these reforms would be a step which I hope none of us would give the least consideration to, and that is a step to surrender in the last resort the supremacy of the British Crown.
So far I go with the reformers, but at this point I part company with them. I am sorry to say, and it is with great reluctance I say it, I cannot agree with the spirit of the original clause 3. I am of opinion that the appointment of an Indian on the executive authority on the 576 Council of the Viceroy of India is a very daring step and may prove even a dangerous one. I say so with the very greatest reluctance, because I know perfectly well that the spirit which has actuated the Secretary of State in this is a true Liberal spirit, and, as a Liberal, I feel having to differ from him on this. When you come to clause 3, which permits the appointment of four members of the Executive Council, of whom I presume two are to be Indians, I really find myself in great difficulty. I shall give my reasons when the clause I comes up in Committee. My own feeling is that if that clause is passed, and if it is fully developed as it may be in the course of time—we may not see the time—the result will be this: I am not a bureaucrat, but those Indian civil servants, who are after all the civil garrison of India, the sentinels, outposts, and pickets of British supremacy in India, will gradually disappear from India under the development of this clause 3. And once that happens, I say that the Government of India will inevitably lose touch with the interior, with which they are now linked by that perfect knowledge, that constant intercourse of the members of the service to which I have referred; and sad will be the day when the members of that service will be forced by the conditions then prevailing to disappear.
§ Captain GUY BARING
I feel that some kind of responsibility is put upon us who sit on this side of the House when we are asked to approve of one of the greatest changes which Indian history has seen, certainly for the last 50 years. And the responsibility for it is not diminished by the view, the proper and statesmanlike view, taken by the leaders of my party in not opposing the second reading of the Bill. The principle of this Bill I believe to be a right and proper one. I take it to mean the identification, the further identification of the natives of India, in the administration of their own affairs; but it does seem to me the difficulties we have to face in India to-day is to find the right class of administrator, and to find more Indians of different classes and different races to come forward to do this work. At the present moment the power seems to me to be getting too much into the hands of one class of natives. I am afraid that these natives, that this microscopic class, at the present moment, is looked upon with distrust by the nobles of India, and 577 by dislike by those referred to as "the silent masses whose interests we in this House ought to have so much at heart." In introducing this Bill in another place, the Secretary of State said he was far from desiring anything approaching Parliamentary institutions in India. I entirely sympathise with this view, but at the same time we cannot hide from ourselves that we are really creating a real political atmosphere in the legislative and Viceroy's Councils. This Bill is undoubtedly the outcome of political agitation in India. We have to face the question as to who will be given the power which this political agitation has asked for for so long. I think there is little doubt that the people who will get it, and from their own point of view rightly get it, will be those who have borne the burden and heat of the day; and we shall find the power going into the hands of those natives of India who are representative of and sympathise with, the Native Congress, and whose views are so widely circulated in this country, and strongly at this moment represented in this House. I must say that I look with some distrust upon the enlargement of the power which these Gentlemen have for this reason—if it is a reason which is not founded upon any solid foundation, I shall be glad to hear so from hon. Gentlemen opposite—and I shall be very glad to withdraw my impression. My impression of these agitators is that they are likely to get more and more in the councils of India; for while they have been agitating strongly for political power they have done very little, if anything, to foreshadow those social reforms which all would like to see put forward for the benefit of the masses of India. I have no doubt that this Bill will be a popular one in India, because it will provide some places for those whom I have been describing, but whether it will lead to more efficient administration I take leave to doubt. I believe the political atmosphere which is now being created will be used for elective purposes in these Councils. Instead of making the Members, both nominated and elected, give their advice rather as servants and friends of the paramount Power, they will be more inclined to play to the gallery, and appeal to those people who have elected them.
I do agree with the idea put forward in another place that we may find in these legislative councils some of the features we are accustomed to find on the Irish benches, and that in course of time the Members concerned will become irrecon- 578 cilable, if not in actual opposition to the Government of the day. I think they will create a difficulty in the administration of India, and I think, what is more important than all, that it will add to the general difficulties of what my hon. Friend the Member for Stirlingshire called the civil garrison in India, who have done such noble work in administering the Dominion. There is one question I should like to ask the Under-Secretary for State. This Bill will have to be filled out by regulations, and there is a portion which seems to me to involve a position surrounded with the greatest danger. There is to be drawn up a category of ineligibility for election. This will lay down whatever it may be, crimes or particular reasons, why such and such a class of person should not be eligible, and it seems to be putting on the Government of India a most difficult task. Is this category going to be reconstructed? Is it to include political offences? It will obviously include any member who has been deported or in any way mixed up in any seditious transactions. I am very much afraid that those gentlemen, whatever may be the electoral body which has returned them to the council, will be more likely to be made national heroes. With regard to this category of ineligibility, it seems to me one of the most difficult points to be met with in the future with regard to this Bill. I think the hon. Member for East Nottingham spoke with hope as to the future developments which might follow under this Bill, and I most sincerely hope the party opposite will not feel anxious to push further for many years the developments that they have already started. I hope the Government of India will be allowed to digest in peace the exceedingly huge meal it has laid before them.
§ Mr. HART-DAVIES
I was very pleased to hear from the Under-Secretary that he intended to deal with the question of local self-government—that is to say, district administration, which I have always thought extremely important for the government of India. It is a matter in which very few steps have been taken. As has been indicated, we have given them local boards, but a very little amount of money, and very little authority over the work they have to do, so that it can hardly be considered an extraordinary consequence that there is a lack of interest in the work of those bodies. They should have more money and more real control over the work they have to do. I have always thought that if local administra- 579 tion had been developed it would have absorbed a number of those whose attention has; been diverted to political agitation and party politics. As to section 3 I do not see myself why there should be any objection to it. We formerly had a Government which was called the Governor in Council. I think the Governor in Council is a better and more impartial form of government, and I am quite sure that it is more popular with the Indians than the form of government which is represented by a Lieutenant-Governor. I have always thought that the simplest solution of the question of the partition of Bengal would have been to have had the Governor in Council. If that had been established the whole of Bengal would have been contented, and the government would have been efficient. That form of government was actually promised the people of Bengal in 1834, yet here 70 years afterwards it is still not carried out. I believe if it had been carried out we would not have had all this agitation. I think, on the whole, the Bill has had an extremely favourable reception, and it has been discussed not in a party, but in an Imperial spirit by both sides of the House. It must always be remembered that it is not only an Indian question, not merely a question of the connection between England and India, but that it is part of the great Asiatic problem now going on. We see in Asia the beginning of a great epoch; we may be at the beginning of a new phase of life as between Europe and Asia. We have seen what has been the extraordinary issue of the Russo-Japanese war, which was only a part of the movement which has been going on for the last 25 years. When we see China beginning to move, when we see what has been done by Japan, when we see all these great events stirring in Asia, it is hardly possible that India, the centre of Asia, can remain quiet. It is quite obvious that these things must have a startling development in India. It is quite impossible for us to stand on the old ways of administration in India, though the old system, with all its inconsistencies, had the sympathy of the people, and the best among the Indian people got a share, and a considerable share, in the government of their own country. Still, I think it is absolutely inevitable that these events should have led to a great development in India, and I think Lord Morley deserves a great deal of credit for the courage with which he has 580 brought forward this proposal, and I feel myself that hardly sufficient credit has been given to him in the debate this evening. It requires real courage to bring forward a measure of this kind, and I think Lord Morley's name, because of the action he has taken in regard to this question, will be handed down to future generations as one who has made his mark in the history of India.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The Prime Minister told us that the people of the country should be associated with the government of the country. I do not object to the Bill on grounds of detail, but on its fundamental principle, and I am bound to say that I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Stirling Burghs. I have not the slightest objection to the natives being associated with us in the government of the country, but I am bound to say that they are associated with us to a very much larger extent than the people of England have any idea of. It certainly is not desirable to increase to any large extent the introduction into the Civil Service of a rather too large representation, a larger representation than we have to-day, of Indian Civil servants. I think that is not only the view of Anglo-Indians, but if we could possibly get at it, I think it is also the view of the great mass of cultivators in India. The section of the community affected by this Bill who know anything about it will be something like X per cent, of the entire population of India. The great mass of Indian cultivators do not know what this Bill is going to do, they have no idea of representative Government, and no desire for it, and they simply desire to be let alone in order that they may carry on their business in exactly the same way as they have done in the past. India has been governed from the beginning by different outside Governments, and the Indian people desire to live their lives untrammelled and unfettered by any question of Government. I can see a prominent Radical opposite who has great ideas of government smiling at that remark, but when you have got a population of 300,000,000 people, of whom not more than 10,000,000 are literate, and know nothing of politics and desire to know nothing, it is impossible to say that you are instituting representative Government for the Indian people. You are going to establish, a representative system for a portion of the people, and they are the classes who will benefit. With regard to the profes- 581 sional classes they are an exotic production of our own system of administration and education. We have educated and reared them until there is a complete glut of learned B.A.'s in India. There are no clerkships vacant for them, and they mostly become lawyers. If you could get at the real feeling of the masses of the people of India their one wish would be delivered from the Indian native lawyers. The great support this Bill is receiving from Indian public opinion is from this particular professional class who long for appointments of various kinds, and who are totally out of touch and are disliked by the great masses of the people. Then there are the landholders, and perhaps they are the most reliable part of the community, so far as loyalty to this country is concerned. I think it is rather a new doctrine to find on the Radical side that the landlords are able representatives of the tenant class. I should like to see when we are discussing the taxation of ground rents any suggestion from this side of the House that the landlords were efficient representatives of the tenants in England. The landlords' interests in this country are not identical with those of the tenant, but the English civil servant lives amongst the people of India and rules them, and he is the only man who can effectively represent the great mass of the Indian community. You have no right to establish representative government in order to secure the well-being of about 10,000,000 people when you will have about 280,000,000 or 290,000,000 people not represented at all, whose well-being is much better looked after in the hands of the Indian civil servants than it will be in the hands of the legislative councils which are going to be set up by this Bill. The mass of the Indian people desire to be left alone, because the one great thing they realise under British administration is that they receive evenhanded justice at the hands of the British magistrate. Everybody knows that the native Indian prefers to have his disputes settled before an English rather than before a native magistrate, and they prefer to have their revenue collected by English officials. That the natives possess this great trust in the English people is a very fine recommendation to the civil service. The great mass of the people look to Englishmen and English justice to keep them peaceful and to prevent them from being badly treated and oppressed by the money lending community, or the professional men who are going to be the members of the councils, and who are going to benefit 582 under the provisions of this Bill. A somewhat curious commentary has been furnished by the new Nationalist magazine, which enunciates some of the extreme views of the Indian Nationalist party. This magazine suggests that the people at large have every interest in the personal scramble of the professional class, and it declares that the whole thing is demoralising; that Lord Morley's scheme will add to the cost of administration, and this increased expenditure must come out of the pockets of the overburdened taxpayer, and it fails to see what the man in the field in India will get in return. The man in the field, and there are 280,000,000 of them, is the man whom hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to legislate for, if representative Government means anything; but, instead of that, you are now legislating for the odd 10,000,000 of the professional and landowning classes, whom you are giving higher positions than they have hitherto had, and you are lifting them above the man in the field, who will get nothing under the provisions of this Bill. This is not a good time for reform in India because of the sedition which has been going on during the last few years. It is not necessary for me to give instances, because we all know how sedition has been rife, and how a number of murders have taken place throughout India. I sympathised with Lord Morley when he said he was sick of all the retrograde talk about the weakness of concessions to violence. The point is whether the people of India will not regard this Bill as a concession to violence. The Prime Minister stated that to a great extent India had ceased from sedition since these reforms were announced, and if that is so, surely it may be regarded as a concession to the seditious forms of violence. Take any paper you like in India, and you will find this Bill regarded as a glorification of sedition.
I should like to say one word on a matter of detail with regard to the Mahomedans. The Member for Nottingham suggested that the Mahomedans and the Hindus were of the same race and almost of the same creed. I cannot concur in that expression of opinion. While the Mahomedan is perfectly willing to be ruled by an Englishman, you find throughout India that he is not willing to be ruled by a Hindu; and if you establish any system you like in the Executive Councils or in the legislative councils, whereby the Hindus get preponderating power, you will turn the whole Mahomedan population 583 against us. To-day the Mahomedans are the most loyal of the population of India; they are devoted to English rule; but if we throw them over and put them under the heel of the Hindus, who have for centuries past been somewhat bitter opponents of their religion and race, you will have the Mahomedans just as disloyal as large sections of the Hindus are, and joining as they have not hitherto done in the seditious movement and the opposition to British rule. I cannot concur in the views which have been expressed on the other side of the House with regard to the nonofficial majority in the legislative councils. That provision is bound to produce intense friction. I was much struck by the remarks of the hon. Member for Stirling just now. He made a speech three parts of which was strongly in support of these reforms, even of giving the non-official majority; then at the end he turned completely round and destroyed the value of everything he had said from the point of view of his own side. Under no circumstances whatever would he have made the appointment of natives to the Viceroy's Council, nor would he permit the extension of the appointment of natives to the Executive Councils. That seems to me absolutely to destroy the hon. Gentleman's argument in favour of the extension of representative government. He was the one Member on the opposite side of the House who told us distinctly that this was something near akin to Parliamentary institutions. He was delighted and willing to give India Parliamentary institutions, but he was not willing to give an Indian native member either on the Viceroy's Council or on the Lieutenant-Governor's Executive Council. This non-official majority must cause the most intense friction. We have heard from the Prime Minister that this House suffers from the veto of another place. But that veto is very rarely exercised, and there is a way of getting over the difficulty by an appeal to another body. But there is no method by which a non-official majority could get over the veto of the Lieutenant-Governor or the veto of the Viceroy. That is a far more stringent veto than the veto of another place upon the proceedings of this House, and yet the veto of another place produces on the minds of hon. Members opposite intense irritation when it is exercised. Are we to suppose that these men, who, largely because they have brought themselves prominently to the front in Indian society by a process 584 of agitation, have been elected to these legislative councils, are going to accept the veto lying down, without most intense irritation, without attacks of all kinds on the Lieutenant Governor or whoever exercised the veto? I tremble to think what a stock of supplementary questions would arise in the legislative council after the veto had been exercised. I entirely agree with—if it is not presumption for me to say so—and I was exceedingly pleased to hear the words of my leader with regard to the use of supplementary questions in India. It is commonly said that the Secretary of State for India fled to another place in order to get rid of supplementary questions. Whether that be so or not, the Indian Civil servants have plenty to do in governing their districts without being kept away from their business in sending up report after report in answer to these questions. Some of them may be members of the legislative councils. Some of these supplementary questions can be of no benefit whatever except to aggrandise the native gentlemen who are elected to the Indian legislative councils. I wish to refer to a question which was put by the Prime Minister when discussing the appointment of Mr. Sinha. He asked: "Would you, in the case of a man who was perfectly fit and qualified for the post, debar him on account of his race?" If the Prime Minister had been here I should have liked to asked him another question, but I shall put it to the Under-Secretary: would you, provided that there were natives in India fit for two, three, four, or five posts in the Viceroy's Council—just as fit for those posts, and particularly for the Prime Minister's post, because there have been great financiers in India in days gone by—would you, if there were men as well fitted for these posts as Mr. Sinha is well fitted for the legal post, appoint them members of the Executive Council? When the Prime Minister is prepared to answer that question—well, I will not wait—I will say perfectly honestly what I think. I do not see any reason in disguising one's thoughts in the matter. I would answer to the Prime Minister that so long as Great Britain holds India, rules India, and means to govern India, I would not appoint to the Viceroy's Council a native member. I felt bound to state my objections to the principles of this measure. Whether you have 40, 50, or 60 members on these councils, you will have in every province of India a small Parliament, and it will be used for Parliamentary purposes 585 by those members who get into them. Either those councils are going to be a sham, whose decisions will be vetoed at every turn, or perhaps they will come into conflict with the British and will be masters of the Lieutenant-Governor and afterwards masters of the Viceroy. There is no intermediate position. I wonder what the position of the Lieutenant-Governor will be when his legislative council month by month—I will not say passes with an absolute majority—but brings forward resolutions supported by the whole of the native elected members, who will work together, and working together, will propose these resolutions. There will be a substantial minority, deprecating the measures brought forward by the Lieutenant-Governor, objecting to the Budget, and to the doings of the Lieutenant-Governor and his Executive Council. All this will be printed in the native Indian press, showing that the elected members voted solid, representing, as we are bound to believe they are going to represent, the whole of native, opinion, or assuming to represent the whole of native opinion in the district. What is to be the position of the Lieutenant-Governor when month after month he has to oppose his official opinion as against the great mass of native opinion as represented by the native members who have forced themselves by methods known even in this House into notoriety and election on these councils. They are bound to go on demanding reforms, and the position of the Lieutenant-Governor will become untenable. In the "Svaraj," an Indian Nationalist organ, this opinion is expressed:—In their practical operation the proposed reforms will be bound to increase popular discontent, and in the necessary conflict that will arise very frequently between the representatives of the people and of the Government in these extended councils the authority of the bureaucracy will be more and more stultified. These reforms will place the bureaucracy in an awkward position without conferring any corresponding and commensurate good on the people.That is an expression of extreme Nationalist opinion from the Indian point of view. I should think it would be unworthy of myself as a Member of this House if I did not say that my objections are fundamental. It has been said that we are bound to pass this Bill, because it has been introduced on the authority of the Secretary of State, that we must not oppose it, and that we must pass it unanimously.
That is an extraordinary doctrine. I am surprised that the supporters of the democratic principle are prepared to accept 586 that position with regard to any Bill introduced by a Secretary of State. It is a declaration that because the Secretary of State has brought in a Bill over the heads of the Indian Government therefore this House must pass it. I ask hon. Members opposite if they will be bound when a Conservative Secretary of State for India brings in a measure for remodelling the Government of India on grounds less agreeable to their feelings than this if they would accept it? It would be inadvisable for one Member to divide the House against this Bill; but I may say that I feel very strongly on this Bill, not merely as regards its details but on the whole of its principle. I regard it as a serious danger to the continuance of British rule in India, and a serious detriment to the well-being of that country.
§ Mr. REES
I am in accord with a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman has said, and, from the internal evidence of his speech, I take it that he has never made a political peregrination in India. It has recently been said by the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Nottingham that he believed that the hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs represents the official opinion of India. I should be a proud man if I could say that I represented my fellow countrymen in India. If I occupied that position I should not be justified in taking up a position of antagonism to this Bill. Whether one likes it or does not—and there is a good deal in the Bill I do not like I freely admit—I say that things in India have taken a certain trend, and that it is quite impossible to withstand it. No Government, either Liberal or Conservative, intend to alter the advance in India, and provided the advance is safeguarded and moderate, the Civil Service of India will endeavour as far as possible to accept it in the hope of bringing about something like peace. I have been all my life, as far as possible, an advocate of the further employment of the representatives of the Indian peoples. I believe as much as anyone in their immense capabilities, and I welcome those provisions of the Bill with one exception—namely, that of giving a seat to an Indian gentleman on the Viceroy's Council; not that I have any objection to the particular gentleman whose name has been mentioned. Apart from that, I welcome everything in the Bill that makes for the further employment of the Indian people. I think the Civil Service 587 in India are loyal men, and are proud to follow such a leader as Lord Morley. I think they recognise the part he has played in" a very difficult situation, and I think by his treatment of the simpletons of democracy he has further endeared himself to the wise men of the East. I will now briefly run through the clauses of the Bill, because I believe it is necessary to keep nearer to the Bill than some Members have done. I have to say in the same sense as my hon. Friend who has just sat down that it is a fact, of course, that these reforms are pressed upon us by an infinitesimal minority of the people of India which is not realised, I think, by any of those who are dealing with this matter except by those who lived and moved and had their being in India. 1.6 per cent of the peoples of India belong to what is called the professional classes, and when throughout these papers we see that this matter and that matter will be acceptable to popular opinion we must realise that popular opinion is the opinion of 1.6 of the people, and that those who are literate in English are only 1 per cent. We must also guard ourselves against treating the Press of India as if it was in any respect representative of the peoples. The Press is only representative of its owners and those who sympathise with them, the Bengali, Babus, and the Deccani Brahmins, both classes of which have supplied in late years the opponents of our rule, the detractors of the British in India. These are important facts, and I think the greatest care must be taken, when we are making any of these advances, however admirable they may look, that we take into account these root facts. I will only remark in this connection that in endeavouring to placate the Babus and Brahmins of Bengal we must not alienate the warlike tribes in India. I should like to quote the opinion of a very eminent Bengali on that subject. He is the Maharajah of Burdwan, and he said that no doubt the present political heat-wave is due to the ill-considered and ill-expressed encouragement of Radical and discontented Anglo-Indians in Parliament. I should not have liked to have said that myself, but it is the saying of a representative Bengali who saved one of our Lieutenant-Governors from assassination.
Then, coming to the Mahomedans, I must say that here I differ altogether from my hon. Friend the Member for Walworth. I 588 accept the Mahomedan position. I am not going to trouble the House with any reason for my opinion, except that I have been accustomed to the Mahomedans, their ways and their literature, and I think it would be absurd if the Government were going to treat the Mahomedans as if they were entitled to no representation except that which they are entitled to by mere numbers. It would be a grave political error, and show ignorance on the subject with which they were dealing. Lord Morley has not taken up that attitude, and he agrees with the late Lord Kimberley, who said the notion that Parliamentary representation could ever be arranged in India was the wildest imagination that the heart of man could conceive. He further warned us, in dealing with Indian reform, to beware of Hindu opinion, which is Hindu opinion only. I differ here from Lord Kimberley. I think that where you have a question of Hindu versus Mahomedan, Hindu opinion has its value, as indicating what you should avoid. It has its value, but only in that sense. I also wish to quote an authority on this matter, which must be received on this side of the House with the utmost respect and deference. It is Mr. Gladstone who said:—The danger is that you get representation of cliques, classes and interests. The educated classes, who are a small minority, claim to represent all classes, and they oppose all measures likely to lessen their influence.Those are words which should not be lightly passed over; they should be written up over the doors of all the offices which deal with this subject. Lord MacDonnell, whose opinion we hear with great respect, said the Hindus often would elect Mahomedans to the Council. I should like to ask Lord MacDonnell if he was in the House how was it that no Mahomedan was ever elected in the United Provinces, which he governed so extremely well himself.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
In March last there was an election for the Legislative Council of the United Provinces. They elected a Hindu, and out of 11 Mahomedan electors 8 voted for the Hindu.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
Two Mahomedans have been elected to the Viceroy's Legislative Council—the Nawab of Pahasu and the Raja of Mahmudabad.
§ Mr. REES
I thought the hon. Gentleman was going to say in the last five or six days. At any rate I should require a little confirmation of that.
Lord MacDonnell also made a point which is really immensely important upon this question. He said Bengal was the Province best educated—which is not borne out by the census Commissioners or any other figures I could find—and the most advanced—which I freely admit they are in some respects—and he said "we want to get this partition undone." What is at the bottom of the desire to reintroduce clause 3, and get a Governor in Council for Bengal is the desire to get a Governor in Council for a united Bengal. They want to get the two provinces put together again, so that a Governor in Council may rule over it. I do not hesitate to say that to undo the partition would shake the British Empire in India to its foundations. I sincerely hope it will never be contemplated, nor can I understand how the hon. Member for Nottingham could possibly suggest that any such measure is desirable or even possible. Had this partition taken place a little before it did, when my hon. Friend was Chief Commissioner of Assam, he would perhaps have become the Lieutenant-Governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam, and I am sure he would have continued to carry out the same in an obedient and efficient manner—the orders of his superior officers—as he did in the lesser appointment which he had the good fortune to hold.
§ Mr. REES
That was my point. From historical, racial, political, physical, every conceivable reason, the Mahomedans have good grounds to claim that they should have an entirely separate electorate and that they shall have their own men to repre- 590 sent themselves. I do not believe in representative institutions in India, but if you are to have them, at least let the men have those whom they wish to represent them. It is an absurd thing to say to a Mahomedan you shall have a converted Hindu, who is unrecognisable from the Hindus around you, to be your representative. Nor can I follow the hon. Member for Walworth in his speech, in which he seemed to hold that the difference between Hindus and Mahomedans was like the difference between a Baptist and a Wesleyan. Surely the real fact is that the Mahomedan is far nearer to the Christian than to the Hindu.
§ Mr. REES
My hon. Friend mentioned a Baptist, and I introduced the Wesleyan. I think really they get on very well together. Mahomedans and Hindus do not. As an administrator who has had to keep the peace, and has had to deal with these subjects, I can assure the hon. Member that they do not get on well together. [Cries of "Where?" All over the country. At the time of festivals special police arrangements have to be made to keep them from flying at one another's throats. And even now that this appointment has been made of Mr. Sinha, a gentleman of whom I wish to speak with the utmost respect—and if an appointment of this character is to be made at all he is the right man in the right office—strong objection is taken by Mahomedans. That shows that infinite difficulty surrounds this question. Hindus claim to have won a victory without the help of the Mahomedans. These are positions which certainly come to mind when we are considering the question of Mahomedan representation and the appointment of a member to the Viceroy's Executive Council. Then there are other people who are entitled to special representation, and I must take the opportunity of mentioning specially the representations of the Anglo-Indian Association, Calcutta, and the European and Anglo-Indian Defence Association, Calcutta, which are highly important and representative bodies. I do not think that in all these papers there are many points which are not sufficiently taken into account. Because they do not send people over here to repre- 591 sent their case they do not get the consideration which is obtained by those who call out day after day until they get satisfied. If the Under-Secretary of State's ears are open for a moment I wish to say that these communities should have consideration, and that their case also should be taken into account as well as that of the Mahomedans. The Noble Lord opposite dealt a great deal in his interesting speech with the difference between the proposals of this Bill and those the Government of India finally sent forth, and no doubt there is a far-reaching change in doing away with the official majorities on the provincial councils. I never would have done that, because I believe that if these great provincial councils are beaten or cannot get through their legislation, the prestige of the Government in India no doubt must suffer. At the same time, I do realise that if something is to be done to meet the wishes of the advanced Indians, I do not know of anything more likely to please them at a less cost than this. Because it looks a far greater change than it actually is. As one who has lived in India a great many years I can say that administration is everything, legislation matters very little. So many subjects are excluded from the powers of these bodies (including the Army and Navy I am happy to think). If it is the case that the Secretary of State had set to work to try and please as far as possible the advanced Indians without doing great harm to the British supremacy, I do not think he could have hit upon a better measure than this which I support, and to which, on the whole, no very serious objection has been taken. We come then to the Imperial Legislative Council. I, like the Noble Lord opposite, understand that the changes that have been introduced here would reduce the number of the, council by two below that advised by the Government of India. I cannot see any great harm in that.
§ Earl PERCY
I do not see how the Government are going to carry out the pledge which the Secretary of State gave—namely, to increase the proportion assigned to Mahomedans above that which was originally assigned. The figures in that respect were fixed before.
§ Mr. REES
I presume it would be possible to adjust that by taking two off some other interest, and that some other interest would bear reduction, and I do not see that that is so serious a matter as might 592 be thought. As regards the power to make recommendations, I may say that that seems to me also to be harmless, provided the Government decline to take too seriously these recommendations, which, of course, may very often be put through without any real intention by those who bring them forward of ever having them carried out. One thing I think has not been mentioned to-day. That is the intention expressed by the Secretary of State of making a distinct advance in local self-government by way of political education of the people. I confess here I cannot see why, since Lord Morley has expressed his agreement with Lord Kimberley, Mr. Gladstone, and others who regarded Parliamentary Government for India, as I do, as being an absolutely wild dream—if ever they have it it will never be when we rule over the country I think—I cannot understand, if the Noble Viscount thinks that, why he thinks it necessary to stimulate the political education of the people. Stimulating the political education of the people can only mean stimulating their keenness for representative Parliamentary institutions. Therefore, seeing that this local self-government has. been—and I spent my life in the province in which it has been admittedly most successful—to tell the plain truth, nothing but;: dismal failure, I cannot quite understand why it should be galvanised into life and have its scope extended in order to increase and stimulate the political education of the people. I do not understand myself why that should be a feature of these reforms, and certain figures which the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State gave in answer to questions, seemed to me substantially to bear out my contention that the people have not taken to the system of local self-government. I come to the question of the Executive Councils for the local Governments of the provinces. The Government of India in their last despatch spoke in its favour, but that seemed to show a change of front. I am strongly in favour of increasing the numbers of the councils in Madras and Bombay. Since these councils were deprived of their third member it has practically been an absurd situation. It is only because the men have been so much better than the system that it has been possible to carry on. The Under-Secretary of State says that one addition will do. I cannot understand this myself; I cannot understand why a third councillor was not appointed, or why one gentleman was not appointed to fill up the 593 council instead of taking legislative sanction for two. I do not object to the provision of the Bill; at the same time, I do not quite see any necessity for it. I hope it is not contemplated to put in two gentlemen, because it would upset the balance at present in the two Governorships. I cannot understand the proposition, except that it is apparently in order to provide another native gentleman with a highly-paid appointment. Apart from this, I fail to see why the people in the Lieutenant Governorships should be saddled with a council which they do not need. By common consent the Lieutenant-Governorships have been efficient. I can see a reason why this agitation has gone forward more particularly in Bengal, because there an idea survives—and dies hard if it receives encouragement or justification in certain quarters—that the Bengals may again be united under a Governor in Council. The appointment of Indians to Executive Councils except in the two old provincial Governments I cannot think in my heart is a wise measure, and I believe that here I am expressing the opinion of Europeans in India and in the Indian Civil Service. The position of any Indian during his term of office and before it, when he is a candidate, will be very difficult, and he will inevitably be the focus of intrigue, be he as good a man as ever stepped. It is the fact that India is a British dependency, and in the Government there should be a supreme Council consisting of eight Europeans. I fear that in future some political Baboo will inevitably succeed in attaining to this seat of the mighty. And when reference is made to the prophecy about beating the sword into a ploughshare, it should be remembered that it is on "The last day." I hope we have not got to the last day, and that we shall not have the text thus wrested from its context. If we look at the ultimate object of the agitators, it is contained in the plainest possible words—it means Baboo rule supported by British bayonets. The British people would never stand it, and it would not succeed. I support these reforms, but doubt the wisdom of appointing a native to the Cabinet of India, because there should be eight Europeans on the Supreme Council. I do not think that the Lieutenant-Governors want councils, and I think they will be an expensive luxury, which will not make for efficiency in the Government of India. I do hope now so much has been done, and properly done, to meet the views 594 of the most advanced section, and not to us the most friendly section of certain of the peoples of India, equal pains will be taken to show that the Government will be at equal pains to show that they value the loyalty of those who are loyal and do not press through agitation for concessions which the wisdom of the Government would incline them to refuse.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I was very much struck in the speech of the hon. Member for North-West Manchester to notice how extremes meet in opposition. The hon. Member quoted from an Indian magazine a criticism of this Bill which came from an extreme section of Indian opinion. The remarkable thing was that it almost entirely coincided with his own criticism. That quotation represented the extreme section of the Reform party in India, whereas the hon. Member for North-West Manchester represented the Conservative section of this House, and the natural inference is that this Bill steers a good middle course. I was also very much interested to notice that the hon. Member had an extreme distrust of Indian agitators.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Yes, or any agitators; and yet the hon. Member for Northwest Manchester owes his seat in this House to his own agitation and to being an agitator.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I never remember a bigger agitation than the one on the strength of which the hon. Member was returned to this House.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I refer to your election campaign. It seems very strange that a member of the British middle classes should object to a member of the Indian middle classes following his own successful example. The hon. Member made one remark with which I am inclined to agree, and that is when he put in a strong plea for the man in the field. His argument seemed to infer that the man in the field had nothing to hope for from returning fro those councils in India the educated middleclass ability. If the educated middle classes are not to be trusted to do justice to the working classes of India what right have we to assume that the educated middle classes in England are to be trusted to do justice to the working classes in this country? The truth is that opponents of reform in India use arguments to justify 595 their opposition which are fatal to their own position here at home. The hon. Member for North-West Manchester made one remark which he ought to be called upon to substantiate. He referred to the native Indian press—he was not speaking of any one particular newspaper, but generally—which he said accepted these reforms in one column, and glorified sedition in another. That is a libel on honourable men. Papers like the "Bengali" in Calcutta, and other papers of similar type, which accept these reforms, are conducted at as high a standard and with as much honour as any journal in this country, and with more than those journals which support hon. Members above the Gangway. I can conceive of no Indian journal descending to the low level of scurrility of papers of the type of the "Daily Mail," the "Daily Express," and the journals generally which support hon. Members above the Gangway. If the educated classes of India are not to be trusted to do justice to the men in the field there is one plain remedy, namely, to enfranchise the men in the field. I agree that the educated classes, whether in England or in India, are not to be trusted to do justice to the poor. ["Oh!"] I do not speak of exceptional individuals here and there. The remedy for that, however, is not to refuse the middle-classes power, but to create village councils, under the direct control and authority of the men in the field, and rely upon them to look after the interests of the peasant community. I have been surprised at the criticism levelled against the proposal to establish Lieutenant-Governor's Councils. The Lieutenant Governor serves for five years, and is then changed. To have an Executive Council gives continuity of policy. The Governor goes, but the council remains, and that in itself counts for a good deal in the carrying through of administration. The Noble Lord the Member for South Kensington was somewhat perturbed at the idea—though he accepted the proposal—of abolishing the official majority on the legislative councils. But surely, after over 100 years of British rule, the natives, and especially the educated natives, ought to be in a position of political education at which they can be safely trusted with a power of the kind proposed. If that be denied, the reflection upon British rule is a serious one. In the more advanced small native States the educated and the peasant classes are entrusted with much greater political 596 power than is proposed to be given by this Bill. I understand from the Press that in the State of the Maharajah of Mysore for over 30 years there has been a council of 227 members, elected by the vote of the entire people, which meets yearly to discuss reforms and to make recommendations.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I did not interrupt the hon. Member in his cynical and insulting speech, and I ask to be allowed to continue my remarks.
§ Mr. T. L. CORBETT
On a point of order, I desire to ask whether the hon. Member can describe a speech as cynical and insulting?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I regret to say I did not hear the speech or I should be able to form a better opinion upon it. If it had been such, I think the hon. Member should have raised the objection there and then.
§ Mr. T. L. CORBETT
Would not the Deputy-Speaker have called attention to the speech being cynical and insulting if it had been so?
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
The point is that this council, popularly elected for close upon 30 years in Mysore, restored to native rule since 1874—under Lord Salisbury's Administration, by the way—it is now proposed should be endowed with legislative authority in addition to the recommendatory power it has hitherto possessed. In Baroda there is a system of village schools. Surely if the people of the native States are fit to be entrusted with those powers, and not only do not abuse them, but use them wisely, moderately, and well, the British Indian should not be content to lag behind. One remark was made by, I think, the hon. Member for South Kensington about the educated classes in India not being anxious to spread agitation among their poorer brethren.
§ Earl PERCY indicated dissent.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I beg pardon. One Member who took part in the debate said 597 so. The authority of the late Max Müller tells a very different tale. He quotes in one of his Cambridge Lectures a statement by a commissioner of our own to the effect that prior to British rule there was a school in every village with 400 inhabitants under Hindu administration, and that it was a rare thing to meet a boy who was unable to read, write, and cipher. That, according to Max Müller, was the condition of education under Hindu rule. The present condition compares badly with what then existed. There, again, the Native States prove conclusively that the educated classes in these States are not only anxious but willing to make ample provision for the education of every class down to the Pariah class itself. Much has been made of separate representation for Mahomedans, and it has been alleged in the course of the debate that the Mahomedans for all practical purposes are a separate race, and, therefore, entitled to special representation. The number of Mohamedans out of the 300,000,000 in India is about 60,000,000, of whom—and this is my point—only 300,000 are Moguls. The remainder are converted Hindus. In the country districts Hindu and Mahomedan mix together in their religious festivals and their social ceremonies. Unless excited by outside intervention, the whole tendency of Hindu and Mahomedan is to live and work amicably together. I do not object to special representation being given to Mahomedans. Lord Morley has stated that they should receive an amount of representation greater than that to which they are numerically entitled. I am justified in asking why? Why should the Mahomedans have a greater representation than their numbers would justify? Is it because of the Mahomedan's superior intelligence, his superior wealth, and his superior education? If not, why is this minority of people to receive specially favoured treatment at the hands of the Government? I am glad this Bill has reached this House. I trust that in the course of the Committee stage it may be possible to enlarge its provisions, and that when it becomes an Act it will I feel certain be more acceptable to the people of India if it is accompanied by a full amnesty to those political prisoners who have not been convicted of any crime of violence, and to those persons who have in some cases not been convicted of anything at all in a court of law. That would do more to bind the people closer to the British Empire than any measure. I trust that the Government, in endeavouring to meet the 598 legitimate aspirations of the people of India will do so in a generous spirit and on some such lines as those which I have indicated.
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Secretary of State for India on reversing the Tory policy pursued during the last 10 years. I particularly congratulate Lord Morley on introducing an Indian into the Viceroy's Executive. That is the greatest thing he has done, and I consider it one of the redeeming features of his rêgime. It is an acknowledgment of a great and noble principle—that the people of every country have the right to take part in the government of their country. We have been waiting a long time for that. The patient Indians have been waiting for some reform in that direction, and for some measure of justice, and I rejoice that Lord Morley has given them such an appointment. I trust Lord Morley will not be content with that. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak in the House of Lords on the third reading, and I understood him to adumbrate putting another Indian upon the Council. I understood him to say it would be a good thing if a portfolio was established similar to the Local Government Board here; that he was very anxious to develop local Government in the villages and small towns. This would be an excellent opportunity of appointing an Indian who knows his own country infinitely better than any section in this country can, and I trust his Lordship will not hesitate to appoint an Indian to that post. At the same time, I think he might combine in that portfolio a representative of education. We heard it said by the Leader of the Opposition that if the middle classes received power they would not do justice in the way of social reform. Well, we have been very negligent, particularly in the field of education, whilst Indian reformers have been advocating free schools for the poor. I think then that Lord Morley would do well if he would seize this opportunity of appointing another Indian to the Cabinet of India. Now, with regard to the Bill, so far as it gives self-government, I fully agree with it, and rejoice in it. But one feels it is a very tiny and a very modest step. It is not what we expected from Lord Morley. We had the impression from his past, from his teaching and writings, from the way he behaved when Chief Secretary for Ireland, from the way he upheld freedom and self-government in South Africa, 599 that he would give a larger and a handsomer measure than we received from him to-day. Still we are grateful, because we acknowledge it is an instalment, though a modest one, of self-government, and we only trust it will be received in a sympathetic spirit, and worked in a sympathetic spirit by the bureaucracy in India. I feel it is a great misfortune that the non-official majority is not extended to the Viceroy's Council. That would give some decent, honest measure of power to to the Indians, and I lament the fact that Lord Morley and, I presume, Lord Minto, have hesitated to take this important and wise and liberal step, because, after all, they have the veto, and the Viceroy could, if the Imperial Council overstepped the mark according to our British idea, exercise the veto, and would be able to check what he considered dangerous legislation. We know, after all, the history of legislative bodies in India in the past. The British bureaucracy have taken the advice Lord Salisbury gave to his followers in this country, namely, to capture the board schools, and they have captured the legislative councils. I trust a new spirit will come over the officials, and that these councils will in the future be more guided and directed by Indians than they have been in the past. I regret that the House of Lords has seen fit to knock a hole in the bottom of this tiny little ship. Clause 3 after all revealed considerable concession to Indian public opinion. We feel that their Lordships have interfered with an Imperial Department in a way which, after all, might have very serious and disastrous consequences. We speak of the House of Lords as the dominant issue in this country, and if this clause is not restored we may realise that India may keenly resent the indignity, and it may lead to great trouble in that country, and the House of Lords may become the dominant issue there as well as here.
After all, the deletion of this clause amounts to something very serious in Indian public opinion. It really amounts to this: one man one rule over a large portion of British-Indian territory. We in this country could not stand it for a single day, and we believe it is demoralising to the people who are governed as well as to the Governor who is placed in that position, and we feel that the Indians cannot stand with such a degree of patience as they have done in the past 600 one-man rule. I hope that their lordships will be guided and governed in this important matter, and when we send this Bill back to them they will accept that clause, and India will get an extra instalment of self-government. We ought to realise in this House—I sometimes think we do not—that, after all, the present form of Government in India is the lowest type in the civilised world. There is only one type lower, that of Rhodesia, which is run by a private company for private profit. We have been discussing for some time in this House the probability or possibility of invasion of this country by Germany, and I was astonished to see hon. Members I opposite paint a terrible picture of the humiliation if we had an invasion and were governed by a German bureaucracy. I sympathise with them; but why cannot we put ourselves, after all, in the position of the Indian and realise the humiliation and shame and degradation which inures to their countrymen when they are ordered about by British officials? It is a patriotic and proper sentiment that they have to govern their own country, and I trust we as Englishmen will acknowledge their patriotism, and not call it by the name which it has been called of sedition, and realise that it is the greatest and most glorious thing in life to enjoy freedom and self-government, and that India can never be truly contented until she is in a position in which she governs herself. After all, freedom may be to some men— and I sometimes think it is to some hon. Gentlemen opposite—the sound of brass, and a tinkling cymbal, but it is to most men who are full of thought and dignity and self-respect the greatest and brightest and best possession in this world. I trust, then, that this Bill will be strengthened in Committee, that not only will clause 3 be restored, but also that we shall seek to give even more power than we are doing. I trust it will also be accompanied by an amnesty to political prisoners. It is a terrible thing to think that England, which has always stood up for freedom and liberty throughout the world, should have put so many men in prison without charge and without trial. The mere statement of that fact condemns those who have taken part in it. When we brought peace to Canada after her revolution we gave a large measure of amnesty to political prisoners, and I think Lord Canning did the same after the Indian Mutiny, and we surely cannot do less than to release all political prisoners, except, of course, those guilty of bomb-throwing.
601 I trust, further, that we shall establish equal rights in the Civil Service. This is a crying source of sorrow to Indians. They feel that the Englishman gets preference. The examinations are held over here. It involves great trouble and cost for Indians to come here to sit for these examinations, and it is high time that this Parliament gave to Indians the right to have their examinations simultaneously m India. I trust that we shall realise that a great change has come over the political situation in the world. We have to realise not only what has taken place in the Russo-Japanese war, but we have to realise the marvellous and happy and peaceful revolution which has taken place in Turkey. "We often say it is impossible to give representative institutions satisfactory to India. If Turkey, with her polyglot communities and conflicting religions can find salvation in representative institutions, it is surely high time that we took another step in that direction in India, and it is because it is a small step in that direction that I believe it will be accepted as a message of peace in India. I trust we shall not make it the finale of our efforts, but shall try to extend these institutions and freedom in India on a very much larger scale in the early future.
§ Question put and agreed to; Bill read a second time.
§ Motion made and Question put: "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House for Monday next."—[Mr. Buchanan.]
§ Agreed to.