§ [Mr. EMMOTT (Deputy-Speaker) in the chair.]
§ (IN THE COMMITTEE.)
§ Clause 1 (Amendment of constitution of Legislative Councils).—(1) The additional members of the councils for the purpose of making laws and regulations (hereinafter referred to as Legislative Councils) of the Governor-General and of the Governors of Fort Saint George and Bombay, and the members of the Legislative Councils al- 1267 ready constituted, or which may hereafter be constituted, of the several Lieutenant-Governors of Provinces, instead of being all nominated by the Governor-General, Governor, or Lieutenant-Governor in manner provided by the Indian Councils Acts, 1861 and 1892, shall include members so nominated and also members elected in accordance with regulations made under this Act, and references in those Acts to the members so nominated and their nomination shall be construed as including references to the members so elected and their election.
§ (2) The number of additional members or members so nominated and elected, the number of such members required to constitute a quorum, the term of office of such members and the manner of filling up casual vacancies occurring by reason of absence from India, inability to attend to duty, death, acceptance of office, or resignation duly accepted, or otherwise, shall, in the case of each such council, be such as may be prescribed by regulations made under this Act:
§ Provided that the aggregate number of members so nominated and elected shall not, in the case of any Legislative Council mentioned in the first column of the First Schedule to this Act, exceed the number specified in the second column of that schedule.
The various Amendments proposed to this clause are, I think, in order in point of substance, but are not right at the places in which it is proposed to introduce them. I think that they should come at the end of the clause. I will, therefore, call them in the order in which they are on the Paper.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS moved to insert at the end of the clause the words "Provided that no British subject in India shall be disqualified from being elected or nominated as a member of any legislative council referred to in this section by reason of his having been deported and imprisoned without having been charged with and convicted of any offence." My Amendment has been designed in order to meet a suggestion made by the Secretary of State for India and others that persons who had been deported and imprisoned in India—British subjects—without having been charged with or convicted of any offence, should be disqualified from being elected as members of the councils which are set up in the Bill before the House. In other 1268 words, that those men who have suffered the injustice of deportation and imprisonment without being accused of or found guilty of any offence should also suffer the further injustice of being stigmatised as unfit to be chosen by their fellow citizens to exercise the powers conferred on the councils created by this Bill. This suggestion was made in another place by the Secretary of State for India. He said in answer to a question that there would be a catalogue of persons who would be excluded as unfit to be elected or nominated as members of the new councils. He afterwards qualified that statement; and in reply to a question put by myself to the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for India the following answer was given the day before the House rose for the Easter Recess: "The Secretary of State is not in a position to give a full answer, but the fact of a candidate having been arrested under the Regulation of 1818 will not be prescribed as a definite and permanent disqualification for a seat on the Legislative Council." That is not a very clear answer, but it is fair to assume from that that it is intended that some disqualification for some period or another shall be imposed on those who have been deported and imprisoned, although they are uncharged with and unconvicted of any offence.
§ Within the last 18 months or so no fewer than 11 men have been deported and imprisoned in India, not only without any charge being made against them, not only without their having been convicted of any offence, but without they themselves being told by the Government of what they are suspected or with what they are charged. There is not a single black mark against any of these men much less any previous conviction. Several of them are known by Members of this House as well as by everybody in India to be men of the highest character, men who have spent their lives in works of philanthrophy, education, and social reform, and men held in the highest respect among their fellow citizens in India. These men are not only not told what is charged against them, but they are not even told who their accusers are, much less brought face to face with them. They are shut up in prison for an indefinite period, and in reply to repeated questions put by Members of this House to the Government, all information is refused to this House as to what they are suspected of or how long it is intended to keep them in prison. It may be intended to keep them 1269 in prison indefinitely for the rest of their lives, or for all we know they may possibly be liberated to-morrow. The whole proceedings against them are secret under a Regulation issued by the East India Company as long ago as 1818, and they are in a worse position than if they had been tried and convicted of a crime, because if they had been tried and convicted of a crime in India they would have the advantage of their good character. If a criminal is convicted in this country or in India the first thing he does, if he is able, is to call evidence of previous good character, and if there is any such evidence the judge takes it into consideration in awarding the punishment. These men have not been allowed even to do this.
The hon. Member seems to be dealing with the treatment which these people have received. That does not arise on this Amendment. The Amendment seems to be that no British subject in India should be disqualified from being elected or nominated as a member of any legislative council referred to in the section because of his having been deported and imprisoned without having been charged with and convicted of any offence.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
With great respect I will accept your ruling, but I was endeavouring to show the injustice of attaching disqualifications to these men in consequence of the circumstances in which they have been already deported. I was endeavouring to argue—and I hope that I shall not be ruled out of order in this—that to make the fact of their having been already deported and imprisoned without any offence being charged against them a ground for disqualification was a thing to which this House should not assent. That was the object of my Amendment. These men have no opportunity of showing that there are no grounds for disqualification, because they are deprived under the law under which they have been deported of the power of asking for a writ of habeas corpus, on the proceedings as to which they would be able to show that their imprisonment and deportation were an injustice. They are also deprived of the right which they would otherwise have of bringing an action for false imprisonment against the Government or other persons, parties to their arrest, under which they would also be entitled to show that there were no grounds whatever for their deportation. They are thus deprived of all chance of 1270 showing not only that they are not persons who should be disqualified, but that they are persons eminently qualified to represent their fellow citizens. It cannot be denied that what is proposed, if it is proposed, in the suggestion made in another place—that is to disqualify these persons from sitting on the new councils—would be adding a fresh indignity to the indignities that have already been imposed upon them. That is a ground which has never been taken either in English law, or certainly by a majority of those who sit on this side of the House. In English law if a man is convicted of an offence the moment he has served his punishment he is eligible either to sit in this House or to vote for a Member of this House. And where a man is convicted under martial law—as, for instance, during the late war in South Africa—that is no sort of disqualification for his afterwards becoming elected (as many such men have been) to one of the Parliaments in South Africa. So that what is proposed—if it is proposed by regulation to disqualify these men—is perfectly novel and unprecedented. Moreover, it is a proposal which has been protested against by all Members on this side of the House, and certainly by some on the other. I allude to the case of Mr. Cartwright in 1902. Mr. Cartwright, after open trial in South Africa, was convicted of sedition, and it was proposed by the then Government to impose upon him the further penalty, after the expiry of his sentence, of compulsory detention in South Africa instead of permitting him to come to this country. A great protest was made by the whole Liberal party, led by the present Secretary of State for India, on the ground that it was not fair, after a man had been convicted and had suffered his punishment, to attach further penalties. The present case is far stronger, because Mr. Cartwright had been convicted after a fair trial of what was regarded as a serious offence, whereas not one of these men has been convicted, charged, or even told what his offence is, and I am only adopting the language used by the Secretary of State himself when I say that to impose this fresh indignity would be a thing "unconstitutional, tyrannical, and ridiculous." It is clearly unconstitutional, if Magna Charta has any meaning, that men who have not been tried should be deported and imprisoned, and afterwards deprived of their civil rights. And surely it would be tyrannical to stigmatise a man as having been guilty of some offence when 1271 no such offence is alleged or charged, much less proved. Then I think it is ridiculous, because the effect can only be to make these men much more respected in the eyes of their fellow-citizens than they are already. It must lead to a very embarrassing state of things when these men are released from their imprisonment. If they should be, in spite of the regulation, elected by their fellow-citizens, the Government of India will find itself face to face with a very embarrassing situation. If it is regarded—as it certainly will be—as an act of gross injustice that men like Aswini Dutt and Krishna Mitra, who are held in reverence and respect by large bodies of their countrymen, should be debarred from taking part in the great political benefits given by this Bill, you will have a state of feeling stirred up which may make the working of the Bill extremely difficult, and tend to deprive the reforms of a great deal of the advantage and graciousness which it is desired they should have in the eyes of our Indian fellow-subjects. On these grounds I beg to move my Amendment.
§ Question proposed: "That the proposed words be there added."
§ Mr. REES
I hope the Government will not accept this Amendment. No doubt the Mover was correct in his quotation, but, according to the report of the proceedings in Committee in another place, the Secretary of State said that the question of whether persons dealt with under Regulation III. of 1818 should be declared to be disqualified was under the consideration of the Government of India, who, after all, are the proper people to consider it; but the hon. Member rushes in and proposes to bind them for all time by this Amendment. In another place the Noble Viscount said that the fact that a man had taken a mischievous part in agitation when he was young should perhaps not act as a disqualification for ever. But the Noble Viscount does not say anywhere that he wishes persons who have distinguished themselves as enemies of the British Government not to be disqualified from becoming its advisers. I submit that no more mischievous Amendment could very well be moved than this. Already in India the impression prevails on all sides that the way to obtain office and become distinguished is to oppose the Government of India. That has a very bad moral effect, and it is a fatal idea to inculcate when you have a small number of Europeans holding 1272 their own amongst millions of Asiatics. Anything more fatal to the cause of good government, or more likely to prejudice the cause of these reforms than to anticipate the action of the Government of India, who, after all, know what they are about in a matter like this—I cannot conceive. The hon. Gentleman, in the plenitude of his information regarding India, declared that all these persons who have been thus dealt with were philanthropists and educationists, held in the highest respect in India. That I entirely traverse. They are held in high esteem in India by the small class of agitators—
§ Mr. REES
I traverse even the several. I submit that every one of these gentlemen has made himself distinguished for one thing only, namely, hostility to the British Government, and an Amendment moved for the purpose of enabling them to be elected to these offices would be the most fatal course that could possibly be taken on the present occasion. Nothing could more prejudice these reforms. The noble Viscount has not asked for this at all, and I do not think he will be thankful to the hon. Gentleman for the rider he seeks to add to the clause. The Secretary of State said:—I am trying, in introducing this Bill, to do what I can to meet the legitimate demands of the advanced section of Indian opinion.But at the same time he was most careful to say:I will pari passu pursue sedition with unfaltering repression.He also said in this House:—I do not apologise for the use of Regulation 3 of 1818, nor would I ever deprive the Government of India of any such weapon," driven as they are by seditious and domestic enemiesThis power of deportation is not in the least peculiar to the Government of India, as the hon. Gentleman suggested. The Colonial Office have it in respect of all our Protectorates. The Native States in India which are held up in admiration—
That line of argument is not in order. All we have to do is to deal with the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. REES
Then I will leave it at once. The hon. Gentleman dwelt upon the indignity to which these seditious gentlemen would be subjected if, in addition to being deported, they were deprived of the right to be elected to the legislative council. But are the dignity and the position of the British Government in India of no ac- 1273 count? Is the only dignity to be taken into account that of persons who are remarkable solely for their proficiency in sedition and for their opposition to the British Government? The hon. Member referred to other gentlemen in the United Kingdom, who, having been guilty of similar conduct, had afterwards been able to sit and vote in Parliament. That is the fatal flaw in everything put forward by the hon. Gentleman and his friends. The Noble Viscount in another place said that he was not introducing Parliamentary government on the British pattern into India, and the more we keep out of account such an analogy the safer ground we shall be treading upon. I sincerely hope the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will decline to accept the Amendment.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hobhouse)
I am quite sure the whole Committee will join with me in regretting the absence of my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary. I am sorry to say he has been seriously ill for the last four or five days, and although he is now feeling better, he is unfortunately unable to stand at this Table this afternoon in his place. I have been asked to conduct the business of the Committee in relation to this Bill. The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment—which is an Amendment common to four or five of my hon. Friends—has dealt, I hope I need not say unnecessarily, with the reasons for deporting the individuals referred to. I do not propose to follow him in any way in his remarks on that question, which seems to be quite ungermane to the discussion upon which we are now embarked. My duty is to explain first of all the necessity for there being any action at all, and in the second place to state what is the attitude of the Government upon the Amendment we are now discussing.
The whole necessity for prescribing disqualifications at all arises from the fact that by this Bill we are substituting for a system of election subject to subsequent confirmation and nomination by the Governor-General and the various Lieutenant-Governors, a system of election at first hand which is not subject in any way to that nomination. Of course, under the old law disqualification, though not contained in the regulations, could be exercised in practice, if it were so desired, by the nomination being withheld. The practice, with which my hon. Friends are 1274 familiar, was that, say the Chamber of Commerce in Calcutta was informed that a member was to be recommended to the Governor-General. The recommendation was confirmed by nomination, and in that way the disqualification could be exercised. All that passes away with the present Bill, and therefore the question of disqualification is one which will have to be regulated by the detailed list of disqualifications which has not yet been settled. But the principles upon which the Bill proceeds in that respect have been fixed.
I may relate them in order, first that a certain class of persons should be declared to be disqualified for seats upon legislative councils, and, secondly, that the head of the Government concerned should have power to waive disqualification in his discretion in favour of individuals, who would otherwise be disqualified. The disqualification should be subject to some time limit, and that no political disqualification should attach in the way in which it was suggested in the Amendment. The Noble Viscount the Secretary of State mentioned, I think, in the second reading debate in the House of Lords a list of persons who would be likely to be disqualified. Perhaps I may repeat them in this House. They included persons, not being British subjects, females, persons under 25 years of age, lunatics, uncertificated bankrupts, and persons sentenced by a criminal court for an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding six months, or transportation, where such sentence has not been subsequently reversed or quashed. Lastly, persons under section 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which relates to cases of sedition, I think the Committee will agree that that is a proper list of persons to be subject to disqualification.
§ Earl PERCY
What about the persons referred to in this Amendment, those deported under the Act of 1818?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I will deal with that point. The list I have read is that of the general class of persons who will probably be disqualified. As regards the actual Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Berks, perhaps I had better make it clear—quite clear—that His Majesty's Government do not intend that the fact of a man having been deported shall, after his release, of itself be a ground of disqualifying him for election: to a legislative council. It is not, of course, possible to accept the words of the hon. Member. That is the position 1275 His Majesty's Government takes up. The hon. Member for Montgomery said, and said rightly, that the Secretary of State had declared that sedition should be pursued with unfaltering repression. There is no inconsistency with that declaration in the policy which I have just announced to be the policy of His Majesty's Government. It is not a question of dealing with sedition which is affected by the intention underlying this Amendment. It is quite possible to deal with unfaltering rigour with seditious persons, and yet when that sedition has been condoned by the deportation exercised against them, and been terminated to say: "You have been punished for your offences, and you start afresh." If sedition is found to exist, that or some other suitable penalty is enforceable against them. His Majesty's Government do not wish to add to the power of deportation the punishment of preventing such persons being subsequently elected to the legislative assemblies. That is the position His Majesty's Government thinks it desirable to take up.
§ Earl PERCY
All of us on this side of the House heartily agree with the hon. Gentleman in deploring the cause of the absence of his right hon. colleague. In regard to what the hon. Gentleman has said, I must say I have listened to him with considerable surprise and some disappointment. The whole of this debate illustrates the difficulty which arises the moment you begin to lay down disqualifications and get rid of the old power which was vested in the Lieutenant-Governor and in the Governor-General of disallowing election. I can quite understand the contention which I can imagine that to be intended by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment that it would be a great hardship if someone had been deported under the Act of 1818 and subsequently been found to be innocent, it would be extremely unjust to disqualify under such circumstances permanently for election to those councils. On the other hand, it does seem to me that it is extremely inadvisable, in introducing this new experiment which we are making with regard to legislative councils, that we should open the door to the widespread election of persons who are likely to come under the Act of 1818. I must say that I should have thought that any person who has been guilty of any kind of seditious action following upon 1276 the kind of agitation which is to be the subject of deportation under the Act of 1818, is certainly not fit under any circumstances to be a representative of the Indian people on the legislative council. For my own part, I do not in the least pretend that this House ought to lay down any regulations on the subject; I agree that it is impossible to lay down regulations generally, but I cannot see why we should depart from the old general rule with regard to this particular class of persons. I am afraid that the announcement which the hon. Gentleman has made this afternoon will certainly be considered by India as a kind of declaration that this House does not take a very serious view of the kind of offences of which these men have been guilty. Personally, I should have infinitely preferred—and I hope that the Government will reconsider their position in this matter—to leave entirely to the discretion of the Government of India to retain the general disqualification against the election of persons who have been deported under the Act of 1818, or to waive the general disqualification in any particular case. That seems to me a legitimate grievance in connection with this question which could be urged, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman at a later stage will reconsider the matter.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I agree with what has been expressed by the Noble Lord in regard to leaving this matter to the discretion of the Government of India. Without for a moment accepting the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montgomery Boroughs and of the hon. Member for Newbury, I think that the discretion in every case of this kind, where there is suspicion of an individual having views of a seditious character, ought to be left to the Government of India. They may be absolutely trusted to act with a clear and proper sense of justice towards the people of India. They have the means of knowing—as I am well aware from having taken part in the Administration of India—the character of the individuals who may have been treated under the Regulations of 1818, and it might be unwise, imprudent, and impolitic to disclose their information in the interests of the public peace. I do think that it would be a very great mistake and a grave political blunder for the Government to accept the Amendment in the form in which it stands, and I hope, in the words of the noble Lord, that the Government will consent to leave a matter of this kind—the decision as to 1277 the disqualification, or the condemnation of the disqualification, or the qualification of persons who have been concerned in transactions of the kind which are brought under the Regulations of 1818—entirely to the discretion of the Government of India.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
My hon. Friend who has just sat down, I think, fails to see the danger of leaving us always with this exclusion on grounds of suspicion. Without having any sympathy with the introduction into India of the agitation with which we are familiar, and which is less dangerous in Europe than in India, I confess it seems to me that the whole graciousness of these reforms may be spoiled by the belief or the suspicion that the Government will jump at any opportunity to exclude persons to whom, as it were, they have taken a Governmental dislike. All sorts of plans of exclusion all over the world have been tried by different Governments—I am not speaking of Parliamentary Governments—and they have always been failures. They have almost always tended in the opposite direction from what was desired by the Government, namely, the direction of supporting the Government who introduced them. Although, no doubt, there are difficulties on the other side of the question, yet experience is entirely on the side of liberty of choice. My hon. Friend behind me has said that he has had to do with the administration of India, and that he knows the Government of India is absolutely to be trusted. In my opinion there is no doubt that it is absolutely to be trusted, but since my hon. Friend has ceased to be concerned in the administration of India there has been introduced a new police system, the evidence with regard to which was taken by my hon. Friend on the Front Bench, and which has been circulated by him only this mrning. A great deal of that evidence goes to show the profound suspicion on the part of many of the commissioners and among the best police authorities in India in regard to the dossier system and the creation of crimes or supposed crimes. That applies especially to the Punjaub volume, in which there are some 20 or 30 cases of suspicion dealt with.
§ Mr. SMEATON
Does the right, hon. Baronet insist that the police evidence is the main item of evidence on which the Government of India decides those cases which come under the Regulations of 1818?
§ Sir C. DILKE
I am not speaking of the Regulations under the Act of 1818. I am speaking on the general question of dis- 1278 qualification. Though it is not in order on this Amendment, I should like to point out that the case of those who are suspected of seditious writing is a much more dangerous one than that which is provided for by this particular Amendment. My hon. Friend has alluded to this police evidence, but if he will read the Punjaub volume he will there see evidence which I confess has made the deepest impression on my own mind. I will say no more on this Amendment, because I think that the speech of my hon. Friend on the Front Bench really meets this particular Amendment, but I confess that I should like to see the last words of it omitted and other words substituted to deal with the case of seditious writing; or it would be more in order if this Amendment could be withdrawn and a fresh Amendment moved, beginning with the first three lines of my hon. Friend's Amendment, and then following with words in reference to seditious writing.
§ Mr. GEORGE GOOCH
As one of those Members who has put an Amendment on the Paper similar to that of my hon. Friend, I should like to express my gratification at the policy announced by the Secretary to the Treasury. There are, in my opinion, very strong reasons for coming to the conclusion at which the Government of India has arrived. The first is, that without a trial it is quite possible, or, at any rate, highly probable, that a mistake may be made. Many of us on this side of the House who have the privilege of an acquaintance with Lajput Rai are still entirely unconvinced that the Government were right in regard to his case. Whether a mistake was made in this case—it is quite possible that mistakes might have been made! For that reason, if for no other, I think the Government have done quite right in refusing to rule out the deportees. Secondly, if this measure is to have the full consequences which we all desire, it must be a measure free from anything suggestive of petty tyranny. For these two reasons I very strongly and warmly congratulate the Government on their decision. With regard to the refusal of the Government to accept the Amendment, they have accepted the spirit, while refusing the words. I think that is very satisfactory on condition that the Government of India will continue to hold the same views as those held at present. I very much regret—and I expect my hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment regrets to—that some words similar 1279 to his own, if not exactly the same, cannot be accepted. Because as I understand—the Secretary to the Treasury will correct me if I am wrong—as I understand, these exclusions are not made for any definite time. Is it possible for a new list to be subsequently drawn up in which the cases of the deportees as included for reconsideration?
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I cannot but feel the greatest regret the Government have even accepted the spirit of the Amendment. The mere fact that the Government has received the blessing of the hon. Member for Bath ought, I think, to make them pause before they go any further. Because the hon. Member for Bath in his Amendment represents in this House that class of people whom we hope will be excluded from these legislative councils—[Cries of "Who is 'we'?"]
§ Mr. F. MADDISON
I rise to a point of order. Is it right for the hon. Member to say that some Members of this House represent those guilty of sedition in India?
I did not quite understand what the hon. Member did say. He did not express himself with his usual clearness, and, therefore, I do not think I can rule on the point.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member who jumped up on a point of order is in the same condition as yourself. He did not quite understand the point which I was trying to make. The point I was trying to make was this: Hon. Members who have spoken represent, and have represented, in this House—I will not say the exact opinions of the deported gentlemen—but have been the mouthpieces of those in sympathy with the deported gentlemen in India. They have, time after time, in this House, asked questions of the representatives of the Government of India showing conclusively that they do sympathise with the feelings of those gentlemen who have been deported. They strongly object to deportation, and they undoubtedly—I should say from their speeches here to-day—hope that admission will not be prohibited to the legislative councils of the gentlemen who have been so deported. That is at all events what I meant to say, but owing to the little time in which we have to make speeches, I was desirous of keeping my remarks short. I do trust that the Government will not give way further by embodying what they call 1280 the spirit of this Amendment in the Act of Parliament. We do not—perhaps I should say "I" do not—want to see men who have been deported from India under the Act of 1818 for sedition elected members of any legislative council in India whatever. I go further, and say that "we" includes not merely myself, but the Noble Lord the Secretary of State for India. In another place on March 4th he said:—If I thought there was going to be a great return of these extreme and obnoxious characters I would have no more to do with the Bill.That was the view of the Noble Lord. If there was to be a great return. Only about nine gentlemen were deported, or were when the debate was on in the other House. Therefore a great return would not mean numerically a very large return. But if there are going to be a number of these deported men elected on the legislative councils in India, the Noble Lord said he would not proceed with this Bill.
I cannot help thinking it is a matter of very grave regret that the representatives of the Government of India in this House have gone so far to-day as to say that they would not necessarily exclude men who had been deported for sedition. The hon. Gentleman opposite spoke rather as if sedition was a kind of infantile disease—measles—that a man might have once and get over. He might even have it a second time. Sedition is a disease of the mind. Sedition is a disease which if a man once gets it he does not easily get over. It is a condition of mind of active hostility to the British rule, and these are the people—speaking for myself, at all events—I do not wish to see members of these legislative councils. This question of admission to the legislative councils is the very crux, the very essence, of clause 1. A man may be dismissed from the public service as a young man for a far less crime than the crime of sedition. Sedition is the worst crime of all in the body politic. Because a man has been dismissed in his young and salad days from the public service in India he is for ever, under the existing regulations, forbidden to enter the legislative councils, whatever his conduct may have been in the other 30 or 40 years that follow. And is a man who is deported deported merely because of a seditious speech, merely because he has objected to the Government? He is deported for sedition because he is an active propagandist and an active opponent not merely of the Government as a party Government, but of the whole British rule in India. That is why they 1281 are deported because they are enemies of British government as British government in India. The legislative councils have been instituted in order that the natives may assist British Government in India in governing India. I say advisedly we do not want a man who has been the enemy of British Government, we do not want the man who is in a permanent condition of hostility to the Government in the legislative councils.
§ Mr. JOHN ELLIS (who was imperfectly heard)
I welcome very much what was said by the Secretary to the Treasury. The question resolves itself into what often occurs in public life—the question of trusting individuals. It is with some searching of heart that I have considered this matter, but knowing to some extent India, and knowing the head of the India Office, I have felt myself unable to quarrel with the action that the Government has taken. The responsibility—a very heavy responsibility—is theirs; but I am quite satisfied of this, that it by no means follows that because a person has had to be dealt with under the Act of 1818 he is therefore necessarily, for all time or for the remainder of his life, incapable of doing good service to the country in which he lives. We have seen over and over again in Europe—of course, there are essential differences between Europe and Asia—but we have seen men attain to very high positions of State who have commenced with hostility to the Government. Therefore I go so far as to say that in my humble judgment it by no means follows that because a man has fallen under the operation of the Act of 1818 he is, and ought to be, incapacitated from performing useful functions in the civic capacity mentioned. But when we come to the Amendment of my hon. Friend I am unable to go with him. The discretion of those on the spot must be preserved unimpaired to a very large extent. This Bill has received the most careful consideration, and I doubt very much whether we shall be wise in running in any Amendment such as this. We all appreciate, I am sure, the efforts of my hon. Friend who has brought this matter forward, for we have had a very useful discussion. Whether he will be justified in carrying his Amendment to a division it is for him to decide. I shall sit down by saying how very much I welcome what has been said from the Treasury Bench by the Secretary to the Treasury authorised, as I suppose, by the Secretary of State for India, and 1282 also, of course, by the Government in India so far as they have any responsibility in the matter. I welcome it very much, and I take it that the House may trust that these words will be carried out not only in the letter, but in the actual spirit.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member supports this Amendment because, as I understand it, certain people may have been recently convicted. I venture to suggest that that is not the question before the House. The question is not whether, at the present moment, certain people have been deported rightly or wrongly, but the question is whether or not we should introduce into a Bill that deals with the Government of India—one of the momentous questions that could be brought before the House of Commons—provisions that would enable people who have been deported justly and rightly to be representatives, not in a Parliament, but on the Governing Council of India. That seems to be a very strong order, and I think the hon. Member who introduced the Amendment and those who are supporting him have been rather led away because they have been influenced by what has taken place in the last year or two. I ask the House to treat this subject apart from what has taken place in the last year or two, and to deal solely with the question whether it is advisable to elect to the Council of India people who have been deported for political offences. I am not quite certain I understood the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. I understood him to say that he could not accept the Amendment, but that he intends in the regulations to make some provision which will meet, not perhaps the whole but, to some extent, the views of the hon. Member who brought in the Amendment.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
What I thought I had made plain was that His Majesty's Government—and I use the term advisedly—does not intend that the mere fact of a man having been once deported shall, in itself, render that man liable to exclusion from the Legislative Council.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for his interruption, because I think now the House very clearly understands what the Government intend to do. It seems to me it is this: They reserve to themselves power—in the event of a case arising—to say: "We consider in this particular case we 1283 ought to condone the offence, and in condoning the offence we will at the same time allow the particular person in question to sit upon the Council of India." That, I think, is what the hon. Gentleman says, and that, I think, is rather different from what the House originally understood. I do not think it is very different from what the Noble Lord below me suggested was meant. Nobody wishes to lay down a hard and fast rule that in no circumstance should new light be cast upon the case of a particular person deported, and that he should be deprived of the right every citizen has, but that it should be put into an Act of Parliament, and that it should be there stated that a person once deported should have an unquestioned right to sit upon the Council of India is a different matter. The Government do intend to give that unquestioned right. Am I right in understanding that from the hon. Member?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I made my position quite clear. I have twice in very careful words expressed the opinion of the Government. I cannot make it clearer than I have done.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member does not accept the Amendment. That is quite clear. If the hon. Member does not wish to give a simple answer to the question as to whether or not my interpretation is his interpretation I am afraid we must think that there is something behind it, and that my interpretation is not the meaning of the Government. May I ask the hon. Member in charge of the Amendment whether his Amendment would give the right of a seat upon the Council to a person while he is deported? That matter is not perfectly clear.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
A man would not sit while he was deported, but I certainly would not object to such a person being elected.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am glad I have elicited that admission, because now we really know what is at the bottom of the whole thing. Is the Government of a vast country which, as the right hon. Member for Rushcliffe has said, could not be compared to Europe, going to say that people who have been deported for sedition against English rule may be elected to govern that country during their deportation? I hope the hon. Member in charge of the Bill will express the de- 1284 termination of His Majesty's Government not to acquiesce any such an opinion as that, and that he will assure us that nothing of the kind is to be permitted. We must not forget that these regulations which are to govern these matters are not in the Bill. All these things are to be regulated by the Indian Government, and we do not quite know who may be in the Indian Government at the moment. Pressure may be put upon the hon. Gentleman by his friends below the Gangway, and we should like to know whether or not he agrees with the hon. Member for Newbury that under certain circumstances, where it occurs that the person is actually deported and confined, yet that he is to be elected to the council in India. In view of the serious position which has arisen since the admission of the hon. Member below the gangway, I hope we shall have some further explanation from His Majesty's Government as to what the position really is.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
I only desire to intervene in this debate to make some references to the observations of the hon. Member who has just sat down and the hon. Member for North-West Manchester. They proceeded entirely upon the assumption that persons who have been arrested and deported under the regulations of the Act of 1818 have been guilty of sedition. That is exactly what we do not know. We do not know what they have been guilty of. No charge has been brought against them. They have not been brought to trial; they have been interned for reasons which have not been made public. Nor have they been informed themselves of the reasons for which they have been placed in prison. I do not think hon. Members opposite are justified in assuming that these gentlemen have been guilty of sedition. It is commonly believed in India that what they have been guilty of is the advocacy of a certain class of Tariff Reform. These gentlemen are advocates of home industries. They wish to protect home industries and to boycott foreign products, and that that is their offence is the belief of the great bulk of their fellow countrymen. It is believed that they have been deported and placed in prison for their persistent advocacy of this form of Tariff Reform, and "The Times" correspondent gives currency to that impression. Are such men to be excluded simply because they have fallen under the displeasure of the Government and have been interned because they have exercised 1285 a dangerous influence? On this side of the House we believe that those who advocate Tariff Reform are exercising a very dangerous influence, but we would not wish that those Members of the House should be deprived of their seats for that. What I would like to ask the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is this: Why does he not accept the Amendment in the form in which it is moved by my hon. Friend? I gather from the observations that have fallen from him that he substantially accepts the Amendment in so far as he is prepared to introduce regulations to give effect to the spirit of it. I do not know whether I am justified in going so far as that, and thinking that there will be a rule or regulation to the effect that having been arrested and interned under the Regulations of 1818 will not be a disqualification from election if a man is elected at a subsequent date. Am I right in that?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
That is a legal question. If the hon. Member raises it I will endeavour to answer at the close of the general discussion.
§ Sir H. COTTON
I was not aware that the hon. Member would speak again. If substantially His Majesty's Government are prepared to accept the principle of this Amendment I cannot see why they should not accept its inclusion in the Bill. This is a point of great importance, and one it is desirable there should not be any doubt or misunderstanding about.
§ Mr. CARLILE
Reference has been made to the character of this debate this afternoon as a very valuable one. The right hon. Gentleman for Rushcliffe said so. I am afraid that it will be the impression of many outside this House that so far from this debate being of any value it is really of a most mischievous character. There is no doubt that the reports of this debate going to our Great Eastern Dependency will do a vast amount of harm in our Indian Empire. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean said:—Agitations are much more dangerous in India than here.I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman knows India far better than I do. I have not been there more than a few months, and I do not pretend to have anything more than a most superficial knowledge of India. I am certain that the right hon. Baronet opposite was perfectly right when he said that sedition and agitation in India is a far more serious matter than 1286 it is here. I think it is a pity that on the floor of this House this afternoon the whole subject of those who have been guilty of sedition, however little or much the hon. Baronet the Member for Nottingham may urge that they have not been guilty—
Order, order. The hon. Gentleman is now discussing the action of the Government of India, and that question is out of order, except so far as it bears upon the point as to whether these men are eligible for election to the legislative council.
§ Mr. CARLILE
After your ruling, Mr. Chairman, I think one is justified in pointing out that persons who have been deported, and upon whose conduct that particular form of punishment has been meted out, are not persons who ought to be elected during the time of their deportation. When men are suffering from the disability of not being allowed to live in their own country I think it is a mischievous proposition that they should be permitted to be elected members of the legislative council. I have no doubt if this proposal were accepted, hon. Members opposite would take the earliest opportunity of getting that same provision extended to the Executive Council, and that would be in sympathy with the attitude they have taken up not merely to-day, but upon a hundred occasions during the present Parliament. Perhaps they will not have the opportunity in the next Parliament.
This afternoon the Government has climbed down under the pressure of clamour, and they have modified their position. Have they consulted the Government of India on this particular point? Not a word has been told us, and there has not even been a hint to suggest that they have communicated with the Government of India on this point. It has been suggested that this Amendment should be embodied in the Bill. I know the hon. Gentleman opposite is concerned in the drafting of these rules and I would like to know whether it is proposed to pass this proposal without the Government of India being consulted. Surely, the hon. Member will not be prepared to acknowledge that the Government have taken this vital, irretraceable step without consulting the Government of India at all! That is a point upon which we ought to have some information. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury is going to reply, and I hope he will be able to tell us what the mind of the Government of India is 1287 upon this important modification to which he has pledged not only the Government of India, but also the Noble Viscount who represents the Government of India in the other House. Those persons who have been deported for the benefit of their country will be qualified to take up positions such as I have alluded to, as the result of the Government giving way to this sort of pressure, without consulting the Government of India. That is a deplorable thing, and I hope the mischievous statements which have been made on the other side of the House will not have that poisonous effect which many Members of the Opposition think they are calculated to have in our great Eastern Dependency.
§ Earl PERCY
I think it is very desirable that there should be no ambiguity on this question. The hon. Member for the City of London suggested that the view of the Government is the same which I express, namely, that the Government wish to retain the power of disqualifying a member who has been deported under the Act of 1818, and also have the power, in any case where it has been proved that the person was wrongfully deported or sufficient time has elapsed for him to have purged his offence, of waiving the general disqualification. I am afraid that is not the case. I am afraid the Government by this Bill are going to abandon the general right which the Governor-General in Council now has of refusing to sanction the election of any particular person, and they are refusing to put into the list of disqualified persons the people who have been deported under the Act of 1818. It will be absolutely impossible for any man, after they have drawn up these regulations, to exclude from the Council any person who has been deported under the Act of 1818, no matter how clearly guilty he was of the offence preferred against him, and no matter how short a time has elapsed since his deportation. He might be elected while he was still undergoing deportation, and immediately he came back he would at once be eligible for taking his place on the legislative council. If that is true then it is a very serious decision on the part of the Government. I should like to draw attention to the point adverted to by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last. Clause 5 says expressly that the Governor-General in Council shall "Make Regulations as to the conditions under which and manner in which persons resident in India may be nominated or elected as members of the 1288 legislative councils of the Governor-General, Governors, and Lieutenant-Governors," subject to the approval of the Secretary of State in Council. I hope the hon. Member will be able to show the House that in arriving at this decision the Secretary of State was not acting off his own bat, and that this recommendation has been made to him by the Government of India itself.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
We have been referred by the hon. Member to a certain statement which was made in another place. I think that debate answers the suggestion which has been made that the Government have given way to pressure on this side of the House, because in that debate the Secretary of State for India said:—I submit to the Noble Marquis that to ask the Government of India to frame categories of exclusion is a very delicate and difficult thing.I feel great responsibility in connection with this matter, alarmed as I am by the evidence taken before my hon. Friend to which I have already referred—I allude to the evidence of the Inspector-General of Police in the Punjaub, in which he says:—We seem, since the inauguration of the Imperial Department of Criminal Intelligence, to be on the verge of constituting a Secret Police Force, and no innovation could be more dangerous and more liable to become a weapon of oppression with the material we are obliged to work through.It is in regard to the action of that Department that we fear the danger of arbitrary exclusion, and the question I wish to put is as to a difference between the list read by the hon. Member this afternoon and the list which he professed to be repeating to the House. I notice that he included one heading which I do not find in the list, and upon which I should like some information. That heading refers to those who are held to find security in respect of seditious meetings. That is a point I do not find in the previous list, and unless it is included under persons convicted of a non-bailable offence I do not know what it means. The words are altogether different, and they appear to allude to different classes of people. I should be glad if that point is cleared up.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
In another place, on 4th March, it was stated that the Government of India are now considering this question. Would the hon. Gentleman tell us exactly the decision of the Government of India six weeks ago, and state whether the Secretary of State for India has replied to that decision? I would like to know if he will read that decision to the House?
I was glad to hear the Noble Lord opposite acknowledge that some of those gentlemen who have been deported are amongst some of the best citizens of India, and have been wrongfully deported.
The Noble Lord acknowledges that they may have been wrongfully deported. The statement has been made here to-day by the hon. Member for Bath that Mr. Lajpat Rai was wrongfully deported, and was afterwards released by the Government. If they made one mistake it is possible they have made others. It is not fair to charge and condemn these men for sedition without first proving it in a court of law. We ask that these men should be—
Order, order. The hon. Member is dealing with a subject which is out of order. The only point for discussion is whether these men should be eligible for election and nomination.
We rejoice that the Government have accepted this Amendment, and that these men will not be disqualified from serving their country. I am sorry that I cannot congratulate hon. Members opposite upon their large-heartedness or political sagacity. I should like to remind them how differently one of their great leaders acted in a situation far more difficult than this—I refer to Lord Canning, who was one of the best men we ever sent out to India. After the meeting Lord Canning realised that the only way to bring peace was to grant an amnesty to all political prisoners, and to have no disqualifications for any positions which they could properly fill. May I ask the hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill what position Mr. Tilak will be in?
I am not here to defend Mr. Tilak, but I am here to try to bring peace to India. He has a very large following indeed. He is highly respected and venerated by millions of his fellow countrymen. I want to know what his position will be with regard to these regulations. I ask this question not from any personal feeling towards Mr Tilak, but purely for the purpose of letting this Bill have a fair chance of success in India.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
There is one point I should like to have cleared up. It is whether these men who have been de- 1290 ported have the right to sit upon the council or whether they can only sit upon the Council with the sanction and approval of the Government of India? A satisfactory answer on that point will remove some of the misapprehensions from which some of us are suffering.
The Earl of RONALDSHAY
I should be very glad if the hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill will make it clear what is the exact position of the Government as to the Amendment.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
May I ask the hon. Member whether it is proposed to rule out persons from election on this Council who have been deported without being charged and without being tried? Is the Committee to understand that the Government of India or any other authority will be able to exclude from the right of representation any person from the Legislative Council on the sole ground that he has been deported?
I venture to ask the hon. Gentleman to explain why the Government should not accept my Amendment. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London has surely appreciated my position. A man may have been deported, but he may not necessarily be guilty, much less shown to be guilty, of any offence to disentitle him from civil rights. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London is too well informed not to know that in this country a man may have been convicted, but still be eligible for election to this House after he has served his sentence. Why therefore should a man who has not been convicted at all, but simply deported from his home without anything being proved against him—why should he be deprived of the right to be elected on the Council?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
You cannot legislate for India as if you were legislating for England. If you do you will commit a fatal mistake. To do that you would have to have a regular Parliament in India. The illustration is not apposite, because the two countries are entirely different. The hon. Gentleman is again harping on the idea that these particular people are innocent. I do not know whether they are innocent or guilty. That is not germane to the points at issue. That has nothing whatever to do with the points before the Committee. I do not believe that the present Secretary of State for India would knowingly acquiesce in the deportation of persons—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Unless he thought it was right. This has, however, nothing to do with the question. The sole question is whether we should allow any persons to be elected who had been deported for certain offences. I am very glad that the hon. Member opposite has put the question to the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill as to the exact position in which we stand at this moment on this question; and perhaps he will allow me to associate myself for a moment with him in this matter so that we may understand exactly what the position is.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
It is proposed that an elected Member should be elected according to the rules laid down by the Governor-General subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. These Rules are to be laid before this House for discussion and approval. I maintain that the proposed modification entirely changes the whole principle of the Bill. Instead of leaving the rules and regulations to be laid down by the Governor-General, approved by the Secretary of State, and finally submitted to this Parliament for its sanction, this Amendment would lay down certain lines which, if carried, would restrict the discretion of the Governor-General, the Secretary of State and the discretion of this House. The Government refuse to accept this Amendment; but what do they do instead? The hon. Member in charge of the Bill, while refusing to accept the Amendment, lays down certain rules and principles for the drawing up of the regulations. Is this the time for supplying rules? Is the House of Commons in a position to judge these regulations? Accept or refuse the Amendment if you like. If you accept it you entirely destroy the principle of the Bill; but as the hon. Member in charge of the Bill will not accept the Amendment, he has complicated the whole position by telling us that the Government are going to follow certain rules and principles and that, while refusing this Amendment, they are going to tie their hands by accepting in spirit the very rules which they say they will refuse.
1292 This puts the House in a wrong position, which will complicate us very much in India in the future. The hon. Member in charge of the Bill laid down certain principles which will guide the Government of India and which will entrap this Committee in a sort of approval of the Amendment. Does the hon. Gentleman know what the next Governor-General or the next Secretary of State will do? Is it fair that we should be asked not to divide against the proposals of the Government, but at the same time to be entrapped into agreeing to certain proposals which are to be laid before the House in a formal and regular way according to the provisions of a Bill of which the hon. Member is in charge. I contend that the Committee ought to be asked to devote its attention simply and solely to the acceptance or refusal of this Amendment. The hon. Member in charge of the Bill has led us into a large and dangerous field, and I for one must protest against being committed by the acceptance of the Bill to regulations such as those which have been indicated.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I think the question put by the Noble Lord who sits opposite is a very reasonable one, and I will endeavour to meet it as far as I possibly can. Since I last spoke two or three questions have been put to me as to why the Government are unable to accept the words of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire while we declare ourselves in sympathy with his spirit. The reason has been given by the hon. Member who spoke last. It is clearly undesirable to put into this Bill words which will have to be settled by the Government of India while the responsibility for these regulations must rest with the Secretary of State, no doubt after close consultation with the Government of India and the Viceroy. But the very fact that these regulations have to be laid before this House is an indication of the responsibility which rests upon the Government of the day for the policy underlying the rules and regulations made by the Government of India.
§ Earl PERCY
They come into operation without the consent of this House or the authority of this House. They are merely laid for the purpose of affording information.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Yes. They must be accepted by the Secretary of State for the time being. Let me say in reply to the hon. Gentleman opposite that there has 1293 been no modification at all, so far as I know, in the attitude of the Secretary of State since the time he spoke in the House of Lords. This is a provisional list. It is not necessarily a wholly exclusive or inclusive list, but is intended to be a guide—a very fair guide—to the views which His Majesty's Government hold upon this point. I read with great care to the Committee the views of the Government upon this question.
§ Mr. CARLILE
May I ask whether the list to which the hon. Member has referred has been submitted to the Government of India?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It is quite clear that the whole of the Bill has been a constant subject of communication between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy.
§ Mr. CARLILE
The hon. Gentleman has enumerated minute details—qualifications and disqualifications. I ask not whether the general broad principles of the Bill have been submitted to the Government of India, but whether the pledges of the Noble Viscount made in the other House and of the Home Government in regard to these minute details had the approval of the Government of India?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
If the hon. Gentleman will look at the Report of the debate which took place in the other House on 4th March he would see that the list read out in this House was similar, in fact identical, with the list read out in the other place.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
If the hon. Member had read the report of that debate he would have seen that in the course of it the Secretary of State said he had himself been in consultation with the Government of India in regard to the subject. The Noble Lord asked me a question as to whether or not there would be fear of withdrawal of nomination by the Governor-General.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Confirmation? That is nomination. Nomination is confirmation, so far as these additional members are concerned. The power of nomination disappears, and because it has disappeared the necessity for drawing up a list of disqualifications appears. That creates the necessity for the regulations referred to in this clause. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean 1294 referred to the question of section 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code. That has to do with the publication of seditious matter, and it is proposed, though it does not decide the matter, that the persons who have been required to find securities under that section—
§ Sir C. DILKE
It was the difference in the list to which I referred. There is a list said to have been sent out, and the Government of India ten days ago "provisionally approved of the following"—
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I understand that it is a provisional addition that has been the subject of discussion. That, I hope, clears up the point. I trust I have made the position clear to the Noble Lord opposite. There is no doubt a difference of opinion between the hon. Member below the Gangway who moved this Amendment and the Government, but it is much more a distinction of form than a distinction of spirit. I do not wish to put my personal or local experience before the Committee for more than it is worth, but having had an opportunity of inquiring very closely into the matter, I am distinctly of opinion that to make the subject of deportation a subject standing by itself, and to add to that the additional punishment of exclusion from the Legislative Councils would be a thing that would go far beyond the Act of 1818.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member has given no answer to the question I asked. The Noble Lord said in the House of Lords on the 4th March that the Government of India were now expressly considering this very question whether the deportation should carry with it as a necessary consequence non-eligibility for election to the Legislative Council. The Government of India are considering the point, and what I have asked and other Members have asked is: Have you, the Government, had the Government of India's opinion, and, if so, what is it?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I have already told the Committee that the Government of India have been considering the point, and are still considering the point.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The question which is put this afternoon is whether the Government of India has expressed an opinion upon this matter.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I think in a case of this sort responsibility rests upon the Home Government. I do not see that there is any distinction between the responsibility of the Indian Government and the Home Government.
§ Earl PERCY
Do I understand that the words "the Governor-General in Council shall make these regulations" mean nothing at all, and that, in fact, the regulations may be forced by the Secretary of State upon the Government of India? That is a very serious state of things.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Even supposing it were I do not admit that it would be the first occasion—probably within the experience of the Noble Lord opposite—that the opinion of the Home Government has been forced upon the Government of India against its will.
§ Earl PERCY
My point is that this clause 5 places the responsibility for making the regulations upon the Government of India.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The placing of the responsibility on the Governor-General of India cannot relieve the Secretary of State under the Act of 1858 of the responsibility for deciding policy.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
What the hon. Gentleman says now is that the Secretary of State for India can not only approve or disapprove; but, before the Secretary of State for India has heard the opinion or project of the Governor - General, he can initiate a policy and force that policy upon the Governor-General. I must say that this debate is producing unforeseen revelations. I had no idea that this was going to be the outcome of this Bill. I read clause 5 carefully, and I came to the conclusion that whether the Bill was right or wrong, the placing of this responsibility for Regulations would be in the hands of the Governor-General.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
But there is something more I wish to say. It is very important that we should really know where we are. I gather from the concluding words of the hon. Gentleman that the Government of India considers that deportation should not be a bar to the inclusion of a person deported in one of these councils. If that is so, I do not see why the hon. Gentleman does not see fit to accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite, because that Amendment, save for one difference, is identical with his view. At the same time one must not forget that if this once becomes the policy of the present Government it will be extremely difficult to alter it in 1296 another Parliament, and there would be plenty of Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House then who would get up and denounce any alteration. I think any discussion in this House between opposite sides on the affairs of India is much to be deplored, and, therefore, I think it is better to settle this question once and for all, and not leave it to be bandied about as a party question.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I desire to ask whether the Act requires the Indian Government to makes the rules, and whether that debars the Secretary of State from initiating or making any rules on the subject? Is it the fact that the Government of India alone can make the rules, and that the Secretary of State can sanction or negative them, but he cannot take the initiative or make the rules?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
That raises a constitutional point. I cannot conceive of the Government of India making rules of importance without first of all consulting the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
After the statement made by the hon. Gentleman representing the Secretary of State for India, I desire to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. [Cries of "No, no."]
Leave has been asked that the Amendment be withdrawn. Is it your pleasure that the Amendment be withdrawn? [Cries of "No, no."]
§ Amendment negatived.
Dr. RUTHERFORD proposed after the words "regulations made under this Act" to insert in sub-section (1) the words "Provided always that in the Legislative Councils of the Governors of Fort Saint George and Bombay, and of the Lieutenant-Governors of Provinces and of the Governor-General, the number of official and nominated members shall in no case exceed that of the elected members." All that the first part of my Amendment suggests is to make the proposals and intentions of the Government statutory, and to have their intentions in black and white. I do that partly because I think it will give pleasure to our Indian fellow-subjects and partly because I think it will safeguard the intentions of the present Government from any future Government in any future time. We cannot forget how reactionary Tory administrations have been in the past. We cannot forget particularly the behaviour of Lord Curzon, who one might call the great Imperial peacock of reaction. He reduced, he whittled down
the reforms of Lord Ripon. I will only state one particular instance—he reduced the numbers of the Calcutta Corporation from 75 to 50. We want to safeguard against such action as that; we want to keep clear the intentions and the pledges of the present Government. Passing from that portion of the Amendment to the second portion, which is of far more importance, it provides that the non-official majority shall also apply in the Viceroy's Council—in the Imperial Council. I would like to establish it with one quotation with reference to this Bill. It is a quotation from the Prime Minister in a speech which he made on the second reading of the Indian Councils Bill. He said:—
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 non-official 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.
What many of us feel, and what is distinctly felt in India is that as at present constituted the Imperial Council is not on a large enough or satisfactory enough scale, and that it will still allow the favoured majority to continue in existence and to deprive Indians of a fair and reasonable chance of having some solid basis of representation in this, the most important, legislative assembly in India. Indians feel, to use the words of the Prime Minister, that as at present constituted the Viceroy's Council would be a mere automaton, and that the wires will be pulled by the officials. That is unsatisfactory, because that is the kernel and the prime feature of the Bill, and I trust that the Government and the Secretary of State will consider whether, after all, it is not time to get rid of the official majority on the Viceroy's Council. I ask hon. Members present how they would feel supposing they looked honestly and fairly at this question. I think they would feel in this matter if they placed themselves in the position of Indians, that they would not be content with this modicum of opportunity of ventilating their opinions, because it means that the Viceroy's Council is no better than a ventilating chamber. It has not the power which the other councils have, and will not be able to achieve the great and good things which we desire. I feel that hon. Members of this House should not be satisfied for a single moment with the present position—the present pro-
posal in regard to the Viceroy's Council. It is the crux of the whole matter, and I consider it our duty to make this Council: more substantially Indian, more controlled by Indians, so that public opinion would have an opportunity of expressing itself in legislation. May I remind the House, also, that many of the members of the Viceroy's Council will be selected or nominated, and that gives a great deal of power to the Viceroy, which is looked upon, of course, askance by Indian reformers. At present, for instance, there are 25 members of the Viceroy's Council and only five are elected, one by the Chamber of Commerce of Calcutta and the other four by the Councils of Bombay, Madras, Bengal and the North-West Provinces. The Government themselves have accepted this principle with regard to the provincial councils and, naturally, Indians ask that it should be extended to the Imperial Council. The Noble Lord opposite on the second reading said that the concessions with regard to the Imperial Council were largely illusory. That is, of course, the opinion of large numbers of our fellow subjects in India, and it is to try to satisfy them and to bring about a better feeling between us and them that I move this Amendment. The Bill does not satisfy Indian reformers. The Noble Lord opposite read out various quotations from such reformers, and I will only read the crucial part of each of the speeches I refer to. Mr. Mitter said:—
They would never be satisfied and never rest until they had complete control of the finances of their country.
Dr. Ashutosh Mookejee, Judge of the Calcutta High Court, and Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University, said:—
He saw no sign of lasting political peace
as a result of the Bill. Mr. Surendra Nath Banerjee, an eloquent and distinguished leader, who is revered by millions, declared that:—
Self-government on Colonial lines
was their goal. I know that some Members here, especially some members on the opposite side of the House, do not believe in giving Indians any of the power that they are entitled to. I know that they do not believe in trusting our fellow subjects in India, and that they are opposed to this Bill, having shown their opposition today, and on the second reading. But may I just deal with the question which is naturally raised. Supposing you have a non-official majority on the Viceroy's Council, the question comes what happens
supposing the Government are in a minority by a Vote on an important issue. Two things may happen; either the Government will have to take their orders from the majority of the Council or the Council will have to resign. After all there are political parties in India, and one or other party would be able to carry on the Government of the country quite successfully, with, of course, the veto of the Viceroy; and we have always to remember that the Viceroy would have this veto, and I presume would only exercise it on the recommendation of and with the co-operation of the Secretary of State here. The Leader of the Opposition said, this Bill was not a step towards representative Government. I do not want to answer the interesting speech which he delivered on that occasion, although one would be tempted to do it, I do not think it is the right moment, but I differ from the right hon. Gentleman in one important respect. I think this Bill is a step towards representative Government, and it is for that reason that I said on the second reading, and I say again now, many of us heartily support it. I desire by this Amendment to make it a still more important step towards representative government—a surer, a safer, and a more substantial step, and I trust the Government will accept the Amendment in the spirit in which I move it, and so give evidence to the House that they are endeavouring to act, and will act in the direction which will bring peace and contentment to an oppressed nation.
I will put the Amendments together in this form, which I think will carry out the wishes of the hon. Member:—"Clause 1, sub-clause 2, after 'regulations made under this Act,' insert, 'Provided always that in the Legislative Council of the Governor-General and in the Councils of the Governors of Fort Saint George and Bombay and of the Lieutenant-Governors of Provinces the number of official and nominated members shall in no case exceed that of the elected members.'"
§ Question proposed: "That those words be there added."
I object to that, because, after all, I tried to make it clear to the Committee that there is a considerable distinction between these Amendments, and I separated these Amendments purposely, because I hoped and believed that the Government would 1300 naturally accept the first, because it is only carrying out their own intentions, although, of course, the second is another matter.
§ Mr. REES
I submit that of the two parts of this Amendment the first is a superfluity of naughtiness, and the second exhibits an abysmal misunderstanding as to the whole matter. It was decided after much consideration to work without the official majority in the provincial councils. It was a considerable concession, and it was arrived at after much consideration, and on the whole I hold that there was an absolute necessity for doing something of this sort in this House, and after the weighty support which came from India I supported it. But why, when the actual fact is crystallised into law in a Bill and in the schedule to it, it should be also necessary to put in the measure something which implies a distrust of the intention, or is intended as a slap in the face of the ruling classes in India, I really cannot understand. The object of the Amendment seems to show that the honourable Member doubts that the Secretary of State or the Governor-General of India will do as the Bill prescribes. The hon. Gentleman condemned the attitude of what he calls the Tories with regard to the Government of India, but I think he must have forgotten that one of the best of these acts of reform proceeded from a Conservative Administration, and was passed through this House by Lord Cross. It is to be deprecated to the utmost degree that anything of that character should be said in this House, because it only encourages those who are unfriendly to this country to play off one side of the House against another, or embarrasses public officials in the conduct of affairs, and displays a spirit which is utterly undesirable and grossly inconsistent with the spirit which should prevail in the government of India. It is because of that that I have got up to make these few remarks, and. I do not think that the hon. Member's Amendment is likely to be taken seriously by the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. I also object to the hon. Gentleman's description of Lord Curzon as the peacock of reaction. I think it is absolutely undesirable that men who have served in great offices and deserved well of their country should be treated in this slighting manner by Members of this House. If the hon. Member takes this view of the great officers of State I should be inclined to re- 1301 mind him that he is endeavouring here in this House day by day to take hold of the ends of the earth in order that the wicked may be shaken out of it. There is nothing which does not come within his comprehension. He would "Bind the sweet influence of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion." I say that this is a kind of speech which is to be condemned, and, although his Amendment may be laughed at, he is dealing with an exceedingly serious matter.
Then I come to the second part of the Amendment. It was the Secretary of State for India, whom no one would accuse at present of being indisposed to meet the aspirations of the advanced sections of Indian opinion, who provided that that exactly should happen in respect of the Viceroy's Legislative Council which the hon. Member himself wishes to provide should not happen. Here we have on the one side the hon. Member and on the other side the Noble Viscount and his advisers at the India Office, and I really think the scale tells in favour of the Noble Viscount and the India Office and the Government of India and the public service of India, and in fact everyone I know who is really competent to deal with this question. The hon. Member spoke of a council working with an official majority as being no better than a ventilating chamber. I sometimes wished it was a better ventilated chamber, but I think the hon. Member's description of it is extremely unsuitable to that council, in which he has never had the honour to sit, and in point of fact although it does work and will continue to work with an official majority, it is the fact that matters are thrashed out there by able representatives of native views from all parts of India in the most thorough and able manner, and it is by no means the case that the strings are pulled and the members of the council are treated as puppets by the Viceroy and the Executive Council. Nothing could be more unlike the description which the hon. Member attributed to the Council, the method of working of which he wishes, contrary to all authority, to alter by this Amendment. Then he quoted a certain Mr. Mitter, late Judge of the High Court of Calcutta, as to the duty of the Government. I do not know anyone who is less competent to be quoted in this House than that gentleman, in spite of his being a judge learned in the law, for he has laid down the proposition that the duty of the Government is to follow and 1302 obey public opinion. There are some who may think that of government in this country, but I do not know any man who has served in the East and can be regarded as a serious politician who will say that is the view to be taken of government in India, and as soon as that view is taken of government in India and is acted upon by the Government of India, the British government of India will come to a speedy and immediate end.
It is desirable to answer this speech, because it gets reported, and the answer should be reported, otherwise I should have abstained; but the hon. Member described what Would happen if the Legislative Council of the Viceroy was defeated. He said the Council would resign, and as there are other political parties in India their places would be taken by other politcial parties. I cannot conceive where the hon. Member in the course of his short political peregrination in India obtained information to this effect. Every word of it, I think, is absolutely contrary to the most elementary facts connected with the situation. There are in point of fact no political parties in India in the sense in which we understand it. The elected members of the Council are elected by local bodies who recognise no political parties. They would not understand their nominee coming back and saying, "The Council has been defeated." All that would happen would be that the member, if he resigned, would go back to his village or town, and say, "The Government of India has been defeated," and they will say, "Who is coming: the Russians, the Germans, or who else?" The fact is it is really difficult to treat seriously the statements which the hon. Gentleman has placed before the Committee. It is not because they need any answering that I have got up, but because I think it is of the utmost importance that statements of this character, when made in the House of Commons, should be exposed so that their exposure may go forth with their exposition, to the end that there may be some elementary understanding abroad of what does happen in the House of Commons when matters of this sort are brought before it. I do not believe there is a single hon. Member who would vote otherwise than as the Noble Viscount has arranged that the majority should be preserved in the Legislative Council of the Governor-General. It must be understood that if that Council was defeated the consequences in India would be of the most disastrous description. They do not distin- 1303 guish there sufficiently between legislative and executive functions and they would say, "The Viceroy's Legislative Council has been defeated. Then the Viceroy must be unable to manage the public business of the country." It is not the same thing with the provincial councils because they do not deal with matters of so much importance. Many of the gravest matters the Government have expressly excluded from the purview of their deliberations, because, after all, it is known that there is the Government of India above the Provincial Government, and if there were a defeat in the provincial councils the consequences would be of an entirely different character. I myself with difficulty, and I believe others with difficulty, have come to accept the abolition of the working Government majority for the provincial councils, but it should be distinctly understood that that is the utmost concession in this direction which should be made. I hope the House will divide on this, because I do not think anyone except the Mover of the Amendment and a teller, if he could find one, will vote for it.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The hon. Gentleman who moved these two Amendments, although they refer to different councils, and come at more or less different stages of the Bill, evidently had in his mind as a governing idea that the elected element should both in the Governor-General's Council and in the provincial councils be in a majority, because the effect of giving the elected members a majority in the Viceroy's Council might have a far wider effect than if they were given a majority in the provincial councils, because the scope of action in the provincial councils is far more limited and the duties which they have to carry out are far less responsible than is the case with the Viceroy's Council. But I very much doubt whether the effect which the hon. Gentleman desires would be carried out even if the Government were to accept his Amendment, which they do not propose to do. The idea is to give the Indians as a whole a determining voice in the legislation which may be put forward either in the provincial or the Imperial Council. Is the hon. Gentleman so sure that his proposal would have that effect? I think he is very apt to forget that there are two great classes in which society in India can be divided, not Mahomedans and Hindus, but the educated and non-educated classes—what you might almost call 1304 Anglicised and non-Anglicised Indians—and it is quite certain that if this proposal were given effect to all you would do would be to hand over the destinies of these councils not to the Indians as a whole, but to that element in the Indian population which may be described as of an Anglicised character.
I think that is not the function of the British Government. We are bound not only to retain equality between creeds and beliefs, but we are bound to hold the balance true as between all sections of the community in India, and especially is it our duty to hold the balance true between what may be called the organised and the unorganised sections of the community in India, which acceptance of the Amendment would unquestionably upset.
A volume came into my hand the other day which seems to be apropos. A gentleman offered a prize of very considerable value to any Indian who would write an essay upon political organised Government in India. Some 14 or 15 of these essays reached the tribunal appointed to adjudicate upon their merits, and the whole has been issued in the form of a volume. I should like to quote two or three words from the introduction to the volume by the adjudicating committee.'Going through all the essays,' they write, 'although there is much talk of Parliaments? there is the greatest diversity of opinion as to their composition. The Congress writers resent every distinction which would prevent them keeping all power put into their hands. The claim of every Congressman to be leaders of the people is vehemently denied by others. They insist, this latter class, on the representation of every class by genuine members of that class and the recognition of the rights of minorities'All these opinions seem to be of value on this point, and exceedingly germane to the issue of the Amendment. I think the hon. Member forgets that the nominated members of the provincial and Imperial councils are very frequently to be found in opposition to the Government of the day, and that in no case at all, and at no time whatever, do they consider themselves as the pledged supporters of the Governor-General or the Lieutenant-Governor who has appointed them. They consider themselves to be, and are held rightly to be, entirely independent nominated authorities, and they represent unquestionably and as fully as any elected member can represent the classes from which they are drawn, and on whose behalf they are appointed to the council. If you add together the number of members who are to be directly represented by this Bill, and those who are 1305 nominated by the governing authority in the province you will find a large body of opinion equal practically in numbers to the purely official majority capable and ready to express themselves freely, and put forward the whole case—if case there be—against the Government. A great step has been taken by the Secretary of State. It is impossible for the Government, having regard to the future of India, and to the stability of institutions there, to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I was surprised to hear the remarks of the Mover of the Amendment, because, taken in connection with the statement made in the previous speech regarding Mr. Gungadhur Tilak, it seems to me that he was aiming directly at the suppression of British supremacy in India. That seems to be the one aim and object of the Amendment.
That was not my intention whatsoever. There is the parallel of the grant of a Constitution to the Transvaal.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I think the parallel given by the hon. Member is incorrect. In the Transvaal you are dealing with white people who are themselves only too ready and willing to submit to the supremacy of the British Crown now that they have received the concession which the Constitution has given them. In the present case I cannot support the Amendment, looking to the views expressed by the hon. Member, and taking in connection with the remarks he made about that rebel—for I cannot call him by any other name—Tilak, who has openly declared that he desires the separation of India from the British Crown. I hold that whatever his intention may have been the hon. Member's remarks were aimed at the suppression of British rule in India, and this House ought not for a moment to give consideration to what he says. With regard to my hon. Friend's remark that the nominated members are always independent, I rather question that. I have had some experience of the nominated members, and I say that, seeing they are nominated with the sanction of the Viceroy, they are not likely to ventilate independent opinions if they think these opinions are adverse to the opinions of the Government of India. In the same way I demur from the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs as to the nature of the proceedings of the council. I have had experience of the proceedings and I con- 1306 fess that they were of the most farcical nature. The members read out long essays on public affairs which had little relation as a rule to the matters in hand. The criticisms of those members were never as a rule answered by the Members representing the Government. The hon. Member spoke of the Council as being a ventilating chamber for the opinions of the people of India. Under the present Bill, and the promises given in the Blue Books, there is no doubt that these Members will have very great power indeed in influencing the Government of India, although they will not be able in the Supreme Council to upset and turn out the Government. They will have power to give voice to opinion which must have great weight with the Government, and it will be a very curious and remarkable thing if the Viceroy for the time being does not give very attentive consideration to the opinion of a body of men who, while being loyal, are also well versed in public affairs, and resolved to give a free and independent opinion on important public matters.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made and question proposed: "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ Earl PERCY
I desire to ask the Financial Secretary a question which I asked on the second reading of the Bill. The last part of the clause provides that the numerical strength of the councils shall be as stated in the schedule. The Under-Secretary told us on the second reading that the maximum figures of these councils can in every case be fixed by the Government according to the recommendation of the Government of India after consultation with the local authority. Up to the present moment I am wholly unable to reconcile that statement with the figures given by Lord Morley in another place. The original proposal of the Government of India was that every council should consist of 54, but the last proposal was for councils of 63, whereas the number mentioned in the schedule is only 60. Lord Morley stated in the House of Lords the other day that the number which had been fixed by regulation was 65. His attention was drawn to the subject by Lord Curzon, and he said he would look into it. He thought it was possible there might have been a mistake. I cannot understand why we should be asked to pass the concluding part of Clause 1, which fixes the number of the councils at 60, if it is really true 1307 that the number fixed by the Secretary of State is already 65. As the figures now stand in the schedule the size of a council is actually three less, or, at all events, two less, than that recommended by the Government of India. That is a most important matter, because it raises the whole question whether the figures allow a sufficient margin for any readjustment of the proportion of representation which was provisionally secured to the various sections of the community. That such a readjustment would be necessary I should have thought was self-evident to anyone who has studied the explicit pledge given by the Secretary of State in another place on the second reading. I have refreshed my memory on the subject, for I think there is a disposition on the Front Bench opposite to question whether Lord Morley on 23rd February, in the House of Lords, said that the Mahomedan demand—
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The Bill deals with the additional members of the council only; these do not include ex officio members of the councils. If the Noble Lord will add the number, eight, of the Executive Council to the additional members which are referred to in the schedule of the Bill, he will find that the maximum is 68, that is, three over the number mentioned by the Secretary of State in another place, and that applies the whole way down. I hope I have made that clear.
§ Earl PERCY
I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means by saying "that applies the whole way down."
§ Earl PERCY
I am very much obliged for that information. So far as the Viceroy's Council is concerned that appears to a certain extent to meet the point which I was about to put. Lord Morley's statement as regards the Mahomedan demand was that, in the first place, they demand "the election of their own representatives to these councils in all the stages"—these are important words—and, in the second place, "they want a number of seats in excess of their numerical strength. Those two demands we are quite ready and intend to meet in full." I have looked at the figures as to the Mahomedans which were given by the Under-Secretary on the second reading of the Bill. In the case of the provinces of Eastern Bengal and Madras, he said there were to be four Mahomedans, two elected by the Mahomedan 1308 electorate and two by the Lieutenant-Governor. In the case of Madras there were to be two Mahomedans nominated by the Government. How does that statement compare with the two explicit pledges given by the Secretary of State in the House of Lords? It appears from these statements that as regards these three provinces out of the eight seats that are to be definitely reserved to the Mahomedans four are not to be filled by election at all but by the system of nomination to which the Mahomedans very strongly object, and as regards the remaining four I understand that the seats are to be filled by election. There is no guarantee, and I am not sure that it is intended that there should be any reform in the system of election to the municipal councils. I gather it is intended that there should be some system of direct election to the legislative councils. If that is so, that is what the Mahomedans are protesting against. They have asked the right to elect their representatives to these councils in all their stages, and that was a request which was agreed to by the Secretary of State in the House of Lords.
As regards the second pledge, that the Mahomedans were to have representation in excess of the numbers to which they would be entitled on a strictly numerical basis of the population, I find that as regards these eight members for these three provinces they are exactly the same number of seats as originally proposed by the Government of India—a proposal which was denounced as entirely inadequate by the Mahomedan deputation which waited on the Secretary of State at the India Office, and I think that the pledge of the Secretary of State in the House of Lords was understood by them to mean that he would revise that proportion as originally suggested. I find that on the Viceroy's Council the Mahomedans are still only to have five seats—that is, one-twelfth of the whole bodies of members, and one-fifth if you take the elected members alone. In the case of Eastern Bengal the figures are very striking. There the Mahomedans actually number three-fifths of the whole population, according to the statement of the Secretary of State. Well, in Eastern Bengal they are only going to have two seats reserved—that is, one-third of the whole council, and only one-seventh of the elected members. The Prime Minister, on dealing with this question on the second reading, I think, explicitly stated that the Government did not intend to increase the number of seats specially reserved to the 1309 Mahomedan representatives, because, he said, although it was quite true that there were only five seats reserved for them on the Viceroy's Council, they might always gain some additional representatives either by the chance that other electors would return some of them or else that the Viceroy would nominate some of them in addition to those elected to fill the seats specially reserved. I should like to point out that that is the very thing against which the Mahomedans protested. They asked the proportion of seats which the Secretary of State desired them to have in excess of the numerical strength, and that it should not be left to chance, and they expressly said that if that demand is conceded they would be prepared to give up their right to vote in any of the other elections. I should like to point out that the Prime Minister seems to have entirely overlooked the fact that the scope for nominating Mahomedan members to the Viceroy's Council is exceedingly small. I do not know the exact proportion, but at all events under the scheme suggested by the Government of India, the scope for nomination is excessively small. Of the total number of official members under the Government of India's scheme no less than 31, according to the statement of Lord Morley himself in the House of Lords, must be official, or Secretaries or Under-Secretaries in connection with the Departments, and, indeed, I do not see how that can be avoided. Unless you are going to abandon the official majority, 31 out of 62 clearly must be official. Therefore, the only scope that you can have for appointing Mahomedans by nomination will be as regards the three seats which are already allocated either to the representation of experts or the representation of special interests, or of minorities among whom you have to count Sikhs and the Parsees.
I raise this question not for the purpose of moving an amendment, because I do not think we can have any idea of constituting a scheme of our own in substitution for the scheme put forward by the Government of India, but this is a question of a pledge given by the Secretary of State himself, which, of course, he is anxious to redeem, and I merely raise the point in order that I may know whether that pledge was given in a sense different from that in which it was understood by the deputation which was received by him. If that is the case, I cannot help feeling that if matters are left in their present state, and that the representation assigned 1310 to the Mahomedans is not increased, it will lead to very serious disappointment, and probably even to charges of breach of faith, and I should not be a bit surprised if the Government of India afterwards were to find themselves compelled either to defer to the Mahomedan wishes by cutting down the representation hitherto supposed to be assigned to other sections of the community—which would be productive of undeservable consequences—or else come to this House and ask us to recast the figures of the schedule we are now asked to sanction. So I trust that the hon. Gentleman can give us some satisfactory assurance that where Mahomedans are to be elected under the new scheme they are really to be elected to these councils in all their stages, that is to say, that there is to be a reform of the municipal system of election, as well as a reform of the system of elections to provincial councils, and that ha can assure us that the numerical proportion hitherto assigned to Mahomedans is to be increased. I hope, at all events, that he will give us some assurance that the point will receive very careful consideration.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The Secretary of State has no reason to blame the Noble Lord who introduced this point in the debate, because everybody acquainted with the details and principles of this Bill must acknowledge that it is one of the most important details. It is quite true, as the Noble Lord has said, that the Secretary of State in another place has said that the representation given to the Mahomedans is not merely to be sufficient, but is to be somewhat in excess of their adequate numerical right, and that to that declaration he adhered with all its fulness and completeness. The difficulty of course has been, as the Noble Lord has pointed out, so to provide that representation without unduly increasing or unnecessarily increasing the numbers which it is possible to put on these bodies; and communications have passed between our Noble Friend and the Viceroy for the purpose of elucidating the position, which is exceedingly difficult and complicated. The point which the Noble Lord took at the beginning of his remarks I hope has been dealt with by the interruption which I ventured to make as to the numbers in the schedule not agreeing with the comparison of which the Noble Lord spoke in another place. But as regards this further case with which the Noble Lord has dealt, I think it will be necessary to read a telegram which 1311 was received from the Viceroy upon the matter so recently as April 12th. Speaking of the representation and the method of securing that representation on the councils, he telegraphs:—The method proposed is simply that in general electorates such as municipalities, district boards and members of provincial councils, all sects and classes, including Mahomedans, will vote together. By this means some, but not sufficient, representation will be obtained for Mahomedans. In addition a certain number of seats will be reserved for Mahomedans, and none but Mahomedans will have a voice in filling these. They may be tilled in many ways, by election pure and simple, by election by associations, by electoral college, or by nomination, as the circumstances of each province require. Methods will vary in different provinces, and will be subject to alterations from time to time in individual provinces as experience may dictate.I think that that shows the whole subject has received, and is at the present moment receiving, the very serious and careful attention of the Government of India. It shows also, and I think that is a point which cannot be forgotten by the Committee, that circumstances differ so much in each of the provinces that the methods of election or nomination which would be adequate for the Mahomedans, and really in accordance with the dictates of common-sense in one place, would not be the best in another. The conditions of India are so varied and the conditions of the Mahomedan population of India are so varied and distinct from each other in different provinces that the system must be different, according to the circumstances in each province; and I think that one can reasonably trust the Government of India to deal adequately with those circumstances as to local representation. With regard to numbers, the Secretary of State does not depart in any way from the pledge which he has given in another place as to the sufficient, and, indeed, over-sufficient representation from the numerical standpoint of the Mahomedan.
§ Earl PERCY
Is the declaration from which he does not depart—that he intends to give them more than the representation to which they are entitled on a numerical basis—intended to be compatible with the definite fixing of numbers and the Provinces for which the numbers were given by the Under-Secretary on the second reading? The point is really: those numbers were allocated by the Government of India long before the Mahomedan came to put their view. They protest that the basis assigned by the Government of India is wholly inadequate, and they ask by their Executive Authority that that representation should be in- 1312 creased. The Secretary of State in the House of Lords stated that he intended to meet that request, and therefore I should like to know whether we are to take the figure given by the Under-Secretary on the second reading for the provinces of East Bengal and Madras as being really all the representation which is to be secured to the Mahomedans or whether we may still hope that the number may be increased after further consideration is given to the matter?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It is very unfortunate that the Under-Secretary is not here to confirm the figures to which the Noble Lord has alluded, and I myself, I regret, am unfamiliar with those figures; but I have had an opportunity in the course of to-day of conferring with my Noble Friend, and he authorises me to make the statement which I have made, namely, that he stands by his declaration, and that he does not abate it in any way whatever. Anything more definite than that I do not think I can say, although I desire to afford all the information which it is within my power to do. I hope that the assurance which I have given to the Noble Lord will satisfy him in the very reasonable inquiry which he has made.
The Earl of RONALDSHAY
I do not think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will satisfy the demands of the Mahomedan. The Mahomedans understood, after the promise given by the Noble Viscount in another place, that they were to have the advantage of a separate register, that they were to have the advantage of themselves electing their own representative not only to the Councils, but also to all the various intermediate bodies, such as municipalities, district boards, and so on. Now the right hon. Gentleman tells us that the mixed electorates to these bodies are still to continue, and the Mahomedans are to be given what is considered a fair share on the various councils by nomination. That I do not think will in the least meet their demands, nor does it carry out the pledges given, as they understand them, at any rate. Everybody knows that where a system of mixed electorate is in force the Mahomedans have not got, and undoubtedly will not get, their fair share of representation. If we take the case of the United Provinces I believe that not one single Mahomedan has been elected to the provincial council during the whole of the time that the provisions of the Act of 1892 have been in force. Take another in- 1313 stance—an instance from one of those provinces which are largely peopled by Mahomedans—namely, the Punjaub. I can take the case of a municipality of Khangar where the Mahomedans form 86 per cent. of the population, yet where, under a system of mixed electorate, only one single Mahomedan representative finds a place upon the municipal board at the present time. That points quite conclusively to the fact that the Mahomedans have not been able under the present system to secure their fair share of representation either on the municipal bodies or the district bodies or the provincial council; and what they asked for and what they understood they were to be given was this—an entirely separate register, in order that they by themselves should be able to elect their own representatives not only on the provincial councils, but also on all those intermediary bodies, which, of course, form the electorate to a large extent for the provincial councils. Now the hon. Member tells us that this is not the case, and he has not in the least met the point of the Noble Lord below me, who asked how the apportionment of seats on the provincial councils is to be altered in order to give the Mahomedans not only a fair share, but the additional share which the Secretary of State has promised them, the share over and above their actual numerical proportion. For my part I cannot conceive why the Mahomedans should not be granted this separate register. Surely that is the simplest way out of the difficulty. We can call the experience of the past in support of that view, because at the present time in the Punjab in the case of no less than 40 municipalities the Mahomedans do actually elect their own representatives on a separate register. Various objections are urged to granting any particular community in India, such as the Mahomedans, a separate register. There are three main objections urged: First, that it would be difficult of application; secondly, that it would create religious strife and disturbance between the two great communities, the Mahomedans and the Hindus; and, thirdly, that the suggestion that they should have a separate register is even at the present moment exciting serious agitation on the part of the, Hindu community. I do not think these objections are in the least valid. I have already pointed out that it is quite possible to apply the system, because it is already in application in the case of the Punjab. As 1314 to the granting of the separate register creating religious strife and disturbance between the two communities, the contrary is the case, for it was in order to allay religious strife and disturbance, which did exist under a mixed register, that the separate register was introduced in the case of municipalities in the Punjab. If hon. Members want confirmation on that point I would refer them to the Punjab Annual Administrative Report for 1907–8 where they will find these words:—The system of each community electing its own representative where it has been tried in the Punjab has proved popular and successful, as it removes a cause of friction and secures the representation of minorities.Then the other objection was that the suggestion that Mahomedans should have a separate register is at the present time exciting serious agitation on the part of the Hindu community. I do not think it is so much the principle of a separate Mahomedan register that has caused the agitation as the procedure of the Government in dealing with the question. The procedure of the Government has undoubtedly been an exhibition of indecision and vacillation. May I recall the facts of the case with regard to this particular point? In 1906 a Mahomedan deputation waited on the Viceroy, and laid before him their particular requests. The answer of the Viceroy was this:—The pith of your address, as I understand it, is a claim that in any system of representation, whether it affects a municipality, a district board, or a legislative council, in which it is proposed to introduce or to increase an electoral organisation, the Mahomedan community should be represented as a community.He went on to say:—I am entirely in accord with you…I am firmly convinced that any electoral representation in India would be doomed to mischievous failure which aimed at granting a personal enfranchisement regardless of the beliefs and traditions of the communities composing the population of this continent.I maintain that in that declaration of the Viceroy it is perfectly clear that he did propose to give the Mahomedans a separate register, otherwise what is the meaning of the words I have quoted? At any rate the Mahomedans were under the impression that they were to receive a separate register. Then we come to the despatch of the Noble Viscount, in which he brushed aside all that had been said by the Viceroy, and put forward his scheme of mixed electoral colleges, apparently as a sort of ballon d'essai. Of course, the inevitable result was a fierce agitation upon the part of the Mahomedan community, and to that agitation Lord Morley undoubtedly gave way. It is not in the least likely that that fact will be lost upon the 1315 Hindu community. Nothing is so likely to foster agitation, especially in Eastern countries, as a belief on the part of the agitators that they have only to make sufficient noise in order to make the Government give way. I blame the Government for not carrying out the promise originally given by Lord Minto, and I blame them now for not being able to tell us exactly what the position is in regard to this particular matter. The promise of the Secretary of State in another place appeared to me to be perfectly definite. He said that the Mahomedans were to elect their own representatives, as they do in Crete and other places. That does not in the least tally with what has just fallen from the lips of the hon. Gentleman opposite. He says that this is not the case, that the Mahomedans are to continue to endeavour to secure seats under a mixed electorate. How can he reconcile that statement with the promise given by the Secretary of State to the Mahomedan community on the second reading of the Bill in another place? I am quite certain that unless the Mahomedans are given a separate register, they will find just as much, and perhaps more, difficulty in future to secure representatives as they have done in the past. Only a few days ago we had news from the United Provinces that for the first time, as the result of this reform scheme, the Hindu bodies are introducing party politics into the municipal elections, and are violently opposing any Mahomedan candidate who is not a pledged Congress man. Under these circumstances, bearing in mind that even in the past and before this agitation had been stirred up on the part of the Hindus, the Mahomedans have found it impossible to secure their fair share of representation under the present system, I say it will be absolutely absurd to suppose, quite apart from the promise of the Secretary of State that they should have a greater share than they were entitled to numerically, that they can gain anything like their fair share in the representation on the Councils.
§ Sir H. COTTON
I have noted with some surprise the manner in which hon. Members opposite have championed the Mahomedans, and am at a loss to know why they should identify themselves with any such sectional cause. Certainly it is not in the real interests of India that any side in this House should identify itself with denominational interests in that 1316 country. I have only to say that, if I understood rightly the telegram read by the hon. Gentleman from the Viceroy, I conceive that the solution suggested by the Viceroy is admirably calculated to meet the difficult and delicate situation which has been created in regard to Mahomedan representation. I am one of those who think that the Secretary of State committed himself unnecessarily to the statement that the Mahomedans should be granted a larger representation than they would be entitled to by their numbers. I can see no reason whatever why favouritism should be accorded to any one denomination, and I deplore that such an admission should have been made. But having been made, effect must, of course, be given to it, and I think the scheme suggested by the Viceroy is best calculated to meet the difficulty, namely, that there should be a common electorate up to a certain point, and that special seats should be filled by special Mahomedan electorates. Thereby, no doubt Mahomedans would be given a larger representation than they are numerically entitled to, and in that way his somewhat anomalous and unfair treatment will be carried out with the least friction.
§ Mr. REES
I was much astonished to hear my hon. Friend describe the Mahomedan interest as a denominational interest. It is extraordinary to me, when one reflects on the history of India and upon what the Mahomedans have done in the past and are doing at the present, that it should enter into the heart of any man familiar with that country to describe the Mahomedan community as a denomination, as if the difference between a Mahomedan and a Hindu was the same as that between a Wesleyan and a Baptist. I entirely repudiate that description of the great Mahomedan community. I think that so far from the Secretary of State having unnecessarily committed himself to giving the Mahomedans a number of seats in excess of their numerical strength, it was a most statesmanlike proceeding, and absolutely necessary in common justice to the position which the Mahomedans have in the country. Nor could I pass by without utterly repudiating it the description of the Secretary of State's action as favouritism to a denomination. Hindus and Mahomedans are as much apart as, or more apart, than Mahomedans and Christians. It is not a matter of a religious difference. It is a political, historical and traditional difference—a difference extend- 1317 ing to every act and deed of their lives. But I do not think it necessary to argue this point, because the case is conceded, the Secretary of State and the Viceroy both having in the fullest manner admitted that the Mahomedans are entitled to more than their numerical representation. The noble Viscount said in the House of Lords:They demand the election of their own representatives to these councils in all stages, and they want a number of seats in excess of their numerical strength. These two demands we are quite ready and intend to meet in full.The only question is: Are the Government meeting them, and how? The Noble Lord the Member for Kensington criticised the position of the Government; but there is no alternative proposal, and I am sure he would be the last to suggest that the demand of the Mahomedans should be met by increasing the already overgrown legislative councils. I do not think he meant that, and there is no amendment to that effect before the House. Therefore, the upshot is that all parts of the House, even those who are most anxious for the Mahomedan cause—and I am one of them—are agreed that the settlement of this matter should be left to the Government of India and the Secretary of State in Council. This matter must be dealt with in regulations, which I hope will not come before this House to be roughly handled and discussed; but in any case, to whatever extent they may have to be discussed here, this point must be dealt with by regulation by the Government of India and the Secretary of State, and I am prepared myself to leave it there. Nor am I sure at all that the Mahomedans do object to nomination. It is true they want election and communal elections, but I am not sure that they object to nomination in addition. I believe they would welcome it if it was the means of giving them more seats than under the electoral system. I do not at all object to that portion of the telegram which was read out by the Secretary to the Treasury. The Noble Lord referred to the fact that no Mahomedan had been returned to the council in the United Provinces. I was under the same impression, and made a similar statement. The hon. Member for Nottingham interrupted and said that two Mahomedans had been elected in the United Provinces.
§ Sir H. COTTON
What I said was that two Mahomedan gentlemen had been elected for the district council of the Government of India for the United Provinces. I stated they were elected by the Government of India.
§ Mr. REES
I do not know whether I need refer to it any more. There is no alternative proposal from the other side of the House. Nobody wishes to see these quasi Parliaments of sixty made into Parliaments of seventy. That would be a disastrous thing. There is nothing I object to more in this than the size of the councils. Therefore, as the Secretary of State has given most satisfactory assurances, as the Mahomedans are not at the moment complaining, as no alternative proposal has been put forward, and as we may hope it will be satisfactorily settled, I would suggest that the assurances of the Secretary for the Treasury be accepted, and I accept them myself.
§ Question, "That clause 1 stand part of the Bill," put and agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Constitution and procedure of Executive Councils of Governors of Fort Saint George and Bombay).—(1) The number of ordinary members of the councils of the Governors of Fort Saint George and Bombay shall be such number not exceeding four as the Secretary of State in Council may from time to time direct, of whom two at least shall be persons who at the time of their appointment have been in the service of the Crown in India for at least twelve years.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS moved in clause 2 to leave out the word "four" and insert the word "three." He said: No one on this side of the House has yet moved an Amendment. This Amendment is, I think, of importance. I feel bound to move it and to take a Division. The Committee know that the Executive Council of Bombay and Madras consist of two gentlemen who are officials of not less than 12 years' service. This proposal is to increase the number from two to four, of whom at least two only shall have been Indian civil servants, so that two members of the Council of Madras and Bombay need not necessarily have had experience as Indian civil servants. They may be brought in from any quarter whatever, and are intended, I think, to be natives of India. The Noble Lord the Secretary of State, dealing with this clause in another place, distinctly said he intended to appoint an Indian to those councils. The whole question depends on whether you are to proceed for efficiency or to something akin to representative Government on these Executive Councils. We have by passing clause 1 admitted the repre- 1319 sentative elective principle in the legislative councils, and here we are to have not exactly elective members, but non-official members imported into the Executive Councils of those two councils of Madras and Bombay. And not merely in those two provinces. When we come to discuss the new clause we shall find that Lieutenant-Governors of other provinces are also provided with Executive Councils not exceeding four, the same number as proposed in this clause. If the Government accepts this Amendment, as I hope they will, they will at least accept the same Amendment in the new clause they are proposing to add to the Bill.
§ I cannot help thinking that the Governor who goes out to administer the Government could best be helped by two, or, if necessary, three, men who have been connected with the Indian Civil Service for twelve years. What is the good of appointing a successful pleader or judge to an Executive Council to sit side by side by two administrative Indian officials, to assist the Lieutenant-Governor. The Noble Lord and the Government in their proposals go further, and suggest two non-official members. You will have the non-official Governor from England, two experienced Indian Civil servants, two non-official, possibly two Indian gentlemen provided by the Secretary of State, with no knowledge of detail, and possibly and probably no knowledge of administrative affairs of that province, and in all probability you will have a deadlock.
I venture to suggest, if the Government will not agree to let the thing remain as it is, to at least give a majority on the Executive Councils of those important provinces to men who have been trained in the administration of affairs during the period of their lives in India. On the one side you have practised men, and on the other non-official men who are appointed—why? I am very much afraid we should find men appointed because they had been prominent in agitating. We should find a resolution passed by the legislative council by the non-official majority which is going to be in existence in those legislative councils, asking for the appointment to the Executive Council under this clause of two of their own body. It would be a very awkward matter for the Secretary of State year by year to say, "No, I will not appoint those men"—men who have the confidence of the legislative councils, and are members
of the legislative councils, men in favour of whom the legislative council has passed a resolution. I am afraid we should very soon find the Secretary of State would be bound to appoint them. The men in whose favour that kind of resolution would be passed would undoubtedly be the most prominent agitators of the provinces, men who had before their election to the legislative councils distinguished themselves by agitation, men who after their election to the legislative councils had been most prominent in opposing the action of the Government in those provinces. That is the great danger in this matter. I claim in support of my Amendment no less an authority than that of the Noble Lord the Secretary of State himself. The Noble Lord, when this matter was under discussion in another place, said:—
My own intention is, if the Bill is passed, only to appoint three members; but this would perhaps be better discussed upon Lord Wenlock's Amendment to leave out the clause. I should contemplate an Executive Council of three, of whom I hope one would be an Indian. It would be my intention to appoint an Indian.
§ I have not moved to strike out the two additional members. I realise we are in a hopeless minority, so far as discussing this or any other measure in the present Parliament, and I want to be conciliatory. I do appeal, as this is a matter of importance, and I merely move in the direction in which the Noble Lord in another place intended to go. He told us he only intended to appoint three members, of whom one should be an Indian gentleman. The Amendment proposes that four should be cut down to three. Of course, the Secretary of State would be able to appoint an Indian. The hon. Member may say this is merely permissive. At the same time, though it is permissive, pressure will be put on the Secretary of State to appoint the extra two members, although the Noble Lord says he does not want to appoint more than one extra member. I ask the Government to accept the Amendment. I think we have behaved very well in regard to this Bill. We have not obstructed it. We have moved no unnecessary Amendments. We regard this matter as of considerable importance; that the administrative element should not be swamped by the non-administrative because the Governors of those two provinces are not men of experience. They are men sent out from England, frequently from this House. They will have no control over the non-official members, and there will be that deadlock. I trust the hon. Member of his strength will be kind enough to say this 1321 evening that he will accept this very simple Amendment, which is in accordance with the opinion expressed in another place.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is not so entirely in accord with the views of my Noble Friend the Secretary of State as he endeavoured to lead us to believe. He has led the Committee to understand that my Noble Friend is only desirous that there should be three members upon the Council of the Governors of Madras and Bombay. That is not the case, and this Bill explicitly states it is not the case. What my Noble Friend said was that he was prepared at present only to see a third member on the Executive Council of the Governors of Madras and Bombay.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
If he will refer to the Official Report of the House of Lords, page 285, and of March 4th, he will see that the Noble Lord says, in reply to observations of the Marquis of Lans-downe:—My own intention is, if the Bill is passed, only to Appoint three members.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
This does not say "at present." It reads:—I should contemplate an Executive Council of three, of whom I hope one would be an Indian.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It is his intention to appoint three members to the councils of Madras and Bombay, but his intention is expressed in this Bill. After all it is the Bill with which we have to deal, and which has received in its main features initiation from Calcutta, and has also received approbation and confirmation from London, and it is his intention to appoint a fourth if it is carried. Let me deal with the Amendment before I pass to the principle. The Amendment is totally unnecessary. For this reason, that at the present moment as the law stands under the Act of 1833 the Secretary of State has the power to appoint three members to the councils both of Madras and Bombay.
He has the power under the Act of 1833 to appoint a third member of the Executive Council of both those Governments, and therefore the Amendment would be totally unnecessary for the purpose which it is intended to subserve. Here I may introduce a personal note, because the matter was very fully discussed at the meeting of the Decentralisation Commission, of which I was Chairman, and my Noble Friend thinks that the present pres- 1322 sure of business which now exists all over India is such that it is impossible to contemplate in the near future not only the absence of the Executive Council in many Governments but so small a number as those which now exist in Madras and Bombay. Therefore, this Bill makes provision not merely for the immediate future, such as my Noble Friend intends when he appoints a third member of the Executive Council, but it makes provision in the future for business which is rapidly accumulating in every branch of Departmental work in India. But, at the same time, it is quite true that the clause is a permissive clause which gives power to the Secretary of State, when the time comes, to add a fourth member, and it is impossible for us, therefore, to accept the proposal of the hon. Member, not because the members of our party are more numerous than are the members of the party with which he is connected, but because we foresee that at no distant date the pressure of business will be such as to render necessary a new distribution of the burden of work which at the present moment it is not possible to manage in councils of the size which now exist.
§ Earl PERCY
I cannot say that I consider the speech of the hon. Gentleman a complete answer to the Amendment which my hon. Friend has moved. His argument is really one to show that some increase in the number of the Executive Council is necessary. My hon. Friend's Amendment is really a very reasonable one, and is not very different from those Amendments which were moved in another place. In another place it was first proposed that the whole of this clause should be postponed until a later period, and after the Government of India had had an opportunity of watching the results of the changes in regard to the legislative councils before deciding on an increase of the members of the Executive Councils. That proposal was withdrawn. In the second Amendment, moved in another place, it was proposed that power should be given to appoint two additional members of the Executive Council, both of them to retain the same qualification which is insisted upon in the case of the two existing members of the Executive Council, namely, 12 years' service in the Indian Civil Service. To these two suggestions Lord Morley replied, as the hon. Gentleman has replied to-night, that some increase was absolutely necessary owing to the press of work in connection with the new powers 1323 given to the legislative councils, and that he did not wish to be tied down too closely in regard to the class of appointment, because it might be desirable either to appoint a native, or else an Anglo-Indian member, who has not been a member of the Civil Service. These are excellent reasons, or may be excellent reasons, for appointing a third member, and for dispensing in his case, and in his case alone, with the usual qualification of experience in administrative service under the Crown. Indeed, as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, if this clause were confined to that member alone, no one would take exception, because that is virtually what the Government of India or the Secretary of State has power to do already. It would merely be reverting to the state of things which existed at the time when the Commander-in-Chief was a member of the Executive Council.
But while we have no objection to giving the Government statutory power to appoint a third member—a statutory power which they do not require—they also seek a statutory power which they do require to dispense with the qualification that he must have been a member of the Indian Civil Service. Not only has the Government given no reason whatever for the appointment of the fourth member, and still less for dispensing in his case with this qualification, but Lord Morley went out of his way to show that it was unnecessary, by saying that it was not his intention—and he did not qualify it by using any such words as "at present," and everyone understood what he meant—to appoint a fourth member. Why, therefore, are we to give this power which the Secretary of State himself did not intend to use? The hon. Gentleman has said again to-night, as the Prime Minister said on the second reading, that after all this is a permissive clause, and what object can there be in giving a power to the Secretary of State which he does not intend to use.
I can only repeat the argument I used on another occasion, that there are two very practical and cogent reasons against giving this power to appoint a fourth Member, and in his case to dispense with this disqualification: In the first place, so long as you have this power and do not use it, you will be subject to constant pressure on the part of every section of the Indian population which desires to see itself represented by its own representa- 1324 tive on the executive council, and the moment you do this, if you are forced to do it, you would be plunged into expense for which no administrative necessity has been shown at all, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester pointed out, you will be altering the whole character of these executive councils. The original idea of these councils was that they should supply an instrument for correcting the inexperience and ignorance of the Indian situation of any English Governor who was appointed from home. In future, if these third and fourth members are not, and never have been, members of the Civil Service, the result will be that you will transform the Executive Councils into advisory bodies, on which three out of the five members have had no administrative experience whatever. Surely that proposal is quite different from the proposal merely to make a small increase in the number of the Executive Council. It is a momentous step and one that very likely in the future may necessitate the reopening of the question as to the method of appointing the Governor himself from home. It is quite possible that if you pass the clause in its present form we shall find it impossible to continue the method of appointing the Governors from home, and the Governors of all these Provinces may have to be members of the Civil Service. That may or may not be a good thing, but that is not a change which ought to be introduced into the Bill by a side wind, without any opportunity of considering the important consequences which would follow in its train. The hon. Gentleman has not given us to-night any arguments to show that the passing of my hon. Friend's Amendment would cause the Government the slightest inconvenience, or damage in any way the essential principles underlying their scheme, and if my hon. Friend presses his Amendment to a Division, I should certainly vote in its favour.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
My Noble Friend has put the case in favour of the Amendment so strongly that I do not think it is necessary to add anything to what he has said, but I would like to call the attention of the Committee to what Lord Morley did say because I think the hon. Member who is in charge' of the Bill cannot have read the speech, or he has been badly informed. Lord Morley made two or three statements which are on pages 285, 286, and 287. The first has already been quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester. 1325 Lord Morley made a longer speech, in which he said:—There is no reluctance on the part of the Government of India to accept this proposal, in spite of experience, and so forth, not being yet ripe or even begun. It is however a work of supererogation really to put in this clause.Why put it in then if the clause is not necessary? Lord Morley then says:—It would be fatal now if Parliament, having been consulted, did not accept the proposal for the council being raised to four if thought necessary. As I have said my own intention is not to augment it beyond three, but we thought it better to take power for another member who some day may be needed.That is the end of the speech. Lord Morley said it would be fatal now if Parliament does not put this in, but he gives no reason why it should be fatal. There may have been a mistake on the Government of India in putting in this clause, because in another place it was discovered
§ that the power already exists. It may be that the Government made a mistake, but it is not fatal to correct a mistake made by the Government; on the contrary, it is our duty to correct mistakes. Lord Morley gave no explanation whatever beyond the statement that it would be fatal not to accept the proposal, and he also said that it was a work of supererogation to put it in. He further said that it was not necessary to appoint more than three, and that the time was not ripe for appointing a fourth member. I shall vote in favour of the amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ Question put: "That the word 'four' stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 133; Noes, 30.1327
|Division No. 65.]||AYES.||[7.0 p.m.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Halpin, J.||Priestley, W. E. B. Bradford, E.)|
|Armitage, R.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Rees, J. D.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Barlow. Percy (Bedford)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Beale, W. P.||Hazleton, Richard||Robinson, S.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Bell, Richard||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Bennett, E. N.||Higham, John Sharp||Rose, Charles Day|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Rowlands, J.|
|Branch, James||Holt, Richard Durning||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Brooke, Stopford||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Horniman, Emslie John||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hudson, Walter||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Jardine, Sir J.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Sears, J. E.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jowett, F. W.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Kekewich, Sir George||Snowden, P.|
|Channing, Sir Francis Aliston||Laidlaw, Robert||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lambert, George||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Cleland, J. W||Lamont, Norman||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Steadman, W. C.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Maclean, Donald||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Maddison, Frederick||Summerbell, T.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Marnham, F. J.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Duncan, C (Barrow-in-Furness)||Massle, J.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Tomkinson, James|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard)||Verney, F. W.|
|Essex, R. W.||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Vivian, Henry|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Myer, Horatio||Wardle, George J.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Nicholls, George||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Falconer, J.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nuttall, Harry||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Fullerton, Hugh||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Glover, Thomas||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and the Master of Elibank.|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Gulland, John W.||Pollard, Dr. G. H.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Fell, Arthur|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craik, Sir Henry||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||Forster, Henry William|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred. Dixon||Gardner, Ernest|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Douglas, Rt. Hon, A. Akers||Hills, J. W.|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Percy, Earl||Salter, Arthur Clavell||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. J. P. Rawlinson.|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
§ Clause 3 (Appointment of Vice-Presidents).—The Governor-General and the Governors of Fort Saint George and Bombay respectively shall appoint a member of their respective councils to be Vice-President thereof, and, for the purpose of temporarily holding and executing the office of Governor-General or Governor of Fort Saint George or Bombay and of presiding at meetings of Council in the absence of the Governor-General or Governor, the Vice-President so appointed shall be deemed to be the senior member of Council and the member highest in rank, and the Indian Councils Act, 1861, and sections 62 and 63 of the Government of India Act, 1833, shall have effect accordingly.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE moved after the first "Bombay" to insert "and the Lieutenant-Governor of every province." This proposal I put before the Committee to reinsert words which were omitted by the House of Lords under the mistaken apprehension that it was an Amendment consequent upon the deletion of clause 3. The clause applies both to the executive and the legislative councils. I beg to move.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendments agreed to: Leave out "or." After "Governor" insert "or Lieutenant-Governor."
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 4 (Power to extend business of Legislative Councils).—(1) Notwithstanding anything in the Indian Councils Acts, 1861, the Governor-General in Council, the Governors in Council of Fort Saint George and Bombay respectively, and the Lieutenant-Governor of every province, shall make rules authorising at any meeting of their respective legislative councils the discussion of the annual financial statement of the Governor-General in Council or of their respective local governments, as the case may be, and of any matter of general public interest, and the asking of questions, under such conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed in the rules applicable to the several councils. (2) Such rules as aforesaid may provide for the appointment of a member of any such council to preside at any such dis- 1328 cussion in the place of the Governor-General, Governor, or Lieutenant-Governor, as the case may be. (3) Rules under this section, where made by a Governor in Council or by a Lieutenant-Governor, shall be subject to the sanction of the Governor-General in Council, and where made by the Governor-General in Council shall be subject to the sanction of the Secretary of State in Council, and shall not be subject to alteration or amendment by the legislative council of the Governor-General, Governor, or Lieutenant-Governor.
§ Further Amendments agreed to:—Subsection (1), after the words "Lieutenant-Governor" ("Lieutenant-Governor of every province") insert the words "or Lieutenant-Governor in Council." Subsection (2), after the word "be" ("as the case may be"), insert the words "and of the Vice-President."
§ Replying to Earl PERCY,
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I think it is a very pertinent inquiry to make. If these words were inserted without any discussion, we might be considered to be pledged to the principle of the "Lieutenant-Governor in Council." I do not know whether it would be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss the very crucial and important question to which the Noble Lord has alluded at this point, or whether we might take the ruling of the Chairman of the Committee as to whether we should accept the Amendment which I make, and discuss the question when I move to reinsert the old clause 3? I am perfectly willing to place myself at the disposal of the Committee.
I am in the hands of the Committee. If the Committee desire to pass over the words now in order to have a discussion on the new clause, I do not object. Perhaps the later would be the better time.
§ Earl PERCY
The clause is not at present in the Bill, and the Government have not yet given us their reasons for desiring to reinsert it. I would suggest that if we cannot have a Motion to insert clause 3 at this stage, that the Mover should consent to withdraw this verbal and consequential Amendment, and have it inserted at a subsequent stage in another place.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
A much more convenient) course would be to take over the old clause 3 at this stage. I understand that cannot be done. I would be prepared to withdraw the verbal Amendments at this stage on the understanding that when the old clause 3 is reintroduced opportunity is not taken, on the Report stage, to restate the whole question.
§ Earl PERCY
I cannot give any pledge that on the Report stage an Amendment shall not be moved to omit the whole clause.
§ Mr. SMEATON moved to insert at the end of the clause the words "Provided that all such rules shall, before receiving sanction as required under this sub-section, be open to discussion as matters of general public interest." He said: I hope both sides of the House will give this favourable consideration. In clause 4 rules are laid down, and conditions and restrictions, upon the subjects to be discussed in the councils. In sub-section 3 these rules, once having been made by the Governor in Council, or by a Lieutenant-Governor, are not subject to alteration or debate by the councils themselves. In other words, the councils are to have their own procedure determined for them. It seems to me that that places the Councils in a false position.
§ Surely it is the intention of the Government that the councils themselves should have some hand in determining the breadth of their own debates and discussions, and here we find that the rules which are to govern them are to be made by the Governor or the Lieutenant-Governor, and the councils themselves are not to have the opportunity of free debate or discussion upon them. Now, these rules—and I beg the House to remember these are not to be subject to the approval of Parliament, although they are to be laid before Parliament—are not to be subject to the approval of the council. The whole authority for deciding upon the conditions and restrictions in debate is the Governor, and without regard to the elected members. There are many ways in which restrictions may be laid upon debates in these councils. I remember myself being indirectly warned on one occasion that my intervention in regard to two provinces disabled by famine was disapproved, and that I had no constitutional right to intervene and raise the question of the recovery 1330 of the revenue in these provinces. Not only that, but I was challenged on one or two other occasions, and I was told I had no concern with the questions that I raised. The feeling was that that was an undoubted curtailment of free speech, and that the Government wished to restrain debate. It is possible that the Governor-General might lay down rules to the effect that certain kinds of taxation should not be open to debate. For instance, the income-tax is a very thorny question in India, and it is quite conceivable that the Viceroy might say, "I decline to. permit the question of the income-tax being discussed." I think that would be a very formidable proposition to lay down. It would be a very serious way of narrowing down what I consider to be the right of free speech and discussion in the council. Import and export duties, the apportionment of expenditure, these and many others are matters which the Viceroy in council might veto debate. I agree that perhaps the council ought not to be able to alter the rules, but I maintain that they ought to be able, by discussion and division, to indicate to the Viceroy the general views of the council upon them, and to give an opinion of a responsible kind on matters of very great importance; and that is why I put down my Amendment. What I meant to convey is this: that although these rules shall not be subject to alteration or amendment by the council still all such rules shall, before receiving sanction, be open to discussion as matters of general public interest. Now one matter, for instance, that I would like the House to take into consideration is of very great importance, that is the language which is to be the current language of the council. Now we know that in South Africa by the recent Convention, which I hope will be confirmed by the Imperial Parliament, two languages are declared to be the official languages—Dutch and English. This question may fairly arise in the Indian Councils. In that case it would surely be well that the Viceroy had the advantage of the advice of responsible members on these questions. Then, again, I notice in another place it was suggested that the matter of railway administration should be held to be outside the scope of discussion in council. I think that would be very unfortunate. At present the railway board in India is very far from being a credit to the Government, and it is a moot question whether the railway board ought to be 1331 maintained or not. It is an expensive luxury. It has done much to expend money, but it has not done much in the way of extending facilities, and it is open to question whether a debate in council might not be exceedingly useful to the Government of India in considering the reform or abolition of that costly and, as I think, useless body. Then, again, other questions might arise in which the Viceroy in council might decline to permit debate, for instance, the question of monopoly of salt might come up. That is another thorny question in India. It might be held to be a question outside the scope of discussion in council, and if that should be so it would be a very unfortunate thing. I hold very strongly that the Viceroy in council ought to have the enormous advantage of free discussion and of a responsible vote in his own council, and I hope Members on both sides will support this Amendment, and I hope perhaps, the Government, in the person of the Hon. Member in charge of the Bill, will see its way to give this matter favourable consideration.
§ Sir C. DILKE
Questions suggested by my hon. Friend afford, I think, an opportunity of disposing of some important matters. Salt, for example, is among those subjects which are open to debate in the schedule before us. Income tax is excluded from debate in the schedule, and railways also are excluded subjects. That leads me to ask my hon. Friend what is the extent of authority that we ought to attach to the schedule in its present form? How far does it represent settled opinion? This question was not discussed in another place, so we have no exposition, except that contained in the Blue Book at page 39. The proposal is that of the Government of India and the schedule purports to be suggested by the Government of India, both as regards exclusion and inclusion. Now, as I understand it, this does not apply to the right of interpolation by question, because the right of question remains as it is under the present law of 1892. I ask that question for this reason: all the arguments contained in this Blue Book are in favour of giving full knowledge of finance to the people anxious to know how the money is being spent, although not in favour of giving any control over that expenditure. That practically exists in a certain form. Questions are asked, though by no means answered, in the Viceroy's Council.
§ Sir C. DILKE
I want to know what is the authority of this particular schedule? Can it limit the power of asking questions? Does it touch questions at all? Does it only affect what is called debate? A distinction was drawn by the Secretary of State in another place between questions and debate. He pointed out that they were quite separate and all we know is this list of subjects proposed for exclusion from debate suggested by the Government of India. I am not raising an argument. I am simply asking for information. Take, for example, what is called the Kitchener Redistribution Scheme. Questions were allowed to be asked with regard to the expenditure year by year, but they were not answered verbally, though we in this House got the information which was refused there. I imagine these proposed subjects for debate, excluded and included, do not affect questions at all, and, if so, I want to know what authority they possess, and whether these columns in the schedule are likely to be altered. Of course, the most important heads are those excluded from debate. Without increasing the power of financial control, and without raising the question of financial control in any form, I am strongly disposed to think there is a case for financial knowledge, and that does not appear to me to be sufficiently guarded.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I shall endeavour, with such knowledge as I possess, to answer the question on the very interesting subjects which my hon. Friend has raised. The Amendment which my hon. Friend has brought to the attention of the House and the speech which he made in introducing it are altogether in accord with that part of the clause to which, as I gather, he said he entirely assented. The third sub-section of this clause says that the rules shall be subject to the sanction of the Secretary of State for India, and shall not be subject to alteration, etc. The proposition that there shall be discussion on matters of interest—
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I do not altogether see the advantage of discussing at length and in great detail a matter which you cannot subsequently amend. If my hon. Friend had suggested that not only should there be speeches and discussion, but that there should be amendment, I could understand that, though I do not agree with 1333 the position he takes up; but I do not at all see the advantage of discussing a question which you are not subsequently able to alter in the direction in which you desire to effect a change.
§ Mr. SMEATON
In the despatch of the Secretary of State that very point is made, namely, that although he does not expect the legislative council shall ever over-ride the Governor, still, the discussions that take place will be of immense value to the governors of the provinces or sub-provinces, and that although that discussion shall not upset the Government, still its educational value would be very great indeed. These were the words of the Secretary of State in the Blue-book.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Those are matters of particular interest to the members of the Assembly in which the members of the legislative council are gathered together, but they discuss questions in which the representatives are not directly interested. They are not directly interested in smaller questions which affect the members of the legislative council only as such.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The practice under the Indian Councils Act is that they may only discuss actual legislative proposals which are put before them, not on their own initiative, but at the suggestion of the president of the council, who is the Lieutenant-Governor or Governor of the province. No legislation can be introduced without the sanction of the Governor if it affects public debt or duties or the revenue of India, religious, naval, or military questions, or relations with foreign powers. Under this Bill the discussional power of the legislative councils is enormously increased, and at once they spring to a position of great importance and responsibility. There is an enormous advance in the powers they will ultimately exercise over public policy, not because they can say to the Government, "You shall, or shall not, do this," but they can point out to the executive Government the wisdom or folly of the course they propose to pursue which they were not able to do in regard to an enormous number of subjects before. It is quite clear that if you propose to increase, as you do under this Bill, the discussional powers of these bodies, you must lay down some rules if you are to keep any check upon them at all, and you must confine the debates and authorise the 1334 discussion, or the withholding of discussion, on certain subjects which may come up. It is quite unreasonable to expect—and it has not been the practice of this House—to pass at once from restricted to entirely unrestricted debate. Of course, we require freedom of discussion, but I do not think it advisable that we should give the Indian councils at the present time the full liberty of debate we exercise here. It is clearly desirable that the members of the council should know exactly where they stand, hence the necessity of having rules. The rules under this subsection will provide, first of all, for the appointment of a member to preside over the council, and wherever the rules are made they are subject to revision by some higher authority. In the case of the Lieutenant-Governor or the Governor in Council they are subject to revision by the Governor-General, and if the rules are made by the Governor-General they are subject to revision by the Secretary of State at home. So that even if the legislative assembly which is concerned with the rules that are made is unable of its own motion to alter or expand the rules which are made for its guidance it will be assured that those rules cannot be made simply at the ipse dixit of the local head of the province, because they will be subject to revision by a higher authority.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I think the words of the clause lay down that the rules are to exclude the discussion of particular subjects, but it is clear that if you are to authorise any subjects to be discussed you must authorise a refusal to discuss certain other subjects. The Government of India has itself for some time past been concerned with this subject. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean has asked me a question with regard to the proposals contained in the Blue Book, and he has asked me what is the meaning of the schedule attached to that Blue Book. I would ask my right hon. Friend to look at the concluding words on page 34 of that book, paragraph 77, and he will see there that the Government of India say that the second schedule deals with the financial statement, in respect of which we propose that resolutions may be moved, and those cases are given which should not form subjects of resolutions. It will be clearly impossible for the legislative assembly, and even the Imperial legislative assembly, to discuss such questions as the policy of the 1335 Army or the relations with the native states. These are Imperial questions of great importance which only a responsible Government can settle. I am sorry to find myself constantly in opposition to my hon. Friend in this matter, but it is impossible, for the reasons I have given, for the Government to accept the Amendment which he has proposed. My hon. Friend spoke of the official language. I went into that question, and it was most significant that there was hardly a district board in any part of India which wanted to debate subjects of purely local interest in any other language but English.
As I have an Amendment on the Paper following that of my hon. Friend on similar lines, I would like to say a few words on this point. I was very pleased to hear the Financial Secretary state that there was to be a distinct advance in the power of discussion on these councils, and I trust the limitation of subjects will be very small. As Liberals we believe in the great principle that there should be no taxation without representation. I think we might extend that by saying that representation without freedom of discussion and debate would be absolutely ridiculous. I trust the Secretary of State will use his powers and judgment and his thought in regard to this question on the widest and most generous scale. For example, I think discussions of customs should be allowed. I will take as an instance a question which was discussed in this House some years ago, namely, the repeal of the duties upon cotton goods. That demand was made by Lancashire, and the Tory Government, which was then in power, repealed those duties in spite of the opposition of Lord Northcote, who was then Viceroy. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill if a question of that sort would be debarred from discussion in the Viceroy's Council? Then there is the suggestion that Army policy would be ruled out of order. Only recently we have added £300,000 to the charges for the Army in India. In this House we protested against it, and surely Indians have a right to protest in regard to a question of that character. I hope that the Government and the Secretary of State for India will after all look at this question from a wider and a nobler standpoint. We all realise that Indians have rights, and I trust the Government will do all they can to protect them.
§ Mr. REES
The Secretary of the Treasury has just pointed out the fact that the discussions conducted in every district and municipal council in India are conducted in English. I wish to draw the deduction that it is only those educated in our own way who take the slightest interest in local self-government. It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman should refer to the matter, and I take this opportunity of pointing the obvious moral. As to the discussion inaugurated by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirlingshire, who always inaugurates discussions either here or in India of an interesting character, I would like to ask him who told him that he could not bring forward those subjects in the Viceroy's Council?
§ Mr. SMEATON
It was very clearly indicated to me in an indirect way by the President of the Council.
§ Mr. REES
I have not had that experience myself, but perhaps I was less enterprising than my hon. Friend. He said the management of the railways of India was no credit to India. The management of railways there is quite as good as the management of railways in this country, and they produce as large if not in some cases larger dividends. I think when my hon. Friend looks into the case he will hesitate to refuse to the railway management of India the credit which it deserved. There is one thing which prejudices the railway cause in India, and that is the agitation which is carried on by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. That agitation prevents the proper influx of capital into the country, and I believe accounts to some extent for the falling off in their receipts. I do not understand whether the hon. Member for Brentford intends to move his Amendment. It contains four suggestions as unfortunate as could possibly be brought within four lines.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
He may have made a casual reference to it. I think this discussion is out of order.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Ordered that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 5—(Power to Make Regulations). "The Governor-General in Council shall, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State in Council, make regulations as to the conditions under which and manner in which persons resident in India may be nominated or elected as members of the legislative councils of the Governor-General, Governors, and Lieutenant-Governors, and as to the qualifications for being, and for being nominated or elected, a member of any such council, and as to any other matter for which regulations are authorised to be made under this Act, and also as to the manner in which those regulations are to be carried into effect."
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE (for Mr. Buchanan)
I move to insert at the end of the clause these words:—"Regulations under this section shall not be subject to alteration or amendment by the Legislative Council of the Governor-General." Under clause 4, which we have just passed, it is provided that the rules made under it shall not be subject to alteration or amendment by the Legislative Council or Governor, and it is desirable to have the same provision with regard to this clause.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I want to ask the exact meaning of the reference in the clause to "Resident in India." I do not understand it.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
This is not the time to discuss those words, when the clause stands part of the Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir H. COTTON
I beg to move an Amendment, which is as follows, at the end of the clause to add: "Provided that the regulations governing such elections shall, after providing, if necessary, for important minorities and special constituencies, provide for adequate representation of the general population by means of territorial electorates based on the village communal system." My object is to elicit a statement from the Government as to the procedure which the Government of India intend to follow, and also the Secretary of State as to the electoral basis. Will the electoral basis be on the village communal system, or what form 1338 will it take? It is one of the most important questions connected with the rules and regulations which will be framed under the Act, and it is one of the principal rules which induced me to put down this Amendment.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
There is an Amendment on this subject in the name of the hon. Member for Hackney, and I think that the hon. Members are probably looking back to their own services in India when they talk about the possibility of founding the electoral system upon the village communal system of India. The whole of this subject, as I understand it, suggests to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham the idea that the electoral system for India should be a quasi-Territorial system—not, of course, by all classes, but by a select number of members in each Province. But that presupposes that there is a village communal system. I think it is the universal opinion of everybody connected with the Government of India that the communal system is practically dead.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
While I was in India I examined every kind of official and non-official, and the universal opinion of everybody—and I spoke to officials whose memories went back to 30 or 40 years, or even a longer period—was that the communal system in India was dead. It comes back to this, that you propose under this Amendment that the population of India, the great agricultural, non-industrial, population of India, should have representation based upon a factor which no longer exists. I think that is a proposition which he will not in his most sober moments ask the Committee to accept. The proposal, therefore, falls to the ground. There is no doubt that in the old days the communal system was useful. From it districts and provinces have gradually been evolved. There was a considerable measure of local autonomy in India. The village community were accustomed to gather themselves together to proceed often to election, to consider questions such as water, sanitation, irrigation, law, and marriage, and to settle them according to the opinion of the community. But a great number of factors have arisen. The spread of civilisation, the organisation of police, the specialisation of government, and centralisation to a certain extent have contributed gradually to sweep away that communal feeling 1339 which undoubtedly existed all over India at one time, perhaps more particularly in Bengal than in any other part. And now in Bengal it has completely vanished. This proposal, therefore, rests upon a system which is no longer in existence. Let us take the case of the United Provinces. There are in that province eight members representing some 105,000 villages. How would it be possible to collect from those 105,000 villages with millions of population any opinion worth having as to the particular seven or eight members in the local legislative assembly. The difficulty is to get the village to express any opinion at all, and to imagine any possible system for bringing the people to a place of ballot or to a place for expressing opinion is to misconceive the whole position of the Indian peasant as it now exists. For the reasons I have given I am unable to accept the proposal of my hon. Friend, and I hope he will not press it to a division.
§ Sir H. COTTON
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his extremely interesting speech, with the whole of which I entirely agree. I quite concur in the view that the communal system has died out in India, and nowhere more than in Bengal, but my object was to obtain a statement from the hon. Gentleman as to the procedure the Government intended to adopt. I gather from what he said that it would vary in different provinces according to the necessities of those provinces. But in Bengal, the province which I know best, there is a system ready to hand which will enable any representative scheme to be enforced without difficulty. There we have village unions. Now the basis of the village union is a unit of five villages. They constitute a union. They exist on an elective basis, and from them the local boards are elected and from the local boards the district boards are elected. So there we have a complete system of representation already, and I should like to have had it from the hon. Gentleman that the Government intended to avail itself in Bengal of this admirable system. Is it so intended?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I speak with great deference of the wide knowledge of my hon. Friend in regard to Bengal, but I would point out that there is a certain number of organisations in existence there which are purely artificial organisations. For all practical purposes they are of no 1340 value whatever. That is the information which reached me only a short time ago.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 5, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 6 (Laying of Regulations, etc., before Parliament).—"All regulations and rules made under this Act shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made."
§ Sir H. COTTON moved to leave out from the word "shall" to the end of the clause, and to insert instead thereof:—"In so far as they require the approval of the Secretary of State in Council be laid before both Houses of Parliament, and shall not receive the approval of the Secretary of State in Council until they have lain for 40 days on the Table of both Houses." He said: I am aware that in moving this Amendment I lay my hand upon a somewhat two-edged weapon. This Amendment was moved in the House of Lords by the late Secretary of State for India, Lord Midleton, and it received strong support from the Opposition side of the House. It was supported by the Leader of the Opposition, Lord Lansdowne, but he did not desire to press the Amendment to a division. It was also supported by Lord Ampthill and Lord Curzon and independently supported by Lord Cromer. It may be said, therefore, that it received very powerful support from the Opposition in the Upper House—from Noble Lords of great experience and practical knowledge. It was in their opinion due to Parliament that rules and regulations of great importance as those which are now being framed under this Act should not come into force until they had been laid before the House. I conceive that the Houses of Parliament, in particular the House of Commons, are in a position of great responsibility in regard to Indian affairs. While I entirely agree with the dictum of Mr. Gladstone, which was quoted so often in the other House, that matters affecting details of administration must be left entirely to the Government of India to deal with, I agree also that questions of principle must be considered, enunciated and laid down in this House, and that it is the duty of the Government of India to give effect to these principles in India itself. The rules and regulations with which we are now dealing are not rules and regulations of ordinary importance. They do not relate to details. They are widely different rules 1341 and regulations to those under the previous Act. We are told, and I think justly, that the new Bill opens a new chapter in the history of India. Everybody will agree that the Bill itself is a mere skeleton. It is a blank cheque left to the Government of India to fill up, and it is the amount or the details to be entered into this blank cheque which constitute the new chapter in the history of India. I say that all this points to the fact that the House of Commons ought to be fully informed as to the constitution and the principles relating to the election of Members for the council and matters of representation. All these are not mere details, but affect principles which the House of Commons and both Houses of Parliament ought to concern themselves in. The point I am raising is one of very great importance. It was rejected by the Secretary of State, and was not pressed to a division. I have no desire to press it to a division in this House, but I think it of importance that we should have a fuller statement on behalf of the Government explaining why these important rules and regulations laying down principles largely affecting the welfare of the country for all time are to be enacted in India and are to be sanctioned or modified, as the case may be, by the Secretary of State without any opportunity being afforded to either House of Parliament to express any opinion on their character.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
This Amendment is to all intents and purposes the Amendment which was moved in another place by Lord Midleton, and after discussion was withdrawn. There was an attempt on the part of Lord Midleton to press an analogy between discussions which had taken place here, I think, in 1902 with discussions which might or ought to take place in this or the other House upon these rules. But I think everyone finally agreed in the House of Lords that the analogy was by no means a correct or a real one. I think the proposal which is contained in clause 6 of the Bill as it stands can be defended first on the constitutional ground and then on the ground of convenience. I would suggest to my hon. Friend that the real responsibility for any proposals contained not merely in this Bill, but in regulations and rules framed by the Government of India and by the subordinate Governments in India under this Bill rests with the Government of the day in this country. If Parliament accepts the Bill, these rules or regulations will be made no doubt in 1342 India, and they are to be laid before this House, and if any one of these rules or, regulations was taken exception to by this House the Minister in charge of Indian affairs at the moment would properly be held to be the person responsible to this House for those rules.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
There are many ways of getting up a debate in this House. It could be discussed on the adjournment of the House, or the Indian Budget, or a Resolution moved by a private Member as a matter of urgency. I have never known in this House, after some years' experience, a subject which failed to be discussed for lack of opportunity. If there were some real question of importance underlying a rule or regulation any responsible Member of the Opposition, or any responsible Member commanding the adherence of any section of the House, would merely have to ask for a discussion on the subject, and it would be impossible for the Leader of the House to refuse an opportunity—at least, I have never known it done.
§ Mr. SMEATON
Under clause 6 does the privilege exist to Members at any time to be able to call attention to the papers laid before the House?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I know no earthly reason why rules and regulations containing matters of importance should not find an opportunity of being discussed. The real way of challenging the rules and regulations made under this clause is to attack the policy of the Indian Secretary of the day. But there is another point which I cannot possibly refuse to consider, and that is the convenience of the Indian Government. Supposing the proposal of the hon. Gentleman was accepted. What would be the result? The House adjourns, we will say, in the middle of August. Some of these rules and regulations, which would not come into force unless the House of Commons approved of them, arrive here in the first week of September. The House is not called together again in 1343 the ordinary course until the middle of February or the end of January. Is the Government of India to be hung up for five or six months or is a special session of the House to be called in order to discuss one rule of the Indian Government, however urgent, however imperious, the necessity which has dictated the passing of the rule. Such a proposition is unthinkable from the position of the House, and still more from the position of the Indian Government. It might quite conceivably paralyse the Executive of India to require that any action of theirs, before it could have legal force and effect, should require the sanction of this House. I unhesitatingly reject such a proposition as this, and I say that the person who is accountable for actions in India is the Secretary of State, who, by the Act, is given definite control under this House over all officers great and small in India, and who is responsible, therefore, to the country for the proper Government of that great possession.
§ Earl PERCY
Although it is quite true that this Amendment is substantially the same as was moved in the House of Lords, it was withdrawn, and certainly I could not support it. I do not think this House is in a position to settle the details of Indian Government, and although the rules and regulations which the Government of India can make under this Bill are of greater importance than the rules and regulations which could be made under the previous Act, still there is the very important practical objection which has been stated by the hon. Member that if none of these rules and regulations are to be put into force, if either House of Parliament comes to a decision against it, it would be impossible to hang up the Government of India for five or six months when this House is not sitting. There is another point to which the hon. Member did not refer, but which was referred to by Lord Morley; it would be open to either House to present a petition against these rules and regulations, and it would be somewhat unreasonable and unpleasant to ask the Government to run the risk of having their rules and regulations altered in a place where they could not command a majority, and it is possible that one House may take one view and the other House another in reference to the rules and regulations. Really, everything that the hon. Member has asked for is given in the Bill as it stands. There is only one point 1344 which I think is worth bearing in mind, and that is the point as to proclamation. If the Government want to persist, as I think they do, in putting back clause 3, that is a matter of importance, and stands in a different category to the ordinary rules and regulations made in regard to elections. If you are going to give the Government of India power to create Executive Councils where they do not exist now, then I am not sure that there is not a strong argument in favour of proclamations calling such Executive Councils into existence being submitted to Parliament before they come into force.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
§ Clause 7 (short title, construction, commencement, and repeal) agreed to.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE moved after clause 8 to insert the following clause:—Power to constitute provincial executive councils—(1) It shall be lawful for the Governor-General in Council, with the approval of the Secretary of State in Council, by proclamation, to create a council in any province under a Lieutenant-Governor for the purpose of assisting the Lieutenant-Governor in the executive government of the province, and by such proclamation—
- (a) to make provision for determining what shall be the number (not exceeding four) and qualifications of the members of any such council; and
- (b) to make provision for the appointment of temporary or acting members of the council during the absence of any member from illness or otherwise, and for the procedure to be adopted in case of a difference of opinion between a Lieutenant-Governor and his council, and in the case of equality of votes, and in the case of a Lieutenant-Governor being obliged to absent himself from his council from indisposition or any other cause.
§ (2) Where any such proclamation has been made with respect to any province the Lieutenant-Governor may, with the consent of the Governor-General in Council, from time to time make rules and orders for the more convenient transaction of business in his Council, and any order made or act done in accordance with the rules and orders so made shall be deemed to be an act or order of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.
§ (3) Every member of any such council shall be appointed by the Governor-General, with the approval of His Majesty, 1345 and shall, as such, be a member of the Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor, in addition to the members nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor and elected under the provisions of this Act.
§ This clause which I propose to move differs in some slight degree from the clause as it appeared in the House of Lords. It would be idle to deny that the controversy which raged around this clause in another place was not an important one, and was not conducted with the greatest public spirit, with the greatest forbearance on the part of all those who were concerned, and I should be very loath to add any single word to that controversy or discussion which should suggest that there was any party or personal bias in the considerations which moved those who discussed it. There are some slight differences between this clause and the clause as it stood when it was deleted in the Lords. In the first place, the formal distribution of business and the duties between the Lieutenant-Governor and the Council is omitted, and the matter is to be settled by the Lieutenant-Governor himself, subject to the approval of the Governor-General in Council. Secondly, the number of members in each Executive Council will be fixed from time by the Government of India within the limit of four, as circumstances demand it, thus putting the arrangements under this clause in accordance with clause 2, so that the powers of the Secretary of State in regard to these Councils, and his powers with regard to the Councils of Madras and Bombay are brought into relation each with each. As I have stated, the clause was deleted in the House of Lords, but I cannot help thinking, on reading the discussion, that it was deleted more for the purpose of ensuring further discussion of its provisions, and of ascertaining what are the views of officials still in the Government of India and gentlemen who have passed from that service, and who are resident in this country, and whose experience and knowledge of the conditions of the Government of India are most valued and most important—I think that was the real basis of objection to the clause, and not an objection to the principle which underlies it. It was notable that Lord Curzon did not really differ very much from the attitude taken up either by Lord Lansdowne, who maintained, if I may use the expression, an attitude of benevolent hostility; nor did his attitude differ very much from that of Lord 1346 Ampthill, who was undoubtedly favourable to the principle of the clause. I think Lord Curzon was very hesitating as to his position to the clause, and as time has elapsed I think that hesitation has increased rather than decreased. This is by no means the first time that the question of establishing Executive Councils has been discussed. On no less than six important occasions this matter has been before the House of Commons, the Government of India, and the Secretary of State in different aspects. Twice before the transfer of India to the Crown Acts of Parliament were passed which still remain unrepealed. In 1883 and 1853 Governors in Council exactly as proposed in this clause were prescribed by this House as desirable features in government for the provinces of Bengal and Agra, and, speaking only for myself, I should have thought it possible in this case, as those Acts are still not repealed, for the Secretary of State if he wished to create a Governor and Council for the province of Bengal. That is my own unofficial opinion, although some differences may have occurred owing to the transference and partition of Bengal, but I should have thought it was possible. Four times since the transfer of the Government of India to the Crown have these proposals been made, in 1867, in 1888, in 1905, and with periods of 20 years elapsing between they are again the subject of discussion in this present session. I beg the Committee to notice that whereas in the year 1867 the motive which impelled the Government of that day to propose government by council was the motive of securing efficient government for the Presidency of Bengal, the motive which moved them in 1888 and 1905, and again to-day, is not the question of the efficiency of the Civil Service, but the possibility of conducting business at all owing to the great pressure that rests upon those devoted servants of the Crown. Objection was taken in the other House by Lord Curzon to this clause because of the. opposition of experts upon the point. I have looked into this question rather carefully during the last day or two. In 1867 the question of efficiency was the guiding factor in the proposal. Two great Indian officials were in favour of the proposal of creating a council. It is quite true that two equally great men were opposed, wholly or partially, to the proposal. Sir John Strachey was entirely against it. Lord Curzon, in a letter which he wrote to "The Times," on 9th March, quoted Sir 1347 John Lawrence as against it. When I looked at the quotation Lord Curzon makes of Lord Lawrence's opinion, I noticed that Lord Lawrence says: "Personal administration by a single head without a council is the best form of government for many parts of India." The position of the Secretary of State is that for many parts a single head without a council is the best form, but we do say in this Bill that for some parts it is very desirable to have a governor and council. I do not think Lord Curzon is entitled to quote Sir John Lawrence as wholly on his side. I think from the words which I venture to underline it is clearly shown that even he, in a time far distant, and accustomed as he was to autocratic rule, had some doubts on this point. In 1888 a Committee recommended an Executive Council for Bengal, and the Government of India unanimously accepted that proposal, and it was supported by names well known to this House. In 1905 it was again brought under consideration in connection with the partition of Bengal. Indeed, I think it was an alternative to the partition of Bengal. Lord Curzon's Government debated it and rejected it, a result which, I think, may be ascribed very considerably, if I may say so without offence, to the imperious character of the Viceroy himself. But two members of that Government still exist in active service in India. One of them is the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, and the other the Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces. One at least of these lieutenant-governors, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, has retracted from his former view, and he gives his reason for the alteration. I am by no means certain that if I were able to obtain the view of ray Friend the Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces I should not find his opposition to the proposal weakened, and there is certainly no more able, capable and energetic official in the Government of India than Sir John Hewett. There are other members of the Government of Lord Curzon who rejected this proposal still servants of the Government of India. One is Lord Kitchener, another H. Erle Richards, and another is Major-General Scott, who is, or, at all events was, until a few days ago, a member of Lord Minto's Government. All these three persons, who were concerned in the rejection of this proposal in 1905, have to-day entirely altered their views and accepted the proposal of 1909, and they accept it not as blind and 1348 subservient vassals of the Secretary of State; they have given a reasoned statement for the change they have made. The Government of India in the telegram of 9th March say, "Conditions have changed and are still changing. Arguments used with great force in 1905 no longer have the same force in 1909." Let me quote from the Report of a Commission with which I had something to do—the Report of the Decentralisation Commission which inquired into this subject. That Commission, with no bias, I can assure the Noble Lord opposite, went very fully and carefully into this subject. We visited in the course of our journeyings through India every single capital, and every Government in India, and we saw for ourselves the conditions of the official work of every lieutenant-governor and governor on that great Continent. It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that these men are overworked and over-weighted with the volume of official correspondence, and the responsibility thrown upon them. Hon. Members, who have been connected with the Civil Service in India, know what a volume of business each lieutenant-governor has to conduct. He is responsible for famine, for irrigation, for the political relations maintained with other provinces and native States, for the whole judiciary of his province, for the police force, for the conduct of agriculture, for the whole system of education, for the whole system of commercial industry, for medical relief and the hospital system of the province, and for the municipal and rural government of the province. Can any Member of this House, knowing what official work is, venture to say that that is not an over-full tale for any single individual to have to take the responsibility for? And that not in connection with some small and isolated community, but in connection with great territories and provinces whose populations are quite as great as those which inhabit these Islands. From the mere territorial point of view they cover a far greater area. State interference and control over all these subjects is infinitely greater in India than it is in this country. The State has its finger in India in almost every concern of the people.
It interferes far more closely and far more directly and far more strenuously than the State ventures to do here in similar matters in this country. That throws a greater responsibility on the lieutenant-governors of provinces in India than is thrown on the Secretary of State in this
country responsible for one of these Departments. Since this subject was first taken up, even so recently as the year 1905, the volume of work has enormously increased, and if the proposals which are contained in the remainder of this Bill are passed, as unquestionably they will be, it is certain that the duties in connection with the new legislative councils will further enormously increase the volume of work. That, of course, is the view taken by the Indian Government of the present day. What is and has been for many years the result, in connection with the working of administrative departments, of a system of unaided lieutenant-governors? The Lieutenant-Governor gets from day to day an enormous amount of official correspondence, of which he can see but the tithe, and for, perhaps, the tithe part of which alone he can really be responsible; and it is the complaint of a great number of commissioners and highly responsible officers in India that decisions are come to, not really by the head of the Government, but by comparatively junior officials in the name of the Government, over-riding his decisions and upsetting his views, and bringing difficulty on the Government, and all because the Lieutenant-Governor is himself unable to grapple with the great detail arising from day to day. Part of the opposition which is offered to this proposal in the House of Lords is because of doubt as to the attitude taken up by great officials in India. I am in a position today to quote a certain number of views which are entertained by the Government of India at the present moment. The Viceroy addressed himself to this question in his Budget speech of 29th March last, and he said—which is the point that I have already made:—
I need only say that the Government of India fully recognise the effect the enlarged council must have on the future position of the lieutenant-governors, and the transaction of the increasingly heavy duties that will be imposed on them, and are in full accord with the Secretary of State as to the necessity of the powers the clause confers.
I take another view, that of a well-known and most capable member of the Viceroy's Council, who has certainly been a member of that council for something like two or three years, and who was himself a former official in the province of Burmah, and who may reasonably, like other members of the Executive Council, look to administrative possibilities. He says, also in his speech of 29th March:—
As regards the elimination by the House of Lords of the provision for the creation of principal Executive Councils he admitted (that is Sir Harvey Adamson) that for his part he should like to see it replaced on the ground that the increasing burden of personal responsi-
bility thrown on some of the lieutenant-governors was becoming heavier than could he borne. The quickening of the political spirit in India during the past lour years had largely increased the personal volume of work on heads of provinces, and the work would be still further vastly increased when the reforms came into operation, and therefore he thought the present opportunity of Parliamentary legislation should be taken to assume power of creating the Executive Councils for provinces, a power which should not be exercised for all provinces straightaway.
§ I would like to quote, if I may, the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, one of those who were in Lord Curzon's Government three or four years ago. Speaking on the question of Executive Councils, in addressing his own legislative council in Bengal, he declared that an Executive Council for the Lieutenant-Governor is a matter of urgent necessity; that it was physically impossible for the heads of provinces to do additional duties without assistance which must be afforded not by subordinates, but by colleagues, competent to speak for the Government; that general opinion was in favour of this view; and all the experienced officials whom he had consulted accepted this view; while judging by the Press four-fifths of European and non-official opinion supported an Executive Council. Those are very strong words uttered by a strong man, as all who know him and his executive capacity will admit, and I would lay great stress particularly on the concluding words that four-fifths of European non-official opinion support an Executive Council.
There is even another opinion which I would like to quote from one of the great newspapers of India, which perhaps the noble Lord has not seen. It is a newspaper to which Lord Curzon gave very strong approbation as one of the best conducted newspapers in India, viz.: "The Times of India." It is the expression of all that is best in what one may call Conservative opinion in India, and which causes great weight in that country. "The Times of India," discussing this subject on 27th March, said:—
There is something out of keeping with the movements of the day in these confident appeals to dicta in vindication of the essentially and exclusively personal element in Indian administration. The extension of the council system at the right time and in the right places will be one of the incidents of the evolution of a deliberately and cautiously liberalised scheme of government. We are not at the same standpoint as we were at Lord Lansdowne's time, nor even at the time Lord Curzon and his colleagues had to show cause against a council in Bengal as an alternative to the necessary division of that unwieldly province. No good purpose is served therefore by appealing to indgments passed under conditions essentially different from those of to-day or by condemning in principle a system which the practical necessities of administration will from time to time force upon us in one province after another.
§ I have endeavoured to give the opinion of the most responsible officials in India and the opinions of the European non-official community in India, as represented by one of the greatest newspapers in the country, and I hope I may have convinced the Committee that this change, although it is a great change, is not an unreasonable one and is suitable to the conditions of Government in India and in accordance with European as well as native opinion. But I would urge one or two considerations on the Committee in conclusion. An Executive Council gives the chance—and I do not think it ought to have or needs more than a chance—for a continuity of policy in provincial Governments which the executive authority of the Lieutenant-Govenor cannot possibly afford. The Governor passes away, and his successor arrives with totally different views on all sorts of questions of local importance; but if he arrives not as a single autocrat, however benevolent or well-intentioned, but as one of the most important of three or four colleagues, he receives, and is glad to receive, an indication of the policy of his predecessor and the reasons he considered it necessary or desirable to carry out that policy. I believe that by such a proposal we shall not weaken, but shall strengthen the executive authority in India.
§ I will also point out to the House that there is no dependency of ours, however small—such, for instance, as the island of Ceylon, Singapore, Hong - Kong, or Jamaica—which does not give to the Governor of that minute portion of the globe's surface an Executive Council to assist him in its Government; and if it has been thought necessary in the case of these tiny islands to give the Governor that kind of assistance, surely in dealing with the management of millions of population entirely different from ourselves in many most vital aspects of social organisation and life it is advisable to give the Governor similar assistance. The Noble Lord opposite, in almost his concluding words on the last Amendment, said (in regard to proclamations) that it would be unwise to give the Government of India powers in advance of those which they require for the moment. I am sure he is aware of the proceedings with regard to legislative councils under the Act of 1861. Under that Act power was given to the Government of India to call into existence a legislative council for Bengal in 1862, but they were also empowered to call into existence legislative councils for any pro- 1352 vince in India in subsequent years. Acting under the authority given in that Bill they did call into existence a legislative council for the North-West Province in 1886, and for the Punjab in 1897, or 36 years after they received the authority. It is therefore no new authority to give to the Government of India these powers to create Executive Councils not immediately after the passing of the Bill. It is only by degrees that the provinces of India become ripe for the kind of government which we propose to supply under this Bill. It was only gradually that the provinces of India became ripe for legislative councils. We believe that the Government of India is fit to be entrusted with the discretion which this Bill will give them, and I ask confidently from the Committee a ratification of the proposal contained in this clause, which I move now to reinsert in the belief that it will be for the advantage of that great continent with which we are so intimately and happily connected.
§ Question proposed: "That the proposed clause be now read a second time."
§ Earl PERCY
I can at any rate congratulate the hon. Gentleman on one thing, and that is that he has faithfully carried out the promise given by the Prime Minister and by the Under-Secretary of State for India on the second reading of the Bill that, although they would move the reinsertion of this clause, they would not do it in any spirit of hostility to another place. They desired to avoid conflict on questions of this kind between the two Houses, and they pointed out, as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out to-night very truly, that many of those who opposed this clause in the House of Lords, hinted at their willingness to reconsider it on a subsequent occasion. May I suggest that a hint of willingness to reconsider a clause of this kind implies a request for information not then possessed which would justify them in reconsidering it? I do not think anyone can deny that in respect of this clause the House of Lords occupies an extraordinarily strong position—primâ facie, from the point of view of official experience, an infinitely stronger position than we in this House occupy. There was not a single Member who took part in the discussion of this clause in that assembly who had not been for many years intimately associated with high administrative office in India: and yet, although they differed as widely in their views on general political questions 1353 as Lord MacDonell and Lord Lansdowne, and although they differed one from another in their views of the merits of many parts of this Bill, they were one and all absolutely unanimous in condemning this particular clause.
§ Earl PERCY
Perhaps I may make the hon. Gentleman a present of Lord Ampthill, otherwise they were absolutely unanimous—ex-Viceroys, ex-Governors, and ex-Lieutenant-Governors—except, of course, those who are members of the present Government. The Government come before us to-night and ask us to reinsert this clause without, so far as I have been able to gather from the statement of the hon. Gentleman, producing a single new argument which was not perfectly well known to everybody during the debates in the House of Lords, and without making any attempt to meet the very serious objections which have been urged against it. The hon. Gentleman tells us, for instance, as a private opinion of his own, that he thinks it would still be competent for the Secretary of State or the Government of India under an old Act of 1866 to appoint a Governor in Council for the province of Bengal. The proposal to appoint a Governor in Council for Bengal—an English Governor, assisted by two members of the Civil Service—a council, in other words, similar to that with which we have been long familiar in Bengal and Madras—is a totally distinct proposal from that made in the present Bill. The present proposal is to set up in all these provinces, no matter how different their conditions may be, a system of a Lieutenant-Governor assisted by a Council, which, so far as the general powers given by this Bill are concerned, might consist of four members, two of whom had no experience of administration at all. Then, to my amazement, the hon. Gentleman was bold enough to refer to his personal experience, and to the recommendations in this connection made by him and his colleagues on the Decentralisation Commission, but would it be believed—I do not know whether hon. Members have read the Report of that Commission so far as it applies to setting up executive councils in the various provinces—the Decentralisation Commission examined the proposal to create a Lieutenant-Governor with a council similar to that which the Government propose to set up, and they 1354 emphatically rejected it. They said that what they recommended was not a Lieutenant-Governor, but a Governor similar to the Governor of Bombay and Madras, appointed from home, and they held most emphatically that that Governor should not be associated with a council unless the power of direct communication which now exists between the provincial councils and the Secretary of State at home were taken away. They thought that that was absolutely necessary to avoid the risk of friction between the new Governors in the provinces and the Governor-General in India. Let me point out that almost every one of the arguments which the hon. Gentleman has brought forward this evening refers solely to the province of Bengal. He quoted, indeed, the opinions of certain members of the Governor-General's Council to show that they had changed, which we all knew, but the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have changed opinions which they expressed not in 1885, but in last November. They said in their despatch last November they considered the proposal to create an Executive Council in those provinces like the Punjab and the united provinces of the Punjab and Bengal to be entirely premature. The hon. Gentleman merely told us that two or three of the members of the Governor-General's Council have now entirely changed, and the Viceroy himself is entirely in favour of this.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I never said that at all. I gave the two or three members of the Council who were of Lord Curzon's Government and had then rejected the proposal and now accepted it. The Executive Council in India accepted unanimously. What I pointed out was that two or three members of the Council who were also members of Lord Curzon's Government rejected it, but that they had changed their opinions and now accepted it as well as the others. That is a very different thing.
§ Earl PERCY
I daresay certain Members of the Viceroy's Council, if the hon. Gentleman likes all of them, have changed their opinion, deliberately arrived at, not in the time of Lord Curzon's Government, but three months ago. The Prime Minister asked me when we were discussing this question on the second reading, "Do you agree that an Executive Council and Governor for Bengal is necessary?" He took a nod of my head to imply I was in favour of the appointment of Governors and Executive Councils generally. All I meant by my assent was that I was not 1355 prepared to say that the time had not arrived for the appointment of a Governor and Executive Council in that one province of Bengal. The hon. Gentleman has stated that not only the Government of India, but also the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, is now in favour of having this Executive Council That is no doubt a strong argument to show that there are special circumstances in the Province of Bengal which render it desirable to start an Executive Council there. We do not know what those special circumstances are. The hon. Gentleman has told us at great length of all the difficulties, overwork, the great burden of administrative activity which devolves upon the governors and lieutenant-governors in these days. Even the Government of India at the present moment, if we pass this clause, do not propose to set up a lieutenant-governor and council in any other province except Bengal.
The difficulty to us is this, that while they tell us they want to set up a council the only reason they give us for setting it up in Bengal, namely, the extra work which will be entailed by the existence of the legislative councils would provide pro tanto just as good an argument for setting it up in the United Provinces or in the Punjaub as in Bengal. The hon. Gentleman told us the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal is in favour of this. He has not been able to show that a single lieutenant-governor except the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal is in favour of this power. Why are we to give the general power which they themselves do not intend to use, and the existence of which will inevitably subject them to the pressure of the whole of the Congress party in India, who want those councils, not in order to relieve the lieutenant-governors of the pressure of work, but in order that they may have so many fresh avenues for the appointment of Indians. The kind of pressure we are afraid of is not the pressure exerted by the Congress party. We are almost as much afraid of the pressure which may be exerted by the Secretary of State at home.
It is very difficult to believe the Government of India were not subjected to pressure. Apparently it was done by pressure from home, by which they changed the clear opinion they expressed three months ago. What guarantee have we that the same pressure which has been 1356 brought to bear to make them change their opinions in regard to Bengal will not be brought to bear to make them change in regard to other provinces. For my own part, if we are to consider the reinsertion of this clause, we ought to be told explicitly what are the special circumstances which make it desirable to have it in Bengal, or what may be the special circumstances under which alone a similar system will be set up in any of the others. Without that assurance we cannot have any security that the power which the Government are asking us to give will not be used either by the Government of India to force upon the lieutenant-governors or by the Secretary of State to force upon the Government of India a policy against which even to the present moment their better judgment rebels.
§ Sir J. JARDINE
I would like to continue this debate in the high spirit in which it has been conducted. I recognise the great change that this clause will make in the government of great provinces in India. My only reason for speaking is that during a service of about thirty years in India, in the Civil Service, I have had opportunities of watching the methods of administration both of the one-man governments, associated with the names of Lieutenant-Governors and Chief Commissioners, and the bigger three-men governments of the Governor in Council, such as for centuries have been seen in Madras and Bombay. I quite appreciate the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not doubt that they would like the opinions of officers now serving in the Indian service, and as I for so long belonged to one of those great services I am pleased those views should find expression from hon. Members. Many of us when we were in India, before we entered on popular government, and especially the great traditions of this House, felt very much in the same way. This clause chiefly commends itself to me for the reason emphasised by the Noble Lord in the other House, who brought it forward as meaning the opportunity of giving to the natives of India a larger share in the general executive government of the various countries of which the Peninsular is composed. No doubt in India anyone travelling there would find a considerable distrust expressed about popular government among the highly intelligent, able, and conscientious men that do so much for the government of that land. We 1357 who take part in Indian administration leave these Isles at an early age; we do not come back until after years of service, and we are but slightly associated with government by the people. The high motives of these men have induced them to do the very best they can in the way of government for the people, and I should be very sorry to pass the slightest slur on the great service with which I was connected so long, and of which I have felt it an honour to be a member. When we return to this country and have time for reflection on these questions, one is able to consider them from the point of view of statements made on different sides of the House from time to time. There is a good deal to be said about recent expressions of opinion in India and the disturbances that have arisen therefrom in connection with a Bill like that which is now before us, and especially, I think, in connection with this clause. We have to remember very much that for about 60 years, and in some provinces for 80 or 100 years, education has been spreading among the people in a most remarkable way, not merely in our language, our arts, and our sciences, but they have been directed to admire, so far as the teachers could guide them, the great leaders of thought and action who have dignified the history of this country. And in that way & great change has occurred—a change so great that in Tennyson's words:—The strength of some diffusive thought has time and space to work and spread.It may be that looking at it from this distance many may be apprehensive that the pace is too fast. To that my reply would be that the question of pace may well be left to the Government of India and to the Secretary of State in Council here. It is well, as in the case of a Regency, to make arrangements beforehand, so that when the time comes the Government of India without political debate will be able to supply the Lieutenant-Governors with councils. I am sure that no better work could be done after the Easter holidays on a quiet night than to make arangements like those mentioned by my hon. Friend, even though they are made three years before they are called into action. Why should we not do it now? I say that this is a part of the policy which has been assented to for many years by the two great parties that have divided the United Kingdom for so long. Again, if we come to weigh our actions now, another good reason, I would venture to say, is this: that it is what the natives 1358 desire. There is nothing unconstitutional in their wish to have this greater share of government. They have, as regards the three-men system of Government, the Governor in Council as compared with the lieutenant-governor, clearly expressed their opinion to have the Governor and Council. There was a time when in other countries, as in India, objection was felt very strongly to letting the people have their share in the executive Government. I am speaking of what has happened in our time in Germany and in England, and I need not refer to the events which changed the whole government of France a century ago. There was a time when the rulers of Germany, Dukes, Kings and Princes, tried to keep the people down, and what has been the result? The tyrants have gone; the people have got rid of them. The same thing has happened in Italy. There, though the Austrian Judges as administrators were pure, learned and capable, yet the Italians could not endure that their country should be governed without their having their own share in it. I take it, therefore, that under this clause and similar clauses in the Bill there are great questions worthy of full attention by all sorts of Members of this House and the country at large.
But I pass from these considerations to some practical questions of detail. As to the difference between the present lieutenant-governor system and that of the Governor with the council, I would like to say this: Every five years the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor is changed. There is danger, therefore—and it sometimes occurs in a country like this—that policy changes—at any rate, it looks rather too much like being coloured by the views and feelings of the man—whereas, in the three-men system of Government for Bombay or Madras on each side of the Governor you have a member of the council. They do not come out all at the same time; they sit on, and in that way responsibility is divided. Each of them takes up a number of departments, and the Governor has a fully responsible colleague and adviser by his side, instead of a man whose name does not appear, and who does not have anything like the same responsibility devolving upon him that the Statute imposes on a member of the council. I dare say you will find a very great many persons—certainly all over the countries administered now by lieutenant-governors and commissioners—who will insist that the great value of that system is that you give a full chance to energetic men. 1359 I think then, without raising the question of a Governor being appointed direct from England—I think without raising that question at all—it may be said that there are great advantages in the system of three-man Government. Too much stress has perhaps been laid about the Governor of Bombay or Madras being always sent from this country. The statutes do not require that. Time after time some able servant of the East India Company has been appointed Governor of Madras or Bombay, and has filled the office with the same distinction that he filled all other offices before. There was once a time when Ministers left the directors of the East India Company to nominate the Governor of Bombay. They had three men of prime distinction, whom they held could not be overlooked. So that we need not always conceive that the Governor has always to be a person who has had no experience of governing. These lieutenant-governors, under this Bill, are still to be officers drawn from the Civil Service. That I consider a very high concession made to the Civil Service of India. Not that it is not their due. Not that the country will not be served in the best way by sending them there. I do not think that they will be less energetic as lieutenant-governors; less capable, less wise, or less informed if they have with them as colleagues members of the councils, as this clause proposes. It would certainly, I think, give more continuity to the work of Government. That is a matter of great importance not only to the Oriental nations, who do not like change, but also to the officials who have to work the laws and orders, and naturally feel, and not without justifiable exasperation, when they find too many boards, orders, regulations, and demi-officials being hurled at their heads. We will have under this system a competent triumvirate, or quarternion, of capable men to administer the Governments of twenty, or forty, or fifty millions of people. Certainly it is known, and has been known to the officials for a good long time, that as the work of Indian Government becomes more complex for much the same reason as the Government here is becoming complex, the burden thrown on each man must be greater than it was in the former quieter and more halcyon times. So by passing a clause of this kind you provide at not very great expense for giving these localities the extra aid that they will de- 1360 sire. Nobody that understands the immense responsibility that devolves upon the Governor-General in Council would for a moment assume that such responsibility as this would be lightly exercised. They are certain to be extremely careful as to the number of councils they create. They will doubtless proceed by way of experiment, and not make too many of these councils at once, but start one or two in some provinces where the Lieutenant-Governors will be glad to have them, or at least would promise to give them a very fair trial. And I think that to come back to the one point which I mentioned before, if the people wish to have this system, that gets rid in a straight way of the peculiar personality of a man; if they wish to have some settled Government by three or four instead of a sole one-man system, why should not the people see that commenced? After all, it is said that these reforms are the result, as I said, of the whole movement that has been going on for a very long time. It is a new kind of education that is extremely far-reaching, and extends to all sort of people. Some of them are most notable for their benevolent intentions, and their acts; and they are very often wise, semi-official advisers of the Government. I do not think that hon. Members need be under any apprehension that an enabling Bill of this kind will lead to anything of a revolutionary nature. For these two reasons that it is accepted, pro posed by responsible authorities, and that it falls in with the views of the people to be governed, I would urge Members to support this particular clause.
§ Mr. W. J. MacCAW
It appears to me that the insertion of this clause in the Bill in its present form is open to very serious objections. The granting of the Powers to establish Executive Councils for such Lieutenant-Governors as may be found to be overworked seems on the face of it reasonable enough. The strong objection to this clause, to my mind, is that it contains no guide as to what the qualifications of members of these councils are to be. It is not a matter of detail such as we have been discussing previously on various occasions this evening. It is a matter, I consider, of very high policy indeed, for a fear has been expressed, and not unduly so, that it is the intention of the Government to appoint natives of India to these councils. That, I think, is really at the bottom of the opposition to this clause. I think it is really essential to judge of this matter from a general survey of the 1361 whole situation. There is a strong feeling that the Government are going ahead in this matter far too rapidly, and in the wrong direction. The recent appointment of a native to the Viceroy's Council, which I think myself was a very grave error indeed, shows this pretty clearly. I do not for a moment wish to suggest that the appointment of natives to these subordinate councils is as important a matter as that of a native to the Viceroy's Council, but the principle underlying them both is the same.
It is really only a matter of degree. I think, however, that it indicates a gradual weakening of the British power. Lord Morley has laid it down very strongly indeed that the supreme control of Indian affairs must always remain in British hands, and the appointment to either the Viceroy's Council, or, in a lesser degree, to these Executive Councils, of any man who is not of British birth means that a certain portion of the control of Indian affairs will pass from British into hands of one man who, in one essential qualification at any rate, does not come up to requirements which have been laid down by Lord Morley himself. England, by its occupation of India, stands in such a very self-imposed and fiduciary relation, not only to the great native princes of India, but also to that vast collection of the races and peoples which inhabit the country, as I think, to make it perfectly essential that she ought to do nothing whatsoever to even engender the slightest suspicion that she is willing in any way to weaken her power or that her authority would not always remain supremely paramount. The people of India as a whole—probably not all, but at any rate the great bulk of them—I think look upon the purely neutral and impartial in British rule as the great charter of their liberty, and once that is to be impaired in any way their respect for the British Crown and their acquiescence in British rule will, I think, suffer to the corresponding degree. I do not think it would be possible if India were searched from end to end to find any native gentleman who would be able to satisfy his other native fellow-subjects with regard to this one supreme qualification of racial and religious impartiality. In saying this I do not for a moment wish to reflect in the slightest degree upon the abilities or good faith or good intentions of the natives of India. Far from it. I count many of them among my most intimate personal friends. 1362 It is the policy, and not the individual, that I call in question. It is a policy which I feel sure will prove to be wrong, not only from the British, but also from the native standpoint.
§ Mr. REES
It is very agreeable to hear the views expressed in this matter from the point of view of a gentleman occupied in business in the East. I have referred to this subject before, so I will only say now that I thoroughly agree with the hon. Gentleman in saying the Hindu is not impartial; indeed he ought not to be impartial. High-class Hindus cannot be impartial. Circumstances will not allow them to be so. I do not disparage them by saying that. On the contrary, I would be recognised in India as paying them one of the greatest compliments by that statement. I pass now to the speech of the hon. Member for Roxburghshire. I hope he did not let the cat out of the bag in saying the object of these reforms was to provide appointments for native gentlemen upon the councils. Of course we all know the reason why a Governor-in-Council Constitution is put forward for Bengal and elsewhere. We all know why the Congress party, the professional middle class, as they are called by Blue Books, favours this system. They know that the Governor from home who knows nothing is extremely plastic material, and that if they could place upon the council two Hindu gentlemen they are likely to have a good time. Whether it would be equally advantageous to the masses who are very hostile to the Babu class is another question. I have never heard anybody assert that the Government was more efficiently carried out in India under a Governor-in-Council triumvirate than it is under a strong lieutenant-governor. I also must congratulate the hon. Member for Roxburgh on having found out what the natives desire. That is a very large order. One per cent. of the natives of India are the class which have made this agitation and pressed for these reforms, and how the hon. Gentleman can say that these are the desires of the whole people because 1 per cent. cry aloud in the papers that they long for them I fail to follow, any more than I can see how he was satisfied to find an illustration of democratic institutions in Germany. The Noble Lord opposite referred to the Decentralisation Commission, which has a very intimate connection with this new clause. I here take the opportunity of doing what nobody has 1363 done, and which I think should be done, that is to express gratitude on behalf of the Civil Service of India and the whole public service there to the Secretary of State for his action in regard to the recommendation of the Decentralisation Committee to take away the lieutenant-governorships from the Civil Service and to give them to Governors from England. When the hon. Member in charge of the Bill referred to his own report he said it was necessary that the power of direct communication with the Home Government should be taken away from the new lieutenant-governors with Council Constitution. It is only on most important matters that Governments of Madras and Bombay can communicate with the Secretary of State. In fact, after many years of association with these Governments, I never saw a matter of the slightest importance dealt with directly by the Home Government. I remember there was once something about soldiers' boots or some mysterious action of a body known as the Army Sanitary Commission, and these were the most important matters I saw so dealt with in a quarter of a century. I did not rise to oppose the introduction of this clause, because I realised unless the whole spirit of the Government of India is to be changed, the educational system and many other things that I for my part would change—but I know it will not be done—I realise that there must be some advance, and I own I was profoundly impressed by the opinions expressed by the Viceroy and other officials calling out loudly for this reform. I would not press too much the fact that formerly they were of a different opinion, because there were a good many gentlemen in this House that have changed their opinion, and I do not know what we would do if we were to impeach these gentlemen because the opinions they held to-day were different to those they held some time ago. I never opposed this reform, and when an hon. Member referred to some hostile action which he says took place in the house of Sir Charles Elliott, I must tell him that he has discovered a mare's nest. Neither Sir Charles Elliott nor I had any such meeting, and never took part in any organised action against the proposals now before the House, or against these reforms in general. There are undoubtedly many things to be said for and against this proposal. It may no doubt be argued it is more difficult for the Lieutenant-Governor by himself to resist the recom- 1364 mendations and resolutions of the legislative council than if he were possessed of an Executive Council. That is a point in favour of this Bill. The one-man system, too, has its limitations, and it is a fair argument to say that with the increase of population the revenue and the complexity of administration call for more than can be done by one man. It is also true that a great deal of extra work will be thrown upon the lieutenant-governors by these reforms, and more particularly by supplementary questions, a practice pursued by this Parliament in this House which nobody wishes to see pursued in India. I never asked a supplementary question in my life in the Indian Parliament, and both the Parliament and I got on very well without them. The Secretary to the Treasury referred to the "Times of India" and the support it gave of this proposal. The support of the "Times of India" is extremely valuable, and I wish to add that the "Pioneer," which is commonly, if not correctly, described as representing the official view in India, also supported this clause. That impresses me very much, because the "Pioneer" is one of the strongest exponents of Anglo-Indian opinion. Then there is the Decentralisation Committee. The recommendations of that committee were very much marred by the suggestion that the lieutenant-governorships should be taken away from those who know and given to those who do not know. The Mahomedans of Bombay have lately lifted up their voices and spoken in favour of this proposal, provided that the 12 years' qualification included all the members. Under the new Constitution I fear the lieutenant-governors may be unable to continue those tours of a patriarchal character which do so much good to the dominions over which they ruled. The Secretary for India has provided that the lieutenant-governor should be able to overrule his council, and I think that is a most necessary provision.
Lastly, a very strong reason in favour of the reintroduction of this clause is that it is an enabling clause, and saves the Government of India and the Secretary for India coming before Parliament again with a Bill of this character. When you reflect how many things are said that should not be said, and how many things are done that should not be done, and what a wrong impression is produced in India by the reports of the debates in this House, this is most important. Upon the other side there is a very strong objection to the 1365 cost of these proposals and the cost of these extra councillors. I cannot see why because you call a man a councillor and give him 5,000 rupees he is any better than a member of the Board of Revenue at 4.000 rupees. I do not see that his opinion is any more valuable because you give him 1,000 rupees more. I think the system is too apt to lead to delay. I have been in close communication with the governors of presidencies during a large part of my life, and I know they are admirable men and have done very good work. Nevertheless, they work under a very bad system, and if their two colleagues combine against them their voice would be silenced. Nothing can be said for the existing Constitution except that the men who work it are so good that in spite of the system they get on well together. The extension of the system to the lieutenant-governors does not make for an extremely harmonious or efficient council. In the Punjab, where at one time you had Sir John and Sir Henry Lawrence in one province, they fought against each other, and one had to be sent away to enable the other to get on. I am against councils for lieutenant-governors. I should be doubtful how to vote upon this matter, because there is so much to be said on both sides, if it were not for the fact that this proposal is put forward as a necessary part of his policy by the Secretary of State for India, in whom both sides of this House and the people in India and at home have the greatest possible confidence. The Secretary of State declares that he requires this clause as part of his system, and he says, "If I get these powers I will not exercise them myself except in regard to Bengal." I should hesitate very much, and I would not Vote against a proposal like this being, as the Secretary of State says it is, an absolutely integral part of a policy he is putting forward, and which has commanded so much support in the other House, where there are so many Members far more competent to deal with this question than in the House of Commons, and though they have temporarily and conditionally excised the clause, I think it may be again submitted to their decision with advantage.
The Earl of RONALDSHAY
I have risen for the purpose of correcting a statement made by the hon. Member who has just sat down, which I think is inaccurate. The hon. Member said that one of the arguments in favour of this proposal was the fact that the Report of the Decentralisa- 1366 tion Commission recommended the proposals put forward in this clause.
The Earl of RONALDSHAY
The Report on this particular point says in paragraph 438 that civilian lieutenant-governors are to be given two civilian colleagues, and that I imagine is put forward in this clause. The Commission further reported that they were not in favour of the suggestion in paragraph 488.
The Earl of RONALDSHAY
The lieutenant-governor performs the same service, and possibly a junior would not command their deference in the degree sufficient to obviate friction. That appears to me to be a strong argument against the clause, and I was amazed that the right hon. Gentleman should support it. I think the clause has been put forward with a great deal of haste—with undue haste. It was introduced apparently without any consultation with the Governor-General of India, because the Secretary of State, after it had been introduced, found it necessary by telegraph to ask the opinion of the Governor of India on the clause. I do not think we are going to a Division on this question, but if we do I shall record my vote against the clause. I think it has been put forward too hastily. The Government of India have told us that this course should never have been undertaken without consultation with all the officers concerned. Has that consultation taken place, and, if so, what is the result of it?
§ Sir H. COTTON, who was very indistinctly heard, was understood to say: It is highly creditable to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal that he should come forward on the present occasion and urge this change. We have a great mass of official authority in its favour, and practically the unanimous opinion of the whole country expressed at a large number of meetings that have been held in all parts of the provinces. Rarely, if ever, has a proposal been put forward which has received such practically unanimous approval in India. It is quite true that Indian opinion is in favour of a governor of a council rather than a lieutenant-governor of the council, and my own opinion is entirely in that direction. The time will come when Bengal will be assimilated to Madras and Bombay, and enjoy the same 1367 privileges as those provinces. I rejoice that the Government have introduced this clause, and I trust that it will be unanimously accepted.
§ Mr. MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I demur to one statement of the hon. Gentleman who is in charge of this Bill. He said he thought the opposition in another place was intended to give an opportunity for discussion, and not because there was a genuine opposition of the clause.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I thought there was a genuine opposition, but I suggested that it was only a temporary opposition.
§ Mr. MEYSEY-THOMPSON
What I understood the hon. Gentleman to say was that the opposition took place for the purpose of allowing further discussion. I wish to say that I was out in India at the same time as the hon. Gentleman, and had many opportunities of hearing the views of the same people with whom the hon. Gentleman discussed these subjects, and the judgment which I formed was entirely at variance with that which he formed. If
§ this clause was called for by the Government of India and would increase the efficiency of that Government I should be pleased to support it. The hon. Member gave the whole case away when he said that the Lieutenant-Governors were already overworked, and then admitted that this clause would largely increase their work.
§ Mr. MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I understood the hon. Member to say so, but undoubtedly it will increase their work, and decrease efficiency. The greatest authorities of India are against it. The Lieutenant-Governors do not want it, and it is because it seems clear to me that it is uncalled for, unnecessary, and will increase work and diminish efficiency that I shall oppose the clause.
§ Question put: "That the clause be read a second time."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 118; Noes, 22.1369
|Division No. 66.]||AYES.||[10.7 p.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Gulland, John W.||Rees, J. D.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Armitage, R.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Robinson, S.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Beale, W. P.||Hazleton, Richard||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Beauchamp, E.||Higham, John Sharp||Rose, Charles Day|
|Bell, Richard||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Rowlands, J.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Hooper, A. G.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Brigg, John||Horniman, Emslie John||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Jardine, Sir J.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Laidlaw, Robert||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Byles, William Pollard||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Snowden, P.|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Lambert, George||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Channing, Sir Francis Aliston||Lamont, Norman||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis||Summerbell, T.|
|Clough, William||Levy, Sir Maurice||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lewis, John Herbert||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Maddison, Frederick||Tomkinson, James|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Wardle, George J.|
|Crossley, William J.||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Marnham, F. J.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Duncan, C (Barrow-in-Furness)||Micklem, Nathaniel||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Erskine, David C.||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Whittaker. Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Essex, R. W.||Myer, Horatio||Wiles, Thomas|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Nicholls, George||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Falconer, J.||Nuttall, Harry||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Pirie, Duncan V.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and the Master of Elibank.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Glover, Thomas||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Lock wood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Morpeth, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Winterton, Earl|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Percy, Earl|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. S. Scott-||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—The Earl of Ronaldshay and Mr. Meysey-Thompson.|
|Forster, Henry William||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Gardner, Ernest||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Hills, J. W.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpol)|
§ Clause added.
§ Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Ten of the clock.