§ As amended, considered:—
§ 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 coun- 33 cils already 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 EARL of RONALDSHAY
moved, in sub-section (1), after the words "with regulations made under this Act," to insert the words "provided that the ratio of Mussulman and Hindu representation on all representative bodies, from the rural boards upwards to the Viceregal Council, be fixed by executive authority, and that in every case in which any seat on a representative body thus assigned to the Mahomedan community is to be filled by election, the necessary electorate be composed exclusively of Mahomedans."
The object of moving this Amendment, as hon. Members will see from the Paper, is to ensure the carrying out of a promise which was given to the Mahomedan community two and a-half years ago by the Viceroy, a promise which was subsequently reiterated and emphasised by the Secretary of State on the second reading of the Bill. The promise was to the effect that in the event of political privileges being extended to the peoples of India the Mahomedan community would be secured a share in those privileges commensurate not only with their numbers but with their historical and political import- 34 ance. As to the methods by which it is proposed, or was proposed, to secure those ends, I shall have something to say in a moment, but I should like first of all to associate myself entirely with the Viceroy and the Government of India in their decision to grant to the Mahomedan community a share in those new privileges in excess of their actual numerical strength. The claim based upon historical reasons I do not think can be ignored. Hon. Members will recollect that it was from a Mahomedan sovereign that the East India Company acquired their rights in three of the richest provinces in India. It was a Mahomedan sovereign whose paramount influence was recognised by the East India Company, and many of the Hindu Chiefs are very proud of the titles presented to them by Mahomedan kings. The political importance of all this cannot be gainsaid, and in attempting to form a just estimate of the political importance of the Mahomedans we must cast our eyes far beyond the confines of the Indian Empire. We must remember that countries with whose destiny the destinies of our own country as an Eastern Power are indissolubly woven—Afghanistan, Persia, and Turkey—are countries peopled by Mahomedans, and are centres of Mahomedan power. But the influence of Mahomedans does not stop there, for we find that this race spreads itself over Africa, Central Asia, and some parts of China. Therefore, upon historical and political grounds alone, Mahomedans have a just claim to a substantial share in any political privileges which may be granted to the peoples of India.
But there is a further reason why the Mahomedans should be granted representation in excess of their actual number, and I think it is one which will appeal to hon. Members as having greater practical validity than those reasons which I have already mentioned. The reason I allude to is that there are millions of people included for statistical purposes among the Hindus, who, as a matter of fact, are not Hindus at all. If hon. Members can bring themselves to delve into the monstrous Blue Book presented by the India Office not very long ago—which, so far as arrangement is concerned, may be justly claimed to be the triumph of chaos over order—they will find the following memorial from the Dravidians to the Government of Madras:—The differences between the Hindu and the community of the memorialists are so great that it is a 35 deplorable mistake to regard them as forming a part of the Hindus. There has been existing for centuries enmity and hatred between their community and that of the Hindus.That is only a single example, but I think it shows that it would be absurd to class these men, who number something like one-sixth of the total population of Madras, among the Hindus for representation purposes, though I have no doubt they are classed amongst them by the statistician. I quite agree that it is a very difficult thing to arrive at any accurate conclusion as to what the number of this class may be. One authority estimates them at 50,000,000, while the statisticians of the India Office estimate them at 88,000,000. That is sufficient to show that it would be grievously unjust to the Mahomedans to base their amount of representation upon a purely numerical basis. That being so, and the Government having come to the conclusion that the Mahomedans ought to be granted representation in excess of their actual numbers, it remains to be decided how this change is to be brought about. Upon that point the Mahomedans themselves had, and still have, very distinct and definite ideas. They maintain, and I think they very justly maintain, that this need cannot be supplied unless the Government accept two main principles, which are as follows: In the first place, the Mahomedans should be assigned a number of seats on the representative bodies in excess of their numerical strength, that number in all cases to be fixed by Executive authority. The second principle is that whenever one of these seats assigned to the Mahomedans by Executive authority is to be filled by election the electorate should be composed exclusively of Mahomedans. I understand that the Government of India and the Government at home have accepted those two principles. I think the speech of the Viceroy and the speech made on the second reading by the Secretary of State for India puts that matter absolutely beyond dispute. May I remind the House of the words used by the Viceroy two and a half years ago in replying to the Mahomedan deputation which waited upon him? He said:—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 increase an electoral organisation, the Mahomedan community should be represented as a community, and you justly claim that your position should be estimated not merely 36 on your numerical strength, but in respect to the political importance of your community, and the service it has rendered to the Empire. I am entirely in accord with you.That is a pretty definite expression of the Viceroy's opinion, and he was entirely in accord with the Mahomedan deputation when they demanded from him these two principles. The words of the Secretary of State were no less definite, indeed, I think, they were more definite, and I will therefore venture to read to the House the words used by the Secretary of State for India upon the second reading of this Bill in another place. He said:—The Mahomedans demand three things. I had the pleasure of receiving a deputation from them, and I know very well what is in their minds. They demand the election of their own representatives to these councils in all the stages just as in Cyprus, where, I think, the Mahomedans vote by themselves… Secondly 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 do not think even such a master of lucid explanation as the Prime Minister could have improved upon the lucidity of that pledge which was given by the Secretary of State for India in another place. It may be asked why, after those definite pledges, I should have thought it necessary to move my amendment. It is because something like consternation has been created in the minds of Mahomedans here and in India by the speech made in this House last week on the Committee stage of the Bill by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He read a telegram as to the methods by which it was proposed to secure elections to these various bodies, and the telegram read as follows: "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." I ask the particular attention of hon. Members to these words: "All sects and classes, including Mahomedans, will vote together." The words appear to me to constitute a direct reversal of the pledge given by the Viceroy. How the Government propose to reconcile their action with their promises passes my comprehension; but that is not all. The hon. Gentleman went on to say, "By this means some, but not sufficient, representation will be obtained for Mahomedans, and in addition a certain number of seats will be reserved for the Mahomedans, and nobody but the Mahomedans." That is in force at the present time. What does the Government of India say as to 37 this system? In a circular of August 24th, 1907, paragraph 16, the Government of India said: "Under the system of election hitherto in force, Hindus largely predominate in all, or almost all, the electorates, with the result that comparatively few Mahomedan members have been elected. These have been supplemented by nomination made by the Government." But even so, "the total representation thus effected has not been commensurate with the weight to which the Mahomedan community is entitled." I should like to ask the Government how, by this mixed electorate, the Mahomedans will secure representation? How do they know? They do not know. They cannot know. If you take the united provinces, in which there is a large and important Mahomedan community approximating to 7,000,000 in number, you will find that under the system hitherto in force no single Mahomedan representative under a mixed electorate has ever found his way to a provincial council. May I take the case of the proposed reconstituted council of the Viceroy as an example? As I understand it from the information at our disposal, there are to be 28 elected members to the reconstituted council. Five of the memberships are to be reserved for Mahomedans. The remaining 23 seats are to be filled under a mixed electorate. The Government of India tell us that under a mixed electorate Mahomedans will secure 12 per cent. of the seats on the legislative council. If the system works as the Government think it will work, the Mahomedans may possibly get seven elected members out of the 28 elected members. No one would regard that number as an adequate representation for the Mahomedans, still less as an adequate representation if they are promised to have a representation in excess of their numbers. May I add that the leaders of Mahomedan thought would not recognise a representative who is elected by others than Mahomedans. Every Mahomedan would say that every elected person of an electorate not exclusively Mahomedan will not be in the least the sort of man to represent real Mahomedan interests. I have one other thing to say. What Mahomedans say is that as far as every elected Mahomedan is concerned they require an exclusively Mahomedan electorate, as promised by the Viceroy. If they receive that they are quite willing, and are even anxious, to forego the privilege of voting for the election of every other electoral body. They would be quite content to 38 have their own members and elect their own members to the councils. If an hon. Member thinks that I have put an exaggerated case, or that I have said more than is really in the minds of the Mahomedan leaders, I ask his careful attention to this cable from India, which was received during the past week in reply to a speech of the Financial Secretary of the Treasury. "The Times" Correspondent at Lucknow cables as follows:—The Mahomedans are indignant at what they conceive to be the violation of the pledges given by Lord Minto and Lord Morley guaranteeing separate electorates. They consider Mr. Hobhouse's statement in the House to mean that the Government accepts Mr. Gokhale's proposals, which would virtually place the Mahomedans absolutely in Hindu hands. Under mixed general electorates Congress Mahomedans will be freely elected to count as genuine Mahomedan representatives. Mahomedans protest against the surrender of their rights at the dictation of political agitators and are demanding separate electorates throughout.I commend these words also to the attention of hon. Members:—Meetings of protest have been arranged everywhere.This telegram was dated April 21st. The second telegram to which I will call attention is from a Mahomedan of great influence amongst his co-religionists in India, a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council and one of the leading Talukdars of Oudh (Rajah of Mahmudabad), and this telegram is as follows:—Protest against supplementary election. Demand separate electorate, otherwise reforms useless.And the third telegram is also from a Mahomedan of influence (Nawab of Dacca), and his telegram reads as follows:—A mass meeting of 6,000 Mahomedans held here under my presidentship, three resolutions passed—the first opposing nomination, the second insisting upon separate election, and the third upon representation in excess of numerical proportion.I think anybody who reads these telegrams, which are the result of the speech of the hon. Gentleman last week, must realise that the Mahomedans throughout India are at present suffering under a sense of grevious wrong and of grievous injustice. They consider that the pledges which were given to them in the most explicit language by the Viceroy and the Secretary of State are being broken. And may I say this, in conclusion, that I personally have no desire whatsoever to identify myself with one of the great communities of India rather than with another. I have no reasons for espousing the cause of the Mahomedans except this, that I believe, in the first place, that their demands are not only just, but that they are expedient under the present circumstances; I believe, in the 39 second place, that the Government have told them that they intend to meet the two demands to the full; and, thirdly, I espouse their cause on this occasion because I foresee that if the Government of this country follow on a course which is in any way calculated to shake the faith of any great community in India in the inviolability of their pledged word they are going far to undermine the whole fabric of British supremacy in India. I beg to move.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I rise to second the Amendment. I rather feel, after the speech of my Noble Friend, that it is for the Government to say why there is this disparity between the telegram read by the Secretary of the Treasury and the words of the Secretary of State in another place. My objection to this Bill throughout has been the risk of raising difficulties in our great Dependency of India, and I cannot but feel that if the Bill goes forward on the lines proposed the want of compliance with the legitimate and just demands of a great people will leave a rankling sense of injustice, and that sense of injustice must remain unless some explanation is given by the Secretary to the Treasury. There will, I say, be a rankling sense of injustice among the whole of the Mahomedan community. That is not a small community, but a very large proportion of the whole of the people of India, and I am bound to say that I regard it as a portion which has in the past been very loyal, and perhaps to-day is more loyal than the bulk of these people who have been agitating for these reforms. It would be a very serious matter if we were to arouse hostility in the minds of these people who have been so very loyal to us. The Bill, I know, is practically passed; only a few questions remain, and our duty is to arrange the representation in such a way as to create the least sense of injustice in a portion of the community. I ask the Secretary to the Treasury how he can reconcile the speech of the Secretary of State for India in the House of Lords with the telegram he read the other day? The telegram in no way carries out the pledge of the Secretary of State for India that there should be separate electorates and representation in excess of the numerical proportion. The question is how you can best carry out the provisions of this Bill; how you can make all classes of the community in India happy and contented under the provisions of the Bill, and how to make the Act a real 40 success. I do ask the Secretary of the Treasury to give us some assurance and some explanation that the pledge of the Noble Lord will be carried out in its entirety, and that the two demands will be met in full.
§ Question proposed: "That the proposed words be there inserted."
§ Earl PERCY
When I raised this Question on the Committee stage of the Bill I said I should not move an Amendment on the subject, because it had been generally agreed that questions of this kind settling the relative numbers of different populations in India on the council should be left to be settled by regulations, and not dealt with in the Bill. I am not sure either that the Amendment of the Noble Lord, although it has been very skilfully drawn and supported in a most excellent speech, will exactly meet our case. In the first place, I am rather doubtful whether it is competent to insert in a Bill dealing with the Viceregal Council a question of election to the municipal and district boards, and, furthermore, although the Noble Lord proposes that the ratio of representation of Mussulmans and Hindus should be fixed by Executive authority, he has not put into his Amendment what is perhaps equally important, that that ratio should be in excess of the representation to which they would be entitled on a strictly numerical basis. I do not suppose that my hon. Friend is bringing this Amendment forward with a view to a Division, so much as with a view to eliciting some information from the Secretary to the Treasury, and from that point of view I support what he has said. If I was not sure I understood the telegram as read on the last occasion, I am quite sure that, on reading it again, it is absolute nonsense. The version of the telegram as given in the Official report of the Parliamentary Report is as follows:—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, and none but Mahomedans will have a voice in filling these. They may be filled 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.That telegram seems to me on the face of it to be somewhat contradictory. My Noble Friend took it to mean on the last occasion that the Government had already receded from the position of separate 41 Mahomedan election. The view he takes to-day is that there are to be a certain number of seats on these councils which are to be specially reserved for the Mahomedans or filled by the Viceroy or a separate Mahomedan electorate, and that there are to be a certain number of other seats that will not be specially reserved for Mahomedans, but for which Mahomedans will be eligible, and for which there will be mixed electorate. If that is so, I think my noble Friend is really justified in saying that it does not meet our case or the demands put forward by the Mahomedans. It means that instead of increasing the proportion of these seats to be set apart for the Mahomedans they are to be put on the off chance of being out voted by Hindus at the mixed election. We may think that the Mahomedans are wrong in supposing that that is an entirely derisory offer. I instanced in Committee the case of Eastern Bengal, where, under the Bill, the Mahomedan portion number three-fifths of the inhabitants, and to that province are only to be definitely allotted on the council two seats—one-thirteenth of the whole council. That is obviously inadequate. The hon. Gentleman may say that in a province where Mahomedans constitute three-fifths of the electorate surely they will be able to secure representation on the mixed electorate; but it has been pointed out that they have never been able to secure adequate representation on the provincial council for the United Provinces, and in one district, at all events, in the Punjab, where they are in an enormous preponderance of population, they have not been able to obtain more than one seat on the district council. The hon. Gentleman may say that granting their chance of securing additional representation on the mixed electorates may fail, they can always be made good by extra nominations by the Viceroy. To my mind, there is always something ridiculous in holding back these nominations until you see the result of the election of the electorates. Virtually you say you will do your best to neutralise the choice of the Hindus by nominating a Mahomedan, or the other way about. That is clearly not a satisfactory arrangement, and, at all events, whether there be Mahomedans or not, nobody can help saying from the announcements published in the Press that the telegram read on the last occasion has created widespread unrest. One hon. Member—I think for Montgomery Boroughs—said on the last occasion that there was no good in rais- 42 ing this question unless we had a substantive proposal to submit. As a matter of fact, it seems to me there is a more simple way of carrying out the pledge which the Secretary of State gave, namely, to accept the proposal which, I understand, the Mahomedans have made to renounce the right of voting in joint electorates, and to increase the number of seats specially reserved for them in order to secure that their representation shall be in excess of that to which they are numerically entitled.
I cannot myself see any other basis upon which the pledge of the Secretary of State can be redeemed. I have no doubt whatever that he intends to redeem the spirit and the letter of it, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will be able to make some statement this afternoon which will allay the serious apprehensions which threaten the success of the Bill.
§ Mr. J. D. REES
I confess to a considerable sympathy with the case put by the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey, and, if I may say so, the broad spirit and wide method in which he proved his case, and if there are any who do not sympathise with his estimate of the Mahomedans in this matter they certainly will not be found amongst those who, like myself, found it their duty and pleasure to study the language of the Mahomedans and to associate with them. I sympathise most deeply with their position at this present juncture, and, like my Noble Friend opposite, I am disappointed with the telegram read out. For that reason I put down a question to-day to know if it was correctly reported, and also asked the Secretary to the Treasury a supplementary question, whether or not that was the last word on the subject, and I assume from his not having answered that in fact it was. I think in very many speeches in this House the influence, the power, and the position of the Mahomedans have been unduly depreciated. If there was any doubt about it, surely recent events in the Turkish Empire show that the old school of Conservative Mahomedans are not dead there yet. Neither is that school dead in India. I confess that I think that this matter has been dealt with in the wrong spirit in this House in many quarters. For instance, my hon. Friend the Member for East Nottingham said, I see, that the Mahomedans, numbering tens of millions, represent the lowest classes of the people. It is quite natural that my hon. Friend, who represents the intellectual aristocracy of the 43 Babus, should make that remark, but I take it that the Imperial Parliament has to deal with this Question from the point of view of large interests, and that on no account are the lowest class to be ruled out of account. On the contrary, it is for those classes we are bound to speak, for they have not newspapers at their command and are not subsidised by lawyers and landlords; and, in point of fact, they are very likely to be left out, and but for a Member here and there who is acquainted with them they are very likely to be left unrepresented in this House. We must not forget, too, that the Mahomedan is a democratic religion, and that ought to appeal to some of my hon. Friends, who are not very forward in presenting their case. It is the most democratic religion in the world, and it is a proselytising religion, and its numbers therefore increase, while Hinduism is a conservative corporation, and they make up their vast numbers by assuming, much in the same way as the Church assumes in Wales, that anyone who does not call himself a Mahomedan is a Hindu, whereas in Wales anybody who does not call himself a Free Churchman, considered to be a member of the Church. Therefore the disparity between the Hindus and the Mahomedans in India is by no means so great as is habitually represented, and I claim that, on historical, racial, physical, political, and every other possible ground, they are entitled to the utmost sympathy from this House. I do not say that they have not received it from the India Office. On the contrary I think the Noble Viscount met Mahomedans in the most friendly spirit, and gave them the most satisfactory assurances. I will not refer to the meetings which I have noted have taken place and the feelings which have been evoked in India, because my Noble Friend has sufficiently dealt with them, and it is desirable that two Members should not speak on one subject, but I take it that when the case of a great community, which represents no small proportion of the subjects of the British Crown, is misrepresented in this House, or when a Member surmises that it is misrepresented, it is the duty of that Member, on an Amendment like this, to call attention to the matter.
I find, again, my hon. Friend the Member for East Nottingham said that Bengal was after all the critical province, and that anything which might be called a Mahomedan question was a Bengal ques- 44 tion. I do not think that is accurate. I cannot imagine anything further from the facts, and I should say Bengal was for the very reason he gave, that they are recent converts, not to be regarded as a Mahomedan province in the sense in which we refer to Mahomedanism as a great separate religion. He then said that the majority of the Mahomedans in India were practically one and the same people as the Hindus, and the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington could never have spoken of them in the way he had referred to them, as a body, if he had the slightest knowledge of, or the least acquaintance with, the facts of the case. I think the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington was far nearer the fact than the hon. Member for East Nottingham, and I would ask the hon. Member whether he has ever heard of the zeal of the convert? Does he imagine that because people are recent converts, they are not zealous upholders of the religion to which they have gone over? The exact contrary is the case. Find a recent convert to Roman Catholicism in England and you will find one that never misses mass in the early morning and preserves every feast of the Church with the utmost scrupulosity. It is very much the same in India. Take those very Mahomedans of whom my hon. Friend spoke. Those who are the descendants of the converted Hindus or of mixed blood who live on the Malabar coast. They are such fanatical Mahomedans that special laws have had to be passed to suppress assassinations and outrages and their activity in sectarian efforts of every sort. Nothing more contrary to the facts could be laid before the House than the statement which has been made, that it is impossible to tell the difference between a Mahomedan and a Hindu by language, conversation, and manner of life. And all this Mahomedan agitation, of which so much is heard in England (says the hon. Member for East Nottingham) is not so much a representative agitation, but one of certain sects of Mahomedans. If you substitute for Mahomedans, Babus, you have the hon. Member's case. But we want to give the people of India freedom, and freedom should consist in doing what the people concerned themselves want, and not what a section of this House wants them to want. I submit that the case is proved, and that Mahomedans have very clearly made out their case for the most favourable treatment. But for what has been stated, however, I should not have dwelt upon that, because I think the Noble Viscount has in the most clear and free 45 manner admitted it. To revert to the telegram which was read, I confess that I was disappointed in it, because of the first sentence, to the effect that the method proposed is simply that in general elections, such as municipal, district boards, and provincial councils, all sects and classes, including Mahomedans, should vote together. That is the mixed election to which, rightly or wrongly, these people object. I think I can understand their objection. Having lived a great deal amongst them, I can sympathise with their objections; but at any rate they are their objections, and, as such, if we are considering the germs of representation in India, of which I am not in favour, surely the feelings of the people concerned are the chief matters we have to consider.
On the other hand, I do not at all object to the proposal and suggestion that any failure which occurs to the Mahomedan to get proper representation through elections should be made up by nominations. On the contrary, I think that is a very excellent proposal, and I think that those Mahomedans who are not stirred up by the neighbouring agitation of the Hindus against them will be satisfied with nomination for the majority of their seats. They do not care for representation; the only thing they are afraid of is that a man who is not a representative Mahomedan, but a man who rows in with the Hindus, should, through Hindu intrigue, or machinations, be appointed to represent them. That is all that they object to, and there, I think, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey a little overstated his case. If the Secretary of State and the Indian Government can arrange to give the Mahomedans more than proportionate representation, which they want, I myself do not think that they would press too hard with regard to the matter of election. It seems to me that this matter is capable of arrangement, but if the Noble Lord presses his Amendment, and if the hands of the authorities in India are tied, by a provision of the law, I think it may be more difficult to effect a satisfactory settlement than it will be under the very elastic system proposed by this telegram taken as a whole, though the first part of it, I freely admit, is to me extremely disappointing. I think that is the portion of it on which the Mahomedans have fastened, and to which they have taken very great exception. The Hindus, of course, have taken objection to communal election— 46 they would. There is an effort on the part of what is called by the Blue Books the professional middleclass, it is commonly called by the name of the Babus—I do not use that term as anything but a term of the utmost respect; it is a term of respect, which the educated classes in Bengal apply to themselves, and if it connotes any other meaning or signification I do not use it in that sense, and it can only be due to the characteristics of the Babus—I use it in a proper respectful manner, and I say there is an effort being made by the Babus to get the greater part of the power given by these reforms into their own hands. Everybody knows that, and there is no harm in it. It is as clear as crystal, but on the other hand, it becomes those concerned to see that a great community, far more powerful, if once you get from writing to fighting, and from faction to action, are not overlooked in this matter and kept from their fair share of this representation. I confess that I do credit to the utmost the assurances given by the Noble Viscount, and nobody can deny that this is a most difficult matter to settle. It may be said to leave so much under this Act to the Government of India is to adopt by the way a kind of personal rule. Well, Sir, I accept that. I think that personal rule if you get the right person is the best rule for India. The more there is of it and the less Parliamentary provision there is for the government of India, the better it will be for that country and for the people of India, except for the small class I have described as Babus. They want to govern the country instead of us, and we have to say that we shall continue to govern it, instead of them, and while I urge the hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench to rise and make the first part of this telegram more palatable, or to get something from the Government of India more satisfactory to the Mahomedans, who I think, not without reason, are disappointed in the first sentence, I would urge upon my noble Friend opposite that he will not really be serving the cause which he has at heart and has so well espoused, if he proposes further legislative provisions, tying the hands of the Government of India and the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Before the Under-Secretary replies, may I say that I have some difficulty in following the line of reasoning by which this Amendment is supported. We have always been advised to trust the Government of India, the Viceroy and his council, to know what is 47 best or what is good for the interests of India. The Bill proposes to do that, and the Amendment now before the House proposes to lay down a hard and fast rule and to instruct the Government of India how it is to set about its task. The Noble Lord the Member for Kensington instanced two cases, Eastern Bengal and the Punjab, where, despite the fact that the Mahomedans are in a considerable majority, they have not succeeded in returning representatives to the provincial councils. May I point out the absurdity in which the Noble Lord's own proposal would land us if assented to. By his own admission and by universal knowledge the Mahomedans have the electoral power and the numbers to return their own people to represent them. They refuse to do so. They do not use that power, and what is being asked is that the Viceroy and his council shall impose upon these people representatives whom, by their own choice, they say they do not want to have. Surely the thing is absurd upon the face of it.
The evidence adduced by the Noble Lord who moved the Amendment as to the burning indignation that exists among Mahomedans at the speech of the Secretary for the Treasury is somewhat scant. He quoted three telegrams, one from the editor of a Mahomedan newspaper, a most excellent man, and very fair-minded, but who cannot be accepted as an unbiassed witness; another from the Nawab of Dacca, and I do not think anyone who knows even a little about Eastern Bengal will say that the Nawab of Dacca is authorised or entitled to speak for Mahomedan opinion in that province, and the other from a member of the Viceroy's Council. The Mahomedans have representative institutions which are capable of voicing their opinions when occasion requires, but we have no evidence whatever that these have taken any exception to the speech of the Secretary to the Treasury. There seems to be a desire on the part of those supporting the Amendment to avoid inflicting a sense of annoyance or injustice upon Mahomedans. With that we all concur. But why not the same susceptibility in regard to the sense of injustice on the part of Hindus? Why distinguish this one section of the Indian people for this special favouritism and this special treatment? In the past they have not taken advantage of the educational facilities offered by the Government or of the opportunities for taking a share in the Government of the country. I want to see 48 the Mahomedans represented in proportion to their strength and their numbers, and I hope the idea of a mixed electorate will be adhered to. Allocate the number of Mahomedans who are to be elected and leave them to be elected by a mixed electorate, as I understand is now suggested should be the case, and leave to the Government the nomination of the extra representation proposed to be given, which it may be taken will represent the interests of that sort of sectarian Mahomedan, because there is a sectarian Mahomedan and a Nationalist Mahomedan—in, for example, the province of Madras, which the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey quoted a memorial from to the effect that there had been the most bitter enmity existing in that province for centuries between Hindus and Mahomedans.
§ Lord RONALDSHAY
It was not between Hindus and Mahomedans, but between different classes of Hindus. He has classed them together as Hindus, and I quoted it to show how absurd it was to class all these people as Hindus.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I had misunderstood the Noble Lord. The point I was about to make is that the present representative of Madras, elected by a Hindu population, is himself a Mahomedan, but he is a Mahomedan who is an Indian first and a sectarian religious Mahomedan afterwards, and the great advantage of the mixed electorate is that it trains the peoples of India, both Hindu and Mahomedan, to vote, not because of religious differences, but to vote as citizens having a common interest in the good government and well being of the nation. I hope therefore that the Government will not accept the Amendment now before the House, and what whatever regulations are to be framed for giving effect to the provisions of this Bill, whilst doing justice to the Mahomedans, will not secure it at the expense of injustice to their Hindu fellow-subjects.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I am certain the Government have no reason to complain either of the tone or the substance of anything which has fallen from Members of the House during the Debate this afternoon. The subject which has been raised by the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey is, as everyone must be aware who knows anything of India, a subject of which it is impossible to overrate the importance. The Indian population unquestionably is divided into 49 two great classes, the Hindus and the Mahomedans, and it is quite as important, in propounding reforms of the character of those put forward by my noble Friend in another place, that the Mahomedan community should be satisfied that those reforms are in their interest, and devised to meet their difficulties, as in the case of the Hindus that they should be satisfied from their point of view. The Noble Lord the Member for Kensington has pointed out very justly that the Amendment which is moved from the other side of the House is one which the Government cannot possibly accept, but it is due to the House that I should make perfectly clear what the intentions of the Secretary of State are in this matter, which is of no slight importance. The intention of the Amendment is that some Executive Authority should fix a ratio between the Mahomedan and the Hindu in legislative councils, in municipalities, and in the district and rural boards which constitute the local Government of India, and it would also lay down that all Mahomedan, and therefore I presume all non-Mahomedan voters should be classified and registered upon separate lists. I think there has been a very considerable amount of misunderstanding as to the intention and meaning of a telegram which I read in this House just a week ago from the Viceroy on this point. One or two hon. Gentlemen this afternoon have said there was some mistake as to the words which fell from myself, but I think those words were very definite upon this point. Speaking just after the Noble Lord upon the Amendment which raised this question I said:—My Noble Friend the Secretary of State has authorised me to make the statement that he stands by his declaration and that he does not abate it in any way whatever.Nothing, I think, could be more clear as to the intention and meaning of my Noble Friend, but there has been undoubtedly some misunderstanding of the telegram from India, and it appears to be thought both by hon. Members in the House and by a certain section, I am not sure how many of Mahomedans in India, that there is some intention on the part of the Government of India and of the Government of this country to depart from pledges which were explicitly given by the Viceroy in October, 1906, and by the Secretary of State the other day in the House of Lords. I think it is just as well that we should see exactly what these pledges were. 50 The Viceroy said that the Mahomedan community claimed that in any system of representation, whether affecting legislative councils, municipalities or district boards, they should be represented as a community, and he expressed his entire accord with their views. There was no departure from the view and the policy thus expressed by the Viveroy and the policy declared by my Noble Friend in another place when he spoke last month there. He said that he had received a deputation from the All India Moslem League, but the Mahomedans demanded the election of their representatives to these councils in all stages, and that demand he was ready and willing to fulfil. There can be no ambiguity about either of these statements, but anyone who is acquainted with either the Government of India or the work in the India Office here at home is perfectly aware that the absolute strict fulfilment not only of the spirit but of the letter of any undertaking of this sort—it refers to the case of elections not only to the legislative council but to these other bodies—means a separate register for Mahomedans and for those who are non-Mahomedans. The necessity for this arises from the fact that these bodies form the constituencies from which, eventually, will be elected the members of the legislative assembly, whenever the election takes place. It is necessary, therefore, that in framing any rules and regulations which shall provide for election to any of these bodies, the Government of India must necessarily consult the provincial authorities, and that the provincial authorities must, in turn, consult a number of local bodies under their control, and that looking to the size of India, not only to the division of two great classes of inhabitants but to the different customs, traditions, and social habits of the various peoples who inhabit that great continent, these provincial authorities find in the course of their inquiries that it is perfectly impossible to apply a uniform system under which the principle can be carried out. The Noble Lord thinks that he has detected some divergence between the views expressed by the Viceroy and the Secretary of State and the views expressed in the telegram from the Government of India. I confess I think that that divergence, if divergence there be, is due to the difficulties which are experienced by the Government of India in making the inquiries to which I have just referred. The 51 first sentence of the telegram is this: "The method proposed is simply that in general electorates" and so forth. That is only a proposed method, and that is where, I think, a great deal of the misunderstanding has arisen. The Government of India have made inquiries, and in the course of making inquiries they discovered the difficulties in carrying out what they want and we want, and which they say we have given most distinct and definite pledges to propose. That does not mean that the telegram necessarily closes discussion. It does not mean that they have done more than propose to the Secretary of State certain things. It does not follow that because there are difficulties experienced in the government of India that those difficulties are either permanent or fundamental, and I can assure the Noble Lord opposite that every endeavour will be made by the Government of India and by the Government at home to remove any sort or kind of obstacle which may be found to lie within our power to the carrying out of the pledges which have been given before this House. I would beg the House to understand that it is quite impossible, looking to the diverse conditions to be found in every province, to set up a set of rules for elections which shall be uniform and identical, and that is the whole difficulty which, as anybody who knows India, knows must lie with the Government in trying to carry out the pledges we have given to the House.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I am afraid my hon. Friend misunderstood the answer I gave to the question. This is not the last word on the subject at all. This is information given by the Government of India to the Secretary of State as to the progress of the policy which is being carried out in confirmation of the pledges given on the part of the Government to this House. Before I sit down I would add one sentence, and it is that wherever elections are found possible they shall be conducted on the basis of separate representation of the Mahomedan community.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I have listened with great interest and satisfaction to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I think he was in some difficulty with regard to the telegram from the Government of India, and I confess 52 that from re-reading that telegram I cannot help thinking that there has been some error in transmission, or that there is some other flaw in it which has not yet been explained. In the first place, it was pointed out by my noble Friend the Member for Kensington that it is really nonsense as reported in the "Official Report." It is, unfortunately, all I have got. The way the telegram reads is: "That the method proposed is simply that in the general electorates, such as municipalities, district boards and members of provincial councils, all sects and classes, including Mahomedans, will vote together." That clearly is the only meaning. It means that the system of mixed representation, as the system has been called in these Debates, the ordinary representation, as we should call it in this country, where every individual unit is not differentiated from the other units, and where in each separate constituency the electorate vote, and the member returned is not returned as the representative of a minority, but simply of the majority of all these various units taken together. That is what the first sentence means, and it is the only meaning it can possibly have. But that is not the policy of the Government. Nothing can be clearer than the original statement of the Viceroy, and the subsequent statement of the Secretary of State for India, and nothing can be clearer than the repitition and endorsement of those statements by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. But, of course, they are absolutely inconsistent with the only possible interpretation that can be put on the first sentence of the telegram from the Government of India, which is all we have to go upon, and we must take it. If there is any difference of opinion between the Government at home and the Government of India, I do not wish to emphasise it. If it can be explained that the telegram has suffered corruption in the course of transmission, I shall be glad to hear it, but in any case we understand that the first sentence of the telegram from the Government of India, read in its ordinary grammatical and rational sense, does not represent the policy either of the Government at home or the Government of India. In other words, the representation of the Mahomedan communities in all classes of institutions, whether local, provincial, or central, is not to follow the rule laid down by the Government of India in the first sentence of this telegram; it is to follow the entirely different rule originally stated by the Viceroy, then by the Secretary of 53 State, and now stated for the third time by the Secretary to the Treasury, namely, that so far from all sects and classes, including Mahomedans, voting together, the Mahomedans are to vote on a separate register, and with a separate representation from all other classes. I hope I have made that quite clear. I hope it is quite clear that the Government of India have either imperfectly expressed their own opinion, or that their opinion has been recognised by the Government as in contradiction of their declared policy, and that this telegram, which was read a week ago by the Secretary to the Treasury, does not represent the policy now either of the Government at home or of the Government of India. If I am right there—I wish to be corrected if I am wrong—that is so far satisfactory.
May I venture to point out to the House why I regret that some embodiment of this principle—the principle which now animates the Government—cannot be introduced into the Bill. I quite recognise the difficulties, but I wish to point out why I think those difficulties are difficulties to be regretted. This measure has been represented in popular discourse, if not in the discourse of its framers in the other House, and by others in this House, as a Bill which confers something in the nature of representative institutions in India. If that is the fundamental and underlying principle of the Bill, then future Governments, in interpretating the measure, will undoubtedly think this separate register for Mahomedans, and the undue numerical preponderance given to Mahomedans, is to be regarded as a temporary violation of the fundamental and general principles underlying the measure. If the Bill is a measure giving representative institutions to India on the general principle universally accepted in countries like this, then, of course, it is absurd to have separate registers for separate portions of the community, and it is still more absurd to give them exceptional numerical representation on account of their historic position in India. I think myself that that is an absolutely justifiable, and even a necessary policy, but I think if so great a violation of commonly accepted principles of representative government are really to be the outcome of this Bill, it is a pity that we do not put words in the Bill which shall make it clear not to the present Government, or to their immediate successors, but to future Governments of India that that is not the principle which the Government had in 54 view when they asked Parliament for and obtained from Parliament assent to that proposal. That is not their view. Their view is, and I believe it is the right view, that you cannot regard India as a homogeneous community, that you cannot simply count heads, and that you cannot regard them as a community in any sense, however remote, comparable to, say, the inhabitants of these islands, or the United States of America, or our self-governing Colonies, or those countries on the Continent which have adopted representative institutions. There is no analogy between the two, and from the beginning down to the very root of these proposals they are introducing differences which show that they recognise that you cannot say so, and that it is impossible to extend to India principles which are commonly accepted, and rightly accepted, in Western Europe. I think it would be of great advantage if we could make that fact patent on the face of the Bill. The Government declare in the most explicit language that they are going to give to Mahomedans a larger share of representation on these councils than the number of Mahomedans would justify. I understand that the House generally, with the exception of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, and perhaps some other Members, endorse the view of the Government. Then I think some words not binding the Government of India as to details, but some words showing on the very face of the statute what are the views which Parliament has had in making this great experiment in India, would be in the highest degree expedient, and although I admit that the words of my Noble Friend's Amendment cannot be embodied in the Bill, I think it is very desirable that some words of a general character should be embodied in the measure. It is impossible, I think, for hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in this subject not to feel that there is a certain absurdity in the form of legislation which we are asked to pass in this matter. This Bill is a blank cheque, and nothing but a blank cheque, to the Government of India as it exists to-day, and as it will exist in five, ten or fifteen years' time. The Government have elaborately and carefully taken precautions that there shall be nothing in this measure, nothing in the words of the statute, which shall prevent any future Government of India doing exactly what they like with the representation. This Government have pledged themselves to give undue representation to Mahomedans. Nothing in the 55 world would prevent some other Government from giving undue representation to some other community.
The Mahomedans have put in a plea for a separate register, because they say that without a separate register they will not get even their fair numerical representation, and still less will they get the extra representation which the Government wishes to give. I cannot for the life of me see, if a similar claim be put in by other sects—the sects improperly described as Hindu—how you could resist such a claim if made on their parts. If that be the general principle of the Bill which we are discussing now, I think that words should be introduced somewhere to make it quite clear that we trust the Government of India, and that we intend to trust them, not to assimilate the system in India to the system here, but to see that full weight, not necessarily based upon a numerical appraisement of the different elements in the community, should be given to every section of opinion in that country. I confess that I think it is objectionable to discuss as we have been discussing the really vital points of the Bill with nothing to help us as to the manner in which the Bill should be carried out but statements on the part of the Executive Government, which it must be admitted are—if we include the Government of India in that general phrase—very difficult to reconcile one with the other; and if we are going to send this back to India to be dealt with slowly and I hope satisfactorily, but undoubtedly slowly, on principles not in the least embodied in our legislation, then there are difficulties, and there will be difficulties in the future when this system gradually gets developed, of which I think the framers of the measure have very little notion.
I was much struck with one observation made this afternoon by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr. He observed that in his opinion the Mahomedans not only have no right to any representation other than their numerical proportion would seem on grounds of principle to justify, but that it was absurd for us to take precautions to see that the representation rises to the level which their numbers would justify. It was pointed out by my noble Friend the Member for Kensington that in certain parts of India the Mahomedans had not fair representation on the Council which they could obtain if they had organised their 56 voting powers properly and adequately. I presume the Mahomedans have not done so. Why have they not done so? We say frequently of a section of the community here, "If you do not choose to vote you suffer for not voting." But what chance on earth have the Mahomedan population in India when pitted against all the electoral dexterity and electoral methods of other sections of the community? They have no more chance in that kind of electoral contest than some of the other sections of the community would have if it came to blows. Here you have two sections of the community with electoral knowledge and general habits bred in them by the constant practice of free institutions; but it is quite different in India, and to expect of large sections of your Eastern population that they should learn our methods when their whole method of looking at things is on entirely different lines from ours, seems to me to be utterly absurd. It is quite clear that the very able and highly educated Hindus would beat the Mahomedans at that game, whatever their numbers are; and it really is quite absurd to apply to the millions of India those current practices, perhaps in themselves justifiable from pure reason, in a country like our own or a country inhabited by a population to which we are akin, but which the whole history of the religious, political, and military causes which have made India what it is have made utterly inapplicable to that country. I am sorry that on the face of this Bill there is not one word to make clear what was contained in the speeches of the Government. Nobody could ask for more than has been said by the Noble Lord the Secretary of State in another place, and nobody can ask for a clearer utterance than that of the hon. Gentleman this afternoon. I confess, especially in face of this obscure missive from the Government of India, that I do greatly regret that some words cannot be introduced, if not my Noble Friend's words, into the Bill, indicating that we, in this Parliament, recognise that the circumstances of India are so different from our own that we must leave the Executive in that country to do its best in each province and each district in regard to its religion and population in the general interests of justice and humanity.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
I have listened with great attention to the extremely impressive speech of the Leader of the Opposition, and I hope he will allow me to say how much we on this side of the House ad- 57 mire the lucidity and the ability which he has introduced into the discussion. I have risen primarily to speak with regard to the observations made by the Noble Lord opposite in reference to the Mahomedan position in India. I am sorry to be obliged to say that the Noble Lord conveyed a very erroneous impression of the actual state of things in regard to the relations between the Hindus and the Mahomedans. Nothing could be more regrettable than an opinion should go from this House to India that it is believed that the two great communities are in an attitude of permanent and normal antagonism to one another. That is why I so very much regret the tone of the hon. Gentleman in speaking as he did as a champion of Mahomedan representation. It is deplorable, I think, that Members of this House should pose as champions of Hindu or of Mahomedan, instead of remembering that the interests of both are nearly identical. That this is so is recognised by Hindus and Mahomedans themselves. We hear very much of differences, but we hear far too little of the bonds of unity which bind them together.
I will give you an illustration from the United Province. The United Province is the part of all others in India where there is a distinct, substantial and essential difference between the Hindu and the Mahomedan community. The Mahomedans of the United Province are the descendants of the Moguls. They are the descendants of the proud invaders who came from across the North-West Frontier. Their position is essentially and fundamentally different from that of the Mahomedans in most other parts of India, but it is a fact that the relations between the Hindus and the Mahomedans are so cordial and so united that in those provinces when the recent election occurred in the city of Lucknow, which hon. Members know is the capital of Oudh, out of 20 Mahomedan voters no fewer than 14 voted for a Hindu gentleman, and naturally the Hindu gentleman was returned. They did not vote for the Mahomedan; they voted for the Hindu. And such things are common in Bengal. Over and over again Hindus have voted for Mahomedans, and repeatedly returned them to the Council. At the present moment, at the present day, it is done in Madras, where the Hindus form an extraordinary majority of the population. There are far more Hindus in comparison with the population in the Province of Madras than in any other province, and yet year after year the 58 Hindus have returned a Mahomedan to the Viceroy's Council, and he is sitting on that Council at the present moment.
The object of my addressing the House was to record this protest against the impression which must be created by the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey that the relations between these two great communities are at present antagonistic. I protest against any such inference being drawn from his remarks or from the remarks of any other hon. Member in this House.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
That is an unfortunate interruption. There have been riots and quarrels between the Hindus and Mahomedans in different places, and no wonder; but when you look at the magnitude of the country and the millions and millions of the Mahomedans and Hindus who live together side by side on the most friendly and amiable relations, and who are most cordial and most intimate in their relations, and when you regard a solitary outbreak such as that which has been referred to, the House should not infer that such an outbreak is typical of the normal state of things between Hindus and Mahomedans. That is a false impression which the hon. Gentleman is endeavouring to create. The unification of India has been growing ever since the British had relations with that country, and among the important movements in the history and progress of India not the least remarkable of the features which have marked that history during the last 200 years is the tendency towards unification of the community in that great country.
§ Mr. C. J. O'DONNELL
I feel it my duty, with my large experience of India, to support the statement of my hon. Friend about the friendly and kindly relations which exist between the Madomedans and Hindus. In the Rajshahi division where I served, and which consisted of six or seven districts, certainly the large majority of the populations consisted of Mussulmans, and my experience was that the relation between them and the Hindus was of the most friendly character, not only there, but in other parts of India. So far did that friendly relation between them go, that they welcomed one another at their religious festivals—as in the case of one of their most remarkable festivals, known as the Car Festival, in which there is carried on a car the figure of the Hindu Deity, the Mussulmans following. I have risen because I feel it my duty 59 to protest as strongly as I can against what this Bill does, namely, making statutory for the first time in the history of this Empire this discrimination between different religious bodies—I refer to the Empire outside the British Isles. In the Punjab this peculiar discrimination will be particularly unfortunate. A most important section of the population there is the Sikh section, who are the minority. Has the Government done anything to secure for the Sikh minority some special representation? There are two kinds of Mussulmans in India, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Nottingham said. There is the cultured Mussulman, the descendant of the old Moguls, and there is the vast population converts, mostly from the humbler ranks of the population, and my opinion is that if this power given in the Bill is put in the hands of that great population you will see results similar to those which we are now seeing in Asia Minor. One of the arguments used is that they are loyal. There is actually no evidence that the Mussulmans are more loyal than the Hindus. I believe that there is an immense amount of loyalty in the Hindus, and that if we balance the one against the other, the balance of loyalty is greatly on the side of the Hindus. We know that the Mutiny was principally a Mussulman rebellion. Very recently we had the great Wahabi conspiracy of the camp at Sittana on the frontier of the Punjab which was kept up by the Mussulman population, which is now by this Bill to be put in a position of special favour. The proposal is of an extraordinary character. The Government deliberately suggest that after the ordinary elections, if a sufficient number of Mussulmans have not been returned, a special election is to be held for their benefit, in order that a larger number may be elected. Imagine applying that principle in any civilised country—imagine applying it in this country. Imagine if a sufficient number of Catholics were not returned at an election in this country, a provision existed by which they were to have a special election in order to return a larger number. The Protestant's in the South of Ireland are an important and distinguished body of men, but I am very much afraid that the result of this movement, which hon. Gentlemen opposite are so anxious to see carried out, would be to introduce into India that hostility which exists between Catholic and Pro- 60 testant in Ireland. On the second reading I said that I hesitated to make this charge, and I hesitate in making it now. I do not say that hon. Members opposite are connected with it, but there are men on the Press, and men working telegrams from India, who are certainly doing their utmost to set the two religious sects one against the other. The Bill will now leave this House, and it is my duty, with my great experience, of the Mussulman populations of India, to make this final protest against the introduction into India of a system hostile to all civilisation, and, I believe, hostile to religious peace in India.
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
After what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 (Power to Constitute Provincial Executive Councils).—(l) 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 the 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, and 61 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.
§ Earl PERCY
moved in sub-section (1) to leave cut the words "in any province," and to insert instead thereof the words "in the province of the Bengal Presidency of Fort William." The effect of the Amendment will be to confine the operation of clause 3 to the Province of Bengal. In this, I may point out, we are going some way to meet the Government proposal. We are not, perhaps, as we might have done, following the precedent set by the Secretary of State for India in another place, that is, asking the House to delete, the clause and to reverse the decision previously arrived at. Were we to take that course I have no doubt a more accurate representation would be secured of the real balance of opinion in this House on the subject than we are obtaining. But I quite recognise that were we to propose to delete the clause the result of the division would remain what it was before; but what I think we all desire is a solution which may form the basis of a settlement which will be satisfactory to all parties. When I say "satisfactory to all parties," I do not use the word "parties" in the political sense of the word. Throughout this Bill we have never dealt with the question from the party point of view, and I do not know that we could have given a better proof of our desire to keep this question outside the range of party controversy than the fact that in all the Divisions that have taken place in Committee, while the Government on their side have appealed to the political allegiance of their supporters by putting on the Government tellers, we, on our side have carefully refrained from taking that course by putting on the official tellers of the Opposition. The result has been that the Government have had the advantage of their normal majority, but I think that, if you take Parliament as a whole, the general weight of official Indian experience is on the side of the view which we put forward. In this case we are to assume that the creation of an Executive Council is desirable in the Province of Bengal. I do not say for a moment that we are satisfied that is the case, but at all events we go so far to meet the Government as to say, as we have been able to show, that both the Government of India and the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of 62 Bengal are in favour of this change; at all events a case has been made out for the creation of a separate province with a council. What is the real point of difference between the two sides of the House? The Financial Secretary told us, as the result of his own observation and experience in India, that he was convinced the great increase and accumulation of business had made the continuance of the one-man system of government for any province impossible. That may be the perfectly right or it may be the wrong view, but at all events that is not the view held by the Government of India, nor is it the view held by the Secretary of State himself. The Secretary of State in another place held the view that the one-man system of Government was the best for some of these provinces, and the Government of India, in their latest telegram supporting the demand for this clause, have expressly told us that they do not mean to create Executive Councils except in the Province of Bengal. Therefore, on the general question of policy, has any adequate justification been made out for a proposal of this kind? The Government of India told us themselves they did not mean to use this power if they got it. I am glad to say, in regard to Bengal, that the hon. Gentleman may possibly repeat the observations that he made in Committee on the subject of that proposal that in creating an Executive Council for Bengal, we are really making no concession at all, because it is possible to create a council of the kind under the existing law. But having regard to the alteration in the limits of the frontier of Bengal, it would probably be impossible to create the council under the existing law; but even if that were not the case, the power under existing legislation is very different from that which the Government is now asking us to give under this Bill. There is no reason, as I said before, for giving the Government of India power to create Executive Councils in provinces other than Bengal, which the Government of India tell us they do not mean to use. So far as I am concerned, only two arguments have been brought forward in favour of taking that course. One of those arguments is that in matters of this sort the Government of India is a far better judge than we are ourselves. But it seems to me that is an argument which may have a certain amount of justification when you are dealing with questions of administrative detail, but which is entirely out of place when 63 you are discussing an important question of policy in regard to which men of administrative experience have undoubtedly expressed sympathy, but who warn you that you may be taking a wrong step, which, if it is a wrong one, will imperil the security of British rule on the frontier provinces, and hamper the power of Executive officers to deal properly and successfully with emergencies. Apart altogether from that aspect of the question, instead of giving a freer hand to the Government of India, as a matter of fact you will be doing the very reverse. The whole question of the desirability of creating Executive Councils in this province has been seriously affected by the fact that you are proposing to change the character of these councils, the policy in regard to some of the members of these councils as to the necessity of a qualification of administrative experience under the Crown, and when you have suggested that the creation of these councils is to be made the opportunity of appointing a number of Indians. It is the prospect that natives will be appointed to this council which has really altered the clause. What will be the result of giving those wide powers to the Government of India? You will be exposing them to constant agitation and pressure. It will always be open to the agitator to say so long as the Government of India do not use their power that their motive is not the mere consideration of the interests of the province, but some policy with the idea of giving appointments to natives.
As I pointed out in Committee, it is not only the pressure which may be brought to bear on the Government of India through native communities, but it is also the pressure which may be brought to bear on them from home. We know that three months ago the Government of India themselves were very strongly, apparently, against the proposal of creating an Executive Council in the Province of Bengal itself. They have changed that opinion in the last three months. Everybody believes, and I think rightly, they have changed under pressure from the Secretary of State for India. If that is so in regard to Bengal, surely we have no security whatever that the same kind of pressure would not be brought to bear on the Government of India in the future to change their opinions similarly with regard to the other provinces. I think the House, looking at the matter candidly and impartially, must feel, if they 64 were in the position of the Government of India, they would really be in a far freer position to consider the question of setting up an Executive Council if the responsibility was not thrown on their shoulders but retained by this House.
The only other argument in favour of passing the clause as it stands is that by giving the Government of India this general administrative executive power we shall be avoiding the necessity of incurring a fresh waste of time and friction and having to come to this House for fresh legislation. I cannot conceive circumstances under which the creation of an Executive Council in the frontier provinces, would be a matter of urgency, and I do not see much force in the argument. I am not one of those who think it is desirable Indian affairs should come more often before this House than necessary in the shape of legislation. If that is all the objection of the Government of India on this point, then I say, provided Parliament retains effective control and responsibility in regard to the creation of these new councils, I do not attach too much importance to the precise method by which that method is secured, but the important thing is that before you introduce a system of executive councils into those provinces, which existing circumstances render it undesirable to introduce, Parliament should have the effective power of challenging the Secretary of State to explain in what respect the circumstances have changed, and, if necessary, to refuse permission for them. That does not seem to me to be a very extravagant proposal or suggestion to make and I cannot help hoping that the Government will be able to see their way to suggest some form of Amendment which may form the basis of an amicable settlement.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I regret that the Noble Lord has omitted the Bengal Province from his restrictive Amendment. The Noble Lord, when he spoke of the Government of India not having desired those councils apparently forgot the fact that during the time the Bill was being discussed in another place, the Indian Government sent a telegram expressing the hope that the Secretary of State would lose no time in passing the clause to give power to institute those councils. I can see perfectly well from the whole circumstances surrounding these that they do not desire delay in this clause. The Noble Lord took a certain line as to parts of clause 3. I take a some- 65 what different line. I rise to tender most respectfully and most earnestly my advice to the Secretary of State to walk warily, and to proceed most gradually and most tentatively in what I consider to be a most momentous departure, a departure which I cannot call other than of a revolutionary character in the Government of India.
It has been said that this proposal, the meaning of clause 3, proceeds pari passu with the proposals of reform of the legislative councils following from the Acts of 1861 and 1892. I fully admit that the reform of the legislative councils, the extension of their powers, is a direct sequel from these two Acts, and as such I welcome them as likely to produce an immense improvement in the Government of India. It will be a great advantage to the Government of India, but I deny that the proposal contained in clause 3 in any way whatever derives itself from the previous legislation. It is an innovation which, in my opinion, is at the present time in view of its potential effects a dangerous innovation. As one who has spent the best part of his life in various provinces in India and in close touch with Indians of every class, as one who has always been a reformer, I venture to ask the Secretary of State to pause—that is all I ask, it may be for a very short time—before he makes a change of this kind, which in my opinion is not unlikely to have as its effect an alteration with the foundation of our rule in India.
After all, what is the desperate hurry to enact this clause at all. Why deal in this sudden and rapid way with what nobody can deny is a real revolutionary movement, a revolutionary idea, the appointment, that is the development, of Indians to those Executive Councils, which are the real practical governing bodies in India. It seems to me that in its ultimate development that will tend to undermine instead of support and strengthen British supremacy in India. I really earnestly ask the Noble Viscount to pause and weigh carefully the potential effects of such a change before he proceeds to make it. This clause 3 is really in advance of public opinion. The reformers themselves in India have never asked, so far as I know, for the appointment of Indians to those Executive Councils. Why, then, should we rush in where the reformers themselves have feared to tread? Those reformers, high-minded, level-headed reformers in India have got all they want. 66 They have got association with the people of India through their elected representatives, through those legislative councils, which councils, although not empowered to override the Government, are enabled to put such pressure as make inevitably and irresistibly to modify and influence the Government. What more can they want?
The councils themselves are to be of such a number as to contain every variety of individual opinion. It is reasonable to assume that those bodies, if they are unanimous in favour of any particular measure, expresed in the form of a vote or resolution, the Government of India or no local Government could possibly resist them. I ask what more can they demand. Surely that itself is sufficiently revolutionary to satisfy the most ardent reformer. I protest against an extension in the form of those Executive Councils, which, in my opinion, and I give an opinion with some knowledge, will tend undoubtedly to undermine the Executive authority of the Government in India. Here I would like to point out a misconception which appears to underlie remarks of the hon. Member for North-West Manchester in accusing me of inconsistency in supporting the reformers of the legislative councils, while denounced the institution of Executive Councils. Surely the hon. Gentleman must have failed to understand the very essential difference toto cœlo between the two. The legislative council is purely a deliberative assembly, no doubt enabled to influence the Government by resolution, but having no authority to act or to enforce those resolutions. The executive councils it is proposed to institute—or executive councillor, I should rather say—is empowered specially to act upon his own initiative. I maintain that difference is essential, and it is a difference which I can hardly think the hon. Member can have noticed in his criticism of the opinion which I gave. The legislative Assembly resembles this House of Commons. It can affect or influence the Government by resolution, but it cannot itself take independent action. whereas the Executive Council is a little Cabinet, each member of which has control over the Department over which he presides, and can take independent action on any matter concerning it. This brings me to the second reason I have for imploring the Secretary of State to be cautious and to proceed gradually and tentatively in this most momentous matter. I beg the House to notice that if an Indian 67 member is appointed to an Executive Council he thereby acquires almost absolute control over the policy and personnel of the Department over which he presides—over the appointment, dismissal, promotion, punishment, and transfer of officers. In these departments over which these Indian members will preside there are Englishmen—in which term I include Scotsmen, Welshmen, and Irishmen—and these Englishmen are members of what we know as the British Civil Service in India. I am no bureaucrat, and I have no brief whatever for the Indian or any other Civil Service; but I say without fear of contradiction that the British Indian civilian has been ever since his official infancy brought up in the knowledge that, subject to the supreme control of the head of the Government, in whose probity, integrity, and capacity he has absolute faith, he himself is solely responsible for the charge committed to him. Under these circumstances, I beg the House to remember what may be the result in this regard. I am putting forward what may be called extreme views, but in connection with a revolutionary clause of this kind, which is being made the law of the land, it is only right that before it is finally sanctioned potential as well as actual and immediate results should be brought clearly to the knowledge of the House. What may be the result—I do not say what always will be—of appointing Indians to any of the Executive Councils (not excluding Bengal)? Rightly or wrongly, the Englishmen to whom I have alluded has not the same faith in the straightforwardness, probity, or integrity of his Indian fellow subjects as he has in his own countrymen. It is a sad and melancholy fact, but that it is a fact I assert without fear of contradiction.
§ Mr. SMEATON
I can only say that I have experience as long as that of the hon. Gentleman; moreover, my experience extends over provinces of which he has no official experience whatever, and I have good substantial foundation for the assertion I have made. The Englishman has not the same absolute faith in his Indian fellow-subjects that he has in his own countrymen. One of the roots of that absence of faith is in the social system of India. Here I want to guard myself against any imputation of disparaging the honesty and honour of many of my Indian friends, or of in any way derogating from 68 the very excellent work which some of them have done. Nevertheless, it is an ingrained conviction, born of experience in the Englishmen who are at present the guardians of British supremacy in India, that their Indian fellow-subjects are not to be trusted as being as straightforward in the performance of public duty as their own countrymen.
This brings me to a delicate subject, to which I would rather not have alluded at all; but we must not blink facts in discussing such a momentous matter as this clause involves. Our Government in India has steadily abstained from any interference with the privacy of the Indian family circle. No Government of which I have any knowledge has ever endeavoured to penetrate the mystery of the India family circle. The Government is in the dark altogether about its internal economy. We have undoubtedly tried, but with very poor success indeed, to educate the women of India. I do not for a moment forget or minimise the great efforts and the noble work done by the Zenana Missions of India, in respect of enlightening, helping forward, civilising, and brightening the lives of Indian women; but when all that has been said, I confidently assert that, except in some of the larger cities, chiefly in Bengal, but also in Madras and Bombay, the women of India are practically illiterate and are no more free from superstition, prejudice, and I must add intrigue, than they were 1,000 years ago. Let the House consider the facts, for they are facts. I speak from personal knowledge and from the admission of Indian friends themselves. It is an unpleasant subject to touch upon, but this is the only opportunity we have for laying unpleasant facts before the Secretary of State. When an Indian officer has done his day's work, he retires to the privacy of his own home and family, and there he is subjected to influences not of a very harmless kind. He is very often led into devious and tortuous ways, which not infrequently end in disaster. With that condition before him, can it be wondered at that an Englishman has some distrust of the manner in which his Indian colleague performs his public duties? The Englishman understands perfectly well that a man who during the day may have been animated by a genuine desire to do his duty honestly, straightforwardly, and honourably may have the whole effect of that official atmosphere of probity and integrity undone by influences working upon him when he retires to the privacy of his 69 family. My fear is that if clause 3 is fully developed, and if pressure is put—as I have no doubt it will be—upon the Government of India to appoint Indians, the British civilian will find himself more and more reluctant to continue serving under an Indian Member of the Executive Council, and that that British service, which, as I have said before, is the civil garrison of India, the intelligence department of India, the eyes of India, the sentinels and the outposts for the supremacy of the British Crown, will, in the course of time, dwindle, and may eventually disappear from the mere force of circumstances. What then? Should that catastrophe occur—I do not predict that it will, but I am pointing out what may happen in an extreme case—the Government of India will then inevitably lose control, and lose touch with the people of the country. It will be in the dark as to what is happening, and should any emergency or crisis or unrest of the kind we have lately witnessed arise, it will be in grave peril.
One other contingency I must point out. Here again I would emphasise the fact that I am pointing out possible results, because this is our only chance of influencing the Secretary of State in the direction of caution. That is all I want to do. What about our vast commercial interests in India? At present there are hundreds of millions of British capital invested in India. Capital, of all things in the world, is peculiarly sensitive to anything in the shape of revolutionary change. What would be the result if British capital in India, or any large part of it, took fright and disappeared from the country? That would be a catastrophe the result of which it would be very difficult to measure. Then there is one other point which close personal experience prompts me to put. What would be the result in Burma if clause 3 were fully developed, and Burmans were appointed to the Executive Council there? The House knows very well that in Burma the woman is completely master of the situation. She manages and controls the whole of the affairs of her mankind. I have seen the man and the wife come up, and the man halting and looking stupid, and would make a stammering statement of the case. The wife standing by was apparently suffering very greatly in her patience. At last, unable to bear it any longer, she would push her husband out of the way, and informing me that he knew, nothing whatever about the matter, would make a full statement of the case. When she had finished this was fully en- 70 dorsed by her abashed husband. That I have seen with my own eyes over and over again. The Burmese women are completely masters of the situation, and I venture to predict that if you appoint their men to the Executive Councils of Burma the Departments over which they ostensibly preside will be run by their wives. I am not sure that petticoat government of that kind can be contemplated with equanimity by those in charge of this Bill. But it may be asked at this stage, if I have no positive suggestion to make, and whether all my remarks are confined solely to destructive criticism? Well, I have. We know perfectly well that usually before you advance a person you place him in a subordinate position where his powers of statesmanship are tested. Now, in India the course generally pursued is to appoint a likely man of that sort to be secretary of one of the Departments of one of the Governors. As secretary he has to apprise the Government of all matters of importance to the Administration. If he is the man they wish him to be he will exhibit statesmanlike qualities. So I suggest, instead of pursuing this clause 2 to its ultimate at once, and plumping men into these appointments, let the likely men be placed in the smaller positions of local government, and so prove their ability to go higher. Let them be tested, and if they prove successful, then by all means advance them to executive powers. That, I venture to submit, is the solution of this phase of the Question if the hon. Gentleman desires to proceed, as I hope he will, tentatively. If the hon. Gentleman can give us an assurance that some such probationary period will be given to test the men who are thought likely to be made members of the Executive Councils, I shall be glad. If this is a lengthened probationary period, I for one will not oppose the retention of the clause, but if he is not able to give that assurance then I shall be compelled to follow the Noble Lord into the Lobby.
§ Dr. V. H. RUTHERFORD
I have heard very many unfortunate and mischievous speeches in this House, but never one equal to that delivered by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. It is quite unworthy of any man in this House, and particularly of any man on this side of the House. If I remember, the hon. Member indicted Lord Curzon, and arraigned him for high treason. One of his reasons for doing so was that Lord 71 Curzon, in the University of Calcutta, had been guilty of making a similar speech to the one he has just made. His lordship indicted the Indian people, the Indian nation, so far as their honesty and integrity was concerned. I should like the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down to say whether he feels entitled, or, indeed, whether anyone in this House is justified, in indicting any nation whatsoever, and suggesting that their character was not as good as ours. Surely morality is not at a higher pitch in this country than it is in most other countries in the world, India included? How would we like to be measured so far as our conduct is concerned by the South African war? How would we like our national character to be judged by our action in China when we went to war there because of the opium traffic? I think that it is unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman could not resist the opportunity of saying that which is wholly unworthy, and wholly unjustifiable, on the part of any Member in this House. The hon. Gentleman speaks about innovation. Surely he knows that there have been Executive Councils in Madras and Bombay?
§ Dr. RUTHERFORD
He says no native, no Indian, is upon them, but there have been Executive Councils there since 1861. Surely we are entitled in this House, the Government are justified, in giving equality of treatment to other provinces in India? I say to those who take exception to Indians being appointed upon these councils, how are Indians ever to show their ability for government unless you have a reasonable trust in them, and give them the opportunity to show that they are worthy of it and capable of it.
§ Dr. RUTHERFORD
I am very glad that my hon. Friend has qualified his observations. I understood that he was not carrying his approval to the extent that many of us desire. Hon. Members have said that Indian reformers have never asked for Executive Councils, but Indian reformers asked for very much more. They have asked for Parliamentary institutions, and for self-government in local matters. Surely the greater includes the less, so that I consider the Indian reformers certainly have asked for this over and over 72 again. Now, what I feel is that this Amendment is unreasonable, and that it is a resurrection of the unfortunate action taken in another place. It is not quite on the large scale that the Lords desire to smash this clause, but it is on the minor scale. It is to make an exception to Bengal, as the Noble Lord who moved this Amendment said. It is practically unnecessary to do so, because by the Act of 1861 the Government of India and the Secretary of State for India can appoint an Executive Governor and an Executive Council in Bengal. All that this clause 3 gives is the opportunity at some future time for the Government of India to give to the various provinces the same equality, the same rights, and the same treatment that Madras and Bombay enjoy to-day. There are other reasons, of course, which have been given by the Secretary of State or indicated here, other reasons for this clause 3 going through in its entirety. Firstly, there is the reason of efficiency. It is absolutely impossible for any single man, let him be Heaven-sent or otherwise-sent, to govern rightly and well great provinces such as we have in India, so that for efficiency it is essential that the Governments should have Executive Councils to advise, to guide, to direct and to help the representatives of the Government. Further, it is to give India this opportunity to show her own metal. It will allow Indians to be appointed on these Executive Councils, and they will be able to show that they are just as capable as Englishmen, Scotsmen and Irishmen to govern their own country. Of that I have not the slightest doubt. If these men were in this country, no doubt many would be elected to this House, and they would show their ability, and many of them would occupy the Front Benches on both sides of the House. I rejoice that Lord Morley and the Government have given us clause 3. I sincerely trust that they will have nothing to do with this Amendment; that they will be firm, strong, and deliberate, and resist not only the Tory party in this House, which I regret to say have made this Question a party question by their resistance to this Bill—that they will not only resist this Amendment, but will insist upon the House of Lords accepting clause 3 in its entirety.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
The House will form its own judgment on the two speeches to which we have just listened. Reference was made by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down to Bombay. 73 I do not think it is possible to take Bombay as a standard for the whole of the provincial Governments of India, as there are elements in Bombay which you get nowhere else. Whether any system in Bombay may or may not be a success, you cannot take success in Bombay to be a criterion of what is likely to follow in the provincial governments of India. Already the hon. Member for Stirlingshire has given the Government reason to seriously reconsider the Amendment which has been moved. It is difficult for those who know nothing of India, and perhaps more difficult for those who know a little about India and Indian administration, to form an opinion of any value as to the momentous character of the changes introduced by Lord Morley's policy, and not of all which policy is covered by the Bill. Theoretically, the policy may be admirable. But when dealing with India perhaps the only safe line in the case of divergent opinion is to rely upon those whose personal experience of Indian administration constitutes them authorities upon the subject. We have a few of them in this House. There are others elsewhere whose experience bears perhaps more directly upon the Question before us, and we have, as regards some parts of the Bill, full information from men on the spot. On the clause under discussion we have very little, save the opinion of the Viceroy and the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal and one or two others. Therefore the view of ex-administrators at home who are available becomes of unusual importance, and if the opinions of ex-administrators at home is divided, the weight of it as a whole is against this clause. What are the facts? Lord Minto, at the end of his lengthy despatch, in a short paragraph, alludes casually to giving Executive Councils to the provincial governorships, indicating that the matter required careful consideration, and that it might, perhaps, be carried out after full consideration with the local authorities in India. Apparently, without the slightest consultation with the provincial governments in India, the clause was incorporated in the Bill. I think that all the authorities representing Anglo-Indian opinion in the House of Lords were against this clause. Some of them were against it on its merits; others because of the impression that it was being forced, so that before dealing with the lieutenant-governorships it would be well to test the new reforms in the two governorships, and that the clause should not be passed without the opinion of the provincial govern- 74 ments being obtained. Later on Lord Minto sent a telegram urging that the clause should be passed, but nothing has yet been heard from the authorities mostly concerned—the lieutenant-governorships of the central provinces and of Burma and the Punjab. Perhaps Lord Morley may now have papers which he could lay before Parliament giving a direct opinion from those governors. Otherwise, the Amendment seems to be reasonable,for it would seem to be giving Sir Norman Baker what he wants in Bengal, and it would enable us to get the views of the lieutenant-governors of the other provinces before we go further.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stirlingshire that this clause constitutes a new phase of the Government of India. It places natives of India in the position to exercise a great amount of patronage in Indian administration, and Indian administration therefore would be exposed to wholly new influence. We welcome every occasion of redeeming the pledges in the Proclamation of the King by associating native Indians with ourselves and the Government of India. That must remain our ideal if our rule is not to fail. We welcome Lord Morley's policy. At any rate, the advance of the natives of India, in fact, the appointment, promotion, or dismissal must be very difficult amongst mixed races, for where men of our race may fail from aloofness or ignorance, the native is even more liable to fail from undue bias or pressure in the conduct of these executive functions. I, of course, quite recognise the reassuring character of the Prime Minister's speech on this point as to the intention of the Government in applying the clause and bringing it into effect. It does not point to any immediate necessity to go beyond the Amendment brought forward by the Noble Lord, whilst in view of the actual facts, and in view of the advantage of securing Parliamentary unanimity in introducing this great extension of the representative element into the Indian constitution, I shall support the Amendment.
Captain A. C. MURRAY
I have listened, if I may say so, to many unfortunate and mischievous speeches since I have been in this House, but to none more unfortunate or more mischievous than that which has been delivered by the hon. Member for Brentford, and it is that speech which primarily moves me, and which is at least one of my reasons for supporting the original clause as it stands, 75 and of opposing the Amendment. If hon. Members in this House were to study in the vernacular some of the papers published in India they would probably find, as I personally have found, that speeches from the reports of the proceedings of this House such as the hon. Member has just delivered will be given a place of great prominence, while speeches of other Members of this House reflecting, as I think, more accurately, not only the opinion held in this House, but the opinion held by people throughout the country, will be assigned a place in these vernacular papers down away in the corners of the sheets in very short paragraphs. One of the main objections to this clause as it originally stood, and one of the main objections to the Noble Lord's Amendment, was the enabling power in the clause which provides that the Government of India should, if they thought necessary, be enabled to set up Executive Councils in the provinces other than Bengal. The Noble Lord said, I think on the second reading and again in the Committee stage, and again to-day he emphasised the point, that the result of giving these powers would be to subject the Government of India to constant agitation and pressure on the part of the whole Congress party in India. I think there is another side to the picture. Are we to imagine that if this Amendment be accepted the clause as it would then stand will be received with unanimity by all the peoples of India who are interested in these reforms? I think that not only the Congress party, but the Indian Mussulmans are both agreed in this particular respect, and are both in favour of the clause as it stands. We have heard a great deal this afternoon on the Amendment that preceded the one now under discussion—in the first place, as to the point of difference, and, secondly, as to the points of agreement between the Hindu and the Mussulman communities in India—but I think at any rate there is one point upon which they at the present moment are fully agreed, and that is that whether rightly or wrongly, as some think rightly, as others think wrongly, they are agreed that this Amendment should not be permitted to have a place in this Bill, and I think that if the Amendment were accepted by the Government so far from allaying any of their fears in this particular respect it would lead to constant agitation and consequent pressure throughout all the Mahomedan and Hindu communities in India, which would seriously re- 76 tard the peaceful development of these reforms. I think the situation simply amounts to this: that that power which t is now proposed to exercise in the case of Bengal may be at some future date found necessary to be exercised for administrative purposes in provinces in India other than Bengal. I am bound to say that in my humble opinion I have not yet heard in the course of this Debate any valid reason advanced why this opportunity should not be taken to assume the enabling power proposed in the clause.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I was in vain hopes that the Government would give some slight relief as to the size of this blank cheque, which they are proposing to give to the Government of India. The Leader of the Opposition told us we were asked to give a blank cheque to the Government of India. My object in supporting this Amendment is to write as it were across the blank cheque "not beyond so much." I want it to be used for a certain amount, but not more. I quite agree it is desirable to create Lieutenant-Governors' Councils in Bengal. I am prepared to admit it may be possible to create such councils there, but why it should be desirable to create one in the Punjab in the Frontier Provinces or in the United Provinces or in Burma I cannot conceive. I also realise that the addition to the councils attending the lieutenant-governors implied by the declaration of the Secretary of State and the appointment of at least one native member to each of these councils. We have given by this Bill a very great measure of representation and elective government to the people of India, and we have given enormously large scope to the people of India in the administration of their own affairs—an administration which the enormous mass of the people of India do not in the least care about or want. We have heard a great deal about different peoples in India, but nobody seems to have spoken with regard to the position of the people of Great Britain there. We have heard a great deal of the Hindu class, and we have heard a great deal of the Mahomedans, but there are numbers of people from Great Britain carrying on business in India and engaged in the administration of the Indian Empire. We are making no provision in this Bill for the British in India and for the experienced Indian officers, but we are electing to the council Indian members who are to sit at the elbow of the Lieutenant-Governor and to advise him, and 77 who have to know the numerous secrets of the administration of these provinces and to have great control over India. By the action of the Secretary of State we have been forced to appoint Mr. Sinha to the Viceroy's Executive Council. Hitherto the rule has been personal, and no one has made out a case that I have heard from the benches opposite in favour of Executive Councils in India other than the two in Bombay and Bengal. Not one word was used to show that the executive Government as it existed has not sufficed. We are told it may be in the future desirable to extend the position to council Government; in other words, to extend this blank cheque which we are going to give to the Government of India. Lord Lawrence's opinion in favour of personal Government, personal administration by a single head without a council, was very rightly referred to in the Debate of last week as the best form of Government for many parts of India. I am only dealing with those parts of India which are by common consent not included in the older provinces of Madras and Bombay. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury qualified that by telling us that the position of the Secretary of State for India is that of a single head without a council is the best form of Government. That is all up to the present the hon. Gentleman has been able to base his claim upon—namely, that in many parts of India a single head without a council is the best form of Government. I think it is for the Members of the Government to show the House why they propose to extend that principle. We hear that it is desirable to extend it to Bengal. May I point out that this Amendment allows that extension, and admits of an Executive Council there on the ground that it may be one of those portions where it is desirable to have a Governor? The argument has been put forward that in our Crown Colonies such as Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Jamaica the Governors are provided with Executive Councils. That is perfectly true; but the Governors of Ceylon, Hong Kong, and Jamaica are experienced Civil servants who have lived there all their Governmental lives, and have been trained amongst the people, and they are revered by the people. They are not sent out from this House knowing nothing of the government of those Crown Colonies. I can conceive the certainty that a Member of this House who was a clever administrator when sent out as Governor would need an Executive 78 Council if sent out to Madras, Bombay, or Hong Kong; but those are not the kind of Governors we desire to see increased or which the hon. Gentleman opposite or the Secretary of State for India would desire to see increased in the other Provinces of India. India needs Governors who know the Provinces.
I was very pleased to hear the speech made by the hon. Member representing Stirlingshire, who spoke of the reverence held in India for the English members of the Indian Civil Service as against the Indian members. It is absolutely known throughout India that natives of all classes, Hindu and Mahomedan alike, prefer that their affairs should be administered and their disputes settled by an Englishman rather than by a native judge or a native administrator, however clever. Ask any Indian native you like whether he prefers to have his affairs administered by an English or an Indian member of the Civil Service, and I am perfectly certain he will reply, "Give me an Englishman to decide my individual case, because I can always rely on justice being done by an English member of the Civil Service." They prefer this because Englishmen are not subject to these false ideas and to pressure which must take place from a man's family or a man's surroundings when he is a native member of the Indian Civil Service. Natives look upon Englishmen as the very fountain of justice and the basis of impartiality, and now you are going to put on these councils Indian gentlemen not from the Indian Civil Service, not men who have been trained for years in the administration of public affairs, but men who have probably not been members of the Indian Civil Service, and who have not been brought up and trained in the administration of affairs, but lawyers, pleaders, and probably agitators.
Do you not think that pressure will be brought to bear upon them? Pressure will be brought to bear upon such men in any possible way to ascertain what is going to be done in the Lieutenant-Governor's Executive Council, and efforts will be made to mould in some way the views of that council. Pressure will be brought to get the Government of India to carry out the provisions of this blank cheque. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen to say that it is not proposed to grant these Executive Councils at the present moment in India. I know what will happen. You will have resolution after resolution from 79 the Congress in India praying for the creation of Executive Councils in the various provinces, and you have no answer to that demand. They will say to you, "There is the Bill passed by the English House of Commons authorising the Secretary of State and the Government of India to create Executive Councils for a particular purpose. What did the English House of Commons and the English Parliament mean by giving these powers to the Government of India if they were not to be exercised?" You will have your legislative councils, in a constant state of agitation in the various provinces. In the very next year after the passing of this Bill resolutions will be brought forward pressing the Government of India to exercise the powers this House has given to it, if, perchance, the House should pass this measure. I suggest we should relieve the Government of India from the pressure which will certainly be put upon them under this clause by the people who desire to see a larger number of appointments thrown open to the natives of India. Do not think for one moment that by passing this Bill you are going to stop agitation. The hon. Member for the Brentford Division has delivered speech after speech in this House upon this Question. I do not agree that the speech the hon. Member has just delivered was one of the most mischievous he has delivered in this House, because it is not the first he has delivered. The hon. Member has delivered possibly more mischievous speeches on this subject of India than any other hon. Member. Some hon. Members below the Gangway did not like my suggestion the other day that they were the representatives in this House of those who had been deported in India for sedition. I do not want to put the case too high, but I think I may say the hon. Member for Brentford represents the extreme National view in India.
§ Dr. RUTHERFORD
I do not represent the extreme National view. The extreme National view is complete independence, and I do not represent that.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
It is quite possible that the hon. Member does not go quite so far as complete independence, but he has described this Bill as a very tiny and modest step. I do not know how much further he would go, and stop short of complete independence. The point I wish to make is that the concessions which are being made to-day are not in the least likely to stay the hands of the agitating portion 80 of India, and the Nationalists' section from striving to secure even larger concessions until they arrive at what they undoubtedly claim, namely absolute freedom, not merely colonial freedom, but a free nation. The Government could not assume that the proposals they are now making are going to stop agitation. On the contrary, this Bill is going to foster and enlarge agitation, and it will give the agitators year after year, and day by day, more opportunities of expressing themselves. I ask the Financial Secretary to at least give us the slight concession asked for in this Amendment, instead of asking us to give a blank cheque which will be seized upon to demand Executive Councils in provinces where the hon. Gentleman opposite and the Secretary of State himself know perfectly well that the people are not fitted to receive them.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The view which is embodied in the Amendment on the Paper is in conformity with the opinion expressed by the Noble Lord during the Committee stage of this Bill. Although it is a prudent advance upon the action taken in another place, at all events on this side of the House we have to remember that the clause as it stands on the Paper to-day was rejected in its entirety by the House of Lords. Nevertheless, there were saving clauses and saving expressions to be found in the speeches both of Lord Lansdowne and Lord Curzon, which are not wholly in disaccord with the proposal which we have placed on the Paper to-day. It was stated in the discussion upon the rejection of this clause in another place that if it could be shown that official opinion in India and the non-official opinion of Europeans was in favour of the proposals contained in this clause, the attitude of those who supported the rejection of this clause might have been very considerably modified. The Noble Lord who moved the Amendment said in the Committee Stage, and he repeated his argument this afternoon, that there were special circumstances connected with Bengal which rendered it possible and even desirable to provide for that Province an Executive Council.
§ Earl PERCY
I did not say that. I said that there might be special circumstances which might render it possible or even desirable.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I do not want to attribute statements to the Noble Lord which he did not express, but at all events he agreed that there might be circum- 81 stances which would render an Executive Council desirable in this particular province. I am not, therefore, this afternoon going to argue the question of Bengal, but I think the real reason why both the Government of India and the Noble Lord opposite are in accord with us in this proposal is that the considerable population and area of Bengal, and its particular organisation, and the education of the people, are factors in the Government of that province, which, to a certain extent, dissimilates it from other provinces in India. The real question is whether, in the view of the responsible advisers, circumstances justify the application of this proposal to this or that province. That is a point on which we differ from right hon. Gentlemen on the other side. It is perfectly fair to say that even local and non-official opinion in India is against the proposal to extend government of this sort by the provinces, and that the immediate creation of such councils should not be proceeded with. That is perfectly fair, but you must also accept this argument: That where you find official and non-official authorities in favour of doing a particular thing in regard to the general policy of the country, you are bound to accept that as a justifiable argument. It seems to me that the Opposition are content to accept one situation, but they are not content to allow us to accept the other for doing so. The Opposition are quite content, when official opinion is against us, to accept it as a final argument in favour of their position, but they are not content when official and non-official opinion is with us to accept that as an argument in favour of our position. In this matter, so far as the general position is concerned, official and non-official opinion in India goes with us to this point. It is with us in our view that it is desirable to give to the Government of India a discretionary power—I will not go any further than that—to create when the Government of India thinks fit Executive Councils in the various provinces. I do not think there is any possibility of doubting it. In the course of the Debate in the other place, that was the question, and I think a very legitimate and proper question. What was our answer? We showed that the Government of India were of opinion that it is desirable that they as a council should be the power to create an Executive Council for a province when a case demanded it. I ventured to get the most widely read and highly-respected newspapers on that point. 82 An hon. Gentleman mentioned "The Pioneer." I have had the opportunity of seeing the back numbers of that paper, and the opinion expressed amply carries out this view. Other great organs of public opinion in India are distinctly of opinion that the time has arrived when it would be proper to entrust the Government of India with this discretionary power. Everybody who knows the general independence of the Press and the opportunities which it has to reproduce current opinion of the people who live within the reign of its circulation knows that the great Indian papers express the general trend of the opinions of the people. They are distinctly of opinion that the time has arrived when it is proper to introduce into the government of India this discretionary power. I will deal with a point which was raised by the Noble Lord, viz., the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor. I cannot quote the opinion of any single lieutenant-governor in favour of the creation of an Executive Council except in Bengal. On the other hand, I do not know of a single instance of any single lieutenant-governor venturing to say that Executive Councils are not in the future desirable, and ultimately and absolutely necessary. There is no one in this House, there is nobody in another place, not the Secretary of State, not the Governor-General of India, who desires to create an Executive Council outside Bengal, but that it is desirable to give power to them to create these councils as and when the Government of India think fit and desirable. I do not like the attempt that is made to override the view of the Government of India by reference to the lieutenant-governors. The Lieutenant-Governor properly has great weight and great knowledge and experience within the confines of the limits of his own province, but to attempt to give him authority and the responsibility of the Government of India is a province which he does not possess, and, as far as I know, he does not want and ought not to possess. He is responsible for the application of a general policy for a particular province, but not responsible for the general policy with regard to Indian affairs. The Leader of the Opposition feels that it is undesirable to give this discretionary power to create Executive Councils, but he will remember that discretionary power was given to the Governors to create legislative councils. I do not say the Legislative and Executive Councils are the same. The idea of a 83 Legislative Council for a province was certainly as unfamiliar to the people in 1861 as an executive power was familiar to them in 1909. The right hon. Gentleman opposite agreed with us to give a power to create an Executive Council in Bengal. Precisely the same thing happened under the Act of 1861, but it was not exercised in 1897, so that 36 years passed between the original grant and its exercise. Why are hon. Gentlemen so very anxious to have continued discussions either here or elsewhere on this particular proposal? My attention was called to some particular words which fell from the Noble Lord in the course of the brief speech he made. He threw out the suggestion that the subject of the precise method of determining the Parliamentary control over proposals for creating Executive Councils in provinces beyond Bengal might be the subject of a compromise between the views at present entertained on those benches and which we hold on these benches. I should gladly welcome any arrangement which might be come to upon the lines he indicated between right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen on that bench and His Majesty's Government. It seems to me most undesirable that every time it is found necessary to create an Executive Council in an Indian province that it should become the subject of fresh discussion in this House and elsewhere. It is impossible that misunderstanding should from time to time occur as to the object to be attained and as to the methods by which the object may be realised. I cannot help thinking that some compromise on the lines which the Noble Lord has suggested and which I have indicated might be found by which this delicate and difficult point might be withdrawn from continued and protracted debate, and while we cannot accept the Amendment as it stands on the Paper in another place, I hope some proposal acceptable to us will be adopted.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I gladly welcome the spirit of compromise which reigned over the concluding portion of the hon. Gentleman's speech. There is certainly a change on this side of the House in one's views as to the gravity of appointing additional Executive Councils in the frontier provinces of India or in provinces other than Bengal. Certainly nothing has fallen from the hon. Gentleman which is likely to alter our views. I can see no analogy between the Acts of 1861 and the present pro- 84 posals of the Government. After all what the Act of 1861 did was to give power to the Government of India to have legislative councils of the old type, legislative councils, in other words, which would in no way interfere with the Executive, which were nominated, and on which there was to be an official majority. It will be admitted that power to create such councils as that did not raise any great constitutional question, and it was a matter which this House and Parliament generally might well leave to the Viceroy and his Council and the Secretary of State. But at the present time we have to deal with a problem of very much greater gravity. One hon. Gentleman likened the council of the Governor to the Cabinet; but it might not be nearly so effective a method of governing as the Cabinet. In this case you do not even insist that two out of four members shall have any official status whatever. They are totally without qualification. They are appointed, as I understand, for a term of years, and you are going to put in immediate control of some essential part of the executive machinery of the country gentlemen from whom you cannot have the same information as we have in this House, and who may have it in their power to clog the wheels of the Government at any moment, and you may have to establish in the frontier provinces of India this new machinery in place of the one-man Government which now exists. I think it is a great risk. I am not saying that it is necessarily wrong. I am saying that it is a great risk, and a change in the Indian Constitution which Parliament ought not to lightly pass. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, as I understand, although he does not quite like the suggestion that Parliament should retain control, is prepared to favourably consider it, not strictly on the merits of the question, but in order that peace may be attained and a settlement of the controversy arrived at. He is quite prepared to say that over the initiative of these great changes in provinces other than Bengal Parliamentary control is to be maintained. If that is the intention of the Government, I think we are bound to meet him half way; and, for my own part, I should be glad to do so. I understand from him that the Government are prepared favourably to consider the method by which Parliamentary control shall be maintained. They object to the necessity for bringing in a new Bill to be read the first, second, and third time in 85 both Houses whenever they want to establish a new council, and I sympathise with that objection; but it must be possible to devise a method by which full Parliamentary control shall be maintained without the necessity for passing a fresh Bill. I am afraid it would be quite impossible for us to do anything on the fourth stage of the Bill, and I do not suggest that it should be done; but, as I understand from the hon. Gentleman, there is a distinct undertaking on the part of the Government that they intend with a good will to do what they can in another place to deal with this situation. I shall be very glad to facilitate any such arrangement, as far as it is in my power. I suppose the other House have only power to rediscuss what we have done. I suppose the mere fact that we have put back clause 3 will give the licence they require to carry out the arrangement which the hon. Gentleman has indicated his willingness to accept. That being so, there is no technical difficulty in the way.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The right hon. Gentleman used the word "accept." I think the right hon. Gentleman clearly understands what is in my mind. Of course, there must be a consideration of a proposal before its acceptance. We do not know what form the proposal will take, but we desire very strongly to come to some arrangement, and I only wish to put in a caveat as to the word "accept."
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I am perfectly sure that I understand the hon. Gentleman as to his meaning. Of course, the thing must be discussed before it is accepted, and I do not in the least wish to pledge the Government further than they are prepared to pledge themselves. But I do understand that every attempt will be made on the part of the representatives of the Government in the other place to introduce words which will give effective Parliamentary control to any extension of the system of Executive Councils in the provinces of India other than in the province of Bengal. I am sure the hon. Gentleman has stated his desire for peace and general agreement, and in that sense I think the House will be well advised in accepting the undertaking.
§ Mr. J. D. REES
When the Leader of the Opposition said that these councils would not, in effect, resemble the Cabinet, I venture, with very great respect, to express some difference. He said that the council could not be regarded as a Cabinet when gentlemen without any official experience would be put upon it. 86 It is a fact that at the time when this argument is put forward, it is actually stated in the Indian Press that the fact that the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were put into the Cabinet here without having had official experience is a ground for doing the same thing in India. It seems to me a very pertinent answer to the right hon. Gentleman, little as I accept the position of those who argue thus.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I do not think it is an answer. Whatever may be the merits or demerits of the right hon. Gentlemen to whom the hon. Member refers, they have had very great experience of public life.
§ Mr. REES
One thing has been forgotten which has now arisen, and that is the practice of political agitation, which is common now to both India and England. I will not take my views from the hon. Member for Merthyr, but I am bound to say that the parallel which he drew the other day, but which I am very far from accepting, does not seem to apply here. It struck me that he did make a point there when he said that it is very difficult to say that you shall not appoint Indian gentlemen, because they have no official experience, when in England you have a President of the Board of Trade and a Chancellor of the Exchequer put into the Cabinet without previous official experience. But I will not dwell upon the point. There is another point which the hon. Member made which, for the sake of the reputation for sanity of the Government of India, I venture to revert to. He said—"Imagine a constitution with a council being introduced on the north-west frontier;" but I think when the Government propose to do that it will be time to despair of the Government of India. I see no reason, however, to believe that they are likely to make such use of the enabling powers, which it is proposed to grant them. But I do agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman in expressing his approval of the proposal that something of a limiting character should be put into the Bill in another place; I sincerely hope that it will, though I am a little astonished to see any desire from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, especially for the increase of Parliamentary control over India, remembering how fortunate I was to find myself in the Lobby with them all, when it was proposed to bring the salary of the Secretary of State on the Estimates. I make no secret 87 of the fact that I think the less detailed Parliamentary control there is over India the better for the administration of that Empire. I wish to associate myself with the speech of the hon. Member for Kincardineshire, regarding the speech of the hon. Member for Brentford, who is one of a small group of statesmen who are at a moment's notice prepared to put the world to school and govern continents by rule. He is prepared at a moment's notice to put everything right in the countries and dominions of the Kaiser and the Czar, the Sultan and the Shah, the Khedive of Egypt, the Gaekwar of Baroda, the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Jam of Jamnager, the Negus of Abyssinia, the Alakej of Abeokuta—he is prepared to find every one of these a first-class democratic constitution of the sealed Parliamentary pattern at the shortest possible notice. There are some people of whom it is said that in moments of frenzied excitement they always see red, but it may be said of the hon. Member and those of a like way of thinking, that they see brown or black, bamboo or yellow, but never in their lives can they see white.
Let us, they say, put these natives of India on their mettle, and see what they will do, but if the natives follow their advice they will teach the elephant to throw the rider out of the howdah. My hon. Friend the Member for Kincardineshire alluded to the mischief which is done by reports in the Indian press of such speeches as those of the hon. Member. Of course, they have no effect in this House. I am aware of that, but the point is, as my hon. Friend has said, that they are translated into the vernacular and published in leaflets, while the speeches of the saner Members of this House are not so published. I cannot but envy the organisation of the Congress party, which possesses a well conducted newspaper edited by Mr. Cotton, and it is the fortunate position of a certain Member that political principle, filial piety, and a sufficient subscription list, combine to produce a result eminently satisfactory to all concerned. I come to the question of the Amendment of the Noble Lord, the Member for Kensington, and I say that the fatal objection to his Amendment, if he will allow me to say so, is that if you pass this clause and confine it to Bengal you do give an object lesson on the reward of agitation. The whole of India knows that the agitation was begun in Bengal, it had its adolesence in Bengal, it flourished up to bomb throwing in Bengal, and 88 Bengal is to have a council of which two members will probably be high caste Babus, and certainly the Bengalis will appreciate the object lesson of the reward of agitation. Would it not be a wise thing to avoid giving such an example. The hon. Member for Stirlingshire, who not only knows the truth, but has the courage to speak it, as the subject is too serious for make believe—and I will frankly say that is the difference between my hon. Friend the Member for Stirlingshire and my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford—my hon. Friend expressed grave doubts as to the propriety of creating such a situation as this. I said so the other night in other words. I said in fact that the good Hindu cannot be impartial. It is his business if he is a caste man to prefer his caste. It is the rule of Hindu life, and the code of conduct, that he must give the preference to his own high caste. Even if this is not so, it is at any rate believed by the lower and middle classes of the community in India.
Then objection is taken to the rule of the Lieutenant-Governor on the ground that he is a tyrant, but there are different classes of tyrants, and the Lieutenant-Governors have carried on one of the best forms of government and the one most suitable to Asiatic rule that it is possible to devise. I do put it that they are officers of the highest capacity, and they have not asked for councils, and probably do not need them, but if these councils are to be given let them be given by an enabling power, and not as the reward of sedition to the province of Bengal. There is only one point I wish to take exception to in the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Stirlingshire. He said it may be desirable to give Bengal preference, as it was the most advanced province. I deny that that is so, and neither the educational statistics nor the census show it, and I would ask why sedition should be given advantages in Bengal greater than those given in any other part of India. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirlingshire also referred to a subject which I have on commission, and I will deal with it briefly. I was asked to bring it before the House and to say that the planters and chambers of commerce throughout India, view with great apprehension the appointment of native gentlemen on the Executive of the Government. The trade associations join with them in that view, and I must also say that they all unite in complaining of certain irresponsible Members of Parliament, who aid and 89 abet a small section of the people in hatred of the Western settlers in India. I will not take up the time of the House, but will simply read the names of the various bodies: The Trades Associations of Rangoon, Bombay and Madras, the Chambers of Commerce of Narayangunge, Karachi, Madras and Burma; the Indian Tea Association, Surma Valley Branch and Assam Branch, and the Behar, Darjeeling, Dehra, Doon Tea and Duars Planters' Associations. Those are bodies of men pursuing their own occupations in India with great benefit to that country, and their views at least should, I think, be mentioned in this House. An opportunity rarely happens, and I wish I was able to state more fully the view which they put forward. But they not only speak for themselves, but they urge that to put native gentlemen into the councils of the provinces will result in disaster, because if the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor leaves, and the senior member of the council being a native naturally becomes for the time being head of the administrative system, they say that the ruling princes of India will never consent to be ruled over by a central Government consisting of Ghoses and Bhoses. I am not adopting these expressions, but I do associate myself heartily with the views they express, and I believe that whenever any subject of this sort comes before the House of Commons the views of these men who have been spending their capital in India and paying wages in India and carrying on their trade there are entitled to the fullest and most respectful consideration.
Another body has been referred to by the hon. Member for Merthyr, but I think he rather misunderstood their position. The non-caste communities of Southern India point out that they are 16 per cent. of the population. They do not pretend to be Hindus, and they do not like the Hindus, and they say that the class which will come into power under these reforms are their natural enemies, and I am bound to say, associating myself with the hon. Member for Stirling, that there is a practical antagonism between the upper and lower classes in India. The upper classes style the lower as hewers of wood, and drawers of water, they regard the world as created for them to rule over with the lower caste as their servants. It sometimes astonishes me that certain hon. Gentlemen who pretend to some knowledge of India do not learn that they are 90 in fact made a cat's-paw of by the landlords, the lawyers, the Brahmins, and the castes who brief them. I say nothing against these castes. I have many friends amongst them, and I respect them. But they were born in the view that it is their business to rule and to use other people as their footstool, and that will never be eradicated by these reforms nor by the reforms of 20 generations. It must not be forgotten that the professional middle classes profit by these reforms, and that the other people do not profit by them and do not want them.
It was said that no Lieutenant-Governor had approved of this proposal to create these Executive Councils for Lieutenant-Governors. There may be none except the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. I believe that is so; but the Home Member of the Government of India is an authority of equal, and while he holds that office even of greater, weight, and I am profoundly impressed not only with the support given by the Anglo-Indian Press to this proposal, which rather surprises me, but also by the opinion given by the Home Member of the Viceroy's Government on this point. But he says:—As regards the elimination by the House of Lords of the provision for the creation of provincial Executive Councils, I may say that for my part I should like to see it replaced, on the ground that the increasing burden of personal responsibility thrown on some of our lieut-governors is becoming heavier than can be borne; the quickening of the political spirit in India during the last four years has largely increased the personal volume of work of heads of Provinces, and the work will be still further vastly increased when the reforms come into operation.That is a very strong expression of opinion coming from the most authoritative quarter possible. That and the Viceroy's opinion I own go a good way with me. It may be said a Member of this House is to vote exactly on every question as his own individual feelings guide him. I suppose that is so, but it seems to me that where a proposal is part of a great scheme, and where that scheme is not only supported by this side of the House, but also practically by that side because they have not divided against it, it is rather a serious responsibility to cut out a provision which the Secretary of State himself says is an absolutely necessary part of his scheme. I cannot see it myself, but I think one must take some things from others who, for the moment, are in the best possible position to judge. I do not like this constitution. I believe it is a very bad one, and the Governor in Council Constitution is an extremely 91 bad one. It works well simply because the Englishmen who are sent out to govern our Presidencies are so good, and are filled with such public spirit, and find such good advisers among the Civil Service that they govern Madras and Bombay well, and thoroughly well, but that is not because of the constitution. I believe a far better constitution than to send out a man who admittedly knows nothing about it and have him dry-nursed by two able civilians, is to have the best civilian you can find in India, make him Lieutenant-Governor, and instead of having two civilians to differ from him and robably hamper him, let them be the secretaries, which practically they are when there are lieutenant-governors, and which they are not when there are governors.
Lord Ampthill, who has been a Governor, took up the opposite view very spiritedly, and declared that the Governor in Council Constitution was everything that was good. That was a very proper view for him to take, but with longer experience of it I must differ from him altogether, and believe it works well because the men are good and not because the system is good, because I believe it to be a thoroughly bad one, and since the fourth member is lost by the abolition of the Provincial Commander-in-Chief, a positively ridiculous constitution. At present you have two colleagues of one Governor, and the Governor has a casting vote, with which he exactly equals the council, and he may be from the day he lands in India to the day he leaves absolutely deprived of the slightest authority of any sort or kind. That is a ridiculous constitution, and it is necessary to make some change in it, but that it is necessary to introduce a pale reflection of that constitution into the Lieutenant-Governorships I do not believe. I have given my reason for coming to the views of the Viceroy, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, the Home Member, and that portion of the Press which represents to the utmost degree the Anglo-Indian views and the views of the Civil Service. I say it is very difficult for an individual, whatever may be his personal view, to stand up and decline to support such a proposal in this House, and I do not feel equal to refusing to support the clause. I cannot, therefore, vote for this Amendment, and I believe the Government of India will not introduce Councils elsewhere than in Bengal. If it is introduced there, I am sure it will be a premium upon agitation, but under the circum- 92 stances, and for the reasons I have given, I should be unable to vote with the Noble Lord.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 5 (Power to Extend Business of legislative Councils).—(1) Notwithstanding anything in the Indian Councils Act, 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 discussion 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.
§ Amendments agreed to, sub-section (1), after the words "and the Lieutenant-Governor," to insert the words" or Lieutenant-Governor in Council." At the end of sub-section (2), after the words "may be," to insert "and of any Vice-President." In sub-section (3), after the words "or by a Lieutenant-Governor," to insert the words "or a Lieutenant-Governor in Council."
§ Clause 7 (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.
§ Amendments agreed to, after the word "All" to insert the word "proclamations." After the word "Act" to insert the words "other than rules made by a Lieutenant-Governor for the more convenient transaction of business in his; Council."93
§ Order for third reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed: "That the Bill be read the third time."—[Mr. Hobhouse.]
§ Earl PERCY
I do not propose to take this opportunity of making another general survey of the policy of this Bill or of expressing once again our doubts and misgivings with regard to its probable effect. The Government have expressed their intention of meeting us fully in the future arrangements with regard to proportional Mahomedan representation. They have also told us they are prepared to make a great attempt to meet us upon clause 3. The only point which has really not been raised, and which it is impossible to raise by Amendment, is that part of the Bill which I still regard as by far its most disagreeable and gratuitously dangerous feature, and that is the decision of the Government to abolish the official majority upon the Legislative Council. It is true that the concession of an unofficial majority cannot lead to a deadlock, but it may very seriously increase the practical difficulties of administration. It is absolutely contrary to the principles which we have hitherto recognised in every part of the Empire so far as I know, that we only give an unofficial majority where we are prepared at the same time to concede to that majority the power if need be of forming a responsible administration for themselves, and I am quite unable to see what practical purpose it serves. It is not necessary in order to inform the Government of India or the local Government of native opinion, and we have seen quite clearly in the course of these Debates that the Government never would have agreed to allow an unofficial majority at all were it not for the fact that they count upon the probability that the nominated members will very often vote with the Government against the elected members, and that even supposing the nominated and elected members combined against the Government they will always in the last resort be able to exercise their veto or the superior and overriding legislative powers of the Government of India. Therefore we are perfectly justified in saying that this unofficial majority is in reality nothing but a sham, and not only a sham but a dangerous sham, because its practical effect must be to encourage the very belief which on every occasion you say you are anxious to discourage, that you are making a first step by this Bill towards setting up a Parliamentary constitution in India. 94 However, I quite recognise that, for good or ill, the House is determined to make this experiment, and if we cannot entirely share the sanguine anticipations as to its operation of the Secretary of State for India, we can at all events join with him in hoping that his anticipations rather than ours will be realised by the event.
I rise rather for the purpose partly of congratulating the hon. Gentleman opposite on the courtesy and dexterity with which he has conducted the debates on this measure, on which I think he is all the more entitled to be congratulated in that he was called upon to undertake the task at very short notice. There is one point which our debate in Committee has left obscure. We moved an Amendment on clause 2, the practical effect of which would have been that the additional members on the Executive Councils would have been confined to one instead of two, as the Government recommend. There can only be one additional member appointed, and only in his case could you have dispensed with the qualification that he must have been 10 years in the service of the Crown. But although we have not carried our point in that respect, yet according to the declaration of the Secretary of State for India he does not intend himself to appoint more than three members altogether to these Executive Councils, and therefore only one, so long as he remains Secretary of State, will be a person who has had administrative experience. But the Secretary of State also gave two further pieces of information in another place. He said his intention was to appoint an Anglo-Indian who had not been a member of the Civil Service, and he also said shortly afterwards that it was his intention and desire to appoint a native of India. I draw attention to that statement because it is obvious that whenever you do appoint an Anglo-Indian who has not been in the service of the Crown on that council you will not be able to appoint a native unless that native has been in the service of the Crown. That point is, perhaps, worth noticing, because it shows that under the system proposed by Lord Morley the opening of Executive appointments for natives will not be nearly as large as perhaps is supposed in some quarters of India. The point on which I should like the hon. Gentleman to give us some further information if he can is with regard to the attitude of the Government towards those persons who have been deported under the Regulation of 1818, and to what extent those persons are or are not to be eligible 95 as candidates for election to legislative councils. At the present moment those who listened to the Debate on the Committee stage of the Bill will agree that the House was left somewhat uninformed as to the true intentions of the Government. The position, as I understand it, is this. For the first time the Government are dispensing with the power of the Viceroy to nominate, or, as I prefer to call it, to elect the representatives. Would the fact that you are abolishing that, power to nomination or confirmation render it necessary to draw certain categories of persons who will not be eligible for election? I understand that those categories have not been finally decided upon, but the Government at home has been in communication with the Government in India as to the principles which are to regulate the drawing up of these categories. They have decided that women are not to be eligible, that lunatics are not to be eligible, and that persons who have been convicted and imprisoned for sedition are not to be eligible. Therefore, the question arises are persons who have been deported on a charge of suspicion of sedition to come under a separate category of disqualification? All that we could get from the spokesman of the Government on the last occasion was the statement that deportation in itself, and for all time, was not to be regarded as a disqualification. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman in what sense those deported persons are to be regarded as differing from persons who will be disqualified, for instance, on the ground of sedition. I understand that the Government of India is in any case to have a general power of dispensation in regard to all those categories. I suppose that women will remain disqualified for all time because she cannot change her sex, and I suppose that lunatics will remain disqualified until they recover their senses. But I understand in regard to persons convicted of sedition, and also in regard to those included in another category, namely, people who have been in the service of the Government, and dismissed from that service, the Government, after the lapse of a certain time, when those periods are supposed to have purged their offence, will be qualified and enabled to exercise the general power of dispensation. I should like to know if that is all the hon. Gentleman meant when he said on the Committee stage that deported persons were not to be regarded ipso facto as disqualified. Did he 96 mean by that, as I took him to mean, that deportation was not to be regarded as affecting a person who had been deported, that it was not to raise presumptive evidence of ineligibility, or did he mean, as he might have meant, and as I hope he does, that the kind of action which would justify the Government of India in deporting anybody is a kind of action that would disqualify those persons from election? If he meant that, the point is really one of comparative unimportance, although I confess personally I think it is a great pity that the Government have preferred to draw up these detailed categories of exclusion, and to do away with the general power of disqualification by refusing to allow nomination. The Secretary of State for India said he regarded this power of confirming elected representatives as in some way incompatible with abstract democratic principles; but so far as I know this right of the Viceroy to nominate or confirm has never been made the subject of protest on the part of any section of opinion in India, and so far from the elected representatives regarding it as undesirable, I believe they regard it as an additional honour conferred by the ruling power. I believe the hon. Gentleman will be able to make some statement which will relieve any misapprehensions to which his language gave rise on the previous occasion.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
I rise with pleasure to accord my sincere and hearty congratulations to the Secretary of State on having at last brought his Bill safely into port. If I may respectfully say so, he has shown the greatest ability, and he has presented the measure with consummate skill. I for one am not surprised at the fact that he has been able so to modify the original scheme of the Government of India into the shape it now assumes, and as was indicated in the despatch of November last, I can recall no such successful measure of administration by any of his predecessors If I may do so, I join with the Noble Lord opposite in congratulating the Secretary to the Treasury on the skill and ability with which he has conducted the proceedings on the Bill in this House. I am sure he joins with me in sincerely regretting the absence of the Under-Secretary for India, whose illness we all deplore. I am sure also it must be a great disappointment to the Under-Secretary, not to have been able to conduct the proceedings on this Bill in this 97 House, but in his absence I say they could not have been managed better, more successfully, or more clearly than they have been by the Secretary to the Treasury. I wish to add one word in regard to the probable effect which this Bill will produce in India. It is accompanied by the remarkable despatch of 25th November, which has resulted in a great improvement in the troubled condition of affairs in that country. The Bill has been accepted with gratitude by all sections of the community. There has been a little grumbling here and there, but taken altogether it has been an olive branch offered to the community in India. The troubles of the last two or three years, which have caused so much anxiety in India, have been pacified by the production and the successful passing of this Bill. In order to ensure the continuance of that result further legislation will be required. This Bill, though it goes far, does not go far enough. We find that the people of India are still troubled by the unfortunate Regulation of 1818.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It would not be in order to discuss a matter of that kind on the third reading of this Bill. You must confine yourself to the contents of the Bill.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
I will not discuss that matter, but I may be allowed to say that the people of India are troubled by other matters at this moment. This Bill, which has done so much good by itself, is not sufficient to secure that feeling of contentment, prosperity and gratitude which were the principal objects of our Government in India to secure by the measure, and only by supplementary measure which now I am not allowed—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
You are not discussing the contents of this measure. The hon. Member must confine himself to this Bill. We are not now discussing the state of India.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The Noble Lord opposite has asked me a very proper question with regard to the exact attitude and intention of the Government here and in India towards persons who have been deported. I made what I thought a very clear and exact statement of the position of His Majesty's Government at the time the Bill was in Committee. I said that the Government do not intend the fact that a man has been deported to be of itself, after his release, a disqualification for election to a legislative council. I have to repeat that from that position the Government do not in any way recede. It was meant by that that the Government could 98 not sanction the necessary disqualification of all persons who had been deported as a class, and they could not allow any regulation by the Government of India having an effect of that sort. I think that to enact any regulation, however much its severity might be mitigated by the power of waiver on the part of the Executive Government of India, would be to introduce a false principle in the constitution of the Government of India. If we proposed any measure of that sort of general and universal disqualification in the case of deportees, you would give a new legal recognition and status to a class of citizen who does not at the present moment exist. You would create a class of deported citizens, who certainly have never been contemplated by the previous Act, the creation of which the Government cannot for a moment contemplate to-day. The Executive Government is authorised by the Regulation of 1818 to deport certain individuals, and to detain them for an indefinite time without trial or charge—these are really important words—when it is considered necessary to do so in order to preserve the country either from external danger or internal commotion. The fact that a man has been detained under the provisions of this Regulation is no good ground for the creation of this new class of deported citizens which would be created were such a Regulation to be permitted exactly as if he had been really tried and convicted by a judicial tribunal of some offence cognisable by the ordinary courts. I think there were some arguments put forward in the Committee stage which rather looked as though hon. Members opposite thought there had been a judicial trial and a judicial condemnation of some person brought before a court. Of course, there is nothing of this sort here. Power is given to the State for reasons of State, and it is not a necessary logical sequence or consequence that the power so conferred, which justified temporary detention, should also justify permanent exclusion from the register of voters. The offence—I will not call it a crime—and the occasion, is not an abnormal but an exceptional occasion, and the treatment accorded is therefore preventive and not punitive. When the man has purged his offence by detention and returns to his ordinary avocation, he cannot, therefore, because he has been deported, be held to be a criminal, or to be a person necessarily disqualified from legislation—that is as regards the class. On the other hand, it is quite clear that of 99 five or six people deported one person may be still necessarily under the surveillance of the Government of India, while no such care need be exercised in the case of the other five; and, therefore, we cannot possibly overlook the fact that an individual case may have to be taken cognisance of by the Executive Government when it is not in the least necessary, and certainly it is not desirable, to exclude as a class all persons who have been deported. The view which I have expressed undoubtedly connotes some power to be exercised by the Government of India in exceptional cases of the character that I have indicated, and if the Government of India, in their discretion, think fit to recommend that some such power should be given to them, then his Majesty's Government will not refuse such power, subject to such provision, as discussion between the Government of India and the Secretary of State may bring into view for the purpose of settling under what condition that power may be exercised.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman rejects, on the ground of what he calls principle, of some abstract principle not very clearly specified, this suggestion that because the man is deported he should therefore for all time be excluded from a seat on the council? If I rightly understand the position taken up by the Government in that respect, and if I rightly understand the addition which the right hon. Gentleman has made, I have no quarrel with the general attitude they have taken up. As I understand, they will not allow a universal category of exclusion to attach to a man because he has been deported, which is, I think, right, because after all years may elapse and the whole views and policy of the man may change, and he may have become an excellent and useful citizen; and then I think it would be a very great outrage that perhaps for the error of an enthusiastic youth you should entirely exclude a man from a very useful career in later life. I understand while the hon. Gentleman takes up that position immovably he is quite ready to admit there may be circumstances in which the inclusion of a man who had been deported, who was just not kept in deportation, would really make the whole system of these councils unworkable, and would do more harm than good, and he proposes on behalf of the Government that the Governor-General in India and the Secretary of 100 State at home should consider how they may frame rules by which any such notorious miscarriage of propriety, if I may use the phrase, would be prevented. If that is the Government's view, I have no quarrel with it.
§ Mr. F. C. MACKARNESS
I think that the hon. Gentleman has made a rather considerable qualification in the position which I understood him to take up on behalf of the Government the other day; but I would like to know whether in the case of a deported person who is excluded to his own disadvantage from the ordinary privileges of being admitted to these councils will he, before he is excluded from the right of being elected, be given by the Government of India an opportunity of knowing why he is excluded, and informed of the grounds which are alleged against him? I may point out that where a similar power has been given to the Executive—for instance, in Ireland—there must be expressly stated in the warrant on which a person is charged the charges which are made against him, and a copy of the warrant must be furnished to him; and I want to know if in India, in the case of a person who has been deported, and who is held by the Governor of India to be therefore excluded from the right of being elected on the legislative council—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That does not arise on this Bill at all. The hon. Gentleman is trying to get information which he has asked for over and over again in a different way, but it does not arise now, and I cannot allow it.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
May I ask with great respect whether I am entitled to ask what the hon. Gentleman means by what he has just said?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
You are entitled to ask that, but as the hon. Member has exhausted his right of speech, he cannot give an answer.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
May I respectfully address my question to the Prime Minister, and ask him whether he would tell us whether under the circumstances to which I have alluded the gentleman who is excluded on the ground of deportation from being elected will be given an opportunity by the Government of India—
I would wish to say a word in favour of the views which have been 101 expressed by certain hon. Members below the Gangway. I will not disobey a ruling, and I will not argue if you rule me out of order, but I would say that to discuss an Indian Councils Bill without reference to the power of deportation of British subjects in India without trial and without knowledge by them of the charges brought against them is a farce.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Gentleman has made, in answer to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, some kind of concession upon the question of voting power to be given under this Bill to those people who have been deported, but the hon. Gentleman is mistaken in his statement that anybody on our side of the House was not perfectly well aware of the circumstances under which these people were deported. Indeed, it was for that reason, because we were well aware of them, that we objected to any opportunity being given to these people to record their votes. The hon. Gentleman says that it is an offence and not a crime. That is an opinion held on this side of the House, and I think it an extremely dangerous opinion to have been advanced by an hon. Gentleman representing the Government in this House. What we always reiterated was that no voting power should be accorded to these people, and that there should be a scheme drawn up in the Bill—powers are given in the Bill to do that—which would prevent these people merely because of their offence having the right of voting. At the same time we said that in exceptional circumstances we should have no objection to a change being made in the voting list, but only under exceptional circumstances. Now I understand that the hon. Gentleman has given way somewhat—he does not seem to me to have given way altogether—upon that subject. I have listened to all the discussions which have taken place upon this Bill in every stage. I listened to the discussions which took place upon the second reading, upon the Committee stage—indeed, I think I took part in it myself—and I listened to-day to the discussion on the report stage. Though I do not pretend for a moment to have had any intimate acquaintance with India I think my acquaintance with India probably amounts to almost as much as the acquaintance of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brentford Division of Middlesex, who has 102 made a considerable number of speeches upon this subject. Every one of these speeches was, I think, considerably more mischievous than the extremely able speech of the hon. Member for Stirlingshire, to which I listened with very great pleasure—a speech made by an hon. Member who has had real experience on the question of which he was talking.
I have before me the conclusion that in many ways this Bill is being brought forward and passed as a sop to the opinions of hon. Gentlemen like the hon. Member for the Brentford Division of Middlesex, and it seems to me when we had the measured opinion of hon. Gentlemen like the Member for Stirling and like the Noble Lords in another place who had a long acquaintance with the conditions of India, we are really taking a very serious step in passing the third reading of this Bill and especially upon the question with regard to the inclusion of Executive Councils in the provinces other than Bombay or Madras. There may have been, and I think there were, very good reasons that anyone can understand for Executive Councils being constituted in the provinces of Bombay and Madras. There the Governor, who was generally an Englishman sent out from England, probably did not know or had not very much experience of the inner working of the Government of the province which he was sent to govern, and therefore it was necessary, or at any rate it was advisable, that he should be assisted by an Executive Council. But in the other provinces it is absolutely different, as the other provinces were all governed by legal men, members of the Civil Service, which has been the wonder of the world, and which has certainly served India in the most marvellous manner during the last 120 years. The hon. Member for the Brentford Division of Middlesex says that it is impossible for a single individual to govern a mighty Empire. Why is it impossible? Is it not a fact that a single individual has governed 90 provinces for the last 120 years, and has governed them successfully? This has gone on for 120 years and everything was well done, and I say having got a good thing, why change it? I would ask the hon. Member to say and to show why, having got a system which has worked well for long, and has been the admiration of the world, we should change it now? Why has not the great party of which the hon. Member opposite is so distinguished an ornament made the change before?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I was coming to that when the hon. Gentleman interrupted me. I was perfectly aware that, fortunately for the good of the country, the Liberal party was excluded from office for 10 years, but then they were in power before that time. We are not dealing with the last 10 years, but with 100 years, and for a considerable part of that period the Liberal party were in power, and they could have brought forward a measure if they had liked to do so. It is only necessary to look at the Debate which took place in another place to show that all those who really know something about India are practically against the whole of this Bill. Take Lord MacDonnell, who is a person of a Liberal frame of mind, and what does he say:—In this matter the persistent opinion of Indian administration from 1868 to the present time was that it was very much better, having regard to the necessity of close touch with native populations, to retain the system of lieutenant-governors in preference to the system of government by council.And he went on to say:—He might mention a case, known to Lord Curzon, where he had seen the entire structure of British rule disappear in a night, and when he reached the city next morning found a city full of sullen people out one side and the entire British garrison under arms on the other.There is an illustration given by a man who thoroughly knows what he is talking about. He has had great experience of India, and that is a very apt illustration which he gave, and one which cannot be answered. The hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury told us that the opinion of the Government of India had changed, and was in favour at any rate of that part of this Bill which is contained in clause 3. I cannot accept that as being absolutely correct, because I find that in 1905, when this question was discussed, there was a unanimous pronouncement against the change now proposed. Sir John Lawrence said:—Personal administration by a single head without a council is the best form of government for many parts of India, Bengal included.I know it is true that during the Debate in another place it was stated that it could be shown the Government of India had altered the opinion which they expressed in 1905, and on other occasions, and that Noble Lords might reconsider their opinion. The Financial Secretary drew the attention of this House to the fact that the Government of India had sent a telegram in which they had modified their opinion. But have they modified their opinion? The telegram finished, as re- 104 ported in Hansard, to the effect that they saw no present necessity for a change of this character, and it should be made only after the fullest consideration. I do not suggest that any pressure has been put upon the Government of India, but I cannot help thinking as to the telegram which they sent, which is so different from the deliberate opinion expressed in 1905, and which is so altered by the concluding words, that possibly some pressure may have been put upon the Government of India which caused them to send this particular telegram.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Do I understand the hon. Gentleman that the later telegram altered the telegram which I have just read?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That only shows the great reason there is for the deliberation which this House ought to show before it passes this Bill. I quite recognise that in questions concerning India it would not be wise in any kind of way to treat them as party questions, to be bandied about from one side of the House to the other, and in the remarks I make I do not in any way wish them to be influenced by party feelings. But I do recognise that in this Bill they are taking a very great step in altering the Government of India. We have never taken a step of this sort before. Whether it is advisable that there should be a legislative council or not I do not know. These legislative councils proposed by this Bill have never been created before, and I should have thought that even if it were advisable to extend the principle of self-government in India it has not been confined to legislative councils, but has been extended so as to include an increase of popular power. I am not at all sure that we have had any very great argument to show that even these legislative councils will be productive of a good effect. There has been no general argument on the part of hon. Members to show the creation of these councils to be beneficial. I do not know whether that would be so or not. I should not for a moment like to say that my opposition to this Bill is in any way founded upon the fact that Indian gentlemen may take part or become members of the legislative councils. I think it is not wise that Indian gentlemen should be present on those councils, but there should be no reason 105 against their being on those councils because they happen to be natives of India. What I do say is that you cannot draw a parallel between a Western country and an Eastern country.
We have governed India in a way that has made us, as far as regards that portion of our history, the admiration of the world. I believe it is only within the last few years, when we rather have departed from the old forms of governing India, that agitation has set up. Are we acting wisely in departing from those old forms and bringing forward those new measures? The right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean probably thinks we are, because I believe he is very strongly enamoured of anything which savours of government by the people or representative government. I am not sure that on this side of the House that view is always held, and I am not at all sure that, even in England, the lowering of the franchise has been very successful. However, as that would be out of order, I will not discuss it. But what I really want the House to consider is this: that by this Bill we are beginning to introduce in a small way—but for the first time—the electoral principle into Indian Government. The history of the world shows that when you once begin to give way, it is very difficult to stop. I presume that the Government and the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill are under the impression that this is going to be a final measure, and that if this Bill becomes law there will be no further alteration in Indian Government, and that this Bill will probably settle the question for a long number of years. If that is his opinion, I am afraid he will be doomed to disappointment, because the moment you begin to make a change you satisfy nobody. The people who object to the change are disappointed, and the people in favour of it think it has not been large enough. All they will do will be to endeavour to increase that change. We have seen that from the attitude of the hon. Gentlemen who represent the forward policy on India in this House. They have practically told the Government that they are not satisfied with this proposal. They take it as an instalment, and I think the hon. Member for Brentford described it as a tiny effort, or words to that effect. The result will be that they and all their friends will agitate for a great extension of the Bill. Many believe it would have been wiser for the Government to have put their foot down in the first instance and refused to make any change.
106 I have read the Debates in the other place most carefully, and though I admit the great difficulty of bringing forward arguments for and against, since you may be saying too much or too little, I see no argument brought forward in favour of the change, and I really do not know why the change was made. It is because I believe that India is one of the most precious jewels in the English Crown that I have endeavoured to point out to the House the very serious nature of the step which they are now taking. I only hope that my prognostications will not be justified, and that the evils that I fear from the present Bill will not ensue. I do not think it is a very happy augury that the Government of a country like India should be so lightly subjected to Bills of this sort. I should have thought when we were discussing a measure likely to a great extent to change the principle of government of India that at any rate Parliament would have been told how far that change might go. Under this present Bill we are practically giving the Government of India the power to alter the Constitution of India without coming near the House of Commons or the Houses of Parliament. It may be a good thing to put great power into the hands of the Government of India. I think it is, but I do not think we ought to put such enormous power into the hands of the Government of India as this Bill does. The illustration made by an hon. Friend of mine that we were giving the Indian Government a blank cheque without limiting the amount of the cheque that might be drawn appears to be a very apt simile.
I am rather sorry if it was necessary that we should have this Bill, which I do not believe, that the House of Commons have not been acquainted with some of the provisions of the machinery by which the Bill is to be carried out. We really know nothing whatever about it. I hope that the Government of India will always consist of gentlemen like the Member for Montgomery Boroughs and Stirlingshire. It does not always follow that will be so, and I do not like parting with control which should rest on the supreme authority, namely, the House of Commons. If I thought there was any possibility of dividing against this Bill as a whole and rejecting it I should certainly do so. As I am afraid there is not, I think our only solution is to make the best of a bad job. While I regret the Bill has been brought in, I shall not take any further steps to oppose it.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
There is one matter which I should like cleared up, and perhaps the Prime Minister will give me his attention. There is a fear and there is a suggestion in some of the semi-official newspapers in India that a possible limitation of the powers of debate in the councils might be brought about by rules under this Bill. There is in the despatch in page 39 from India a list of the subjects which it is suggested should be excluded. What I am afraid is, that it is possible, and it is a doubt which I think my right hon. Friend will agree ought to be removed before the Bill finally passes or in another place, that it is possible those powers might be used to limit the existing opportunities of debate. At the present moment questions are asked in the Viceroy's Council—I am alluding only to the Viceroy's Council of Calcutta—questions with regard to military expenditure, and a recent question raised the new scheme of Lord Kitchener, and was replied to by Lord Kitchener at great length. There is a proposal to "exclude from Debate"—those were the words used—military questions and all connected with them, and all the most important questions at present and in future. These matters are subject to Questions now and to a certain measure of Debate, and when I put the point tentatively to the Secretary of the Treasury the other day he no doubt stated correctly what the intentions of the Government were when he said it was not intended to limit existing facilities, and that exclusion from Debate referred to Debate on Resolutions. That reply absolutely satisfies me, if it is understood in India, but the point seems a little doubtful. I am quite sure, and I am certain the Government will agree in thinking, that the new facilities ought not to be made use of to limit the old ones. I think on that point we ought to have some assurance before the Bill finally passes.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time and passed, with Amendments.