HC Deb 15 August 1911 vol 29 cc1866-8

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the third time."


There has evidently been some desire on the part of the Opposition to assist the Government in getting through their business, and I think the least we can expect is that there should be some explanation of this Bill. I am not quite certain what the Bill is, but I believe it is the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Government of India Act Amendment Bill."] That makes it all the more necessary we should have some explanation. The Government of India Act, passed in 1858, has lasted extremely well, which is more than can be said for the Government of England since the House of Lords measure was passed, because we seem to be generally involved in a civil war at the present moment. Therefore, before we put India, which is still a well-managed dependency of the British Crown, into the hands of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite we ought to have some knowledge of what is in this Bill. The Under-Secretary is generally extremely courteous and anxious to inform the House upon questions before us with regard to India, and I sincerely trust he will enlighten us a little upon this Bill. There is no desire on this side other than to give the Government every assistance. At any rate we ask to be treated with the ordinary courtesy with which any Government treats an Opposition however humble it may be. Therefore I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to give us some information.


Before the hon. Gentleman replies I should like to take occasion to repel the statement made by the hon. Baronet in respect of the existing state of civil war, and I wish to say that if that observation was meant to involve the men in some share of blame there is an equal share to be accepted by the hon. Baronet himself.


I accept no share.


I want to allocate the blame, and I will say that the hon. Baronet has a personal responsibility as a railway director.


The Bill before the House is the Government of India Act (1858) Amendment (No. 2) Bill, and the observations to which reference is now being made were not relevant.


I did not say anything on the Third Reading of this Bill because the objects were explained on the financial resolution, and if the hon. Baronet will be so good as to read the memorandum on the first page of the Bill he will see that its high sounding title accords in no way with the very innocent nature of the Bill itself. Under the Act of 1858 the India Office have power to make-regulations for the payment of pensions to persons who have been on the staff of the Secretary of State for India. The Superannuation Act, 1909, empowered the Treasury to give pensions to the widows of officials who died while in the service, but the same power was not extended to the India Office, and the object of this Amendment Act is to make the regulation applicable to India. We want to harmonise in this respect the proceedings of the India Office with those of other departments, and we have, therefore, brought in this Amending Bill. I hope the hon. Baronet will be satisfied with that explanation.