HC Deb 21 July 1911 vol 28 cc1409-24

Order for Second Reading read.

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


In asking the House to agree to the second reading of this measure, I do not think it will be necessary to occupy much time, because so far as the House is concerned it is a very unimportant measure indeed. But I want to explain it as fully as I can, because, as at present advised, I propose, if the House gives it a Second Reading, to move that it be retained on the floor of the House, and I will ask the House to be so good as to pass the subsequent stages of the Bill without discussion, which is not in any way necessary. The reason for introducing the measure at all is the great congestion of legal affairs in India at present. The House will agree with me that if you have great arrears in the Law Courts the delay of justice very frequently amounts to a denial of justice. I have only to read to the House some figures concerning the Calcutta High Court to show what I mean. In 1908 the cases in arrear on the appellate side of this court were 5,245. At the end of June, 1911, the number of civil appeal cases pending was no less than 8,389. The courts work as hard as any courts could possibly work. Every kind of rearrangement has been attempted, but it has now become obvious, not only to every judge of the High Court, but to the Government of Bengal and the Government of India, that the time has come to ask for the raising of the maximum number of judges in the courts. At the same time, because I think it is desirable in these matters to be prescient, a similar increase of the maximum of possible judges in India is asked for. There is no fear that the Government of India will abuse the power for which it asks. The courts of Madras and Bombay, which have a maximum of fifteen now, have got eight judges, so that it is for future and not for immediate application that the first Clause of this Bill includes them. I should like, before I dismiss this Clause, to remind the House that there is no excess of judges in India at the present moment. The maximum number of judges of the High Court in Bengal and Eastern Bengal is now fifteen. There are 86,000,000 people there. In England and Wales the population is 33,000,000, and there are thirty-three judges of the High Court.

Now I come to the second Clause, which is highly technical, and only, I think, of technical importance. There is no immediate desire to establish a new High Court anywhere in India, but the Government of England desire to be able to cope with circumstances which may arise by a less clumsy method than having to wait for an opportunity to pass an Act of Parliament while justice is being delayed. It is possible for the Government of India at present to immediately establish a new Chief Court anywhere. Anyone familiar with the Indian courts will appreciate the difference between a Chief Court and a High Court, and I venture to suggest that it will not be wise to drive the Government of India for the sake of expediency and the saving of time to the establishment of a Chief Court, having regard to the circumstance that in prestige, dignity, and confidence the High Court is the better alternative. In the Act of 1861 it was enacted that a High Court might be established by letters patent in any area where no existing High Court has jurisdiction. At that time the well-known appreciation of the advantages of litigation, which is a characteristic of the Indian people, had not yet developed so far as it has at the present moment. It was not contemplated that it would be necessary at any time, I think, to establish new Chief Courts or new High Courts in areas in which existing High Courts affected by that Act already had jurisdiction, and I submit that if it should become necessary in the future to establish a High Court or a Chief Court, Parliament should adopt the same procedure with regard to this as was adopted by our predecessors under the Act of 1861.

There is only one other Clause in the Bill of any importance, which is Clause 3. It deals with the appointment of temporary judges. There is no intention at any time that the number of judges, temporary or permanent, in any court in India should exceed the maximum number prescribed by this Act. If a judge is away on leave or if a judge is ill, at present it is possible for the lieutenant-governor of a Province to appoint a temporary judge on his behalf, but even if there is not the maximum number of judges at the time occupying seats on the bench, if there is a lesser number than the maximum number of possible judges, which is fifteen, and there are only fourteen, and there are great arrears which the Government of India is anxious to wipe off, they have no power to appoint a temporary judge. The only possible way in which it can be done is to appoint a new permanent judge, raising the number to the maximum of fifteen and leaving no vacancy. That is a very cumbrous method, and it may lead to overstocking the bench, and these powers allowing the Government generally to appoint temporary judges up to the maximum number with a view to clearing off arrears are, I think, necessitated in the interests of economy and of speed in dealing with legal matters. We are only asking for power to appoint temporary judges. The House will agree with me, I think, that this measure does not require any elaborate Debate, and I think that all classes in India will welcome its speedy passage for the improvement of the legal machinery in the Provinces of India.


I do not rise in opposition to this Bill. The facts which the hon. Gentleman stated in his opening remarks are well known to those who follow Indian affairs. The state of business in these courts is notorious, and it is eqully notorious that the Indian people have developed a perfect passion for litigation, whilst the hon. Gentleman suggested to the House that he would like our consent to pass the further stages of this Bill without further discussion, I do not think he will take exception to a few words from me upon the Clause of the Bill. The first Clause merely gives power to raise the number of judges in the High Court from fifteen to twenty. I was under the impression, but I presume I was wrong, that the existing number of judges in the High Court really amounted to sixteen, because the second section of the Act of 1861 says that the High Court of Judicature in the Bengal Presidency, and the same in Bombay and Madras, shall consist of twelve judges, and as many judges and not exceeding fifteen as they may think fit to appoint. I actually assumed we had sixteen judges, with the chief justice That is not a point of great importance The hon. Gentleman rather suggested the the fifteen judges allowed in the High Court included the chief justice. The second Clause is really I think of more importance, although the hon. Gentleman referred to it as a technical matter, I think there is more in the Clause than he suggested. Under the Act of 1861, the Sovereign has power by Letters Patent to create a High Court in any part of India, provided that the area in which it was created is not at the present time within the area and jurisdiction of any other High Court. That is to say, it would, I suppose, be competent, even now under the Act of 1861, for the Government to create a High Court in Burma, for in-stance, Burma, as far as I know, not being within the area of jurisdiction of any other High Court.


The powers of the Act of 1861 are re-enacted. The reason for that is that the point is rather doubtful. It may be that we have the power, but certain very capable and eminent lawyers hold that the powers under the Act of 1861 were exhausted with the formation of the High Court at Allahabad in 1866. It is to be on the safe side that we are re-enacting that power.


The point that I want to make is that this Clause not only re-enacts a power already possessed under the Act of 1861, but gives a further power to which the hon. Gentleman in his speech did not attach sufficient significance. The Clause gives the Government power to establish a new High Court in any part of India which is not at present under the jurisdiction of any existing High Court Let me illustrate what may be the effect of that. The Indian Government may say "We want to establish a new High Court at Dacca, in the Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam." Under the Act of 1861 that could not be done, because Eastern Bengal is within the jurisdictioin of the High Court of Calcutta. Therefore by this Clause we are giving the Government a considerable power in addition to the powers they possess under the Act of 1861. I have no objection to that, but I should have liked the hon. Gentleman to have told us a little more definitely whether the Government of India had any intention of taking action under this Clause. I gathered that they had no present intention of doing so. I am rather sorry to hear that. I think the time has come when it is very desirable that a High Court should be established for the Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. The hon. Gentleman pointed out that for England and Wales, with a population of some 32,000,000, we required something like thirty judges of the High Court, and yet in the whole of the Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, with an area nearly as large as that of England and Wales and a population of 30,000,000 or 31,000,000 or more, they have no High Court at all. These wretched people have to travel up to Calcutta, to add enormously to the congestion of business in the High Court there. I quite understand that there might be a certain amount of opposition on the part of certain people to the establishment of a High Court at Dacca for the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, but I hope that the Government of India will not be deterred by any political agitation, such as that which arose in regard to the partition of Bengal, from giving the inhabitants of Eastern Bengal and Assam the advantages of a High Court, which in my opinion they really require.

I was not quite clear as to the reason for appointing these temporary judges. I understood that the congestion of business was be great, and the probability of the congestion becoming greater so strong, that it was necessary to raise the maximum number of High Court judges. That being so, I do not understand why the Government want this power to create temporary judges—according to Clause 3, "additional judges"—of the High Court. Is it merely to tide over a period of great congestion which may pass by? They are described as additional judges, but I understood from the hon. Gentleman that they are not really additional. They are not additional to the number allowed under Clause 1 of the Bill. In Calcutta there are at present fifteen judges of the High Court, and the Government desire to make the number twenty, to deal with the congestion.


We are asking for power, but when we get that power it might be desirable to make a trial to see what the temporary judges could do. In Madras and Bombay, where they are not working up to the maximum strength, the power to appoint temporary judges, while still leaving the total number within the maximum, would be a very convenient one to experiment with with a view to reducing the congestion.


I understand that the idea is, instead of appointing a number of permanent judges, to appoint them temporarily to start with, in order to see whether their services will be required in the future. Why is it that these judges, who are to be appointed for not more than two years, are not to be affected by the proportions laid down in Section 2 of the Act of 1861? Under that Section not less than one-third of the judges of the High Court must be barristers of so many years' standing, and not less than one-third must be members of the covenanted Civil Service, with a certain number of years' experience as judges in an inferior capacity. There may be a reason for the non-application of that rule, but I cannot see it. I have no desire to place any obstacle in the way of the Bill, as I believe it to be necessary in the best interests of the administration of justice in India.


I am glad that the Under-Secretary and the Noble Lord opposite have opened a discussion on this Bill, for simple though it is, I would say from long experience that everything affecting justice in our Indian Dominions is a matter of very great importance. So great is the jurisdiction of the High Courts of India, so great the part they have played since their institution as King's Courts in the jurisprudence of India from times long gone by, from the days of the East India Company, that we should not pass this Bill without giving it a great deal of consideration. I have listened with much interest to the reasons given, and the circumstances out of which this new project of legislation has arisen. The existence of. these enormous arrears amounting to thousands in the High Court of Bengal, justifies the proposals for the appointment of a larger number of judges. We in India have always considered delays in matters of litigation to be extremely dangerous. Supposing that a case has gone through two or three courts before it gets to the Court of Appeal; if it is delayed for a year or two longer the old parties, it may be, die, new interests come up, and new bodies arise, and this matter must be attended to in order that justice may be done. To me it has always seemed that delay in justice is against the oath which the Sovereign takes and which appears in Magna Charta, not merely that justice shall not be denied, but that it shall not be delayed. I think that makes a good case for empowering the Crown to increase the number of judges, and also for the appointment from time to time of these additional temporary judges. There are occasions when arrears swell very much, like the position that has happened in Calcutta, because of the length of certain State trials, and the taking up of the time of more judges than one. To work off the arrears thus occasioned it may be not necessary to appoint new permanent judges who immediately begin to have their claim upon the Indian Revenue for pensions. The experiment of appointing temporary judges may be sufficient to get over the temporary evil and delay which has been caused. I do not think I need say more on that subject except that what I speak is not only the feeling of the Provinces but of the sea-port towns like Calcutta. The white population are intensely interested in getting their cases disposed of at least within a reasonable time, and of course the natives are equally interested in getting their cases disposed of.

With regard to what has been said as to the existing power of the Government of India to create an inferior description of tribunal instead of the Chief Court— that is that the status of such a court and the status of the judges shall be rather lower than those of the High Court established by the Crown-in-Council—although the jurisdiction may largely be the same but not quite—I would have no doubt that both native and European feeling would entirely prefer the creation of a High Court to the creation of a Chief Court. The High Court is associated in their mind with the notion of the greater independence of the judges. That has come down for a long time from the time when everybody else in India was under the East India Company, and the judges representing there the High Court were the only officials appointed by the King of Great Britain and Ireland. This feeling has been manifested by the community of Rangoon. Lower Burma has a Chief Court with a certain number of judges, and Rangoon, as a very great part of a thriving Province, is continually increasing. Institutions are developing there, and the merchants of Rangoon, with their great trade, have demanded that the Chief Court should be changed into a High Court. Therefore, I welcome this proposal which gives power to the Crown, with greater facility and without applying to this House each time for a special Statute, to create new High Courts. It seems to be necessary to clear away all doubt as to the jurisdiction of the courts. A High Court like that of Bombay does not deal with the ordinary work in some of the great Provinces, where millions of people live, like the Central Provinces, yet it has jurisdiction reserved to it in certain cases, in matters of divorce and separation under the Christian Divorce Act, and special jurisdiction over the European and other subjects in those areas. It is desirable that the words of the new Statute should cover such cases. That is further provided for by the concluding words of Clause 2, which enables supplementary directions to be given.

I am not certain whether my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary would tell us whether the intention that the Charter, the letters patent, to be issued in future of the new courts which His Majesty may set up shall be uniform with each other, or uniform substantially with those now existing. I think that is a matter which ought to be seen to, lest extravagant powers should inadvertently be given that Parliament may know nothing about at all. I might perhaps finish with the observation that I made before, that one of the qualifications for having a seat in the High Courts is that of being a barrister of so many years standing. That applies to advocates of the courts of Scotland. I believe the history of India will show that that is a very great advantage to have plenty of Scotsmen there. I trust that the benches of the High Court may be more filled with them in future than now.


I do not intend to oppose this Bill, but in a word or two I should like to join very heartily with the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken in favouring the establishment of High Courts rather than Chief Courts. There is one thing that I think he will agree with me, that he has not said which fortifies that conclusion; and I think it is very proper that it should be said here. That is in the recent conduct of the Chief Justice in the Bengal High Court of Calcutta has so enormously increased the prestige of the High Court that High Courts in India have at last begun to be associated with the very best sentiments and traditions of British justice. I think it is but right and due to the magnificent conduct of the Chief Justice that that view should be taken, at any rate by a humble and official Member who follows as closely as one can from this long distance the proceedings in India. I should also like, that, while not at all opposing this Bill, and while admitting the mathematical facts that are the basis of the Bill, to warn the Government that unless it manages to do something towards stopping the great flow of litigation, I do not know what is going to happen as the years go on. It is quite wrong to say that the Indian people have a mania for litigation. I do not think they have, but what has happened is that the British Government in India has taught and is teaching the Indian people to resort far too much to litigation, and if the India Office, while of course providing judges for the High Court and as many of them as are necessary, would also direct its energies to discovering why the system of litigation is flowing so plentifully, and in endeavouring to dam it up, they would do even more good than by the mere establishment of the High Courts. The Government itself is responsible very largely in this direction. They destroyed the old village local organisations which used to distribute justice. My hon. Friend the Undersecretary smiles, but nevertheless if he examines the matter I think he will find that even now it is possible to establish some principle of arbitration of the source which would greatly minimise the amount of litigation, and would greatly ease the situation. As a matter of fact, I know that something is being done, but much more could be done in that direction.

I think the Government itself might do something to ease the situation by displaying much less than it has done in recent years of the mania of prosecuting political prisoners. There is not the least doubt that anyone who will examine the recent records of the courts in India will find the same disquieting amount of political prosecution which has come to nothing, and if the Government would be a bit more careful in compiling its evidence first of all, and would show a little bit better judgment in making up its mind as to the validity of the evidence it has got it would relieve the courts, including the High Court, of a great deal of the labour which usually ends in nothing except in making a few unworthy persons heroes and really increasing the circumstances which produce crime. I admit that this Bill should be passed; I regret that it should be so, and I hope Members of this House will not pass it simply under the impression that the Indian is a born litigant and that he must get his judges appointed so that his appetite for litigation may be appeased.

Colonel YATE

I only rise to say how heartily I am in accord with this Bill and that I shall vote for it with the greatest pleasure. There was only one sentence in the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary with which I was rather disappointed, and that is where he said there is no immediate need to establish new High Courts. My Noble Friend (Lord Ronaldshay) warned us of eases where High Courts are much desired, and I can only say that it is my fervent hope and trust that the Government of India will establish as far as possible new High Courts in these districts. The Member for Leicester has just spoken of the desirability of stopping what he calls the flow of litigation in India. I think we all sympathise with him in that respect. There is one point which I specially desire to bring under the notice of the Under-Secretary, and that is the absolute necessity, if you want to stop this flow of litigation, of giving the Courts of Appeal power to enhance sentences just as they have power to reduce them. By adopting that course I can assure the Under-Secretary he will do more to stop the flow of litigation than anything else. I know myself how well that system works, and I say it ought to prevail throughout the whole of India.


I congratulate the Undersecretary on the manner in which he put this Bill before the House. I think he carried the House with him in his speech, but I want to utter just one word of caution in regard to those judges and high officials in India. The first thing that occurred to me was that the increase in the number of judges meant increased holidays. One great reason why we are losing our hold upon India is this very question of holidays. In the old days administrators identified themselves with local tradition and local colour. He went out there to make India his home, and he brought his family there. The British Indian now complains that the British official is always looking to a passage through the Suez Canal to England, and that desire on the part of the British official to clear out at every possible opportunity is the real reason for a good deal of the unrest. My hon. Friend near me (Sir John Jardine) made an appeal that the Government should appoint Scotsmen, but if that were done these gentlemen would be rushing home to spend their holidays in the Orkneys and Shetland Islands, which would mean being away for a longer period still. My views on this question are the result of a considerable amount of travel throughout India, and the one complaint the good native makes everywhere is that the present race of British administrators, not inferior in any way to their predecessors, are more prone than they were to hurry back to London for the season. We shall presently have a railway, which will make it still easier for these men to take their holidays in this country.

I have asked a number of native business men how they were able to stand the young men coming out from this country acting as a sort of semi-judge, and they said we get a lot of young men from your universities, but we forgive them all that because of one thing. They do sit down and investigate business cases, and they do act fairly. That is a great cause of our hold upon India. The native has the idea that the British official, if he sits down in connection with the matter of business, wishes to give, and does give, a just judgment. I hope that may long continue. I am pretty well certain, however, we want a little more of the old type of Anglo-Indian, a man who, hearing there was some trouble in the neighbouring village, would ride into it without a weapon and come back with five or six men whom he had taken prisoners. It was not that he had soldiers or policemen behind him; it was the majesty of the man's character and his boldness which inspired the natives with the firm belief that he would be fair to both parts. They readily yielded themselves up, and walked behind the horse so that he could take them with him and dispense justice. It seems to me that we want to preserve a little of the old spirit which used to prevail in India. I want to protest against the practice of officials in India spending so much of their time in visiting this country on holidays. I think our officials in India ought to identify themselves a little more with the local life of India and get more into touch with the native population. If this was done I think we should hear a good deal less about this problem of unrest.


I agree with the hon. Member who preceded me, that we ought not to allow this Bill to pass without a little discussion. The Under-Secretary based his case for this Bill upon the arrears of cases which existed in India. He told us that there were some 8,000 cases of arrears in the Courts, but I would like to ask how did these arrears arise? In the part of the United Kingdom which I know best, the High Courts sit for 194 days out of 365. I do not think that in Scotland, in case there were many arrears, the Undersecretary for India would suggest that it would be wise or necessary to increase the number of judges when they are only sitting for 194 days in the year. In the case of the King's Bench Division in this country, where arrears arose, the House dealt with the subject last year by a measure. In this particular case the plan was a temporary increase of judges, and pressure was brought to bear by the House of Commons on the judges of the Court to sit for longer hours and to sit on Saturdays. These suggestions have been adopted by the Court of King's Bench, with the result that since that measure was passed through the House of Commons the arrears have been considerably reduced, if not altogether wiped off.

Now we have the case of India put before us. We are told that in India a great number of cases of arrears exist in the courts, and the Under-Secretary for India has told the House of Commons that it is absolutely essential in the face of these arrears to increase the judges from fifteen to twenty in the High Courts. This is a much greater increase than has been adopted in this country. I should like to ask the Under-Secretary if he has gone fully into the question whether the judges in India are working seriously and well for these high salaries, and whether their work does not consist largely of coming over to this country on holiday. I wish to know whether they are working longer than they do in Scotland.

1.0 P.M.

Captain MURRAY

I think a case has been made out for the passing of this Bill. As the Under-Secretary has told us, the total volume of business has increased, and this has necessitated the setting up of new High Courts in India. I think if the Under-Secretary had dealt with the matter more fully he would have been able to prove satisfactorily that the volume of business has increased to such an extent that it is absolutely necessary to set up these High Courts. With reference to what was said by the hon. Member for Pontefract, I do not know how many months of hot weather the hon. Member has spent in India. If, like myself and other hon. Members, he had experienced several hot seasons in India, he would only be too anxious to allow liberal holidays to the judges of the High Court who have to sit through all the hot weather.


Might I suggest that they could go to the mountains in India for their holidays and not come here.

Captain MURRAY

So far as I know, the judges of the High Courts are in Calcutta and in Bombay throughout the hot weather. I may be wrong, but I believe that to be the case. At any rate, the hon. Member behind me can correct me if I am wrong. They get a month's leave now and then and go to the hills, but so far as I am aware their work is carried on throughout the hot weather. The hon. Member for Pontefract in the remarks he made said we were losing our hold over the Dominion of India. I do not imagine that he meant that quite seriously. He complained that English officers, both civil and military, in India came home to this country more often now than they used to do. Even if that is the case, I believe that our officers in India, both civil and military, are in as active touch with the sentiments and feelings of the people of India as they were fifty years ago. I believe that to be the case from my own experience of India, and I do not believe that the taking of leave by officers of India and coming over to this country is any reason at all for the unrest that has existed in India. I think the Under-Secretary has made out a case for this Bill, and I hope it will be passed into law as soon as possible.


Perhaps it will be for the convenience of the House if I answer one or two of the points which have been raised from the other side of the House. I thank the House most cordially for the kindly consideration they have given to this Bill. I will answer first the criticism made by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Earl of Ronaldshay), who asked a question about the maximum number of judges and the practice in regard to the Lord Chief Justice. The Noble Lord, like myself, is in a difficulty in discussing such matters, because neither of us is a lawyer. I am given to understand that there is a difficulty in regard to the interpretation of the Act. It has always been doubtful whether the fifteen judges did or did not include the chief justice. The Government always acted on the safe side and held that it did, rather than have some legal difficulty about the right of the sixteenth judge to sit on the bench. The reason for not including the temporary judges in calculating the proportion of judges recruited from the Civil Service and from outside is that when you are considering whom you should select for the permanent occupation of a post it is rather absurd to have to consider a gentleman who may be giving up his post next month. It would confuse the permanent complexion of the bench if you had to take into account appointments made for two, three, or four months. The hon. Member for Roxburgh (Sir John Jardine) asked us to be careful to consider the uniformity of the letters patent, and the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Ronaldshay), and the hon. and gallant Member for Leicestershire (Colonel Yate) both regretted the fact that there was no immediate intention of creating High Courts. Regard must be had to popular opinion, because unless the court commands the respect and confidence of the people with whom it has got to deal it is very little use establishing it. There is therefore no immediate intention of creating High Courts, but when the High Courts are created I can assure my hon. Friend that the important points raised by him will be very carefully considered. With regard to what was said by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Watt), I can assure him that all those considerations which he raised will be very carefully considered. I can produce him satisfactory and documentary evidence from the people concerned that the judges in the High Courts of India not only work at all seasons, but their leave very often depends upon the number of cases with which they are trying to deal. I should hesitate to describe to him, a good Scotchman, how many judges are compelled to work the seventh day in the week. I want to assure him nobody can possibly regret more than the Government in India unsuccessful prosecutions. They have all the evil consequences which the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) described, and everybody concerned is always endeavouring as far as possible to prevent anything of the kind.


There is one point with regard to the hon. Gentleman's speech which I think is very disappointing. Neither he nor any Member on that side of the House who has spoken since the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) has repudiated, as I should have thought they would have done with great warmth, the most serious charge and most mischievous statement made by him, that the Government at present has a mania for the prosecution of political prisoners. That statement has gone absolutely without any answer at all, and I venture to say it will go far and wide through the Indian Empire, and will be a source of mischief and weakness in many cases to those who are administering justice in that country. The hon. Gentleman repudiated the charge that a mania for litigation was one of the characteristics of the natives of India, and I have no doubt he was justified, but we all know, if the natives of India have not a mania for litigation, they have a passion for it, and it is perfectly understandable. We have had the same thing in this country. Years ago the native tribes in India were allowed to settle their affairs among themselves, and they kept themselves in good condition by exchanging hard knocks. When we put a stop to that by our splendid organisation and splendid government of that great Empire the natives, of course, could no longer put things straight between themselves in that way, and they took the only alternative by going to the courts to settle their affairs.

I think it would be unjust to say they have a mania for litigation though they certainly have a passion for it, just the same as the families on the borders of England and Scotland had in the old days. Our border families in the old days used to settle things among themselves, and they kept themselves in good condition by exchanging hard knocks. Then came the Union, and it ruined all our families there. Instead of being able to do that they fought in the courts, and the result was that almost every family on the borders between England and Scotland was ruined. That passion that existed among those people certainly does exist in India. I am grievously disappointed the Under-Secretary had not the pluck to repudiate, with all the warmth that he ought to have done, the unwarranted attack of the hon. Member for Leicester in saying that the British Government have a mania for the prosecution of political prisoners in India. There is not a word of truth in it. It ought to have been repudiated there and then, even at the risk of the Under-Secretary interrupting the hon. Member. I can only regret that those who know far more about India than I do should have made all sorts of remarks on other subjects and should have entirely passed over that about which I venture to say we shall hear something more. The hon. Member for Leicester is not the only Member of that party who either in this country or in India has done mischievous work in the direction of destroying the great position our people hold in India and the character they possess for that justice and kindliness which has always marked their treatment of the natives.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next, 24th July.