§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I am very unwilling to trouble the House to-day with any matter relating to personal explanation, but, in view of certain events that have taken place owing to a statement I made in this House a week ago to-day, I dare say the House will expect that I should say something. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Had it not been a matter of public interest I should not have troubled the House with, it at all. This day week, in replying to certain claims advanced by certain hon. Members opposite with reference to knowledge about Indian affairs, I made a statement which has been misquoted ever since, apparently for a special purpose. Perhaps the House will allow me to read what I said—it was only in a sentence. After referring to short visits to India, and to the visit my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary was about to make, I spoke as follows:—On the other side, when a person goes to India, and, in Anglo-Indian language, gets 'sun-baked' he is not good for anything, although he thinks he knows everything, and, while he ceases to he a Westerner, he never has the sympathetic or mental capacity to become an Oriental, and we find him in the end reproducing, in his 2923 own personal characteristics, all the vices of both worlds, and showing very few indeed of the virtues of either."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1912, col. 1926].That statement, I regret to say, has been used as though it were a general attack upon the Indian Civil Service. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact to begin with, that it was a qualified statement as to those who had gone to India and got sun-baked. That is a small point. The point I wish the attention of the House to is that those who have quoted the statement have conveniently stopped at an awkward point. Because I went on to say "That is the melancholy end of so many"—"so many" certainly being a second limitation, and applying the statement I made to only a certain number. The meaning and the purpose that I had were perfectly clear to every Member of this House, and were explained by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Sir G. Scott Robertson) in speaking later. He stated:—the hon. Gentleman has not fully appreciated the position taken up by the hon. Member."—That is, myself.What struck me was that the particular Member opposite to whom his words were addressed thoroughly appreciated the humour of them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1912, col. 1967.]On Friday an anonymous letter appeared in the "Times" attacking me personally. I hope that we have not come to the time when Members of this House require to reply to anonymous letters. The "Times" unfortunately referred to the letter in its leading article, and it is just possible that then I ought to have referred to it myself and pointed out that the quotation was partial, that it conveniently stopped at a point which suited the anonymous correspondent to make his point, and that if he had quoted the next half-dozen words his point would have been destroyed. If I have made a mistake I am sorry, but, in any event, I did not consider that even when the "Times" took notice of an anonymous correspondent I was bound to follow its bad example. Since then the matter has been more or less public; a telegram has been sent from a well-known newspaper in Allahabad, the "Pioneer," using certain offensive language, which of course I expected, but the whole point is I made no attack upon the Indian Civil Service. I have written about the Indian Civil Service elsewhere; that writing has been critical, but it has been fair, and I have the very best means of knowing that it has not been resented by that service. I have never added to what I have written; 2924 I have not changed my opinion about the service, and when my hon. Friend above me referred in very just and glowing language to that service I took pleasure in showing my assent to what he was saying by cheering it at the time. I think, in view of the circumstances and the use that has been made of this quotation, that the House will not quarrel with me if I have troubled it with this personal explanation.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Am I not entitled to make a personal explanation in answer to an attack made under cover of personal explanation? I will not occupy two minutes.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is not the opportunity for renewing the controversy of a week ago. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) did make in his speech what I conceived to be an attack upon the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman, thereupon, I think, followed him in Debate; he came next, as far as my recollection goes. He had then an opportunity of replying, an opportunity of which he took full advantage.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Leicester has not added anything to what ha said last week. He has quoted from what he said, but he has added nothing to it, so that the hon. Member may rest quite content.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It would be quite contrary to all precedent, and would destroy all sense of regularity in the proceedings of this House if the hon. Member were to reply to what has been said now.