§ (1) The enactments mentioned in Part I. of the Schedule to this Act shall have effect subject to the Amendments therein specified, and Section fifty-seven of the East India Act, 1793, and Section seventy-one of the Government of India Act, 1833, (which relate to the filling up of vacancies in the Indian Civil Service), and the other enactments mentioned in Part II. of that Schedule are hereby repealed.
§ (2) Nothing in this Act or in the said recited proclamations shall affect the power of the Governor-General in Council of 469 making new distributions and arrangements of territories into and among the various Presidencies and Lieutenant-Governorships, and it is hereby declared that the said power extends to territories under the immediate authority and management of the Governor-General in Council as well to territories subject to the several Presidencies and Lieutenant-Governorships.
§ Mr. SANDYS
The Amendment which stands in my name is in Sub-section (1), after the word "Service," to leave out the words "and the other enactments mentioned in Part II. of that Schedule."
I am not sure whether I should be in order at this point in referring to Part II. of the Schedule itself, with regard to which I have an Amendment that it should be omitted. This is a consequential Amendment to that Amendment, and I am not sure whether it would be more in order formally to move this Amendment now without going into details, and then, when Part II. of the Schedule comes up, to move its omission.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I rather think that I shall have to rule out the Amendment on the Schedule to leave out Part II., because it will be consequential upon what takes place upon this Amendment.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I must speak to the two Amendments together then. A good deal has been said in the course of the discussion already as to the inadvisability of this system of legislation by reference, which is unfortunately becoming so common and makes it far more difficult, from the point of view of a Member of Parliament, who has not got the advantage of skilled advice to assist him, to deal with questions which may have far-reaching and important consequences. Therefore I propose to move to omit Part II. of the First Schedule, in order to draw attention more especially to the remarkable extent to which this system of legislation by reference has been developed. I am bound to confess that I have not had time to study Sections 53 and 57 of the East India Act of 1793, but I sincerely hope that these points have been carefully investigated by the Under-Secretary. I trust that these ancient and somewhat obsolete Acts of Parliament have been carefully examined by him or his advisers in order to see that these Clauses and Sub-sections, and so forth, do apply, and that it is really necessary for the purpose of this Bill they 470 should be repealed. In the short time at my disposal I have not had an opportunity of studying Section 62 of the Government of India Act of 1833, where we are told are the words, "And Governor of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal," nor have I had time to examine Section 71 of the same Act. I hope the hon. Gentleman has carefully gone into this Act as. well as the Act of 1793, and has ascertained that in order to carry into effect the provisions of the Bill now before us it is necessary to repeal the words referred to in the Schedule.
Similarly I have had no time to make a careful examination into Section 50 of the Indian Councils Act, 1861, in regard to which it is proposed to repeal the words. "And Governor of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal," in order that proper effect may be given to the provisions of this Bill. I think it is undesirable that we should be asked to sanction obscure legislation of this character, it being most difficult where we have not a law library at our disposal—I know there is one available in this House—to assist us to go closely into great and important questions of the government of India, on which the destiny of the Empire so largely depends. We have to study those Bills when we go home, without the aid of a law library, and, owing to the obscure way in which these measures are drafted, it is absolutely necessary to come to the House to look at the references in order to see what the Government are proposing. In the limited time at my disposal I have had no opportunity in regard to these references to look them up and verify them. I have been more fortunate in my investigation of the First Schedule of the Indian Councils Act, 1909, and I would like to draw the Under-Secretary's attention to this portion of the Bill. In the First Schedule to the Indian Councils Act, 1909, it is proposed to repeal certain words. In that Schedule we come to this curious phrase, "Legislative Council of the Governor-General of the Bengal Division of the Presidency of Fort William." I at once turn to the Indian Council's Act of 1909, and the Schedule to which this referred. I have gone through very carefully the First Schedule to the Act of 1909, and it seems to me this is another instance of legislation in a hurry, another case of that incurable sloppiness which is principally characteristic of Radical legislation at the present day.
I speak under correction by the hon. Gentleman, because, although I have got a 471 copy of the Act from the Library, it may be that it is incorrectly printed. Evidently there was some mistake with regard to the Government of India Act, 1854, because it was differently described in the volume which was at my disposal; but this is quite a recent Act, and it seems incredible that there should be variations of this Act in existence at the present time. I should be very glad to know exactly in what copy of the Act this particular phrase which I have quoted appears. As I said, I have gone through the First Schedule of the Indian Councils Act of 1909 with very great care, and I cannot find the words which the hon. Gentleman now proposes to repeal. I cannot see how you are going to repeal words which do not exist. Let me go through the Schedule of the Act of 1909. It is headed, "First Schedule." Then follows, "Maximum Number of Nominated and Elected Members of Legislative Councils." One column is headed, "Legislative Council," and the next column is headed, "Maximum Number." It is rather difficult to describe the Schedule as it appears upon this page; but under the heading of the first column we have "Legislative Council of the Governor-General," and in the next column the maximum number appears as 60; then "Legislative Council of the Governor of Fort Saint George," maximum number 50; "Legislative Council of the Governor of Bombay," maximum number 50; "Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Bengal division of the Presidency of Fort William," maximum number 50: "Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh," maximum number 50; "Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam," maximum number 50; "Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of the Punjab," maximum number 30; "Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Burmah," maximum number 30; "Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor of any province which may hereafter be constituted," maximum number 30.
I have read the whole of the Schedule to which this Schedule of the Bill apparently applies, and I cannot find any mention of the "Legislative Council of the Governor-General of the Bengal Division of the Presidency of Fort William." Who is the Governor-General of the Bengal Division 472 of the Presidency of Fort William? He does not exist in the Schedule which I have read. Here is another copy of the Act which has been placed in my hand, and I do not see any mention of this interesting personality. This Governor-General has apparently been created by the Liberal Government in order that his career may be immediately cut short by the provisions of this Bill. I speak under correction. It may be that the copy of the Act which I have read is wrong. I do not know who the Governor-General of the Bengal Division of the Presidency of Fort William is. It seems to me that he is a sort of legislative "Mistress Harris," and, as a matter of fact, I am inclined to think that, like Mrs. Gamp's friend, "there is no such person at all." Subject to explanation by the Under-Secretary—and I have no doubt he Has a sufficient explanation—I have moved the Amendment that the words of the Clause referring to this Schedule shall be left out in order that we may have an opportunity of hearing from the hon. Gentleman who this Governor-General of the Bengal Division for the Presidency of Fort William is, what are his functions, and what is the reason for desiring that he should apparently be cut off from those official functions in order to fulfil the purposes of this measure which is now before us.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The object of the hon. Member is to leave out the Second Schedule, and as his second Amendment is consequential on the one he now moves, I propose to deal with the two. I can assure the hon. Member that the repeal Clause of that Schedule has been very carefully considered. As I explained in introducing the Bill to the House, Section 53 of the East India Act of 1793 and Section 62 of the Government of India Act, 1833, were of a different effect from any of the other enactments mentioned in the Second Schedule, because they contained matters which were of importance at that date, and therefore have been specially mentioned. All the other Sections sought to be repealed are purely non-controversial and far from the state of affairs which results from the passage of the other Clauses of the Bill. Section 62 of the Government of India Act of 1833 refers to what the Governor-General of India should do if there should be a vacancy in his office, or if he should be absent. It is suggested that he shall appoint in his place an ordinary member of the Council next in rank, who shall hold the office of Governor-General of India, and the office 473 of Governor of the Presidency of Fort William and Bengal. That was at a time when the Governor-General of India was also Governor-General of Fort William and Bengal. Now that there is a separate Government it is clearly not necessary to appoint a person to hold the office of Governor of Fort William and Bengal when the Governor-General of India is absent. Similarly, by Clause 50 of the India Councils Act of 1861 the Governor of Bombay and Madras is given the right in certain contingencies to act as Governor-General of India and also as Governor of the Presidency of Fort William and Bengal. That was when the two offices were held by the one individual, but now that they are separated that Section must be repealed. I come to the India Councils Act of 1909, and I congratulate the hon. Member in having discovered what is not. and perhaps he will accept my assurance on the point, a sin on the part of the Government, or an attempt on my part or on the part of anybody, to mislead the House. It is nothing more or less important, serious though it may be, than a misprint in the Bill, which, of course, has got to be remedied. I was going myself to suggest that it should be remedied. The whole matter can be set right at once, not by anything so drastic as by leaving out the whole of the Schedule, but you can remove the printer's error by altering the words "Governor-General" to the words "Lieutenant-Governor" in line 27 of the Schedule. I think that would be a less heroic and at the same time satisfactory course. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City will see that that purports to be a quotation from the First Schedule of the Act of 1909, but by an error in printing it refers to the Lieutenant-Governor.
§ Mr. SANDYS
My object in moving that the whole of this Schedule should be left out was because I had not an opportunity of personally investigating the other portions referred to in these obscure and rather difficult Acts. I hope that the hon. Member has really made a careful examination to see at any rate that in the earlier portions of this Schedule proper correctness has been observed. I think it is rather remarkable now on the Committee stage of this Bill, and after, I should imagine, the examination of this Schedule by the hon. Member with all the expert advice behind him, and after he had devoted a considerable portion of his time to it, and after at least a second printing of 474 the Bill, that a glaring error of this description should be found, and which, caught my eye the very moment I opened the Bill, though I only had it in my hand for the first time yesterday evening. I should have thought it was the duty of the hon. Member to personally investigate an important measure of this kind, and not merely hand it over to the printers to do their best or their worst for him, and then when a glaring mistake is detected comparatively by accident, to say, "Oh, it is only a printer's error, for which we cannot accept any responsibility."
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I do most humbly accept the whole responsibility. I quite agree that the hon. Member has every right to complain of the error which has occurred, but I wish to say, not in self-defence, but in defence, that I had seen the error long before the hon. Member pointed it out, and proposed to set it right.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I did not notice any Amendment on the Paper, and if I had I should not have thought it necessary to draw the attention of the hon. Member to the matter. As it was not down I thought the point had escaped his attention. I think that on future occasions, when Bills of this first-class importance are being prepared, it should not be left to the last moment to hand in a written Amendment to the Chairman, but that the Bill should' be carefully investigated in every word and read not once, but twice or three times, in order to see that proper accuracy has been attained. I think I am justified in saying that this is an example of that incurable sloppiness which characterises Radical legislation. They are more anxious that there should be a quantity of legislation than that it should be carefully examined and investigated. They are anxious, in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his remarkable speech at Cardiff, "to keep the legislative wagon full." Surely it is better that we should have quality rather than quantity, and that there should be a proper examination and' investigation of those important measures upon which the future government of our greatest dependency hangs. Those are Bills which require most careful investigation and examination before they are presented for the approval of this House.
§ Colonel GREIG
I am not going to attempt to make any reply to the bitter partisan attack of the hon. Member who has just spoken, except to say that this is a 475 Bill which was treated as a non-contentious measure, and to drag party politics into it does not conduce to the government of India or to the conduct of business in this House. I wish to ask the Undersecretary whether the repeals in this Section affect in any way the appointments reserved to or the status of members of the Indian Civil Service?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
There was no question of any party feeling until the hon. and gallant Member opposite arose. I should like to testify my gratitude to my hon. Friend for the assiduous way in which he has assisted His Majesty's Government to arrive at right conclusions and to draft their Bill properly. I think the Government ought to acknowledge the great debt they owe to the Opposition, because, if it "had not been for our coming down at great inconvenience and pointing out the errors in the Bill, these mistakes might have pass undiscovered. We are anxious that that great ornament of the British Crown, the Indian Empire, should be properly governed. In the twenty years I have been a Member of the House I do not remember any occasion on which there has been two attempts to print a Bill and both have been wrong. While I acknowledge the courtesy with which the Undersecretary has treated us, I think my hon. Friend is quite right in saying that these attempts to force legislation with undue haste lead to this sort of mistake. I understand that an Amendment will be moved by the Minister in charge of the Bill; therefore I presume my hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.