HC Deb 26 November 1917 vol 99 cc1801-2

Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir D. Maclean) proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

Commander WEDGWOOD

I know I shall be counted out very shortly, but I take this opportunity of raising a question which cropped up last week. It appears that a fortnight ago the Home Office raided the premises of the Indian Home Rule League in order to secure possession of the remaining copies of the book entitled "Young India," written by Lajpat Rai. It appears, also, that, having started this book, the Home Office came to the conclusion that it recommended sedition and assassination. It so happens that I have had the responsibility of writing a preface to that volume. I should not like it to be imagined that I would recommend a book which recommended sedition or assassination, and I think it would have been more in accordance with the traditions of this House if I had been informed of this raid before it took place and if I had been asked to explain my connection with the book in order that I might have been able to give such explanation as was within my power. This book by Lajpat Rai is a document which it is of the greatest importance should be known to the people of this country. It is no good our keeping our heads in the sand as to the opinions held by Indians in regard to British rule in India. I am one of those who believe that it is always well to let any opinion have free expression. If it is a bad opinion public opinion will deal with it far better than Sir A. Bodkin. If it is good opinion then in the long run it will make its way. I ask the House to observe and to realise that this book was published in this country in an edition of 1,000 copies only, and that a copy of it was sent to every Member of this House, and to those Members of the House of Lords who were considered to be of sufficient importance. Some of the copies were sent for review. I am not surprised, in view of the uses to which the publication was put, that the Home Office, in its efforts to stop its circulation, only captured five copies at the office. I have another five copies in my bag. It is not only necessary that this subject should be discussed in the country in order that the problem of India may be understood, but—

Notice taken that forty Members were not present—

Commander WEDGWOOD

I shall endeavour to raise this question to-morrow night.

House counted, and, forty Members not being present,

The House was adjourned at Nine minutes after Eleven o'clock.