HC Deb 03 December 1919 vol 122 cc521-3

(1) The provision in Section forty-seven of the principal Act, that two of the members of the executive council of the governor of a province must have been for at least twelve years in the service of the Crown in India, shall have effect as though "one" were substituted for "two," and the provision in that Section that the Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's Forces in India, if resident at Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay, shall, during his continuance there, be a member of the governor's council, shall cease to have effect.

(2) Provision may be made by Rules under the principal Act as to the qualifications to be required in respect of members of the executive council of the governor of a province in any case where such provision is not made by Section forty-seven of the principal Act as amended by this Section.

Colonel YATE

I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (1).


I ought to point out that if the hon. and gallant Gentleman moves this, I cannot take his subsequent Amendments which propose to modify the Sub-section.

Colonel YATE

I will take the Amendment to leave out Sub-section (1). I do not understand the provisions of this Clause. I have not had time to look up the original Clause in the: principal Act to which reference is made. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain what it is. If it is to reduce the numbers of the members of the Executive Council who have had experience of India from two to one, I can see no reason whatsoever for it. Perhaps he will also explain the object of taking the Commander-in-Chief out of the Council. Very often it is advisable to have a Commander-in-Chief to advise the Council. I have seen in the papers lately that the Commander-in-Chief has been able to give very great advice, and when he happens to be present it is very useful that he should be able to come in.


There is really, like so many provisions of this Bill, no vice in this matter. What is really meant is this. Under the Bill a certain number of the functions of government have been transferred to Ministers, and unless this Clause is carried you will have to keep the same number of members of the Executive Council as at present. This Clause prevents the necessity of your having them if you do not want them. With regard to the Commander-in-Chief, this is a purely obsolete provision, because it dates from the time, I imagine, when he was resident in Calcutta. If his services are wanted on the Council, I can assure the Committee that nothing in this Bill will prevent his coming in to confer. But under the new regime, with a Legislative Council which deals purely with local affairs, what is the need to preserve an obsolete provision? Therefore that is taken away.

Sir J. D. REES

When the Commanders-in-Chief were members of the Council they used to complain about the waste of time entailed in attending its meetings.

Colonel YATE

I can understand the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, but I cannot see the advantage of doing away with the opportunity of the Commander-in-Chief forming part of the Council should there be occasion when it is desirable that he should attend. It seems to me it is going out of our way to prevent his attendance when his attendance might be of great use; and as for the substitution in the Clause of "one" for "two," it appears to me you will most seriously weaken the Council. I can see no possible object in the Clause.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

May I point out what, to my mind, is an anomaly—and in this matter I am sorry to take my stand with the hon. and gallant Member for Melton. I cannot see the reason for still keeping one member of the Executive Council, who must have served for twelve years in the service of the Crown. I see nothing in the Bill to prevent anyone who has served twelve, twenty, or twenty-five years being appointed on the Executive Council. It is hardly desirable, it seems to me, to make it necessary to appoint one who must have been twelve years in the service of the Crown. Why not appoint the best available man?


I do not think A is any use debating the question now. What my hon. and gallant Friend is thinking about is the fact that there is a provision for one man with a service qualification, and the only way to give effect to what he wishes is to move to leave out the Clause. If this were done, the result would be there would be two men instead of one. The opportunity for any Amendment having gone by, it does not seem worth while to discuss the matter.

Clause 6 (Business of the Governor in Council and the Governor with Ministers) ordered to stand part of the Bill.