§ MR. MONTAGU'S STATEMENT.
§ Order for Committee read.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)
I beg to move, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
This is the sixth time it has fallen to my lot to initiate the discussion on the Indian Budget, and I devoutly hope that it may be the last. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I will explain that in one moment. This is the first time in the history of Indian affairs in my memory that the House of Commons has agreed to the discussion of the Indian Budget so early as before the end of May, and I take that as a happy prelude to the day when we shall have substituted for this meaningless process of Budget Debate a more proper procedure of Debate on the India Office Estimates, which I trust at an early date will be substituted for the Indian Budget discussion. I cannot understand why my salary should be charged to the Indian taxpayer, and be beyond the control of this House, while the salary of my right hon. Friend on my left (Mr. Fisher) is a subject over which the House of Commons has proper control. I am not going to discuss the financial situation in India. Hon. Members—I fear there are very few—who are interested in that absorbing topic—will have presented to them the Budget statement of my hon. Friend (Sir James Meston). I will merely say on that topic that the currency position in India was a source of great anxiety to the Government throughout the War, an anxiety that might have brought disaster to India if it had not been for the timely help of the American Government and the American Parliament by the passage of the Pitman Act. The currency situation is now causing us renewed anxiety owing to the increase in the price of silver which has necessitated a rupee of 1s. 8d. It is a difficult matter to decide how long we shall go on purchasing silver in a rising market, and I have decided to appoint a new Currency Commission to investigate the situation caused by the rise in the price of silver in a limited world supply. I propose to publish the names of that Commission in due course; 622 they will be representative of British and Indian commerce, and they will be presided over by Sir Henry Babington Smith, who has kindly consented to offer his unequalled knowledge to this very responsible body.
I would like the House to be good enough to listen to me while I try to sketch the position in India to-day. If we are considering only the position of India vis-à-vis the great nations of the world, the situation is a bright one. After having taken up the challenge which Germany and her Allies presented to the civilised world, after having devoted her invaluable troops and her limited resources to the Allied cause, India has won for herself a place in international discussion equal to that of the British Dominions, and greater than the position occupied by any Power in the world, except, of course, those who are colloquially known as the Big Five. Not only has she separate access to the Peace Conference, not only have her representatives received from the King power to sign on his behalf peace with His Majesty's enemies, but as members of the British Empire Delegation they share in the task of concerting the policy of the British Empire. I can only say on behalf of my colleagues, His Highness the Maharajah of Bikanir, and Lord Sinha, and myself, that we have devoted ourselves in Paris with all the more concentration to the interests of the Indian Empire, because we realise we are the representatives of a people not yet unfortunately self-governing. It must have been a satisfaction to the House of Commons to learn that India was to be an original Member of the League of Nations, and that Indian representatives are to sit in the far-reaching and important international labour organisation which is to result from the Peace Treaty. I can only repeat that these things, together with the place occupied by my friend and colleague, Lord Sinha in the House of Lords, commit this House and Parliament to the view that this position is only justified if you can raise India to the position of a sister nation in the British Empire, and it is wholly inconsistent with a position of subordination. And I must go one step further. I would say to our colleagues who have sat with us round the Conference Table representing the great Dominions of this Empire, that the position of equality which they have given to the representa- 623 tives of India is wholly inconsistent, in my humble opinion, with the treatment of the citizens of India in British Dominions.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Yes, in South Africa or anywhere, in the position which puts them lower than the citizens of any other parts of the British Empire. I turn to India herself. There the position is not so satisfactory. Having come through the War with a record which will compare with the record of any other country in the world, we find now a country in mourning. Rebellion and revolution have appeared internally. War has broken out afresh on her frontiers. It is to this subject that I would invite the attention of the House his afternoon, to an analysis of the causes, to a description of the state of affairs, and to a suggestion as to the remedies. I am not going to say very much about Afghanistan. It is now quite clear that the new Amir, having achieved the throne, has, in a moment of almost suicidal folly, authorised an unprovoked attack upon the territories for which we are responsible. His motives are doubtful. They must be partly attributed to the unrest which exists throughout the Mahomedan world—on which I shall have something to say in a minute— partly to a pathetic effort, by the worst possible means, to consolidate his position on a shaky throne, partly to the emissaries of that dark and murderous doctrine which battens upon unrest, feeds on discontent, spreads disorder wherever it shows its head—Bolshevism, and the Bolshevist emissaries of Russia. [AN HON. MEMBER: "And Germany, too!"] All these have played their part, and the result was inevitable. I shall publish daily as I receive them reports on the military situation. It is not necessary for me to say that we desire nothing in Afghanistan but the friendly relations with a neighbouring country which we had when Afghanistan was ruled by that wise statesman, Habibullah, who was so recently and treacherously done to death. We desire peace and no interference, but we do intend to exact stern and just punishment for the raids and invasions perpetrated by unscrupulous forces on the peoples under our protection, and explanations and withdrawals of the strange messages we have received from the present Amir. 624 As to the internal situation in India, I propose to deal frankly with the trouble in India, but I do so with this word of preface: The danger is not past, it exists, it is not something that is finished, it threatens. I shall charge myself with the task of saying nothing that will fan the flames or increase the grievous responsibility of those whose first duty it is to restore order. Those who govern India, those who wish her well, those who desire for her peace and progress, speak in a critical time in her history. I feel sure I can appeal to all those hon. Members who will take a part in this Debate to recognise, as I think the whole of India has recognised, that the first duty of the Government to-day is to restore order. It is not necessary to exaggerate the situation. Riots involving the destruction of life and of property have occurred in certain parts of the Presidency of Bombay, in the province of the Punjab, extending over one-tenth of the area and involving one-third of the population, on one occasion in the city of Delhi, and to a minor extent in the streets of Calcutta. There has been no trouble in Madras, no trouble in the Central Provinces, no trouble in the United Provinces, no trouble in Bihar, Orissa, or Burma. In Calcutta, the Bengali had little or no share in the trouble at all. Throughout India, generally speaking, the country districts remained quiet, and the trouble was confined to the towns. I would ask this House to join with me in an expression of sincere sympathy to all those who have suffered in these disturbances. There has been the loss of much property, there has been the loss of many innocent lives, there have been, as doubts less will be revealed when the whole story is told, many stirring deeds of heroism. I say again that these events have shown the unshakeable, undismayed loyalty of India as a whole. There have been striking incidents of the co-operation of Indians in localising the trouble and in using efforts to restore order. That does not detract from the fact that Englishmen in no way connected with the Government and in no way responsible for the deeds— misdeeds or good deeds—of the Government, have lost their lives and have been foully murdered. Official Indians and non-official Indians have been done to death, yes, and even many of the rioters deserve our sympathy, for when these things occur the man who loses his life as a result of a soldier's bullet is as much the 625 victim of those who promoted the riots as those who are killed by the rioters themselves.
In these circumstances the Indian Army to a man, and the Indian Police, despite attempts to promote insubordination and indiscipline, remained without a single stain upon their reputation or a single unpleasant incident. This is a tribute to the men who have won renown on all the fields of war, who played so conspicuous, indeed the main and predominant, part in the defeat of one of our enemies, Turkey, but it is also a tribute to the officer of the Indian Army, who has shown his great capacity for leadership. I see opposite me my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Yate), whom I think I can describe as the Member for the Indian Army, who has done so much, both publicly and privately, to remove the troubles and to champion the cause of the officers of the Indian Army. May I digress for a moment to say to him, with special reference to the Amendment he has upon the Paper, that both the Government of India and the India Office are of opinion that now the War is over there must be inquiry by the best military organisers that we can obtain to improve the organisation of the Indian Army, with a view to removing grievances as to promotion and opportunity, and with a view to modernising, in view of the experiences of the War, its organisation. But, preceding that, the Government of India are devoting their attention to an investigation of the grievances as to pay, pensions, and leave, upon which I hope to give further information to the House.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I turn from the Indian Army to the British Army. The House will remember that when the trouble occurred in India, elements of the British Army remaining in India, having done duty there, throughout the War, some of them, were faced with another hot season in India, and, instead of going back in the expectancy of early demobilisation, agreed to stay to help in the restoration of order. I do not think there will be any doubt about the welcome which the British troops will receive at home, wherever they have been doing duty through the War; but for these men, in these circumstances, I would ask that those who have a welcome to offer or an opportunity to afford special treatment 626 and special consideration, will avail themselves of the opportunity when these men come home, last of all.
What were the causes of these troubles, troubles which have resulted so far as I can make out in the loss of nine European and something like 400 Indian lives? I am not going to deal with the obvious, I am not going to deal with re-action from the strain of the War, or with general unrest which is current throughout the world, but I want to deal with the direct causes, economic and political. The economic causes are very considerable. India has suffered this past year, for the first time I am glad to say for some years past, from a failure of the rains. There has been a consequent great diminution in food supplies and prices have risen to a very great extent indeed. People have gone short of food despite the strenuous efforts made by the Government to ensure better distribution and to make available grain from Australia. Further than that two other things have been accentuating the distress. Recruitment for the Army, which has gone on in parts particularly affected by these disturbances with such zeal and enthusiasm that I think there is reason to believe many a family was left without its breadwinner or breadwinners, and consequently the area under cultivation has been diminished. Lastly, there was the scourge of influenza which removed many of the most vigorous people in the prime of life, because this disease seems to attack by preference people of the breadwinning age. Between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 people died of influenza in India last winter. Between 50 per cent. and 80 per cent.—on an average two-thirds —of the total population suffered from influenza during the visitation of this plague with its consequent removal from industry, or from agriculture, which is more important, and the enfeebling after-results. These, I think, are the main economic causes.
I will now turn to the political. I put first among the political causes the perturbation and perplexity caused to the Mahomedan world by the discussions arising out of the defeat of Turkey. This subject was discussed in the House last week a propos of Egypt. Very much the same circumstances exist in India, where Indian soldiers, including among their best, Mahomedan soldiers, claim that they have had a predominant part in the defeat of Turkey, in full confidence that the War 627 was a war of liberation and equality of treatment, of national settlement and of self-determination, and when they read of rumours and acts which led to fears that our Mussulman enemy will be partitioned up to satisfy conflicting claims, when they read that this part is to be allotted to this European nation and that to another— mere rumours, but alarming rumours— when they read that as a signal of victory there are those who advocate the reconsecration of an important Mahomedan mosque, is it to be wondered at that there are signs of unrest among the Mahomedan people of the world?
I now come to two other political causes —causes more indirect because they only affect the politically-minded part of the population, but causes which must be reckoned with. One is a fear, based upon the ceaseless activities of the Indo-British Association, that the reforms promised on the 20th of August, 1917, will not be carried out in an acceptable form. This is an association formed with the most laudable motives, which has carried on a ceaseless campaign against those reforms ever since the announcement was made. They have slandered and libelled whole sections of the Indian population. They have very often hardly paid to the facts the respect to which facts are entitled, and they have provoked the suspicion that the British Parliament intends to go back upon that pronouncement, or at least not to carry it out in an adequate way. Lastly, there is the Rowlatt Act, which has caused widespread, I would almost say universal opposition throughout India: although the disturbances I have just described are so local, and although this shows that they are not directly due to opposition to the Rowlatt Act, let the House make no mistake, the Rowlatt Act was throughout India a very unpopular Act. I have read from end to end all the Debates which took place upon the Rowlatt Act, and I am not here to apologise for it. I am still convinced that in the circumstances, as passed, as it is now on the Statute Book, for it has been left to it operation, the Rowlatt Act was necessary, ought to have been passed and could not have been avoided. Evidence accumulates every day that there is in India a small body of men who are the enemies of government, men whom any Government, bureaucratic or democratic, alien or indigenous, if it was worthy the name of Government, must deal with. I cannot do 628 better, in describing this body of men, than quote the words of a very great and distinguished Indian, Mr. Gandhi. There is no man who offers such perplexity to a Government as Mr. Gandhi, a man of the highest motives and of the finest character, a man whom his worst enemy, if he has any enemies, would agree is of the most disinterested ambitions that it is possible to conceive, a man who has deserved well of his country by the services he has rendered, both in India and outside it, and yet a man who his friends, and I would count myself as one of them, would wish would exercise his great powers with a greater sense of responsibility and would realise in time that there are forces beyond his control and outside his influence who use the opportunities afforded by his name and reputation. My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) will realise that Mr. Gandhi is not the only man who, despite the most laudable motives, sometimes shows a lack of political wisdom.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Mr. Gandhi has himself said about these things—he was deploring, as, of course, he would do, the acts of violence which have occurred—He realised that there were clever men behind it all and some organisation beyond his ken.That is the real revolutionary, the man who lurks in dark corners, whom nothing can locate or convert, who is subject to the influences of an organisation ramifying throughout the world with its secret emissaries and influences, men who are a danger to any country, and against whom the Government of India are determined to do unceasing battle until they have been extirpated. The Defence of India Act has helped us to do much with regard to these men. No one in this House will accuse Lord Carmichael of being a stern, unbending bureaucrat. These are his words:The Defence of India Act is what has helped us. I am only saying what I believe to be absolutely true when I say that, the Defence of India Act has helped to defend the young educated men of Bengal as nothing else has defended them, not their own fathers, not their teachers, for they were ignorant, not their associates nor they themselves, for they were blind to the danger.Under the Defence of India Act a certain number of these people have been dealt with. The greater number of the persons were mainly required to live in their own 629 homes and not to move without permission. The Act is comparable to our own Defence of the Realm Act and was passed for the duration of the War only. Under it some 1,600 people alone have been dealt with, of whom nearly two-thirds have subsequently been released, leaving at present about 464 subjects to restraint. All the cases in Bengal have been investigated by a Commission of Inquiry consisting of Mr. Justice Beechcroft and Sir Narayan Chandavarkar, and in all the cases which they have investigated they have found the Government was justified in the action they took except in six cases.
The problem before the Government of India was this. Were we, when peace was restored, to rely on the ordinary law as it existed before the Defence of India Act was passed, or was it necessary to take any new steps'? We did not decide that by correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Government of India, but we appointed a Committee of Inquiry into the facts. It was presided over by an English judge, Mr. Justice Rowlatt, whom I asked go out there. His associates were two Indian judges, one an Indian and one an Englishman, an Indian Civil servant and an Indian lawyer in a large way of practice. They presented, after a full investigation, a unanimous Report, and the facts which they brought to light have never been challenged. It is their recommendation which has been carried out in the Rowlatt Act. Does the House mean to suggest to me that, confronted with this evil, having considered the situation arising out of the end of the Defence of India Act, having appointed a Committee for this purpose, thus constituted, having got from it a unanimous report of this authority, we were to say we. would disregard their advice and do nothing? It has been objected that this Commission was entirely legal, that they were all lawyers, and that a different result might have been obtained if some other element had been upon the tribunal. Our anxiety was to try to rely entirely upon legal processes rather than upon executive action. What better tribunal can you have to advocate the great advantages of the law than lawyers? This fact added to my mind the importance of their findings.
Let me shortly describe the Act which is based upon their recommendations. First of all it is not in force anywhere. Does the House realise that? It will 630 never be in force unless the circumstances which justify it occur, and then it would be unflinchingly used. It is divided into parts, and the application of each part depends upon a declaration of the Government of India that in different degrees anarchical or revolutionary crime exists.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
Do I understand that the Indian Defence of the Realm Act is considered to be sufficient to cover the Indian difficulties until the War ends, and then, that the Rowlatt Act or Acts would, if necessary, being on the Statute Book, be put into operation?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
That is absolutely accurate. It was stated several times in the Debate by members of the Government of India that they had no intention of using the Rowlatt Act until the end of the War. Under the first part of the Bill when the results of anarchical or revolutionary movement are comparatively mild, nothing is suggested but the speeding up of the ordinary legal processes. I think I am right in saying that I need not waste time with that particular part of the Act, because it has met with very little opposition. Under the other two parts of the Act, where anarchical or revolutionary movement are giving cause for grave anxiety—I am not quoting the exact words —or are prevailing to such an extent as to endanger the public safety, then the local Government may deprive a man of his liberty, not as a punishment but as a preventative, and intern him for a prolonged period. But in that case, the local Government first of all has to submit the case to a judicial officer to advise them upon it. It is not until they have received his report that they take action, and when they have taken action, within a month of having taken action they must submit the whole case to what is called an investigating authority, consisting of three individuals, of whom one shall be a non-official, to go into the whole case afresh and see that the Act has not been misapplied. That is, roughly speaking, the machinery.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
These people to whom appeals are made have to decide the question not on the grounds of justice or injustice, but on the grounds of expediency, I presume—on the ground of whether the authority who ordered the man's internment believes that he was a danger to the State without any specific crime being alleged against him? It is a ques- 631 tion of expediency, I understand, and not justice, that has to be decided by the Appeal Court.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
No; they have full authority to go into the whole matter. They would be able to advise the Government whether it is right and proper that this man should continue to be interned.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Under Part I. of the Act he has legal assistance, but under Parts II. and III. there is no legal assistance. This is not a Law Court but a committee of inquiry. It is more like a body of schoolmasters investigating trouble in a school, a committee of a club using its friendly services for the purposes of inquiry; some body to explore all matters, some body to see that injustice is not done, some body to be sure that all the facts are investigated. The hon. Member would like the legal processes better. I am coming to that. I am dealing with the objections which have been taken to the Act. The first objection is, that we have in existence far more drastic powers than we take under the Act now. Where, therefore, was the necessity for this? I have here a quotation from the Leader of the Opposition, if I may call him by that name, my friend Mr. Surendra Nath Banerjea:My lord,he said to the Viceroy,you possess full statutory emergency powers to deal with revolutionary and anarchical crime; powers far more summary, far more drastic than what is contemplated in the provisions of this Bill.That is so. Martial Law, the power of ordinance, the Defence of India Act, Regulation III. of 1818. All these are infinitely more drastic, infinitely more summary. Out of the mouths of our own critics I claim that we have made no new outrage upon the liberty of the subject in India. We have merely perfected and improved the long-established method of dealing with these abuses, and provided something which gives some guarantees to the individual that the powers will not be misapplied. Next it was said in the Debates, "Why do you come here for 632 legislation? Why do you not proceed by ordinance? Why do you not enact by a decree of your Government?"Is it seriously to be argued that instead of proceeding by full discussion in Legislative Council, without an opportunity of discussion or amendment, you should enunciate an ordinance? I do not think that can seriously be argued by any" body with a sense of civic responsibility. I presume that what is meant is that there is no difference between legislation by ordinance and this legislation which was passed by an official majority in the teeth of non-official opposition. I claim that the Bill was vastly improved by the discussion which took place in the Legislative Council, and I should like to pay a tribute—a tribute which was paid by the Opposition themselves—to my hon. Friend Sir William Vincent, the Home Member, for the courtesy and Parliamentary ability which he displayed in the uncongenial task of passing this legislation.
The two most important alterations that were made were that the Bill was limited to three years, and that the name was altered to make it quite clear that it was only to be used for the anarchical and the revolutionary movement. The Government of India have been criticised even in this House for consenting to make the Bill temporary. Why did they make any concessions in the Bill? Is discussion not to be of any use? Are there not occasions in this House where a private Member is right and where the Government is wise enough to see it? This Bill was never intended by the Government of India to be a permanent measure. It was introduced in a permanent form, but I hope everybody will look forward to its being unnecessary and to its eventual repeal. In my opinion, the legislative council were right in saying that this sort of legislation can only be justified by the existing circumstances of the case. No Government is entitled to put a statute of this kind as a permanent measure upon the Statute Book. If you can justify previous action by what has occurred subsequently, there are dangers that justify this emergent and exceptional power at a period of the close of the War, with all the difficulties of peace, and when Bolshevism, even though its attractions are waning, is still a force to be reckoned with. I appreciate to the full one of the arguments which was used in the Debate on this matter. It is said by the non-official Member: "Though you seek this instrument for 633 dealing with anarchical and revolutionary crime, you will use it for all sorts of others. You will use it to stifle legitimate political discussion. You will misuse it." I profoundly sympathise with that view, although I do not believe that there is any foundation whatever for it in this connection. Drastic powers of this kind, safeguarded though they are in the hands of the Government may make, if theyaremisused, administration—for it is not government—too easy for the moment. The Government of India again and again made all the pledges possible to eradicate this evil. I will repeat them. This Act will not be used except to cope with anarchical and revolutionary movement. There is no danger whatever of its being used for any other purpose, and if you think it is being used at any moment or at any time you will always have, I hope, the reformed local Governments, the large legislative assemblies, and the Select Committee of this House to safeguard the liberties of the subject, or, rather—because there I do not think there is any danger—to convince Indian public opinion that the powers we have taken have not been misused.
Then comes the next objection: "Try the man. Try the man openly in a Court of law, and if he is guilty of these crimes, produce him in the law Court, let him stand his trial openly, with lawyers to defend him, and then sentence him to the punishment he deserves." Is there any man in this House who does not sympathise with that plea in theory? Does not everybody hope, the Government of India as much as anybody, if not more, that the time will come in India when you can contemplate recourse to judicial and not executive remedies for dealing with evils which are in this country dealt with by judicial Courts'! The separation of judicial and executive functions in India has long been a much advocated and canvassed question. I hope for the day when we shall have a complete separation of legal and executive functions, not in a limited sense, dealing with Courts of first instance, but I do hope the day will come gradually, possibly through reforms of the legal processes, through changes in the customs and habits of the people of the country, when we can substitute for executive act the ordinary remedies of the law. But does anybody think that that day has come now any more than for achievement of self-govern- 634 ment itself? What is the reason for this impossibility at this moment? It is because you cannot get witnesses. You cannot get a fair trial in a case of this kind in a Court of law. These revolutionary conspirators have proved over and over again their ability to intimidate those who give evidence against them, and those who have served the Government in exposing those conspiracies have been murdered, shot, have lost their lives for their action, to such an extent that the only possible way of dealing with these cases, provided you once accept the responsibility of government and the protection of life and property by eradicating: these anarchical movements is by private investigation.
I would like to quote on this subject, because I think it is important to convince the House, the report on the internees, of Mr. Justice Beechcroft and Sir Narayan Chandarvarkar:The records before us prove conclusively that the revolutionary organisations are secret conspiracies which have spread to different parts of the provinces, have entered homes, schools and colleges, and have reduced their secrecy of operations almost to scientific methods. They have pledged their members to the closest secrecy of their movements under pain of instant death by murder in the event of disclosure. That is one of their rules and every attempt that had been made to deal with it, before the Defence of India Act was brought into force, by the trial of persons accused of revolutionary crimes had been rendered practically impossible by the murder of witnesses, approvers police officers, and law-abiding citizens suspected of having given information to or otherwise assisted the police in the detection of revolutionary crime. A situation of terrorism had been created. The current of truth and justice was disturbed so as to prevent a fair, open and impartial trial in an ordinary criminal Court, with the result that approvers and witnesses would not come forward to give evidence openly lest they should be assassinated.They further went on to say:In these circumstances it was impossible to secure a fair trial by the procedure of the Evidence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code which is appropriate only to normal conditions. The procedure to deal with revolutionary crimes has to be practical in the sense of being appropriate in the special conditions, so as to secure a fair trial in the exceptional situation. Our special procedure cannot therefore be regarded as violating the primary principle on which those laws are based.Therefore I say it is impossible to resort to open trial. My last defence of the Rowlatt Act will be this, that you cannot defend it unless you agree that it is the duty of the Government to cope with the evils against which it is designed I cannot agree that it is not the duty of the Govern- 635 ment to use every method to cope with this danger just as I cannot agree with those who think that that is their only method. We intend to maintain order in India, and we intend to safeguard it because we believe that that is the only atmosphere in which nationality can grow uninterruptedly, surely, and swiftly. I quote the opinion of one who cannot be described as a thick-and-thin supporter of the Government of India in all that is done-—Mrs. Besant. She stated in public that" the Rowlatt Act as amended contains nothing that a good citizen should resist. This Act need never be used if there is no occasion to use it.
In what conditions and circumstances would there be no occasion to use it? What is the policy? I have now described, I think, the condition in India. I have described the causes and explained them which have led to these conditions, and I come now to what I venture to suggest are the remedies. There, seems to me to be two alternative policies. The first is to do nothing, to ride the storm, to stifle political aspirations by the Rowlatt Act and comparable legislation, to prevent those who would stir strong political ambitions from speaking in India or in England, to give the advocates of political opinions and reform no passports so as to lay their case before the Government at home, to keep political leaders from the platform, and govern by emergency legislation through the police. That is what I believe is called in club smoking-rooms firm and strong government. Sir, we are not dealing with a cattle-yard. We are dealing with men, and thinking men, and business men, men who desire opportunities for their aspirations. The sort of policy I have referred to is described in some eloquent words by the man under whose leadership I entered the field of Indian politics, who has been my inspiration since I had anything to do with him. Lord Morley said:The shortcomings of Government lead to outbreaks. Outbreaks have to be put down. Reformers have to bear the blame, and their reforms are stopped. Reaction triumphs, and the mischief goes on as before, only worse.That is not the policy of the Government of India. It is not the policy of His Majesty's Government. It is not the policy that I am here to advocate. There are, I believe, in India some men, opponents of all government, who are incurably evilly disposed. There are others whose grievances must be investigated with a view to 636 removing their cause. Much has been done recently. The letters I have seen addressed to me and to other people show that, among the young and misguided men whom it ought to be our constant effort to reform, new hope is arising. The steadily increased association of Indians with the affairs of Government, such small reforms as the grant of commissions in His Majesty's Army to Indians, and the removal at last of the racial discrimination in the Arms Act Schedule—all these will have their effect, and are having their effect.
But more than this is required. As regards these troubles which I have been describing, questions have been asked from time to time, and resolutions have been moved demanding an inquiry. The Viceroy has always contemplated an inquiry. You cannot have disturbances of this kind and of this magnitude without an inquiry into the causes of and the measures taken to cope with these disturbances; but no announcement has been made of any inquiry up to this moment, for this reason —let us talk of an inquiry when we have put the fire out. The only message which we send from this House to-day to India is a message of confidence in and sympathy with those upon whom the great responsibility has fallen to restore the situation. Then will come the time to hold an inquiry, not only to help us to remove the causes, but in order to dispose once for all of some of the libellous charges which have been made against British troops and those upon whom the unpleasant duties in connection with these riots have fallen. My hon. and gallant Friend asked me a question yesterday about Mr. Horniman. He cannot but realise that Governments in India have been very patient with Mr. Horniman. He cannot have realised that in no case has there been a better example of our reluctance to interfere with mere eccentricities of political belief. But when this gentleman began to use his paper in the middle of riots, resulting in loss of life, to spread and to fan the flame, and opened his columns to an accusation that British troops had been using soft-nosed bullets in the streets of Delhi, when his paper was being distributed free to British troops in Bombay in the hope of exciting disaffection and insubordination, why then I say that it was high time he left India.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
In normal times he would have been tried. There was plenty of case to put before the Law Courts, but you are dealing with a case in which riots were occurring, where prompt and swift action for the restoration of order was necessary. He was an Englishman. This is one of those Regulations in which I should hope nobody would ever suggest any racial discrimination. An Indian would have been deported. An Englishman upon whom far greater responsibilities certainly lies, cannot be tolerated in India if he is responsible for the occurrences which we associate with Mr. Horniman. Then with regard to the Mahomedans. I can only say, speaking for myself, that I cordially sympathise with the causes of their perturbation, that I and my colleagues in Paris have persistently and consistently, at every opportunity afforded to us, right down to Saturday last when we discussed the question, assisted by three representative Indian Mahomedans, with the Council of Four—we have advocated these views and explained these conditions. If you want contented Mahomedan feeling in India you can achieve it only by a just peace based on considerations of nationality and self-determination.
I cannot believe that there will be any other peace than this, but I would reassure my Mahomedan fellow-subjects by saying this, that throughout all the Peace discussions in Paris there has never been one word, authorised or unauthorised, to indicate that anybody is foolish enough to want to interfere with that question, which is a purely Mahomedan question, the question of the Khalifate. I would go further and say that I do not believe that any Holy place or any building which is consecrated to a particular religious faith at the present time is in any danger of being interfered with in consequence of the Peace.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I am dealing with the Peace settlement and not with the occurrences after the Armistice. Therefore, we must give to the Mahomedans of India a fair share in the representation on public bodies in India, as we are enabled to do in consequence of Lord Southborough's report.
Now as to the economic causes. Part of the economic causes can be dealt with only by searching medical and scientific investi- 638 gations. It always seems to me that influenza, despite its terrific death roll, is never treated with the respect which its toll on humanity deserves, but the history of India in the last winter makes it necessary to devote all that is best in science to combat the recurrence of so hideous a calamity. More than that, we want to increase the resisting power of the Indian people; we want to improve the conditions under which they live; and I have no doubt whatever that the only road to that is the development of India's industrial capacity and resources for the benefit of India. The industrial commission which reported will bear fruit. Sir Thomas Holland is on his way home to this country and we shall take action upon the Industrial Commission's Report as soon as the members of my council and I have an opportunity of conferring with him. But there are some questions outside the Report to which I would venture to draw the attention of the House. When India was short of many necessary commodities during the War, when sea communications were interrupted, the people of India, almost unanimously, have been for years past discontented with their fiscal policy. I am a Free Trader, but I have always held that Free Trade should be achieved by a nation at its own risk and not be imposed on it from outside by another Government. There is no doubt about it that the educated people in India are not Free Traders. If they wore given fiscal liberty I think they soon would be. But let them find their own salvation. Let them find what suits their destinies best; and I say that if we in this country slide towards Protection you may be quite sure that among India's mass of industries and occupations they will find their creed and they will demand, as they have demanded for years past, the fiscal liberty which we enjoy in this country.
Lastly, I am more than ever convinced that we must now proceed without delay to the introduction of the promised Bill for the alteration of the Government of India. The pronouncement of the 20th of August must be made to live. I am authorised to say this afternoon that the Cabinet has consented to my introduction on their behalf of a Bill which will be introduced, I hope, at the beginning of June. There is now no longer any reason for delay. Lord Southborough's Committee has reported and has shown that we can get an electorate in India one hundred 639 and fifty seven times as big as the present one, which is good for a beginning. Mr. Feetham's Committee has reported and shown that you can divide the functions of the Government of India from those of the local Gonvernment and thus admit of the long-desired decentralisation, and that of the functions of the local Government there are many and substantial functions that can be entrusted at once to the charge of representatives of the peoples of India, bring home better to this House what I start of that kind has been made the rest of the local functions of the local Governments will follow. The Bill which I will introduce, therefore, is only awaiting two events—the recommendations of Lord Crewe's Committee as to those changes in the India Office which will require statutory enactment, and the publication, which I hope to have next week, of the dispatches of the Government in India and of the local Governments upon the Report. When these documents are published it will be found—I do not want to anticipate debate on this question—that the majority of the local Governments do not like that portion of the Montagu-Chelmsford form of government which is known as "diarchy"; and they have said so very forcibly. After they had written their letters of dissent the heads of the local Governments went to Delhi and conferred with the Viceroy. As a result they produced an alternative scheme which will be published next week and it is endorsed by the Governments of the United Provinces, Punjab, Central Provinces, and Assam. The Governor of Bengal and the Lieutenant-Governor of Behar and Orissa prefer the original scheme. The Governments of Madras and Bombay were not represented. The dispatch of the Government of India seems to me to be a striking defence of the original scheme and invites Parliament to reject the alternative scheme proposed by a majority of the local Governments. I do not want to anticipate the Second Reading Debate upon the Bill which, after it has been introduced, according to promise, is to be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses that will hear evidence, discuss the alternative and upon whose recommendations I presume the House will ultimately form judgment.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I am coming to that in a moment. The keystone, the whole basis, the vital point of Indian reform today is the transference of power from the bureaucracy to the people, gradual if you like, but real at every stage. I cannot bring home better to this House what I mean by the essence of that than to ask them to consider the situation in this country. During the War Parliamentary government has been diminished and Executive control has been substituted. I read in the papers every day a demand that our lives, our occupations, our businesses, should be freed from Executive control. The only differences between the complaint here and in India are that in India nobody suggests that Executive control is exercised by too many officials—it is done by a singularly few—whereas the complaint here is as to the number. But nobody questions the single-mindedness, the ability, the devotion to duty of the officials to whose power we in this country, now that peace is restored, so much object. What we demand in this country is that officials should govern, not merely for our good, but on our behalf, carry out the orders of Parliament, be responsible to Parliament, Parliament alone deciding upon them. That is where the grievance in India is. There is, believe me, a passion for self-government. Nobody questions that it must come gradually, but I say at every stage the transference of power must be real and substantial. It must be definite and concrete; it must be beyond the reach of the personal generosity of character or the suspicious nature, or the autocratic temper, or the easy-going disposition of the particular incumbent of any governorship or lieutenant governorship. You must transfer the power from the officials to the people. You must make a beginning, and you must go on doing it. That is what is meant by the progressive realisation of responsible government. There is a great part to play for the Civil servant, English and Indian in India today, greater almost than the great part he has played in the past. But so far as responsibility for policy goes the pronouncement of 20th August meant nothing if it did not mean that the power of directing policy should first in some things and then in others, until finally in all, be transferred to the elected representatives of the people of India. Therefore, I am going to oppose, and I shall ask the House 641 to oppose any colourable programme which leaves an irresponsible executive confronted with a majority which they have to oppose or defer to at their will on all or any subjects as they choose. That is not responsible government, and if that is the only alternative to diarchy, diarchy holds the field. Therefore it will be seen that the Bill I shall introduce, I hope, shortly, will in substance carry out the proposals which the Viceroy and I submitted to Parliament a year ago. It will be seen in the dispatch of the Government of India that certain Amendments have been suggested. Of those Amendments some have been incorporated in the Bill, others I shall invite the Joint Committee to decide against.
After reading all the criticisms to which I could gain access, after considering all the Amendments for improvement which have come to my notice, I have this to observe. The scheme which the Viceroy submitted to the people was elaborated after discussion with all the local Governments, with many officials and non-officials and after prolonged discussion with the Government of India. I remain now of the opinion that I expressed last year in this House, that we require all the assistance that the Joint Committee of Parliament can give us, to improve our suggestion, to find a better way even yet of carrying out the policy of His Majesty's Government, to make Amendments of our Bill. But I did not sign my name to that document in the belief that it was either a minimum or maximum. I believe it embodied the extent to which Parliament ought to go. Do it differently if you like, find other methods if it please you, but I beg of you, do rot do less. You cannot put before the world a scheme which is elaborated over the signature of the Viceroy and the Secretary of State, and then do what is called in India, whittle down the scheme. Amend it, alter it, turn it inside out, start on a new route, but I beg of you to go as far, and as long as I hold the office with which I am now entrusted, so long as I remain a Member of this House, I will ask the House not to pull bricks out of, but to build on the foundation recommended to the extent of the scheme in the Report which the Viceroy and I laid before Parliament.
I must once again apologise for the length of my remarks. I think I have said all that I desire to say in this stage of the Debate. The policy which I have 642 attempted to advocate is that which many of, I think all, my predecessors have advocated. It can be summed up in a sentence. I would put first the maintenance of order. Secondly, a searching and tireless effort to investigate the causes of disorder and discontent, to remove those which are removable, to eradicate the sources of disturbance and disorder, and to go on with a determination, courageous, unhesitating, zealous, to make of India what may be very loosely described as a union of great self-governing countries, entrusted with the custody of their own well-being, partners in the great freedom-loving British Commonwealth. That is a task in every way worthy of this Parliament, to my mind the only conceivable outcome of the unexampled and magnificent work that has been done by British effort and enterprise in India in the past.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
The House is very much indebted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India for the wise, statesmanlike, and sympathetic speech which he has made to us. Ho may have been disappointed by the paucity of the attendance, but I may assure him, as perhaps he has not been so frequently with us of recent times as he was previously, that one of the causes— the main cause—is the sittings of the Committee upstairs, and the attendance in no way indicates the interest of the House of Commons in this great and pressing question. I should just like to say, at the outset, on behalf of my Friends who sit on this side of the House, that we should like to pay our tribute to the magnificent part which India has played in the great War. In men, in materials, and in money she has shown herself a worthy sister of the great community which forms the British Empire. Her contribution in men amounted to 1,250,000. She has arranged for a loan of about £100,000,000, and her contribution to the general subject of what one calls munitions, and which included a great switching-off of India's manufactures, not only rendered great service to the allied cause, but has reacted undoubtedly in a way on India which has led to great sacrifices on the part of our Indian fellow-subjects. We listened with very great interest to the recital—not too long—of the causes, economic, political, and otherwise, which have led up to the present situation. I own that I was extremely anxious as the recital went on, and as my right hon. Friend 643 depicted, in language which brought realistically to one's mind the dangers which existed in India, and in no way lessened the description of the drastic methods which it was proposed to set up, I wondered as he went along whether there was going to be any relief to that picture, and it was with very great satisfaction I heard almost his closing sentences, in which he stated, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that they proposed to introduce their Bill to carry out, in no niggling spirit, but in a broad and generous spirit, the recommendations of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report.
I only add this one point with regard to that, and it is this. I must sincerely trust that the relegation of that matter, after Second Reading, to a Joint Committee of both Houses will not result in a long hanging-up of that measure. One knows very often of Joint Committees what cold storage chambers of warm sympathetic reformers they have been in the past. I trust that will not be the fate of this measure, because on that measure lies the real hope not only of maintaining India as a real part of the Empire, but the only hope of bringing her fully into the sisterhood of the nations which comprise that great association of the British commonwealth —the only hope. A great deal of interest and apprehension has been manifested at the position which obtains in India today, but I do not wonder at it. As my right hon. Friend spoke I began to put myself, as far as I could, in the place of an educated intelligent Indian of the moderate classes. It is the only way really to judge political or other problems, the extent to which you can put yourself in the other man's place, and then form a judgment. To that extent I think you approach to some degree comparatively to the formation of a reasonable judgment. Let us suppose he was not in the secrets of the Indian Government. What are the facts which are present to his mind? As far as I recollect them, they are these. In 1911 the visit of the King and Queen to India, and that splendid gesture in which they removed the capital from Calcutta, the sea base where it was in close touch with all the resources of the British Empire, to the sacred city in the centre of India, a gesture of trust and confidence in the Indian people, and from then, with all the difficulties quite inherent to Indian Government, we progressed until the out- 644 break of the great War. And what a response was theirs; how it shattered the hopes, nay, the confident anticipations, of our enemies! Instead of the signs of breaking away from the British Raj, there was an extraordinary rally to the British arms. He sees that, and he hears from time to time of the great appreciation expressed in and through the Houses of Parliament, not by formal votes, but in the course of Debate, of the part which India was then playing and still plays. In January, 1918, the Imperial War Cabinet sent a message of glowing appreciation to India of her services, and in March, 1918, in our dark days on the Western Front, a War Conference was called in India, to which the Indian Princes came, the Viceroy presiding, and again pledges were given of Indian help and coherence to the Allied cause.
At that very time, while that was going on, the Rowlatt Commission was sitting. In due time it issues its Report, and with a haste—I am taking the position of an, Indian—which must be to his mind only commensurate with a state almost bordering upon active revolution, the Report is transformed into a Bill, comes before the appropriate tribunal in India, and I do not say it is rushed through, but there is no delay in that proceeding, at any rate, and it is carried by the vote of the official members against the unofficial members. Intelligent India knows that, and from then we know what has happened. The great message which was given by a great Indian—I think it was Mr.Gokhale—"Whatever you do, rally the moderates to your side," comes to my mind, but what has happened? Instead of the rally of the moderates to our side, the rally of the moderates has been to the extremists, and most extraordinary things have happened. For the first time in India Moslems and Hindus have met in a joint ceremony. No wonder the Government is alarmed, and no wonder we at home were wondering what was happening. All the forces in India to which we had been accustomed to look for steadiness were drifting towards what seemed to us the extreme revolutionary side. Looking at it as well as I can from my standpoint, I can understand well how young, intelligent India was seriously disturbed and began to lose confidence in the good faith of the central authorities. That is the danger, and that is the position in which at present we find ourselves. There are, as my right hon. Friend has so well 645 explained, other causes, and it is just as well to carry that well in our minds—the ravages of influenza, the inevitable reaction of war, and the world over, go where you like, you will find the same difficulties afflicting almost any Government at the present moment, anywhere where there is anything approaching intelligent, coherent government of thinking peoples. The reaction of the War is world wide, and it is no wonder at all that it should have been so very insistent in India itself.
We have been informed to-day what the Government' proposals amount to, but I would really press one point upon my tight hon. Friend. After all his description of the danger there, the actual outcome in numbers of arrests struck me as extraordinarily small, and I was delighted to hear it. I sat in this country here for four years on the Aliens Committee, and I do not at all minimise the dangers of the revolutionary party in India, because there was a repercussion of that in this country, and perhaps, my right hon. Friend may know that some officials of his Department came before our Committee, and there were some cases of the most profound interest, and, indeed, of an exceptionally grave character. But, after all, taking the numbers which he, gave us, under similar powers practically to those which we have in this country—the power of interning which we had in that Committee without trial, without, if we cared, hearing anybody on the accused's behalf, with only a very general statement of the accusations against them, because, of course, to give the whole case against them would so often give away the Secret Service, and that you could not do at that moment —they only interned 1,600 in India, and at the present moment there are only 464 interned. Let me say that in comparing India's population of some 225,000,000 with our 40,000,000, that is a most favourable comparison for India. I was astounded when I heard it, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend. The condition of things in India, if that is in any sense a reflex of the realities of the situation, is much more favourable than I have thought. I asked a question as to when the Rowlatt Acts would come into operation. At present they are in suspense. There is not much difference between the sweeping powers which the War measures give to the Executive in India and those which they give in this country. As far as war measures are concerned, we are at the mercy of the Executive still 646 in this country, but, happily, they are exercised with something like due regard to the decencies of public liberty; but, as I understand it, the Rowlatt Acts, though on the Indian Statute Book, are in suspense, and would not come into operation until Peace, in the full sense of the term, is not only signed, but ratified, and then they would be, let us hope, accompanied by the beneficent operations of the Montagu-Chelmsford Act, as I hope it may be called,: if it is on the Statute Book and if the Joint Committee does not freeze it out of existence.
The one hope for India that has bean shown in recent years is, as Lord Morley showed when he dealt with a serious state of affairs in India, to accompany repressive measures, if necessary, as they undoubtedly were, with measures of reform. I do not deny that repressive measures are necessary in India to-day. Perhaps I know a little bit too much from what my small information gives me, and it makes me very careful indeed of anything like sweeping denunciation or accusation against the Executive in India. I desire to safeguard that; but I do say this, that the one thing which carried Lord Morley through that difficult time was that he accompanied necessary assertions of public order with wide measures of reform; and I say this to my right hon. Friend, that his only chance of leaving, when he demits his office—and I hope, as far as that is concerned, that it will not be for a long time yet—an India, which is responding to the great lines which he has laid down here to-day, is to see that before the Rowlatt Acts come into operation she shall have the beneficent influence of the reforms which he has indicated. There is no doubt all all that you can carry thinking India with you. I was immensely impressed by a report of a dinner which was held at the Savoy Hotel in March, 1919, and the speeches which I read there. I was unable to attend it myself, but in a wonderful speech the Maharajah of Bikaner— a man who has fought with the British Armies in Asia, in Africa, and in Europe—speaking as an Indian, said that India's princes and people ardently desired progress without disorder and reform without revolution. The British Empire is a great adventure. There is no doubt that the-motives that have brought about its development have been mixed, like all great adventures are, and that material objectives have often debased ideals; but, after all, running through the whole thing there 647 has been the golden thread of the ideal that British domination or government is not worthy of the best efforts of the British people unless it is accompanied by the carrying into practical effect of the British idea that it is only worth while governing people, no matter what their race or colour may be, if you carry their consent and good will with you. That is why the British Empire has not long ago gone to pieces, and that is why other empires have failed in their mission, as we shall in India unless we maintain the traditions which were set by Macaulay and by the long line of Viceroys and the spirit of all these great men, now long passed, but still living, and, I am glad to find, animating the efforts—let us hope they wall be the successful efforts— of my right hon. Friend.
§ 6.0 p.m.
Sir J. D. REES
If the House were kindly disposed to indulge with a hearing one who has not ventured to trespass on its time during the War, I would urge that, while great responsibility attaches to all Members at all times, particular responsibility now attaches to Members speaking about India, and perhaps even special responsibility to the only Indian Civil servant in this House, though not in Parliament, for there is a very distinguished member, Lord MacDonnell, in the other House. The Indian Civil Service really governed India far more than the ephemeral occupants of the Viceregal and Provincial thrones, and they governed India in an epoch which is now fast passing away. They were steeped in privilege to the finger-tips, and that is why I believe, on their rare appearance in this House, they invariably posed as advanced Radicals for the purpose of redressing the balance, or perhaps deluding extreme Labour Members or Socialists, who are, however, sufficiently accomplished autocrats themselves. However that may be, the India which was governed by the Indian Civil Service is fast passing away. When I went to India we were all brought up at the foot of Sir Thomas Munro, an old Governor long before my time, and he prophesied and urged as the goal to which England should look in India almost an identical goal with that which my right hon. Friend announced in August, 1917. There really was very little difference between what he said and what is now admitted to be the policy in this country.
648 It is perfectly useless to weep over the passing of the old state of affairs. I should never have sat down and wept by the waters of the Ganges and the Godaveri if the change had not come in my day. It is the War that has precipitated it, and how futile it is to stand against it upon the ancient ways, and to refuse to recognise that we live in a new world!
We must now abide by the pledges we have given. We entered the War, at any rate, for one great reason—to fulfil our pledge to Belgium. The voice of faction was stilled in India through the War. They fulfilled their pledges to us; now we have to fulfil our pledges to them, and I heard with the utmost satisfaction from the Secretary of State that in no long time he will introduce the Bill which will give-effect to those pledges and the policy of 20th August, to which, I think, every Member who supported the Government at the late General Election is practically pledged. I take that to be so. The fact is-that policy was not only the policy of the Secretary of State, but it was the policy of his Council. It was the policy of the Governor-General and his Council. It was the policy of the Government as a whole, and it was accepted by the British-Parliament without cavil or objection as the policy of Parliament, and was announced as such. Those who stood at the last General Election on behalf of the Coalition, stood, I say, as candidates who were pledged to carry out reforms—if not exactly like those that appear in the Bill—at least consonant with the policy announced in August, 1917.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Before my hon. Friend imputes pledges to Members, will he differentiate between the announcement of August, 1917, and the proposal in-the Montagu-Chelmsford Report?
Sir J. D. REES
I think one rises out of the other. I am prepared to meet my hon. Friend upon that at any time. In. considering the present condition of India, we have to consider internal and external conditions. As regards the external conditions of India, amongst the many benefits that country has bestowed upon us, her example during the War has been of the utmost benefit to the British Empire. That a great country, peopled by Asiatics, should have stood firmly by us right through the War, was a moral example worth anything to the British Empire when it was confronted with the very grave difficulties it had to face. In 649 India, people are more moved by imagination—at any rate in the upper classes—than they are here, and they have felt themselves that the generous support which they gave to the British Empire in its time of trouble calls for some generous acknowledgment on the part of the people of this country. They gave men and they gave money, and they also gave commodities for the War which could not have been supplied from any other quarter. They exported foodstuffs at controlled cheap prices, and raw material for munitions and equipment. Their war exports during the conflict were valued at about £100,000,000 a year. India was the base for the War in Mesopotamia and the East, which could hardly have been carried on without her. They exported teak, hemp, rubber and tea. Three million tons of wheat were exported to the Allies. The Royal Wheat Commission purchased £43,000,000 of wheat from India, which also exported 2,500,000 tons of oil seed, valued at £31,000,000; wolfram and manganese (without which steel could not have been made for carrying on the War) to the value of £5,000,000; and, during the conflict, Burma so improved its position in this respect that it now provides one-third of all the wolfram in the world. Saltpetre, without which there would not have been any powder for the Prussians, was sent here for the making of powder. Raw jute, without which sandbags, which played so great a part in the War, would have been lacking, and also bags for the transport of food and other articles, was exported to the extent of 2,000,000 tons, and 2,800,000,000 bags and 4,500,000,000 other products of jute. Army blankets were also sent. Morphia, a derivative of opium which I have often heard unintelligently criticised with such prejudiced denunciation in this House, served to alleviate the pains of our wounded soldiers. Tanned hides were exported in enormous quantities, and that trade came under British control which had previously been very much under the control of the Germans, for some obscure reason, which, I hope, my right hon. Friend will not allow to escape him. The Indian Lascars were always prepared to die, looking upon it as part of the day's work, and as a simple matter, which it would be here, if the House of Commons did not make it so expensive that the father of a family cannot afford to die. The Lascars laid down their lives freely, and many of them are now prisoners in Germany. India prospered 650 during the War, and she gave freely of her prosperity to this country in men, money, and raw material.
The Secretary of State referred to the Afghan difficulty, and as he referred to it briefly, so will I. That the troubles in Afghanistan have been due to Prussian intrigue is, I think, pretty fairly established, and I hope, as there has been a complete collapse in Russia, there is very little fear that any foreign nation can support Afghanistan, and there is little doubt, with our Army and aeroplanes, which can play so great a part in that hilly country, that this rebellion will soon be crushed. There is this which I would like my right hon. Friend to consider. When fresh arrangements are made with Afghanistan, I hope a subsidy will form no part of them. What we call a subsidy is regarded by every Asiatic as a tribute. This payment of a subsidy has had the effect of placing our relations with the Ameer of Afghanistan on an entirely wrong basis, and, when peace on the frontier is once more restored, I sincerely trust that feature will never be repeated. For the rest, I wish to associate myself with the tribute of the Secretary of State to the late Ameer Habibullah, and I am glad to think that the House of Commons will not forget him, as they so readily did another friend and Ally, the late Emperor of Russia.
There is one more subject with regard to the external conditions of India, and that is Constantinople. My Noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) made an excellent speech on this subject the other night, with the whole of which I agree, and no one who has ever made the literature and language of the Moslems a study can be ignorant of the fact that they are a proud—and justly proud—race, and that they look upon the maintenance of the Sultan as a great honour to Islam, and they resent keenly the process of cutting up the only great Mahomedan Power and dividing it into nations or petty little republics. With this feeling I have myself the utmost sympathy, and I cannot help thinking that it is a gratuitous aggravation to talk now of making the Mosque of St. Sophia again into a Christian church, which is not much more reasonable than to talk about restoring the Druidical remains in this country. To anyone who knows the feeling of the Mahomedans, it is a painful thing. I hope that my right hon. Friend will see that we are not concerned with the interesting 651 little country of Palestine which we might very well leave to France to deal with, but, at any rate, not embroil ourselves with the Mahomedans over a matter like this. All that we want is Mesopotamia, which we won, and should keep for our safety in the Gulf, and our approach to India, and for the safety of the great oil sources of the Anglo-Persian Company, which the British Government partly owns—one of the most profitable, most patriotic, and most satisfactory deals that was ever made by a British Government, and probably even in its final results more important, as it is now pecuniarily more profitable, than the purchase of the shares of the Suez Canal by Lord Beaconsfield's Government. Our activities in Persia lead us into no difficulties with that country's government.
Coming to the Rowlatt Act, I do not want to steal the thunder of the hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench who is going to move an Amendment upon this subject—not that he has not enough thunder to spare; he has probably a thunderbolt in every pocket, and would not mind my dwelling upon this subject, but I have no desire to do so. The Secretary of State dealt with it very fully, and he did not make it clear, apparently, to my right hon. Friend opposite that only one of these two Acts had been passed, and on that also I understood the hon. Gentleman to be under a misapprehension, for that Act is only to be in force for three years after the expiration of the War. It postulates seditious conduct on the part of any section in India, and such conduct brings it into force. It is really a proposal which will hurt nobody. It has been misrepresented in all quarters, again by German and Bolshevist agencies, so as to raise the people in India. That, however, is not the only cause. The question arises as to how far these Rowlatt Bills are a cause of these disturbances in India. It is stated that the Rowlatt Bills were a mere pretext for these revolts and rebellions. I think that is an over-statement of the case. Before, during, and since the War race consciousness and sensitive self-consciousness have been developing in India. There can be no doubt that the educated classes there do bitterly resent being made subject to any law which would not in the like circumstances be imposed upon British subjects in Britain. That is their present position. I can remember when it was accepted here and everywhere that a different principle of 652 law might be applied to our Asiatic Empire from that which was applied to the homo country. At the present moment I really think that is not so. We see that the feeling on this subject has been such as to-lead to solidarity between the Hindus and the Mahomedans. We have seen the extraordinary and portentous spectacle of the Hindu priests speaking in Mahomedan mosques—an event which nobody would have dreamt was possible until quite lately. There is no doubt the people have been deeply stirred upon this subject. I will read a very brief extract from a letter from a highly-important personage in India, whose name it would not be right to quote in the House, but which I will give to the Secretary of State after the Debate, if he cares to have it. The letter is dated 24th March. It says:The feeling here is that the Government of India are now going back on what they said last year, and that they are not going to support the recommendations of the Joint Report or accept the proposals of the Southborough Report.I believe it is the case, from all I hear, that the idea that these reforms either are not going to be given, or, if given, will be so emasculated and cut down as to be of little value, has been a very great element in the recent disturbances, and there has been some reason for it. Take, for instance, the Debate which took place in the House of Lords. It is one of the greatest legislative Chambers in the world, and I would not for a moment decry it in, view of my opinion in regard to it. But I do think on the occasion when these reforms came before it it was an unfortunate thing that Member after Member denounced the cause of reform in India, and urged the undesirability of promising responsible government. This feeling seemed to be almost universal in that House, including Lord MacDonnell. There was, perhaps, some reason, as I have said. There is no further doubt on this subject after the speech of the Secretary of State to which we have just listened. However that may be, I myself am convinced that it will be perfectly impossible to attempt to govern India under any such Regulations as Regulation III. of 1818. I was here when the deportations were hotly debated in this House. I feel perfectly certain that they only got through on that occasion—that is to say, the policy of the Government in India only passed muster in this House, solely because the then Secretary of State, that able and arbitrary autocrat, Lord Morley, was 653 labelled in the Parliamentary category as a Radical. But for that he could not have induced Parliament at that time to allow these deportations to pass. Never again will it be possible to use these powers in this House. The House will not stand arbitrary deportations any more.
We see people in Ireland put into prison and presently we see them out. In India, when they are put in, I must say that they are kept in longer—which is a more consistent policy. But this cannot very much longer be practised in these democratic times. I can remember, when I went to India first, when I was asked to pass any Order on any subject, I would say to the officials concerned, "Show me the authority!" We were supposed to have some little regard for law in those days. The reply would be, "Your Honour can do this under your general powers." That was all very fine then. It will not do now. There are lawyers everywhere. Every Act, every syllable of every Act, is carefully scrutinised. If the official concerned does not keep himself with the four corners of the Act in question he very soon hears about it. We are, administratively speaking, centuries from the conditions of India as they were when I first knew the country in 1876. We shall never be able to govern India by passing Acts in India and disallowing them here. These reforms to which my right hon. Friend referred have been attacked by extremists on both sides—by reactionaries on the one side and advanced reformers on the other. It makes me think that Lord Chelmsford and my right hon. Friend have achieved that difficult thing—the golden mean. Lord Crewe's Committee, I believe, has still to report, and it is hoped it will do so soon. Meantime we have had two Reports. I am glad that the Southborough Report does not think of recommending the franchise for all women. I do not know of any way in which the women of India can get it without submitting their claims to the electorate, unlike the clever women in this country, who got the vote without going before the electors. The same course is hardly possible in India. The South-borough Committee, in circumstances of the utmost difficulty have, I think, done the right thing in recommending election on a property qualification, which is the old-fashioned plan, but a good one, at any rate for a hundred years or so. It 654 is proposed to prescribe the payment of rent, revenue, rates, and also the Income Tax as a proof of a sufficient property qualification. The Committee show the utmost wisdom and appreciation of the conditions about which they were asked to report when they refuse to prescribe any literary qualification for the electorate. The mass of the electors in India will be very small landowners. From one point of view they are an illiterate class. Nevertheless, they are extremely sensible people, and perfectly capable of understanding questions which are likely to be put before them—if they affect them, and disregarding all others—which really is an ideal state of mind in which to find an electorate. Upon this I think Lord Southborough's Committee are heartily to be congratulated; and also that they have enfranchised wholesale all the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Indian Army. I do for my part wholly approve of their decision to extend communal representation to Europeans in Madras, Bengal, Calcutta, the United Provinces, and Behar provinces, in which are the great European business communities, planters and others. These classes most loyally and admirably stood by the British Empire in time of war. To these we owe in time of war, and in time of peace, a great debt of gratitude which is not very frequently acknowledged. Whether the Indian Christians stand so much in need of communal representation or not I really do not know.
There are special seats provided for the landlords, the universities, and commercial and industrial interests. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will rejoice that the Committee have recommended that in any quarters in which labour disputes are likely to occur special representation, over and above the general representation, shall be given to labour. Provincial Legislative Councils are proposed in these Reports upon a very excellent basis, and in each case a clear non-official majority is provided for. The same may be said of the Viceroy's Council. I myself sat on this council for four years representing some 40,000,000 of people. Now eighty members are elected upon this council, so you see what an immense advance it is. Instead of one official chosen to represent 40,000,000, it is now proposed to give elected representation for all the great 655 provinces. No less than eighty members are elected, and the Viceroy also nominates forty to represent separate interests.
The Council of State is a new one. Some might object to it that it bears some sort of relation to the House of Lords in our own Constitution. I do not think it can really be said that it does. There are twenty-three elected and twenty-five nominated members. Each of the great Provinces of India sends one or two members, these members being elected by non-official members of the Provincial Council. This is as near as, under existing circumstances, you can get, I think, to actual direct representation upon this council. Then the other Committee—Lord South-borough's Functions Committee—had to report what business of the Government should remain under the Government of India, and what should be under the Provincial Governments. Here we must re-member that the India Government retains the power of a concurrent legislation. Provision is, too, made for retaining, in fact, the supreme power in the hands of the Government of India, by intervention whenever public interests require.
Shipping and commerce, as well as naval and military matters, are kept in the hands of the Government of India, as well as such subjects as telegraphs, foreign relations, railways, and the like. Other subjects, like land reform, famine prevention, and education, are given to the provincial governments to look after, but the intervention of the supreme Government is not excluded from the provincial subjects, and they may intervene when the safety of the public demands it. Having got this division of the heads of business between the Central Government and the Governments of the provinces, it remains under the scheme to transfer to the popular branch of provincial governments certain subjects. I will not trouble to refer to all these subjects, but most of the subjects in which the public generally are most interested are transferred to the management of the new and popular branch of the provincial governments carried on by the Governors, with the help of the Ministers, who are selected from the elected members of the Provincial Legislative Council.
I have not seen the Report from the Government of India in which they give their opinion upon these proposals, but I think I may assume that the opposition ranged chiefly around the transfer of sub- 656 jects to the Ministers, the popular branch of the Government. This change is admittedly experimental, but without it there could be no real advance towards responsible government. It is quite true in regard to the administration of some of the subjects which have been transferred that this may lead to some diminution of efficiency, but it has been done because what the people are crying out for is something in the way of responsible government, and this is the only change in that direction made by the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. I notice that Lord Sydenham says that no good can come out of all this. Who are the men in India now who will have to carry out what no doubt will require great tact and ability—qualities in which our Governors are not lacking? Lord Willingdon, who was a brilliant success at Bombay, has not been afraid to go on to Madras under the new dispensation. Then we have Lord Ronaldshay, who has shown great sagacity and capacity on the uneasy throne of Bengal. There is also Sir George Lloyd, who arrived in Bombay at a most critical time, and he has been showing astonishing power in dealing with most difficult circumstances. In addition to these three Governors, there are Lieut.-Governors, men of the same class as Sir John Hewett and Lord MacDonnell, to whom none will deny the attribute of administrative ability. Remember that the Governors may override these Ministers if they propose unwise things. As one who was private secretary to three Governors, and was brought in contact with others in India, it would be greatly interesting to me to take a part in drawing up the instrument of instructions, as I never shall. The main point, the safeguarding of peace and tranquility and the keeping of the British end up will be a very important feature in that instrument. You must either have this transfer or something more drastic unless you are to go back on your promise of 20th August, 1917.
It is said that this so-called transfer to popular Ministers will be a transfer to an oligarchy, but, even if it is an oligarchy, such is only a station on the road to democracy. What is the root of this outcry against an oligarchy? No less than 95 per cent. of the population in the province of Madras are non-Brahmins, and if they cannot secure the election of their own representatives then they are much better managed by some of their own countrymen who are more clever than 657 themselves. From Madras the strongest objection comes to this advance in popular government. You might imagine that the upper classes, the Brahmins, and those in somewhat similar positions, are in the habit of oppressing the lower classes. That is by no means true. I served there myself for twenty-five years, and for a good many of those years in the districts amongst these people, and I was official interpreter in two of the chief languages spoken by the people in this province. I have also served where there exists the doctrine of pollution, where a man of the lowest caste has to make a sort of shrill cry when he sees a Brahmin in sight, lest that sacred creature should come within sixty-four yards of his polluting personality. Having lived amongst those people, I can say that the lower classes who are subject to these so-called cruel practices really take it all in the day's work, and they are not oppressed. As a matter of fact, the upper and the lower classes get on very well together, and all this kind of thing is got up for political purposes to defeat the transfer of certain branches of the public service to popular Ministers.
If the House will not take this opinion from me, perhaps they would take it from another more distinguished source. The other day I delivered a Rhodes Lecture to the University of London, and I said there what I have just said to the House. In the chair was the most distinguished Hindoo of our day, probably of any day, Lord Sinha, and he got up and corroborated all I had said; in fact, The gave evidence to show from his own experience that what I had said on the subject was right. Would it be possible in this country when you are going to introduce a reform and extend the franchise to begin by saying, "We will rule out the products of the University, the public schools, and the educated classes"? That is what you will have to do if you accept the view of the Government of Madras, and refuse, on the caste and social grounds, to transfer any part of the Government business to popular management. The upper classes there would administer this question, it is contended, not from the point of view of the ninety-four out of every 100, but from the point of view of the 4 or 5 per cent. of their own class, and this is absurd. I think this subject is extremely relevant, because the whole question at the root of these reforms is what you will transfer to 658 responsible Government. It is proposed to transfer certain subjects, and the Government of Madras protests on the ground that if you do this you fall into the hands of an oligarchy. The great historian Gibbon said:The superior prerogative of birth, when it has obtained the sanction of time and popular opinion, is the plainest and least invidious of all the distinctions amongst mankind.I believe that is the opinion in India. You must remember that these Brahmins have always been practically the rulers. They governed the country under the Moguls and afterwards under the Mahrattas. They exercise great influence under us. Let me quote here the opinion of the Maharajah of Mysore. He was approached on this very subject, and he saidIt is far from my desire that any community should be penalised on account of its caste simply because it was the first to utilise fully the opportunities offered equally to all.Again, it is represented by the Indo-British Association that the Europeans in India are all opposed to these reforms, and that they object to any advances in the direction of responsible government. In all India there is one organ which is, par excellence, representative of the Anglo-Indian. It says:Moderates have welcomed the Montagu-Chelmsford scheme and have handsomely acknowledged the honesty of purpose underlying it. All who are sincerely anxious for India's welfare will welcome sturdy championship of a good cause as an encouraging political symptom. Those who consider a responsible Government for India as an integral part of the British Empire, as an unsuitable goal for British policy, plate themselves out of court as critics of a Report designed to carry out this fundamental principle of the pronouncement of August, 1917. It seems to us—says this European paper—
Sir J. D. REES
This representative organ of Europeans in India, the "Pioneer."It seems to us that the scheme proposed fulfils in a remarkably astute manner the conditions then laid down. Those who wish to keep the ship of State from disaster must direct her course between the Scylla of Mrs. Besant and the Charybdis of Lord Sydenham.Beside me sits the hon. Member for Seven-oaks (Mr. Bennett), who is the owner and editor of the "Times of India," another great European organ, and I believe that he will probably express the same opinion. To-day the Secretary of State referred to the message that we should send to the Government in India, saying that we would 659 support them through thick and thin in restoring order, and so we will, but we can also do good work in this House by making it clear that there is nothing whatever in the widely-spread suspicion that this country is going back upon its declared policy, but that it will go forward deliberately, tentatively, and experimentally, but always forward. Let us not increase the difficulties of governing India. Heaven knows, there are sufficient difficulties in keeping India in this post-war whirlpool without tilting at its most cherished customs and beliefs and taking the line of most resistance. Let us gain and retain the support of the natural and actual leaders of the peoples of India.
§ Dr. E. HOPKINSON
I hope the House will extend to me the indulgence it usually extends to a Member addressing it for the first time. Perhaps I have some excuse for taking part in the Debate, seeing that I am the only Member of the House who has served as a member of the Indian Industrial Commission. There was one statement made by the Secretary of State this afternoon which will give the utmost satisfaction not only in this House but also in India, It was that the labours of that Commission are not to be set aside or lost sight of, but that the recommendations and the Report of the Commission will be fully considered as soon as the President, Sir Thomas Holland, is in this country. If there was one thing more than another which became abundantly clear during the investigations of that Commission, it was the deep interest taken by the Indians themselves in the improvement of the industrial position of India. The Commission had unusually good opportunities of ascertaining not only the physical possibility of increasing the industrial wealth and improving the industrial position of the country, but also the attitude of the Indians themselves towards those ends. We had as our President Sir Thomas Holland, a man of great scientific distinction, who knows India, perhaps, better from the point of view of the natural resources of the country than anyone else. He had himself served in the Government of India, and had brought the Geological Department of the Government of India to a degree of efficiency second to none in the world. We had also on the Commission four Indian members, three of them great leaders of industry in India, and the fourth 660 a politician pure and simple—I will not say with no interest, but with comparatively little knowledge of or instructed interest in the industries of India. We had also on the Commission members of the Civil Service of India, and myself, of whom it cannot, at any rate, be said that I was tinged with any preconceived notions from the Indian point of view.
I do not desire to weary the House by referring in detail to the findings of the Commission and the recommendations contained in its report, but I would like to refer to some or the most vivid and vital impressions which resulted from our investigations. No move striking impression was made upon the minds of all of us, even those who knew India well, than the enormous potential wealth of the country. Though the wealth is there, buried in the soil or ready to be extracted from the soil by the natural processes of agriculture, it is-scarcely developed compared with what it might be. The reason is not far to seek. Let me cite agriculture, first of all, as an example, because it perhaps more clearly than any other branch of industry shows what might be done compared with what has been done. The wealth of India is primarily due to its agriculture. The Government of India has a scientific agricultural staff in quality second to none in the world, but in quantity ludicrously insufficient compared with the problem which it has to tackle. It is the third country in the world in the extent of its production of wheat and barley, but, where the production of wheat and bailey is represented by twenty per acre in England, in India it is only represented by eight. It docs not seem to me a very great thing to suppose that by the application of scientific methods and research that figure of eight might be changed into ten, and that would mean millions sterling to India. Take another illustration. India produces move sugar and gur than any other country in the world, but the consumption is so great and the methods so wasteful that it actually spends ten million sterling annually on importing the sugar that other countries produce. Let me take one other instance in connection with agriculture. I think it is the most striking of all. Before the invention of synthetic indigo by the Germans, the cultivation of indigo was one of the most flourishing industries in India. We are aware how by patient and 661 scientific research, and the expenditure of money yearly upon research, the Germans displaced the natural indigo of India by the synthetic product. The trade was absolutely killed. During the War there was a revival of the industry, and that revival was accompanied by a series of investigations in regard to the preparation of the natural product. It wag given in evidence before the Commission by one of the most experienced planters in Behar that he would undertake to grow indigo now on his plantation, taking advantage of all improvements, and to sell it at pre-war prices at a profit. That means, and I wish the House to take cognisance of the fact, that the pre-war German trade in indigo could be killed outright on its merits. Is not that a striking fact? Does it not make it worth while that the recommendations of the Commission should receive serious consideration at the hands of the Government of India and of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State? Before I pass from agricultural questions, I want to emphasise the need that the scientific department of the Agricultural Department in India should have more money spent upon it, and that it should be enlarged. What is required is that brains should go out from this country to help in the scientific work. Reference has been made by one of my hon. Friends to the supply of tungsten. That is a trade which before the War had passed largely into German hands. Under the pressure of war it has come back into British hands. India could produce all the tungsten the world requires, and all that is needed is practical development of the trade. There is another metal, thorium, a most important metal, one essential for the production of gas mantles. The trade in that, too, was allowed to pass into German hands. This country, by availing itself of its opportunities in India, could now become self-supporting in that regard. India possesses copper. The mines in Burma produce lead and zinc, and if a concentration plant were set up it would be possible to obtain sulphuric acid, which is a basis of many very important industries.
Even that feature of the situation has a brighter side. Thanks to the assistance and sympathy of a liberal-minded Government on the scientific side, and not much of that, although the intention was good, the great Tata firm were induced to set up iron and steel works, which have be- 662 come one of the most flourishing and most important works in the world. India now can supply the rails she wants, and before long she will be able to supply beyond her own boundaries. That has been done entirely by native effort and with native capital, but it was done with the sympathy and help and the scientific advice of the Government of India. That is one of the-fundamental things which the Commission desire to see extended and developed throughout India. The Government-should provide scientific help for research work, which is necessary for the development of the country industrially, and should also by sympathy expressed in various ways-it may be in improved transit or by help in the acquisition of land—I could suggest a dozen different ways—aid the development of industrial India. Let me relate one instance to the House to show the attitude of India itself towards this aspect of the question. An Indian witness before the Commission made what appeared to me to be a curious statement. He said the Government of India should pass a law providing that half the directorate of every company should be Indian. It appeared to me that that might be due to jealousy of British industrial methods in India, but on examination I found that it was not so. The real idea was that Indians should be taught how to work and manage the various undertakings. It was desired to convert every board of directors into a school. The idea of course is ludicrous, but the statement was significant as showing the trend of the Indian mind towards industrial measures.
The manufacturing industries of Indiaareobviously divisible into two classes— those already developed, such as the great jute industry of Bengal, the cotton industry of Bombay and to some extent the woollen industry of Cawnpore. There are a number of other industries, such as the manufacture of glass, cement and matches. There are also the chemical trade and the manufacture of paper, both of which are still undeveloped for want of technical knowledge and expert advice. What the industries of India require is not British capital, but British brains. They need expert advice, and scientific knowledge which, applied to the latent resources of India, will bring forth a harvest of a hundred-fold. But that is not the whole story. Other factors must also be taken into account. Indian labour must be considered. In the course of our inquiry we 663 made careful investigations, not only into the remuneration of Indian labour, but into housing and sanitary conditions. If the problem of labour is acute in this country, it is ten times more acute in India. The rate of wages in India is far too low for tolerable subsistence. Industrial conditions in India in many cases, and I have particularly in mind the cotton mills of Bombay, are so monstrously bad that I could hardly relate to any decent assembly of people what I myself saw in the course of my investigations. Although a Lancashire man, I greatly admire the courage of the action which the predecessor of my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State took with regard to the cotton industry, but I do wish he lad taken that opportunity of throwing upon the Bombay mill-owners the onus of improving the housing conditions of their workpeople. I believe, and I say it advisedly after conversing with a great number of the mill-owners, that the best are perfectly ready to shoulder the burden if they are assured it will be distributed over the whole. And there, again, is a brighter side to the picture. The new steel works of the Tata firm to which I have already referred are in all matters of housing up to date in every possible respect. Each cottage has its garden, each coolie line has ample space around it, and the water supply is perfect, and yet that firm, in spite of all its expenditure in that direction, is able to pay large dividends.
That sort of thing cannot be done in India without cost, but the cost amply justifies itself. You may go to other places and find conditions equally good. I myself investigated the conditions in one of the largest mills in Bengal. That mill was able to make a selection of labour by drawing it from a large area, simply because that firm had the reputation of supplying pure water, indeed it was nicknamed "Mill Pure Water." Not only was the water good, but the housing conditions, the coolie lines, and the sanitary arrangements were all in first-rate condition and up to date. So much impressed was I by what I saw at the mill, that that evening, when I met the then Governor of Bengal, Lord Carmichael, I suggested to him that it would be an encouragement to mill owners if he at once made an inspection himself of that particu- 664 lar mill. I made the further suggestion, which he adopted, that he should take with him the leader of the Home Rule movement in India. Next day the Governor and the Pundit motored up to this mill to inspect the sanitary arrangements. That is an example of how the Government of India can show sympathy with, and give effective assistance, without any cost to itself, towards putting the industrial conditions on a higher level. My friend the Pundit, I think, was not entirely pleased with the result of the expedition. It always troubled him to find that the British, of their own accord and with nothing to reap from it, were usually ready to put all questions relating to the health and welfare of their people in the first place.
Another no less important matter is the question of education. The educational system in India is a most extraordinary structure. It is fitted with a magnificent coping and balustrade, but it is built on sand. India is an absolutely illiterate country. Over 90 per cent. of the people can neither read nor write. India possesses magnificent universities, which turn out graduates by the thousand yearly, Take the University of Calcutta, where abuses became so great that it was made the subject of a special inquiry. What does that University do for India? It does nothing but turn out by the thousands annually persons who have been drawn off from the real interests of India to be turned adrift to find a living in other directions. I asked an Indian who was giving evidence in Calcutta what became of the graduates of that University. His answer was a striking answer coming from such a source. He said, "A very few of them become pleaders; the great majority of them become clerks; and those who have not the ability or opportunity to become clerks become sedition mongers, and the remainder dacoits." That was the considered opinion of a practical industrial Indian of one of the universities of his own country. That problem is not insoluble. I can give an instance of another side of the picture, which I should like to put before the President of the Board of Education in this country. If you go to certain mills in Madras, there you will see elaborate, comfortable, delightful, buildings, put up for school purposes within the mill precincts. Presiding in these buildings are two English ladies. The buildings are used for housing classes formed of the children of the people who work in the mills. There 665 is no compulsion. The schools are always full. The children are absolutely free to attend or not to attend. Around the schools are gardens. Every child—the scholars are numbered by hundreds—has his plot of land which he cultivates as he desires, and he takes the product of his cultivation home to his own people. For brightness, alertness, respectfulness and cleanliness these Indian children would compare with the children of similar age in any school you like to name in this country. Yet these very mills were chosen by the political dissentients to foment strife and trouble. That was not because there was any real grievance. The reason for it was that they could not stand such an object lesson of what British people have done for Indians to be always before the eyes of their people.
I am well aware that after the announcement of 20th August, 1917, there can be no question of turning back from the policy which was then declared. It must go forward on lines which the Government, after the fullest consideration, determine to be the best. But I beg the Government of India and the Secretary of State to take into consideration that it is more important to feed the hungry than to give them political rights, that it is more important to clothe the naked than to invest them with political doctrines and dogmas, and that it is more important to educate the people to be able to vote than it is to give them the vote. What will be the effect of the franchise? It is estimated that the number enfranchised will be anything from 1 or 2 up to 5 per cent. The greater part of that number Will be illiterate people. I presume the voters will be taken blindfold to the ballot boxes, or that, as an alternative, the ballot boxes must be embellished in some way to show what they contain or are intended to contain. I presume that one box will be embellished with the Union Jack, another with the Crescent, and another with the emblems which are familiar at every roadside shrine in India. I rejoice in what the right hon. Gentleman says of the recommendations of this Commission, which have solely for their object the improvement of the industrial conditions of India, and to make India more profitable and more fit for the Indians themselves to enjoy living there, which I trust that no political considerations will be allowed to cloud.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has contributed a very interesting speech to this 666 Debate, but I am shocked to find that he is such a gross materialist. He regards the improvement of industrial conditions as the end and aim of all our political actions, whereas I regard freedom as being, the ultimate object of British rule in India. The Secretary of State, as the last Liberal rock above the tide of Toryism on the Treasury Bench, always has my sincere sympathy, and on occasions, as to-day, he has my very real admiration. He has given us to-day a programme which will be for many years to come the flag under which British rule will advance in India. He has also given us a speech which at the present moment will do good not only in India, but throughout the Moslem world. I only wish that, instead of being here, he had already gone straight back to Paris, where they will be more importantly listened to, to state his views as to the preservation of the Ottoman Empire and particularly as to the predatory intentions of certain minor Powers against portions of that Empire. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Great Britain's reputation in the Moslem world, and her reputation with her own fellow subjects will rest very largely upon whether the Turks are to retain control of their own country or whether they are-to be swallowed by mandatory or predatory powers from peninsulas in the Mediterranean Sea.
This Debate is a field day for India, but it is also a special debate upon the Indian Budget, and I regret to see that not one word has been said about the Budget. I will mention one or two facts about it which, although they have not been put before the House in the Official Paper, are nevertheless known to the House through publications that come to this country The Budget was to raise £124,000,000—a very large advance on previous years, £43,750,000 of it is allocated to the Army—about twice what the Army Bill was before the War. Nor is that all. In that figure is not included any appropriation for this new war in Afghanistan. The ordinary expenditure of the Army has risen from twenty odd millions to forty odd millions. Another thing is observable. The Vote for the police has risen very largely. You have now £6,250,000 devoted to the police force, which is still extremely badly paid and extremely ignorant, and which owing to the Defence of the Realm-Act and the Rowlatt Bill Extensions of that Act, has been brought into intimate contact with all the progressive, intelligent 667 elements in Indian society. There is an enormous increase in these two things. But education, which is the key to real progress in India, both electorally and industrially, gets £4,000,000 against the police £6,250,000. When we come to irrigation, which is essential to agricultural development, you find £4,000,000 voted, although the irrigation systems already in operation are bringing in £5,500,000 to the Inland Revenue. But when you come to railways you find that no less than £24,000,000 out of £124,000,000 are devoted to railway extensions, a bigger programme than before the War. Irrigation comes before railways, and the production of wealth before the transporting of that wealth, and it would have been more advisable, if India had bean the only thing to be considered, that capital expenditure should have been devoted to irrigation rather than to this enormous railway programme; £23,000,000 out of the £24,000,000 are earmarked and devoted to the purchase of railway material in Great Britain. Irrigation money will be spent in India. Railway development means money spent in this country at a time when railway material is extremely expensive, at a time when it is possible to buy up our scrapped railways from France and other theatres of war at a price which would be extremely remunerative to the British Government. The whole of the Budget bears witness to the fact that it is one passed by Englishmen in India and not one to which the Indian people would agree. If they had control of their own finance what a very different Budget we should see—I think a Budget which would in the long run find more money for irrigation, more for education, and for the genuine development of that country, and less for expenditure on matters' which really are Imperial or British in their character, and which must give rise to the feeling that, in spite of all our brave words, the government of that country is directed rather towards the interests of this Island than to the interests of the country where the money is raised by people who have worked hard to find it.
Such being the case, let us consider what the Feetham and Southborough Reports propose to do, in order that we may follow out the theory, which is accepted by the right hon. Gentleman, that the Government of a country cannot be held to be either responsible or repre- 668 sentative unless it has that fundamental right, control of the purse. The control of the purse, both under the scheme of my right hon. Friend and that put forward by Mr. Feetham and Lord Southborough, remains in the hands of the bureaucracy, and is not handed over to the people. Even the provincial revenues are nearly all for these reserved subjects, the direction of which remains with the bureaucracy. The police, for instance, which we hoped was going to be transferred to the native representatives responsible Governments in these provincial Legislatures is a reserved subject. All expenditure upon that is removed from the purview of the people who have to find the money. The only subject upon which money is freely spent, the only side of administration which is left to native control in these Legislatures, is education and public works, not including railways. Those, I admit, are important subjects, and they need money, but out of this £124,000,000 only £8,000,000 are put into the control of the natives of the country under the scheme which is being put before us now.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Is not my hon. and gallant Friend talking at one moment about the revenues of the provincial Governments and then discussing as appropriate to that the revenues of the Government of India? The two things are not in any way comparable.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am taking the revenue of the Imperial Government at Delhi. Out of £124,000,000 raised for the services, of that Government only £4,000,000 are devoted to education and are distributed to the Provincial Governments to spend on education, and only £4,000,000 on irrigation, and whether that irrigation money is distributed or not I cannot say. I imagine that also is in the hands of the Provincial Governments. These being the very small functions which are not reserved for the bureaucracy and which are in the hands of the Provincial Councils, let us consider the next side of the Southborough Report. These two Reports are exactly what my right hon. Friend opposite described as whittling away the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. Not only are the functions of the Legislative Council reduced, not only is the power of the Governor increased under the Feetham Report, but the whole basis of the franchise upon which it was possible, as I hoped, under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme to build up in the 669 future a really responsible representative Government, has been ruined by the action of these two Reports. If you take first of all the Provincial Legislatures you will see that the electorate is 5,000,000 out of a population of 245,000,000. These 5,000,000 are selected not on an educational but solely on a property franchise. There are 14,000,000 literate people in India, 1,000,000 of whom will be women, leaving perhaps 13,000,000 who can read or write. Of these some 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 are going to get the vote, because out of the 5,000,000 who get the vote, 1,000,000 or 2,000,000 will be illiterate people. So that you are only giving the vote, roughly speaking, to a quarter of those who are able to read and write, and you are giving it to them on a property qualification. The working classes in Bombay, Cawnpore, and Calcutta, who have been desperately striking to put an end to the abominable conditions under which they live, a strike which has been put down with the help of the Government forces in Bombay, are entirely excluded from the franchise. There may be exceptions, but, generally speaking, out of the 5,000,000 the town populations have a very small chance of getting the vote at all. It will be the agricultural population, who are the actual manual labourers, who will obtain the vote under these conditions. The whole of the lower middle class, as we call them in this country, the clerk class, all those who have got some education and can read or write, will have no chance of a vote. So that you are starting that scheme with a franchise for your Provincial Legislative Council which is narrow, which eliminates the small proportion of people who have some education and which confines the power to vote to people with a property qualification. It is a small property qualification, but people in India are all very poor, so pool-that a penny a day is held to be the average income of an Indian.
That is not all. Having in this way established a franchise on a property basis, a basis on which you cannot build for the future, the Southborough Report proceeds to implant upon this basis all manner of interests which are held to require special treatment. I will not deal with- the communal representation allotted to the Moslems. That, after all, is an arrangement between the Hindus and the Moslems which the Southborough Report merely confirms as it stands. But look at 670 the communal representation which is now given under the Southborough Report and compare it with what was suggested in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. Europeans are specially represented, not by nomination of the Governor, but by election. Europeans, Eurasians, native Christians are all represented communally. The Chambers of Commerce have special representatives, and, above all, you find an inordinately large representation of everything which could be called a landlord. Everyone who has any vested interest in the land has been hunted out and given a special representation on these provincial councils. They have seen that every pensioned officer and non-commissioned officer —no privates—is to be given a vote also, so as to establish a sort of permanent Varangian guard to see that the electorate shall never possibly do wrong. These people represent an interest in India which has a perfect right to make itself heard, but I do protest, seeing that we in this country have shed all these special electorates, and have prospered, and would prosper in the future still more, on a universal, direct, and equal franchise, that these English officials out there are promulgating these schemes. I suppose Lord Southborough is responsible, for, if you read his Report, he has adopted every scheme put forward by the local authorities. These schemes put forward by the English people out there are un-English, and will not lead to satisfactory results.
Though with the best intentions the right hon. Gentleman is replacing to a certain extent the bureaucracy in India, he is replacing it by something which may be ten times worse, and that is plutocracy in India. He is putting the enormous industrial development which will take place there during the next twenty years into the hands of the mill-owners of Bombay, and similar people elsewhere. These enormous capitalists will control the industrial development of India during these coming years. If my right hon. Friend is hopeful of getting from his new Legislatures reforms directed towards really giving the working classes of India a chance, he will find that it would be easier to do even under the old discarded bureaucracy than under the new plutocracy, making its 100 per cent. or 200 per cent. per annum. There is another point of view which we cannot afford to disregard, and that is that you are establishing a real plutocracy in India. Do not forget 671 that these people, when they find themselves sitting on the legislative councils of India, will feel that it is incumbent upon them to preserve their position as capitalists in that country by distracting the attention of the working classes of India from their real grievances. I believe that so long as you confine your councils to the rich people in India, so long as your assemblies there are merely tied to the interest of capital development and industrial development in India, you will have them trying to distract the attention of the lower orders in India, by piling up hatred against this country, and by finding causes of complaint against England, so that the masses in Bombay, Cawnpore, and Calcutta will have their attention distracted from their own economic grievances and be turned against this country.
I think the one chance of securing real co-operation between England and India in the future rests in finding in these Indian Parliaments the same lines of cleavage that we have in this country between the Liberal and the Conservative parties, between the Labour party and the Unionist party, and so on. If you can get those lines of cleavage in the new Indian Parliaments, the old-fashioned lines of cleavage that every free country is bound to find in its Parliament, then the country will prosper; but if you are to have in those Parliaments one class whose interest it will be to distract to foreign affairs, to the interference of England in India, the attention of people who might otherwise be complaining of sleeping five in a room and boxing and coxing it, working by day and by night, I think you will get very troublesome times between England and India in the future. In these legislative councils, as in the Southborough Report, everything is being done to establish real plutocracy. Take the legislative council of Delhi. Although under the scheme of my right hon. Friend there was to be direct representation, and there was to be established a framework upon which a genuine Parliamentary institution could be built there, they have knocked that on the head, and decided on indirect representation as being more conservative and more likely to preserve them from any Socialistic legislation. They are quite right. You cannot have a more thoroughly conservative institution than an indirectly elected body, where the provincial legislative councils meet together to select their safest members who will be 672 responsible to no electors but to the legislative council. I do deplore the changes' that have been made in this last year, and. I beg my right hon. Friend, when he introduces his Bill to make that Bill go more towards the side of his first Report and less in the direction of these whittling-away Reports of Lord Southborough and Mr. Feetham. Bureaucracy is very clever. It is always possible to form a union with reactionary native elements in India in order to develop schemes which Indians may accept, but which in the long run will be bad for India. Indirect election, special representation, and the communal representation of the kind I have described are illiberal, undemocratic movements that it would be well to eliminate-before a Constitution is given to India.
Let me now pass to the Rowlatt Act. I have only a few things to say about it. In, the first place, if the Indians—not by a majority, but by absolute unanimity—on. the Viceroy's Legislative Council say that they do not want that Act, then that measure ought not to be passed into law. Conceive what it would be here if you had legislation not by a minority, but legislation against the unanimous wish of this House. How could you expect England to-tolerate a law which was unanimously opposed by every single Member of this House? When a law is passed against the-unanimous vote of every single elected Member of Parliament, a country is not likely to take it lying down and to accept the law, whether it be good or bad. I do-not suppose there is one man in 100,000 in India who knows what the Rowlatt Act is, but they do know that their elected representatives voted against it to a man, and that in spite of that it was forced on the country. That, I believe, is the principal reason of the late riots—this absolute disregard of all those British traditions which are always upon our lips, but which we do not always conform to when it comes to dealing with people whom we have governed for their good for so long. The fact that you are legislating against the unanimous wish of the people, whether it be good or bad legislation, is bound to damn that legislation and to give it no possible chance of operating with success.
This Rowlatt Act is the most lawless law, to use the word of Mr. Bannerjee in the Indian Parliament, ever passed into law. It is not a law; it is simply an administrative instruction. Any man can be put into prison if the district is proclaimed under the Rowlatt laws. He can 673 be put into prison, and then he can appeal to a judge against it. The judge takes the papers and inquires into the case. He has not to say whether the man has committed any crime. All that he has to consider is whether the political officer who decided that so and so was a dangerous person really thought that he was a dangerous person. That is legislating not merely for expediency, but legislating in the direct face of justice. I have known many people in my time who have been extremely undesirable people according to many people in this country. Take the late Mr. Keir Hardie. There was never a time when a majority of this House would not gladly have seen Mr. Keir Hardie locked up. Take my friend, Mr. Outhwaite, who was in the last Parliament. You could have always got almost an unanimous vote for locking up Mr. Outhwaite at any time. Take myself. I have no doubt that many people would like to see me locked up. You might prove to the satisfaction of any of His Majesty's judges that you are right in thinking it well that Mr. Keir Hardie, Mr. Outhwaite, or myself were dangerous to society. I do not think we are. I think we are the salt of the earth, but other people think otherwise. They say that Wedgwood is a danger to society, and in the interests of society he ought to be locked up. The judge cannot say that it was to the interest of society that I should be locked up or not. If these individuals represent that I ought to be locked up, and they honestly think it, therefore I must remain locked up. That is contrary to justice, but that is the principle you are applying to India, and it must cause a sense of injustice and irritation amongst the Indian population when you are legislating not upon grounds which are just or unjust. but wholly on grounds of what is expedient or inexpedient.
Perhaps hon. Members have heard this story of young Cyrus, who was born to be an emperor. He was very well educated, and, in order that he might be trained for his future work, he was sent to a children's court of justice to decide cases. One morning there came into the court a big boy and a little boy, and the little boy was in tears. He explained that the big boy had taken his coat. The big boy said, "Yes, I did take his coat; it fitted me very well. The coat I had was too small, so I gave it to him." Cyrus was seized with a brain wave. He said, "Try on the coats and let me see." They 674 tried on the coats, and the big boy's coat fitted the little boy quite nicely, and the little boy's coat fitted the big boy quite nicely. "Let them keep the coats," said Cyrus, and all the courtiers applauded the wisdom of his decision. Cyrus told his tutor about it, and the tutor thereupon put him across his knee and spanked him, saying, "I sent you not to fit coats, but to do justice." If we had a little more justice in India, and a little less fitting coats in the name of expediency, it would do good to the British name in future, and in the long run it would lead to happier relations between this country and India. The Rowlatt Bills are not only against law, but they are against the people. It is these reasons which caused the explosion in India recently. I do protest, and the Government must understand that the repression of these riots by means of bombs from aeroplanes and machine guns have produced an even worse effect than the original passage of the Rowlatt Act. Now there is not a single moderate Indian but who protests against the way in which these riots have been put down. My right hon. Friend in a passage for which I shall always be grateful compared me lightly to a very important character, Mr. Gandhi, the leader of the passive resistance movement not only in India but throughout the world. Gandhi is regarded as a saint in India. He went to Delhi to suppress the riots. When he got to Delhi he was arrested and sent back. It was the arrest of Gandhi which caused the revolt at Lahore. It is unfortunate incidents like this which must be inquired into. If peace and settlement are to come to India there will have to be an inquiry into these riots. Why are they so concentrated in Delhi and the Punjaub? The Punjaub six years ago was the most peaceful part of India. It is the home of the Sikhs, the bust soldiers. The reason is that they have had, obviously, during the last six years some of that firm, resolute rule which the right hon. Gentleman terms the right method of governing India. Sir Michael O'Dwyer six years ago when he went to the Punjaub, found it a perfectly quiet country. He has bequeathed it to his successor a revolutionary spirit which runs from one end to the other.
you have got to 'have not only an injuiry into the murders of English people in India during the last few months, but also into those administrative acts, whether the use of aeroplane bombs or the 675 arrest of men like Gandhi or the employment of the agent provocateur by the police force, before you will get any system of contentment and satisfaction upon which this constitutional Bill will be based. I do hope that my hon. Friend will see that in the drawing up of his scheme, which is intended to take power from the bureaucracy and transfer it to the people of India he will not leave it to the bureaucracy to frame it. It was asked by an Indian congress that the governors of provinces who will have charge of the constitutional aspect of these new councils in India shall not be Anglo-Indian bureaucrats from India, but people who will have some acquaintance with constitutional usages in this country or other civilised countries. If full administration of your scheme is left to the dispossessed bureaucratic class in India, then you will have failed, and just as in the Punjaub the action of one particular bureaucrat embittered the relations between two great peoples, so a particular bureaucrat in directing these legislative councils may by stupid, tactless action destroy the possibility of India becoming not merely a member of this family of nations, but one of the freest and most loyal members of the lot.
§ Mr. BENNETT
I would like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India not only upon the singularly impressive speech with which he has introduced his Budget, but also upon the early date upon which he has been able to present it to the House. In India there has always been great complaint of the tardiness with which the Indian Budget has been presented. It has always come as the dry and unappreciated remainder biscuit after the Parliamentary banquet. Now the people of India will see that its importance is adequately recognised in the place which has been given to it in the Parliamentary calendar. Further, may I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the singularly courageous and outspoken way in which he has announced his intention to go through with the great project to which he has set himself. That will give encouragement in India and will exercise, I believe, a most beneficial influence, because the one thing which we have to guard against in India is the propagation of the idea that Parliament does not mean business in this matter, that Parliament is indifferent or that it is hostile. The right hon. Gentle- 676 man has put an end, I hope, to that idea. It has been propagated in India, I believe, for malignant purposes. It has been propagated by those who are really against the Government, and I am afraid that that movement in India has received some countenance and help from certain movements here, which would be described, I suppose, by some who are intimately associated with them as Conservative movements, but which in my opinion will, unless checked, have a mischievous and disturbing tendency in India.
The hon. and gallant Member who spoke just now referred at some length to the Southborough and Feetham Reports and to the general scheme of reform for which we are to be prepared. I shall not imitate his example. He set out a number of matters which it will be time enough to discuss when we come to them, that is to say when the whole scheme of the Government is laid before the House. But he made one or two other references, and I wish that he were here to hear the comments that I am about to make upon them. One is this. He spoke of the plutocracy, which it is proposed, or he thinks it is proposed, in the coming Bill, to set up in the legislative system. So far as I understand, the franchise holders will consist of people who in Presidency towns, like Bombay, pay a rent equivalent to £8 a year. I do not see much plutocracy there. What most offends him is the presence of the special representation of mill owners. Those millowners are prominent Indian subjects. They are men who some time ago began to take a very active part in political life in India, and I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman when he comes before us with his full scheme will be able to give very good reasons why the millowners, plutocrats though they be, should have a place in his Parliamentary system. At any rate, if you take the Bombay Legislative Council, they will have only one representative out of over 100. However, I am going a little in advance of what I intended to say, because I would like to leave to the time when the Bill is introduced into Parliament all suggestions that I may have to offer upon it. The right hon. Gentleman gave a frank, but, one must own, a melancholy account of recent events in India. I would not like to minimise what he said, and certainly I would urge that we should bear in mind his assurance that the danger is not over. But there are some consoling elements in the situation.
677 First of all, let us remember that though things have been very disturbed in India recently, yet at a far more critical time than this has been we had the solid support of the whole people of India. When India was almost denuded, by the courage of Lord Hardinge, of British troops for the Empire War, India was loyal, and if you will bear that in mind, I think that is a consolation in the depression which has followed from the recent troubles in India. Further, there are local bright spots. It is rather astonishing now that during the recent disturbances there should have been serious disturbances in Gujerat, because in my time in India the people there were among the most quiet and contented in all India. If you looked for disturbances you would have looked for them in Poonah, but an Indian gentleman who has come from there recently tells me that not only was there superficial quietness in the Deccan, but that there was quietness even under the surface, and that there were not as many as half a dozen passive resisters in Poonah, which is a city of over 150,000 inhabitants. Those are reassuring statements. As to the Rowlatt Act, I do not know if it is wise to make too much of the trouble which has arisen from that. Hon. Members state, with a great deal of confidence, that the Rowlatt Bill has been the cause of all the trouble. It is one of many causes. I think that the right hon. Gentleman himself, when dealing with the question some weeks ago, told us that the troubles in India were not to be attributed to one, but rather to many causes, and it seems to me, in regard to this matter, that it would be wise to bear in mind the observation of a great statesman, which was that history took very small account of the controversies which caused most commotion at the time. I remember that I landed in India almost immediately after an agitation associated with a Bill which bore the name of a learned gentleman who happily still holds a place of honour in this House. The Ilbert Bill has been forgotten long since, though the name of its author is still cherished, and we may reasonably hope that before very long we shall forget the Rowlatt Bill as people in India have long since forgotten the Ilbert Bill, and that we shall forget it, because I believe and hope that there will be no reason to put the Act itself into operation.
I do not want to minimise the position. I hope that all those on the other side, and those who will probably be coming back on the other side to take part in the 678 discussion, have studied the Rowlatt Report, because if they have they will have seen it demonstrated, I believe, to their satisfaction, that that Report establishes the absolute necessity of some departure from the ordinary procedure of a judicial tribunal. We are told by the Punjab authorities that if it had not been for the special legislation which they had at their back it would have been impossible to put down the conspiracy there. But the point is this. One may sum up the statements in the Rowlatt Report in this way. Not only have the Government of Bengal especially, and some of the other Governments, had to deal with crime on a large scale, but it was organised crime, crime which was directed not only towards the murder of Europeans and outrage of many kinds, but it was avowedly directed towards driving the British Government out of India. Terrorism was one of the primary processes employed in that conspiracy, a terrorism which finally manifested itself in the fear, and sometimes the refusal, of persons to appear in court to give evidence against the accused. Those are conditions that cannot be dealt with by ordinary process of law. You may say what you like, invoke trial by jury and the rights of a British subject to fair and open trial, but when you have a community set against you, determined that by bloodshed and outrage of every kind they will terrorise the people and will shatter the administration, it seems to me there is only one course open. I hope that the Government of India will never be under any necessity to apply this Act. It will depend not upon this country but upon people in India whether the Act is to be applied or not.
Let me revert to one matter already referred to, because I do not think it should be passed over. That is this: The hon. Member referred to the growing expenditure in India. He dealt with the Army in particular, but the worst he had to say about the military extravagance practised by the Government of India was that the cost of the Army had gone up from £20,000,000 to £40,000,000. Considering that we were in war-time, and considering the enormous scale of the operations of the Army of India, that is a very small increase. As to the police and the increase in expenditure. The police and the schoolmasters, it seems to me, are the people who need most to be treated generously. I believe that part of the trouble in India, arises from the inadequate pay of sub- 679 ordinates in the administration. Above all, the police ought to be well paid, and if there is a class needing to be better paid than the police it is the schoolmasters. During the absence of the right hon. Gentleman in India, I think that if his locum tenens had taken pen in hand, and, without consulting the right hon. Gentleman, had done his best to commit himself to a most extravagant bill for the pay of the schoolmasters of India, it would have contributed to increased contentment amongst vast numbers of the population of India. The hon. Member also spoke of railways, and he referred to the increase of £23,000,000 or £24,000,000 in the proposed outlay on railways in India. It is precious little if you realise that £24,000,000 laid out to-day in labour and in material is the equivalent of not more than £12,000,000 laid out before the War. It should be remembered that India has, as far as it could with safety, allowed its material and its railway equipment to fall out of condition during the War. Sometimes, and in some places, it has become dangerously out of repair; therefore, the least that can be done is to spend just now the £24,000,000 on railway extension and reparation. It was said that it would all be spent in England. I do not think that is correct, because I understand three of the great railways of India have made large contracts with the Tata Ironworks, and the policy of the Government of India is to spend in India all they can, and the tendency with regard to railways in future will be to supply their wants, particularly in material and in locomotives, if possible, from India itself.
I should not have intervened in this De bate but for the fact that a considerable part of my working life has been spent in India. It is true I left it some years ago, and some of my friends tell me that no one who has left India five years knows anything about that country. That is a rather discouraging idea, because it would mean that there is no such thing as an accumulation of knowledge and experience, and that the only people who know anything about India are people in that country, and while they are there. If there is any truth 'in that, I have done my best to correct it by frequent visits to that country. I think that one who at intervals visits a country is able to see its changes and watch its progress more than those who live there. 680 Those who live there sometimes do not see the wood for trees. I mention this for the one reason that I want to establish the fact that India is a country which is-undergoing steady and important change. There is, I know, a belief that the East is unchanging. I think the poets are responsible for misleading the world in regard to that. There is one hackneyed quotation, a couplet which I should be ashamed to quote to the House. There is another a little less hackneyed about howThe East bowed low before the blast, And plunged in thought again.India has not plunged in thought; she has been much too busy. We can see it in the improved condition of the people. Say what one will, India is prospering under British rule. The old story that India was being drained for the benefit of England—that fallacy has been abandoned even by those who were most energetic in propagating. it, and I do not think we shall hear it again. It is not in material prosperity only that India is going forward. It is in the self-consciousness of the people. There is a sense of national being which is steadily being evolved in India. The country is moving; it is organising itself. Take up any daily paper in one of the great cities in India and read the notices of meetings connected with new societies. The mind and thought and energy of India are being organised on all hands. It is impossible while that is so that we shall stand still. There was a time when the average, fair-minded liberal Englishman going to India might be content to say this, "Well we will deal justly with the country, we will mete out fair dealing between the inhabitants; we shall be efficient, economical, and we will leave the rest to Providence; but we cannot invite the people of India to have any part in controlling their own destinies." That would have been an honourable, straightforward attitude of mind, and I know there were times when I felt that if we had done as much as that we should have done as much as could be expected of us. But I have long since dropped that belief I recognise now, and have done for a long time—and it has been brought home to me with increasing conviction—that we must more closely associate the people of India with the administration than we have done.
I want to speak very frankly on one point. What are the relations between 681 the Government of India and the people? Have they improved or have they gone back? To be frank they have not improved; they have gone back. I have tested it in various ways, and apart from the general consideration that there is considerable feeling between a portion of the people of India and Europeans, I have applied one test. I remember years ago when the Government of Bombay issued a resolution publicly censuring certain people for certain misconduct. "But," I asked a member of the Government, "what use is that—will it do any good?" Yes, "he said," it will, because the minds of the people of India are so constituted that if there is an open expression of dissatisfaction by Government it will do good. The wrongdoers are discredited in the eyes of their neighbours and the Government is so far strengthened. "In recent visits to India I have borne that in mind, and I have asked people in various parts of India how far is it still true, and I have been told by one after another," I do not believe there is a part of India in which that proposition can truthfully be made." That is not a satisfactory state of things. You may say, Are you going to improve things by associating the people of India more closely with the Government of their country? My answer to that is this. You are not going to improve things simply by a policy of repression, by a policy of asserting law and order. We have countries near at hand in which, while with one hand healing measures have been carried out on the other the strong arm of the law has been asserted, and while these two processes have gone on simultaneously we have made progress. If in India we on the one hand firmly assert the law, as the right hon. Gentleman assured us he means to do, and on the other hand meet the legitimate aspirations of the people and show them that we are in sympathy with their progressive ideas, then I believe that the problem will be solved. But we must bear this in mind, that we have to encourage our friends in India and not to countenance efforts which are being made in this country, which I think will make it difficult if they succeed for us to keep the friends that the Government have got. We are being told that the Moderates in India have no real loyalty towards the Government. To my mind the most harmful thing that has been done lately is the attempt to discredit the loyalty of 682 the Moderates in India. I read the other day in a publication which is intended to check the reform movement this:In regard to the paramount duty of maintaining law and order and of preventing sedition, murder and anarchy, the views of both Moderates and Extremists coincide to such an extent as to be prejudicial to the claims of Indian politicians to manage their own affairs, and fraught with great danger to the stability of the Government which the Reform scheme proposes to establish in India.That, in my opinion, is as harmful, unjust, and as unfair a thing as could possibly have been written. I have the happiness to count amongst the Moderates of India a, number of personal friends, whose loyalty and high character I can attest by many years of close friendship and association. On their behalf I resent this. It is not only untrue; it is a cruel libel, and it is harmful. Unless we know where to find our friends, and unless we satisfy the Moderates of India that we trust them and wish to work with them and they with us, our day in India is done. I hope that fact will be fully realised. I can imagine contingencies in which the Government would not have a friend in India, and if a policy of this kind were carried out, the day after that the British Government would not have a friend in India. I hope that those who are carrying out this movement in England, and who think that they are supporting British rule, will reconsider their position, and will realise that they are putting themselves in the position really of enemies of British rule, and that they are hampering the British Government in its attempt to exercise rule in that country. Let me quote a few words that came to me from a very well-informed publicist in India a few weeks ago on that very point:If Parliament fails to deal boldly and resolutely with this question of reform, they may make up their minds that every Moderate man will be driven out of public life in India and that he will have to deal with a larger, a growing body of Sinn Feiners, of India without any moral backing whatever in the country, and every well wisher of the British connection will feel that he has been sold.Those are very serious remarks, but I believe they are founded not only upon knowledge but upon good sense. I wish, in conclusion, to refer to the work of a recent Member of this House, and I know that the House follows with sympathy and kindly recollection the career of those of its Members who have gone to perform duty in different parts of the Empire. 683 There have been parts of India during recent times in which it may be complained that the course taken by the Government was not wise. We are not here to sit in judgment on any Government in India in regard to its action during the riots. But there was one Presidency in which, apart from the unfortunate happening in one district, peace was kept. There were troubles in Bombay earlier in the year, and there was great fear that on the 11th of April serious disturbances would break out. I know that the situation on the morning of that day was most critical. There were demonstrations by thousands and hundreds of thousands through the streets of Bombay, and soldiers and police were in readiness to put down any disorder, but strict instructions were given that not a finger was to be lifted against the demonstrators until any disorder took place. The processions, largely under the influence of Mr. Gandhi, peacemaker as well as disturber, went through the town in an orderly way. Let me read what an Indian native paper says of that day:Great credit is due to the authorities for the feelings of forbearance with which they comported themselves in extremely trying circumstances, and the splendid feeling which prevails in Bombay to-day towards them is their best reward.I never read such an expression as this in an Indian paper:The police are regarded by the public as friends almost for the first time in the annals of Indian administration. The name of His Excellency the Governor——that is a former Member of this House, Sir George Lloyd—is on everybody's lips, and the sentiment universally felt is one of high respect and admiration.I am sure hon. Members in this House will hear that with pride and satisfaction of one who was so recently amongst us, who in the highways and byways of the Empire has done wonderful service during the last few years, and that he has been able to combine strength with prudence, and moderation, and tolerance, and that in a time of such terrible crisis he, without the shedding of blood or any coercive measures, has been able to keep under restraint a very agitated population.
§ Mr. NEIL M'LEAN
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words 684in the opinion of this House, the operation of the two Criminal Law (Amendment) Bills which issued from the Rowlatt Report and which have recently been before the Indian Legislature, should be suspended until this House has had an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon them.In moving this resolution I wish to say. in regard to the statements made earlier in the day by the Secretary of State for India in reference to the Rowlatt Act and the necessity for keeping it on the Statute Book even for the. three years, although it might not be operative or have occasion to be placed in operation in India, that his justification for that Act is one, I think, which reflects rather badly upon the Government of India. Although it might be said that there were certain disturbances in India, he himself has admitted in his speech this afternoon that there were Acts of Parliament already in existence in India which could deal with any of the disturbers or any of the agitators. If that is so, and we have his word that it is so, then there is no occasion for the Rowlatt Act remaining any longer on the Statute Book, even though it is to be inoperative-unless some sudden event calls for it being put into execution. If Acts already exist, then this particular Act, which has cemented the differences that existed between sections of the Indian people, which has sent a wave of disturbance, of discontent, and of agitation against the Government throughout the whole of India, is no longer needed, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw or give instructions for the withdrawal of this measure, which is being looked upon with such grave suspicion, and is being spoken against so luridly by people in India. It is rather peculiar also to find in his justification for the Rowlatt Act that he quotes to us the number of people who were interned or imprisoned under the Defence of India Act. He tells us that the numbers who were imprisoned or interned amounted to 1,600, that at the close of the War large numbers of these were released, and that at the present time there are only about 400 under restraint. When we consider that the population in India numbers 315,000,000, to try and justify an Act of this character by saying it is necessary to keep 400 people out of 315,000,000 under restraint is surely stretching the point rather far. If these 400 people are the only dangerous people in India, why this suddenly-rushed-through Act, this necessity for what are practically secret 685 trials, this denial to a prisoner of the elementary right to have a defence in an open court of justice by a lawyer? Because if you put the Act in operation that, I understand from the right hon. Gentleman's statement to-day, is the form that the Act will take when it is prosecuting these individuals. If there are more than 400 people in India who are dangerous, then the Government are not really doing their duty in allowing them to continue at large.
It seems to me that the position of the Government of India to-day is very much the position of the Government of India in the past. Just two years ago, standing where I am standing now, and sitting probably where the right hon. Gentleman is sitting now, were two right hon. Members of this House. One of them was speaking at this box, and he said to the other, the then Secretary of State for India:The Government of India is too wooden, too iron, too inelastic, too antediluvian, to be any use for the modern purposes we have in view. I do not believe that anybody could ever support the Government of India from the point of view of modern requirements."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1917, col. 2205, Vol. 95.]One of those gentlemen, the one who used the words I have just quoted, is the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India to-day.
§ Mr. M'LEAN
Yet he says in his concluding sentence, "I do not believe that anybody will ever support the Government of India from the point of view of modern requirements." To-day, two years later, be has supported the Government of India from that other box, the Government that is "too wooden, too iron, too inelastic, too antediluvian." He has swallowed all his own descriptions of that particular Government, and he is now supporting the Government which he has denied that anybody could support in the light of modern requirements. But there was another statement which he made in the same speech:I say that that is a system so cumbrous, so designed to prevent efficiency and change, that in the light of these revelations it cannot continue to exist."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1917, col. 2207, Vol. 95.]Yet he has justified the Indian Government by the Rowlatt Act. What is the real situation in India? Are the people of India disloyal because they wish to be disloyal? Is it because of revolutionary and anarchical bodies and organisations? 686 He made some reference to the agitator who lurked in the background, did all his work in secret, and is nor. to be found. If he is not to be found, the Rowlatt Act is not going to discover him. Ho must be discovered before the Rowlatt Act is put into operation, and yet we are told he cannot be found. We are told that these individuals are working upon the Indian spirit and the Indian mind. What is really working upon the mind of the Indian is the economic position of the Indian himself and his state of illiteracy. The very fact that you have in India probably 90 or 95 per cent. of the people illiterate, the very fact that you, the responsible governors of India, have neglected your right or your duty in educating the people of India, is sufficient to make those people the prey of any anarchical or revolutionary individual. You have to-day the most illiterate country in the world, I believe, supposed to be governed by a civilised people, in India, and the responsibility for that illiteracy rests upon the Governments, past and present, of the United Kingdom.
An hon. Gentleman made some reference to the franchise that could be exericsed. He said that the franchise would be given to those who paid a rental of £8, but he forgot to tell the House the equivalent of that amount in India. He did not tell the House that an £8 rental for the year was almost more than some people in India are earning during the whole of the year, working from twelve to fourteen hours a day, for from 5d. to 8d. per day. That is the state of affairs in India, and in an atmosphere of that kind you pass a Rowlatt Bill because people are demanding their rights and that their Government should recognise its duties and responsibilities. The right hon. Gentleman praised the loyalty of the Indian troops, and paid a warm tribute to what they have done throughout the War. I have another quotation, not this time from the right hon. Gentleman, but from the Secretary of State for India who preceded him, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He made this statement in describing certain of the combats in which the Indian troops were engaged:When a day or two afterwards the same ground was traversed again in a successful advance of our troops, the General who was in command, has told me that every Sikh had fallen facing his enemy, and most of them had one of their enemies under him. May I remind the House that on that occasion, fighting alongside them, were the Lancashire Fusiliers? No 687 narrow spirit of sectional or racial jealousy animated either of them on that day, but one glorious emulation as to how best they might serve the Empire, how best they might do glory to it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 14th March, 1917, col. 1140, Vol. 91.]The survivors of that fight have gone back to India. They have had the appreciation not only of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, but they have had the appreciation of the Prime Minister, who, speaking at the Guildhall on the 27th April, 1917, said:The other question is India. Germany's greatest disappointment in this War has been India. She expected sedition, distraction, disaffection, disloyalty, and the forces of Britain absorbed upon the task of subduing it. What did she find? Eager, enthusiastic, loyal help for the Empire. I think they are entitled to ask that these loyal myriads should feel, not as if they were a subject race in the Empire, but as partner nations. Both these questions require bold statesmanship. Timidity, timorousness, faintheartedness, abhorrent in peace or war, in war are fatal. Therefore I say to Britain, she has faced the problems of war with a courage that has amazed the world; she must face the problems of peace in the same great spirit."Is it in that spirit that you are facing the problem of peace in India to-day? Is it in that spirit you have had your Rowlatt Bill put through? Is it in that spirit that you tell us that it is only for those who are looked upon as anarchists or revolutionaries? Why, the educated man among the Indians goes amongst them, and points out to them, just as in this country the trade union leader will point out to his trade union members, how certain things could be done to better their conditions in the workshop, the factory, or the mine. In India that man will be looked upon as preaching sedition, as causing unrest, as seeking to disturb the conditions there, and can be brought in under the Rowlatt Bill. Yet we are expected to feel that we are doing our best to recognise India as a partner nation. In the concluding statement he gave to the House to-day the right hon. Gentleman gave a generous promise that that scheme of reform which is identified with his name, linked with that of the Viceroy, will be incorporated in a Bill, which will be laid before the House in a very short time. I hope that that will materialise. I am certain the House will welcome it. But I hope also that, having gone so far as to materialise the promises held out to the Indians in the scheme that has been propounded, he will also be sufficiently generous to remove from India a particular measure that is obnoxious to the Indians themselves.
688 You reward your soldiers who have fought during this War and have come home again with decorations and medals. You reward the Indian soldier with a ribbon. You have plunged the whole of the country in disaffection. I said earlier that you yourselves are the cause of bridging the difference that previously existed between caste and caste, between sect and sect in India. India is practically almost unanimously against the terms of the Rowlatt Bill. The All India Congress Committee, which does not include moderns, at a meeting in Bombay passed a resolution emphatically protesting against the passing of the Rowlatt Bill, and in view of the unanimous opposition in India urging His Majesty's Government to disallow it. I would just like to point out to the (Secretary of State before concluding that he made one rather significant statement which I hope is only a slip on his part. In describing the Rowlatt Bill he concluded by saying it made no "new" outrage on the principles of the Indians. I hope he did not mean what appears evident on the face of it. It has been said that what preceded was exceptional legislation. That has been admitted. You have admitted that legislation has been passed for a particular period, and for specific purposes. You have altered industrial and economic conditions in India.
Give these people of India something that they will understand, and a life that is worth living. What is 5d. per day to them? The hon. Gentleman whom I have quoted already spoke of the £8 rental that was to be paid. He also quoted the £24,000,000 that was spent in this country on labour. He said that- was not too much because £24,000,000 is only equal to £12,000,000 in pre-war days. But he cannot have it both ways. If £24,000,000 now is only valued at £12.000,000 in pre-war terms, then 5d. per day, which is paid to the Indian worker, must only equal 2½d. of pre-war days, and the very high prices in India at present makes it more nearly approximate to 2d. per day. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to express to the House his intention that this particular piece of legislation, this Rowlatt Bill, which outrages the sense of fairplay and justice that every Briton should hold, which lays upon the Indian people and around their necks once again a bond of servitude, and makes them feel that they are a subject race, shall not go through. I appeal to him to disallow 689 this piece of legislation, and to appoint a Committee of this House, if necessary, or a judicial committee, to go into the matter, and, at any rate, let the Indian people know that, so far as this House is concerned, we will look upon them as brothers and partners in the Empire, and that they shall suffer no indignity and be under no servitude that we in this country would, on our part, resist,
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. SPOOR
In rising to second the Motion, I should like to associate myself with the expressions of regret regarding the somewhat thin character of the House when the speech of the Secretary for India was being delivered. Whether it was due, as was suggested, to the Committee system that we have at present, or whether—as seems to me much more likely—it was due to the incorrigible insularity of which we British people are guilty, and that means very frequently that large numbers of our people take no interest whatever in foreign affairs, I cannot, of course, say. I do wish, however, that there had been more Members present to listen to the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which was of an informing character, and the subsequent speeches, which were of an unusually high order. For they were upon a topic that, after all, is one of the most vital that concerns this House and this country. With some parts of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I could not find myself in agreement. He appeared to me to vacillate somewhat between a policy that was rather progressive and promising, while now and again he harked back to reaction. His speech seemed to contain a certain promise, which, if developed, and some of the implications of it strengthened, might mean that in a future —nearer than we sometimes think—India might take that place the right hon. Gentleman expressed the hope she would take amongst the great nations of the world, and that she would bring to that League of Free Peoples that we are trying to establish at the present time that immense contribution which she can bring from the great store of culture and civilisation that is peculiarly hers.
It has been pointed out in several speeches that during the War the contribution of India was of a very high character. It is quite true that there was developed during the last four and a half years amongst the Indian people a greater unity and a greater solidarity than has, perhaps, ever existed during the whole 690 period of British rule. Faced by a common peril, sharing the common sacrifices, the Indian people had been brought into a condition of harmony that seemed full of promise for the years that lie ahead. After the Armistice was signed—as a matter of fact, before the War concluded—there were indications of a somewhat disquieting nature. When the War was in progress we spoke, and rightly spoke, of what the Indian people were doing in the great contribution they were making. Words of appreciation have been uttered in this House to-night. One could have hoped that our appreciation of India's part in the War had taken a more practical form. One could have hoped that the widows of the men who laid down their lives in France had been granted larger pensions than the beggarly few coppers that they have had given to them. One could Have hoped that the professions of sympathy that have been expressed hero and elsewhere for the Indian people had taken a better form than the payment of these wretched wages to which reference has been made. How far these economic conditions have contributed to the state of unrest existing in India at the present time is patent, I think, to everybody who gives serious consideration to the existing situation. We had during the War perfect harmony, concord, and unity, but when the Armistice arrived we had sudden rebellion, and almost revolution. And why? It has been suggested that the Rowlatt laws offered an occasion rather than a cause for this trouble. The Secretary of State has pointed out the economic causes that have contributed, but he did not refer at any length to the extraordinary commercial prosperity that has visited India during the War, which can be seen in the returns of all the big companies that had money invested in India, a prosperity, however, in which the millions of Indian people had no part.
It is rather interesting in remembering the wages paid to Indian workers to notice the return of a representative company in that country. The Bengal Iron and Steel Company, whose dividend in September, 1914, was 12 per cent., in the following year rose to 24 per cent. It was 24 per cent. again in 1916, while in 1917 it was 30 per cent. In this company £1 shares in 1918 were quoted at £6 5s. It is difficult to reconcile our great professions and concern for the Indian people, and our great sympathy with them with facts like 691 that when we remember and know that large profits have been made there as in this country, while there has been no corresponding improvement 'in the condition of the people. Instead of that, over large tracts of India we had an appalling state of famine. We had the Bubonic plague and the terrible epidemic of influenza. It is calculated that 6,000,000 people died of influenza and pneumonia last year alone.
In addition to these economic causes of unrest we have had going on for a period of years, and much more actively during the last two or three years, a very real and persistent agitation for constitutional reform. I think it will be agreed that the most significant thing about this agitation has been the fact that it has united people who have been separated before by very deep dividing lines in the matter of religious opinion. The fact that the Moslem and the Hindu population are working unitedly together on this question is most significant. The fact is that the united congress has pressed consistently for a declaration from the Government recognising that self-government is the goal of British policy, and that the British intend to secure it for India. The report that has been referred to frequently in the course of last year quite definitely admits the great need for fundamental reform. During the War the censorship has been very rigorous. The Defence of India Acts have been employed with no light hand, and since the Armistice, instead of pressing forward the work of reform in India, which all responsible authorities have recognised as being long overdue, the Government appear to have come along as the reaction was setting in, and instead of trying to improve the economic conditions and remove the causes of unrest, they published the text of the Rowlatt Bills and that caused a storm of opposition throughout the whole country.
The Secretary for India has referred to the outburst, and I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he believes that repressive legislation either in India or anywhere else has ever done any good, and whether it is not a fact that the whole of our political history in that great country does not prove exactly the contrary. Is not the whole testimony of our political history in other parts of the world pointing also in the same direction? We have never secured progress in any part of the Empire unless it was pre- 692 ceded by confidence and trust. In South Africa we have an excellent example of what resulted from the action of a Government that was prepared to recognise the right of the South African people and give to South Africa a form of self-government. I want to suggest that so far as India is concerned the crisis that has arisen, and the gravity is recognised by every serious student of foreign affairs, is really no new situation. True the conditions of war have perhaps aggravated it in some respects, but I submit that in its essentials the Indian problem is the same at the end of the War as it was at the beginning, and the problem in India is simply the old one, namely, a conflict between national aspiration on the one hand and British Imperial ambition on the other.
We have heard about the 315,000,000 or 330,000,000 of Indians. How many of those millions have had a voice or a vote in the election there of the Secretary of State for that country? How many of the Indians have ever had the opportunity of expressing their opinion or of voicing their own wishes with regard to an important matter like that? In supporting this appeal for a reconsideration of the question of the Rowlatt Acts, and in asking for their complete abolition, we want to ask for a more liberal policy, not only in the interests of India, but in the interests of this country and of the world. It seems incredible that in these days our Government would deport from India the English editor of a well-known newspaper. It is nearly a hundred years ago since that was done before. I think it was in 1823 that Mr. J. S. Buckingham, the founder and editor of the "Calcutta Journal,'' was expelled because of a series of articles he wrote censuring the Indian Government at that time. He was driven out of India, but long after that the East India Company had to acknowledge the injustice and unwisdom of the action they then took, with the result that they granted to Mr. Buckingham a pension of £200 a year. I do not know whether that treatment meted out so long ago to an English editor is in any way a prophecy of what is going to happen in this instance, but there does seem something absurd and distinctly reactionary in a Government which would remove from the country a man who has been guilty apparently of rather severely criticising the people who are in authority. When one talks about the partiality of the Press, one has to remember that there is in India an Anglo-Indian Press.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
I must remind the hon. Member that he is seconding an Amendment in rather limited terms, and until that Amendment is disposed of we cannot go back to the discussion upon the general situation. The suspension of the Rowlatt Acts is the only question raised in this Amendment.
§ Mr. SPOOR
I am very sorry if I have gone beyond the limits allowed me by the Amendment. I was dealing with the general situation, because it seemed to me that the Rowlatt Acts had been introduced to deal with the situation which exists in India at the present time. I will, however, just conclude by again asking the Secretary of State for India to reconsider this question, and, if possible, to secure the complete removal of these Acts with a view to restoring confidence among the people of India and keeping our own good name unsullied and unmarked. The attitude of many English people to the Indians is rather difficult to understand, especially when one remembers that India had a culture and a civilisation when we in these northern Islands were in a state of savagery. We are not dealing with people who are living in the blackest ignorance. We are dealing with people who have made in the past and who, we believe, will make in the future a big contribution to the world's stock of common good. In asking the Secretary of State to remove these obnoxious, unfair, and unjust Acts, we ask him to apply a more liberal policy, to take a longer view, to resume that line that has been followed in past years by some more liberal-minded statesmen in our country, and if he does that he will not only secure the gratitude of India and bring peace to that unhappy country, but he will go a very long way to securing also the stability of our own Empire.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I dealt at some length with the case for the contents of and the arguments against the Rowlatt Acts when I occupied the time of the House at an earlier period of the afternoon. I regret that I am still of opinion that as a temporary measure the Rowlatt Acts are necessary, and I regret, for reasons that I hope shortly to give, that I cannot accept this Amendment. The hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite (Mr. Maclean), who moved this Amendment, asked me to refer the Acts to a judicial inquiry in this country. What better judicial inquiry can you have than the inquiry that recom- 694 mended us the Bill which has now become an Act?It was an inquiry presided over by an English High Court judge who went out, to India to investigate. He was assisted by a High Court judge of India, an Indian High Court judge, an Indian Civil servant, and an Indian pleader of great distinction and great practice in the Indian Courts. Those five men formed a far better judicial tribunal than you could hope to get, and they came to the conclusion that to deal with this particular form of crime you could not rely upon the ordinary procedure of the law and that in districts where it existed you must have recourse to something of this kind to prevent the murder of innocent citizens and the murder and assassination of those who give evidence against the murderers of those innocent citizens. The hon. Member who spoke last said that my speech was partly progressive and partly reactionary. What does he mean? Does ho mean that it is reaction to try and protect innocent Government servants who are doing their duty from the bomb-thrower and the assassin? Does he mean that it is reaction to ask that the Government should be armed to extirpate crime which delays the progress of a country and casts a slur upon its loyalty I If that be reaction, then I am a reactionary. He says," Is there any use in repressive legislation? Does repressive legislation ever assist, or has it ever assisted, to cure an evil?" I agree that you cannot eradicate revolutionary movements merely by legislation to deal with those who are guilty. That was the whole basis of my speech which he found so inconsistent.
On the one hand, against this minority, the numbers of which are small and which I hope will become smaller, we must have legislation of this character; but for India. as a whole, for the great patriotic nationalist people of India, we want another and a totally different policy, and so far as we achieve that other policy so far will we withdraw from the numbers of those who may be tempted to join the ranks of the infinitesimally small proportion that will be subject to the Rowlatt Acts. I have described that other policy. Does the hon. Member on the Front Opposition Bench think that there is a single man in the India Office, in the Civil Service, or in the Government of India, who does not realise with a shudder the poverty, the narrow subsistence line, the vulnerability of the masses of the people of India, how subject they are to fluctua- 695 tions in climate and to disease, how narrow is their margin of existence? Does he know how anxious we are to improve the education system, and not only to improve it, but to spread it, a policy which takes time and requires teaching. Our answers to those questions are not the Rowlatt Acts; our answers to those questions are the Report of the Industrial Commission, the Report of Sir Michael Sadler's Education Commission, and the Report of those who investigated reforms last winter. The Rowlatt Act is to maintain the order of the country whilst all these great informs are going through. What are we to do while we hope to make the people satisfied that we are working for their good? Are we to let the bomb thrower and the assassin loose on society Are we not to arm ourselves against him? The Commission which sat has proved that there is no way of bringing him to book by ordinary open trial in an open Court. The Commission proved that when you tried to do that not only did the man escape but that the witnesses whom you might have induced to come forward were killed. Therefore your choice is between exceptional legislation of this kind and allowing the criminal to go scot free. It is not government to be unable to protect your citizens against conspirators of this kind. You must take measures against these men. What are those measures? There is a choice between one of two courses. Admitting that you have to take measures, and admitting that the measure cannot be trial in open Court, you must cither intern or deport these men without trial or inquiry, or you must adopt the procedure of the Rowlatt Act, which interns them without trial, but under which you can only intern them after two separate investigations, one before anything occurs and one after, by an authority of a judicial character. The case against the Rowlatt Act in my opinion can only be based on one of two charges. One of them is the charge put forward by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment that the Act will be used against a political agitation which is neither anarchical nor revolutionary. As to that charge I would say I am perfectly confident it will not prove so. I invite this House to watch the operations of the Act, if it ever does operate, which I hope it will not, and to bring to the notice of Parliament the first case in which it is thought that there is any room for the 696 suspicion that the Act is being used against men except those to control whose movements and operations it was passed. The other charge against the Rowlatt Act is this, that it is an answer to the loyalty of India and an answer to the evils from which we have suffered. That is not its purport. It is only a part, a small part, a temporary part, a necessary incident in the immediate life of our real policy, the policy of economic development of education and reform with which we intend to go on.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ The following notice stood on the Paper in the name of Colonel Yate.
§ To call attention to the recommendations of the Indian Public Services Commission and of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report as to the improvement of the conditions of the various European Civil Services in India, as well as the improvement of the conditions of service of the British officers, warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers of he Indian Army in the matter of pay, pension, leave, and expatriation allowances; and to move. That it is an urgent necessity that this question should be taken in hand at once.
§ Colonel YATE
I should like to say how much I thank the Secretary of State for the sympathetic reference he made to the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper. The question is one of very great importance to India. In fact, without something being done for the betterment of the British services in India these services will soon cease to exist. In both the civil and military services the dissatisfaction is so great at the present that I think both will cordially welcome the expressions which the right hon. Gentleman used at the commencement of the Debate to-day. Of the speeches which have been made this evening, that by the hon. Member for Clayton (Dr. Hopkinson) gave us a really good account of what is possible in India for the betterment of the condition of the people and for their future welfare. I think the Secretary of State, both this year and last year, devoted the most of his speech on the Annual Budget statement to the Reform question, and mainly confined himself to idealistic questions of future political reform, instead of giving real practical thought to the betterment of the people of India. The hon. Member for Clayton told us of the condition of things in the country, and there was one curious remark he made 697 which particularly struck me. He was speaking of the Industrial Commission, on which he told us there were four Indian members, three of them connected with industry, who were apparently of very great help, and one whom he described us a politician who was utterly unable to take any intelligent interest in the industrial condition of India. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear that statement in mind. It is a fresh example of how little real benefit India gets from those so-called Indian politicians—gentlemen whom the right hon. Gentleman has described as politically-minded Indians. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not wish to anticipate the Second Beading Debate, but I think we must acknowledge that he has given us a real Second Reading speech on the Indian Reform Bill which he is going to introduce, and I think it will be acknowledged that the hon. Member for Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) even surpassed the right hon. Gentleman in that respect.
§ Colonel YATE
I was simpy congratulating the hon. Member for Nottingham on having even surpassed the Secretary of State in a Second Reading Debate on the Indian Reform Bill which has not yet been introduced. There was one thing the right hon. Gentleman told us which I was sorry to hear. It was his statement that in the coming Indian Reform Bill diarchy held the field. Can you imagine any possible Government existing where one executive council is official and the other non-official, and yet both are tied together? It is utterly impossible for any Government to succeed under such circumstances. I am all for reform, but government is government, and you cannot put two executive councils in one Government. I hope the right hon. Gentle-mart who has acknowledged that the Governors of the Provinces of India, or, at any rate, a certain number of them, have decided against diarchy and have suggested an alternative scheme, will give proper consideration to that alternative scheme and not persist with this most hope-less method of government by diarchy. Put an equal number of Indians and British in the Government. There is nothing better than English and Indians being put together. Let them sit alternately round the table, but let them 698 all be one Government and do not divide them into two Governments, one Indian and the other British. I trust that we shall not have this diarchy thrust down our throats when the Bill is introduced and be told that it must hold the field. My hon. Friend (Dr. Hopkinson) told us that the system of Indian education was a superstructure without any foundation. I look upon our system of education in India as one of the worst that could be devised. It introduces all the faults of the British system into India, and my hon. Friend rightly described its results. It is very much like the Secretary of State's reform scheme— it is all superstructure and no foundation.
The right hon. Gentleman said he considered that the Rowlatt Act was only a temporary Act and only ought to be temporary. On that point I disagree with him entirely. We have had a great judicial Committee, consisting of the highest judges from England and from India, who decided unanimously that certain legislation was necessary and that it should be put permanently on the Indian Statute Book. The Government of India threw over that Committee, and in doing so were not only unwise but cowardly. It is cowardly for the Viceroy and the members, of the Council of India, who know that within three years they will be out of office and that others will have to govern India, to allow another agitation to face their successors. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman saw it, but the European Association in Calcutta at once sent a. protest on this subject, in which they said:If the Government then think its continuance necessary, it will be extremely difficult to get the measure renewed in the new Legislative-Assembly. The constant renewal of controversy over such legislation inflames feeling.I quite agree with that. Three years hence, the new Governor-General and the new Council of India, when they have to-pass this legislation again, will be faced with a fresh agitation. Every paper in India says that they are going to renew-the agitation. All the Congress journals say that. Even the "Servant of India," which I have been reading, said:We must agitate unceasingly for the repeal of the Act.That is the spirit of the politically-minded people in India. It is most unfair for the Government of India to try to shirk their responsibility by putting the maintenance of this necessary legislation on the 699 shoulders of their successors. I specially noticed a letter from Calcutta, published in the Press this morning, which said:It has been said that not a single orthodox Indian newspaper or politician has given the Government the slightest help.That is true of the politically-minded men in India. We all remember Lord Willing-don's case in Bombay, and how the politicians refused to help in recruiting or to pay for the recruits, and now they have raised this agitation against the Rowlatt Bill. This letter goes on to say:Mention should be made, however, of Indians of the non-political type, who have done their best to tell the truth and support the cause of law and order.Those are the real friends of the British Government, not the politically-minded men. I trust that the Secretary of State will bear this in mind in days to come. All of us who have lived our lives in India have some of our greatest friends among the men of the non-political type in India. They are our dear friends, and we have great Jove and respect for them. But the agitators who caused all this row over the Rowlatt Act are the men to whom we owe all the disturbance that is now occurring in India. I trust this will not be forgotten in time to come. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Mahomedan unrest. I was delighted to hear him speak of his sympathy with the Mahomedans in India and of the efforts he was making in Paris on their behalf. The whole of the Mahomedans in India and also in Afghanistan, more particularly in Afghanistan, look up to the Sultan of Turkey as their head. The great tenet of their faith is an independent Caliphate. It means everything to us if we can tell the Mahomedan Indians that we are fighting to maintain the Caliphate, and that we are striving our utmost in the Conference in Paris to maintain the Sultan in Constantinople.
§ Colonel YATE
We have seen something in the Press, and in spite of what the hon. Member says we know something of what is going on. This is a most important matter. We have 70,000,000 Mahomedans in India and a very large number in Afghanistan. They are all in favour of the Sultan of Turkey, and we must maintain him, if possible, in Constantinople. Let us internationalise the Straits and make every arrangement for its free pas- 700 sage, but let us allow the Sultan to remain where he is. Let him have an independent Monarchy over Anatolia, then we shall have the Mahomedans with us, but otherwise we shall have trouble. I was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the Indo-British Association. He said they had tried to show that it was not the intention of the Government to carry out the announcement of August, 1917. I hope he will tell us exactly what he was referring to. I am not a member of the association, but I must honestly say I have never seen any pronouncement to that effect myself. The members of the association are men who have held high office and are thoroughly acquainted with India, and whatever their opinions may be I do not think I know of anything they have said which would warrant the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I did not say they had advocated a refusal to carry out the announcement of August, 1917, but that by the proposals they had themselves put forward they gave reason to believe that it was not going to be carried out in any acceptable form.
§ Colonel YATE
If the right hon. Gentleman looks into it, I think he will find it was not the announcement of 20th August, but probably the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman himself that was referred to. That is a very different thing. They may be against the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, but still in favour of the pronouncement of August, 1917. I trust there has been some mistake.
§ Colonel YATE
To leave these controversial subjects and come to other matters, I think if the system of training Indian officers for the Indian Army is to be a success you must catch them young. You must train them as boys at school in special classes and then let them go for special training to the Imperial Cadet Corps and serve a time there, and then go on to Sandhurst or whatever college is appointed in India. It is no use taking haphazard a lot of men of mature age and sending them to college. I trust the present system of training these men at Indora will be thoroughly inquired into before it is proceeded with any further. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give consideration, too, to the necessity of providing civil employment for the officers and soldiers of 701 the Indian Army. That is just as important there as it is here. Various attempts have been made to carry this out, but they have had no success that I know of. There are the railways, and many other Government appointments, and, considering what Indian soldiers have done during this War, the Government should keep all appointments in India for men who have served, and not give them to civilians, as has been done in the past. Another point I hope he will take into consideration is bettering the system of regimental schools. The extra duty pay of a regimental schoolmaster is Rs.7–9s. 4d.—a month. Can that attract the best class of man it is possible to get?
I hope the same system that we have in England of localising regiments will be pursued in India as it is here. We have our county regiments, and we give them a county name and a county regimental depot. That is far more important in India than it is in England. Men love to be near their homes and families. Indian regiments have three battalions each, and one should always be quartered at the regimental depot in the place where the men are enlisted and recruited. I hope this will be carried out, and that a strong local connection will be maintained with all the regiments of the Indian Army. We also heard to-day some objections to the increase of the pay of the police. Some of the lower grades of the Indian police get 8 rupees—12s.—a month. Their pay is simply preposterous. I would urge that that should really be taken in hand and these men put on a proper footing. This is objected to by many Indians, yet no matter how highly educated a man may be, unless he has got a really good police to give security of life and property he cannot reap the advantages derived from his education. There is one other matter I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take in hand, and that is the formation of an Indian navy. We have the Royal Indian Marine, whose officers rank above the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, but when war broke out the officers were not considered qualified to command, and the "Hardinge," for instance, had to fight on the Suez Canal under the command of officers from ships of the Royal Navy. I hope that will not be continued. The right hon. Gentleman has taken up the position of equality with the Dominions, and I want, to see India have its own Navy, the same as Australia and New Zealand. We know 702 what disturbances were caused by the appearance of one vessel, the "Emden," in the Bay of Bengal. I hope the result of Lord Jellicoe's visit to India will be that this question will be given due consideration, and that India may have her own Navy just as she has her own Army.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
The right hon. Gentleman informed us that in his initial period at the India Office he served under Lord Morley. I think we shall all agree that he has equalled, if ho has not surpassed, Lord Morley in breadth of vision regarding Indian affairs. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Yate) said he was of opinion that the right hon. Gentleman's speeches during the past two years had been too idealistic, but he forgot that it was the right hon. Gentleman who set up the Commissions of which so much is hoped. Before I deal with the general situation I wish to make a reference to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks regarding the war against Afghanistan. I feel sure that Sir Arthur Barrett, to whom too little tribute has hitherto been paid for the very great work he aid in the initial stages of the Mesopotamian campaign, will carry out all that there is to do in connection with the present campaign skilfully and with all due speed. There is one matter in this connection to which I wish to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention. The present War has produced many inventions and many new methods of warfare, and amongst them has been that of the aeroplane. I think it is a matter of great gratification that none of the frontier tribes on either side of the Kyber have joined with the Afghans in the last raid. But that does not mean that at one time or another in the future a frontier campaign may not take place. I used to have some knowledge of frontier warfare in India, and I know that in the past, assuming that the campaign was successfully conducted on our side, in order to punish the tribes or any section of the tribes who had taken part, it was the custom to send out punitive expeditions. The only method at hand for punishing the tribes was to burn and destroy their villages. That may have been a very good or it may have been a very bad method, but I wish to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that in the development of the aeroplane it may be thought by the commander on the spot that a much simpler method of carrying out a punitive expedition would be by bombing aeroplanes. When a punitive 703 expedition went out in the past, it was able to clear out of the villages the women and children. The men usually escaped up the hillside, but in many cases the women and children remained. It was possible to clear them out before the village was destroyed. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should make quite clear that in any future punitive operations great care should be exercised when villages are to be bombed, because women and children may be left inside the houses. I do not know whether that has occurred to the right hon. Gentleman. Perhaps it has occurred to the commander on the spot. In the new methods of warfare that is a possibility to be guarded against, and I suggest that, from the humanitarian point of view, the right hon. Gentleman might consider it.
The right hon. Gentleman travelled widely, as have other hon. Gentlemen, in the Debate over the causes of unrest in India, and indicated some of the reasons of the unrest. He referred amongst other things to the economic causes of unrest, and he hit upon the failure of agriculture, the epidemic of influenza, and recruiting, He also dealt sketchily with the fiscal system in India, and referred in somewhat vague and ambiguous terms to the fiscal liberty of India. That is a very important matter, particularly in view of the departure of the Government into Protectionist realms, as evidenced in the Finance Bill which has just passed through this House; and I should have liked to have had some further explanation of what he meant exactly when he referred to fiscal liberty for India. The most important part of his speech dealt with the fears on the part of the Mahomedans and the reforms for which the right hon. Gentleman and the Viceroy of India have been in the main responsible. I was very glad to hear that the Secretary of State has obtained Cabinet consent to the introduction of a Reform Bill in the early days of June. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has noticed that in this evening's Debate he has been urged from every quarter, and from quarters from which one might least have expected it, to take a bold line, and not to delay in introducing and carrying through these reforms, and, indeed, far from whittling them down, to enlarge them in certain respects. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take note of that and I hope the association to which reference 704 has been made by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks and the hon. Member for Nottingham will also take note of that fact. There was a short difference of opinion, if that is not putting it too high, between my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Yate) and the Secretary of State regarding the activities of the Indo-British Association. As I understand the case it is this, that certain hopes were held out to the population of India by the announcement of August, 1917, and further by what is commonly called the Montagu-Chelmsford Report, and that even if the activities of the association have not actually been directed to an attempt to whittle down the main provisions of that Report, that has been the impression left upon the minds of many people in the Indian Empire. I hope that this association and others acting with them, great Pro-consuls of Empire though some of them he, will take note that in this House to-night there has been a distinct expression of opinion from every quarter that these reforms, far from being whittled down, should be enlarged, and that every possible opportunity should be given to Indian aspirations. The hon. Member for Sevenoaks. (Mr. Bennett), in his very able and eloquent speech, referred to moderate opinion in India. In effect he said, "Let us be very careful, lest at this moment we lose the support of moderate opinion." I re-echo very warmly his sentiments in that respect. We are indeed at the parting of the ways. We must carry with us, so far as we can, moderate opinion, not the opinion to which the Rowlatt Act is destined to apply. That opinion it is impossible to carry with us. So far as we can we must carry with us all other opinion in India. I look upon the pronouncement of 20th August, 1917, as a beginning of a new era in Indian political reform, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, when he introduces his Bill at the beginning of next month, will gain strength from what he has heard in every quarter of this House to-night, and will be prepared to push these reforms with all the power at his command.
§ Mr. A. SHAW
I am quite sure that the general tone of the Debate this evening must have been profoundly gratifying to the Secretary of State for India, and I think also exceedingly cheering to that large body of moderate opinion in India upon whose steadying influence, as the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken said so much depends for the future of our 705 great Dominion. I desire to intervene only for a few minutes upon a topic which, though of a different character, is hardly less important for the material prosperity of India. I am not sure if all Members of this House are aware that there exists in India the most magnificent system of natural waterways in the world. It is sad to think that that great natural system of waterways is also the worst administered system of waterways in the world. When we compare the comparatively poor waterways of, say, Germany with the magnificent waterways of India, we are struck with the fact that what nature with lavish expenditure has bestowed upon India has been largely rendered nugatory by inaction and inefficiency, by lack of imagination and perspective. Whereas the much lesser resources of Germany, and other European countries, have been rendered serviceable to the use of man by the application of scientific principles, it is sad to think how the great resources of India are hampered and hindered by the present inefficient system. If hon. Members interested in this topic would look over the list of engineers in charge of waterways during the last thirty or forty years in India, they would find that there has been a change in the centre of administration about once every year, and that just as a man is learning his job, just as he is settling down to prove an efficient conservator of the waterways of India, he is changed to something else.
Along with that there has, of course, been lack of funds, resulting in a much larger expenditure at a later date. A sort of thing that happens is, that accumulations in the rivers, which could be easily cleared, choke them up, and presently you have shoals, with large areas of arable country covered with water for miles, with sometimes villages submerged. This question has been agitated in, India for many years past, and there is no one more alive to it for the time being than those into whose hands the control of waterways, so far as it exists, has passed. The leaders of commerce, in fact, all classes engaged in commerce in that country, have for years pressed for the creation of a Waterways Trust under Government control, but with the advice and assistance of persons both of Indian and British nationality interested in these matters—a trust that would control under the Government the conservation of these great natural waterways which would pre- 706 vent the choking up of these channels of great rivers to the detriment of all classes. While much has been said by the Government, and many reports have been issued, nothing whatever has been done by the Government, and if the right hon. Gentleman inquires into the matter he will find how very valuable a feeder and auxiliary for the railways during the period of war were these great natural waterways which are now a sort of Cinderella of the Indian administration.
A very great authority on the matter is now Secretary to the Government of Bengal, and what he does not know about Indian waterways is very little. If that gentleman had been placed in control of Indian waterways, instead of being moved perhaps to a higher post, I am sure that great things might be done, but I do think that His Majesty's Government at home, which under the present system is really responsible for the future of India, should give more attention to problems connected with the development of India's resources, upon which so much depends for the future happiness of all classes in the Indian community. The details of these schemes should be studied by the Secretary of State. There is a great scheme just now, fortunately nearing fruition, for the formation of a Grand Trunk Canal, which will lessen by several days the journey from Calcutta to Assam by water. I trust that when that Grand Trunk Canal is actually approved, the jurisdiction over it will be handed over ab initio to an Indian Waterways Trust with advisory commercial elements on it which shall control all the waterways of India, so that we shall be saved from that overlapping and that lack of continuity of administration which have been the curse of this question in the past. If the right hon. Gentleman would take up this matter, and devote time to it, and use that large imagination which he has already brought to such great use on this question, it would lead to vastly improved communications in India. To have the finest natural waterway system in the world, administered in the best possible manner, is a really practical thing. It is urgently required, and it would be for all time a great monument to the efficiency of his administration.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
There is one particular thing which I hope the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench (Mr. Fisher) will bring to the notice of the Secretary of State for India. I wish. 707 particularly to associate myself with the remarks about Constantinople and our Moslem subjects which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Melton (Colonel Yate) dwelt on. We are the greatest Moslem power. The Moslem world has been disturbed by the fall of the Turkish Empire. They will not accept an Arab Khalifate. There is one independent Moslem power remaining, and that is Afghanistan. At present we are involved in an expedition on the border between India and Afghanistan. Of course, this has been forced upon us by dynastic changes in Afghanistan, and undoubtedly an attack has been made on the frontier. But I do hope there will not be any temptation to think that we must clear up Afghanistan by sending a large force there. We may be tempted by the fact that we have aircraft and tanks, and armoured cars to go into Afghanistan and conquer the province. If we do that I believe it will have a most disastrous effect on our whole Empire, and on India in particular. We must pursue a most moderate military policy there. The whole of the East is in a ferment, and if we embark on what may be a little war we may find ourselves embroiled in considerable trouble throughout the Moslem world.
I should like to say a few words about the industrial conditions in India. I hope the legislation we will undertake will be in the direction of a minimum wage in India. We must, of course, make a small beginning. The industrial conditions which we have laid out in the Report referred to by an hon. Member this afternoon are so appalling that only drastic steps will be able to do anything. I will just refer to one or two figures. The miners in India at some mines work nine hours a day; at others twelve hours a day. The Factory Act permits a twelve-hours day in the mines. For this the average daily wage is 7½ annas, or 7½d. about on the present exchange. On the railways, of which 50 per cent. are State-owned, and the remainder State-controlled, the wages vary according to the grade of worker, but they range from 10 rupees a month (about 10s. 10d.) for service men, to 20 rupees a month for porters. These wages are appalling, and they exist after 150 years of British rule. I really think that Factory Acts and industrial legislation on the lines indicated are urgently required. They are necessary for the protection of our own working people. The world is 708 getting smaller, the means of communication are getting better, and the undercutting of our home market or of our China market by cheaply produced Indian goods is a real danger to the workpeople of this country. The fact has been dwelt on that the low wages paid are a great cause of industrial unrest. What better field is there for Bolshevism? No wonder the Russians attempted to send Bolshevik agents into India—I do not know whether they got there—people living in appalling conditions where they cannot even afford furniture for their houses, and simply scrape a living at the rate of a few pence a day. It is reported that the Labour legislation in Paris left out India at our request. I know that we cannot apply to India exactly the same Labour legislation as we have for the League of Nations, but, at any rate, we might make a start with certain reservations. India is part of the Empire and should have been brought into the Paris International Convention. I submit that it is necessary to take into consideration the facts I have mentioned in dealing with the position in India.
§ Captain ORMSBY-GORE
i wish to join with those Members of the House who have congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State on his speech this afternoon. It is perfectly clear that on the important topic for which he is responsible, namely, the maintenance of law and order in India, he is quite firm, while at the same time he realises with that policy you must have a wide, far-reaching policy of constitutional and political reforms in India. I am one of those who on this side of the House hope that the Montagu-Chelmsford Report scheme will become the law of this Parliament and India at the earliest possible moment. It would be improper for me to go too much into detail, as I am a member of Lord Crewe's Committee, but what I do wish to say in this connection is this: that I am sorry that the Secretary of State has decided to submit the Bill which he is to introduce in a fortnight's time to a Joint Select Committee of both Houses. I would far rather he would take it through this House first in the ordinary course of Parliamentary business than refer it to a Joint Committee of both Houses. I think he is making a profound mistake, and that we should show that a Committee of this House is behind this reform, and not be mixed up with another House in this matter I would further say this in regard to the Select Committee: I think that is 709 an error, because it will take a great deal of time taking evidence. Practically all the evidence that can be taken in this country has been taken by the Committee of which I have been a member. We have explored the ground most thoroughly. There is no witness, Indian or Englishman, whether he be a member of the Council of India, or a past Secretary of State in this country has been taken by the Committee thoroughly in all aspects of the reform scheme which could be considered and advised upon by witnesses in England. It is a mere duplication of work already done to refer it to a Select Committee. I would urge at this eleventh hour that that decision should be reconsidered and that we go straight forward and get those proposals on to the Statute Book at the earliest possible moment. I agree absoutely with the Minute of a late hon. Member of this House, who now holds the distinguished position of Governor of Bombay, in which he has signally distinguished himself. He is one of my oldest friends. Sir George Lloyd, to whom I refer, in the Minute he wrote in connection with the South-borough Report, said that it is better to pass an inverted scheme quickly and with good will than to leave any longer the doubts and delays which are growing up in regard to the passing of this scheme. I do think it is a matter of urgency that we should at the earliest possible moment get this instalment of reform on to the Statute Book. But I rise more particularly to touch upon one or two points in connection with this important Debate on the Indian Budget. This is probably the last time the House of Commons will discuss the affairs of India on a Motion of this kind. I am pleased to think that in the future we shall have more Indian Debates in this House because the salary of the Secretary of State will be on the Consolidated Fund and we can raise questions on it on more than one occasion. This is our only opportunity. I want hon. Members to realise that even if the reform scheme goes through and goes through rapidly, really the control and ultimate direction of policy in India remain with the Secretary of State, with the Minister who is responsible to this House. In addition to political reform, it is vital that any political reform shall be accompanied by two really big efforts in policy in India in the coming few years, namely, a real reform of the educational system of India and a real effort to de- 710 velop the revenue resources of India, and you can only develop the revenue resources by increasing the productive capacity. Education can play a largo part in that. An hon. Member who spoke for the first time in this House, and who has had unrivalled opportunities as a member of Sir Thomas Holland's most admirable Commission, has dealt with some of the industrial questions. The resources of India are only beginning to be developed. Hitherto, by a fiscal system imposed from this country, suited to us, but not suited to or welcomed by India, we have refrained, both in our fiscal system and in the prejudice on the part of the Government of India, from spending the revenues of India in the development of native industries and technical education. We have left untapped and undeveloped resources of India which ought to be developed at the earliest possible moment. The line of thought I am following is that when you are enfranchising 5,000,000 electors in India, when you are embarking on a big. scheme of political reform in India, you want to give them a lead. You want to say to the Assemblies in the provinces and to the increased Indian representation in the Legislative Assembly at Delhi, "You have a great opportunity now to develop the material and moral prosperity of your country," and you want to give them a lead, and the two leads you want are to increase the industrial output, the great wealth of India, by the introduction of better industrial methods and at the same time to see that the University education, which is a magnificent shop window dressing arrangement at present, is properly supported by adequate, secondary and elementary teaching of a far larger section of the Indian people.
I want to refer particularly to the industrial question, and I would ask hon. Members not only to read the Report of Sir Thomas Holland's very important Committee on the resources of India and the enormous field there is for further development of Indian resources, but to read the finding of the Report of the Mesopotamia Commission, to read some of the documents issued in connection with the War. In India one-sixth of the population of the globe lives. In India you have got coal, you have got iron, you have got vast lands, you have got water power, you have got a tropical sun, you have got all the assets, and yet when the Mesopotamia Expedition was starting rails had 711 to be sent from this country, boats had to be sent from Egypt, and although India was contributing it was only in the last years of the War that the Munitions Board in India was really putting forward even a part of the strength of India in the production of minerals and other products. We have heard this afternoon that £24,000,000 of this Budget is for railway expansion in India. Practically all the railway plant ought to be, and could be, produced in India itself. I am perfectly certain that there is a large amount of stores bought on Government account and on private account in different countries of the world, aye, and in this country, that can be produced, and ought to be produced, in India itself, and the sooner we go in for a policy of encouraging the production of everything that we can in India, the richer India will be and the more capable it will be of assimilating and turning to good use the political rights and the political opportunities given it under the Reform Bill, and the more we shall get a contented, prosperous, progressive India. It is in the interest of the Empire that that should be done, and, when anyone says to me, "We ought to keep India a market for British goods," I say that India is equally a part of His Majesty's Dominions as this country, and we ought not to keep back India in the interests of any part of the British Empire. We ought to encourage the wealth and prosperity equally of all parts of His Majesty's Dominions. We are an Imperial Parliament, and we must in this matter think Imperially. There should be no further opportunity of India saying, "England has selfishly imposed upon us a fiscal, commercial and industrial system in her own interests which is not to the interest of Indian development and Indian prosperity."
One passing word on another subject. A good deal has been said this afternoon about Mahomedan unrest. There is a good deal of exaggeration in the statements made to-day about that. I am one of those who want to make a clear distinction between Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. Turkish administration of the Turkish vilayets of the Empire was pretty good. I agree with all those who say that they do not wish to see the Turkish population of Anatolia or of any part of Europe which has a Turkish population put under the control of any foreign Power, but I do 712 say that when history comes to be written impartially there is no greater record of crime, imbeciity and misgovernment than the Turkish Government of the non-Turkish provinces of the Ottoman Empire. When the Turks first came to Mesopotamia, in 1258, it was still what it had been since the days of Babylon, the granary of the world, the centre of civilisation, and the support of millions of people. And what did the Turks make of if! They made of it a wilderness and a desert. They destroyed the irrigation system of 100 generations, and they ruined the people and kept them down. They never learned their language, and they discouraged every form of Arab civilisation and culture, and they ruined the land of the Euphrates and the Tigris, and made it into a desert. Do not let us confound Islam with Turkey. Turkey and the Turkish people are only eight or nine millions out of Islam, which contains over 200 millions, and Turkey has not been in recent years a good friend to Islam. The very ground upon which the Shereff of Mecca, the descendant of the Prophet, raised his flag of revolt was that the Committee of Union and Progress had been sapping the very foundation of the Moslem religion. I say that if we are going to have peace in the Middle East it is not going to be secured in the long run by bolstering up the Turkish Dominion of subject peoples, but by giving a chance to Arab civilisation, which gave the Mahomedan religion to the world, and which gave of its best to the Islam world, its literature, science and art. Give them that chance again, for their civilisation, and their people, under a Moslem sovereign distinct from that of the Turkish conqueror who came from the plains of Northern Asia. I speak with feeling in this matter, having worked in connection with the Arab movement—a national movement if ever there was one. I do not want this House to be under the impression that there is not a vital distinction between the very right and proper sentiment of Turkey for the Turks. It is a just policy, just as Arabia for the Arabs is a just policy. It is quite right that we should have nothing to do with a question like the Caliphate. We should leave that for the Moslems themselves to settle. I do ask in the name of a people oppressed, and struggling to throw off the Turkish yoke 713 for the consideration of this House, and for the encouragement of the restoration of the Arab civilisation, the Arab autonomy, and the Arab freedom from the Turk, who has oppressed all subject peoples for over 400 years.
§ Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.