HC Deb 10 December 1920 vol 135 cc2717-22
The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)

I beg to move, That the Draft Rules under Section 1 of the Government of India Act, 1919, which were presented on the 11th day of August be approved, subject, however, to the following modifications, namely: Page 3, Rule 1 (2), at end, insert 'and for different provisions of these Rules.' Page 7, Rule 15 (1), line 5, leave out from 'jurisdiction' to the end of the sub-rule, and insert 'The share so allocated shall be three pies on each rupee brought under assessment under the said Act in respect of which the Income Tax assessed has been collected.' Page 7, Rule 15 (2), line 6, leave out from 'equivalent' to the end of the sub-rule, and insert 'Of the amount which would have accrued to the local government in the year 1920–21 (after deducting the provincial share of the cost of special Income Tax establishments in that year) had the pie-rate fixed under sub-rule (1) been applied in that year, due allowance being made for any abnormal delays in the collection of the tax.' Page 9, Rule 20, after 'contributions,' insert 'and assignments.' Page 11, Rule 27 (2), at end, insert,— (3) The local government of a Governor's province shall have power to sanction any expenditure on transferred subjects which relates to the heads enumerated in Section 72D (3) of the Act, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State in Council or of the Governor-General in Council, if such approval is required by any rule for the time being in force. Page 16, Rule 41, leave out from the beginning of the rule down to 'without,' and insert 'No allowance and no special or personal pay shall be sanctioned for any post or class of post or for any Government servant.' Page 21, Schedule I., Part I., entry 44, at end, insert '45. The Public Service Commission,' and re-number entries 45 and 46 as 46 and 47. Page 27, Schedule I., Part II., entry 47, leave out "other public services within the province,' and insert 'public services within the province, other than all-India services.' I want to ask the assent of the House to these sets of Rules under the Government of India Act, and I hope the House will agree that this stage is purely formal. The Rules have been before the House, either in draft or in their completed form as they left the Joint Committee of the two Houses, for the last two months, and I am glad to see that no Amendments have appeared on the Paper. They carry out, I believe, entirely the intentions of Parliament in passing the Act of last year, and the intention in adopting this procedure, which was indicated in the Statute, was in order that the. House might satisfy itself that the Rules were in conformity with the Act and carried out the Clauses, which were after all only a skeleton of the whole scheme incorporated in that Act. There is nothing new in them. They have been drawn up by the Government of India and the local governments, examined in the India Office, submitted to the scrutiny of the Joint Committee of both Houses, and reported with a view mainly to these Amendments. The Amendments which appear under my name on the Paper are not of any substance. They passed through another place last week, and unless some hon. Member wishes an explanation of any one in detail, I will content myself at this stage by saying that though technical, they are of no importance, and mainly drafting Amendments.

Colonel YATE

As the right hon. Gentleman rightly says, no Amendments have been moved to these Rules, and I think it would be impossible for us to move Amendments or to make any alterations in them whatsoever. These Rules have been drawn up by the authorities in India, by the men who presumably are best fitted to make these Rules, and I would say the only men who really are qualified to draw them up. To attempt, therefore, to criticise them at the present moment would be a great mistake. No Member of the other House criticised them in any way, and I do not think we can do it either in this House. There is one thing, however, that I was particularly glad to see, and that was the action taken in the other House, when Lord Selborne called attention to what he called the persistent stream of calumnies and lies directed against British rule in that country and against the acts and policy of the Government of India. He also called the attention of the Government of India to the dire consequences that might ensue, and the tremendous responsibility that would rest upon them, if they failed to take the necessary steps to counteract those calumnies and lies. I would like to support what Lord Selborne said upon that point most entirely. To my mind, as far as I can judge, the Government of India has delayed far too long in putting a stop to these things. In the Indian papers I see this campaign is called "a campaign of calumny and vilification," and that campaign, I am sorry to say, seems to be general throughout India at the present time. We have had no opportunity of discussing any Indian question in this House, and what I would like to ask is a statement as to whether the leaders of these men, who are carrying on this campaign and making these appeals in India to race hatred and religious fanaticism, are the very same men who came over here last year to support the Secretary of State in the Reform Bill for India?


They are not.

Colonel YATE

I am very glad to hear it. We know that last year a dozen men from the National Congress came over to give evidence before the Select Committee, and probably another dozen members of various societies like the Home Rule League, and it appeared to me, from what I could gather from the papers, that some of these very men are the leaders of the present agitation in India. However, whoever are the leaders of that agitation now going on in India, I think the Indian papers very rightly point out that the policy of do-nothing pursued by the Government of India is being mistaken in India for timidity and weakness, and this policy may lead very soon to a fresh outbreak of popular disorder, and, as the India papers say, the quelling of such an outbreak may have most disastrous consequenes. I honestly confess I look at the papers every morning with dread that I may hear of a fresh outbreak. We have seen already how a kindly and much respected district officer in India has been brutally assassinated—hacked to pieces with swords in his own bungalow—through religious fanatacism, influenced by the agitators now in India, and that sort of thing once started in India, nobody knows where it will end. These very agitators now causing this trouble in India, we must not forget, are the very same men so far as I know—

Captain BROWN

On a point of Order. Might I ask what this has got to do with the present Bill before the House?


This is not a Bill. It is a proposal to ratify certain Draft Rules, and I suppose the hon. and gallant Gentleman thinks that the Rules should not be ratified. Whether that would prevent the agitation or not, I do not know. I do not know enough about India to say. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will explain the connection.

Colonel YATE

No, Sir; I think the Rules ought to be accepted. None of us can attempt to criticise these Rules, or move their rejection, but I was trying to follow the argument used in the other House by Lord Selborne and others.


There are no Rules of Order there.

Colonel YATE

And to call attention to the state of things in India, as this is the only opportunity we shall have of doing so.


Unless the hon. and gallant Gentleman can show some connection between the dangers he anticipates and the acceptance of these Rules, I do not think he is in order. We cannot discuss the general state of India.

Colonel YATE

I acknowledge your ruling. I am sorry I have not the opportunity of calling attention to what, I think, is a very dangerous state of things in India. However, there is one thing I think I may be permitted to say, and that is that when the Rules are passed, unless the guiding hand of Great Britain is kept up to its full strength in India and steps are taken to put a stop to this campaign of calumny and vituperation, India will be reduced to the chaos in which it was a hundred years ago. I can only say that the danger is great to-day and getting greater every day. I hope this policy of deserting our friends and favouring those who conduct agitations will now be finally stopped; otherwise I cannot say what the result will be.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add the words "and subject to these Rules being made applicable to Burma."

I can only hope that the prophecies of my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Yate) will not be in any way carried out. From all I hear from India I gather the constitutional party is making great headway, and I think a great deal of this is due to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood); for, whatever hon. Members think of his politics, he has done a great service for the Empire in this matter. I quite agree with what has been said to the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Yate) that we really cannot go into the details of all these Rules, but there are many people to consider that the present scheme of diarchy, with all its implications, would work well in Burma. I feel strongly on this point. I raised it last December when the Government of India Bill went through the House. The Burmese have conducted their agitation on strictly constitutional lines. There is no extremist party there, and no separatists party. There is a section which wishes to separate from the Government of India for local purposes, but there is no section of the Burmese who propose to cut adrift from the British Empire.

The right hon. Gentleman himself paid a high tribute to that, and also to the high literary attainments that the Burmese of the educated class have reached. It will be a bad thing if it goes forth to the Empire that only those who agitate and go in for murder and outrage should get things, whilst the people who stick to constitutional methods do not get anything. For that reason alone I think this Amendment deserves serious consideration. The Burmese have had their own king for many centuries. Local notables have great powers of self-government in the provinces of Burma. I have paid short visits to these countries, and I have met these people. Anyone who says that the Indians are fit for this measure of self-government must admit that the Burmese are equally fitted; in deed, many people say the Burmese are more fitted for self-government than the Indians. It may, of course, not be convenient immediately to apply these Rules to Burma, but a loop-hole was made in the Bill for creating Burma into a self-governing province. I gather that the bulk of the political classes in Burma are more in favour of a system of diarchy than their brethren in India. They recognise it has good points for Burma in a way the Indians do not. I do not want to press this point until I have heard what the right hon. Gentleman—

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,

The House was Adjourned at half after Seven of the Clock till Monday next (13th December).