HC Deb 02 August 1922 vol 157 cc1495-525
Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. HOARE

I desire to draw attention to certain very urgent questions connected with the present position and the prospects in the Indian Civil Service. I think the time has not yet come to debate the wider question, which, some time or other, will have to be debated, as to the events which have taken place since the passage of the Government of India Bill, but the time has come for considering the position which has arisen, as the result of the Act that we passed a year and a half ago, in the Indian Civil Service. At the very outset, let me make my position quite clear. I approach this problem with no sort of desire to question or criticise the policy of Parliament as expressed in the Government of India Act. I believe that policy was a right one, and nothing that I wish to say in connection with the Indian Civil Service is in any way intended to question that policy or to suggest that we were wrong in setting up the political councils and assemblies which were then set. up. Indeed, I go so far as to say that I raise this question expressly for the purpose of helping to make the Government of India Act a success, for I am certain that one of the most important factors for success in the policy embodied in the Government of India Act is an efficient and contented Indian Civil Service. I am quite sure that the changes which are sure to take place in the near future will depend not. a little for their success upon the loyal co-operation of a contented and an efficient Civil Service, which will year after year be able to attract to it a sufficient body of good recruits. What is the present position, as far as I understand it., in the Civil Service? I do not pretend to speak as an expert, but I have had some opportunity of discussing this question with men who are well qualified to speak upon it and they have convinced me that at the present moment there is very grave anxiety and discontent in the ranks of the Civil Service. That that is so is shown by the fact that at the recent examinations fewer Europeans are presenting themselves. The House will see that that is a very serious fact. After all, if good recruits do not continue to present themselves in sufficient numbers year after year the Indian Civil Service cannot possibly maintain its efficiency. As far as I can see, the Civil Service is to-day suffering from two separate kinds of grievance. In the first place there is the general grievance that comes from a feeling of insecurity, and in the second place there are a number of specific concrete grievances.

4.0 P.M.

First, let me say a word or two about the general feeling of insecurity that at present is sapping at the efficiency of the service. Time after time the members of the Service have been assured that, whatever might be the policy of Parliament, individually they should not suffer. Assurances were given in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report and in this House, when the Government of India Act was passing. Assurances have been given time after time by the two last Secretaries of State and assurances have up to a point been embodied in the Government of India. Act itself. I need not quote the Sections from that Act, but if hon. Members wish to refer to them they should refer particularly to Section 96, where they will find it stated that individually the members of the Service will not suffer in their rights. I maintain that in spite of those assurances a great many members of the Civil Service in India genuinely believe that their pay is no longer as secure as it was before, that their pensions are not so certain and that it is doubtful, as constitutional developments lake place in India, whether the appointments that they now hold will be continued, and if they be discontinued whether they will obtain just compensation for having their careers brought to an end. Those suspicions have been increased by one or two definite things which have happened—for instance the conditions that the Government offer for premature retirement I do not think those conditions are sufficiently generous, but what perhaps is more important than that from the point of view of the civilian, is that they have seen many debates raised and many questions asked in the new councils and assemblies suggesting that a great many of the members of those new assemblies consider that the Civil Service is no longer wanted at all in India and that the civilians had better pack up and go home. Rightly or wrongly, a great many of these excellent public servants do genuinely believe that their present position is insecure and that their future is doubtful. I should like to ask the Prime Minister, if he is to take part in this Debate, to make a, clear statement that in spirit and in letter the Government abides by the pledges that the individual Indian civil servant should not suffer from the constitutional changes which have taken place. Let me say a word or two about certain specific financial grievances from which the Service is suffering at the present time. I admit that certain of these grievances are not directly the result of the Government of India Act, but are the result of a number of other things that have happened since 1914. The Islington Report upon the Indian Public Services admitted that before the War the real pay of the Service had, during the last 20 years, actually diminished, and here I use the words of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report— In the case of certain services, the need for improving the terms of the service is specially strong. The Islington Commission made certain recommendations, which, after a long delay, were to some extent carried out. They amount to an average rise of 8 per cent. in the salaries and pay of the service. Since then two very serious things have happened. In the first place, the rupee has fallen from 2s. to 1s. 3d., and, secondly, the cost of living in India has risen from anything between 60 and 90 per cent. Therefore, even with the rise of 8 per cent. under the Islington recommendations, the Indian civilian is very much worse off to-day than he was when those recommendations were carried into effect. There is this further detail to be remembered. When the civilian wishes to go home on leave, he finds that the cost of his passage has doubled and trebled. To give a concrete example, while in 1914 he could get a passage comparatively cheaply, he now has to pay £130 for a second-class return passage for himself, and £260 for second-class return passages for himself and his wife. That would be bad enough in itself, but the case is made much harder when he looks round and sees what has been happening in other public services during these two or three years. His own pay has been raised 8 per cent. as the result of the Islington Commission, but he looks to Whitehall and sees that the pay of the British civil servant has been raised a great deal more. Let me give an instance or two, so that the House may see at once what I mean. While the Indian civilian's pay has been raised only by 8 per cent., the pay in the Navy has risen since 1914 by 90 per cent. in the case of officers, and 153 per cent. in the case of men; in the Army it has risen about the same; and in the Civil Service it varies from a rise of 61 per cent. in the case of the higher divisions to 142 per cent. in the case of the lower divisions. If you go outside the Civil Service, you have rises of no less than 169 per cent. in the case of teachers in public schools, and 160 per cent. in the case of the police. Those facts are sufficient to show that the Indian civilian has a very real grievance. There is this further fact. If one takes as a basis of comparison two of the other foreign services, the Diplomatic and Consular Service, and the Colonial Service, he will see that in the case of the Diplomatic and Consular Service considerable extra allowances have been made to the officials where the exchange is against them, and where the cost of living is specially high, and that the Colonial official has his passage paid when he comes home on leave.

I think I have said enough to show the House that, from the point of view of pay, the Indian civilian is in a very bad way compared with the other public services. How can this grievance be remedied? I admit frankly that there are several very real difficulties, and, as I wish to put the case from both sides, I would like the House to look at those difficulties. There is the difficulty of finance, which is felt everywhere at the present moment, and particularly in India. There have been large deficits recently in the Indian Budget. There have been large increases in taxation. I am told that in 1921 additional taxation was imposed to the amount of 12 millions and in 1922 to the amount of 13 millions. Moreover, at this very moment there is actually a kind of Geddes Committee on its way to India with the express object of cutting down administrative expenses. I admit that difficulty, and I admit certain other difficulties which have been put to me by representative Indians with whom I have discussed this question. They come to me and they use this kind of argument They say: "This is a transitional moment, and the fact that there is discontent in the service, and difficulty in getting new recruits may be a temporary difficulty, and things may gradually right themselves. We admit there have been attacks upon the Indian Civil Service in the new assemblies and councils, but have there not been equally bitter attacks in the British House of Commons upon your own Civil Service? You say that it is difficult to get Englishmen to enter the Service in the present condition. If that be so—and we admit that during the last year very few Englishmen have presented themselves for examination—how do you account for the fact that, between 1913 and 1921, while 222 Indians presented themselves for examination, no less than 1,777 Europeans did so? Those are points which in fairness have to be taken into account when this House is considering what action ought to be taken. I admit their strength and it is because I admit their strength that I am very anxious that this House should not dictate as to what India should or should not do.

I am very anxious, if possible, that the Government, in any improvements that it may make in the conditions of the Civil Service, should carry with it the big body of moderate Indian opinion. I do not at all want to suggest. that by taking drastic action here we wish to dictate to India, nor, on the other hand, do we wish to transfer the burden from the shoulders of the Indian taxpayer to the shoulders of the British taxpayer, and it is on that account that I should like, if possible, that this question should be amicably settled with Indian co-operation. After all, the Indian Civil Service exists not for the benefit of a few Englishmen, but for the good of the whole of India. It already consists of a number of Indians. They have just as much at stake in any improvement that is made as the Englishmen. If the grievances that I have put before the House were put practically and fairly to moderate Indian public opinion you would have it behind you in the improvements that, I think, ought to be made.

I do not pretend to speak as an expert upon Indian questions. This is the first time I have ever ventured to trouble the House with a speech upon any Indian question. I am, therefore, very diffident in making any definite suggestion, but I would suggest to the Prime Minister that if I have made out my case that the Indian Civil Service is suffering from certain definite grievances that must be remedied, that if I have made out my case, that it is wise that the Government should have behind it the support of Indian moderate public opinion, then the best course for the Government to take would be to institute some special short inquiry into the case that I have tried to make. I do not mean by that a long inquiry carried out by some large Commission spreading over many years, but a special inquiry, however that inquiry may be constituted, whether it be by the Secretary of State, whether it be by my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State, or by a. small Committee, and, if possible, with the co-operation of an Indian member or an Indian assessor. Having taken the trouble to find out the opinion both of the Civil Service itself and of Indians of moderate views whom I have had the privilege of consulting, I say to the Prime Minister that, in my view, in that way we shall be able to remove these definite grievances to which I have alluded, and we shall be able to bring back some measure of security and contentment to the Service itself, and, perhaps more important than either of these two results, we shall be able to get the required number of geed recruits for maintaining the position of an efficient Service.


My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) has dealt with a very limited section of the British Service in India. He has dealt with the financial side of the Indian Civil Service, but there is something wider than that. There is not only the Indian Civil Service, but the whole of the British Service in India to be considered—the Public Works Service, the Medical Service, the Police Service, the Education Service, and the Agricultural Service, upon all of which the security and the maintenance and the confidence of our position in India entirely depend. It is not only the financial position and the question of financial difficulties in regard to leave and boats mentioned by my hon. Friend, but there is a very real difficulty in the attacks that are being made upon the British Service of all grades and ranks, not merely the Indian Civil Service, but those employed in the Education Department and in the police, by Indian extremists, and, I am sorry to say, by members of the moderate section of Indian opinion as well.

With regard to our position in India, whatever view one may take as to the development of Home Rule for India, I am sure, judging from the speech which the Prime Minister made on India when he addressed the House a few months ago, that we do not intend that the painter should be in any way cut between this country and India. We intend to proceed with the great and magnificent work which we have undertaken in that country, and to develop it more and more, and until the day comes when the Indians are ready and able to take over complete Home Rule we shall provide India with a Government and with a service of Englishmen, to the advantage of India—a service of which India may well continue to be proud. The real difficulty is that the Indianisation of the Services is proceeding at such a pace that although we may frankly and openly say we intend to maintain our position in India, to all intents and purposes, if the Indianisation goes on to the extent which many Indian politicians desire, namely, to 100 per cent., we may just as well say we are no longer going to be responsible for India, if we are no longer going to have our own British servants in India to help us to maintain that position.

The Indianisation has been going on during the last few years with extraordinary rapidity. Under an arrangement which has been made, it is proposed that in the Indian Civil Service there shall be a 48 per cent. Indianisation. That is to say, one half of the Indian Civil Service will be Indian, and only one half British. At the present rate of progress that will be completed within nine years. Within nine years from today, though we shall be just as responsible for India as we are to-day, there will be 50 per cent. of the whole of the Indian Civil Service Indian, and only 50 per cent. British. Take the Indian Education Service. To-day it is over 37 per cent. Indianised, and the full 50 per cent of Indianisation in the Education Service will be completed long before the nine years which is required for the Indianisation of the Civil Service; in fact, it will be completed within a very few years. Take the Indian Service of Engineers, a very important service. There the Indians have already 38 per cent. of the posts, and the full 50 per cent. will be carried out before the expiration of the nine years required for the Indianisation of the Civil Service.

The Indianisation of the Agriculture Service is going on a little more slowly. There, the Indianisation is only 25 per cent. to-day, but the Indianisation of the Service is going along as fast as qualified Indian agriculturists can be found to take the places of the English agriculturists. There is one other Service, perhaps the most important of all, and that is the Indian Medical Service. The figures are very startling to those who think that India is still being governed by British officials. Since 1915, that is, in the last seven years, there have been 124 appointments to the Indian Medical Service, and 101 of these appointments have been of Indians, and only 73 of Europeans. The Indianisation of the Indian Medical Service is proceeding so rapidly that in many parts of India it is impossible for an English official or an English commercial man in the up-country districts to obtain the services of what we may call, without being offensive, a white doctor. The Indian Medical Service is really the key service of the whole of our services in India. If we are to continue to send out our young men to the Indian Civil Service, to the Education Service, the Police, and other Services in India, we cannot expect them to settle clown there for a period of years with their wives, and with the possibilities of families, unless we, if I might use the term, put the clock back in regard to the Indianisation of the Indian Medical Service.




I do not want to enter into a controversial question, but my hon. and gallant Friend must know that just as an Indian prefers an Indian doctor, so a European prefers a European doctor.


The Indian, if he be rich has an English doctor.


I do not want to labour the point. The thing is so obvious to anyone who has any connection with India or any relation serving there. It is clear that an Englishman does really wish, from quite proper motives, to have the services, if he can get them, of an English doctor. What is happening not merely in the Medical Service, but in regard to the other services, is that you are not now getting a supply of young Englishmen to take the positions. Sir William Vincent, than whom there is no greater authority in the whole of India—he is a member of the Indian Cabinet, and the Home Minister—speaking this spring in the Legislative Council, in the presence of numbers of his Indian colleagues, gave some very startling figures. I have quoted the figures before, and I am going to quote them again. They are so important that I want the Prime Minister to realise what is going on. I cannot give a greater authority than Sir William Vincent— In the last examination for the Indian Civil Service there were 86 candidates. Of these only 26 were Europeans. There were 16 appointments, and only three were Europeans, one of whom has since retired. You cannot keep up for the benefit of India, not for the benefit of Great Britain, the high standard of our English service unless you remedy the position disclosed there. I am about to make a statement which has not been given by me before. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is aware of the fact that conferences have been held quite recently in Oxford in regard to this very difficult position of getting young Englishmen at Oxford, Cambridge and the other great educational centres to volunteer to go in for the Indian examination. I will not tell the House what was the result of the Conference in detail, but I can say this, that the result was such as to give the greatest anxiety to those people who wish to see a continuous supply of the best blood of young Englishmen going out to serve their country in India.

The second question I want to put to the Prime Minister is something more than the mere question of money. It is the question of the position which the British servant occupies in India, and the attacks which are being made upon them. Again I am not stating anything which is not well known in India. It has been stated in India over and over again. I can give no greater authority than by quoting a statement made by Sir William Vincent in the Legislative Chamber at Simla this year. He said: It is an undoubted fact that the social amenities of every-day life have been reduced. There is an atmosphere of hostility in which our officers have now to work. At this point some of the Indian members cried "No!" Sir William Vincent went on: Who has the audacity to say 'No' to that in this Assembly? I challenge any member to deny that every district officer in present conditions is performing most arduous and difficult duties under almost intolerable conditions by reason of this hostility. That is a definite statement by the Home Secretary of India, that all our young men who are going out to India have to perform their grave and difficult duties under almost intolerable conditions by reason of this hostility. Sir William Vincent went further, for at the end of the speech, speaking in the presence of the Indian members of the Legislative Council, he said: Speaking for myself. I think we are incurring a very grave responsibility indeed if we bring out a large number of young Englishmen to this country whose future is uncertain, unless it is clear that their services will be required, and it is for this reason particularly that I welcome this Debate. That statement was made in the Legislative Council in India this year. We could not have a higher authority. The position has 'been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea, and I speak with some knowledge. I do not profess any great knowledge myself, but I have a very large correspondence which comes in day by day and week by week whenever the Indian mail arrives, containing complaints from members of the Indian Civil Service, and from members of the other services, as to the hostility with which they are treated, not merely by the extremists but by other classes, as a result of the agitation of the extremists.


Who is creating bad blood now?


No, forgive me. It is no good hiding sores. These things have been said openly in the Legislative Council. I will give one instance of what is happening, which came before my notice last week. A gentleman came to see me whose family I know well. He had come back from India. He was a member of one of the other services and not of the Indian Civil Service. There was a riot, and he was wounded badly. Several of the rioters were arrested and prosecuted. They were supplied with the very best legal talent for their defence, and they were convicted. Then they appealed. This young Englishman went to the Deputy-Commissioner of the district saying, "I have conducted the case by myself, but now that it is going to a higher court may I have the assistance of the Public Prosecutor in order that the case may be conducted by a lawyer, as the defendants will have lawyers?" The answer by the Deputy-Commissioner, who was an Indian, was "Certainly not. I am not going to certify for legal assistance for you. Do it yourself." It was not until this young man made a personal appeal to the headquarters of the district that he got legal assistance provided for him as against the legal help the defendants had. The appeal was heard and dismissed, and the men are now serving their terms of imprisonment. That is a pin-prick if you like, but it is the kind of thing that is going on all over India to-day, one of the pin-pricks to the young Englishmen who are doing their best to carry out their arduous and grave duties.

It is the moderate view in India—not the extreme view—that we are going to permit the complete Indianisation of these Services. It is the moderate view that the Englishmen in all these and all posts was gradually and quickly as possible got rid of. Resolutions have been moved in the Legislative Council in India, though they have not yet been carried, showing that trend of opinion, and calling upon the Government to appoint a Committee every year to see that the process of Indianisation is proceeded with as rapidly as possible, and calling on the Government to appoint a certain proportion of Judges, Chief Justices, and Governors of Provinces, who shall be Indians, and asking that, until the proportion is reached, no Englishmen shall be appointed. Only I do not want to detain the House, I could read out resolu- tion after resolution of that kind which has been placed before the Chief Legislative Council in Simla anti the Provincial Councils. Lastly, may I call attention, as evidence of the real anxiety on the part of the men in the provinces in India, to the fact that during the last few years they have been compelled to form associations of defence in nearly every province? The Central Provinces have one which is well known. One is being formed at the present time for the United Provinces for the protection of these men from injustice and hardship. Do you think that groups of Englishmen serving their country in India would be likely to go to the trouble of banding themselves together into associations to protect themselves from hardship and injustice if there were no cause?

Captain O'GRADY

By what method?


By perfectly honourable methods, the same kind of methods, if you like, as those by which trade unionists in this country band themselves together to protect themselves from hardship. I only mention this as an illustration to show that, in the minds of these men, there is such definite evidence of hardship and injustice from which they are suffering that they deem it necessary to form associations for their own protection. I ask the Prime Minister, realising the full responsibility which he has as Prime Minister of this country for the maintenance of our rule in India, to deal with this matter in his statement to-day, not merely from the financial point of view, but to say some words of sympathy and good-fellowship to those Englishmen who are carrying out these very important, onerous, and difficult duties, in very trying circumstances. They are looking to the British Parliament, and, above all, to the Prime Minister, at this moment to cheer and comfort them in their difficulties, and I ask him to make a statement to-day, if he can, with regard to the position of the Government in reference to India, and especially to say a word of kindness and cheer for these men.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)

I am speaking early as I understand that by arrangement this Debate is to come to an end at an early hour, in order to enable hon. Gentlemen opposite to raise questions in which they are specially interested, and I will do my best to enable that pledge to be redeemed. I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) for bringing this important matter to the attention of the House of Commons. I have heard a great deal about this, more especially in the course of the last few months. No doubt there is a great deal of uneasiness among our British civil servants and British officials in India with regard to the future, and there is no doubt, as my hon. Friend states, that they feel that their position is precarious, and they are very uneasy with regard to their pay and their pension and position generally. There is an apprehension that the great constitutional changes which have been introduced in the course of the last few months will affect their position prejudicially, and they want re-assurances—and possibly they need re-assurances—with respect to all these questions. They are discharging a very great trust on behalf of the people of this country and on behalf of the people of India. Without their loyalty and capacity and their indomitable and continuous courage and patience, India could not possibly be saved from falling into the position of anarchy from which this country rescued her a century and more ago.

It is quite natural that the great constitutional changes which took place should provoke some uneasiness in the minds of those who worked the old system. That is the effect of every great change in an establishment. Those who have been running an establishment along well-known lines are naturally unhappy with regard to the effect that changes may have upon their own prospects and conditions. Therefore we must not be surprised to find that that is the state of mind of the British officials in India. I should like to say one or two words with regard to the working of those changes before I come to the specific point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend because they have a bearing upon the problem which he suggested for our consideration. Those changes were in the nature of an experiment, and they must be treated as an experiment, a great and important experiment, but still an experiment. Difficulties have arisen and weaknesses have been exposed in the working of this new system, but that was inevitable. On the whole I think that it may be said, taking into account the fact that the experiment has been in operation only for a year and a half, that there has been a very considerable measure of success in spite of drawbacks which have manifested themselves.

India has never been governed on these principles before. The native states are not governed on these principles now, and it remains to be seen whether a system of this kind, adapted to Western needs, perfected by centuries of experiment, and marked at many stages, in fact at every stage, with repeated failures, a system which the West has perfected for its own conditions and its own temperament, is suitable for India. That remains to be seen and that we must watch carefully, but we must also watch it patiently. We must not be in a hurry to jump to the conclusion, because there have been difficulties and drawbacks, mistakes and failures, that the experiment has been a complete failure in itself. That would be unfair to India, just as it would be unfair to another part of the world which is much nearer to us if we suddenly came to the conclusion, because there are difficulties and troubles there, that the very gifted race on which we have conferred self-government were quite unequal to the task. We must not have precipitate judgment on these experiments. On the other hand I hope that the Indian leaders will not force a precipitate judgment upon us by their action. It is a case in which a great deal of patience is required on both sides.

Up to the present all we can say is that, in spite of the drawbacks, there has been a very satisfactory measure of success. On the other hand it is important that we should realise that the most serious and testing time has probably not yet been reached. Before the last election, and until recently, there was a very considerable non-co-operative movement. Very powerful elements in India refused to associate themselves with this experiment at all, and the elections were held without the assistance of that advanced section, and the Parliament or Legislature chosen did not represent those elements. There have been very able and distinguished Indians who have done their best to make the experiment a complete success but others who have been steadily opposed to it. I think that in another year or 18 months there will be another election. The non-co-operative movement at the present time is in a state of collapse. What part it will take in that next election we cannot tell.

What influence the non-co-operators and men of that kind will exert upon those elections I cannot predict. A good deal will depend upon the kind of representatives chosen at the next election, whether they will be men of moderate temper, such as those who constitute the present legislature, men who are honestly and earnestly doing their best to make this new constitutional experiment a success, or whether they will be there as men who are simply using all the powers of the machine in order to attain some purpose which is detrimental to British rule and subversive of the whole system upon which India has been governed up to now. That is why I say that the most serious and the most trying time, the time which will constitute the real test of the success of this effort, is yet to come. I think it is right that we should say that, if there is a change of that kind in the character of the legislature, in the purpose of those who are chosen, in the design of the responsible and chosen leaders of the Indian people, that would constitute a serious situation, and we should take it into account.

One thing we must make clear—that Britain will in no circumstances relinquish her responsibility for India. That is a cardinal principle, not merely of the present Government, but I feel confident that it will be a cardinal principle with any Government that could command the confidence of the people of this country. It is important that that should be known, not so much in this country, for there is no doubt about it here, but in India, where for many reasons there seems to be doubt disseminated, sometimes fortuitously, sometimes quite unintentionally, sometimes from facts which seem for the moment to justify conclusions of that kind. It is right that, not merely here but in India, it should be thoroughly understood that that is a fundamental principle which will guide every party that ever has any hope of commanding the confidence of the people of this country. We stand by our responsibilities; we will take whatever steps are necessary to discharge or to en- force them. We owe this, not only to the people of this country, though they have made great sacrifices for India, but we owe it to the people of India as a whole. We had no right to go there unless we meant to carry our trust right through.

There is a great variety of races and creeds in India, probably a greater variety than in the whole of Europe. There are innumerable divisive forces there, and if Britain withdrew her strong hand nothing would ensue except division, strift, conflict, and anarchy. India would become a prey either to strong adventurers or to a strong invader. That had been the history of India up to the very hour that we took India in hand. There has always been a historical play between these two alternatives. What has happened before would ensue again if Britain withdrew her might and strength from the guidance of that great Empire. In fact, if we were to do so, it would be one of the greatest betrayals in the history of any country.

We have a duty, not merely to the vast territories in India, where we exercise supreme control, but we also owe a duty to the great Princes of India and to the Indian States which are the feudatories of His Majesty the King-Emperor. They constitute about one-third of India. We owe an undoubted duty to them. They have been loyal to the Throne and to the Empire under conditions where loyalty was tried in every fibre and where loyalty was vital to the existence of the Empire. There has been nothing more glorious in the whole story of the Empire than the rallying of these Princes and these peoples to the British Empire at a moment when we needed all the strength which we could command, either in our own territories at home or throughout the vast domain of the British Empire. Therefore we owe a great duty to them. We also have a duty to the backward parts of India, which are dependent on the direction and guidance and vision which British statesmanship can command for the purpose of the development of good government in that great country.

We have invited the co-operation of the people of India in the discharge of this trust. We have invited them in increasing numbers and perhaps in increasing proportion. I think that that was inevitable. It was a natural development. We have invited them on the Bench; we have invited them in the Army; we have invited them in the Civil Service; and we have invited them to assist in the Government of India under their own people now in the Legislature. That was an inevitable evolution. But I want to make it clear, if it is not already clear, that that is not in order to lead up to a final relinquishment of our trust, but with a view to bringing them into a partnership in the discharge of that trust within the British Empire. To discharge that great trust it is essential that we should have, not merely the aid of Indian civil servants, Indian soldiers, Indian judges, and Indian legislators, but it is vital that we should have the continued asistance of British officials. There are not so very many of them. I marvelled when I looked up the statistics. There are only 1,200, governing 315,000,000 people, with all sorts of physical difficulties of climate and special difficulties for men brought up in temperate climates like ours.


Does that include all British officials?


That is the total simply for the Civil Service. It does not include the Police and the Medical Service. The figures are: 1,200 British civil servants; 700 British police officers; and 000 British medical officers. That is a total of 2,500, governing that gigantic Empire, with its hundreds of millions of population, governing quietly and without fuss, doing it effectively and doing it for generations. There is hardly anything that is comparable with it in the history of the world, certainly not since the great days of the Roman Empire. Here is something for us to be proud of. I do not believe there is a country in the world that can produce such a triumph of government. As I said once in this, House, there are men governing huge territories there whose name is hardly known. Even when they retire, and you meet them, they are introduced to you as members of the Indian Civil Service, and you have never heard of them, although they have been governing, perhaps, tens of millions of people for a very long period, their every word a command, every sentence a decree, accepted by these people, accepted willingly, with trust in their judgment and confidence in their justice and their fairness, which ought to be the pride of our race.

I have often talked to Americans about this. They are full of wonder at the achievement of ordinary and insignificant —in the sense of not being known—civil servants in different parts of the world, alone or almost without companionship, governing great territories. They always regard it as a miracle of the British gift for government. These civil servants are entitled to every word of support; they are entitled to every deed of support that. this Imperial Parliament can give, and if they need it, it is the business of statesmen to give it, speaking not only on their own behalf, but speaking an behalf of the whole of their countrymen, to stand behind them, to support them, to see that justice is done to them, and that fair play is done to them. If they have a. grievance, we must pledge ourselves—not merely this Government, but any other Government that comes here—to see that fair treatment, which is their right, is dispensed to them. They ought to know that that is the attitude of the British Parliament towards them.

I am one of those who believe in getting the co-operation of India in the government of the country. I believe it strengthens the Empire. It strengthens the hold which the Empire has upon them. It would be a mistake to make India regard the Empire a something which is outside. It is a strength to the Empire to make them feel that they are part of it, that they are in it, part of the structure, and that when they are challenged, and when the Empire is challenged, they are not, fighting for something which is in London, but for seine thing which is in Calcutta or Bombay, or wherever they happen to be. That is what made our strength in the last War in the Dominions and in the Colonies. Therefore, I approach this question from the point of view of one who believes in getting Indians to assist us in discharging the very great trust and obligation which we have inherited and which I hope we shall transmit to our descendants in generations to come.

5.0 P.M.

From that, point of view, I should like to say this: The success of our efforts in securing the attachment of Indians to the Service, the recruitment of Indians to the Service, and the embodiment of Indians in the Service will depend, not, upon the quality of the speeches delivered in the Legislature by Indians—although I do not despise that contribution in the least, because that is what a Parliament means—it means a place for speaking—but rather by their efficiency in the discharge of their ordinary, humdrum tasks as members of the Civil and other Services. I think it is important that Indians themselves should get that well into their minds. They see speeches reported in the papers, and they see a great deal of importance attached to those speeches, and they say, "This is the art of government." Well, it is part of the art of democratic government, and the people who try to govern without it have generally failed. In the War, as I ventured to say some time ago, the countries which were most efficient on that side were also most efficient in the conduct of the War. It is a great part of the art of government; it is the beginning; but the other is vital, and unless they supplement it by showing that they are able to do their work as civil servants, then the experiment of inviting them to co-operate with us will he a failure. What I want specially to say is this, that whatever their success, whether as Parliamentarians or as administrators, I can see no period when they can dispense with the guidance and the assistance of this small nucleus of the British Civil Service, of British officials in India—this 1,200 in a population of 315,000,000. They only number 1,200. They are the steel frame of the whole structure. I do not care what you build on to it—if you take that steel frame out, the fabric will collapse. It is therefore essential that they should be there, but not for their own sake. What does it matter finding 1,200 positions for a population of 40,000,000? Finding jobs for 1,200 really is too trivial. I see comments, and unworthy comments, about our finding avenues, jobs, careers for our young men. There is not one of this 1,200 that could not easily find a much better job in this country—a much better paying one. The difficulty is to get men to go there. It is not a difficulty of finding places to put them into. Therefore, I am not talking from that point of view. I am not taking it from that point of view as I said to my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir Henry Craik) when I had a conversation with him a few moments ago, and I am entirely in agreement with him. It is from the point of view of India I am talking. It is a question not of the value to us of finding outlets for intelligent young men, but of the value to India of getting men of this hind who are highly trained and full of spirit—and there must be some spirit in them to go there and undertake these tasks. These men are placed at India's disposal, and Indians ought to feel a deep sense of gratitude, and I have no doubt the vast majority of them do. It is no secret that they often feel far more confidence in these men than they do in men of their own flesh and blood.

Therefore it is essential that we should keep up this Service. There is no doubt at all that because of the sense of disturbance and disquietude which recent events have created in India, difficulty has been experienced in obtaining recruits for the Indian Civil Service. I do not think there is much in the difficulty as regards medical men, or at least it is a different kind of difficulty. The difficulty in regard to the medical men, a difficulty which is experienced even here—and you certainly cannot get them in the Colonies—is due to the War. When the War came, young men were drafted into the Army just at the time when they should have been undergoing their training, and the result is that there is a great gap which it will take some years to fill up, I am partly responsible in another way, because the Insurance Act has increased the demand for doctors, and what was supposed, on the part of the medical profession, to have been a great conspiracy, and was denounced as such, has turned out to he a real blessing and an encouragement to students to persevere in their studies. At any rate, there is a shortage here, there is a shortage in the Colonies, and, naturally, there is a shortage in India as well. But when you come to the British Civil Service and the Police in India the difficulty there is in a different category. That is undoubtedly due to the fear that there is going to be a change to their detriment, and a change which will prejudicially affect their status. There are sentences like that. quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), and I say at once I am rather sorry that statement was made.

It is a sentence which taken away from its context and read by parents would have the effect of discouraging them from sending their children to the Indian Civil Service. I think it is discouraging that this sentence should be uttered at a moment when great difficulty is being experienced in getting recruits. I hope when it is thoroughly realised that there is no idea of winding up the British Civil Service; that we consider it not merely as an integral part of the system but as essential to the very life of the system, and that in that spirit we will consider everything that affects conditions in the Service—I hope it will be an encouragement for young men once more to turn their attention to this very great career which, not merely will redound to their own glory, but undoubtedly to the glory of their fatherland, and make its name great throughout the nations—because that is the record of the Indian Civil Service.

All these questions we are considering very carefully; the questions which have been put by my two hon. Friend's, the question of pay, for instance. No doubt they have been hit very hard by the sudden increase in the cost of living attributable to the War. There has been a reduction, and that reduction is still a progressive one. There is also the question of the passages to Europe which, as a whole, have been during the last few years inflated. I think in the course of a year or two or three there must be a reduction upon these very high charges on people who have only got their pay to draw upon to keep themselves and their families. It will come about, but I will promise to go into that matter, and, as a matter of fact, my Noble Friends the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary, are both considering that matter very carefully. It is right they should do so, because it is essential that young men should not be discouraged from entering the Service.

There is no doubt at all that the setting up of a legislature has forced us to consider a good many other questions in reference to Indian Government. I marvel when I consider the kind of work which is done, not merely by Indian civil servants, but by the Indian Council.

They are practically the Cabinet Ministers of India, with enormous responsibilities of every kind. They have no Under-Secretaries and their numbers are very few. The number of British members is only four and they have no Private Secretaries.


Is there no Cabinet Secretariat?


That is exactly the sort of Government my hon. Friend would like. That shows how little he knows about If he had the advantage of having a discussion with one of the members of the Council, he would realise what a need there was of a Cabinet Secretariat. It is absolutely impossible for them to discharge the duties they have now got in addition to the task which they had before—the duties of Ministers conducting their business in a Parliament. They have to answer questions and to take part in the discussions. The Indian representatives are showing considerable activity, following the example of members in other parts of the Empire, and giving as much trouble as they can, which is quite right. That precedent is being followed in India, with the result that it is quite impossible for the very few Ministers that are there, who are practically Cabinet Ministers, to discharge their functions without some assistance. Now that is one of the questions which we have to consider. The difficulties in India are increasing. They are bound to increase, with the spread of education, with the greater knowledge in India of what is going on outside, with the influence which comes from great movements from every other part of the world surging on the frontiers of India and sending a thrill of disquietude throughout the whole of that country. That has come, and, to a certain extent, it will continue to come. We must not be discouraged by it and say that it means disaffection in India, that it means insurrection in India, that it means that India is getting tired of British rule. The world is tired of every rule. If hon. Members will read the newspapers, they will find that this is the only Coalition that has lasted six years.

Lieut - Commander KENWORTHY

What about Lenin?


No, he has not lasted as long, and. I am not sure that he has lasted, but my hon. and gallant Friend knows more about him than I do. You have got it in Italy and France and everywhere else, and that simply means the sort of unrest there is throughout the world, but you must not get discouraged. It does mean, however, undoubtedly, a considerable accession of responsibility and 01 work to those who are discharging the functions of 'government in every land, and in the main we must, as far as India is concerned, depend, not upon what happens in this Parliament, where we can get discussions only once, twice, or three times a year upon India. We cannot keep a continuous eye upon what happens in India, and that is right. You cannot do it. It depends upon the kind of Government that you have there. It is essential that that should be strengthened, but whatever you do in the way of strengthening it, there is one institution we will not interfere with, there is one institution we will not cripple, there is one institution we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges, and that is that institution which built up the British Raj—the British Civil Service in India. We have undertaken the responsibility for India. We have undertaken to guide India. We have undertaken to establish and maintain law and good government throughout its vast domains. We have undertaken to defend its frontiers and to protect its peoples against internal foes and external foes. The British Empire means at all costs to continue to discharge that sacred trust and to fulfil that high destiny.


I wonder what evil genius inspired the Prime Minister with the necessity to make this speech to-day. There is no doubt that this is a new declaration as regards India, a declaration which he will find it difficult indeed to square with the declaration of August, 1917. He has said—and I did not take very much objection to it—that we will never relinquish our responsibility for India. He is quite right. Neither States nor individuals can ever relinquish their responsibility for what they say or do, but what did he mean? Did he mean a change of policy? Is it his view still that our duty as regards India is to see that country safe on the lines of Dominion Home Rule? Does he wish to see that country self-governing, even as Canada or Australia are self-governing? That was the declaration of 1917. Not immediately, but as soon as it could safely be done, that was to be the goal. Is that relinquishing our responsibility or not? What is the use of framing a formula such as that? The people, of India reading this speech to-morrow will want to know what the right hon. Gentleman means. Perorations are all very well, but in this last peroration of his he said—and I think it is in the memory of all the House—that there was one institution which should never be deprived either of its powers or its functions, and that was the Indian Civil Service. Is that the doctrine of the Government, or is ultimately self-government the doctrine of the Government? How are you going to combine the two? On which horse are you riding? He said that no Government that ever follows his Government will ever dare to relinquish our responsibility for India. No, we shall not, but our responsibility for India seems to be rather different from his.

Our responsibility for India consists in assisting the formation of democratic self-government in India. All our dealings with India will be to bring that day about when India can safely be given democratic Home Rule, and I am afraid that under Home Rule, even as Australia is under Home Rule, you cannot possibly aver that the present Civil Service in India, who have done their work excellently—I will not be behind anyone else in this House in giving my tribute to the civil servants in India—but how is it possible for that Civil Service, when once there is Dominion Home Rule in India, to he able to carry on without a change of functions and without a change of powers? It is notorious that one of the difficulties that the Civil Service have to face at the present time is that already, under the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, under diarchy itself, their powers and their functions are no longer what they were, and their difficulty is that whereas before those reforms they were the masters of India, now insensibly they are-bound to be becoming the servants of the new Governments, the new Parliaments, the new Councils of India, and when the Assembly has complete self-government, then it is inevitable that the whole status of the Civil Service in India must change, and the civil servants in that country will be, even as the civil servants in this country, the servants of the Government and not the masters of the country. That is a change which is inevitable as self-government progresses, and the British officials in India—the best of them—realise that they are doing their finest service to their Mother Country when they assist forward the process of their own extinction. They know quite well —the best of them—that the best service they can render is to make the transition easy and not difficult, a transition which must inevitably dethrone them from their power.

Besides obscuring, at any rate, if he did not eclipse, the famous declaration of August, 1917, the right hon. Gentleman went on—I do not know why—to offer threats of withdrawal of the diarchy reforms. He pointed out to the House that it was an experiment. It was an experiment, an experiment from which there can be no possible going back under any circumstances. He pointed out to the House the danger that he saw—and that every person interested in Indian questions has seen all along—the danger that non-co-operation might cease and that the non-co-operators might go on to the Councils. I hope they will go on to the Councils. To my mind, there has been no more lamentable blunder made by the Indian people than the refusal, under the leadership of Gandhi, to go on to the Councils. We want them on the Councils. I wanted them there all along, and now we are told, almost with regret, that non-co-operation has collapsed and that the Indians show signs—


With regret?


Almost with regret.


indicated dissent.


I am very glad it was not. We are told that non-cooperation has collapsed and that at the next election, taking place in 1924, the non-co-operators will, as I hope they will, go on to the councils and on to the assembly, and we are told that it will be a sign of failure if, when these non-cooperators go on to the councils, they conduct themselves in an obstructive manner and do not co-operate with the Government, as, indeed, the various parties in the Coalition party co-operate with the Government, here. That is entirely contrary to our ideas, on this side, of what is wanted. We want them to go on to the councils and the assembly, not, to form part of the Government, but to form part of the Opposition to the Government, until they can become the Government themselves. That is the ordinary constitutional development. That is what is wanted. It may involve obstruction, it may involve voting against supplies. It is only in that way that they will finally acquire the wisdom to carry on successfully democratic constitutional government, and to say, as I read the Prime Minister's speech to-day, that if the non-co-operators go on to the councils and there conduct a campaign of opposition to the Government- at present in power in that country, they will be regarded as bringing the reforms to nought, as a failure which is to justify us in withdrawing the whole of the diarchy, seems to me to be a most unfortunate threat, and a threat which, as a matter of fact, it is quite impossible to carry out.

I hope we are not going to have, now that the right hon. Member for Cambridge County (Mr. Montagu) is no longer conducting the India Office, a change from a perfectly steadfast, settled policy to a policy of alternate threats and concessions. That, indeed, would be fatal in India, as it has been in Ireland. The only chance is to see that your goal is clear, that the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for India have definitely in view the same goal, namely, Dominion Home Role, although that Dominion Home Rule will unseat, from their power at any rate, the present Civil Service. I can only regret that this Debate should have been inaugurated at all. I conceive that the Civil Service in India could have been cheered, could have been helped, in their very difficult path without having a declaration which affects the, whole of the constitutional development of India, but I regret it the more, because I believe it is speeches such as that, and speeches such as that delivered by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), that are really making the conditions for the Civil Service in India far more difficult than they otherwise would be.

That sort of speech is repeated in every one of the vernacular papers in India—repeated not because they want to advertise the wisdom of the hon. Member, but because they want to pillory another English member as a hater of the Indian people. That is the subtle poisoning that is being used by the extremists in India. I have proved in India itself that I am no friend of the extremists, and if the hon. Member knew as much of the Indian Press as I do, or read as much of it as I do, he would realise that there is no one the Indians hate so much as people who, like myself, try to bridge the gulf between Indians and Englishmen.

There is another point to which I wish to draw attention. The whole keynote of the first two speeches was that it was essential to have a contented Civil Service. I think it is, but I could wish that the Mother of Parliaments, when discussing the Indian question, would give as much attention to having a contented India as to having a contented Civil Service. In this Debate, and in the last Debate we had in this House on India, every single speech, except my own and that of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Spoor), was a speech dealing solely with the Civil Service in India. That is not worthy of this House of Commons. It is not worthy of a real House of Commons. After all, the Civil Service exists for the country, and not the country for the Civil Service, and I am afraid that by our last Debate, anal by this, we shall give the impression to India that the interest of Englishmen now, so far as India is concerned, is solely wrapped up in the status and position of their own fellow-countrymen in India. That would be a great mistake. It may be that in this House we show a very narrow partisan feeling on this question, but in England as a whole, and particularly in the ranks of the Labour movement, our interest in India is a far wider one. We do earnestly desire to see India take its proper place in the world, and work out its own destiny as a self-governing nation.


With every desire, quite natural to me, to follow out the precept of the Prime Minister, that is, to oppose the Government, I am quite unable to take the same tragic view of his speech as my hon. and gallant Friend who has just sat down. I hope that his speech will not. give people in India the impression which would be, I think, a most harmful impression, that the Prime Minister of this country, speaking with great responsibility in the House of Commons, threatened the people of India. That would be a most mischievous impression to get abroad, because, after all, however much we may differ from the Prime Minister, he is the chief officer of the Crown, and occupies a position of very great responsibility. The view I took of his speech—I may be wrong, but I cannot be accused of over-partiality to my right hon. Friend—was this, that civil servants in India were discharging their duties in a time of transition, of exceptional difficulty and of trial. I will not say the whole of India, but India as a whole, is seething with internal difficulties, as is almost every other nation of the world. It is no special feature of India. It is a characteristic of this country at the present moment, and there is being carried on in India a most remarkable experiment —one of the most remarkable experiments in government ever attempted—in a country containing as much diversity, as the Prime Minister has said, of race, of creed and of language as Europe itself. What I feel is this—and it applies to every speaker, no matter to what party he belongs—that we should exercise very great care and responsibility, in such a time as this, as to criticisms which we may make, and the advice which we may give.

I regret very much the tone, and some of the things which my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) said. I think they were very far from helpful, and they did lend colour to what my hon. and gallant Friend said, that the basis of the Debate to-day was not so much the well-being of India, as the well-being of the Civil Service in India. I do not think he intended to do so, but I regretted the way in which he put it. Of course, I accept fully the aphorism of my hon. and gallant Friend that India does not exist for the sake of the Civil Service, but the Civil Service exists for the sake of India. That is the whole basis of our position, laid down in the classic words in the time of Queen Victoria, and re- peated in words which are entitled to rank with them in 1917, and I say again, that I did not read the note of threat, or the shaking of the fist in what the Prime Minister said. He might have had a little touch of the steel in it—I do not know. As I say, I did not gather it. It seemed to me to be an effort to let the Civil Service know that, in this exceptional time of trial and difficulty, we, their countrymen here, realising their trust and our trust, are sympathetic towards them. We are desirous of remedying their grievances, and enabling them in every possible way to discharge their duty to those for whom they hold their trust. I hope, on those grounds, that the request made by my hon. and gallant Friend will be granted.

Is there not a case for some inquiry? I confess I do not know sufficient about it to press it as strongly as I might, but, from what I have heard to-day, it does look to me that it might be a very wise thing to grant an inquiry into these grievances, and let men who are discharging these very difficult duties have an outlet and a vent. I do not mind how the inquiry is conducted, so long as there is a fair and an impartial inquiry, with Indians themselves on it, since it affects them as well as others. I do not intend to delay the House, but I thought it my duty, as far as I can discharge it on this side of the House, to say, that while we sympathise with the Indian Civil Service, and fully realise the responsibilities we have, we are determined to see that full trust is given to that great experiment, and that, no matter what the difficulties are, it shall not be withdrawn, but encouraged. That is the only way. You cannot stop the progress of India; it is impossible. It is a world movement to a different, and, I hope, a better, state of things, and if we are sympathetic, if we are full of understanding, and if we are wise, judicious and restrained in our language, I am quite certain the day will come—it may be distant, but that day may yet come in our time—when in this vast Dominion, with all our faults—and they are very great—with which we have discharged a duty to the admiration of impartial onlookers, that great country, with all its diversities of race, creed and tongue, will perform an even better and nobler part in the great circle of self-governing Dominions within the great Commonwealth which we call the British Empire.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Earl Winterton)

I recognise, of course, the understanding that has been come to between Members opposite and you, Mr. Speaker, and I will only intervene for a few moments. I regret, though I make no complaint, that I cannot take the time necessary to make a longer answer than is possible in the circumstances to some of the points in the speech of the hon. and gallant, Member opposite. As it: is. I can only refer to one accusation against ray right hon. Friend which has already, I think, been answered by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and to which, speaking on behalf of the Government, I can give a most complete denial. Everyone in the House, except the hon. and gallant Member, will agree that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister merely pointed out the difficulties and dangers of what is admittedly—it is no new fact—a great experiment. It was never suggested at the time the 1919 Act was passed, and it was never suggested at the time of the Declaration in 1917, that the scheme then put forward was not an experiment, or not in the nature of an experiment, and ray right hon. Friend has pointed out that, while there is much for which we can take hope in the situation, there are also dangers and difficulties which we have by no means passed, and, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, circumstances may be even more difficult in the year 1924.

To read into that statement a threat to India and Indian opinion is really to make a most mischievous accusation which may have very serious effects in India, and to which I, representing my Noble Friend the Secretary of State, and speaking on behalf of the Government, give the most complete and unqualified denial. It is quite obvious that the hon. and gallant Member looks at this question from an entirely different point: of view, certainly, from anyone who sits On this side, and, I believe, from many who sit on the other side. My right hon. Friend has appealed, as others who have stood at this box have appealed, for the fullest co-operation between the many diverse races in India and the British race in carrying out the destinies of India. What is the view of the hon. and gallant Gentleman? His actual words were that "there is no nobler task the British Civil Service can perform in India than to assist forward their own extinction." It is quite obvious the hon. and gallant Gentleman, so far from believing in this policy of co-operation between the British race and the races of India, is in favour of the annihilation of. British influence in that country.


I am in favour of Indian Home Rule; are you?


The hon. and gallant Gentleman is in favour of the annihilation of the British influence. The lines upon which the Government have, always proceeded in this matter are entirely different. We have appealed for co-operation and we have, to a great extent received that co-operation. Our efforts in that direction are not helped by the, sort of speech made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman this afternoon. In fact, so far from advancing the matter, which I should have thought all men of good will had the desire to do, it has tended to put it back. Such appeals to the emotions as are made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman will, in my opinion, do nothing to achieve what is, after all, a question of practical statesmanship for India itself. We have given the tools of statesmanship to India, and it is now for India to use them. She has the tools of practical statesmanship by which she may work out to a degree unknown before the passage of the Act her own destiny on her own lines. Those tools are stamped with the mark of British good will towards India, no mean guarantee for the worth of any article. It is open now for India to use them; to show her capacity in using them and her good will in using them. That is the task which India has before her. That is the task which His Majesty's Government and the Secretary of State will assist in the fullest degree, and I submit again the work will not be assisted by speeches such as was made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme.