HC Deb 19 March 1923 vol 161 cc2053-4
2. Colonel Sir C. YATE

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he has now received from India the full statement for the release of the 107 so-called political prisoners by Sir William Marris, the newly-appointed Governor of the United Provinces; and if he can give the result of the discussion by the authorities in India on the question of the exercise on a general scale of the discretion vested by law in the local Governments?

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

May I ask you, Sir, whether the expression in the question, "so-called political prisoners," is not a reflection on the Government of India, and is it in order to be put so in a question?


I do not like assumptions of this kind put in questions, and I will give instructions, for their removal.


As the answer is rather lengthy, I will, with the permission of my hon. and gallant Friend, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The Secretary of State has now received a summary of the detailed explanation furnished by the local government to the Government of India, the gist of which is that the local government took the action in question, which was within their legal competence, in view of the greatly improved political situation and the general and widely expressed feeling on the subject in the Province. The Governor, in the speech of which the text has already been circulated, made it clear at the time that their action implied no abandonment of the intention to maintain law and order. The local government explain that they exercised the discretion vested in them without prior reference to the Government of India, in view of the change for the better in the political situation, and the fact that the Govern- ment of India had allowed considerable latitude to local governments in dealing with situations arising in their respective provinces in the light of conditions there prevailing.

The Government of India, in view of the fuller information available to them as to the extent and nature of the action taken, are satisfied that it was, in the circumstances, justified, and my Noble Friend the Secretary of State finds himself, after full investigation, in agreement with this conclusion. At the same time, my Noble Friend is discussing with the Government, of India whether some closer degree of co-ordination in this respect between the various administrations is not desirable.