HC Deb 04 May 1925 vol 183 cc556-7

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that notices are put in the carriages of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway stating that they are to carry 13 British soldiers, about 20 Indian soldiers, and about 43 passengers; and whether the Government proposes to take steps to remove this racial discrimination?


The numbers of British and Indian soldiers respectively which carriages on the Indian railways are to be regarded as capable of accommodating are prescribed in Army Instructions issued by the Government of India, which have to be observed by the different railway administrations. Allowance is made in them for lying down accommodation, whereas for ordinary passengers the carriage capacity is reckoned on seating accommodation only. My Noble Friend sees no reason for taking any action.


Why is it that space that is sufficient for 20 Indian soldiers is not considered sufficient for 13 British soldiers?


I should imagine that the reason would be very simple. It is that British soldiers serving in a climate and under conditions which are entirely unfamiliar to them require more accommodation than do persons born and bred in the country.


Is the Noble Lord aware of the acute discomfort suffered by British soldiers under these conditions, and cannot he see his way to reconsider both the number of British and Indian soldiers carried?


That is an altogether different point. If it is a fact—I do not admit that it is—that the accommodation is insufficient, it would require looking into, but there would have to be a difference made, as is the case to-day, between Indian and European soldiers.