HC Deb 02 July 1931 vol 254 cc1473-4

I desire, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to make a brief personal explanation, and to resolve a doubt which may have arisen owing to a question and an answer in the House yesterday. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) asked the Prime Minister whether the important declaration made by him last Friday on the financial position in India, was made upon the sole authority of His Majesty's Government, or whether it had been the subject of consultation with the leaders of the other parties. The Prime Minister said: I am afraid that I cannot charge my memory definitely at the moment as to what the operation was, but certainly it was communicated to the leaders of the parties. Whether they were consulted or not, J. am not very sure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st July, 1931 col. 1260, Vol. 254.] I desire to state that I was not consulted in any way whatever. I was asked on Thursday evening to put a question down on Friday. The question was asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) as I was unable to be in my place. In accordance with the usual courtesy, a draft of the answer which the Government proposed to give was sent to me just before the Adjournment of the House on Thursday night. My opinion on the draft answer was not asked, nor did I offer any opinion upon it. I ought to add that, in the circumstances, for which of course we are not responsible, I believe that the step taken by His Majesty's Government was proper and necessary. I cannot now discuss the reasons for its necessity or the inferences to be drawn from it and I must reserve my liberty to judge of the sufficiency of the "suitable conditions" which the Prime Minister said would attach to the giving of financial support.


Perhaps the House will allow me to add a few words as to the communications which passed with the representatives of the Liberal party in this matter. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) being away from London, on a political engagement in the North of England, the Secretary of State asked me to see him on Thursday afternoon. He then told me that the Government had decided to make a public announcement and read me its terms. He also informed me of the reasons for that announcement. No formal assent was sought for or desired by the right hon. Gentleman, and could not, of course, in any ease have been given, without consultation with my colleagues and without time for full consideration of the very large economic and political issues involved. No objection was raised to the publication which, I understood, had already been decided upon definitely by the Government.


I ought to say that the reason why I hesitated was that I did not wish to commit anyone to responsibilities which ought not to be put upon their shoulders. I did not take these actions myself. I only asked if the usual things had been done regarding the leaders of the other parties, and I was informed that they had been done. I am quite prepared to take what has been said as an accurate statement of what happened regarding both right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, and I am exceedingly obliged to them for their statements.