HC Deb 31 July 1931 vol 255 cc2689-734

Question again proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."


When that most revered interruption occurred, I was about to quote, in support of what I had been saying about fundamental feuds, the words said to me by a prominent Trans-Indus Mohammedan, which have a bearing on the hopeless incompatibilities of the situation. This Chief said to me, "I am a monotheist; I believe in one God. It is repulsive to me to be handed over to be governed by people who are polytheists, people who believe in some 3,700,000 of gods, some of them horrible. I am a habitual beef-eater, living in a high and healthy district, and it is repulsive to me to be governed by a mass of people who, when I have descended to the plains, I find worshipping that stupid animal, the cow." That is fundamental. You cannot persuade a Mohammedan to look at the idea of being governed by polytheists with any pleasure. He regards Christianity as a faith sanctioned by Providence originally, but now superseded by the later faith of Mohammedanism, and be calls Christians and Jews "the People of the Book," who have not progressed to the third stage of divine revelation, the dispensation announced by Mohammed. It is possible for a conscientious Mohammedan to sit down to be governed by "the People of the Book," but impossible for him to believe that he ought to be governed by idol-worshipping polytheists. Does the House know that the sacred goddess of the Indian Congress is Kali, with her girdle of skulls and her scimitars dripping blood) to whom the Congress-wallahs sing their hymns, and for whom they express their veneration?

My next point is that we for the most part took India over from the old Mohammedan rulers, from the Nawabs of the Carnatic, of Bengal and Bahar, from the King of Oudh, and the Ameers of Sind. We inherited the shattered remains of whatever reverence the old Mogul dynasty possessed. We are responsible for the Moslems, that they shall not be handed over to be governed by those who never governed them before, whom they in their day governed. We now owe their submission to our rule to the fact that we are regarded by them as impartial rulers, who at least preserve them from being swamped by the heathen. Till the last few years the position in India was due to the strong hand of the British Government, which for more than 100 years kept such a peace in India as India never knew before between the Mussulman and the Hindu. The moment that that strong hand is relaxed, what will happen? Cawnpore is an example, where a local Hindu majority proceeded to exterminate what the official report calls hundreds, but what my local informant tells me was more like thousands of the unhappy minority. Here is a joyous fact to remember, that in Cawnpore at the time of that hideous massacre, when the Mussulmans were being exterminated, there was actually a British battalion stationed consisting of some 960 British rifles. Was that massacre stopped? No. Was one rioter shot by that British battalion? I believe not. And why? Here we get to the bottom of things, because, the shadow of General Dyer is before the eyes of every commander of a British unit in India. General Dyer put an end to the beginnings of a most dangerous insurrection by firing. General Dyer was censured, deprived of command, and put on half-pay for life. Every British officer in India has that before him, and he knows that if he shoots he is doomed. If he does not shoot he may have some chance of escape with a reprimand. There is a most unhappy general impression that at all costs repression by force must be avoided, as it will be fatal to an officer's career. Those who ought to know tell me that the idea that repression must be avoided has been inspired from above. The idea that all sorts of insurrections, riots and troubles must not get into the newspapers was, as I have been told, the inspiration from high quarters. I shall be glad to hear that this view, which reached me on good authority, has no foundation. But I am bound to say, looking at the actual facts, that even carefully worded denials cannot altogether be convincing.

The only peace that India has ever known is the peace that Great Britain gave her, by giving equal, just, impartial control to all the races and creeds which we were governing. If that is removed, when so-called self-government comes, I shudder to think what will happen. The right hon. Gentleman must know the popular Liberal slogan "good government is no substitute for self-government." I hand the epigram back as "self government is no substitute for good government." Let those who sweep away good government beware of their awful moral responsibility.


The hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) has devoted many years to scholarship, and I venture to hope that in the coming great transactions with regard to India, the country may have the advantage of his scholarship and such guidance as he can provide. I would venture to correct a mere question of fact in regard to something that he said. He suggested that Mr. Gandhi was a person who advised his followers to be non-violent, but that if they ceased to be non-violent he paid no attention to their actions and stood aside.


I say that he verbally reproved them very much when they burned native magistrates or massacred quantities of Mohammedans.


I think that the hon. Gentleman will find, when he reads his observations in the OFFICIAL REPORT, that his reference to Mr. Gandhi went further than that. I recall a circumstance which I want to bring to the mind of the House, that in 1920, when the non-violence campaign was started, Mr. Gandhi publicly told his followers that if they departed from that non-violence campaign he would go into retreat for a year as a penance, and, in fact, he did. Therefore, any suggestion that Mr. Gandhi is that sort of person who gives injunctions and acquiesces in their being disregarded, is a statement of error which is likely to do very serious damage at this time. I appreciate with the hon. Gentleman the difficulties under which Mr. Gandhi embarked on his campaign, and 10 years ago I ventured to say to him that while he and men of his capacity and attainments would be able to restrict themselves to non-violence, what would be the effect on the great hillsides and in the cities on the poor people who had not his feeling of restraint. It was then that he said to me, "If they do not abide by my word, I shall go into retreat as a penance." He repeated that subsequently in public, and he did go into retreat and abstained from activity for a whole year. In fact, subsequent incidents of a similar character have occurred. That is a minor matter, however.

There was a distinguished Member in this House who in our day and generation did more for India than anybody else. He was the late Secretary of State, Mr. Montagu. I remember him saying to me that India was the passion of his life and his public career exemplifies the truth of that. I have always been intensely interested in India, and I desire to remind the House that before we reassemble, that great conference in which the question of India is to be considered will also have reassembled, and it will be deplorable if any expressions were used here to-day which might have the effect in India or in this land of hindering those great transactions. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the unhappy differences in India which are only too true, but it must be remembered that these difficulties have from time to time been allayed. They were allayed and almost passed away several years ago. The improvement began in the friendship of those eminent Indians, the late Mr. Gokhale and the late Right Honourable Ameer Ali. In 1920 at Nagpur I attended two conferences, a Hindu conference and a Moslem conference, in the presence of a feeling which united all ranks and classes and creeds. There was a unity of purpose then, and it is possible for that unity of the two great communities to be attained again. The hope of the Government and of their suppor- ters, and indeed of the major part of the two Oppositions, is that that unity shall be achieved again.

How is it to be achieved? What is the task which is to be resumed before we reassemble? It is the task of applying to India the principles and policy which, as successfully applied to the various British Dominions, have contributed to the strength and unity of the great federation of nations which we represent. Is it conceivable that, having successfully-carried through these great tasks in the past, we are going to fail before the Indian task? I cannot believe it. I have been astounded when I have watched the part played by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) in this Indian transaction, and recall how nearly 30 years ago his first considerable piece of public business was to carry through, as Under-Secretary for the Colonies, the great Government of South Africa Bill, which was the very foundation of our present confederation of nations, and the result of which had a considerable bearing upon the success and unity achieved in the late dreadful years.

I am astounded when I reflect that the right hon. Member for Epping, who began his official career by undertaking that great task with enormous distinction—I invite hon. Members to read his speech at the time—should himself take a considerable part in a campaign which, as I understand it, is intended to reverse the process which he took such a part in initiating. That may be his will, but I hope it is not the will of this House, and I rejoice to think that in a few minutes my right hon. Friend who now fills with such distinction the post of Secretary of State will say the necessary word which will show that whatever the difficulties, whatever the doubts and hesitations of hon. Gentlemen opposite as to this great Indian business, the Government and its associates will go forward with this great task in the hope of bringing it to a successful conclusion. The deliberations will have proceeded a certain stage before we re-assemble. In undertaking that work they are going forward with the good will of the bulk of this House as representing, as we believe, the overwhelming vote of the people of this country. I cannot doubt that that task can be successfully pursued and achieved, but it can only be done, as those old tasks were accomplished, by going forward in the good old British spirit of fair play and willingness to see the point of view of the other fellow. Do hon. Gentlemen who recall, as I do, the dreadful days in the early years of this century, when we had to compose our differences with our enemies in South Africa, think that if the right hon. Member for Epping had gone forward with that task in the spirit which he shows today towards India that he would have succeeded? History and all intelligent opinion knows the answer to that query.

The spirit which we showed in connection with South Africa and Canada, and in which we have dealt with the like problems which have occurred in respect of all the Dominions which now are included in this confederation, we must show in the case of India, and notwithstanding their hard words I myself have never doubted that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who are very critical of these proceedings desire to display that spirit themselves. Their observations in this House and in the country are not always well advised, if they will allow me to say so with respect, though I am aware that they proceed from considerable experience in Indian affairs. But notwithstanding the course that they have taken hitherto, cannot we as a House re-echo the famous words of the Duke of Connaught when he opened the Indian Parliament in 1920. Having concluded his official declaration on behalf of His Majesty's Government, he said to the assembled representatives in India, "Gentlemen, allow me as an old friend and soldier, with long service in India, to step aside as an official and to say a friendly word. Cannot we let bygones be bygones?" It seems to me the only way in which we can hope to bring about this great transaction is for those on the Indian side and on the British side to say to each other, "Gentlemen, whatever our shortcomings have been, whatever our difficulties, let us, in the endeavour to achieve this great transaction, set aside the difficulties of the past, and go forward, as our forefathers did in similar transactions, to complete another great chapter in the history of this great nation."

Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX

I do not propose to follow the hon. and learned Member in the remarks he has addressed to the House, except to point out that though Mr. Gandhi, after having raised the storm, said he would go and do penance when the natural results of the agitation began to take effect, that action does not much help the victims. I know perfectly well that on former occasions he did go and do penance, and he has a good deal to do now if he keeps in touch with the situation in India, as no doubt he does. Regarding what the hon. and learned Member said about the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), it is not fair to compare the settlement in India with the settlement in South Africa, because the circumstances are entirely different. I do not propose to go into that aspect of the matter, as I do not believe it is strictly in order on the Motion for the Adjournment. My object in rising is to draw attention to what I call the running down of the machinery of government in India in the last two years. If any justification were required for raising this subject to-day, we have it in a telegram from Allahabad which appears in the "Times" newspaper this morning. As the House knows, on this question the "Times" has really been a very strenuous and consistent supporter of the right hon. Gentleman's policy. The telegram Teports a meeting of Europeans in Cawnpore yesterday. This meeting stated that the Government was going from bad to worse, and that unless steps were soon taken to mend matters there would be a disaster of the first magnitude.

I could not help remembering, when I read that telegram, being present in Moscow with the late Sir Henry Wilson in January, 1917. We were interviewing certain bourgeois munition makers in Moscow. It was some two or three months before the first revolution in Russia. One of those men ran after me as we left the room—he selected me because I was the only one among the Englishmen who knew Russian—and told me, "Something terrible is going to happen in this country. If something is not done soon, something in Russia is going to happen that the world has never seen before." The remarks telegraphed yesterday from Allahabad read like that to me. My charge against the right hon. Gentleman or the Government of India—I do not care who it is—is that in the last two years we have allowed our prestige in India to go into the dust. I know they have had a difficult task, but, after all, this campaign of civil disobedience is no new phenomenon. Gandhi started it in 1920. The whole of India was in disorder in 1921; I was out there and I remember it. There was the Moplah rebellion, which started because the Moplahs were virile people, and thought our government was absolutely effete and that they could do what they liked. That rebellion was not put down until 5,000 lives had been sacrificed. On the day the Prince of Wales landed in Bombay there were riots and 53 persons were killed and 403 were wounded. In the United Provinces 21 constables were dragged out and murdered by the mob. Lord Reading restored order some months later, but communal differences arose because each community was playing up to attract attention to itself in view of the promise of the coming Utopia. The real trouble began in 1929 when Congress pulled down the Union Jack and trampled it in the dust, but the Government of India did nothing in the matter.

Now I come to Peshawar, a city with many thousands of inhabitants of the most excitable material. There we had such a paralysis of government that has never been known before during the last 100 years. Bound about Peshawar you have a greater accumulation of British troops than in any other station in India. What would Nicholson or Henry Lawrence have done in a case like that? The British soldiers were driven out, and afterwards they crept back and re-occupied the city without bloodshed. It was only by chance that the whole English community there was not massacred. At Shalapur people were soaked in petrol and burnt alive. After the Shalapur disturbances a leaflet was circulated in Bombay in which the following passage appeared: Shakespeare has said a life for a life, an eye for an eye. Remember the Shalapur martyrs and vow that henceforth you will take two English lives for one Indian. Let your claws and beaks be sharpened so as to tear to pieces any Englishman that dares to raise his hand against a single countryman of yours. That leaflet was circulated in Bombay. At length Gandhi was arrested and put into prison. The Round Table Conference was coming on here, and the Viceroy sent emissaries to consult Gandhi and ask him if he would come to the Round Table Conference. Congress turned down the proposal of the representative of the King Emperor, and what did Congress say about that? I will read their bulletin of the 12th November, 1930: British Imperialism, bewildered, beaten at every step, their trade greatly broken their moral credit completely destroyed internationally, made abject overtures to the Congress loaders in gaol which wore promptly repudiated. We had a Round Table Conference here, and British politicians sat at the feet of these Indian delegates, and, because they were all politicians, they learned to like each other, and they began to think that they really represented India. As a matter of fact, they were only the nominees of the Viceroy. After that Round Table Conference when the delegates went back, the Viceroy once more entered into negotiations with Gandhi who is responsible more than any other man for all the disorders of the last ten years. Gandhi was called from prison, and the representative of the King was in daily conclave with him, and then the agreement came out. What did the great Moslem community think of those conversations? One of them, who is a member of one of the legislative council in India, wrote a letter in these terms: The Hindu is flushed with victory. He dictates to a hopelessly invertebrate Viceroy, who is honoured for his goodness, instead of being impeached for losing India. Then the news came that an agreement had been reached, and there was great jubilation among all the leading parties in India. One of them said that a miracle had happened, and many Members of this House telegraphed their congratulations to the Viceroy. The Viceroy replied that we were not yet out of the wood, and that there were many difficulties ahead although he said there is no doubt that the atmosphere is much sweeter now. That message from the Viceroy was sent on the 19th of March, and on the 25th of March the massacres at Cawnpore began. I will not refer to the historical researches of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman), but I should like to mention that at Cawnpore in 1857 250 Britishers defended 375 British women and children until they could hold out no longer. After losing a large number of men from disease and shooting, at length they surrendered under a promise of safe conduct, but no sooner had they surrendered than the rebel guns were turned on them, and they were all massacred. That is a page of Indian history which we do not want to look back upon except to admire the remarkable bravery of that handful of British soldiers. The Chairman of the Congress Reception Committee at Cawnpore said: Cawnpore played an important part in 1857, and Cawnpore will not be behind this time. Eleven months after that there was another massacre at Cawnpore. There is no doubt that there was a movement against Government policy and our prestige, and we never interfered as we ought to have done. Though the House is familiar with the details of Cawnpore, I would like to read a letter from a European in that City It is dated the 29th March, towards the end of the riots. He writes: Of course you must be very anxious to know what is happening here—the worst that has ever happened since the Mutiny. Mohammedans and Hindus have been butchering each other—women and children burned alive, throats cut, people half dead thrown down the sewers; night and day, shooting, burning, killing. No servants; no meals, bread, or foodstuffs of any sort. We cannot move out of the place. I heard that every shop-window in the Mall had been smashed. If only the Government"— and here comes an epithet, which although I agree with it, I cannot mention now, because if I did I should be called to order— If only the Government would do something! But they say it is not serious enough for martial law. I wonder when they will do something. Even the natives are asking for martial law but our milksop of a collector is just an old woman. So far they have loft the Europeans alone, but, with the inflammatory speeches that Lal Nehru made at Calcutta, when he practically told them to kill us and follow Bhagat Singh's example, we are off the beaten track, and sleep with a revolver and shotgun near us.


Do you know the writer of that letter? Can you vouch for it?


Yes. Cawnpore is the largest manufacturing city in Northern India. Many of us have slept with guns and revolvers by our sides. I have done it on the higher frontiers in India. But that is in the day's work. I slept in the Embassy at Petrograd, after the first revolution, with a rifle at my side. No one complains of that. One expects that on the frontier. But, in a manufacturing city in the heart of British India, what is to be thought of a Government which allows things to get to that pass? Here is a man and his family sleeping and living in terror of their lives from a crowd who may kill them at any moment.

What is the cause of all this? I will quote from the evidence—we have not the whole of the evidence—of Mr. Gavin Jones, who was a delegate to the Round Table Conference. He was a resident of Cawnpore, and was there at the time of the riots, being managing director of a chemical company there, in his evidence he said that the tension between the Moslem and Hindu communities had become more and more strained after each hartal. The police had difficulty in dealing with civil disobedience, being obliged by strict orders to deal leniently with pickets, and the authority of the police was thus undermined. The attitude of lawlessness among followers of Congress, and of resentment by Moslems, was aggravated by the prolonged conversations with Gandhi at Delhi, which enhanced the prestige of the Congress, and correspondingly depressed Moslems and other minority communities. The witness traced the root cause of the outbreak to the Central Government's conciliatory attitude towards provocative Congress activities which were demoralising administration.

After Cawnpore, I would like to mention Karachi. At Karachi there was the opening of what are called the Lloyd Steps, really a new wharf. The Governor of Bombay came down to open those steps, and the British officers and their wives were invited—indeed, practically ordered—to attend the demonstration. After the ceremony, the Governor's car went rapidly away, and, as the others were going away in slow procession, a large number of people wearing Gandhi caps crowded in on them and started spitting at them, throwing mud, and insulting them. I have been told that British officers in uniform were dripping with spittle from these people. I have raised the question in this House, and the right hon. Gentleman said that I had not got the facts right. A gentleman who was present at Karachi on that occasion has written to me since, saying that in many particulars the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was not accurate. He says that to begin with there was full warning of this occurrence, that the attitude of the Congress people when they were going down to the opening was very marked in its hostility, and that it was untrue to say that it was a narrow space—there is a wide open space, where the police, if they had been properly handled and if proper preparations had been made, could have controlled the situation. What can the prestige of Great. Britain have fallen to in India in the last two years when things of this sort are allowed to happen? I contend that in the last two years we have lost all the prestige that we had gained in the preceding 150 years.


What do you suggest?


There will be time enough to deal with that; I should not be in Order in doing so now. Three reasons have been given why our prestige has gone down. The first is, that it was due to the Japanese beating the Russians in 1904 and 1905; the second is, that Indian troops were employed against white troops in the Great War; and, thirdly, it is attributed to the cinema. I served in India for several years after the Japanese War, and I do not believe that that has had the slightest effect. The Russians were always looked down upon by the Indian troops. Whether they are right or wrong in that is another question, but it is a fact. The question of the cinema is purely a question of the Viceroy's ordinance. If the cinema were doing harm to our prestige it ought to be controlled. I contend that these doings at Lahore, Peshawar. Chanderanagore, Cawnpore and Karachi have done far more harm to our prestige than anything that has been done by cinema performances in India, or any victory in the Japanese War, or Indian troops having been seen fighting in France. If anything, the mere fact of our troops in France having been seen by Indian troops has added to our prestige in India.

There is another question to which I desire to refer, and that is the incitement to murder which is going on in India to-day. I put down a question to the right hon. Gentleman about this matter last month, asking if anything had been done to put a stop to incitements to murder on the platform and in the Press. His reply, in effect, was that incitement to murder is dealt with under the Indian Penal Code, and action is taken when necessary under its provisions, and that the Government are fully alive to their responsibility for the safety of the people. That is a very poor satisfaction to the relatives of those who have been murdered in India recently. What help is it to the husband of Mrs. Curtis, who was hacked to pieces at Lahore? What help is it to the relatives of Colonel Simpson, who was shot in his office at Calcutta; or to the widow of Judge Garlick, who was murdered only the other day; or to the mother of Lieut. Hext, who was stabbed in the train. The murderers of these people, if they are caught, and no doubt they will be caught, will be hanged undoubtedly, but are they the real people to blame? The real people to blame are the agitators who incited these people, and the Government that allows that agitation to be carried on.

The Government has shut its eyes to this incitement to murder. What is the glorification of convicted murderers who are executed but an incitement to weak-minded people to go and do likewise? Take the case of that poor young policeman, Mr. Saunders, who was foully murdered at Lahore? It was four o'clock on the afternoon of the 17th December, 1928. This boy left his office, having finished his work for the day, as hundreds of boys all over India were doing at about the same time. He got on his motor-cycle and went slowly down the street. One of these murderers gave a signal to a second, Shrivram Rajguru, who edged up close to Mr. Saunders and shot him with his revolver. He fell with one leg under his motor-bicycle, and, as he was lying there, Bhagat Singh, the third murderer, came up and emptied his revolver into his body. That man has been made a hero throughout India. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman might not interrupt me. When I have finished my speech, no doubt he will reply to everything I have said. The Nationalist Party in the Legislative Assembly walked out in memory of Bhagat Singh after he had been executed. When Colonel Simpson was shot in Calcutta, the Municipal Council of Calcutta adjourned as a mark of respect to his murderer.

When that sort of thing is going on, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, what is he going to do—what steps is he going to take to protect our people in India? I do not speak so much of my friends and comrades on the frontier. Soldiers are out for risk. It is our life. But what about civilians in isolated districts all over India? I have read a letter from Cawnpore, which is a big City with a whole regiment of 900 rifles, but what about a district magistrate in a village, probably without a European near? Think of his situation. Think of the feelings of his people in this country. Can the right hon. Gentleman take some real step to protect these people who are doing their duty and who are in the firing line? They may be small people to the Viceroy or to the Secretary of State. He is only dimly aware of their presence. But they are trying to carry out an impossible policy. I implore him to do something to protect them and to save their lives. The great Disraeli in the last speech he made in the House of Lords before his death said: The keys of India are in England. The majesty of sovereignty, the spirit and the vigour of your Parliament, the illimitable resources and the ingenuity and determination of your people—these are the keys of India. If this Parliament lacks vigour, or lacks spirit, our only recourse is to the people of this country, and we hope some solution of this problem may be found in their determination which will be of real lasting benefit to India.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

We have had two speeches from that side of the House which consisted partly of historical muck-rakings and garbled accounts of disastrous happenings in the East and partly of the picking out of incidents of the present time which, in view of the size of the country and the huge number of its inhabitants, are insignificant. On that they have built up a case of destructive criticism and abuse of the Government, both in India and here, and they have abused the man on the spot and read out insulting remarks about him in a perfectly disgraceful way. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, who has served His Majesty in India, read out a letter in which a collector who was trying to do his best, who was in the firing line, to use his own words, was described as a milksop because he did not turn out the troops and fire indiscriminately into a raging mob. We have not had one constructive suggestion as to what my right hon. Friend should do. The hon. and gallant Gentleman wound up by recounting the atrocious murder of Mr. Saunders, which everyone deplores. When did that take place? Was it the result of two years' rule by the present administration? It took place in 1928, after nearly four and a-half years of Conservative rule.


The whole point of my -argument was not so much the brutality of the murder as the fact that Bhagat Singh had been raised to the position of a martyr, and that was leading to further murders.

2.0 p.m.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

The Conservative Government was in office for seven or eight months after that murder. In any case, the whole, case made out by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), and those on that side who support him, is that, before we came into office, India was peaceful, happy and contented with nothing ever happening at all, whereas we have had the terrible events quoted by the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman). We have had a long story of massacres and terrible happenings at Cawnpore and elsewhere under the present Government. We have had two years in which to try to put right the mistakes—and there have been many blunders in spite of many good points in our administration in India—of 150 years of responsibility by the two older parties. We are like a man who inherits an estate in an embarrassed condition and has to do his best to put things right, and the former tenants, who have been turned out for mismanaging their farms, are all the time criticising, hampering and trying to trip him up. There has not been one constructive suggestion from the two hon. Members who have spoken. They have simply used the unfortunate differences between Moslem and Hindu to attempt to put back the settlement that we are working for.

I would ask the House to have a sense of proportion when they discuss this question. India is not the only country where there are religious differences. My right hon. Friend was taking part in the Round Table Conference in the Minorities Sub-Committee, discussing this very communal question, when the Government received its worst defeat in the House, at the hands partly of its own supporters, on the British communal question over the Education Bill. You have had very serious riots in Liverpool and other Cities in the last few years over our own communal question. We have enjoyed democratic government for 800 years. India is only at the beginning of democratic developments. The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to certain happenings in Cashmire. There you have the case of a great State nearly as large as Franco, the great majority of whose inhabitants are hill Mohammedans and therefore belonging to a fighting race. The ruling house is Hindu. I believe it is the first trouble they have had in Cashmire of this nature for 50 years. It was put down. There have been some very minor communal disturbances in some of the smaller Indian States, but in practically all cases there has been complete immunity from trouble.

The reason, of course, is not far to seek. You have in the Indian States a government, whether we altogether approve of its composition or not, which is accepted by the people themselves. It is their own government from their own stock. You have a Government based on the people's will. The trouble in British India is that we are losing touch with popular support. It is all very well for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to talk about what Generals Lawrence or Nicholson would have done. Things are not as they were then. You have had 70 years of very considerable education of the middle class in India, and a knowledge of English has opened out the whole literature of liberty and nationalism to them. We have been in the past great antagonists of Imperialism. We fought against Imperialism in Europe hundreds of years ago. We had to fight our own civil war for the liberties which we are to-day enjoying in this House, which the hon. Member for Oxford University has abused, and you cannot expect India not to have learnt the lesson.

The question now is to get some form of government in India which is responsible to popular will and based upon the people's desire of Government. The hon. Member for Oxford University and the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) must remember that soldiers are all very well in administering martial law for a certain time, but sooner or later the civil power has to take charge. We have to get a system of government in India which is based upon the respect for law and order by the nationals of India. This is the great subject which is going to be further explored in five or six weeks' time. When the hon. Gentleman opposite talks about the sacrifices we have made or the risks we have run in order to get the extremists of Congress to the Round Table Conference he is talking utter nonsense. The extremists are not coming to London at all. We will have the moderate sections of the Congress represented. There is a very strong moderate section in the Congress, especially if it is given a chance and public opinion is not too much inflamed by a section of the Conservative party, and which, I am very glad to say, as far as one knows, is coming here, I hope, with excellent results. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are going to make it almost impossible to hope for any outcome at all from these deliberations if the country is led by them, and the position will be worse if Parliament listens to the case put forward by them.

I want to address my right hon. Friend on one particular point. I hope that during the Recess, when he has a little more time and is freed from the weekly badgering from our die-hard Friends opposite, he will look into certain questions of administration in India, particularly with regard to the future of defence and with regard to the army in particular. I have only seen what has appeared in the Press, and, as far as I can make out from the right hon. Gentleman, that is all that he has seen, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to realise that the proposals which have so far emerged from the so-called Sandhurst Committee in looking into the question of practical steps following up the work of the Round Table Conference are altogether inadequate. What is it desired to do? It is absolutely essential—and it is no use burking the fact—to create an army in India that will guard the frontier, in the first place, and, secondly, will maintain order on the plains, and which can be used in cases of further Cawnpores. That army must be an Indian army under Indian officers, and the sooner it is raised the better. There are holding King's Commissions in the Indian Army, according to an answer given by my right hon. Friend, some 3,000 officers of whom, I think, 120 are Indians. I am not talking about officers holding Viceroy's Commissions. On 22nd April of this year my right hon. Friend told me that there were 114 of such Indian officers at the end of March, and 39 untrained. I then asked him what was the annual wastage of officers in the Indian Army. I am not talking about the 60,000 British troops, but the 120 units of the Indian Army. The annual wastage of officers by retirement, death, and so on, is 120 a year.

The Sandhurst Committee proposes to have an annual intake of 60 Indian officers. That will not even make up the annual wastage. It will take, at that rate, 70 years to Indianise the present army in India, and, supposing we double the figure and make it equal to the present wastage of 120 a year, it will take 35 years to Indianise the army. I most respectfully, and in a most friendly way, represent to my right hon. Friend that there will have to be a different policy. We shall be judged very largely by those who are our friends in India, and want to help us, and to stay within the Empire, by the way we tackle this problem. The great landowning class, the peasantry referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I believe, the great majority of working men in India, certainly a great number of Mohammedans, the Sheikhs most certainly, the great Indian Rulers, the Indian princes, are those who, while not wishing to stand in the way of the orderly advance of India along the road we in this country have followed, wish to work with us in this tremendous change, which is, I believe, the greatest experiment that has ever been attempted in the world, far greater than what was done in South Africa or in Ireland. It is the greatest attempt that has ever been made, and the change must lake place in an orderly way. India should have a great national army, not of Englishmen, who would be mercenaries, but of their own troops under their own officers.

We shall be judged by the way we tackle the matter. If we go about it in the way at present suggested, with elaborate colleges and curriculum, and apparently instruction tin English, and that sort of thing, taking in officers at the rate of 30 or 60 or even 100 a year, it will be thought that we only pay lip-service to our great ideals and to the policy of the Labour party, and that actually we are trifling with the subject of India's future Government. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that no time should be lost in this matter. I know that from his previous speeches he is fully alive to this question. He has had two years. We have not yet had one college established in India for the training of Indian gentlemen to hold His Majesty's Commission in the army. It is absolutely essential that we should have, not one college, but several colleges, in the North, South, East and West of India. It is absurd to imitate Woolwich, Sandhurst, Dartmouth or Cranbrook in setting up those colleges. The conditions are absolutely different in India. If you are Indianising the army, for Heaven's sake Indianise the training.

There are plenty of Indian officers in the armies of the Indian States. If anyone chooses to jeer at those troops—I have heard them spoken of lightly—I would refer him to the published remarks of Field-Marshal Sir William Birdwood, whose experience of India is absolutely unrivalled and whose achievements as a soldier cannot be praised too highly. I advise anyone who thinks lightly of the Indian State troops to read the published remarks of Sir William Birdwood in which he speaks most highly of the way they train the troops, their general bearing, discipline, and devotion and loyalty to the Service.

It is the fashion among certain professional officers of the British army to pretend that you can never Indianise the Indian army. I am afraid that it will be made an excuse by the die-hard section of the party opposite to prevent India from getting her just deserts. Therefore, we shall really have to tackle this matter as an emergency question. When we needed officers for our own Army in the War we did not set up elaborate Sandhursts and Woolwichs. We took them and trained them and sent them to the front. We got the right material, and they did extremely well. All this complicated training is quite unnecessary. What is the alternative? We are running an appalling risk. We may not be able to hold on to India. I believe that the next great eruption in India, if we have not prepared the ground, will be a repetition of what has happened in China. We may not be able to survive the next outbreak and may have to improvise another Government in a hurry. We do not wish to have our own troops to serve there as mere mercenaries. There is the danger of independent Tuchims setting themselves up, with their private armies, and with general anarchy and chaos as a result of our handing over power without proper preparation. That is what I am thinking of. I do not take too seriously the attempts of the King Canutes opposite who are trying to prevent the tide coming in. I want to see that, when the tide comes in, we are on the high and dry land of a strong Indian Government, and that can only be done if there is a force that can keep order within the frontiers of India.

That force must be drawn from India's sons. There is any amount of excellent material, if you only look for it in the right place. All the talk about not being able to get one caste to serve alongside another, and of Mohammedans not being willing to serve with Hindus is utter bunkum. Indian leaders have performed some of the finest military feats in the history of India. It is perfectly absurd to suppose that, because we have ruled in India for 150 years, all the martial virtues have passed away from the inhabitants of India. The matter has to be tackled in the way that we tackled the same problems in our own country during the War. There is no time to be lost. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India has, in my humble judgment, about seven or eight years in which to create an Indianised army. He has had two years so far to do it, and he may have a few more months, or perhaps years, to lay the foundation. We must have a good foundation; at present, we have not yet passed the committee stage.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken said that the Secretary of State for India was leaving the House of Commons in order to enjoy a little more leisure—

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I did not say that, I said "a little more time for his administrative duties."


Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman please allow me to finish my sentence? I was going to say, "a little more leisure from Parliamentary Questions and speeches." I am sure that that will be some little consolation to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State. I would like him to leave this House this afternoon with this one thought uppermost in his mind, that the condition of affairs in Lancashire is just as serious as ever it has been in the past 12 months, and that the great depression in the cotton industry is still largely due to the existing situation in India. A few weeks ago the Secretary of State for India gave me figures of our exports to India, and of the exports of Japan to India. Our exports certainly showed an improvement, as compared with the Japanese exports, and I was encouraged to hope, as I believe certain of my hon. Friends were, that this indicated an actual increase in our own exports to British India. Imagine our disappointment a few days later, on the publication by the Board of Trade of the trade and navigation returns! In those returns I found that the general figures for the export of British cotton goods to India wore actually less than the figures for May.

In April of this year, we exported to India 39,195,000 square yards of cloth. In May, a drop is shown to 36,132,000 square yards, and in June there is a still further decrease, although not so large, to 36,076,000 square yards. If we consider the figures for the first six months of this year, as compared with the first six months of the two preceding years, we see clearly how alarming the situation is. From January to June, 1929—I only give round figures here—we exported to India from Lancashire 727,000,000 square yards; in 1930, that had dropped to 597,000,000 square yards, and this year we have only exported 211,000,000 square yards, during the corresponding period.

The boycott of goods in India is supposed now to be economic in character. I have already told the Secretary of State that I fail to see the difference between a political boycott, and an economic boycott which is worked by a political organisation. I think it is clear now to the right hon. Gentleman that the picketing has been by no means peaceful and that there have been breaches of the Irwin-Gandhi agreement. I asked a question a few days ago of the Secretary of State, as to whether his attention had been called to the threat of bloodshed and incendiarism made by the Association for Freedom's Battle, against the merchants of the Bagerhat district who continued dealing in foreign cloth. The reply I got was: I have seen a statement in the Press, and am asking for a report from the Government of India."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1931; col. 2286, Vol. 255.] I wonder whether the Secretary of State has read the pamphlet which was issued by this organisation? I can only quote from Reuter, who generally reports these matters very accurately. This pamphlet states: You have seen the staves of the police besmeared with the blood of volunteers. In connection with the boycott of foreign cloth, the mothers and sisters and the people of Bagerhat have undergone all manner of sufferings and indignities. But still your stony hearts are not melted. We have therefore determined to do away with foreign cloth from Bagerhat. If you do not abstain— and I emphasise this— from selling foreign cloth, such punishment will he inflicted on you as will horrify the residents of this place and of India. We have no scruples against bloodshed or incendiarism.

The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Wedgwood Benn)

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give me the name of the author of the pamphlet?


I am just coming to it. The association is called "The Association for Freedom's Battle," but it is true to say, and I admit this, that the association declares it has no connection with the Congress. It also says that it has no faith in non-violence, which is rather interesting. It is fairly obvious that they have no faith in non-violence, otherwise they would not have published such a pamphlet as that. The right hon. Gentleman said that he is calling for a report with regard to the pamphlet; surely this threat is punishable at law. I will quote, if I may, Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, where it says: Whoever threatens another with an injury to his person, reputation, or property, or to the person or reputation of anyone in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person"— I will not read the whole of it, but such a person— commits criminal intimidation. I think there is no doubt, and so I maintain, that this is an outrageous threat, which is bound to cause great alarm, and I hope that this association will be dealt with promptly and with the full force of the law. I also hope that, as a result of the investigation which is being carried out at the present time by the Secretary of State for India, that the people who are responsible for this pamphlet will receive the punishment that they deserve.

The secretary of State has repeatedly said that our troubles in Lancashire are due principally to the reduction of purchasing power of the people of India. I will not deny it; I think it is true. At the same time I maintain that that is no excuse for the boycott, which has certainly made matters worse. Whereas in 1913 Lancashire sent to India 3,000,000,000 square yards of cotton piece goods, Japan in 1913 only sent 6,000,000 square yards. In 1923 the amount sent by Lancashire had dropped by half, to 1,500,000,000 square yards, while the amount exported to India by Japan had increased sixtyfold, to 323,000,000 square yards. The decline so far as Lancashire was concerned at that time was obviously due to economic reasons, because the boycott was not in existence. To some extent, therefore, that drop might be attended to by the manufacturers of Lancashire, but the further decline in 1930 to half the exports of 1928, is equally obviously due in part to the boycott, and Lancashire cannot attend to that. It is a political question which can only be dealt with politically by the government of the day.

Responsible Congress leaders have made recent speeches which have certainly aggravated the situation. A recent pledge which was produced by the working committee of Congress sought to force dealers to agree not to sell foreign cloth. It is futile for the Secretary of State to say that so long as there is no discrimination against British goods the Indians have a right to boycott in the economic interests of India. I agree that if there is no discrimination, we in Lancashire would certainly have a very much weaker case than we have at the present time, but I state emphatically that there is discrimination and there always has been discrimination against Lancashire goods ever since the boycott began. I have in my possession a piece of cloth, which is called a dhooty, and on the selvidge of that cloth are woven the words, all the way round; "Boycott British Goods", not "Boycott foreign goods." I do not know—I must be perfectly honest—the date of the manufacture of that dhooty, but I know that it was manufactured in Bombay. It has only recently come into my hands, and I have reason to suppose that cloth with that marking is still in circulation, is still in stock, and is still being sold. I would ask the Secretary of State if he would be good enough to make inquiries in India as to whether or not this is true and that this cloth is still being sold, because if so it is a clear breach of the Irwin-Gandhi agreement. In the meantime, that dhooty is interesting as a definite evidence that the boycott all along has been, and still is, if my information is correct, discriminatory against British goods, and also that it is an indication of the advantage that the Indian mill-owners are taking of the activities of Congress.

The secretary of State knows that intimidation is still taking place in India. It may have declined; I hope it has, but is obvious that intimidation does still take place. In a recent publication, "The India Trade Review," I find this statement: Although conditions in India remain very unsatisfactory, there have been rather fewer reports of disturbances, and, on the whole, the political outlook seems to he a little brighter. I was very glad to read those words, but the words which follow are certainly rather alarming: The boycott of foreign goods, however, is still effective, and dealers are afraid to purchase. Cannot the Government of India, I ask this in all sincerity, devise some means of giving to the merchants in India that confidence which will enable them to purchase our goods, without fear of the consequences.

There is only one further matter that I desire to raise. At Question Time yesterday I asked a supplementary question, which you quite rightly ruled out of order, Mr. Speaker, whether the right hon. Gentleman, if and when Mr. Gandhi comes to England, would take Mr. Gandhi on a personally conducted tour of the cotton districts of Lancashire. I did not suggest that as a joke. I would like Mr. Gandhi to see the poverty which his action is creating in Lancashire. For what purpose is it being created? I am told, and I believe it to be right, that Mr. Gandhi's desire is to foster what are known as the village industries of India. It is his great ambition to get the people in the country districts more prosperous by manufacturing in their own houses and their huts goods which Mr. Gandhi believes are being imported into India at the present time, and are preventing those villagers from earning a living. His whole desire is, apparently, to foster the village industries, but I maintain that that is not the effect of the action he is taking. The villagers spin and weave very rough and very crude cloth, so rough, that I doubt very much whether it could be manufactured in Lancashire with the machinery which we have at the present time. In the main therefore it is true to say that we do not in Lancashire compete with the village industries of India. The cloth that we make in Lancashire is not cloth of the kind made by these villagers.

If there is competition we compete not with the villagers but mainly with the mills of Bombay and other large centres. When our Lancashire goods are kept out of India it is not the villagers in India who prosper as a consequence, but the mill-owners in the cities and towns who make their profits, in the (main, out of most deplorable conditions of labour which would never for one moment be tolerated in Lancashire. Therefore, I suggest, quite sincerely, that if Mr. Gandhi does come to this country he should visit Lancashire and that he should see the pitiable conditions existing in the towns of Lancashire. They are well known to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), who represents a town where there has been a great deal of suffering. I would suggest that Mr. Gandhi should realise our poverty and that that poverty is creating additional wealth for wealthy people in India and is not doing what he imagines it is doing, namely, helping the industries in the small villages of India. If Mr. Gandhi is sincere in his desire in regard to the village industries, and I have no reason to suppose that he is not, and if it is his desire to look after the welfare of the village industries, he will assist and not hinder the trade of this country.

Mr. Gandhi is supposed to be, and I believe he is, a very religious person. If he is the religious man we believe him to be, he must surely see that in the interests of humanity it is far better that the people of Lancashire should work under decent conditions rather than that they should starve in order to assist not the village industries of India but to assist in the making of large profits under a system of sweated labour.

I want to conclude on another note. The right hon. Gentleman when replying to a question the other day insinuated that I was taking advantage of the existing situation in Lancashire in order to obtain party capital. I do not know whether I can convince him that that is not true, but I should like to assure him that the prosperity and happiness of the workers in Lancashire means a great deal more to me and to any representative of a Lancashire seat than our own personal success at the poll. We live amongst them and we know their sufferings, which in the main are endured in silence, and I ask the Secretary of State also to consider the interests of these people. I can assure him that if he does he will find that they are worthy of the deepest sympathy he can afford to them.


In the first place, I should like to apologise to the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) for my absence at the beginning of the Debate. It was due to the fact that a meeting of the Council of India was fixed for this morning, but as soon as I heard that the Debate had commenced I came down to the House and I was fortunate to hear most of the speech of the hon. Member. Let me first deal with what is fresh in our minds, and that is the speech of the right hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Hacking). As regards the leaflet I do not know how much importance to attach to it. It is obviously an inflammatory leaflet and I should imagine that it is actionable. Who issued it? I do not know. They themselves say it is not Congress. I have asked for a report, in deference to the wishes of the right hon. Member and I will let him have the information as soon as I get it, but at the same time I think it is a matter which he can confidently leave to the local government to deal with under the ordinary law. There is nothing in the conversations between Lord Irwin and Mr. Gandhi which affects the operation of the ordinary law in India. That is frequently misunderstood. There is nothing in the conversations which affects the validity or the operation of the ordinary law in India.

With regard to his remarks about Lancashire and the cotton trade, I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the note which he struck. It is a very helpful note. It is not for me to outline any programme for Mr. Gandhi, or any other distinguished Indian leader who may come to this country for the Round Table Conference, but anything which can inform them of the conditions in Lancashire, and anything which can inform us more of the poverty and conditions in India, must be all to the good, and such plans would have the good will of all who desire to see the prosperity of India and Lancashire. How much of the reduction in the purchases of Lancashire goods is due to the boycott and how much is due to political causes I do not know, but if the right hon. Gentleman will give me the piece of cloth with its discriminating motto I will bring it to the notice of the Government of Bombay. I think it is a piece of cloth which was manufactured under conditions which existed before any agreement was made.

Generally speaking, I think we can claim, although I would not say that pressure is not brought to bear of a subtle kind, that law breaking has stopped. There is no doubt that pressure of one kind or another exists, and that I cannot pretend to deny. How it is to be handled I do not know and I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman can give me any definite suggestion on that point. The Government's policy in this matter is that by fostering a spirit of good will between the two we shall in time get rid of that sort of temper, and in the market appropriate to us, on account of the better quality of our goods, we ought to be able successfully to compete with other external supplies. I know that the figures are disappointing, but I believe that the ill feeling is disappearing and on that we must base hopes, which we all share, of seeing a restoration of our own trade.

I do not intend to detain the House at any length on a day when our minds are set on other things, but I should like to refer to the two speeches which have been made, the historical speech of the hon Member for Oxford University and the well-informed and sincere speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox). I am not here to say that we have not had great trouble, that there have not been fatalities and disasters—the word "disaster" may perhaps be too strong—but on the whole the effort that we are making to restore good will by methods of discussion and co-operation are being successful. It was a very risky thing to have six months interval between the adjournment of the Round Table Conference and its reassembly in September, but it could not be helped, circumstances made it imperative that there should be this interval, but we are nearly at the end of it and everything promises well for the reassembly of the Conference.

There are communal difficulties we know, but I would suggest to hon. Members, who are well informed on the historical and present day aspects of these things, that little good can come by exhibiting these differences here or by making an attack on one religion and another. Surely the one good purpose we can serve in this matter is to try and harmonise and atone these differences which exist rather than to draw attention to them, and to attempt to reproduce in this House the sort of bitterness which exists in some quarters amongst the communities in India. I do not intend to dwell upon that aspect of the matter, except to say that there is not on the part of the Government the least intention that any of these minorities should suffer in any settlement that is made. Finally, I want to say this one word. When the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe spoke about the safety of the lives of our officers he struck a responsive chord in my heart. I have met a number of these men, honest, frank, earnest and sympathetic men, and apart from our general duty we have a particular duty with regard to their safety which I feel as much as the hon. and gallant Member himself.

The fact is, as anyone can perceive from the tone of the speeches and the resolutions passed in India, that public imagination is in a very bad state. I could quote honourable exceptions where men have stood up and said roundly that this sort of thing should be condemned, but there is the fact that there is a reluctance to condemn. I do not know how you are going to handle that. It is a symptom of a frame of mind which is dangerous. The only general way to handle it is to attempt to restore good relations between the people concerned, and that we are striving to do. The hon. and gallant Member may say "that is your general policy, I disagree with it, but what are you doing in individual cases to protect these men?" To that question he is entitled to have an answer. I do not know whether the House realizes that in Bengal, where Mr. Garlick was assassinated the other day, more rigorous powers reside in the hands of the Government than in any other part of India, and than would be tolerated for one moment in this country.

In 1925 the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed for five years. It expired in April 1930. I did not see my way to take the necessary steps to renew it because I instinctively abhor powers of this kind and was anxious to see if we could do without them. A few days after it had lapsed—it became quite obvious that, harsh as these powers arc, they must be restored and by ordinance they were restored in April 1930. Then I said that, inasmuch as these powers in the judgment of reasonable men are necessary to be in the hands of the Government in view of the terrorism in Bengal—I am not speaking of Congress but of the terrorist movement—surely the Bengal Legislative Council will understand it quite as well as I can. Accordingly I asked the Governor to bring a Bill before the Council and to see if he could not get their approval. He did so, and he did get their approval.

So, by the action of the Bengal Legislative Council itself, there exists to-day in Bengal for five years this Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act. In the first place it sets up courts of special commissioners to try terrorists under certain sections of the Indian penal code. The courts can pass any sentence, subject to appeal, in the case of death sentences, to the higher court. What is much more formidable is the power to make orders controlling the movements or detailing without trial persons suspected of various offences under sections of the Indian penal code. Those cases are examined by two judges in secret. These are very formidable powers. They are repulsive to me, as I am sure they must be to every Member of this House. They are powers which have been taken under the Act of the Bengal Legislative Council itself, the elective council of the Province. Therefore, when the hon. and gallant Gentleman asked me whether I am willing to give such powers as are necessary to protect the lives of our own people who are discharging their public duty, I am entitled to say that under this Act they have a weapon about as sharp as anything that can possibly be devised.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman may say "Do you operate it?" My reply is that there have been 576 persons arrested, and that at the present time there are nearly 400, actually 374 persons, detained under the Act. I do not rejoice in that at all, but I say that is absolves my conscience. We have a large police force in Bengal and have given additional police, as we did last year, and when the Bengal Council itself has taken powers of this terrible and drastic kind, and when the powers are being operated, at least I can claim that this deplorable incident was not due to any lack of precautions on the part of the Government. I specially wanted to make that point, so that the House would understand that India is not sinking into a state of inoperation of the law. The Irwin-Gandhi Agreement did not affect the ordinary law in the least. What we are striving to do, and I hope will do successfully, is to get a better atmosphere and a better spirit, and I believe the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself will admit that if it were possible to restore relations of good will we might hope at the coming Conference to see the beginning of a new era in the relations between ourselves and India.


I wish to ask a question with reference to the situation in Burma, as to which there is considerable anxiety. Recently the names of members of the Federal Structure Committee in India have been announced. There is no representative of Burma on that Committee, because the idea is that Burma is to have a constitution of its own. But the Burmese people are naturally inclined to ask when their Committee is to be appointed. They are looking forward anxiously to a statement on that subject. In this matter we have the support of the moderate element in Burma, who are anxious to co-operate with us and fully believe that we intend to carry out the promises that we have made. But we have not yet definitely stated that Burma is to be separated from India, although that is generally understood. On the other hand, there are certain extremists in Burma who take the line that England cannot be trusted, that we do not intend to carry out our word. Any delay in the announcement is simply playing into their hands. The situation in Burma is wholly different from that in India. The races are different, there are no communal troubles, and there is great good will towards this country. It would be a great pity if through any lack of action in this country, or any unnecessary delay, there arose misunderstandings and suspicions in Burma—


I had hoped to make to day an announcement that would gratify the hon. Member, but it must be delayed for a few days.


I put on the Order Paper a number of questions to which the Secretary of State has given no answer that could reasonably be considered as satisfactory. These hush-hush tactics about Indian policy seem to be absurd. They mislead the public and show to the Indian agitators that they are very well represented not only in India but in this House. But if the Secretary of State refuses to read out to the House the number of assassinations or attempted assassinations of British officials in India, I shall do it for him now, because I think it is a matter of the most urgent public importance. The Secretary of State has sent me a list of British officials who have been murdered or whose lives have been threatened in India, and when one looks through the fist the full shame of our policy in the last two years must come home to us. Let me give a few extracts. In April, 1931, Mr. J. Peddie was murdered in India. He was the district magistrate at Midnapore. In February, 1931, Capt. IT. A. Barnes, Assistant Commissioner, was murdered. On December 9th, 1930, Captain P. W. McClenaghan was shot. So I could go on reading the immense list. I was particularly anxious that the Secretary of State should to-day read that list, because it would have brought home to the public the seriousness of the Indian Government's absolute abnegation of all sense of responsibility in regard to law and order in India. But we cannot leave it at that.

Another question arises, and that is the farce of this whole Gandhi-Irwin Pact. During the last two days two important members of the late Round Table Conference, one an eminent Moslem and the other Mr. Gavin Jones, have publicly declared that the pact is an absurdity; that the British Government and the Government of India are attempting to carry it out, but that Congress treats it with the greatest disrespect. The "Statesman," a most eminent newspaper in India which has continually attacked hon. Members of this House for raising questions of importance to India, says now that it is sorry that it ever recommended the acceptance of the Gandhi-Irwin pact which has proved a complete farce. [I hope I can have the right hon. Gentleman's attention. I know that he is a great defender of the pact, and I hope he will listen to my remarks, though I cannot compel him to do so, if he will not do so out of courtesy.] As I have already said, two of the delegates to the last session of the Conference have openly declared that the pact is a farce, but we have that on even greater authority, the authority of Mr. Gandhi, who in a public speech said that the pact was being broken by his own Congress supporters. A number of his followers have gloried in their abuse of the pact, and yet the Government continue to support it, though it is not being kept in any respect on the Congress side and though it restrains the proper administration of law and order in India.

As I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) I wondered at all the stories about Mr. Gandhi's great objection to violence. Mr. Gandhi may claim to be a non-violent person, but his whole attitude is rooted in the most ferocious form of violence. The hon. Member for Oxford University quoted a speech in which Mr. Gandhi said that either the Moslems or the Hindu community in India might have to be wiped out in order to bring peace; that the solution might in the end mean either that the whole Moslem community of 70,000 people should be wiped off the earth, or that the vast Hindu community should be subjected to that abattoir process. When we consider a speech of that kind from the chief apostle of non-violence, who can doubt the disingenuous character of the present situation? I maintain that the main cause of the assassination of all the people mentioned in this list of the Secretary of State for India lies in the actions of Mr. Gandhi. A few days after the signature of the pact Mr. Gandhi presided over a conference at Karachi and gave approval to a resolution which glorified a person called Bhagat Singh, a bestial brute who gloried in his murder of a British servant in India. After a long drawn-out trial he was hanged. Yet Mr. Gandhi, knowing that the blood of a British official was on this man's hands, went to Karachi with his hands still covered with the ink of the signature of the Gandhi-Irwin agreement and presided over a Congress conference, and thus gave the greatest encouragement to assassination and murder that could be given by any eminent man. Yet he is the gentleman with whom the Secretary of State wishes to negotiate.

The British Government and the Government of India, in view of circumstances of that sort, ought to put Mr. Gandhi on trial for incitement to murder, but they do no such thing. They invite him to London, and give him the freedom of St. James's Palace. It passes all understanding. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am not commenting on the understanding of the hon. Member opposite. He may himself hold the view that it is a good thing to murder British officials in India, but I do not hold that view, and I say that it passes all understanding why the Government or any English politicians should sit in council with a man who glorifies murder, thereby inciting all the succession of assassinations which have occurred since the signature of the pact.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

We had all this about Ireland seven years ago from the hon. Member's Friends. They made the same points.


I see. The hon. and gallant Member wishes to turn India into another Ireland.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Yes, I do.


Now we know the object of the Socialist party. It is that by assassination and by the most brutal form of intimidation, the British Government should be kicked out of India. We have it from the hon. and gallant Member, who boasts of his knowledge of the Indian princes' mentality, and whose photograph appears in the "Tatler" almost every second week, as staying the week-end with one of these potentates.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am sure that the hon. Member does not want to misrepresent me. I may point out to him that there is a Government in Dublin and that Ireland is extremely peaceful, and much more prosperous than this country.

3.0 p.m.


Yes, having wiped out all the debts that they incurred in the War, Consequently they are certainly much more prosperous, and they have not a Socialist Government. If they had, I am afraid they would be even more poverty stricken than this country. It is a very sad thing to consider this succession of murders and the position of the mothers and wives and other relations of those people who have been murdered. In listening to the apologias occasionally made from the Front Bench, these people may well say to the Government, as I now say, to the face of the Secretary of State "By your defeatism you have largely encouraged these crimes and the disturbance of law and order in India. Even at this pen- ultimate moment, will you not take your courage in your hands and govern firmly, and put an end to these assassinations." I think Members of all parties in the House ought to take the strongest course against these assassins. We ought to feel that the representatives of the British people in India are worthy of some consideration, and that we, their compatriots at home, ought to stand up for them. Some of those who have been the right hon. Gentleman's supporters in India, have already admitted that the agreement is a farce and we ought to demand that it should be denounced without delay. It is a brake on the administration of law and order in India and is an encouragement if not an incitement to the continuance of these violent crimes.

I recently asked a question which you, Mr. Speaker, ruled out of order, quite rightly because of its length, but to which I think we ought to get an answer on this occasion—what is the attitude of the government of India towards the official who does his duty by his contract, if I may so describe it, with the Secretary of State? I take the case of a distinguished civil servant, Mr. Lal Dar, Deputy Commissioner at Rae-Bareli, who was removed from his position because he attempted to enforce the law. This official took his duty seriously and prosecuted a number of persons who were advocating non-payment of rent, but he got no support from the Government to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs. On the contrary, he was thrown out of his post in circumstances of the utmost degradation. His case is an example to Civil servants in India to betray the duty entrusted to their charge. They know now that anything may happen to a civil servant. Mr. Sale, of Cawnpore, was removed from office because he did not show enough strength. Mr. Lal Dar has been removed because he showed too much strength.

When an example to the Civil Service! No wonder that men are inclined to resign from the service. No wonder that youngsters of ability in this country who wish for the opportunity to serve the King in India are saying "We will boycott the Indian civil service because we know that our careers will be Broken by the Secretary of State for India if we attempt to do our duty and that if any occurrence takes place involving bloodshed, that we shall be fixed upon as the victims." These people know that the Government of India and the higher officials will receive commendation for a policy of defeatism, but that the man lower down who, on the one hand, attempts to enforce the law or, on the other hand, takes encouragement by the defeatist example of his superiors, will in either case be crushed. We have this unhappy situation that whatever course the Indian civil servant takes he will be sacrificed by this Socialist Government.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Recruiting for the Indian Civil Service from the Universities is excellent.


I dare say that you, Mr. Speaker, have noticed that when anyone addresses a question to the Government, the Government are immediately defended by the hon. and gallant Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy). I cannot help thinking that it is a great pity that with his sense of duty in that respect and his most greedy ambition for office he has not had his eminent services rewarded so far. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I certainly withdraw if it offends the hon. and gallant Member, but I would also say that I would prefer the hon. and gallant Member in the office of Secretary of State for India, because he shows some appreciation of the fact that you ought not to collogue with murderers and reward sedition by invitations to St. James's Palace. It is the colloguing of this Socialist Government with these extremists that is destroying our prestige in India. But if I have offended the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I will withdraw.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

The hon. Gentleman's remarks are in extremely bad taste—he will know better when he has been longer in this House—but they only amuse me.


I have not been here as long as the hon. and gallant Member, nor have I been in one part of the House and ratted to another, and if I took his example, I should be ruined, because he has left one party, which he has betrayed, and joined another party, which does not respect him. But I will not indulge in these recriminations, because I have great respect for the hon. and gallant Member's peregrinations. To come back to what is very important from the point of view of maintaining law and order in India, the Secretary of State has invited to England Mr. Gandhi—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I hear hon. Members of the Liberal party say "Hear, hear." The leader of the Liberal party is unfortunately away. I believe that he is probably one of the greatest of living statesmen, and that he would say, and say rightly, to any Member of the Liberal party who attempted to cheer a man who has encouraged the murder of British people in India, that such a Member was a very unworthy member of his party. [HON. MEMBEKS: "Hear, hear!"] I do not want the point of view of the Liberal party expressed by hon. Members opposite.


Nor by you!


If it satisfies the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), I will say this, that I am just as good an exponent of the Liberal party's policy as he has been, because—


I would remind the hon. Member that the Question before the House is, "That this House do now adjourn."


I humbly accept your Ruling, but the provocation has been enormous. I would say to the Secretary of State: Does he really believe there is going to be any future in India if he gives recognition to forces which are working for the destruction of British rule? Take the case of Mr. Nehru, who went around India advocating a peasant republic and that British Government should cease at once in India. This gentleman, according to the Secretary of State for India, has been publicly honoured by an interview with the Viceroy. He accepted an invitation to be received by the Viceroy, although he is pledged by his public speeches to the destruction of the King-Emperor's rule in India, and yet this seditionist goes to Government House, at Simla, and is received as an honoured guest. He has been going all over India preaching sedition and at the same time saying, "I have the ear of the Viceroy at any moment, and always the attention of the Secretary of State for India."

When one considers the whole of this situation, it is one of the most melancholy instances of defeatism which has ever occurred in our history. We have had from the Secretary of State to-day an official paper showing how far he has succeeded in maintaining law and order there. We have also had the sad catalogue of murders and attempted murders of gentlemen whose only offence has been that they have tried to do their duty by their Sovereign. They have borne those attacks with little or no belief that if they stood up for their rights the Government would support them. I had a letter only the other day from one of my own constituents, the widow of an official who was murdered in India, asking me what England intended to do and whether this country was going to stand up for her own or simply going to follow Mr. Gandhi's seditionist lead. I do not suppose that the Secretary of State for India will answer that question, because he has done his best to exalt Mr. Gandhi and those Hindus—or I should say those babus—who form Mr. Gandhi's entourage.

There is a great issue at stake. We have received in the House of Commons to-day, for the first time, I suppose, since the Irish question was settled, a long list of people who have died simply because they have attempted to enforce the duty which has been placed in their hands by the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors. Their kinsmen, and their brethren in the Service, may well re-echo that age-long cry of those who have been sacrificed: How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood. But an appeal to the Secretary of State to defend these faithful servants is a farce. We have tried again and again to bring their fate to his attention, and every time he has refused us information and has clouded his argument with a large dose of mush. Indian questions in this House have been dealt with by him in a spirit of giving no information at all, or if any information is available from other sources it must be either misleading or reflecting on someone. Many of us will leave this House to-day full of doubt and heart-searching as to what may happen in India in the next few months, because we know that we have a Socialist Government in office who care nothing for the interests of British people in India or for the interests of the Indians, but who have exalted Mr. Gandhi and his Hindu extremists and have created more difficulties between Moslems and Hindus than any Government in the last 200 years. We have a Secretary of State for India who openly declares that he hopes at the earliest possible opportunity he may be able to clear out of India altogether and hand over his duties to some local minister.

With that record in front of us, who can doubt that all over the country to-day there is a growing feeling of rage against the right hon. Gentleman and his followers who have done their best to break up the great Empire of India to which they succeeded. When the late Lord Birkenhead left the India Office, he left India comparatively quiet. When Lord Reading, that eminent Liberal, left Delhi, he left India peaceful. The right hon. Gentleman and the instruments who serve him have reversed the process. They have torn up the whole plant by the roots in order to discover if they can improve it, and the only hope that is left—and it is rather a doubtful hope—is that in a short tame we shall get some Ministry that will take the place of the Ministry opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "You!"] I would not be so bad as some hon. Gentlemen opposite. We want a Ministry that will really govern India, a Secretary of State who will not be filled with an inferiority complex. The right hon. Gentleman has only to meet an Indian to say, "I realise that I cannot govern you." If we do get this change of administration, I hope that we shall get it fairly soon because the only constructive achievement of the Socialist Government so far has been to do their best to sever India from the British Empire. If they are proud of that achievement, their continuance in office is one of the greatest menaces which has ever confronted this wretchedly overburdened island.


I do not speak on this subject as a tourist, or pose, like some persons who are well-known, in the role of "Paget M.P." I want to make a few observations as a plain Englishman who looks at the Indian question from outside without any specialist or expert knowledge, but only from a commonsense and a plain man's point of view. But what appears to me is that we see on every hand a weakening of British rule and a perpetual attempt at all costs to conciliate. In this process of conciliation, the control of law and order has been allowed to slip away. The attitude is taken up that at all costs we must have a successful conference. The result produced among those who come home from India, or write to us from India, those well acquainted with Indian opinion itself, is that the British Raj is going, if it has not gone. Are the Government going to stake everything on the; success of this Conference, and withdraw the British Raj before they have started anything else? That would be a crime to India itself. Not only should we be losing our reputation, besmirching the reputation of government in India, which it is our duty to support, but we should be doing wrong to the people of India themselves.

Until something else is established in India, surely the Government ought to carry on. We have not had one word in this Debate to say that the British Raj is not ended, and that if these conferences and negotiations break down the Raj will have to go on; that meanwhile the Government means to stand firm and to maintain law and order, means to stand by its friends, and will see that those who raise disturbances, whether in mobs or groups or individuals, are punished. We have had no declaration of that kind, either in India or here. The right hon. Gentleman has not given us any statement on behalf of the Government that they are not going to be intimidated, and that although they are anxious to make changes—which I will not discuss or express an opinion upon—they will maintain meanwhile law and order and protect British subjects, whether natives of India or Europeans.

I want to turn to another question. The right hon. Member who spoke from our Front Bench raised the question of the boycott of British cotton in India, and I need not say another word on that subject; but there are other economic questions in India, and I am sur- prised that we had not heard during the last few months or in this Debate one word from the Secretary of State for India on the economic question of India itself. India has its economic difficulties. There has been a very great fall in the power to purchase there. The decline has been as much as 80 per cent. in the last two years. The rupee is less valuable than it was, and that raises questions of great moment. The Indian cultivator is unable to sell his crops and to pay the advances which he has had during the process of cultivation.

India is a silver country and the gold standard has undoubtedly hit the Indian people very hard. The drain of gold into the United States particularly has withdrawn from India the gold necessary to support her silver currency. Are those questions being considered or investigated? I would have liked to put this point before the right hon. Gentleman spoke and to have heard his reply. The Government fixes by law, I believe, the relation of the rupee to the £, and they fix it at 1s. 6d. instead of 1s. 4d. Is that a correct ratio, because it is 12½ per cent. to the disadvantage of India compared with the old ratio of 1s. 4d. Is that matter being considered by anybody in India or in this country? It is astonishing that no attention is being given to this question either here or in India.

No attention is being given to these economic questions in India, which are pressing very hard upon the people, and we are largely responsible for the difficulties in which we find ourselves. I request the attention of the Government to these questions which ought to he dealt with immediately. They have been greatly neglected in the past, and I ask for some assurance that these points will be considered in the future. Meanwhile, people are losing confidence, because the Government are allowing chaos, massacre, murder and all kinds of breaches of the law to occur. British rule is being brought daily into contempt in India, and we see no serious attempt made to deal with these dangers. It is the clear duty of the Government to deal with the facts as they find them. It is the duty of statesmen to deal with facts and leave the theories to others.

The Government are not dealing with Indian questions as statesmen.


There seems to be an impression among bon. Members opposite that you can plant new institutions in Asiatic countries and expect them to fructify. Those who have studied Asiatic and European conditions know that they are quite dissimilar, and you can never successfully plant Western institutions in India or in any Asiatic country. I desire to deal mainly with the difference between the Mohammedans and the Hindus. Arguments have been adduced proving that the prestige of Great Britain in India today is far less than it was two or three years ago. I wish to draw attention to the position of the Moslems question. It appears to me that one charge that can be made against the Government is that they place the Hindu in a predominant position while neglecting the Moslem. To-day the difference between the Moslems and the Hindus has been considerably accentuated by the fact that they consider that they have been treated very unfairly in regard to what has been taking place in India during the last two years. What the Mohammedan thinks appears to be this: "Your government have been worshipping the Hindu wooden idols while they have been neglecting the living Moslem God. Here are we, 80,000,000 people, certainly a minority, but a very large minority, and very little attention is paid to us, while you are elevating your Hindu, in the form of Gandhi, into such a predominant position that, when you are thinking and writing of India, it seems to be Gandhi all the time."

I do not think that Mr. Gandhi is a criminal; I think he is a clever man—the man who turned the late Viceroy round his finger, and who, apparently, has twisted the present Minister round his finger as well. He is probably imbued with some good objects, and, when Lord Irwin—himself a deeply religious man—met him, he probably believed that Mr. Gandhi was a deeply religious man as well, and so he gave him privileges which, one would imagine, a man in Lord Irwin's position would never have offered to a man in Mr. Gandhi's position. One recognises the immense difficulties of governing India. One recognises the diffi- culties which the Secretary of State has to meet. But our charge against the Government is that, if they had met those difficulties with firmness, the position would not be as it is to-day, that is to say, anarchy practically from one end of India to the other. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the present position is better than the position a year ago—that it is gradually becoming better. We on this side of the House cannot see that. Mr. Gandhi has been elevated to the position of a kind of Krishna of India, and, as long as he occupies that position, he will wield in the minds of the masses of India a power far greater than he is entitled to wield, and his influence upon the progress of our negotiations in connection with the future of Indian government must be greatly in advance of that which he himself is entitled to demand.

Take the position of Congress. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), speaking in the House in the last Debate on India, charged the Government with offering to the Indian tiger, in the shape of Congress, cat's-meat. I think he was wrong. I think that what the Government have been offering to the Indian tiger is honey—a most unsatisfying food. If they had offered the Indian tiger a hard dog-biscuit on six days in the week, and a little honey on Sunday, the position today in regard to law and order in India would be very much better than it is. I think, also, that the Secretary of State must agree that his optimism with regard to peaceful picketing has proved to be entirely wrong, and that the so-called peaceful picketing in India has been suppressed coercion. That is admitted today by all parties in India, and it was proved from the Front Bench this afternoon by a quotation as to what Congress itself has published in connection with this peaceful picketing.

Civil disobedience, again, is one of the greatest dangers in India to-day and probably will be to-morrow. The Government have not tackled it in the way in which they should have done. They have allowed it to grow. After a certain time, when it had raised its head a little too far and become dangerous, they attempted to tackle it, but it was too late. What has been the result? You have these aspiring young men, the disciples of Congress, moving from village to village suggesting to the poor peasants that they should pay no rent. That has ended in the peasants declining to pay rent to the landlord. The landlord then cannot pay his taxes to the Provincial Government, and the Provincial Government finds itself in financial difficulties entirely owing to the want of control of Congress by the Government in allowing Congress to do that which they could not allow any similar organisation in this country to carry out.

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


Another charge that I want particularly to make against the Government is as to the license of the native Press. If you read the extracts from the native Press that come to this country, you find a license which would never be permitted in this country, and this gutter Press is a means of disseminating sedition and creating disorder, bringing bloodshed in its train. It is very pleasant to find that at last the moderate elements are waking up and at the Calcutta meeting this week, which was very largely attended, the revolt of the moderates was expressed not only by the Anglo-Indians but also by representatives of the Hindu and also the Moslem community. The want of support by the Government of the officials and of the police is bringing about such a state of things that these officials are afraid to act in the way they would have done without hesitation a few years ago. The Government are looking forward to being able to crown themselves with laurels at the coming conference.

The last conference appeared to me to be a kind of balloon filled with gas and containing very little solid matter. Since the end of that conference the gas has gradually been oozing out. To-day the balloon is quite flat and empty, and now the Government are trying to fill it again, but this time with some solid matter. They know perfectly well that as long as the difference between the Moslem community and the Hindu community in India is as wide as it is to-day no possible success can come to any conference, whether it is in London or in India. It is bound to be just as great a failure as the last, and when the conference meets in London and the Government have to face it with the admission that they have been unable to enforce law and order in India, there will be an additional reason why the conference will end in failure, because of the utter want of confidence in the Government to carry out any of their own decrees.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

I wish to make a statement, from the point of view of those hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House who represent the great aims of our party, with reference to speeches which have been made from our side. Unfortunately, some of the speeches made from this point of view weaken the case by exaggeration and sometimes by ignorance and not understanding the effect of such utterances. That gives a great handle to those who are on what seems to be a one-sided track in regard to this question not to recognise what is at the bottom of the movement. No one could more strongly support the general line taken by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) and others in objecting to exaggeration or mischievous statements which may have a very serious bearing on the future discussions between India and ourselves which are so critical at the present time. I hope that those who are concerned will look over the exaggerations and mis-statements which are so often made through ignorance of the real facts. There is no question that, not only in our party but throughout the whole of the country, a very strong feeling lies at the bottom of those statements. It was rightly expressed by Lord Irwin when he said that the reason why we stand for safeguards is because of the interests of India.

I maintain that the interests of India and of ourselves must be on common lines. We have to have a common solution, and it is not in opposition to the interests of the British Empire when we say that our proposals are for the sake of India. When we say we stand for safeguards, we stand for them as being essential for the good of India and Indian government. Whatever form of government takes place in India in the future, we must maintain the sanctity of those safeguards with regard to finance, defence, and particularly the social services of India and the protection of minorities. It is essential to have those safeguards. There has been a general fear, not only in this House but throughout the country, that we are giving away those safeguards, and those who know India feel that we are undermining the anxieties for proper government in India, even by Indians themelves. That is why there is so much discontent and anxiety about the conversations which are going. I hope that all those who will take part in those most important deliberations of the Conference which is to be held, will feel, even if it is not always necessary or advisable to state it, that this country is intent upon maintaining such safeguards as seem to us essential for the proper government of India.

I hope that this statement will go out, quite as much as the statements that have been made in ways liable to be misunderstood, because it represents a really genuine feeling on the part of the great masses of people of this country and of the Empire overseas. That feeling is that, in the interests of India and of seeing India put on her own legs in what must be a tremendous change of Government, it is essential to establish and maintain those safeguards, and to maintain law and order, more than has been the case in recent times, to the utmost of our power, for the sake of India.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Nineteen Minutes before Four o'Clock, until Tuesday, 20th October, pursuant to the Resolution of the House this day.