HC Deb 18 December 1933 vol 284 cc892-3

asked the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the disregard of the Sarda Act revealed by the Indian Census Reports of 1931, he will ask the Government of India or the Provincial Governments what steps they have taken, or propose to take, to educate public opinion in India as to the evils of child marriage, and to carry into effect the other administrative measures recommended by the Age of Consent Committee as essential to the enforcement of legislation in restraint of child marriage?


I have received from the Government of India reports which show that the recommendations of the Age of Consent Committee have been very carefully considered by the Government of India and by local Governments. There is a consensus of opinion that educative propaganda regarding the evils of child marriage is desirable, but a general agreement that such propaganda is best left to non-official agencies. With regard to the other administrative measures recommended by the Age of Consent Committee the position is that local Governments are in full sympathy with the need for reform and will take such action as may appear to them feasible, but for various reasons most of the specific proposals are in present conditions not practicable.


Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House what unofficial agencies there are that cover anything like the whole area of India?


I certainly would not suggest that there are agencies of this kind that cover the whole field. I hope they will increase and multiply. At the moment, the Provincial Governments think that the non-official agencies are the best agencies for the work.