HC Deb 20 December 1933 vol 284 cc1309-11

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government have arrived at any conclusions on the Report of the Tribunal on Indian Defence Expenditure, and whether the report can now be published?


As the House are aware, an advisory tribunal under the chairmanship of Sir Robert Garran was set up last year to advise on questions arising out of the incidence of the cost of India's defence expenditure, with special reference to the charges made by the War Office and Air Ministry for the cost of raising and training British troops for service in India—known as the capitation charges—which had for so many years been the subject of controversy between the War Office and Air Ministry and the Government of India. Two members of the tribunal, Lord Dunedin and Lord Tomlin, were nominated by His Majesty's Government and two, Sir Shadi Lal and Sir Shah Mohammad Sulaiman, by the Government of India. The tribunal reported in January last, and their report has been under the careful consideration of His Majesty's Government and the Government of India, who have agreed to accept its recommendations, and where the tribunal are not unanimous, to act on majority recommendations. This involves the acceptance by the Government of India of capitation charges, calculated in accordance with the tribunal's suggestion, as a legitimate charge on Indian revenues and, on the other hand, the payment to India of a grant from British revenues towards the cost to India's defence expenditure.

The Government have decided to recommend to the House that the amount of this grant should be £1,500,000 a year, this amount to include the separate subsidy of £130,000 a year hitherto paid from Army funds towards the cost of the transport of British troops to and from India, the continuance of which was one of the matters referred to the tribunal. The Government trust that the action which they propose to take on the recommendations of the tribunal will be accepted by all concerned as a satisfactory ending to a long-standing controversy. I am glad to take this opportunity of expressing the Government's appreciation of the valuable services rendered by the chairman and members of the tribunal.

The report of the tribunal will be published as a White Paper, and copies will be available in the Vote Office this evening.


Will the House have an opportunity of discussing this expenditure?


A Supplementary Estimate will have to be introduced as soon as possible after we resume.


May I ask whether that Supplementary Estimate will be discussed at a time in the day when it will be possible to get a full discussion, seeing that so much time has now been allotted to the Unemployment Bill that there seems to be rather a risk that it may come on late at night when it cannot be properly discussed?


These Votes are not taken under those conditions.


May we take it for granted that the Prime Minister is making a note of the last two Private Notice Questions?


Can the Prime Minister say whether the £1,500,000 is inclusive or exclusive of the £100,000 which is paid by India in respect of Naval Defence.


I really ought to have notice of that question, but it will be shown quite clearly in the White Paper.