HC Deb 26 June 1933 vol 279 cc1159-61

asked the Secretary of State for India the number and names out of the 500 and more Princes of India who have themselves publicly declared in favour of federation as at present proposed in the White Paper?


I would refer my hon. Friend to the speeches at the First and Second Round Table Conferences of the Rulers who attended these and to the resolutions of the Chamber of Princes in the years 1931 to 1933 in favour of cooperation in the elaboration of a Federal scheme. Copies of the Debates in which these resolutions were unanimously adopted have been placed in the Library.


Has the hon. Gentleman any reason to believe that even those Princes who agreed to federate will be willing to do so without being given more substantial guarantees than those indicated in the White Paper?


It has always been left for the Princes to decide upon this important matter themselves.


Has the hon. Gentleman any idea that any Princes have definitely decided to come in yet? Can he make any estimate?


I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to certain statements in the answer to the question.


Has it not changed several times since?


Is it not desirable to wait until the report of the Joint Select Committee has been presented?

7 and 8. Mr. JOHN

asked the Secretary of State for India (1) whether he is aware that one of the Meerut prisoners desires to write a book while incarcerated, and that he has been supplied with one small note book for the purpose; and whether he will be placed in Class A and given the ordinary amenities of political prisoners;

(2) seeing that non-violent political prisoners are entitled to be placed in Class A and that the judge and prosecuting counsel agreed that none of the accused had been guilty of illegal acts, on what grounds the Meerut prisoners are denied the rights to which their status as political prisoners entitles them?


I have no information regarding the incident referred to in question number 7. I cannot accept as accurate the statements on which question number 8 is based. I will send the hon. Member a copy of the communique issued in 1930 by the Government of India regarding the general principles for classifying prisoners, from which he will see that there is no grade of political prisoners as such. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that in classifying these prisoners as "B" the local government have taken all relevant factors into consideration.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that both the prosecuting counsel and the judge declared that not one of these 20 odd persons had committed any illegal acts, and, in these circumstances, and particularly in view of the pending appeal, does he not think that they may be placed in Class A?


My right hon. Friend is satisfied in leaving this matter to the discretion of the local government.


As there are among these prisoners some whose case is still sub judice,does not the Secretary of State think that he ought to change his mind and invite the Indian Government to put these prisoners in Class A pending the result of their appeal?


My right hon. Friend is satisfied that these prisoners have the desired facility, and I would remind the hon. Member that they have already been transferred from Class C to Class B, at the instance of the Indian Government?


Will the hon. Member convey to the Secretary of State the fact that one of the Meerut prisoners is desirous of using the time in prison for writing a book? Surely there is no one in this House who would object to a political prisoner having such facilities? Does the hon. Member think it an unreasonable request?


I understand that my right hon. Friend is satisfied with the facilities afforded these prisoners, but I will certainly convey the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman to my right hon. Friend.