HC Deb 21 February 1934 vol 286 cc359-419

4.0 p.m.

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT

I beg to move: That this House, in view of the results of democratic government in Ceylon, is of opinion that a Parliamentary commission should be appointed to proceed to that island to report upon the working of the Constitution. The attention of Parliament and the electorate as a whole for very many years has rarely been called to the great questions affecting the fortunes of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates of this country, although I think it will be generally agreed that those countries are as much the concern of Members of this House as the counties of England, Scotland and Wales as long as we are responsible for their government. I think it can be said that in all the history of those territories we have very little to make us ashamed, and that, if you take the sum total of achievement, we can be immensely proud. To-day, when we see deliberately, and, I am afraid, in many cases permanently, our goods excluded from foreign countries, it becomes vital that we should make it our concern to preserve our trade as far as possible within the countries of the British Empire, from which we draw such an immense income, to sustain us in this country, from the invested wealth, and without which, taking the Empire as a whole, we should find our exports decreased by something like 50 per cent. The Crown Colonies and Protectorates offer the greatest scope, if we are wise, for trade expansion, for in those countries we still have some say.

I make no apology, therefore, for calling attention to the government of Ceylon on a private Members' day, when we can give a free Vote in the House, without any influence from the party Whips, and declare our views. When we come to look at the affairs of Ceylon, I think it will be agreed that they are a startling lesson in the failure of democratic government planted on unsuitable soils, and a warning to any further experiment which may be made in that direction. If I may, I will very briefly refer to the history of Ceylon, because I think it helps in understanding the situation. The ancient kingdom of Lanka was existing at least 500 B.C., and at that time there was a large civilisation in that country of people who had migrated from India, and who had settled in what is now known as Ceylon. Invasions from Malabar, civil war, famine and pestilence reduced the population, which continually declined in wealth, spirit and numbers. The result was that in 1505, when Portuguese sea-power was something to be reckoned with, the Portuguese seized the sea-ports of Ceylon, and, later on, in 1656, the Dutch routed the Portuguese, and themselves occupied all the coastal regions. It was in 1796 that British sea-power—we were then at war with the Dutch—drove them out of the coastal areas, and we occupied those ports. All this time the kingdom of Kandy had continued in the interior, and in 1815 the king was deposed by Kandyan chiefs, with the result that the whole Colony passed under British rule.

What has been the history of Ceylon in the 137 years since the British occupation? We found a people who were nerveless, who were poor, who were famine-stricken, unhealthy and gradually dying out. There were only 800,000 inhabitants when we went there. Under British rule, the population has multiplied nearly seven times, and there is now a population of 5,300,000 souls. Since our occupation, I think we may claim that the Colony has reached a state of prosperity which is probably unequalled in any similar community in the world. As long as Ceylon was administered by the Governor responsible only to the Secretary of State, all went well; but in 1920, the official majority in the Legislature was replaced by a majority of elected members, together with certain members nominated by the Governor, and it is well known that the elected representatives were not too helpful. In 1931, following the report of the Special Commission, presided over by the Noble Lord, Lord Donoughmore, a constitution was framed which, according to their report, was necessary because of the failure of the Ceylonese "to act as co-partners with the Government nominated members." Personally, I should have thought it was poor grounds for handing over the Government to those who had failed to co-operate with the nominated members. However, the Commission went forward with their recommendations, and they discussed in the report the obvious alternative, which was a reversion to Crown Colony government. Of this alternative the report said: It would not seem the policy of justice or statesmanship to have recourse to such a step unless and until the inhabitants of Ceylon had manifestly failed to avail themselves of the chance of successfully managing their own affairs. That has a familiar sort of ring about it in these days. It is for this reason that I want this House to make inquiry whether the Ceylonese have or have not failed to avail themselves of the chance of successfully managing their own affairs. Apparently the Commission, from those words, did not rule out the possibility of Crown Colony restoration, if the new constitution failed. I know there are those who say, "You cannot go back." If you applied that way of looking at things to big business concerns I think you would find that many of them to-day would be in Queer Street. They have very frequently to go back on great experiments which have been made. After all, the French in Syria, after establishing democratic government, had to go back because democracy abused the gift, and recently in Newfoundland, the oldest Colony of the British Empire, with the free will of the people, we have, for the time being, at any rate, gone back. I think if we look round we shall see that most of the countries of Europe have actually gone back. That is not necessarily a good thing—I am not arguing that; it would be out of order if I did—but I think it is conclusive proof that even in the old democracies of Europe, if a Government is considered to be inefficient, the people do consent occasionally to replace the governmental machinery.

The new constitution in Ceylon came into force in 1931. We were hardly aware in this House what was happening. It all took place under Order in Council. Democracy took charge like a thief in the night. We threw our burden of responsibility upon this great mass of illiterate population of Sinhalese Burghers, Tamils, Malays and Moors, with their mixed religions—Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Moslems. Although we know nothing about it, unless we happen to read a book in the Library, we granted almost the widest possible franchise. Every youth of the age of 21, even the extreme savages in the jungle, were granted the vote, as were all women of the age of 30. In July, 1931, the State Council was set up with both legislative and executive functions. The Council consists of three official members who have no votes, eight nominated members and 50 members elected by this wide electorate. The ministers are chosen from the chairmen of committees, who, in turn, are elected by secret ballot by the committees themselves, and they form the Government, together with the three official members. Of the 50 elected members, only two—I have heard them described as one and a half—are actually British, and out of the whole Council of 61, there are only six British representatives with power to vote. Abdication is, therefore, fairly complete in the government of a country which was rescued from ruin by British administration, and whose prosperity, wealth and happiness are entirely due to British capital and British enterprise.

Thus was our power in Ceylon surrendered by Order in Council, but I am certain that there were people at that day who said, "Do not worry over-much, because there are such admirable safeguards in this constitution. The Governor is left with his power of veto." When I read the White Paper of that day, I see that it says: The reserve powers will represent one form of safeguard which will operate if and when the principles of the constitution should be infringed. As I will show, the reserve powers and the Governor's veto have been so frequently invoked, that the situation has become Gilbertian, if it were not so tragic. Instead of getting on with their job, we find members indulging in wasteful controversy, and spending much of their time baiting their Governor and making every anti-British proposal they can think of. In fact, the "Times" correspondent, a year after the constitution had started, described the Sinhalese as being a political philanderer devoid of constructive thought. Within two days the Governor had to use his powers of certification no fewer than four times.

I cannot, in the short time available, give the full story, but I want to emphasise two or three main facts. First of all, I know that it is generally felt, especially on those benches, that if only you give some form of popular government, immediately gratitude wells up in the hearts of all the people involved. I think that almost the first measure brought before the Council was one which sought to deprive the Governor of all travelling allowances in the Colony. It was not presumed desirable that the King's representative should visit the centres of the Island. He was, according to their idea, to be marooned in Colombo. This outrageous proposal, for such I may term it, was only lost by one vote.

Then let us come to the question of public morality. The State Council proceeded, with very great energy, to pass a measure suspending all judgment summonses for bankruptcy. Banks, credit institutions and traders, of course, would be unable to collect monies due to them, and the whole credit system of the country would be brought to a standstill, and all trade ruined. Enthusiasm for that Measure is, I am told, attributed to the fact that several Members of Parliament thought it was an admirable way of relieving themselves of some of their more pressing financial obligations, more especially as, I believe, there is a penalty of £500 if a bankrupt remains a member of that chamber. On one occasion the "Fiscal's Peons," as they are called, drew themselves up outside the chamber, and there was quite a remarkable scene; but I believe the law which obtains still in that Colony is Roman-Dutch, and that after six p.m. you cannot arrest a man for debt, with the result that the Legislature softly and silently faded away when dusk came. Anyhow, although this Bill was received with such enthusiasm, the Governor had to refuse to certify it. He was not prepared to see the trade of the Colony brought to a standstill.

The State Council next imposed higher taxation upon British-owned businesses than on native-owned, 12 per cent. on sterling companies and 10 per cent. on rupee companies. If I might quote further from the special correspondent of the "Times," the anti-British spirit had developed. Then, again the council refused to implement the decisions of Ottawa, standing out in splendid isolation in the whole Empire against economic union. In addition to all this British officials in the various departments were reduced in number by 142, out of 700, in the first two and a-half years. I understand the reduction is still greater now. A simple calculation will convince Members of this House that at that rate the Colony will, in a few years' time, be rid of all British officials. I am told that in some few years' time there will certainly not be more than four white police officers left in the Colony. It is only fair to say that only a few of the various officials to whom I have referred have been actually "axed," but there is no future for the white man in Ceylon, as things are at present. He is getting out as and when he can, because he sees there is no chance for him owing to the corruption, incompetence and racial animosity which exists. It is axiomatic of the faith of all abdicationists that you have only to make a generous gift of self-government, and contentment will reign where previously there was discontent. What are the facts in Ceylon? Not content with baiting the Governor and making the life of European officials and planters very difficult, if not almost unbearable, the State Council, practically from the day when the Constitution was signed, has made ever-increasing demands for widening the powers and ending of British rule. Here is the programme, which was carried as lately as November, 1933, by 34 votes to 15, on the Motion of the Leader of the House:

  1. "(a) The removal of the British officers of State and their substitution by Ministers and Executive Committees of the Council.
  2. (b) The strengthening of the position of the Board of Ministers by enabling them to initiate and carry out their financial policies.
  3. (c) Alteration in the method of election of Ministers.
  4. (d) The reconstruction of the Public Service Commission.
  5. (e) The deletion of the provision for obtaining the prior sanction of the Governor in the case of Bills, Motions, Resolutions, or Votes affecting officers in the public service.
  6. (f) The curtailment of the special powers of the Governor."
That, in other words, is the elimination of all safeguards; so we have not brought peace by yielding. As ever in the East, weakness is merely construed as fear, and certain people are convinced that "Your day is done and you will yield to any pressure"; or, if I might quote an Eastern proverb, "A dog on the run can safely be kicked."

The council having passed those Resolutions, which I need hardly say were not assented to by the Governor, proposed to send a deputation to press their case, at the expense of the Colony. I am glad to say the Secretary of State refused to countenance such a proceeding. One word with regard to how the people have fared under this Constitution. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that the handling of finance has been a disgrace. The last Budget introduced was brought before the Chancellor three months after the allotted time, and then it was discovered that there was a deficit of £6,500,000. Sir Don Jayatilaka then submitted proposals, including the following:

  1. "(1) No provision during the year for the payment of commuted pensions;
  2. (2) Passages and holiday warrant grants for British officers reduced and leave passage warrants allowed every five years instead of every four years."
That was an attack on the whole European standard. Ministers announced that unless these proposals were accepted they would, regretfully no doubt, have to tell the Governor that they must resign. These proposals were refused by the Governor, as obviously they had to be. Another way of balancing the Budget was this. It sounds very simple, and we might really imitate the idea in this House. Raids were made on the Railway Reserve Fund and upon the Electricity Department Depreciation Fund in order to balance the Budget. Sir William Woods, the Financial Secretary, moved on 25th February, 1932—I am not giving all these incidents in chronological order, because there are different proposals under different heads—an ordinance to enable a temporary levy to be imposed on salaries and wages of persons employed in the public service—our old friend the "cuts," which were adopted in nearly every other country in the world. This was negatived by the Council. I think they felt it personally. I feel that I need give only one more instance of the treatment serious matters received in the Assembly by pointing out that the first reading of the Income Tax Bill of 1932 was carried by 29 votes to 16, a very substantial majority, and that on the very next day the second reading was lost by 29 votes to 16. Surely that is not the action of responsible people, and on that occasion the Governor felt entitled to express his severe disappointment that the Council should have disregarded his wishes. He declared the Title Clause and Clause 5 to be of paramount importance, which meant, of course, that they had to be passed into law.

One word with regard to bribery. Charges were made in the "Ceylon Independent" newspaper which, in the words of Mr. Perera in the Chamber, made the vilest aspersions against the honour and integrity of Members of this House. That paper published an interview with Sir Don Jayatilaka, concerning which Mr. Perera stated: If the hon. Leader of the House had evidence …. he should have communicated with the police. Sir Don Jayatilaka replied: The interview referred to was in connection with attempts which were made to influence Members of the House by corrupt means. He himself had heard that such attempts were being made; in fact, some Members had told him of such attempts. But he had no reason to believe that such attempts had succeeded. The concluding portion of his statement said: but I accepted and approved the statement that some Members have succumbed to the temptation. Opinion in the Colony—outside the Chamber—would appear to bear out the opinion expressed in the concluding remarks of the Leader of the House. I am deliberately refraining from giving the views of substantial British men in the Colony whom I have met. Every word I am saying is taken from the Official Debates, or from the summary of the Official Debates in the Journal of the Parliaments of the Empire, which I have studied with great care. I want to say at once that there is nothing very new in this question of bribery because, after all, it is not condemned in many quarters in the East. A man who does not give a bribe or accept one is frequently regarded as somewhat of a fool. I myself had an experience when I was interested in a quite big concern in Bengal and had to go through all the details. I was staggered to find that there were, quite definitely, in the accounts indications that money had to be paid to various middlemen for the handling of the goods. When I made inquiry I was told that we could not sell anything of that description without this oiling of the wheels. It is not considered to be a crime at all in the East, it is custom, and we have to face it; and that is why it has always appeared to me that any democratic form of government must be so difficult. One has only to refer to the word "dastur," and everyone will know what is meant.

I come to the question of the contentment of the masses in Ceylon and would refer to the growth of crime since law and order increasingly passed from British hands. On 18th August, 1933, Mr. Subramaniam, the deputy chairman of committees, used these words: Ceylon beats the record for crime when compared to other countries in the East or elsewhere. Can this be possible, people will say, when democracy has taken hold? In 1930 the total number of cases of crime in the Colony was 9,689, and in 1932 10,484. Offences against the State, which in 1930 numbered 65, had risen in 1932 to 103. Well may Mr. Subramaniam declare, in reference to what he called "the detested Donoughmore Constitution" that he questioned the suitability of improving institutions among a people the majority of whom, in point of education, mould of mind and habits of life, were unable to appreciate them. So much for democracy in a country populated by Buddhists, Hindus, and Moslems, so many of whom are absolutely without any education whatsoever.

Lastly, one word with regard to trade. We have always been assured that if self-government is given in increasing measure trade will expand as the flag is lowered. Ceylon used to be a very great purchaser of British goods. It is a remarkable fact that no steps whatever were taken in this Constitution to preserve trade between Ceylon and Great Britain. The attitude which was taken appears to have been: "Oh, well, let the thing go." In 1932 Ceylon purchased only 19 per cent. of her imports from Britain and 33.35 per cent. from foreign countries, leaving a substantial balance to be obtained from British Possessions, including her near neighbour India. Britain is by far the best customer of Ceylon, taking in that year 49.27 per cent. of Ceylon's total exports, as against 27.67 per cent. sent to foreign countries and 23 per cent. to other British Possessions, including India. It will be seen that the balance of trade is now very much against us. In 1933, the figures for which year came into my hands only this morning, the balance is something like four to one against us.

Other hon. Members are going to refer to Lancashire's trade. Ceylon used to be a very good customer of Lancashire. In 1913 Ceylon purchased no less than 73 per cent. of her total of piece goods from Great Britain. In 1931 the figure had fallen to 29 per cent. In that year Japan went right ahead, doing 43 per cent. of the total trade, going to the first place. I think I am right in saying that in 1933 Japan supplied more than double the quantity in 1930 and over 60 per cent. of the total imports going into that Colony. The official report says the position of British trade is grave indeed, because Lancashire looks like being absolutely wiped out, except in the finest class of cotton exports. Yet the Minister in the Ceylon Chamber declared that it has been decided not to give a preference to articles like cotton, for the reason that they found it would be an intolerable burden to the poor—regardless of the fact that the poor had had practically all their goods from Lancashire in the past, and also of the fact that the British consumption of Ceylon products is saving the poor of Ceylon from disaster.

British capital, which represents from 70 to 80 per cent. of the capital in Ceylon, is providing employment for the vast majority of her people. Is it surprising that councillors should have said in the Ceylon Legislature that capital is leaving the country, and that no further capital is coming in. The dominant party in Ceylon is what is known as Congress, corresponding somewhat to a Congress in another place. The Chairman of Congress in Ceylon declared that he would like to see every European on the island put on board a ship and sunk at sea. So much for the good will engendered by our surrender. Ceylon was once a shining example of British rule. To-day I submit that it is our shame and humiliation.

Why are we engaged in all these surrenders? First of all was Ireland, with results painfully visible to-day. Then we tried to get out of Egypt, but the Lord hardened the hearts of the Egyptians, and they would not let us go, and that is the only reason why we are still there. We scuttled from Iraq, and in a month or two the appalling massacre of Assyrian Christians took place. We have had to turn things upside down again in Malta. We have almost destroyed Ceylon, and now I am told that one or two of these abdicationists have their eagle eye upon Fiji. Since the War, the British Government, at the least sign of any agitation, have been ready to abandon our own people in the territories overseas, to betray our trust to the masses in those countries, and to sacrifice minorities. Some in this House might say, speaking with the full national flavour: "Do not despair. At least for two or three years we shall not give up the Isle of Wight."

As a nation, have we lost all backbone? What right have we to give up the Empire for which our fathers made such immense sacrifices in the days gone by? What right have we to shed territories without any mandate from the people who are the possessors of those territories? Why should we yield to the first Asiatic tub-thumper who wishes to deprive us of our birthright? We are considering constitutional changes in regard to another country in the East. I suggest that it would be wise and statesmanlike now not to wait, influenced by the fatal idea that by waiting to see you can get over difficulties, but that forthwith a commission should travel to Ceylon to inquire into the government. Ceylon is comparable with India in its illiteracy, its inexperience, its mixed races and religions, although so much more easy to handle and so much more compact that it has only one-seventieth of its population. It would be very much in the interests of our country and of the Empire that a commission should proceed to Ceylon, in order to inquire whether we have not committed a grave blunder in that island, and before we risk setting in motion a perfect democratic avalanche which may come crashing down and overwhelm our Indian Empire.

4.35 p.m.

Lieut.-Commander AGNEW

I beg to second the Motion.

May I first offer a word of congratulation to the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who has brought forward the Motion and has moved it with such very telling reason. It is almost a year ago to a day that he brought forward a Motion upon the subject of constitutional changes in the great sub-continent of India.

Wing-Commander JAMES

Is it in order for hon. Members to range over India in this discussion?


He was not ranging at all.


I have hardly had time to hear whether the hon. and gallant Member for Camborne (Lieut.-Commander Agnew) is ranging over India.

Lieut.-Commander AGNEW

I would like to explain to the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) that I was only referring to a former Parliamentary success of the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth, and it had no special reference to the subject of India. I was going to say that the Island of Ceylon is many times smaller than India, and it has already been the subject of constitutional change. The problem of its good government raises principles which are equally important with those of India, and which are equally proper for discussion by the House of Commons. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth has given us a very moving picture of conditions of all kinds in Ceylon, and the way in which those conditions have very definitely changed for the worse since the inception of the constitution of 1931.

There are only one or two points left for me to refer to in supplementing what he has said, and one is in regard to the commercial position which the State Council of Ceylon have elected of their own accord to take up within the Empire. Perhaps I should have said the position that they have elected not to take up. Many of us will recollect the glow of satisfaction that was upon the countenance of the Secretary of State for the Colonies—who we all hope will have a speedy recovery—when he came back with his colleagues from Ottawa, and announced that he had been able to achieve the most far-reaching results for the Crown Colonies, which it had been his special charge to represent. Soon we began to notice that there was an exception, that there was a flaw in the picture, and that he was not able to bring to maturity what seemed a certainty when he left Ottawa. Questions have been asked in this House as to whether the Ceylon Government intended to implement the Ottawa Agreements. I recollect that in July last the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in answer to a question, replied: The Governor of Ceylon informs me that his Ministers are still considering the possibility of granting further preferences to Empire goods, but he is at present unable to state that they will take the necessary steps within any definite period, or that the State Council of Ceylon would agree to any proposals which they may make."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th July, 1933; col. 2612, Vol. 280.] There is in that a non possumus and unwilling attitude on the part of the State Council to take any action. The Constitution passed in 1931 provides for remedies in a state of affairs like that. I ask the indulgence of the House if I remind hon. Members what is the specific remedy provided for a case of this kind. It is contained in Clause 22 of the Order-in-Council of 1931, and is as follows:

  1. "(a) it shall be lawful for any Officer of State, acting by the authority and under the instructions of the Governor, to propose any such Bill, motion, resolution or vote to the Council and the same shall have priority over all other business of the Council;
  2. "(b) The Governor may declare that any such Bill, or any part of any such Bill or any such motion, resolution, or vote is of paramount importance or is essential to give effect to the provisions of this Order, and thereupon such Bill, part of a Bill, motion, resolution, or vote shall have effect as if it had been passed by the Council."
Clearly we there have a safeguard. Why is this safeguard not being used? We know that the Secretary of State for the Colonies is only too anxious to have this final link in the chain of his section of the Ottawa Agreements completed. He has made statements and given assurances in this House that he is doing all that he can to have the position put right. Can it be that the Governor, although invested with these powers and safeguards, deems it unstatesmanlike to use them? Can it be that he thinks that if he puts forward his power of initiation of legislation under this "paramount" Clause, it would precipitate a crisis in the island which, if it were thoroughly explored and ventilated before the public of Ceylon, might show to the people of Ceylon that their State councillors were not their true servants? I can only think that there must be some reason of that kind, as the cause of this failure to take action, whether it be action under the Constitution of Ceylon or by the Colonial Office in London, to explain why the agreements are not implemented.

The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth dwelt upon the growth of anti-British feeling in the island, and he gave us some striking instances, which I do not propose to supplement, of the way in which that anti-British feeling is operating. It is worth while mentioning that several people familiar with the island, in which some of them have been on plantations, have said that they are unwilling to send their own sons there to take up positions, so bad do they consider the state of affairs in the island. They would rather sacrifice or sell out in the country in which they have invested capital and which they have built up over a great many years, in order to put those who follow them into some other perhaps humbler and less lucrative position in this country.

The position in business, trade or commerce in the island is bad, but in the administrative services it is even worse. The State councilors and the chairmen of the executive committees, who are in fact the Governor's Ministers, show, according to reports that I have received, a veiled insolence towards tried and trusted servants of the old Ceylon Civil Service. I cannot give any definite and specific instance now, and I would only say that I have seen literature which leads me to take that view. I have seen none to contradict it. It was significant that last September the Chief Secretary in the State Council said that for the last two years more than 150 officers had retired, which was equal to 22 per cent. of the whole Service. Also 103 officers drawing salaries of over £600 a year have retired, or have given notice of their intention to retire, under the provisions of the Order-in-Council. If further evidence were wanted, we had it from the mouth of the Secretary of State himself, when, in answer to a question in this House on the 3rd May, speaking of the number of retirements of British employés from the Government service, he gave the following figures: 1928, 17; 1929, 16; 1930, 12. In 1931, during the latter part of which year the Constitution was introduced, 29 officers retired, and in 1932 the number was 62. That must show that there is grave dissatisfaction with the way in which the administrative ser- vices of Ceylon are being carried on, and it must show that all those pinpricks are only having the effect of making the Ceylonese and the British, whose[...] co-operation and partnership is to my mind essential, fail to work together. That can only mean that sooner or later this state of affairs—a dyarchy which is no dyarchy—must come to an end.

In the Donoughmore Commission's Report emphasis was laid on the fact that the Constitution which they proposed, and which was afterwards adopted, might be successful because there were no political parties in Ceylon. The Donoughmore Commission saw, on the one hand, a sort of host of would-be legislators of the type often described in this House as of no fixed views, but only anxious to be good public servants; and this host was supposed to be going to carry out the Constitution as a solid bloc, almost a National Government, behind the officers of State and the Governor. So sure were the Commission in their view that they said in their report, at page 19: If we survey the political field, we find that there is a complete absence of any party system among the elected representatives of the people. But, if there is no party system, and if we find now an anti-British feeling expressed in the State Council—the elected body—as I believe all the evidence shows to be the case, how can we hope that there will be any change from that hostile opinion to the British idea? We cannot hope that, if the present Ministry, as I will call it, becomes discredited, the result of a fresh election would be to return another political party anxious to co-operate with the Governor and his advisers. It seems to me that there can be no redress under the present political system, that no swing of the pendulum is possible that could change this apparently hostile bloc, in the case of which, apparently, nationalism has run to its head and judgment gone out; and that some urgent inquiry should be started in order really to investigate these conditions.

I see that there is an Amendment on the Order Paper which suggests that the desire expressed in the Motion is premature—that, when a Constitution has been in operation for 2½ years, it would, on principle, be premature to make any inquiry into its working at all. Before passing judgment on that question, it might be worth while to repeat once more what have been the historic precedents in the Island of Ceylon itself in regard to changes of Government. I think it would be right to say that our datum line, so to speak, starts in 1815, when "the Kandyan Convention guaranteed to all classes of people the safety of their persons and property, with their civil rights and immunities," and that anything which has taken place as far as British administration is concerned must be dated from that point and must have those principles in mind. In 1833, Executive and Legislative Councils were first set up. There was a change again in 1837, another in 1845, and another in 1889. In 1910, after a lapse of 21 years, there was a further change, and then came a period when a new factor was introduced, and you began to get pressure from bodies and associations to try to demand from the home Government what they would describe as a more generous constitution.

The next move took place in 1920, after the lapse of only 10 years. In December, 1921, when the ink was hardly dry on the paper of that Order in Council, Sir James Pieris, the President of Congress—which is the most important, I will not say political party, but I would call it the party of agitation in the Island, a party which, from all that one reads about it, is similar in name and in character to another party in India—in December, 1921, Sir James Pieris moved in the Legislative Council Amendments to the Constitution, and so strong were the representations that by December, 1923, after a lapse of only three years, a sweeping change was again made in the size and functions of the Legislative Council, and also of the Executive Council. Since 1923 there has been a constant repercussion of fresh agitation for more and more concessions, and, after only eight years, those concessions were given, culminating in the final great concession, the most sweeping one of all, which not only established, on the face of it, an ultra-democratic Constitution, but had great experimental features about it, and, in particular, the feature of government, not by Ministers, but by the chairmen of committees, somewhat on the French model. That was a great experiment in itself, and, in my belief, it has failed. But, if such a great experiment has been made, I think we are entitled, even after only two and a-half years, with all the signs, which have already been brought out in this Debate, of disquietude, dissatisfaction, and lack of smooth working, to make an inquiry of the kind that only a Parliamentary Commission can make.

I should like, if I may, to dwell for a few moments on the present situation. Unfortunately, the late Governor, Sir Graeme Thomson, died suddenly last year, but since then the Island has been fortunate in securing the services of one of the most experienced Colonial civil servants in the service, a man with a brilliant record of success both in the Colony of Hong Kong and later in the island of Jamaica, and who was for a short time in Cyprus. He has now gone to take up what was his old charge, the government of Ceylon, after having been Colonial Secretary there in 1913. All hon. Members in the House will appreciate that a Governor is always free at any time to make a report back to the Home country, both on administrative affairs and also on the working of the Constitution. But a Governor is not free to make a report back so that that report will be available to all people in this country who may wish to take an interest in it. Any report that he makes only goes to the Colonial Office, and it may there be deposited in a pigeon-hole until such time as the Secretary of State, with his many preoccupations, has time to deal with it. A Parliamentary Commission, however, which could go out and find the actual facts, would be able to present those facts to the Parliament of this country, and Members both of another place and of this House would then have the opportunity, which they ought to have, of judging of the working of this experimental Constitution. If we do not keep ourselves informed of constitutional experiments and their working we are not able to judge them and we are not exercising that vigilance which is the price of Empire. If we do not watch, it will avail us nothing merely to pray.


Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen.


Does your calling upon the hon. and gallant Member mean that my Amendment—in line 1, to leave out "in view of the results of democratic government in Ceylon"—is ruled out of order?


I select the other one.

4.57 p.m.


I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "the" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: fact that the present constitution in Ceylon, which was based on the Report of a special commission appointed in 1927 by the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, did not come into force until July, 1931, is of the opinion that an insufficient period of time has elapsed in which to judge of the success of its operation, and therefore considers that it would be premature to appoint a Parliamentary Commission to proceed to the island to report upon its working. I would point out that this Amendment merely says that the House considers that it would be premature to appoint a Parliamentary Commission. It does not rule out the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission in the future, nor does it say that at some time or other it may not be necessary to appoint a Parliamentary Commission; but I submit to the House that the moment is not opportune, and that it is indeed premature to act in any sudden manner such as that proposed in the Motion. A Parliamentary Commission is a serious matter. The mover of the Motion spoke to the House as if we were abandoning everything. He quoted an Eastern proverb which says that a dog on the run is safe to be kicked, the suggestion being that we were on the run; and he asked, what right have we to shed territories? This Amendment does not suggest for a moment that we are on the run, or that we are prepared to shed territories, and to try to frighten the House into thinking that we are abandoning one of our prized possessions, is not in my humble opinion, the way to go about this matter. I see no reason whatever for it at this moment. In getting together my notes for this speech, I, too, consulted the encyclopaedia, but I do not propose to give the history which was much better given by my hon. and gallant Friend. I would, however, point out to him that, when he tries to draw an analogy between literacy in India and in Ceylon, the difference is very considerably in favour of Ceylon.


I admit that.


The whole Government of Ceylon is on a far stronger basis than was the Government previous to July, 1931. I am certain that my hon. and gallant Friend—indeed, he admitted it—does not want to return to the conditions previous to 1931. Such a return would be fatal. It would not improve the position of the Governor, nor would it facilitate in any way the passing of Measures which possibly are not at the moment popular. Any alteration that the hon. Baronet wants would take away freedom from the natives. That would be the result at present while the native population itself is not yet convinced that there has been a failure. They have only had two and a-half years to work the constitution. If you tried to alter it at present, the result would be obstruction on every side. You would have disorders, riots and rebellions, and you would have to put all that down by force, and to introduce force at present for a reason which the public would judge we had brought upon ourselves would not advance the position of our own country in the eyes of the world. Public opinion here would not view such a situation with complacency. It would be madness to try to do it.

The Donoughmore Commission was appointed by a Conservative Government, of which the hon. Baronet was a supporter, in 1927, and it was as a result of the evidence that they collected that the present constitution was brought into being. The strongest feature of the previous constitution was the divorce of responsibility from power. The Governor was responsible, but he could only make laws and levy taxes with the advice and consent of the Legislature, and an administrative impasse had been reached. These recommendations were accepted by the British Government and by the Legislature of Ceylon, and the present constitution came into being. The Governor has to-day infinitely stronger powers than he had previously. The hon. Baronet rather slurred over some of the safeguards and did not make them clear. The three Government Departments in charge of officers of the State are: Public Services, in charge of the Chief Secretary; Justice, Legal Matters and Election Matters, in charge of the Attorney-General; and Treasury, Customs and Stores, in charge a the Financial Secretary. Those gentlemen are not allowed to vote, but they are in charge of those Departments and are allowed to speak upon them in the Council. Everything that the Council does is subject to the consent of the Government. If there is a vote of no confidence, the Governor dissolves the Council.

The hon. Baronet spoke about the difficulty that white men were having in holding their official posts. All these appointments and promotions are under the control of the Government and not of the Council. That is a very strong safeguard. All matters affecting salaries and conditions of service are subject to his consent. The safeguards are very strong, and it cannot be argued that pensions or retirements or appointments are in any way jeopardised by the present Constitution. Pensions previously granted have been specially secured, so that no trouble in that line can be expected. The Governor can refuse assent or can reserve it for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure to any Measure. He can also, if necessary, give effect, notwithstanding the refusal of the State Council, to any legislation if he declares that it is of paramount importance, or he can take control of any Department or service. That is another thing that is very strong. He has not had to do that yet.

This administration came into being in July, 1931. What a time of difficulty for any Government to take the reigns of office. This one had courage and did it, though some members of the Government then in power took the chance to abdicate instead of carrying on. It was a dreadful time for anyone to take charge of the affairs of the country—a time of financial stress and retrenchment. The hon. Baronet, in talking about trade, presented the 1932 figures to the House, possibly one of the worst trade years there has been in the world for a century. When he gave those figures and pointed out that there was an adverse balance against this country, he omitted to include in them the invisible balance, which must be very large indeed—all pensions paid in this country. All the dividends from tea shares which are sent over to this country are invisible assets—part of the invisible trade balance. The hon. Baronet merely gave us the visible balance, whereas the invisible balance is one of the outstanding features of their trade with us.

In ordinary times two and a-half years is too short a time to form a balanced judgment. It is doubly too short in such difficult times as those through which we have just passed. Very bad troubles have arisen, but the Governor has only had to use his reserved powers six times in all and each case has been budgetary. In March, 1932, and in March, 1933, at the time of the Budget, he had to bring in his reserved powers when they tried to pass rather nonsensical financial measures from lack of experience. With more experience I think the Ceylon Government will assume some sort of shape. It is far too early to form any judgment at all. We regret deeply the passing of Sir Graeme Thomson, and the House undoubtedly misses the opportunity of getting his valuable advice on this matter. He was in power during the most vital period in the history of the island. There are undoubtedly some features which will need amendment in the future, but at present there is not sufficient experience to judge the form or the scope of the amendments nor how they should be approached. A Parliamentary Commission is not the method to employ. If a Parliamentary Commission was sent out, it would immediately excite the hopes of the protagonists of complete self government. That is the thing that is farthest away from the hon. Baronet's mind. I am convinced that he does not want to give Ceylon self government, but that is what would happen if we sent out a Parliamentary Commission. There would be tremendous propaganda set to work immediately and more harm would be done than ever. The Secretary of State has already refused to give self government, and it does not need a Parliamentary Commission to endorse his recommendation. I submit that my Amendment is a reasonable one. Time is necessary in order to get a really balanced judgment and to find out exactly what is wanted, and then, if we find that things are continuing to go in a way which calls for amendment, will be the time when we might have to send out a Parliamentary Commission. My Amendment does not preclude the sending out of a Parliamentary Commission in the future. It merely says that the time is not ripe at present.

5.12 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

The suggestion in the Motion is to set up a Parliamentary Commission to report upon the working of the Constitution. This machine of Government has only been working since July, 1931, and it is much too soon to judge of the results. I can tell the House from personal experience that these Commissions cause great disturbance locally in the administration, and in my opinion they are only justified if there have been grave occurrences and the machine has more or less broken down. In the absence of grave reasons—and there do not appear to be grave reasons in this case—the sending of a Commission might be interpreted as an unfair attempt to change our policy. We have given these people a machine of government, and it is up to us to see that it is given a fair chance to work. To take it away, unless for grave reasons, would be a blow to British prestige and to our reputation for justice, upon which the Oriental relies with very great faith. It is well to remind ourselves that we are dealing with the doings of Orientals and with the Oriental mind. It is desirable to conjure up the background of that rather fascinating picture which these things mean. It is a background very different from our own in many ways.

Having spent all my official life in contact with orientals, in their education, in central and local government, and in public works, and having had to deal with them as my subordinates and also as my superiors, I can say that, as a result of that experience, it is very dangerous to dogmatise and to make general statements. However, I will venture to make one or two remarks which, I hope, will help our deliberation. It is very difficult to say what an oriental thinks about a new development and how he sees it, but one fact stands out clearly. He has a touching faith in our educational and parliamentary institutions. He wants to have the same things for himself, because he believes, rightly or wrongly, that our greatness as a nation depends upon these things. Nothing will convince him otherwise, as long as we continue to use them ourselves.

My early experience in establishing local government among orientals is not without some interest. I recall a case of a municipality being created in a large town, where a native official had formally held sway alone. Under the new regime he became like a Mayor, and he presided at a meeting of the council which I attended. In the course of the proceedings, the councillors criticised some of the proposals of the chairman rather freely, as the rules of the democratic game permit. At this he lost his temper, and, seizing his ink pot, threw it on to the floor and roundly abused the councillors. Remembering the rules, he pulled himself together and the meeting proceeded, and I was able to report that the machine was working. In this case the reaction seemed to be that dignity had suffered because of the criticisms that were offered, and dignity is a matter of great value to the oriental. For example, an elderly gentleman playing tennis or golf, is to him a very undignified spectacle, and he would probably think much the same when humble back benchers offer rude remarks to the Olympians who sit on the Front Bench in this House. In Ceylon it was natural that the legislators of the new State Council would want to try their power of voting and criticising in the democratic manner. They knew that the Governor could stop any nonsense, but they wanted to see him do it. It is rather like the thrill which many of us experience when, for the first time, we ignore the Whip and walk into the wrong Lobby.

The surprising thing in Ceylon is that there has been no abuse of power. As we have heard, only a few cases of difficulty have arisen, and those affected pay and personnel, which is a matter of perennial interest. There appears to be no evidence that Ceylon has failed to try to work the Constitution, or that the people are dissatisfied. Some are pressing for a further measure of self-government, but we should not forget that the oriental on principle always asks for more than he knows he will get, or that he will accept. If you pay a dealer without question the sum he asks for an article, you have created a most unhappy man who feels that he has not made the most of the opportunity of a fool sent to him by a merciful providence. We have heard to-day of the personal conduct of some of the legislators, but I wish to confine myself more to the economic situation and to the working of the machine. In judging these councillors, I would beg of the House to remember that the code of morals in the East and the ideas of morality are different from ours in many ways. For example, they can never understand why we permit our wives to be waltzed around the room in the arms of other men.

Turning to the economic aspects of the question, and before considering Ceylon in detail, it might be useful to examine the economic background of the Colonial Empire in its relation to the Dominions and to the United Kingdom as an Empire unit. This is the great principle of Empire economic unity which most of us in this House, I think, hold as our economic ideal. Our Government has a special responsibility with regard to the Colonial Empire, because we are in the position of trustees for all these more or less dependent peoples. The Colonial Empire has an area greater than that of India and a population nearly equal to that of all the Dominions and the United Kingdom taken together, under some 50 separate Governments scattered over the world, mainly in the tropical and subtropical zones. The records show that it was on this economic and moral background that the Secretary of State put forward with success the claims of the Colonial Empire at Ottawa, and gained such valuable preferences from all the Dominions for all the Colonies.


Except Ceylon.


I think that it is on the same background that the Secretary of State is now preparing a survey of production and trade development in the Colonies, so as to secure development along the lines which are most economic and profitable to each Colony, namely, a planned development. It is interesting to observe that Empire economic unity embodies the principle of triangular trade, and this principle is clearly shown to be in operation in the Colonial Empire. Visualise the United Kingdom, the West Indies and Canada, connected by a great triangular trade route.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)

I must remind the hon. Member that the Motion and the Amendment before the House are both limited to Ceylon.


Yes, Sir, I bow to your Ruling. I was coming to the point that Ceylon is part of this triangle. I wish to show that it is in the centre of triangular trade, and I hope that I am in order in referring to that matter. I wish to say, if I may, that without triangular trade in the Colonial Empire it is not apparent how the trade of the Dominions, which are industrialised, can be fully developed. I am not suggesting, of course, that the Empire would be developed or held together merely by a balance of trade, but I submit that it would materially be helped by aiming at that result. Taking the cold economic view, conditions to-day are such that it would not pay any of our Colonies, or the Dominions, for that matter, to cut themselves adrift economically, and orientals such as the Ceylonese have a very good appreciation of where their economic interests lie. Let us not forget that the Dominions and Colonies gave preferences to us before we were in the position to do so to them.

It is useful to recall, in returning to the case of Ceylon, that we are dealing with an and mainly an oriental population of 5,500,000. Two-thirds of these are engaged in agriculture, and the remainder in trade and industry. The annual Budget amounts to about £6,500,000. Ceylon is interested in three great trade triangles—the United Kingdom, India and Ceylon; the United Kingdom, Australia and Ceylon; and India, Australia and Ceylon. On examining the trade situation of Ceylon from the year 1932 with a view to finding out how Ceylon is playing her part in Empire trade as a whole, and especially with regard to triangular trade, I find the following figures. The total value of imports from Empire countries in 1932 was £9,800,000, and exports to Empire countries from Ceylon amounted to £9,000,000. That shows that Ceylon is playing more than her part in the Empire. She is taking more from the Empire than she is exporting. It is of interest to note that the value of the imports from foreign countries, including Japan, in 1932, was £4,900,000, whereas the exports to foreign countries amounted to £3,490,000. I ask the House to observe that this trade with foreign countries is just about half the volume of the trade with the Empire. The recent intensive Japanese competition in textiles, which had a very serious effect upon all the Colonies, does not seem to have increased in 1933 as compared with 1932 in Ceylon. Here are the figures. In 1932, 40,370,000 yards of the value of £407,000, and in 1933, 41,430,000 yards of the value of £380,000. That shows that there has been no increase in trade with Japan. I submit that no practical tariff preference to us from Ceylon could have solved this problem, which must be done on an Empire or even a world basis.

Considering the direct trade between the United Kingdom and Ceylon, we find that in 1932 the value of imports into Ceylon from the United Kingdom was £2,780,000 and of exports from Ceylon to the United Kingdom £6,250,000. It is useful to observe that the relative proportion is not widely dissimilar from that of our trade with the Empire as a whole, which is as two to three exports to imports. It is a very satisfactory situation, and I say that Ceylon is certainly playing her part in Empire trade. We must not forget that Ceylon recently approved, without demur, of the Tea Restriction Ordinance regarding quotas arranged with India, Ceylon and the Dutch East Indies. Nor must we forget that this trade is practically in European hands and is almost entirely a European interest.

I should like to describe the general tariff, which has been referred to rather vaguely. I am trying to give to the House the complete economic picture. Isolated references are of no use. A question of this sort must be studied as a whole. Ceylon's general tariff, as will be seen from the Customs return, is 25 per cent., and there is a 10 per cent. ad valorem preference to the Empire on certain articles. Empire preferences were granted in February, 1933. The principal articles affected by the preference are motor vehicles, machinery, certain iron and steel goods, boots and shoes, chemicals, paper, soap and certain textiles. On examining again the imports and exports we find that the principal imports of Ceylon are from the United Kingdom—cotton piece goods, motor vehicles, rubber tyres and cement; from British India rice, vegetables and coal; from Australia flour, wheat and meal. The principal exports of Ceylon to the United Kingdom are tea and coconuts; to Australia, New Zealand and Canada, principally tea; and to British India, copra and coconut oil. That is the economic trade picture of Ceylon.

I submit that the trade situation of Ceylon from the Empire aspect as well as the United Kingdom aspect is very satisfactory. I also submit that the Constitution is working as smoothly as can be expected, considering the very limited time it has been in action. Until time has elapsed it will be impossible to judge fairly of the value of the Constitution to the people of Ceylon. They might interpret the passing of the Motion as an indication that this House thinks that things are highly unsatisfactory. We in this country still believe that democratic Parliamentary government is the best. That the people of Ceylon continue to share our belief is something to be encouraged. Observing what is happening in other parts of the world they have some reason to be discouraged, and if the Motion were approved I believe it would increase the risk of that discouragement. I therefore hope that the House will approve the Amendment, which I have pleasure in seconding.

5.34 p.m.


The House ought to be very grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) for bringing forward the Motion, and I am certain that Ceylon will be grateful. The people of Ceylon know me as their friend. I have had a good deal to do with the demi-semi-Constitutions that we have had there. I have been afraid every month for the last year that the Constitution in Ceylon would be suspended without Parliament having anything to do with it. The fact of the matter is that the people of Ceylon and in other parts of the Empire do not realise the great change that has come over not merely the policy of the Colonial Office but the policy of the world as a whole during recent years. Revoking Constitutions and suppressing self-government has spread, is spreading, and is likely to go further. It is nearly five years since the first step was taken in suppressing the Constitution in British Guiana. I think the Labour Government passed that. The next step was the suppression of self-government in Cyprus, to the complete satisfaction of the people of this country, and I think to the satisfaction of the people of Cyprus. The next step was the suppression of self-government in Malta, and the final step was the suppression of self-government in Newfoundland. In emery case it has been found increasingly easy to abolish the Constitution and get back to an autocratic form of government.

During the past year I have been terrified lest that fate should befall Ceylon unnecessarily, and I value this Debate not merely as a chance of discussing what has been going on in Ceylon but as a warning to the people of Ceylon that they stand in imminent danger of losing the Constitution that they have got. If one-half of what the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth said is true, and if it is found to be true by the Parliamentary Commission—whether the Motion or the Amendment is carried I understand there will be a Parliamentary Commission before action is taken by the Colonial Office—their Constitution is dead, and they had better know it now. It is absolutely essential that they should wake up to the fact that this change has come about and has proved successful and easy elsewhere and is justified in cases where democracy breaks down. They have to stop it breaking down in Ceylon if they are going to save their liberty.

There are special difficulties which Ceylon has had to face. The Donoughmore Commission report was unexpectedly liberal. It was very largely framed by my friend Drummond Shiels, who was at one time Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and it was an, extraordinarily liberal proposal. It was more liberal than any other coloured Dominion has got. It was met with determined hostility not merely by the English in. Ceylon but by a large element of the richer people in Ceylon. They resisted the Constitution being put into force for over a year, on the ground that it enacted manhood suffrage and a large amount of women suffrage, and that it was putting more power into the hands of the common people in Ceylon, rather than putting power into the hands of the privileged classes in Ceylon. The Labour Government, quite rightly, forced it through on its original basis of giving votes to the working classes, a thing which had never been done before in any Constitution in a coloured portion of the Empire. Therefore, we have to realise that this Constitution now in operation in Ceylon is not loved by certain people in Ceylon many of whom are now in the Council of State, and I can conceive it possible that those people will deliberately wreck the Constitution.

I warn my friend, the incomparable leader of the working-class in that country that if the sort of thing goes on that has been going on for the last two years he will cut his own throat for the benefit of the exploiting classes in Ceylon, and we shall see Ceylon go back to Crown Colony government. We may have to make up our minds that it is possible that Crown Colony government may be better for the people of Ceylon, although it is not that education in self-government and liberty which we want to see extended throughout the world. When the Constitution was originally passed it was resented bitterly by the then Governor of Ceylon and a considerable section of the official class in Ceylon. They did not want the Constitution, for they did not like it. That Governor went and another came who was more suitable and more beloved in Ceylon than any other British Governor. He has carried on for two years under great difficulties. If the people of Ceylon want to preserve the Constitution they must remember that it will be what the Governor decides and not what this House decides that will settle the fate of their Constitution. If Mr. Stubbs finds the same difficulty that Sir Graeme Thomson found, he will be able by merely reporting to the Colonial Office to put an end to their Constitution. Therefore, they must not continue the nagging and badgering process which has been going on.

At the same time I must point out that the Governor himself must realise that this power was given him to use. He has absolute power under the Constitution to veto, to amend, and also to initiate legislation, if he thinks it necessary, independently of the council. These powers were given him to act upon, and in order that he may act upon them without the fear of being criticised and attacked in the House of Commons or by the Colonial Office for carrying out his duty. Nearly every governor and official that I have known has always been afraid that he is going to be attacked by the Radicals or Labour people in this House for doing exactly what he ought to do. Of course, it is their sheer ignorance of us. When my hon. Friend on this side of the House gets into the Colonial Office he backs up his officials just the same as my hon. Friend opposite, and he thinks of the problems which come forward in exactly the same way as my hon. Friend. There is no difference of party when it comes to dealing with Colonial Office affairs, and this imagined and sometimes invented fear of what they will say at home should not act as an excuse for a governor not doing the right thing for the Colonies.

I would also remind the Colonial Office that governors are in particular the representatives of this country. There is an old saying of Lord Cromer that anybody who went to Egypt must remember that it was his business to look after the interests of the Egyptians and not bother about the interests of the British. That policy is wrong. It has been the maxim of the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office for a long time, but it is wrong. They have to look after our interests too. If governors are always seeing things through native eyes, if they are always falling in love with native rajahs and millionaires, like the Indian Civil Service have done in India, then they are betraying their duty to the people of this country. The governor who knows his job as I would have him know it would deal with the Ceylonese just as you deal with children, educate them, spoil them perhaps sometimes, but teach them gradually what they can do with safety and what they cannot do with safety.

The people of Ceylon have this advantage over the people of India and most other people: they do not hate England, they are most friendly, and, in addition, they are must better educated. The number of newspapers printed in English in Ceylon, all taking different lines on politics, reminds me of South Africa. They have a political education and a good knowledge of English and English history. Give them a couple more years to work this Constitution, and when they realise that it is no use their thinking they can frighten the English out of Ceylon, that it is no use their thinking they will ever get more self-government than they have now, I think they will settle down. In places like Ceylon and Malta, and Cyprus, it seems to me that the people imagine that everybody in this House reads with interest every silly thing they say in their Parliaments. They cannot realise that nobody in this country, not even the officials of the Colonial Office, ever reads a word of what they say. They seem to think that the whole world is hanging on the question as to whether the Cyprians will ever obtain reunion with Greece, when nobody knows whether the Cyprians ever want reunion. Exactly the same thing applies to Ceylon. The Ceylonese are intensely proud and think that we are learning lessons from them. It is about time they had a simple straightforward lesson from their friends in England. Mr. G. K. Chesterton in his book, "The Modern Traveller," says that the British traveller is perfectly safe because whatever happens we have got the Maxim guns and they have not.


Hilaire Belloc.


Was it Hilaire Belloc? In any case, it is perfectly true. As long as a Government exists revolutionaries have no chance. Nobody can make any trouble for a Government in these days. Before the War it was easier, but now you cannot make trouble for a Government. All the Government have to do is to send an aeroplane and the troublesome village is wiped out in a very short time. The best thing to do in dealing with the British Empire is to show that you are using the exceptionally liberal Constitution on sound Europeanised lines. Take the Constitution of Ceylon, which I think is admirable. There is no communal representation in Ceylon, not the same thing that they are perpetrating in India, it is a good, sound working example, and upon the success of the Ceylonese, the Tamils, the Moor-men, and the Veddahs, depends not only the permanent liberty and education of the country but also the chances of other parts of the Empire being able hereafter to go along on the same or similar lines. I beg my friends in Ceylon, if they really want freedom and education, if they are not just shamming, to remember that their fate is in the balance in the next few years. I do not think there was any reason why they should have been forced to sign any Ottawa Convention, but, at the same time, if I was in Ceylon I would sign thousands of conventions rather than lose my freedom. I beg the Government to give the Ceylonese another couple of years and see if they cannot do better. Let us have a Parliamentary Commission to find out how the Constitution is working before the axe falls on the Labour party's best effort in trying to spread self-government and entrusting people with the power and privilege of managing themselves.

5.54 p.m.


I am glad indeed that the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) had the luck of drawing first place in the Ballot, and when I heard that he was going to raise this question I was delighted, because I knew that what might be said in this Debate would have good effect in Ceylon itself. The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) says that it might perhaps bring them to their senses and make them realise that they must behave themselves. The Amendment is about the thinnest and weakest Amendment I have ever heard. So far as I can make out Ceylon at present is in a very bad way, and I should have thought that if hon. Members opposite thought any of their friends were in a bad way, they would do what they could to get them some sort of attention in order to put things right.

The hon. and gallant Member for Birkenhead (Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen) referred to the position of the Governor. As a matter of fact, the Governor has no power of promotion. That is in the hands of the Secretary of State, but if the Governor does not like the promotion he has the power of veto. I have seen a great many friends home from Ceylon, people in business and planters, and when I asked them the results of the Constitution they have said that they are bad all round. They can see nothing good in it either for the Ceylonese, or the white planters. Their feeling is that if something is not done pretty quickly the state of chaos which will result will make it even more difficult for things to be put right. Why not put things right now? Why not find out as quickly as we can? The affairs of Ceylon are not debated very much in this House, and if we ask questions it is difficult indeed for the Secretary of State to find out what is happening.

I am afraid that the Colonial Office do not want this subject debated to-day, which is rather a pity because I think that Debates in this House have a very salutary effect in some of these far distant places. Take the average Ceylonese. I am told that he is as fluent and as plausible as a Welshman, there is nothing to beat him. They can all talk. Some people from the North of England can talk but not like a Welshman, and I hear that the Ceylonese are even better than Welshmen. I am referring to the politicians, not the ordinary Ceylonese. We are up against the politicians. It is the politicians who are the curse of every country, and in my mind there is no doubt that it is the politicians who are creating all the trouble in Ceylon. Now that they think they have the whip hand they think they can do anything they like. I am told that the intelligensia, the politicians, treat the British in the Island in a way which would not be tolerated if it was known. Why the British in Ceylon do not vent their grievances more often I do not know. But there is no doubt that some of the people in the island look down upon and despise Europeans. That is simply the outcome of the conciliatory and defeatist policy, which out there is taken as weakness. There is no question that even in this country if anyone thinks that you are a little bit soft and weak he will take advantage of you. How much more will an Eastern, who is rather accustomed to being treated the other way. If he thinks he has the big end of the stick he uses it for all it is worth. You cannot blame him.

They have made up their minds to clear us out of the country. I refer to the politicians. They are going to do it by any method that is in their power. To-day I heard something about the labour position in the high country, where all the Tamil labour is. As much as possible of that labour is being sent back to India, and when things get busier there will be a great shortage of labour. With the power they have, the politicians are going to make it very difficult for that labour to come back to the Island. They say that the reason for their action is to enable the natives of the Island to get work. Everyone knows that the ordinary Ceylonese is a fellow who will not work more than he is obliged. He can live cheaply, and if he finds, he can live on the work of two days a week he will not work for four or five or six days, which the growing of tea demands. That will be a bad position for the capital and prosperity of the country.

It is quite right what my hon. and gallant Friend said about Mr. Bandaranaike. He wants an advertisement, and I will give him a cheap one. I believe he was a very big man at Oxford in the Union. He wants to put all the British on board a ship, to take them out to sea and to sink them. I think he will find that pretty difficult. What is the position of civil servants in the Island? As we have heard, a very great percentage of them have left, and more are leaving, and any who think they can get away are going. A certain number for family reasons have to stay on, but they do not like it. They do not like being under a native. What sort of people are you going to recruit in the place of those who leave? I make bold to say that you will not get the best people, as you have done in the past, to go out to Ceylon. You will get a second-rater, because only a second-rater wants to take on such a job.

In the past there has been absolutely no bribery and corruption in Ceylon, so far as justice and so far as any office held by Europeans were concerned. Is that position going to last? Personally I do not believe it is, and the friends to whom I have spoken say they are certain that it will not last. In this country we hate bribery and corruption, but we do not mind commissions. We often hear about commissions being paid, and perfectly rightly. In the East they think nothing of bribery. It is a very much the same as the drawing of a commission in this country. From their point of view I do not see why they should not bribe, as bribe they certainly do. But it is very bad for justice, and for the poor people who cannot afford a bribe in order to get the justice they want.

In the case of the politicians I am informed that it will take three generations before they can possibly be fit to govern. There are plenty of good Ceylonese people who are about as good men as there are in the Empire. But will they touch politics? Not likely. They say that politics and politicians are dirty, and they will have nothing to do with them. If you could bring these people in and help them to rule the island, things would be different. They are people who have never been conquered yet by any country. They have always "stuck it" and won. They made a treaty with us and came in with us, but we never conquered them. If you can get that type of man interested in running the island by a Council it will help. What you want is people to run the island for the good of the people in the island, and not for the good of their own pockets. What have we in the Council? The Speaker himself might be asked about it. I do not think he would like it. I want to know how many of the Ministers have prohibitory notices out against them. How many people in the Council who are not Ministers have prohibitory notices out against them? Are they the people who will run the country well?


What is a prohibitory notice?


It is the same as a writ, but there, if you keep under cover until six o'clock at night, you cannot be arrested. From the Lancashire point of view we are more than disgusted at our treatment in Ceylon. I do not want to give a great many figures, but here are some. In 1913 the United Kingdom sent 15,000,000 yards of bleached cotton goods to Ceylon, and in 1932 only 6,000,000 yards. Japan imports grew from 6,000 yards to 13,900,000 yards. In dyed goods we have dropped from 11,600,000 yards to 2,000,000 yards. Japan has gone up from 4,600,000 yards to 10,000,000 yards. In greys we have fallen from 4,000,000 to 2,000,000 yards, and the Japanese have increased from nothing to 1,700,000 yards. In printed goods we have come down from 8,000,000 to 5,000,000 yards, but the Japanese have increased from nothing to 14,000,000 yards. The cash turnover is on very much the same lines.

I do not want to bore the House with figures. Japan has gone up the whole time, so far as cotton goods are concerned, and there has been an enormous drop for Lancashire goods. It need not be, because I am credibly informed that if the natives could "get away with it" they would far rather have Lancashire goods than Japanese, because they think Lancashire goods are better. But they get no assistance from the people in charge. The politicians there are trying to annoy us and to pinprick here, there and in the next place, and they think that by destroying our trade as much as possible they will succeed in their nefarious projects.

We know how good a man the late Governor was. When he was coming home the politicians in Ceylon got the wind up and wanted to send to this country a deputation, but, thank goodness, the Colonial Office did not wish to see the politicians and told them they had better stay at home. I only hope that the present Governor—I am certain he will—will carry on in the same way as his predecessor. He has certainly got rough ground to hoe, but if he knows that he has public opinion and the House of Commons behind him, as the vote here to-night will show, he will be very much heartened. If the politicians succeed in clearing us out of Ceylon what is to be the position? They are not going to take care of themselves, and there are plenty of other people who are looking at Ceylon with longing eyes. You have Japan, who might quite easily find a use for Ceylon. I do not know what happened at the Singapore Conference. There are many of us who would like to know. We wonder very much if that position was considered there.

Before the Constitution came into operation the Ceylon revenue was in a good state. There has since been a great change for the worse. A great deal has been due to the world slump, but a great deal has also been caused by squander-mania. Why have the Ceylonese got this Constitution to-day? I personally look upon all our troubles as due to what happened in Ireland and the disgraceful come-away that we had there. It was reflected at once in Egypt, where Stack was murdered and our prestige decreased. Is Ireland in any better state to-day than it was before it got Home Rule? Is the peasant better off or is trade in a better position? Emphatically I say no! Then there was what happened in China. We have given up our extra-territorial rights there. That has all encouraged India and Ceylon to ask for more. Ceylon asked for a Committee to go out and we sent out four of the best men we had in the country, the Earl of Donoughmore, Sir Matthew Nathan, Mr. Geoffrey Butler and Dr. Drummond Shiels. You could not have got four better men. They went out and made up a Constitution which within two years we find is an absolute failure. That does not promise very well for other commissions and the result of their work. But I should very much like to see a Commis- sion going out to Ceylon to ensure that we did not take any more hasty steps so far as India is concerned without knowing the result of what we have done in the past.

I am sorry that the Constitution for Ceylon went through without Parliament ever knowing anything about it. I hope that some means may be devised whereby a Constitution cannot in future be given to a Colony without the House of Commons being consulted and going through the thing from A to Z. I am certain that if the Ceylon Constitution had come before this House a good many alterations would have been made in it and it would have passed with difficulty. All the time we hear the slogan, "You cannot put the clock back." I am sick of hearing it. Who has put the clock back in Ceylon? Ask any of the people from Ceylon. It was our Government which was responsible for putting it back, simply because a few politicians got at them and bullied them. What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of being great at ruling as we used to be? Are we simply to be bullied by the first person who comes along, until we say, "Oh, we will give you anything for peace." We can purchase peace far too dearly.

I hope that this commission will go out. I hate commissions, because I think that as a rule you can get any sort of report you like. Suppose that you sent a commission to Russia with the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) and the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) on it. You would get two entirely different reports. You can always work it that way. It depends on whom you select for the commission. To think that I, who dislike commissions and what they have done, should be asking for a commission to be appointed, strikes me as rather funny. What happens to the reports of commissions? We had the Simon Commission which made probably the best report ever made by a commission, but that report was not even discussed by this House. Because it did not go as far as certain people wanted, it was shelved and a new set of circumstances was evolved. I do not like that sort of thing but I hope that a commission will be sent out to Ceylon and will give us a report which will bring the matter to a head, and enable us to have it properly settled.

6.15 p.m.


I do not think the last speech calls for a reply from me. It was a rather remarkable speech in the amount of hate which the hon. Member displayed—in words. I would not like to think that he feels in his soul the hate which he expressed regarding politicians—of whom he is one himself—and also regarding commissions, to which Members usually like to be appointed if they are interested in the matters to be referred to such bodies. I suggest to the hon. Member that, even if he feels bitterly upon these matters, the word "hate" is one which is better left out when speaking to others who, perhaps, do not feel any hatred towards their fellows in any part of the world. I agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) when he said that there was a great responsibility on this House in all matters concerning the welfare of our Colonial Empire, and that, where there is reason and justification for raising questions in this House affecting various parts of the Colonies, full opportunity should be given for discussion here.

The hon. and gallant Member proceeded to argue however that the State Council in Ceylon spent their time in wasteful controversy. What a new thing to say regarding any Parliament. Is the State Council in Ceylon the only legislature which spends time in wasteful controversy? What about the hon. and gallant Member's Motion and this Debate? The hon. and gallant Member says he has no faith in democracy, and because of its results in Ceylon—though it would be very difficult to prove that the Government in Ceylon is a democratic Government—he wants a Parliamentary Commission to go there. The hon. and gallant Member raises this question at a time when he knows his Motion cannot be accepted. No Government could accept this Motion, which is not an urgent. Motion, at a time when the principal representative of the Government on this matter, in this Parliament, is absent from the House. The hon. and gallant Member never mentioned the Secretary of State for the Colonies. We know that the right hon. Gentleman has had a serious illness, that he has recovered and that he is on his way home. But he is not here and he cannot reply, and, with all due respect to the hon. Gentleman who is going to reply, I submit that it is impossible to accept a Motion of this kind, when the Secretary of State for the Colonies is not for the time being in the House.


I am sure that everybody in the House will acquit me of making any attack on the Secretary of State. It is monstrous to suggest that just because the Secretary of State happens to be at the other end of the world, I am to be accused of discourtesy in raising a question of this kind in the House, when the Under-Secretary of State is present to reply.


That does not make any difference to my argument. The hon. and gallant Member never alluded to the Secretary of State. Had he wished to allude to the right hon. Gentleman, he had the opportunity of doing so in a 35 minutes speech. He could have mentioned the fact that the Secretary of State would be unable to reply to this Debate and to the suggestion to which he is making. I say that if there is any necessity for such a commission to go out, which I deny, there is no urgency for it, and that the matter might have waited for the return of the Secretary of State. The hon. and gallant Member's other point was with regard to trade. He said that the State Council refused to give a preference because they thought it would be an intolerable burden on the poor. I should say if that is the fact that it would be a very justifiable attitude on the part of the State Council. The hon. and gallant Member knows, perhaps better than I do, the conditions of the poor in Ceylon. He knows the pauper wages of the unskilled labourers in Ceylon. He knows that the pay is less than 1s. a day. I would say that, even in these matters, the State Council are doing right if they are looking after the interests of the poor, and opposing anything which they feel is going to be against the well-being of the people of Ceylon.

If we are to send Parliamentary delegations to every part of the Empire in which legislation is passed, which we do not consider wise, we shall have Parliamentary delegations in nearly every part of the Empire. Are we to send out com- missions because we do not agree with the wisdom of the decisions of various legislatures in the Empire on various occasions, and on various questions? I feel that in regard to this matter, there is no reason whatever for the hon. and gallant Member's Motion at this moment. When this Constitution was established, all parties agreed to it. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth said that it passed through "like a thief in the night." A commission which everybody has described as a most able commission, was out there for a long time. Dr. Drummond Shiels, who was Under-Secretary for the Colonies in the Labour Government, was a member of that commission, and I think everybody agrees that he was not an idle member, but took a very active part in its work. The report of the commission was before the people in Ceylon for 20 months. It was a Parliamentary Paper, and it was possible for any Member of this House to have raised the question even before the Order in Council was promulgated and the Constitution established. Moreover, it was accepted by those in the Ceylon legislature.

I do not say that it was accepted by everybody. Can it be said that any Constitution or a decision on any question of this kind is ever accepted by everybody? Had this Constitution been accepted unanimously it would have been unique. I do not say that there is democratic Government in Ceylon. Indeed I know there is not, though they have adult franchise and a fairly large measure of self-government. To whatever extent they have democratic government, it is only in internal affairs, and even there, they are subject to an overriding veto by the Government. They have never reached the position which I heard the Secretary of State not long ago declare to be the position in Ceylon, namely, one in which the domestic interests of the people were in the keeping of elected representatives. The State Council have no power over foreign affairs, finance or the administration of justice. Those matters are largely in the hands of the official members and the Governor. I know there are those who dislike government by the people anywhere, and I understand that the present Governor of Ceylon may be numbered among them.

Lieut.-Commander AGNEW

What reason has the hon. Member for making that statement about a public servant—a member of the Colonial Civil Service?


I do not feel constrained to deal with that matter, except to say that the Governor made use of the power of veto on an occasion when it would have been more in the interests of the people had he not done so.


Is the hon. Member now referring to the late Governor?


I am speaking of the present Governor, because this Constitution has not been in operation very long, and I am dealing with the man who applied the veto. I am not withdrawing that statement.


The hon. Member is entirely wrong. The present Governor has been there only three weeks.


I mean the Governor who applied the veto.


The late Governor died a month ago.


That is the Governor to whom I was alluding—who used the veto unwisely and unnecessarily upon some occasions and in a manner distasteful to the people of Ceylon. I am satisfied that this experiment in self-government should be continued. It is largely copied from our own local government system. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, it is largely copied in its arrangements and its working from our own local government system, and I would say that it is functioning not inefficiently. I do not believe there is any reason at this moment for a Parliamentary inquiry. I think the people in Ceylon should have a larger and wider opportunity than they have yet had. The present system may not be perfect, but it is not yet three years old, and the Ceylon legislators might be given a fair chance without being confused and distracted by uncalled for Motions of this kind and interference from outside. Further, I would say that the power of veto ought to be used very sparingly and not in an arbitrary manner. It was only to be used in case of need and it should only be used in that way.

The people of Ceylon are British subjects and they desire to remain British subjects. They desire that Ceylon should remain a part of the Empire. They are carrying on this Constitution in a manner which is quite satisfactory, on the principle of rule by the people, which I have always understood to be the principle on which the foundations of the British Empire have been laid. I agree that political freedom should be granted wherever possible, and extended as far as possible to every part of the Empire. That is a laudable desire. Constitutional difficulties, in my opinion, ought to be avoided. There is far more important work to be done in improving the social and economic conditions of the people, and I believe we ought to encourage and help the people of Ceylon and the members of the administration who are doing their best to make the new Constitution a success. The people's interest ought to come first and ought not to be subordinated to any other consideration, or wrecked to suit partisans who desire to make use of the position in Ceylon in an attack upon the proposed constitutional changes in India.

It is best to let the people of Ceylon decide their own attitude towards the problems of Ceylon, and, whenever necessary, we should, acting through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, confer with them on matters which affect both this country and Ceylon. This Constitution was accepted before 1931 by several unofficial European members of the Legislature at that time, and the present British members of the State Council are opposed to a change before it has been given a fair and reasonable opportunity in its work. I am astonished at what my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) suggested regarding an inquiry at this moment, when the Constitution has only had two years' working and really has not had the opportunity that it ought to have had. There are many people who would like to destroy it.


I think that before they take action we should have an inquiry.


I am not favourable to it being destroyed, nor to the power of democracy being destroyed anywhere. I want to see it extended, and I believe these people should be given a fair and reasonable opportunity. They are on the spot and in touch with realities. They know what is the position. There are people, however, who want a change and who are not satisfied with the Constitution as it is to-day. They want no self-government, but let us not forget that at the end of the War nearly all of us believed that self-government and self-determination should be given to all small nationalities. We all said we believed in it, but I am afraid many of us have now got away from that point of view. I do not want an inquiry at this moment. It is too early, and when the time comes for a change we on this side, if we have any part to play in that change, shall go for complete self-government being established in Ceylon, as might be understood clearly from the policy of the Labour party towards the Colony.

The Secretary of State is not able to be here to-day, but I hope he will see that everything is done than can be done to make this new Constitution a success, a greater success than it is now, and one way to help would be to see that those appointed to official posts, such as Governor and officers of State, are persons who have faith in the idea of self-government in Ceylon and a genuine sympathy for native conditions and political aspirations. I hope the Government will not in any way associate themselves with this uncalled-for Motion, which, if carried, would, I believe do infinite harm in this country, in Ceylon, and in the Empire. For these reasons I think I can safely say that the Members of the Opposition will vote for the Amendment.

6.33 p.m.


The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who moved the Motion, and the Seconder of the Motion gave us not only a historical sketch of the situation in Ceylon, but added to it a variety of criticisms, not only on the working of the Constitution, but on the persons who have had to deal with its working in the island. It is very easy to make criticisms of that nature. We are aware that every Legislature which functions in any portion of the world lays itself open to criticism, and when you take the line of picking out all the faults that you can, you may make a very material collection of faults. In order to get a fairer perspective of the position as it was when the Commission made their report, we ought to look at what the position was before the new Constitution was introduced in 1931. Before that date, as hon. Members know, there had been an unofficial majority in the country, and that unofficial majority had power without responsibility. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment referred to that, as did the Donoughmore Commission. A more unsatisfactory state of things cannot be imagined than that of an unofficial majority which has the power to interrupt the whole business of government and yet has not the responsibility of having to answer for what it does. The Donoughmore Commission itself found that the unofficial members, denied all prospect of office, were not in danger of being called upon to translate their criticisms into action. Imagine the result, if we can imagine it, of a permanently impotent Opposition in this Parliament, an Opposition who knew they were there for ever, without any chance of sitting on the Treasury Bench, and who could only relieve their souls by wild criticisms of whatever the Government did. That is exactly what happened in Ceylon. The Commission went on to say in their report: The distinctive feature of their policy was a launching of continuous and irresponsible attacks on the members of the Government, collectively and individually. That was the soil in which the seed of the new Constitution had to be sown, and when hon. Members say, as the seconder of the Motion said, that things have gone from bad to worse, we have to remember the very unsatisfactory condition of affairs in the island before the new great experiment was made. That new experiment has only been in operation for a little more than two years, and to my mind, and I feel sure to the minds of the majority of the Members of this House, it would be not only an improper but a ridiculous thing to say that a Constitution which had only been working for such a short time, a Constitution of an experimental nature like that, should be subjected to immediate review because it had done certain things which laid it open to criticism. I am sure it is far more in consonance with the feelings of this House to let the people in Ceylon know that the Members of this House are watching with interest the working of this great experiment, that we hope it will succeed, but that at the same time they must realise that the responsibility is upon the Members of that House to make the experiment a success.

6.38 p.m.


The whole House will regret that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies is not here to-day to reply to this Debate, and no hon. Member regrets his absence more than I do, but we are all delighted to know that he is now on board ship and that he is steaming back as fast as he can to take his place in this House. No one will disagree with what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said about the contribution which British government in Ceylon has made towards the prosperity and the well-being of the Island and the people of the Island. The only point on which I would take issue with him is in his description of what is happening in the Island to-day. He has asked for a Parliamentary Commission to go out and inquire into what he says is a gross failure of democratic government. What is the position? It is only about six years since a Commission did visit the Island. Three out of the four members of that Commission were Members of Parliament, and therefore that Commission was almost entirely a Parliamentary Commission. They inquired into the very subject which it is proposed that a new Commission should inquire into, namely, the government of the Island of Ceylon, and it is as a result of that almost completely Parliamentary Commission's observations and inquiries that the present Constitution was brought into being in Ceylon.

That Constitution came into being about 2½ years ago, in July, 1931, just about one month before the first National Government took office in this country, and I think that that connection of dates is important, because it brings forcibly to our minds the fact that that Constitution has only been in being so far during times which have been particularly difficult for the Government of any country. They have not been normal times; they have been times of very particular stress, and Ceylon, like other countries, has suffered from the effects of the economic depression. Even in normal times and under normal conditions 2½ years would be a comparatively short period for making up one's mind as to the permanent measure of success or failure of a Constitution, and most certainly 2½ years of abnormal conditions is not a fair trial of a bold Constitution.

What has our experience of these 2½ years been? Has there really been a breakdown in the Constitution. If so, or if there is a real threat of a breakdown in the Constitution, then certainly, I agree, it would be the bounden duty of this Government and this House to inquire carefully and seriously into the whole position. But is there in fact any reason for apprehension or a cause for alarm or even for serious uneasiness? The Motion would suggest that there is, and I listened carefully to hear what evidence would be produced to show that. I am bound to say that my hon. and gallant Friend drew an exceedingly black picture, but, if I may say so, when he was doing that, he showed himself to be a great master of the art of selection; he took what was unusual and made it appear usual, and he took the exception and made it appear the rule. Let us examine the case which has been made. My hon. and gallant Friend treated the House to an extremely interesting historical account of the government in Ceylon and to a very interesting description of the present Constitution. The House is familiar with the Constitution, composed as it is of a Governor, Officers of State, Ministers who are the elected heads of Executive Committees, and the almost entirely popularly elected State Council.

Here I would like to answer a question that was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir N. Stewart Sandeman), who wanted to know how many of these elected Ministers and how many of these elected members of the State Council had been served with prohibitory notices. The answer is, "None at all," and the reason for that is that the Constitution which he is attacking makes it impossible. The Constitution says: No person shall be capable of being elected or appointed as a member or of sitting or voting in the Council as an elected or nominated member who … is an uncertified or undischarged bankrupt or insolvent. That is in the Constitution, and the Constitution is being carried out.


But that is not quite what I meant. You might not be bankrupt but have a writ served against you.


That would be taken as evidence of bankruptcy, and certainly it would be regarded as contrary to the spirit and the letter of this Constitution, and the answer to the hon. Member's question is that there are no members to answer the description suggested by the hon. Member.

We know that the State Council and the popularly elected Ministers have been given certain very wide powers. Side by side with those powers the Governor has certain special powers which can, on occasion, conflict with the powers given to the State Council and the Ministers. The Governor can, for instance, veto any legislation. He can also reserve any Bill for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure. He can, in addition to that, insist on and give effect to measures which he himself believes to be necessary on certain matters, despite the refusal of the State Council to pass them. The hon. and gallant Member believes that that combination of powers—that conflict of powers if you like to describe it so—has resulted in damage to the working of the Constitution, and damage to law and order and the well-being of the Island generally. He says that the State Council "spends its time baiting the Governor." That simply is not true. He says that the Governor has had to use his veto "frequently." I simply is not so. What are the facts? This Constitution has been operating for two and a half years, and the Governor has never once had to use his power of veto. Not only does he not use it frequently, but he has never used it at all.


He has used the power of certification.


That is another matter. There is his power of reserving a measure. He has used that once in two and a half years in the case of the measure concerning debtors, to which the hon. and gallant Member referred. That was the solitary occasion, and instead of that Bill being passed enthusiastically, as my hon. and gallant Friend said, it was passed by a bare majority of one. The Governor used his power to reserve that for His Majesty's pleasure, and the matter was settled satisfactorily, as my hon. and gallant Friend would agree it should be settled, under the terms of this Constitution. With regard to the power that the Governor has to certify measures, he has used that on only a few occasions, the number of which one can count on the fingers of one's hands. On what occasions has he used that power? Here is an example. A Government Assessor was to be appointed. The State Council thought his salary should be a certain figure. The Governor did not feel that that figure was sufficient to get an officer of sufficiently high qualifications and wanted a higher salary to be paid. The Governor used his powers under this Constitution to get a satisfactory settlement of that matter. There was to be a works manager appointed in the Government printing press, and again there was a difference of opinion between the Governor and the State Council and Ministers with regard to the salary. The Governor used his power of certification in order to get a salary which he desired, and which my hon. and gallant Friend would no doubt desire.

It is in that type of case which has been a rare case, that the Governor has used his power, and every one of the cases has been satisfactorily settled under the terms of the Constitution. Yet my hon. and gallant Friend would have us send out a Parliamentary Commission to inquire into the whole question of Government and policy in Ceylon. As a matter of fact, cases of difference of opinion, between the Governor and the Ministers, or the Governor and the State Council, have been very few, and none of these has been so serious as to interfere with the administration of the island.


My hon. Friend would agree that all the cases I gave are accurate?


I agree; but I congratulated the hon. and gallant Member on his art of selection. The point is that anyone not knowing anything about the subject and listening to his speech would have got the impression that this happened every day. He said that the State Council "spent its time baiting the Governor." Only on a few occasions have these matters arisen, and every one of them has been settled under the terms of the Constitution in a manner which would be satisfactory to my hon. and gallant Friend and to every hon. Member. I can assure the House that on questions of policy, in the vast majority of cases the Governor co-operates with the Ministers and the Ministers co-operate with the Governor. Because of something my hon. Friend the Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) said I must make it plain that we have absolute confidence in the Governor, who is carrying out his duties under the Constitution loyally and with the good will of the people in Ceylon. There has been no breakdown of the Constitution; on the contrary, the Constitution on the whole and in difficult years has worked smoothly and satisfactorily and with good will between the Governor, the Legislature and the people.

Let me refer to one or two other matters which have been raised, with regard to questions which might have been expected to create trouble under this Constitution. There is the question of finance. As an hon. Member reminded the House, the Department of Finance comes under one of the Officers of State specially appointed with the approval of the Secretary of State, and the financial policy has been conducted quite satisfactorily under the Constitution. It is true that during these two or three years deficits have been estimated for. But that has nothing to do with the fact that there is democratic government in Ceylon. There are deficits in other Crown Colonies, and it is a state of affairs only too common throughout the Colonies to-day, and, indeed, in far more wealthy communities which are not colonies. That state of affairs is due not to democratic government in Ceylon, but to the world trade depression, which Ceylon has not escaped any more than anyone else. At this moment, under the Constitution the staple industries of Ceylon, such as tea, are improving. Under this Government the financial difficulties are being overcome, and there is no reason to suppose that the Budget will not be balanced in future.

My hon. and gallant Friend mentioned a specific point on which he criticised the State Council on financial matters. He pointed out truthfully that British firms have to pay 2 per cent. more in Income Tax than some other firms in the Island, and he quoted that as a case of dis- crimination against British firms. That is not what happens. The Clause which imposes that additional 2 per cent. says that it shall be charged upon the taxable income of companies whose shares are not movable property situate in Ceylon for the purpose of Ceylon estate duty; and the purpose of that additional 2 per cent. is to make up for the loss of estate duty due to the fact that neither the property owned by such companies in Ceylon nor their shares are liable to Ceylon estate duty. Many countries use various means for levying a special tax in order to make up what they lose on estate duties in that manner. It cannot, therefore, be said by any stretch of the imagination that this is special and vicious discrimination against British firms.

Take the question of police, again a most vital matter. My hon. and gallant Friend tried to make our flesh creep by saying that in two years' time there would be only four Europeans left in the police force. He has no authority for saying that. At the present moment there are more European police officers than Ceylonese officers in the police force. The appointments and promotions are under the control of the Governor. If putting the police force into a Department, the head of which is one of the elected members of the council, had resulted in a deterioration of the efficiency of the force or any failure in their duty to maintain law and order, that would certainly be a matter for serious inquiry. There is no evidence to show that that has happened. My hon. and gallant Friend gave figures to show that cases of crime had increased from something like 9,500 to less than 10,500 within, I think, the last two years. If my hon. and gallant Friend will look at the figures of crime in almost any country in the world during the trade depression, it will be found that one of the effects of the depression has been an increase of crime. It has no more to do with democratic Government in Ceylon than the democratic Government in this country, where the same feature is typical of the trade depression, which is responsible for the increase. All I can say is that the information that we have leads us to believe, and to believe sincerely, that the efficiency of the police force has not been interfered with in any way by being put into a Department that is presided over by one of the elected members. On the contrary, I am given to understand that the highest police officers in Ceylon express the opinion that their conditions are as satisfactory under the new Constitution as they were under the old.

Another extremely important matter is the public service. It is true, again, that if there had been a deterioration in the public service under the new Constitution that would be a matter of serious inquiry. It is important that the conditions of service and pay of public servants in Ceylon should be maintained at a rate which attracts men of efficiency and high qualifications. All that is protected in the Constitution which my hon. Friends have been attacking. They know perfectly well that no measure prejudicial to any officer who was in the service before the Constitution came into being or any officer appointed since with the approval of my right hon. Friend can be put into effect without the sanction of my right hon. Friend. They know that appointments and promotions throughout the public service are under the control of the Governor. No measures can even be introduced into the State Council affecting the conditions of their service or their salaries without the leave of the Governor and, as I have pointed out, in cases where there has been disagreement on these points the Governor has used his power of certification, and his will has prevailed. In the same way the pensions of all these officers are protected under the Constitution. No one is going to say that this is an easy Constitution to work, but I assure the House that nothing has occurred in any of these important Departments—Finance, Police, Public Services, or any other that I know of—which would justify sending to Ceylon a special commission of inquiry, possibly to revise the whole Constitution.

I know that there is one other matter which concerns—and rightly concerns—hon. Members of this House, and which concerns particularly my hon. Friends who sit for Lancashire constituencies: The question of a preference on British cotton goods going into Ceylon. My right hon. Friend has made his views on that question quite as plain as has any Lancashire Member in this House. He has stated his views firmly and sincerely. We are not satisfied with what happened. The Ministers in Ceylon some months ago put forward in the State Council a pro- posal for a whole range of British preferences, and unfortunately the State Council refused to grant those preferences on some items, the most important of which was cotton textiles. My right hon. Friend expressed his view on that occasion quite as firmly as any hon. Member in this House. Nevertheless, let us get the position with regard to the preference on cotton textiles quite clear in our minds, and let us get the perspective of it. In refusing to give that preference, the State Council were not actually breaking any agreement. Largely owing to the brilliant negotiations conducted by my right hon. Friend, the Dominions granted a considerable number of preferences to goods coming into their territories from the Colonies, and, in return for that grant of preferences, my right hon. Friend undertook to do his best to get Colonial Governments to give certain preferences to Dominion goods going into the Colonies. He failed in the case of cotton goods in Ceylon, but the Ceylon State Council were not breaking any actual agreement in refusing, for the reason which my hon. Friends have given—their consideration for their own poor citizens—to grant that preference.

That, however, is not the end of the story. Anybody listening to the speeches which have been delivered in the House this afternoon would think it was. The Ministers proposed a whole series of preferences, and the State Council of Ceylon granted a large number of those preferences on British imports. As a matter of fact, something like half our imports going into Ceylon enjoy substantial preference to-day. I listened in vain to hear any statement about that fact, or any reference to it in the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend. He said nothing that was untrue in the actual cases which he gave, but he left out a good deal that was true as well. In all his explorations of the history of Ceylon he will not find that any preference was given to British goods under the past Crown Colony Government or under the form of Constitution of 1910 or of 1920. It was not until we had the present Constitution and a form of semi-democratic government in Ceylon that preferences were granted on British goods. I am quite sure that my hon. and gallant Friend will not disagree with that statement. He ought to applaud the State Council: they may not have done every- thing that he wanted, but who is going to do that? Every hon. Member of this House respects my hon. and gallant Friend's views on the fiscal question, and every hon. Member recognises that he has fought a tremendous battle, with a good deal of success, for those views. He ought to be the first man to acknowledge what has happened under this Constitution of Ceylon in regard to that matter. In fact, I am not sure that his Motion ought not to read as follows: That this House, in view of the results of democratic government in Ceylon, is of opinion that a Parliamentary Commission should be appointed to proceed to that island to express appreciation of its acceptance of tariffs and its extension of the system of Imperial Preference. We agree, however, about the question of a preference to cotton textiles. The position is that certain preferences were given by the Dominions to the Colonies, including Ceylon, at the Ottawa Conference, and in our view it would have been a reasonable and proper return for those preferences if the State Council of Ceylon had agreed to give a preference to the British cotton textiles coming to their Island. I do not, however, agree that this is a situation which can wisely or profitably be handled by threatening to withdraw the whole Constitution or to appoint a commission of inquiry into the whole wide question, with all its ramifications, of the Constitution in Ceylon.

I should like to make one last point, which has been mentioned before. The suggestion has been made in Ceylon that the time has now come when there should be a considerable extension of the principle of self-government in the Island. My right hon. Friend has made a perfectly clear statement on that suggestion; he has said that he will not consider it, and his perfectly clear statement has settled the matter for the time being. But does the House suppose that the question would be regarded as settled if in a few weeks from now a Parliamentary Commission proceeded to the Island to inquire into the question of the government of Ceylon? The whole question would be raised again, and interested parties would exploit the visit of the commission in order to raise a great agitation. I submit that in the working of the Constitution there have been cases of difference, but they have been exceptional. On the whole, the Constitution has worked smoothly and satisfactorily. Under the Constitution Ceylon is recovering from the difficulties which have been created chiefly by the world economic depression. In any case, the Constitution has been in operation for only two and a-half years, and for those reasons I am afraid that it is impossible for the Government to accept the Motion which has been moved. For the same reasons the Government gladly accept the Amendment which has been moved to the Motion.

7.8 p.m.

Viscount WOLMER

The exceedingly interesting Debate we have had has fully justified my hon. Friend in raising this matter before the House. The very able and eloquent defence which we have had from the Under-Secretary of the working of the Constitution shows the necessity for my hon. and gallant Friend's Motion. The account which the House has just heard from the Front Bench of the working of the 1931 Constitution is very different from the accounts which have reached many hon. Members from other sources. If there is this difference of opinion, the Motion is clearly necessary in a matter of such vital importance to the whole Empire.

This is the first great constitutional experiment on democratic lines to be applied to an oriental nation within the Empire. The importance of the question, therefore, greatly transcends the importance of the island of Ceylon. In view of the extraordinary discrepancy between the official view on how this Constitution is working and the private view which is reaching so many Members of Parliament, my hon. and gallant Friend is amply justified in demanding that there shall be an impartial commission to go and ascertain facts and find out, for the information of this House and of the British people, what the facts are, and how the Constitution is working. The Under-Secretary is absolutely satisfied with the working of the Constitution, and I hope that everybody who is concerned with trade in our Empire in the East will note what, in the minds of the National Government, is a constitutional success. According to the Under-Secretary, if we can achieve elsewhere the results which have been achieved in Ceylon, we shall be installing a great success. I should like to know what is going to happen to British trade in that case. The Under-Secretary drew a very couleur de rose picture, something totally different from the information that has reached us. I will give a very good example of his apt and beautiful phraseology. His concluding reason against the appointment of this commission, he said, was that, "The suggestion has now been made that the democratic powers under this Constitution should be extended." Those words were a delightful description of the fact, which is coming to us unofficially, that the Donoughmore Constitution has absolutely failed to satisfy the demand of the Congress party for self-government; that it is referred to publicly in the Parliamentary Debates of Ceylon as "the detested Donoughmore Constitution"; and that an agitation is on foot, and has, I gather, been on foot ever since the Constitution came into force, for the repeal of every safeguard it contains. My hon. Friend describes that movement as "the suggestion has now been made that the democratic power should be extended." So far as our information goes, and I admit that we have not the same sources of information as the Government——


Might I ask the Noble Lord who "our" is?

Viscount WOLMER

Those who are going to support my hon. and gallant Friend in the Lobby; those hon. Members who are asking for an impartial investigation into the working of the Constitution. We have only unofficial sources of information——


You have got it for Russia.

Viscount WOLMER

——to put against the couleur de rose picture of the Government, and the information that reaches us is of such a grave character that we feel justified in pressing for this enquiry. The opponents of this Motion, the Movers of the Amendment, have said that two and a-half years is a ridiculously short time after which to send out a Commission of Inquiry. But if it is true, as we are told, that the Donoughmore Constitution has absolutely failed to satisfy the popular demand, the Nationalist demand, the demand of the Congress party for self-government, surely the sooner the people of this country are made aware of the fact the better.

We are also told—and I do not think that what the Under-Secretary said really goes against it—that the effect of this Constitution will be the gradual but steady elimination of the British element in the Civil Service of that country. During the short time the Constitution has been working the pension rights of civil servants have been attacked steadily by the Congress party, their leave rights have been attacked, and the period for which their service is to extend has also been attacked. The British element in the Civil Service has fallen by over 20 per cent. in those two years. The significant thing about those facts, as pointed out by my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment, is that under the Constitution the Governor has complete control in all these matters, that is to say, there are the most ample paper safeguards in the Donoughmore Constitution for the protection of all the British civil servants of Ceylon; and yet whereas the annual retirements used to be at the rate of 10 or 12 a year, last year more than 60 members retired from the Civil Service. Is not that enough to show that, in spite of the paper safeguards which the Governor possesses, the British civil servants themselves have not the same confidence in the future of their careers as they had before this Constitution was introduced?

Then there is also the very alarming increase of crime since the Constitution came into force. The Under-Secretary says this is due to no inefficiency in the administration of law and order, and that we can find the same increases of crime in any country in the world, owing to the industrial depression. That is exactly the sort of matter which requires impartial examination by an impartial body, to see whether it is the type of crime caused by economic depression or the type caused by inefficient police administration. Then we come to the question of British trade, and to the fact that, among all the Colonies of the Empire, Ceylon alone has refused to give any sort of preference on British cotton piece goods. I think my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary was talking with his tongue in his cheek when he referred to the fact that in 1910 Ceylon gave no sort of preference to British goods. He knows perfectly well, and the House knows perfectly well, that in 1910 all Colonies were administered by the Colonial Office, that the policy of the House of Commons was Free Trade, and that there was no question of Imperial Preference at all. The great obstructionists to Imperial Preference were then in Downing Street, as they still are.

In the correspondence published there is one fact which has struck me as being very significant. When the Ceylon Council refused to give any preference on Lancashire cotton, the Secretary of State did not veto that decision, which I think he had the power to do, but he warned the Ceylon Government that it would be necessary for this country to reconsider the preference which we give to goods coming from Ceylon. When I read that, I could not help being very strongly reminded of the position which his brother the Dominions Secretary has got into with the Irish Free State. If there is in power in a Dominion or a Colony a body of Ministers who do not intend to play the Imperial game, and who are not prepared to give preferences in the way that Canada and Australia have done, we are bound sooner or later to drift into a tariff war. Just as we have drifted into tariff war in Ireland, it seems that we shall drift into a sort of tariff war with Ceylon. That will be a bad thing for the people of Ceylon, and the very worst thing for Imperial sentiment in the Empire, and I would warn His Majesty's Government that that method of trying to promote Empire trade is not one on which it can be permanently based.

Let the House realise how serious is the situation as regards Lancashire trade with Ceylon. My hon. and gallant Friend reminded the House that in 1913 75 per cent. of the cotton goods taken by Ceylon came from this country. Last year only 15 per cent., in bulk, came from this country, whereas over 60 per cent. came from Japan; and even if we take values, what this country sent was less than 30 per cent. I ask my hon. Friends how they think that the trade of this country can possibly be maintained if, in every part of the Empire, we set up Parliaments which are going to squeeze out and exclude British trade? I do not wish to make any sort of reflection or attack on the Ceylonese politicians. In their point of view, it is perfectly natural, perfectly understandable. We can reproach them with forgetting all that this country has done for Ceylon, but it is only natural that they should forget it. If we arm people with the vote and allow them to elect representatives in a so-called democratic assembly, whose whole authority is drawn from the democratic principle, then those elected members will of necessity try to aggrandise their own position vis-à-vis any controlling authority, and of necessity they will be driven to a very nationalistic point of view. We have seen it arising in Europe, where the multiplication of small States has led to an intensive nationalism which is now one of the greatest sources of danger to the European situation. By giving popular assemblies to different Colonies and clothing them with power in the name of democracy, we are creating the same sort of anti-imperial local nationalisation which, to my mind, is absolutely incompatible with the continuance of British trade within the Empire as we have known it in the past.

If the Under-Secretary and the Government view with complacency what has happened in Ceylon, I would ask those whose livelihood is dependent upon trade with India and other parts of the Empire to look at the example of Ceylon, and to consider what is likely to happen to that trade and to their livelihood, if the same state of affairs, of which my hon. Friend paints so rosy a picture, and which causes so much complacency to the Government, is reproduced in other parts of the world which are still called the British Empire. The tendencies to which I have ventured to allude are based on information which reaches us, on what we read in the public press, on what friends write to us and what we hear from people who come from that country. If those tendencies are correct, if the Donoughmore Constitution has not in the least appeased the nationalistic demands, if we have not satisfied a single one of the agitators of 1931, if we have won no gratitude from any section of the community, if we are no more popular to-day than we were when the Constiution was granted, if the financial affairs of the country—which has admittedly passed through a difficult time—are badly, extravagantly and short-sightedly handled, and the British element in the civil services is being steadily eliminated—if all those results have come from the grant of quasi self-government to Ceylon, surely it is necessary for these matters to be inquired into impartially and brought home to the British people.

Our information is absolutely different from the information of the Government. In putting forward this Motion we are only asking for an impartial inquiry, as much in the interests of the people of this country and of other parts of the Empire as of the interests of the people of Ceylon. But let this House always remember that when we handed over those 5,000,000 Ceylonese to the mercies of the politicians in the council we did not thereby absolve ourselves from responsibility for them, and if that Constitution is not being well worked, if steps are now being taken which will ultimately prejudice the welfare and interests of the people of Ceylon, then surely it is necessary that this House should acquaint itself with the facts at the earliest possible moment, so that mistaken steps should not be pressed too far. For those reasons, if my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) presses his Motion to a Division, I shall certainly support him in the Lobby.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but MR. SPEAKER withheld his

assent, and declined then to put that Question.

7.28 p.m.


I sincerely hope that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) will not press this Motion to a Division. I must admit that I have a great deal of sympathy with what he says and with his criticism. On the other hand, we have to remember that it is only two and a-half years since this Constitution was granted, and the people of Ceylon will say, "Are you making fools of us? We asked for a Constitution, you gave us a Constitution during the most difficult time the world has ever known, and without giving us a chance of showing whether this Constitution is really successful or is not you ask for this inquiry. The whole world is depressed and upset, and why should we be expected to carry on in two and a-half years a new Constitution such as has taken all the countries of Europe hundreds of years——"


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 93; Noes, 138.

Division No. 117.] AYES. [7.30 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Remer, John R.
Alexander, Sir William Hartington, Marquess of Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe Hartland, George A. Rickards, George William
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Bonfield, John William Hornby, Frank Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Bracken, Brendan Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Broadbent, Colonel John Jesson, Major Thomas E. Savery, Samuel Servington
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Knox, Sir Alfred Scone, Lord
Burton, Colonel Henry Walter Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Levy, Thomas Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cook, Thomas A. Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cooke, Douglas Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Craven-Ellis, William Marsden, Commander Arthur Stourton, Hon. John. J.
Daggar, George Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)
Davison, Sir William Henry Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Templeton, William P.
Dawson, Sir Philip Moss, Captain H. J. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert Nall, Sir Joseph Tinker, John Joseph
Donner, P. W. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld) Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. North, Edward T. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Nunn, William Wells, Sydney Richard
Fuller, Captain A. G. Oman, Sir Charles William C Whyte, Jardine Bell
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Paling, Wilfred Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Goff, Sir Park Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Gower, Sir Robert Procter, Major Henry Adam Wise, Alfred R.
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Radford, E. A. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Hanbury, Cecil Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham- TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hanley, Dennis A. Reid, William Allan (Derby) Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft and Lieut.-Commander Agnew.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Glossop, C. W. H. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Moreing, Adrian C.
Aske, Sir Robert William Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Attlee, Clement Richard Graves, Marjorie Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Balniel, Lord Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Ormsby-Gore. Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Bateman, A. L. Groves, Thomas E. Parkinson, John Allen
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Grundy, Thomas W. Patrick, Colin M.
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Gunston, Captain D. W. Pearson, William G.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Guy, J. C. Morrison Peat, Charles U.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Penny, Sir George
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Harbord, Arthur Price, Gabriel
Browne, Captain A. C. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Buchanan, George Holdsworth, Herbert Ratcliffe, Arthur
Butler, Richard Austen Hopkinson, Austin Rathbone, Eleanor
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Horsbrugh, Florence Rea, Walter Russell
Cape, Thomas Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Carver, Major William H. Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Runge, Norah Cecil
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W) Jenkins, Sir William Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) John, William Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Soper, Richard
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Colman, N. C. D. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Spans, William Patrick
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Kirkwood, David Strauss, Edward A.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Law, Sir Alfred Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.) Sutcliffe, Harold
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lawson, John James Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Leech, Dr. J. W. Thorne, William James
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Dickie, John P. Loftus, Pierce C. Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Dobble, William Logan, David Gilbert Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Lunn, William Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Dunglass, Lord McCorquodale, M. S. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Edwards, Charles MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. McEntee, Valentine L. Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare McKie, John Hamilton Wilmot, John
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Mainwaring, William Henry Withers, Sir John James
Fermoy, Lord Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot Womersley, Walter James
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Fremantle, Sir Francis Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Gillett, Sir George Masterman Maxton, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Gledhill, Gilbert Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Lieut.-Colonel J. Sandeman Allen and Dr. McLean.

It being after Half-past Seven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.