HC Deb 05 April 1935 vol 300 cc731-7

1.48 p.m.


I have put down the following Amendment upon the Order Paper: In page 133, line 10, to leave out sub-section (3), and to insert: (3) Nothing in this Act or in any rules made under this Act, and no repeal made by this Act of any enactment and no provision of any Act of any legislature in India shall take effect so as to deprive any person mentioned in the last two preceding Sub-sections of any right given, preserved, or continued to such person by or under section ninety-six B of the Government of India Act or any rules made under that Act. The Bill nowhere contains a definite and explicit provision for preserving the existing rights and conditions of service for officers now in the service who have been appointed by the Secretary of State in Council. Such protection is probably implied or might be found by an intricate process of comparison of and between the various Clauses and provisions in different parts of the Services section. The difficulty seems to be largely due to the way in which the case of such officers, namely, those appointed by the Secretary of State in Council, is linked up by means of Clause 239 to the case of officers dealt with in the four immediately preceding Clauses—


Will my hon. and gallant Friend allow me to make a short intervention? I am informed by the draftsman that the Bill as it is safeguards the position much more definitely than would the Amendment which my hon. and gallant Friend has devised, and that the Services would be much better satisfied with the Bill as it is than they would be if the proposed Amendment were included.


After the right hon. Gentleman's observations I do not propose to move the Amendment. The only point was that having regard to the four previous Clauses it was not definitely clear whether the entire rights of the officers appointed were guarded, and in view of the Debate which we have had this morning I am perfectly confident that the Secretary of State would not wish that there should be any doubt on the point.

1.50 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN

I beg to move, ill page 133, line 23, at the end, to insert: (4) Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (1) of the section of this Act of which the marginal note is Conditions of service, pensions, etc., of persons recruited by Secretary of State,' the conditions of service of the persons mentioned in the first two Sub-sections of this section shall be regulated by rules to be made by the Secretary of State with the concurrence of his advisers in respect of all matters in respect of which the said conditions were, before the commencement of Part III of this Act, regulated by rules made by the Secretary of State in Council. Provided that no rule made under this Sub-section shall have effect so as to give to any person less favourable terms as regards rights and conditions of service than were given to such person by rules made by the Secretary of State in Council. The provisions of Sub-section (3) of this Act of which the marginal note is Reserved posts 'shall apply to any rules made under this Sub-section. This is a difficult Amendment to move at this particular moment, because after the Debate which has taken place on the whole position of the Civil Servant, I am not sure that even this Amendment is entirely adequate, though it certainly is far more necessary, after what we have heard this morning, than I believed it was when I first put it down. Sub-section (1) of Clause 236 obliges the Secretary of State to make rules on certain matters, namely, pay, leave and pensions. As regards other matters unspecified, he may or may not make rules as he pleases. If he does not, it is obvious the rules will have to be made by the Governor-General or Governors or other persons deputed by them. The Services are under very considerable apprehension about the Secretary of State deputing this rule-making power. It is true that it covers leave and pensions and so on, or could be made to cover most of the matters which at present are regulated by the rules of the Secretary of State in Council, but there are certain matters about which the position remains rather indefinite; for instance, the rules regulating home allowances, provision for medical treatment and things of that nature. The object of this Amendment is to ensure that the Secretary of State shall be obliged, as regards officers now in the service, to make rules for all matters which are regulated at present by the rules made by the Secretary of State in Council, so that no new rule shall be less favourable than the corresponding one now in existence. If the Committee will refer to paragraphs (a) and (b) of Sub-section (2) of this Clause it will be seen that (a) says: Not being a person appointed as aforesaid by the Secretary of State or Secretary of State in Council, holds or has held a reserved post. These civil servants who are not appointed by the Secretary of State would, without this Amendment, as far as I am able to understand, come under rules made either by the Governor-General, the Governor, or authorities or persons appointed by them. It is because of pressure which may be and probably would be upon these persons that this Amendment is put forward. I see no reason why the Secretary of State should not grant this quite small safeguard. Paragraph (b) of Sub-section (2) says: holds or has held any civil post under the Crown in India and is or was when he was first appointed to such a post an officer in His Majesty's forces. Possibly the Committee will not understand the position of that portion of the Civil Service in India. A high number of appointments in India are held by officers, and usually by officers of the Indian Army. They are transferred to certain appointments for which they are peculiarly qualified by reason of their service in the Army. I have known many of them personally. They are men who have made a life study of Indian conditions, possibly of one particular Province or part of India. They know the language, and they are probably interpreters of the language; they know the people, their customs, religions and habits. They are peculiarly fitted for these posts. Such a post often carries with it a position of a semi-military character. The posts are either on the frontier or in the native States, where an officer of the Indian Army is peculiarly fitted to hold the post.

It is for the protection of these that acceptance of my Amendment is so essential. It is a very small thing to ask that the Secretary of State should take to himself power instead or delegating it —I cannot see why it should be delegated—for the protection of our own people who are in the Civil Service. After what I have said, and in the knowledge that the civil servants are in real fear of the consequences of the safeguards, I hope that the Secretary of State will retain in his own hands the careers and the future of these officers. I very much doubt whether officers who are now in the Indian Army would be prepared to sacrifice years of service to be transferred into the Civil Service if they had not the knowledge that their careers, their appointments and all the details were protected under the hand of the Secretary of State, and were not delegated to those who may be advised by Ministers appointed under the Bill, or under a Governor who may himself be an Indian. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment and to grant this little safeguard for those who have spent their lives in India.

2.0 p.m.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)

I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Member for Enfield (Lieut.-Colonel Applin) was in the House, but he has raised exactly the same point as one which was raised yesterday on Clause 236, and with which I endeavoured to deal. It is not in order for us to go back on that decision, so I will just repeat what I pointed out then.. The Secretary of State is only able to make rules as to the important matters of pay, leave and pensions. With regard to other matters, he reserves power to step in if he reserves power to step in if he thinks injustice is being done and to make rules. It seems obviously wrong that in matters where there may be occasion not infrequently to alter the regulations in order to suit local needs and changing circumstances, the rule-making power should not be in the hands of those on the spot. Certainly that is a more satisfactory position

The hon. and gallant Member referred to persons who come under paragraph (a) of the clause. That matter is subject to the decision of the Secretary of State and his advisers, who have full power to decide that a person under paragraph (a) shall, for all purposes, privileges and rights, be in the same position as those recruited by the Secretary of State, and in all proper cases that right would be exercised. Should the event arise that a person not appointed as aforesaid held a reserved post, he would be given the same privileges an put in the same position as a holder of a reserved post appointed by my right hon. Friend. I think those are the only two points raised by the hon. and gallant Member and, in view of what I have said and of the decision which the Committee came to yesterday, I hope that he will not press his Amendment.

2.3 p.m.


In view of what the Solicitor-General has just said, I should like to remind him that, as I understood, the Secretary of State promised yesterday to give consideration to the question of including certain subjects under paragraph (a) of Clause 236. I asked that the rule making in regard to home allowance and medical treatment should be in the hands of the Secretary of State and not delegated to the Governors or the Governor-General. The Secretary of State ought to be flattered at the wish of the Civil Service to have rules that are kept in the power of the Secretary of State. They do not know who the Governor will be in the future, and they are frightened of that uncertainty. They are thinking of the power of Parliament to control this matter to a certain extent.

2.4 p.m.


What I said last night on Clause 236 will apply equally to Clause 239. It was that if any hon. Member could convince me that there was something in the same category as the other three items in paragraph (a) of Clause 236, I would consider the possibility of including that item with the other three.

Amendment negatived.

2.5 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 133, line 32, at the end, to add: (5) Any liability of the Federation or of any Province to or in respect of any person appointed before the commencement of Part III of this Act by the Secretary of State in Council to a civil service of, or a civil post under, the Crown in India being a liability of such a nature as to have been enforceable in legal proceedings against the Secretary of State in Council if this Act had not been passed shall, notwithstanding anything in this Act, be deemed, for the purposes of the provisions of Part VII of this Act relating to legal proceedings, to be a liability arising under a statute passed before the commencement of Part III of this Act. This is a drafting Amendment which adds nothing to the intention of the Bill. It reserves the rights of officers who have legal claims which could have been enforced by proceedings against the Secretary of State before the Bill was passed, so that the proceedings can be taken against a Province or the Federation, as the case may be, or, alternatively, against the Secretary of State. It is in accordance with a recommendation of the Joint Select Committee. It was thought that the point was covered in Clause 174, which is in general words, but it is now thought desirable to put the words in here.

2.5 p.m.


I beg to move, as an amendment to the proposed amendment, in line 3, after the word, "being," to insert: a liability to pay a pension granted to any such person, or. This Amendment, which I understand the Secretary of State is willing to accept, is intended to strengthen the possibly loose wording of the Civil Service Regulations which would enable, as regards rupee pensions, the plea to be advanced that there was no liability on the Secretary of State which could become the subject of a suit to oblige him to pay rupee pensions as distinguished from those of the Indians Civil Service. The object is to give to the rupee pensions of all the Services which differ from the Indian Civil Service the like benefit without any manner of doubt. I apologise to the Committee for the fact that the Amendment is in manuscript form.

2.6 p.m.


I desire to make a modest protest. This is the third time during the present week that manuscript amendments of some importance have been presented to the Committee. Many Members of the Committee have not even seen the present Amendment. We would ask that copies of such Amendment should be circulated to the Committee, so that we may all be able to study them. The Amendments have been on the Paper for some days, and it ought to have been possible to include these manuscript amendments on the Order Paper, instead of moving them in manuscript form.

2.7 p.m.

Duchess of ATHOLL

As one who sinned by handing in a manuscript amendment two or three days ago, I feel that I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that we are working under tremendous pressure, owing to the number of days on which this Bill is being dealt with every week. I do not think that hon. Members opposite have been putting down Amendments to recent Clauses of the Bill as much as we on these Benches have, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it is only with the very greatest difficulty that we are able to go through the Amendments so far ahead as to be able to hand in our Amendments in time for them to be printed on the Order Paper.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.

Proposed words, as amended, there added.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.