HC Deb 10 April 1935 vol 300 cc1155-7

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can now make any further statement regarding the document purporting to represent the views of the Indian Civil Service in Bengal which was discussed on a Motion to Report Progress on Friday last


Yes, Sir. I have received a further telegraphic report on the subject from the Governor of Bengal. I have already stated that the note dated the 16th December which was published in the Press was not adopted by the Indian Civil Service Association in Bengal nor by any other Service body in India, and that the only authoritative and representative statement of the views of the Service is the memorial of the 22nd January relating to Service safeguards.

Sir John Anderson's report enables me to add further details to the account given in this House last Friday. The document of the 16th December was circulated by the Committee on the 30th December to members of the Bengal Civil Service Association without any covering letter. On the 5th January postcards were despatched to the recipients of the document saying that, failing a reply by the 12th January, their agreement would be assumed. A few more than six written replies were received and these, in addition to informal oral opinions of various members stationed in Calcutta, led the Committee to the conclusion that there was agreement so far as the question of pressing for Service safeguards was concerned. This led to the drawing up and adoption of the memorial dated the 22nd January.

The points contained in the memorial of the 22nd January were fully examined when I received a deputation representing the Indian Civil Service as a whole and other Indian Services, and later in the discussions on the Service safeguards in the Committee proceedings in this House.

Sir John Anderson entirely confirms what I said in the Committee on Friday last as to the resentment that would be felt by the Service in Bengal about the disclosure of the earlier confidential document and about the attribution to them of the political opinions expressed in it. There arc already indications that members of the Service are themselves anxious to take steps that will counteract any false impression that may have been created in this country.

Finally, Sir John Anderson informs me that no one is authorised to express on behalf of the Bengal Association any views on the Bill or to use any arguments which go beyond the memorial of the 22nd January. The representatives of the Association in this country were accredited by the Association only for the purpose of appearing before me in support of the memorial of the 22nd January, and they have been reminded by the Association of the limit of their authority.


Is my right hon. Friend not anxious to get beneath the formal presentment of the views of a disciplined Service and to have some realisation of the actual feeling and opinion which prevail in that Service?

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT

Is it not a fact that the official document in regard to the question of all Service conditions does in fact repeat the contention, though in very different language, of the unofficial note?


My hon. and gallant Friend can judge for himself. The two documents are before every hon. Member. In answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), I would say that the only document authorised by the Bengal Branch or by the Indian Civil Service is the memorial that we have already taken into account, and I demur entirely from the suggestion that we ought to take into account confidential documents, obtained I know not how, which have not been adopted in the memorial.