HC Deb 11 April 1935 vol 300 cc1468-73

If His Majesty's Representative for the exercise of the functions of the Crown in its relations with Indian States requests the assistance of armed forces for the due discharge of those functions, it shall be the duty of the Governor-General in the exercise of the executive authority of the Federation to cause the necessary forces to be employed accordingly.—[Mr. J. C. Davidson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

10.28 p.m.

The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. J. C. Davidson)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I hope that this Clause will not occupy the time of the Committee for very long, because its purpose is to make explicit that which is already implicit in the Bill, namely, that the representative of the Crown should be able to have at his disposal the necessary armed forces to carry out the discharge of his function for the protection of the State. The representations were made, as hon. Members will see in page 35 of the White Paper by the Indian States to the effect that they thought that it would be better if some specific provision were made in the Bill making it clear that representative of the Crown would have at his disposal the necessary forces to implement the Crown's obligation in relation to the States, and the Government felt that it would not be proper or technically right not to accede to that request. That is the reason why this Clause has been submitted.


What is meant by "His Majesty's Representative"? Is His Majesty's representative not the Governor-General himself?


Yes. The Viceroy.


It is not a case of two separate people discharging these functions.



10.30 p.m.

Viscount WOLMER

The wording of the Clause is obscure. I have never been able to understand from the beginning of this Bill why the Government, having created so many precedents, could not have created the very valuable precedent of calling the Viceroy the Viceroy, instead of going through the absurdity of calling him: His Majesty's Representative for the exercise of the functions of the Crown. If we substitute for that rigmarole, the word "Viceroy," the Clause would read as follows: If the Viceroy … requests the assistance of armed forces for the due discharge of those functions, it shall be the duty of the Governor-General that is, the same person in a different capacity in the exercise of the executive authority of the Federation to cause the necessary forces to be employed accordingly. I do not think that my right hon. Friend has made plain the necessity for these words. I am ready to believe that there is a legal necessity, because there cannot be any other conceivable reason for inserting the words. We might as well say that if the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster requests the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Davidson) to do something, he shall do it. What is the object of putting these words in the Clause.

10.32 p.m.


I sympathise with my Noble Friend. Perhaps that is too patronising a phrase to use, so I will say that I appreciate the point which my Noble Friend has raised. The reason why this has been done was that it was very important to distinguish between the Governor-General as head of the Federation and the same individual in his capacity as the representative of the Crown in its relations with the Indian States. If we had used the words suggested by my Noble Friend we should have got into greater confusion than that which he suggests is caused by the use of the words in the Clause, because in every case in which the word Viceroy appeared it would not have been clear whether the Clause was referring to the same individual in his capacity as executive head of the Federation or in his capacity as His Majesty's Representative dealing with the Indian States. For that reason I believe that on the whole we get over the difficulties of terminology, as in Clause 3, by using the term "Governor-General" as applicable to the Viceroy in his capacity as head of the Federation, while the term "His Majesty's Representative" is used in regard to the exercise of functions required in his relations with the Indian States. My Noble Friend will see from Clause 3 (3) that it shall be lawful for His Majesty to appoint one person to fill both offices. My Noble Friend may say that it is absurd to use the form which we adopt in the Clause, but I believe it would have been more difficult if the description which he suggests had been used.

10.35 p.m.

Viscount WOLMER

I am grateful to the Solicitor-General for his sympathy. Anyone is grateful for the sympathy of a lawyer on a legal Clause. It is necessary that these legal points should be made quite clear to stupid laymen. I quite follow his explanation in regard to the different nomenclature, but am I right in thinking that the purpose of the Clause is that if the Viceroy decides that troops are necessary for the protection of the States, or in regard to any other sphere in which the Viceroy's paramountcy is solely concerned, he is entitled to call upon the Federation to foot the bill. Is that the real point? Are you not making the Viceroy certify to the Governor-General that the troops were required for Imperial purposes, which were not strictly Federation purposes? In that case the same gentleman in his capacity as Governor-General can authorise troops maintained by the Federation to be employed outside Federation purposes.


In plain English does not the Clause provide that if there is a rebellion in a native State the Viceroy can authorise the troops to march in and put down the rebellion?


I would say possible rebellion or conspiracy emanating from outside to upset the dynasty in a particular State. You must consider both sides. The situation really is simple. If the Viceroy in the exercise of his powers decides that he wants troops in order to carry out his treaty obligations to the States or for any other purpose in carrying out his functions of the Crown, he exercises, in his capacity as Governor-General, the executive authority of the Federation he can cause the forces to be employed accordingly. Whether they are paid for by the State in question or by the Federation is a matter which depends on circumstances.

Viscount WOLMER

I take it that would be applicable whether the State had acceded to the Federation or not?




In view of the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) I would point out that the Clause also gives power to the Governor-General to employ troops in the case of a refractory Prince.

10.39 p.m.


The difficulty really seems to arise when the Governor-General also acts as the Viceroy. There may be two persons, but it has been clearly explained that one person will hold the two offices and exercises these two ranges of power. Why not put that down in plain language?


The right hon. and gallant Member is now getting quite outside the new Clause. The question as to whether these two positions may or may not be held by the same individual was settled on an earlier Clause of the Bill.


I am aware of that, but I am suggesting that the matter should be reconsidered before Report. The Government might greatly simplify this Clause and other passages in the Bill as well, if they used simple language. Why not use the term "Viceroy" instead of "His Majesty's Representative" in the proposed new Clause?

10.40 p.m.


This Clause still leaves uncertain a point which I tried to raise on an earlier Clause, but which was held not to be in order on that occasion. That is the question of how a State should be dealt with in a case where the force required was not necessarily the Army under the direct orders of the Governor-General but a force of police—


I am afraid that the hon. Member is not in order in raising the matter on this occasion either.


May I ask the Under-Secretary to make clearer the real import of this Clause? Is it not a matter of who is going to pay, in case the armed forces of the Crown are employed?


The question of payment does not arise on this Clause

Clause added to the Bill.