§ Again considered in Committee.
§ [Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Before the intervention of Black Rod I was saying that I gathered from the Secretary of State that he was giving an undertaking to the Committee, and through the Committee to the Princes in India, that if in any particular any agreement which might have been arrived at between him and them, or any agreement that was understood to have been arrived at between him and the Princes in various conferences was not fully implemented in the Bill, he was quite prepared to see that those promises were fully implemented hereafter. We really must get to know what is involved in this business. So far as we know officially in this House the only promises that have been made by the Princes or to 992 the Princes in the past are redeemed in the. Clauses and Schedules of this Bill.
Yesterday there was the discussion in the Chamber of Princes, and as a result a decision was arrived at that in the view of the Princes the provisions in the Clauses of the Bill do not fully implement what the Princes understood to be agreed between them and the Secretary of State. This afternoon the Secretary of State has been at great pains to try to show that the Princes are labouring under a misconception; but we really must urge, with the right hon. Member for Epping, that there is a case for moving to report progress, because we cannot agree to handing over to the Princes a blank cheque to be filled in anyhow. We must know on what condition the Princes come in. It will not do for one Prince to be allowed to come into the Federation acceding, say, to 10 subjects, another Prince to 20 subjects, another to 50 subjects, another to 30 subjects and another to only one subject.
On the Order Paper to-day my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) will move an Amendment dealing with labour conditions and conditions in relation to the International Labour Office. Is any single Prince to be allowed to determine for himself whether or not to accede in respect of this labour question? Are some Princes to accept it as a federation subject in relation to themselves, and others not? What sort of chaos shall we have in India if that is to be allowed? Surely we ought to know, therefore, what are the terms upon which these gentlemen—I say nothing unkindly about them—are to be permitted to join the Federation. If there is to be a further discussion, if there are to be further negotiations, clearly the case for postponing consideration of Clauses 5 and 6 is all the stronger. If there are no further agreements to be made, no further concessions to be granted, very well, we know where we are. But do we know where we are? There is no one in this Committee at the moment who knows. I see that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) is somewhat amused by that observation. He and I were on the Joint Select Committee, and I venture to say that unless he has private information to which I have no access, he does not know the terms on which the Princes 993 are acceding to the Federation, that is to say as regards each separate (Prince. There is no common standard of accession, even judging by what the Secretary of State has said this afternoon.
Let me refer to another point. There has been an elaborate effort on the part of the Government to meet the wishes and the tender susceptibilities of the Princes. I understand, and have always understood, that the case of the Government is that in the last resort the British Parliament would have the final word in this matter, that we were the persons to lay down the conditions upon which the future Constitution of India was to be founded. Do we always ask British India with this elaborate care what British India wants? We are almost grovelling on our knees this afternoon to find out what the Princes want. By all means find out what their terms are, but because they state their terms in ever increasing intensity and with ever increasing difficulty for the Government, that is no reason why we should bow the knee to the Princes whenever they choose to raise their terms. I rather suspect that the situation to-day really predicates a position where the Princes are in fact seizing the situation in order to alter the terms, and to make severer bargain terms with the Government than we originally supposed to be the case.
In any case I hope that during these discussions we shall not lose sight of the fact that there are two partners to this Federation, if federation means anything at all—on the one side the Princes and on the other side British India—and I assert that a democratic House of Commons has no right to consider merely the claims and the dictates of autocratic States and Princes, while forgetting altogether the claims and the rights of the more democratic part of India. We are not prepared to accept the view that, as a price to be paid for federation, British-India should be subjected for all time to the demands, the opinions, the point of view of autocratic Princes. Therefore, although we do not approach the problem from the same point of view as certain hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite; although we do not entertain the same feelings as they do, towards the further development of self-government in India; although we want a much larger measure of self-government than they would be 994 willing to concede, although they obviously wish to arrest development at a certain point much short of that where we would wish to stop—yet all the same we are at one with them in demanding greater clarity in regard to the present situation.
The Secretary of State ought not to ask us this afternoon to allow this development regarding the Princes to proceed further without knowing exactly where we are going to be in relation to it. I suppose that negotiations will take place. The right hon. Gentleman was speaking to the Princes, who are 6,000 miles away from us, and was trying to remove misconceptions, as he called them, and misgivings which the Princes entertained. We too have misgivings and they are very strong and increasing misgivings concerning the implications of this Bill, not merely for the Princes but for the people of British India as well. Every time I read this Bill I am more and more impressed with the fact that we seem to be forging an instrument by which the people of British India are ultimately going to be placed permanently—because there is no provision in the Bill for a change—under the control of the Princes of India. For that reason, and in order that we may have some further clarity introduced into this situation, we support the Motion to report Progress.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Anyone knowing these Clauses only by the numbers under which they have been mentioned this afternoon, might be misled by the speech of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). I do not suppose that there is anyone in this Committee who thinks that the Princes are the only people to be considered Or who is not aware of the immensely greater responsibilities that we have—because they are more direct and more personal—to the people of British India than to the rulers of the States outside. But these Clauses, the discussion of which we are asked by this Motion to postpone, are Clauses dealing particularly with the interests of the Princes and with the conditions upon which they shall join the Federation and with the surrender of powers which they should make on joining. If, therefore, the discussion this afternoon turns more particularly on the position of the Indian 995 States and less particularly upon British India that is because it is a rule of our discussions that they should be appropriate to the subject which is immediately before us.
I pass from the speech of the hon. Member for Caerphilly—perhaps to return to it—and I desire to say at once that I think the whole Committee, or at any rate the great mass of the Committee must have listened, as I did, with sympathy and with admiration to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India. I am glad to find that he, with his greater knowledge, has formed the same view of the resolution of the Princes and of such indications as he or we have had as to the particular points in regard to which they feel doubt and hesitation, as I had myself formed on reading the public Press. I cannot trace in any one of these various subjects any point that was not present to the minds of the Joint Select Committee; which was not fully discussed with the representatives of the Princes and the Indian delegates in the course of our discussions with them; discussed again among the members of the Committee before ever the chairman undertook to draft his report, and finally discussed and considered in the drafting and amendment of the report itself.
I agree with my right hon. Friend and indeed it is the contention of the Princes themselves in their resolution, that they have not changed their attitude on federation; that from the first they have stated certain conditions and that on such examination as they have been able at present to give to the Bill, they do not think that those conditions are fully met. I am confident that it was the intention of the Joint Select Committee in their report to meet them, and I thought myself that we had met them. I thought there were points that ought to be met and on which the Princes had a right to be reassured, and I thought we had given them that reassurance. I have interpreted the Bill, as far as a layman can, as being the expression in statutory language of the intentions of the Joint Select Committee.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for pointing out that we always understood at the 996 Joint Select Committee that, while the Princes agreed to put forward their proposals to us and we were trying to meet those proposals, they were giving no final judgment until they had seen the complete picture, and this Bill is the complete picture.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
That is perfectly true, and it has a direct bearing upon the Motion. They cannot see the complete picture except in the form of the Bill, and they will not see it until the Bill itself has been completed and has received the approval of both Houses of Parliament. To adjourn its consideration in order that we may obtain further light upon their proceedings is merely to enter upon a circle which has no ending. They cannot tell you whether they approve of the Bill or not until they see the form in which it stands. We must go forward with our work, trying to remove their apprehensions wherever we find those apprehensions well-founded, trying to meet all that is reasonable in their demands, but not, let it be well understood, willing to or meaning to allow this House to be driven from what this House thinks right or to enter into a "Dutch auction" for the support of the Princes for the proposals.
I am glad to see that my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) has returned to his place. I was greatly touched by his solicitude about what he thought was the uncomfortable position in which I had been placed, and I hope I may relieve his anxiety—the natural anxiety of so old and dear a friend if he will allow me to say so—by telling him that I am not in the least embarrassed by what I said in earlier discussions in the House of Commons on this subject. I think, on the contrary, that this latest development of the situation confirms, if I may say so, the wisdom of the advice which I ventured to tender to my friends. I know that my right hon. Friend does not agree with me, but then he and I approach this question from different points of view. I approach it from the point of view of a man who is sincerely convinced that a National Government, formed on the broadest basis possible, is our only hope of safety in these difficult times. My right hon. Friend approaches the consideration of this and all other questions from the point of view of a man who has never 997 been enamoured of the National Government.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My right hon. Friend is really doing me an injustice. I have dealt with this Indian question on its merits, and I would have taken exactly the same line as I have taken this afternoon two years before the National Government was formed.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. Friend will not deny, however, that he has no love for the National Government.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
Of its relevance the Committee will judge. They will take note of the fact that my right hon. Friend does not deny that he approaches this question, in its present form, from the point of view of a man who has no love for the National Government, but who, as I understand, desires to resume party politics, and, as a first step towards that most desirable end, is presently going into the Lobby with his Socialist opponents. There is another difference and one which perhaps goes still further to explain our different points of view. My right hon. Friend declined to serve on the Joint Select Committee. I spent the best part of two years in a close study of this question, in conference with Indians of all points of view and in discussion with my colleagues in the House of Commons and the Members of another House. The views which I offer to the Committee are the result of long experience in Government, sharpened and augmented by that two years of intimate association with these matters.
I remain of the opinion, and I desire to affirm it with all earnestness to this Committee, that this experiment, this great development in Indian government, will be much more safely undertaken if it be accompanied by the establishment of a Federation of All-India than if the reforms are confined to British India alone. I believe that the interests of the Princes are intimately associated with the British Empire, just as for the same reason our interests are intimately associated with theirs, and I believe that they and we alike will find safety for ourselves and security for that which we hold most dear by their entry into a great 998 federation which for the first time will consecrate the political unity of all India.
What is the alternative? It would be the establishment of provincial autonomy in all the Provinces. Let me say, in passing, that my right hon. Friend is not quite candid in these latter days when he continuously talks of himself as if he has been from the first a whole-hearted approver of the Simon Commission and a whole-hearted accepter of its report.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have never said that at any time. The phrase that I have always used was, that I was prepared to act within the ambit of the Statutory Commission's report.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
What a lovely phrase. Ah, if you could govern the world with phrases, the whole world would elect my right hon. Friend as dictator. But I think it is important, perhaps less for ourselves than for audiences outside, to state that my right hon. Friend never has accepted the Simon Report and would not accept it to-day if that alternative were put before him. My right hon. Friend has his own scheme, but it is not the scheme of the Simon Report; it is not a scheme approved by any party to the Round Table Conferences; it would not receive the support of more than a small minority of the Joint Select Committee; and it has been rejected by great majorities in this and the other House. What is it? It is the establishment, not of provincial autonomy, as the Simon Commission recommend, but of a more limited provincial autonomy and to leave the Central Government of India untouched. I believe that to be entering on a fatal course, and I beg both the Princes of India, if my voice can reach them, and Members of this Committee to consider where that will lead. You will create 12 powerful organs of public opinion and at the same moment disappoint all the hopes which they can legitimately hold after the past four years of Indian discussion and conference and of the resolutions of this House. If you establish those bodies and discontent them and render them your enemies in the moment that you establish them, can you find any support for your Government from them?
What will be and what must be their purpose? It must be, of course, to overthrow the Central Government as at present established and to substitute a 999 system of responsible government at the Centre for British India alone. It is common ground, at any rate, to all of us in these days that responsibility at the Centre can only be granted as part of a federal system including the Indian States. If, by your own act, you refuse to make that federation possible, if you refuse the opportunity to the Princes and to British India to join in such a federation, are you certain that sooner or later—yes, and as things move to-day sooner rather than later—you will not be driven to establishing responsible government at the Centre for British India alone? And do you think you will have done a good day's work for the British Empire or for the connection of India with this country if you have reached that result? What will the Princes think? They will have had offered to them such terms as this House is ready to make for them to-day, which secure them in the just retention of their rights and sovereignty.
There is a plausible case for the adjournment, and I do not criticise my right hon. Friend for his Motion. I am glad he has given us the opportunity of something like a Second Reading debate once more on this question, but I beg the Committee not to be led away. I agree with the hon. Member opposite that in the last resort responsibility rests with this House, and I must say on that that my right hon. Friend who denounces us, his colleagues, members of his party, with having abdicated our responsibilities and with running away from our trust, is at one moment begging the Committee to act upon the vote which the Congress party gave the other day in the Legislature, and at another to wait upon the will of the Princes before this Committee comes to any decision. I do not so understand our responsibilities. We have had two years' examination of this problem of the future of Indian government by the Simon Commission, we have had three years of round table conferences, we have had two years of the most minute inquiry by the Joint Select Committee of the two Houses, and I venture to say that the time has now come when this House Must shoulder its responsibility, must face the problem, and say here and now, after the fullest consideration of all shades of Indian thought and all shades 1000 of opinion here at home, what constitution we are willing to offer and within what limits we are ready to move. It is on us and on us alone that that responsibility rests, and now is the time when we should discharge it.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I would like to express the thanks of the Committee to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) for the very clear statement he has made of what I believe is the position of the majority of the Committee. I do not follow him altogether in the statement that we have to leave everything to the decision of this House, because this is not our constitution that we are dealing with, and we are dealing, not with conditions under which we ourselves are to live, but with a constitution and with conditions that must be very much more intimate and important to Indians than they can be to us. But with that qualification, I will associate myself, if he will allow me to say so, with his statement. If there be any criticism that I would like to make as far as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State is concerned, it is that in the course of his speech just now—I hope I misunderstood him—he said that when further representations were made by the Princes, we should be prepared to meet them in all particulars.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for giving way. Let me at once clear up the point, if there be any misunderstanding. All that I meant to say, whatever I may have said, was that we would carry out the agreements. And when I said "agreements," I did not mean any secret undertakings; I meant the results of the long period of consideration and examination, and I meant no more than that.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman -for his statement, because it will relieve my mind upon a 1001 point of considerable importance; and, as far as those of us on these benches are concerned, we are glad the right hon. Gentleman has decided that we shall proceed with the discussion on the Bill, because we agree with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham that if any postponement took place now, particularly upon the ground that is suggested by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), it would be an indefinite postponement. The right hon. Gentleman's proposal was that you, Sir, should now leave the Chair and that the Committee should adjourn. He was not able to suggest when again we should meet. I wonder when he would like us to meet again to discuss this Bill? His concern is not for its postponement. His concern is for the defeat of the Bill, and he would like postponement, not while we are discussing these few outstanding questions. His proposal is not merely a dilatory proposal; it was intended to kill the Bill.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Secretary of State has told us that it is desirable that we should know where we stand in relation to the Princes as quickly as possible, and he has foreshadowed a very large number of Amendments that are to be put on the Order Paper. I suggest that before these proposals are made, we shall see what the Amendments are.
§ Mr. FOOT
I know that, as the right hon. Member for West Birmingham has said, all that can be put into the customary phrases of this House, but the right hon. Member for Epping has made it clear from the beginning that he is against the Bill, and, if we met again to discuss this matter, it would not be the desire of the right hon. Gentleman that we should do it. He wants a postponement for the longest possible time. I know very well, and the Committee knows very well, that if the Bill were postponed, it would be postponed in order to take what steps? We are apparently to wait for a communication that may come from the Princes. They are to meet again and to consider what may be put before them by the Viceroy and the Secretary of State. We do not know what may be the Arrangements of the States themselves. It is not the simplest thing in the world to call together the Chamber of Princes. They are not able to speak with full authority, 1002 because there are many who are not members of the Chamber of Princes at all, and if a decision were made by some of the Princes, it might not be acquiesced in by the others. Before the Committee could proceed with the Bill again upon Clauses 5 and 6 and the Clauses that deal with federation, there would be a postponement that would render impossible, probably, the carrying of the Bill this year.
I know that is the intention of many Members as things are. The programme has been so set out before the House that we know that it will take until Whitsuntide before the Bill is through this House. There will have to be the prolonged debates which will take place in another House before we rise for the vacation. Most of the time will be taken if the Bill is to be secured, and if anyone thinks that its postponement until another year will not create the most serious difficulties, it, is because they have not thought about this problem and have not studied Indian conditions. The whole of Indian history in the last 25 years has been a comment on being too late. The delay between the declaration of Mr. Montagu in 1917 and the passing of the Bill in 1919 was a dangerous delay in Indian history. The delay which took place between the first Round Table Conference at the end of 1930 and the introduction of this Measure has given rise to opportunities for mischief-makers in both India and this country. Every delay gives them a full opportunity, just as this particular occasion has arisen for the mischief-makers in this country. I have had to depend on the Press to-day, as other Members have, for their information. The right, hon. Gentleman brought his sheaf of newspaper cuttings, but has he seen them all? In this morning's Press there was a demand for the resignation of the Secretary for State on this matter—
§ Mr. FOOT
I do not suppose the title would matter if the resignation were insisted on. In one of the leading papers of the country there is a suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has misled the House and the country. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear!"] I am sorry to know that that 1003 has any support in this House. This newspaper states:Resignation seems to be the natural step for him to take, for it is impossible to suppose that, in face of the pledges which we have quoted and others of a similar nature which star the pages of Hansard and the Press, he can retain his office and proceed with the Bill.I am not of the right hon. Gentleman's party, but I have had an opportunity more than most Members of knowing something of the burden that has rested on his shoulders. We have an admiration for the candour with which he has dealt with his case all through. That, I think, may best come from a political opponent and one who does not even support the National Government as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham does. We know that this responsibility has been in his hands and that throughout he has shown candour in dealing with not only the Members of the Joint Select Committee, but with the delegates who came from India. The tribute which they paid was that they had been treated all through with complete candour. The suggestion that is now being made, that the House is being misled, and apparently deliberately misled, by the right hon. Gentleman, is one that should never have appeared in the columns of our English Press. It affords an opportunity for the mischief-maker, and those who have been communicating with the Princes all along are now perhaps seeing the result of their work. [Interruption.] I am referring to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping and the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft).
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he includes the Viceroy of India?
§ Mr. FOOT
Most people who know the situation in India, or who try to understand it from their morning's newspapers, read the news to-day with somewhat grave apprehensions and sinking of heart. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping read that news with joy, and the news which was received last night with delectation. He has come here to-day with the cry, "I have told you so, and I am right," and he has persisted in making statements for which there is absolutely no foundation. He has repeated the old story that the Princes were coming in as a result of some sub 1004 terannean arrangement with Congress in which they squared each other. That is a statement which reflects upon the Princes and is in conflict with their public utterances. It gives the lie to their public utterances, and is repeated in the House of Commons to-day without any authority whatever. I always give way to the right hon. Gentleman if he desires to interrupt me. I wanted to intervene when he was speaking to ask him what authority there was for that statement. It is the statement in which the Princes, men holding very high positions who ought to be able to assist us in years to come as friends of this country, are practically held up as men who say one thing in public and hold different views in private, and are making arrangements that are discreditable to themselves and to the States they represent. If there be authority for the right hon. Gentleman's statement will the authority be produced? If it is not produced, will the right hon. Gentleman drop that slander once for all?
Another newspaper comment is the message that has been sent to the Princes to-day. We are informed on the authority of a Member of another House, Lord Rothermere, that a message has been sent. Let the Committee turn to the message that was sent by Lord Rothermere to the Princes following upon their decision. There is no doubt as to his position; he has greeted this news with joy. His message was:We congratulate the Princes on their bold and decided action against the India Bill. It is the more salutary because notoriously great pressure has been applied to secure their acceptation of that measure.The statement that great pressure has been used has been denied by the Secretary of State in this House. It was denied by the Princes themselves at the Round Table Conference when a question was specifically put in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping. In spite of that denial, the Noble Lord, in sending his congratulations, repeats what is a slander on the Government and on the Princes themselves. He writes further that this message would be read by 7,000,000 people, that they are standing for great principles, and that this is a Bill "which makes a monstrous assault on the treaties securing their rights." Who is the friend of this country in matters of this kind? 1005 The message is sent to the Princes at a time of great excitement in India, and Lord Rothermere says that this Bill, which is, after all, a fair attempt to deal with the different interests that exist in India, is a monstrous attack upon their rights. I suggest that that is a letter containing falsehoods and slanderous attacks on those who are responsible for affairs at this time. It is the letter of a megalomaniac, and one which ought to be condemned by all public opinion. I would like to know whether among those who are associated with the attack upon this Bill there is anyone who will get up and dare to endorse the message which Lord Rothermere told the Princes will be read by 7,000,000 people and endorsed by the people of this country Who is Lord Rothermere to affect to speak for the people of this country? Let the Princes know that if they are to rely on Lord Rothermere—it is Sir Oswald Mosley one day, and the Princes of India the next—his friendship is a very unsubstantial foundation.
I want an assurance that in this matter the Princes are not able to make this House pay any price that they will. I would like the Princes to realise what the danger is. If the scheme broke down, and if the Rothermeres of this country were the people of the country, what would happen then? The demand for Indian reform cannot be gainsaid. No one can suggest that because of a failure of the Princes to co-operate the demands of the people of India can be set back. They would be entitled to say, if this arrangement could not be made, that their proper rights must be considered. Let the Princes consider what their position would be if there were established, as there would have to be established in order to meet Indian opinion, self-government in the great Provinces side by side with Princes who could not take their share in the development of their country? We do not ask the Princes to come into a federation for our sake in particular, although we should welcome them but as a steadying and substantial factor in Indian life. Nevertheless, there are the people of British India to be considered, and if the Princes stood aside, the people of India would be entitled to come to this House and ask that their proper claims should be met. If that course had to be taken under some Bill other than this Bill, the Princes might 1006 look upon the day when they failed to take their share, following upon the declarations they have made, as the worst day in their history.
We have to take India with all its facts. The States are there as an essential part of Indian life, representing one-quarter of its people and a very essential part of its history and philosophy. We must do what we can with the immediate situation, and I believe that, as a result of the policy which is now being adopted, there will be wise co-operation on the part of the Princes. Let their proper rights be met. Let us go so far and no farther. To go any further or to show any weakness on the part of this House in meeting their case would be the most vital mistake. I can imagine nothing worse from that standpoint that that we should suspend the proceedings of the High Court of Parliament because of a resolution that was adopted yesterday at Bombay by the Princes, as the right hon. Gentleman would if he had his will. He said the other day that we should not proceed unless we asked the present Legislative Assembly what they wanted to do, and that we should not proceed until we knew what the provincial assemblies wanted. Where is the authority of the High Court of Parliament—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I did not say anything of the sort. The amendment was that it should not come into operation until the Legislative Assembly had assented.
§ Mr. FOOT
The right hon. Gentleman makes it worse now. After Parliament has gone through all the procedure on this Bill and the Bill has received the assent of His Majesty, we are to go to the present Legislative Assembly and say, "Before this Bill can pass into law and before the will of Parliament can be implemented, will you tell us whether we can receive your assent?"
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
That is exactly the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) has just made with regard to the Princes—we are to carry the whole Bill through notwithstanding what they say, and in the end they have to say whether they want it.
§ Mr. FOOT
If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that that is a paraphrase of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman 1007 the Member for West Birmingham, I do not think anyone else shares his opinion. I only put this last suggestion to the House. The Princes passed their resolution after what must have, been a short discussion on a complicated Measure, unaware of some of the amendments that are before the House, and what would give the Princes more power to determine the conditions of this Bill than the fact that Parliament suspends its proceedings, it may be for weeks, it may be for an indeterminate time, and to say to them, "Before we go on with this Measure, with which we have been charged by the responsibility of past years, please let us know what your wishes are, and when your wishes are known we will proceed with this Measure?" I say nothing would be more calculated to raise the price that may be charged against us by those who may not have a sense of high responsibility. [HON. MEMBERS: "The price?"] Among many Princes do you not think there are some—or are there not some—who are concerned first of all for their own interests rather than the general interest of India? It is that part of that element that you would be encouraging.
§ Mr. FOOT
The suggestion has been made here to-day that demands are being made by the Princes. If you do not like the word "price," take the word "demand."If" price" gives offence to my hon. Friend, I will substitute the word "demand." I suggest that nothing is more likely to harden the demands of those with whom we are concerned in this matter than the suspension of the proceedings of Parliament. Already we have given a great deal of time to this matter. There are large questions of public policy waiting for discussion in the first six days of the Committee stage, and I ask that the proposal of the Minister may be supported and that we may go on to deal with the merits of this great Measure.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I venture to submit to my bon, Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) that he is 1008 importing a good deal of prejudice into this Debate. The Committee finds itself in the most extraordinary position, which will not be smoothed away by abuse of the "Daily Mail" and the "Morning Post." I think it is very difficult to exaggerate the significance of the statement we heard from the Secretary of State this afternoon. It is quite clear from what he told the Committee that there is a fundamental cleavage of opinion, a fundamental difference of opinion, between the Government and the Princes on this Bill. The question of whether the act of accession should mean accession to the whole Bill except for subjects reserved or a limited accession Merely as to those subjects which are included in the Instrument raises an absolutely fundamental point. It is a point that anyone who has studied any constitution knows to be a fundamental matter. I would ask the Committee to consider what it would mean suppose the Princes gained their point. Suppose their accession is limited in respect to a certain list of subjects for which they stipulate. How is that going to affect the rest of the provisions of the Bill? How is that going to affect the matter we were discussing last, the proportion of States that is necessary before federation can operate? If we are going to be content with a bare 50 per cent. of the Princes, is it going to be 50 per cent. of all the Princes or simply of those subjects on which 50 per cent. have signed Instruments? Where the Instruments overlap we shall clearly get a much lower proportion than 50 per cent. in regard to a great many important subjects. Therefore, if we are content with a bare majority, and every Prince is coming in on different terms, we at once get an accession which represents a great deal less than half the subjects on which the Princes are federated. How will that operate in the Legislative Assembly? Will the Princes be entitled to vote on subjects not covered by their Instruments of Accession?
It can be seen at once that this is an absolutely fundamental point, and it is amazing to me that the Secretary of State for India was unaware of this cleavage of opinion between him and the Princes. If I can have the right hon. Gentleman's attention for one minute, I should like to question him on this subject. He told the Committee, if I understood him cor 1009 rectly, that the first he knew of this was on Sunday, when he received a telegram. Did I correctly understand him to say that he was unaware until last Sunday that the Princes attached vital importance to this condition of the manner of accession, because, if that is the case, it appears to me to be a most amazing thing. The matter has been before the Government and the Princes for many months, and if the Secretary of State had been candid with the Princes he surely ought to have given them to understand months ago that the procedure which the Government is quite rightly, in my view, insisting on, would be a fundamental part of the Bill.
§ Sir S. HOARE
The right hon. Member has accused me of want of candour, and I must at once reply to that charge. My view has been known to the Princes not for weeks only and not for months only, but for years. We have never varied from this position at all, and, so far as I know, the representatives of the Princes themselves always accepted it.
§ Viscount WOLMER
It seems to me the Princes are also accusing the Secretary of State of want of candour. That is the burden of their complaint, and I think the Secretary of State will find in the end that he will not save himself trouble by trying to get people to agree to the same scheme for reasons which are really incompatible. It is because the true implications of federation have never been squarely faced by the Princes until this moment that they are now beginning to find out the immense difficulties with which we are confronted. The right hon. Gentleman appealed to us in his speech not to raise obstacles. It is not we who are raising obstacles. The obstacles are there, but the right hon. Gentleman is ignoring them, and we shall never solve the problem by ignoring the obstacles. If I may say so, the Government have brought this situation entirely on themselves. If they had given us a proper interval between the Second Reading of the Bill and the Committee, every one of these points could have been considered before the Committee stage was entered upon, and the Government could then have indicated by Amendments how far they were prepared to go to meet the Princes' point. The hon. Member for Bodmin and the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. 1010 Morgan Jones) used language this afternoon which seemed to indicate that they were not prepared to go beyond a certain point to meet the Princes. I should like to know exactly what they mean. Are they prepared to proceed with federation on a British Indian basis? Is that going to be the next point of surrender? Up to now, every authority which has examined the matter has pronounced that to be the worst possible solution of the Indian problem.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The present Bill is before the House and I want to see it carried into law. If that be impossible I shall be prepared, with my friends, to consider the new position that arises.
§ Viscount WOLMER
That is no answer at all. I say to my hon. Friends that the plain fact of the matter is that we cannot bring about a federation of All-India without coming to an agreement with the Princes, and if we find at this juncture that the Princes have understood all along something fundamentally different from what the Government have understood, then surely it is reasonable to ask for an interval of a few days until this extraordinary situation has been cleared up. Where are we? We are right in the middle of the Clauses which deal with federation and the position of the Princes, and we shall be discussing every Amendment which will come before us in the next few days in complete ignorance of whether the Government will not come down to ask us to recommit the Bill so that all our work can be undone, or reverse on Report stage what we are going to do this week and next. It is not as if the Government have not plenty of other things to do. Why cannot they get on with various schemes of social reform for a fortnight or three weeks; why cannot they take some other business for a fortnight or three weeks, until they have settled with the Princes what the Bill really does mean, till they have cleared up these charges of breach of faith and come to an agreement with the Princes? Then the House will know what the terms of the Princes are, and we shall be able to discuss the Bill in Committee with the data in front of us. Is not that the common sense proposal?
If the ancient dignity of this House were respected to-day as it was in former generations, that would have been done as a matter of course. In the nineteenth century—and, after all, we are importing 1011 nineteenth century principles into India—no one would have thought of asking the House of Commons to proceed with a Bill of this magnitude after a situation of this sort had arisen. More than two or three weeks would have been allowed in which these points could be cleared up. The Government have got into this difficulty, because, in the first place, they attempted what was impossible; they attempted to build a federation when they had not got the materials out of which to build it. In their anxiety to do this they used language—I do not say that it was intentional—which undoubtedly led a large section of the Princes to believe that they could come in on terms which were different from those which were really intended or were really possible. Now they find themselves in this impasse. We have been charged with making capital out of the Princes. We have not brought the Princes into this matter. It is the Government who have brought the Princes into this problem, and they are reaping the first of the results that follow from their mistake. I submit that we shall be treating this question sensibly and in the most practical manner if we get this fundamental position cleared up before we go further. To ask the Committee to proceed in the present circumstances is to ask the Committee to play a game of blind man's buff.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
My Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) who has just spoken, charged the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), with introducing prejudice into the Debate. I shall not introduce any prejudice into the Debate, but I shall endeavour to answer the points which the Noble Lord has just raised. My Noble Friend has made a very serious charge against the Secretary of State, and I am sure he would not have made it unless he sincerely meant it; therefore, it is necessary that that charge should be answered. He has followed the lead of the "Daily Mail," which will report his speech. He has accused the Secretary of State of want of candour. [Interruption.] I do not know why my Noble Friend has any reason to be ashamed of that. If he does not wish to be on the side of the "Daily Mail,' I am very glad to be assured of that. He follows, at any rate, the "Daily Mail" 1012 in accusing the Secretary of State of want of candour.
It will be generally agreed, I think, and I will pay a tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), that throughout these discussions he and the other Conservative opponents of the Bill have avoided, so far as possible, anything in the nature of personal attack. The Debates have been conducted on a high level and upon the basis of discussing the questions at issue. But quite obviously the charge of want of candour is a very serious one when made not only by one Member against another but a fortiori by a colleague in one party against another Member of that party and it is, therefore, necessary to answer the charge. The charge has also been made outside that the Secretary of State has deliberately misled the House. Both charges are wholly unjustifiable. Speaking, so far as I know, with the full authority of the Joint Select Committee, that is of my colleagues on it, I say—I do not think they would differ from this—that every facet and aspect of the Princes' contentions was considered by the Joint Select Committee in consultation with their representatives. Every single point that could be brought forward by their representatives was put forward, and we discussed them at great length. The discussions were conducted on a high level, and in no case can it be claimed that their views were either overlooked by our Committee or that any divergence of view was disclosed in the course of the discussion which could be regarded as a kind of unclimbable fence against their participation in federation.
Judging from the charge that the Secretary of State has misled the House, one would think that there has been no discussion of this matter, and that we had heard of the Princes' views for the first time. We have been hearing them for two years. If my Noble Friend wants to bring a charge of want of candour he had better bring it not against the Secretary of State but against the whole of the Joint Select Committee, and incidentally against the whole of the House of Commons for accepting the Committee's report. I claim that this is clearly a case of misunderstanding or of misgivings as to the effect of proposals, and I propose to say a few words as to how those misgivings or misunderstandings 1013 may have arisen. My Noble Friend says that there is a fundamental difference of opinion, but, that was disposed of by the speech of the Secretary of State. Speaking, as I think my Noble Friend will be prepared to admit, with rather more technical knowledge of the subject than he possesses, I say that I do not believe that a single one of the questions to which the Secretary of State refers, quoting from the telegram which has been sent, is incapable of being settled by discussion in this House or out of this House. If we have such a discussion it will show if and how the difficulties of reconciling the Princes to federation can be overcome. I say deliberately, "if and how," and I cannot understand the reasonableness of the proposal that because the Princes have said that they are opposed to certain features of the Bill, we should put off any further discussion.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping, who is one of the most skilful debaters I have heard during the 30 years I have been in this House, was all the time up against the dialectical difficulty that he could not claim that the Princes by their resolution had rejected federation. He knows he cannot; all they have said is that the Bill in its present form is—I think their words are—open to grave objection. That is not a reason for not discussing the Bill.
§ Earl WINTERTON
In that case I will apply the argument which was put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) and that is, since when has this House been guided by any outside power as to the way in which it shall carry on its discussion?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Secretary of State is going to put a series of important Amendments on the Paper. Those Amendments are vital to the structure and shape of this Clause, and I suggest that we know them, before we embark on the discussion of the Clause. [Interruption.]
§ Earl WINTERTON
The curious thing is that, as the Secretary of State has just said, some of those Amendments have been on the Paper for at least a 1014 week. My last word on this point is that the Princes, who are determined to stand by certain principles, have never rejected federation, or resiled from their original announcement to enter federation under certain conditions. Let the Committee note how very different their attitude is from that of the Conservative opponents of the Bill. Let it be noted that the Princes' attitude is that in their opinion, rightly or wrongly, the Bill does not satisfy the conditions for entering federation which they regard as essential. That is a very different attitude from that of my right hon. Friend and his friends. They have been anxious throughout to secure the Princes as agents or as allies for destroying the Bill, and to this end there has been vast newspaper propaganda and pompous pontifical messages by proprietors of newspapers, a most extraordinary form of propaganda. Reference was made by the hon. Member for Bodmin to the proud claim of a gentleman whom I might describe as the William Randolph Hearst of Great Britain. Anyone who knows America will know exactly the significance of that. We have had a proud claim from him that he can reach 7,000,000 people in this country. It is unfortunate, if that be true, that he does not choose to tell those 7,000,000 people both sides of the truth. Up till now he has only given his 7,000,000 auditors one speech on the Second Reading in favour of the Bill and 12 speeches against it. We have had deputations, which I must say seem singularly ill-equipped for the purpose, to India accompanied by tendentious appeals in India by Indian journalists representing English journals.
We have had the whole of this propaganda—to what end? Let the Committee realise that it has been in order that the plan of my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping, a perfectly simple one, shall be put into operation, namely, that of destroying the 'Government of India Bill through the action of the Princes. That is, I am sure, doing no injustice to these gentlemen against whom I would not say a single word, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that some of them may be influenced to a greater extent than the circumstances justify by this propaganda, and may have believed that my Noble Friend and my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping have greater influence in the Conservative party than recent 1015 events have proved them to have. What is the difference—and this is my last point—between my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping, with my Noble Friend, who are opposing the Bill within the Conservative party, and the great majority of the House? I think I can claim that the difference is that the great majority of the House wish to see the Princes' difficulties resolved and their doubts removed, whereas it is the avowed and perfectly sincere object of the supporters of the Motion, to have them retained. It is only natural in the circumstances that they should want the Clauses postponed so that these cannot be discussed to-day.
§ Earl WINTERTON
These Clauses upon which we are about to enter. My right hon. Friend is carrying out a perfectly legitimate rearguard action or delaying campaign. He is perfectly entitled to do it and I cannot complain, but I want the Committee to realise what his real motives are. His motives are not the future government of India through the agency of the Bill; his real motive is to destroy the Bill, and the Committee should not be influenced by that motive. We have by an enormous majority passed the Second Reading of the Bill and adopted the report of our Committee and I believe that with good will we can solve these problems. I believe that is negotiation with the accredited representatives of the Princes and of His Majesty's Government we can get over the difficulties. On the Joint Select Committee I remember that, in the course of its discussions, there were occasions when the negotiations looked like breaking down. I notice a disposition on the part of hon. Members to jeer when reference has been made to negotiation, but how can a great issue of this kind be decided except by negotiation? Just as in the case of our international conferences there must be view-points and counter views put up to them, suggestions that those views can better be met in another way, and all the ebb and flow that is usual in negotiation, so we have had that again and again, and it is arising to-day in the case of the Princes' opposition. It can be resolved by good will.
It certainly will not be resolved by my right hon. Friends; they have no good 1016 will towards the future government of India as understood by the great majority of Members of this House. I further say that they have no good will towards the future government of India in a way which would be accepted by any majority of voters in the country. If my hon. Friends broke away from the Tory party to-morrow and formed a party of their own, they would not get one-tenth of the electors to support them. What is the use of delaying the Bill further? Let us try in this Committee to remove the difficulties and doubts. Let us try to meet the Princes' points. Let us, as has been very wisely pointed out, take the responsibility upon our shoulders. We have had years of discussion. What will be thought in the world and in India if we put off this matter further? Let it be resolved once and for all. Let this House pass a Bill which is worthy of its great traditions.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Colonel GRETTON
The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) has committed what is the worst mistake in controversy; he has imputed motives.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I must take objection to what my hon. and gallant Friend has said. I think it shows some coolness on his part to accuse me of imputing motives when one of his nearest colleagues has just accused the Secretary of State of want of candour.
§ Colonel GRETTON
What another Member of the House may have done does not excuse the Noble Lord for following his example. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) undoubtedly imputed motives to my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and others in the Committee. That is always a mistake in controversy, and I want to draw attention to the fact. Why is this motive imputed? There have been, as it seems to me, a great many Second Reading speeches, ranging over the whole ground, but what we have to do is to view as practical men the situation with which we are confronted. The Secretary of State, at the commencement of his remarks, said he had received a telegram making an announcement which somewhat surprised him. We have seen the telegram which was published, but we have not had the advantage of seeing 1017 the other telegrams, and surely some further information will be necessary before the whole position is in the possession either of the Government or of the House. We do not know whether the Secretary of State's reading of the situation is a correct one; he may be mistaken. I am not accusing him of want of candour to the House, but the situation and the resolution took him by surprise. Evidently he is not quite a reliable guide on these matters, and we want further time in order to ascertain the real bearing of the facts and the real meaning of what is being done. It is surely not right to ask Parliament or a Committee of the House of Commons to proceed with a Bill without having these matters of information.
I only rise, as an old Parliamentarian, to put the case against the invasion of what has been the invariable practice in the past. Where an unforeseen situation arises, with regard to which full information is not available, surely we ought not to proceed until we have the facts before us. After all, we have our business to do in the House, but the official Opposition on the Labour benches do not always seem to realise what is an essential part of the duty of an Opposition when the Parliamentary machine is at work. It is their business to criticise, not always in an unfriendly spirit, or in a spirit of determined opposition. The Parliamentary machine cannot work unless criticism and examination are constantly applied, not only to legislation, but to the proceedings and administration of the Government. Because the official Opposition have not applied that principle, is there any reason why other Members of the House should not take up the duties which they have not understood or carried out in the way that the practice of Parliament requires? On that ground alone I consider that we are justified in putting down Amendments and offering criticism. Because we are trying to learn what is behind the Government's proposals, we should not be blamed either for contumacious or unnecessary opposition, for we are carrying out the duties of an official Opposition at a time when the machinery of Parliament requires it.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I will not follow the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham 1018 (Earl Winterton) in the vigorous speech which he recently delivered, but he seemed to me to be saying very much the same things as were said by the Secretary of State and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). I would only say that I think perhaps he was hardly accurate in suggesting that the decision of the Princes amounted to nothing that could be called rejection. I would remind him that this unanimous vote of the Princes declared that the Bill as it stands was not acceptable on fundamental points—
§ Sir H. CROFT
I am glad that my Noble Friend agrees on that very important sentence. He referred also to propaganda, public and private, in India. I hope he will accept from me the assurance that, as far as I know, no attempt whatever was made in any way to make contact with the Princes in India until it became abundantly clear to us that every effort was being made to persuade them to agree to these proposals for federation. I hope my Noble Friend will accept that, and I think that, if he does so, some of the acerbity of his remarks will not recur in any future speeches that he may make on the subject.
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) described all those who hold the views which I hold as mischief-makers. I cannot help thinking that his forerunners in the great Liberal party of the old days would not have regarded Unionists as mischief-makers if they attempted to convince the House of Commons that this country was engaged in a perilous undertaking in breaking up the Union, and I cannot think that, on a great and mighty subject like this, it is really helping the cause of reform in India to regard as mischief-makers those who hold these views as strongly as some of us do. The hon. Gentleman particularly wished for information on some questions with regard to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) had said. Had he been here, I would have asked him whether it had not been stated in the "Statesman" newspaper in India, that these conversations had been taking place and that they knew of them for more than a year 1019 between certain Princes—a very small minority—and members of the Congress party, in order to try to come to some common understanding. I think that perhaps the Noble Lord, Lord Reading, might be able to tell us whether those rumours were correct or not.
I want now to refer to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, and the attitude which he took. I am sorry that he is not in the Committee at the moment; I told him I was going to refer to what he said. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham really said this: Pass the whole Bill, and then tell India, "You have got to have it." I do not think that that is a wrong interpretation. Then he said: "As we go along, after we have done that, let us try to meet all the demands of the Princes." But that means the re-introduction of practically a new Bill—recommitting the whole Bill. If you are going to have an immense range of Amendments covering these various points, it really means that the time of the House is going to be grievously wasted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham suggested that some prejudice had been brought into this matter simply because we did not all of us like the National Government. I do not know what that has to do with this Motion. He said that the National Government was our only hope.
I am not going to refer to that any more—because it seems to me to be outside the question—than to say that the same right hon. Gentleman said in 1918 that, if the other immortal coalition ever came to a decease, as we hope this coalition will not, in no circumstances would the Conservative party ever again win in the country. I only mention that in order that some people may not be too fearful of the days to come. When the right hon. Gentleman was speaking in this Chamber on a previous occasion, three years ago, he said that the real, proper method is to build up your Government in the towns and villages, without which—I think I am using almost his exact words—no constitutional reforms could hope to succeed. I only wish he were here, in order that I might tell him, since he asked us what our alternative was, that the warning he gave to the Government, in his great and powerful 1020 speech on that occasion, not to go ahead until they had established a panchayat system in the villages, was one that he might favourably consider at the present time.
I come now to the Secretary of State, and I want to say at once that from start to finish in these discussions I have always received the greatest courtesy from the right hon. Gentleman. Nobody could have been fairer. We have had some controversy in the newspapers and elsewhere on this very question, but I have always received the greatest courtesy at his hands, and I am grateful for it. I have attempted to say in this Chamber on no fewer than five occasions, I think always in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman, that only a small minority of the Princes desired this federal form of Government. I should not have repeated that again and again unless I had very good reasons for believing it. I do not know if it is considered dishonourable, but I have several friends among the Princes of India, who write and tell me what their views are, and, if I try to give a general idea of what the atmosphere is among the Princes, I think I am only doing my duty as a British citizen and a Member of Parliament, in order that we may not excite in our breasts false hopes as to what the Princes may or may not mean.
We have told the right hon. Gentleman that we thought the Princes were going to take this action; we have told him we thought that every section of opinion in India was going to take this action; and it has happened. No doubt he hoped that it would not happen. I think he has been, perhaps, the finest optimistic example of what Mr. Micawber ought to be throughout these discussions. But the fact unfortunately remains that the popular movements in India have repudiated this reform. The hon. Member for Bodmin took my right hon. Friend to task for having paid any serious attention to the decision of the Congress, to the decision of the Indian Liberals, to the decision of the Legislative Assembly. I am not quite sure whether, when he is saying that, he is true to the position of the late Mr. Gladstone, who did pay some attention to any popular machinery which might exist in any country. The fact remains that India, through every possible organisation that exists to-day, 1021 has told you emphatically that she did not wish for these particular reforms.
Now we have the Princes, who have passed this unanimous resolution. I think there were 100 Princes present, including, as my right hon. Friend has mentioned, all those great Princes representative of Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, Baroda and Bikaner, who up to now have always been understood to be leaning rather in the direction of His Majesty's Government, although the great mass of the Princes lean the other way. I suggest to the Secretary of State that it is fair to say that, when the House of Commons turned right away from the provisions and standpoint of the Simon Commission, the Conservative organisations—and I am entitled to say this since so many Members of the House are members of the Conservative party—were primarily encouraged to support the policy of the Government by the belief that there was really a strong desire on the part of the Princes of India to come in.
This was the point that was made with great eloquence by the Leader of the party at the Queen's Hall, when he quoted a speech of the Secretary of State and when we were told that there was an entirely new fact. It was followed immediately by my right lion. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) telling us that we were wrong to try to fob off this proposal of an advisory council upon the Princes. It was followed. by no less a statesman than Lord Derby, who told us that there was this great new fact, and all of them, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, emphasised this great point, that we had this new fact. All those speeches were directed to the fact that we should support the Government's plan because we must not thwart the will of the great loyal Princes who stood so nobly by us in the War, and we must not deprive them of what they desire. The vast majority of them have never wanted this policy and there is an entirely new situation to-day. I am convinced that the Secretary of State until recently was not aware how deep-seated the feeling was among the Princes. He will remember the correspondence that I had with him in the "Times" in March last when he took me to task for having warned the country that this was the attitude of the Princes. If he reads 1022 that correspondence to-day he will see that I was merely stating what is now known to be a fact, that the vast majority of the Princes are not enthusiastic for these reforms, but regard them with dread.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us what is his authority for that statement as against the explicit statements made at the three Round Table Conferences?
§ Sir H. CROFT
I think the hon. Member missed what I said earlier on. I have always known that four or five Princes professing to speak on behalf of the Princes, but with no mandate from the whole of them, made this announcement in the early days. I am aware that the Maharajas of Bikaner, Alwar and Cashmere came to London without any sanction from the whole of the Princes and that, after hearing them, Lord Reading said that we were now committed to this great reform. If that was not literally correct then, that there was a vast majority against these proposals, surely the indications now show that the Princes are absolutely united against the proposals in the Bill. That being the case, I submit that to proceed with Clauses 5, 6 and 7 when the whole basis of those Clauses may have to be altered is something that has never been known before in Parliament. Could not the right hon. Gentleman delay proceedings for a fortnight and get on with other important business, such as the Dominions Secretary has indicated, duties on foreign meat, and so on, all of which has to be done? We will stand by our pledge as to the total number of days.
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman how the Princes have been treated? Will the House remember the date en which they received the Bill? Will they remember the distance of India? Do they realise that between Second Reading and Committee there were only seven or eight days? How was it possible for the Princes of India, scattered over thousands of miles of territory, to get together and to appreciate the real effect of the Bill? Does the right hon. Gentleman know that the Princes had not received from their legal advisers any opinion on the printed Bill as it came before the House when the Committee stage actually 1023 started, and is that surprising when everyone knows, who has been trying to study it, that it is taking all of us who are putting our minds to it many hours of every single day in order to master one quarter of the Bill. How could the Princes have known all the effects and implications of this great Measure? You are not dealing with some small point. You are dealing with the whole life and future of these great independent States which have the most solemn pledge of Queen Victoria, repeated by every King Emperor, that their privileges, their rights and their dignities shall remain inviolate and inviolable. We have no right to rush on with the Bill and say to them, "Take it or leave it," or, "Perhaps we may introduce some small amendments on Report." The path of dignity, the path of precedent and the path of tradition demand that we shall not go forward with these federal Clauses until we know from the Princes of India what are the fundamental changes that they demand in the Bill.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Sir JOHN WARDLAW-MILNE
My hon. and gallant Friend has made some, to me, remarkable statements. I hope the Committee will allow me to refer to two of them particularly. The first is that in his view the whole of the Princes of India had now unanimously declared against the principles set out in the Bill. This must mean against the principle of Federation. If I believed that that was the case, I should agree, not only with the proposal now before the Committee, but that the whole position of the Government and those who have supported these reforms would require reconsideration. But I am profoundly convinced that my hon. and gallant Friend is labouring under a complete misapprehension when he makes that statement. First of all, it is clear from statements which have been made by the representatives of the Princes from the time of the first Round Table Conference that they are not opposed to the principle of Federation. I rather hesitate ever to refer to personal experiences in this House but perhaps in the special circumstances of to-day the Committee will allow me to add that it was my good fortune to be a visitor to the Chamber of Princes in Delhi three or four weeks 1024 ago, when I heard the Chancellor of the Chamber make a most categorical statement in favour of Federation supported by other leading rulers, speaking not only for themselves but, at any rate, for a large number of the Princes of India. It is, therefore, idle for my hon. and gallant Friend to make the categorical statement that this telegram that has been received shows that all the Princes of India are fundamentally opposed to the system of Federation as set out in the Bill.
A second statement that he made which I question very much is the statement that has been repeated so often before that undue and unfair pressure was brought on the Princes at various dates in the past to induce them to agree to 'a system of federation and that this pressure was brought upon them in some way or other by the Government. When I have questioned those who made these statements before, we have always been answered in. this way, "Oh, yes, but that is not the real point. The pressure really came when the Viceroy was brought in to bring pressure upon the Princes."
§ Sir H. CROFT
My hon. Friend will not deny that the Viceroy himself, at that very session which my hon. Friend attended, admitted that he had done everything he could to advise the Princes to come in.
§ Sir J. WARDLAW-MILNE
I am coming to that point. I was saying that this statement has been made over and over again in the last four or five years and categorically and definitely denied by the Princes or their representatives, publicly in letters to the Press, and in front of the Joint Select Committee and on other occasions. In spite of that, when the matter comes up again we are told, "That is true, but we are not really referring to that. We are referring to the steady pressure brought by the Viceroy." My hon. and gallant Friend has helped me very much by giving me a chance to refer once more to this meeting of a few weeks ago. It is probably not within his knowledge that that very question was raised in the Chamber of Princes and speeches were made by prominent Princes stating clearly that there had been no undue pressure by the Viceroy. I had no idea that speeches of that kind were going to be made. They were definitely made by the Princes themselves 1025 acquitting the Viceroy of ever having brought undue pressure to bear upon them. I ask those who continually make the statement that undue pressure has been brought to bear on the Princes to let us know now, finally, once and for all, where their information comes from and what are the grounds for the charge. It has been denied by the Ministers and by the Princes, and their latest statement that it all came from the Viceroy has now been denied by the Princes themselves. It is time that this sort of thing stopped.
§ Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX
Can my hon. Friend explain the £750,000 tribute that the Princes are going to be excused if they come into the Federation?
§ Sir J. WARDLAW-MILNE
No. I should at once be called to order. I am dealing with the question whether we should postpone our discussion. The House is asked to do so on the plea that there has been a fundamental change on the question of federation by reason of this telegram. If I agreed that that was the case, I certainly think we should have to postpone consideration, and probably re-consider the whole position. It is because I am convinced that there is no fundamental change in the position of the Princes that it would be the greatest mistake for a moment to consider postponing the discussion of these Clauses.
The position of the Princes, in my humble opinion, is simply this. They are asked to take a very grave and a very great step; the most momentous step in their history probably; a step the future results of which they may not, like the rest of us, be able completely to see. A move like that must be examined most carefully. Faced with a document such as this Bill, difficult enough, I should think, for lawyers to understand, more difficult for non-legal Members of Parliament and perhaps still more difficult for the Princes of India, it is only natural that they should want to get every bit of legal advice that they can, to go into every detail that affects them, to see that at some future time their successors will not accuse them of having omitted to notice some point which will affect the position of the States in the future--it is natural that they should say the Bill, as 1026 it stands, is not exactly acceptable to them.
But I maintain that the statements that have been made so categorically in the last few weeks show that the Princes continue to approve the principle of federation, that they are in favour of federation provided their rights and privileges are properly secured in the manner they have always claimed that they must be secured from the earliest days of the proposed Federation, it will be futile for this Committee to consider postponing further consideration of these Clauses in view of the fact that there will be ample opportunity before the Bill becomes law of dealing with the points brought forward by the Princes, and meeting their legitimate anxieties, in conclusion, I would say that I have marked the statements made to-day by one or two Members regarding the question of giving way. It is not a question of giving way, but a question of this House doing everything possible to meet the legitimate desires of the Princes to the last detail and of honouring every pledge that we have given. Having done that it is the business, the duty, of this House to say what it believes to be in the best interests of India, and in carrying out that duty we cannot be turned aside from the programme to which we have set ourselves after so much labour and inquiry.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I cannot think why it is that a mere mention of exalted highnesses immediately turns most of the Conservative party and the whole of the Liberal party into a sort of dog-fight. Really it will be rather hard if, in addition to spoiling India, they come over here and spoil our good manners. The hon. Member the pukka sahib in addressing the Committee endeavoured to mislead it. In fact nearly every speech I have heard from those benches has been an endeavour to mislead the Committee.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
The hon. and gallant Member must not attribute motives of that kind to any hon. Member.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have no doubt that my speeches are regarded even by pukka sahibs as attempts also to mislead the House. Who in their wildest moments would dare to accuse our only Secretary 1027 of State for India of attempting to mislead the House? He cannot do it. The real difficulty is that he is misled. It is no charge to say that a person, ingenuous and candid to a degree unknown elsewhere in this House, should be misled by some extremely clever Orientals, officials and pukka sahibs. I really think that the whole House has missed the real tragedy of this communication from India. The people who have misled the Secretary of State and who have misled the Conservative party as well, are the Princes in India. This bombshell that has come from India is new to the Secretary of State and to everybody in this House. It is a new event. It is because that new event has been sprung upon the House and the Government that we really ought to ask for an adjournment of this Debate. I do not think that even the right hon. Gentleman opposite really understands what has happened. The hon. Member for Bombay—
§ Sir J. WARDLAW-MILNE
I do not in the least resent that remark, except that the right hon. Member has made the same sort of joke over and over again for the last 10 years.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. Member, in any case, has made the same sort of speech. The hon. Member only three weeks ago went to Delhi and heard in the Chamber of Princes their views at that date. The really startling thing in the three weeks, or perhaps two months, has been a change of feeling throughout the whole of India as regards the merits of this Measure. The serious thing is that although the position of the Princes is not changed, although in this Bill they are dealt with exactly as the Joint Committee said—there has not been one variation from the agreements come to between the India. Office and the Princes, yet suddenly their view has changed. I will go further and say that I do not think it is the view of the Princes that has changed, but that it is the view of the whole of India that has affected the Princes.
Let us go back to 1832. At that time there was a gigantic reform Bill in this country, which turned out of the House of Commons more than half the Members. That House was nearly overwhelmingly opposed to that Measure, for they had a 1028 vested interest in retaining the old form of the House of Commons far stronger than Members have to-day in postponing the date of the next General Election.. Undoubtedly, that Reform Bill would have had no chance in that House of Commons, except for the fact that the pressure of public opinion was so great that man after man who was to lose his seat by voting for the Bill voted for it. Exactly the same thing is happening in India, the same thing is affecting the Princes, and, above all, Ministers and legal advisers. They are beginning to see the red light: that it will not do to put themselves in opposition to the wishes of all the people of India.
This change of opinion is not an accident. It is not even inspired by the slightest element of bad faith on the part of the Princes. It is a change that has come about gradually in the last month as this Bill has been better and better understood in India. I would ask the Committee to reflect for one moment upon the time we have spent on this question of the Princes' accession to the scheme; on the effect it has had on the public opinion in this country that the Princes should be against it; and on the attitude and speech of the right hon. Member opposite in face of this crisis, compared with that attitude of this House and Government towards the equally startling and even more emphatic rejection of this Bill by the Assembly the other day. We have seen the Press of India lining up against this Measure: we have seen the Assembly lining up against it, the Hindus, the Liberal Congress, all political opinion has suddenly, startlingly discovered that this Bill will be to the grave damage of India. Their opinion has gradually filtered through to this side, though I will not say it has affected opinion in this House. It may do so as time goes on and we realise more what all classes in India are thinking. Will the Committee observe that when the resolution came from the Assembly, the people who protested—not very good representatives of India, but such as they had—were jeered at. People said that of course they would be against the Measure that demolished them—that they did not matter. Compare that attitude with the almost humble and certainly humiliating attitude that the promoters of this Bill have adopted.
1029 One final thing I would beg the Committee to observe, and that is the pressure which has been brought to bear. Whether that pressure really comes from a desire to strengthen their opposition, or, as I think, far more from an increasing revulsion against this scheme, whatever it comes from, do not let us make concessions to these demands. Do not let us make any concession to the changed opinion of one solitary prince at the expense of the 70,000,000 Indians living in the Indian States. There are in this Bill certain safeguards for the ordinary Indian inhabitants of the Indian States. I am not talking about British India, which is not really concerned with these concessions. The people who are concerned are those, who, as the Member for Preston (Mr. Kirkpatrick) said the other day, are the traders and buy every piece of British goods. In addition, the inhabitants of these States have to put up at present with conditions that are humiliating. They are condemned in this Bill to continue thus for ever, but there are certain safeguards—if these concessions are made—that will be made, not at our expense, but at the expense of the 70,000,000 of people. They are kept in that position of inferiority in their own country, in a condition utterly out of date in this 20th century because of the British connection and support of the rulers of these States. In the past we have rescued the Moplahs in the south of India, rescued from their worst trials those in Indore and Alwar. If the concessions of the Secretary of State now make it impossible for the Government of India and this House to protect the rights, the interests, the humane treatment of these people in these Indian States, then there will be no one who will not be able to imagine that in order to get the Princes of India into this scheme, we are sacrificing not merely the people of India but the good will and understanding of the people of India.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
I hope that the Committee will allow me to offer a few observations before we proceed to a Division on the Motion which has been proposed. First, may I say a word about the speech which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) made from the opposite benches. 1030 As far as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) is concerned, it is not the first occasion upon which be has ploughed a lonely furrow, and I am bound to say that I could not follow the exact relevance of all his observations to the Motion that you should report Progress and ask leave to sit again. As far as the speech of the hon. Member for Caerphilly was concerned, I think that hon. Members who heard it will have realised that it had very little, or indeed nothing, to do with the particular emergency which is suggested to be the reason for this Motion. The hon. Member indicated the growing dislike of himself and the members of his party to the main proposals of this Bill.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
It caused me a little sincere disappointment to hear him make that observation, because, although I think that on the question in general the view of the Labour Opposition is that they would like to see a greater amount of attention given to Indian needs in the framing of the system of government under which they are to live in future, I know that there are many Members of the Labour party opposite who desire to be helpful judging from the contributions which Members of the party make to our debates upon the Bill. But the observation I want to make about the speech of the hon. Member for Caerphilly is that, if one can judge' from the illustrations he gave of the dislike which he has for the Bill, it is a dislike which has nothing to do with the difficulties of the Princes at the moment, but a dislike which he has indicated by Motions appearing on the Paper, and which have appeared on the Paper for several days past, as to the terms upon which the Princes shall be required to come into the Federation. I do not propose to discuss that Motion in the name of the hon. Member, for instance, with regard to the International Labour Office, because we shall come to that in due course, but all I want to say is that it has nothing on earth to do with this particular emergency to-day. The Opposition are prepared to enter the Lobby arm-in-arm with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. 1031 Churchill) though they approach this question from very opposite points of view.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman, I know quite well, keeps strange company sometimes—
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
And perhaps it will be all the better for the right hon. Gentleman if, at any rate, for the moment they mix with him. I hope that evil communications with him on this occasion will not corrupt their former good manners. As far as the position of my right hon. Friend and his friends of the unofficial Opposition are concerned, it occurs to me—and I dare say many hon. Members have felt the same—there are two courses which could have been taken when these important messages came from India. It was possible for anybody who did not quite like the Bill to make it quite plain that lie demurred to the policy of the Bill, that he thought there were considerable difficulties and would do his best to debate the differences, remove them, or at any rate, to explore them, and nobody could complain of that course. The other method, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping has chosen, is to magnify the difficulties, to disguise, if possible, the note of triumph in the voice with which those difficulties were eloquently offered to the House, but at any rate to make the most of the difficulties and to ask the House to refuse to discuss and deal with them because he declared them to be insurmountable. I do not think that my right hon. Friend could have complained when my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) told him that he really wanted to kill the Bill. That is not attributing motives to the right hon. Gentleman as he and some of his friends seem to think. It is stating the simple fact. Indeed, the matter was put quite plainly in a, perfectly fair and candid speech by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) when he said that he and his friends objected to the Bill, and that it was the duty of an Opposition to expose the defects in the Bill, and so 1032 my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping, who objects to the Bill so much that he wants to defeat it, cannot complain if anybody tells him that he wants to avoid a discussion in the hope of defeating the Bill. He cannot divide himself into water-tight compartments and one day want to promote discussion of the Bill and the next day defeat it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
There surely is a difference in Members opposing a Bill or supporting a Bill from discussing as to the proper method by which that Bill should be conducted.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I was saying that my right hon. Friend cannot divide himself into two compartments and one day be helpful to the Bill and try to help the Government to arrive at a proper way of promoting the Bill, and the next moment or the next day do his very best to defeat the Bill. He has one intention—and let the Committee make no mistake about it, and do not let the right hon. Gentleman deceive himself either—he has one plan, one intention at the back of his mind and that is, by all fair and proper means, to defeat this Bill.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Let nobody walk into this trap.Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.The right hon. Gentleman told us that he wants to defeat this Bill, and I am bound to say that if anybody wanted to defeat this Bill, much the best method of doing it would be to get this Committee to postpone the consideration of the Bill and to wait until all the difficulties have been magnified tenfold, all the misunderstandings increased and all the possibilities of debate on the Floor of this House abandoned. That, indeed, would be to defeat the Bill, and my right hon. Friend would have added one more to his many triumphs. That is an attitude which, I hope, the Committee will not support.
I suggest to the Committee that they must not be dismayed at these difficulties. Is it not a little surprising that the difficulties have been comparatively as few as they are? There are diehards in both countries, not only in this country but in India. To stop the discussion of this Bill is to surrender to the diehards. 1033 Approaching this question from opposite points of view, they both of them want to stop discussion. The advantage of a discussion is that it will explore difficulties and remove misunderstandings, and the diehards who do not like the Bill from very different points of view want to stop the difficulties being explored.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I will show in a moment how I justify this statement. In the first place, the diehards are undoubtedly a difficulty in both countries. It is not surprising therefore that the Government and the Princes are embarrassed in India from time to time. Let us also reflect upon the difficulties that are likely to come from the mere drafting of a complicated measure of this sort. My wonder is that the draftsmen have produced the Bill as we have it, but no draftsman however inspired could possibly have been quite certain that he had caught the full spirit of an agreement between two different interested parties. No Secretary of State—and the whole House will be glad to have heard the statements made that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has never sought to deceive and never intended to deceive or mislead the House; let hon. Members put that unworthy charge on one side—no Secretary of State, however candid and familiar with all the byways of this. controversy, could possibly be certain that this Bill, as offered to the Committee, was exactly what he intended or what the Princes intended or what the common understanding of both parties intended.
There would be many such points likely to 'arise, and when I read this telegram or series or telegrams from India my wonder was that, instead of the present points of difference, there were not a far larger number of misunderstandings and difficulties. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) made use of a word which seemed to him to be as precious as the word "Mesopotamia." He spoke of "fundamental" differences. Fundamental—he repeated it over and over again—differences are always fundamental until they are cleared up. As long as parties are standing at arm's length differences are bound to cause trouble. 1034 The real way to remove differences is for people to discuss them with the people who went to get the Bill through. That is the best way to remove differences.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
My hon. Friend wants to know what they are. One of the most remarkable features of the debate has been the almost total absence of any reference by right hon. and hon. Members who want this Bill to be abandoned to the particular differences. My Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) did deal with one. He dealt with the Instrument of Accession, and I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth did also. Undoubtedly, the Instrument of Accession is one of the most important parts of the Bill. It is a vital question to which we have to come in a few minutes. If the Instrument of Accession is not in the form in which it is intended to be by the agreement already made by the Princes and the Secretary of State on behalf of the Government, is not the Floor of this House the best place to discuss these differences and see whether we cannot arrive at a common understanding 7 Let us expose the intention of the Government, let us examine the drafting of Clause 6, let us see exactly what it is the Princes want safeguarded and what we all agree ought to be safeguarded. My hon. Friends who insist on open debate in this House apparently would like to have some of these negotiations which they sometimes criticise proceed with the Princes. Of course, they will proceed, but at the same time an open discussion in this Committee of these differences, and the statement of what my right hon. Friend intends, will help as nothing else will help to clear the minds both of the Princes and the Members of the Committee 'at the present time.
§ Mr. BRACKEN
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell the House what are the differences, because we do not know? The Princes alone know.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
My hon. Friend, if he will allow me to say so, could hardly have listened with attention to the Secretary of State, because he explained the differences in a very clear way which, I think, the whole Com 1035 mittee appreciated. It is said that my right hon. Friend has never faced the difficulties inherent in federation. What is the remedy for that? To face them in Committee. What is the use of saying that he has not faced the difficulties of federation and then be unwilling to have a debate in which they can be faced? Common sense demands that we shall face the difficulties of federation, if we have not faced them. That is what this House exists for.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
What we object to is having to discuss these matters in the absence of complete knowledge as to the plans of the Government.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
My right hon. Friend complains that they do not really know the plans of the Government. We are dealing with the Clauses on federation. We are in the middle of Clause 5 and we are going to proceed to Clause 6, and the right hon. Gentleman complains that he does not know the plan of the Government. Will he not let the Government tell him? He cannot have it both ways. Even his adroitness and eloquence cannot avoid that dilemma. If he does not know what the Government's plan is, then instead of speaking he should sit still and listen. The noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) said: "Let us postpone further debate until the situation is cleared up." I make the reply: "Let us clear it up." Where better could we clear it up than on the Floor of the House of Commons, I think the whole Committee saw through the somewhat ingenuous solicitude of my Noble Friend for the social programme of the Government. I know that my Noble Friend is deeply interested in social reform, but I have never heard him plead for it with so much earnestness. But it is not his desire that social reform should be at the front but that the India Bill should be at the back.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth told us what is no doubt true that the Indian Princes had not before them the full advice of their 1036 legal advisers when they deliberated upon this matter a few days ago. I do not know whether my hon. and gallant Friend is aware of the date when that advice was sent. He seems to have some information as to when the advice of the legal advisers was sent to the Princes and when it will be received. Does it not occur to him that if the Princes had not the advantage of the advice of their legal advisers, whom they trust in this country, when they passed their resolution, it may be that when they get that advice some of the difficulties will be cleared up. If that advice had not been received a few days ago, it probably has been received by now. I am speaking with a little knowledge, and I say deliberately that I have no doubt whatever that these matters will be regarded by the Princes' legal advisers as questions of legal clarity, and that no one would be more dismayed than the Princes and their advisers if they heard, after they had had that advice, that we were not going on with the discussion of these important questions.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth stated an important fact when he said that the Princes when they arrived at their decision had not had the full legal advice which they expected to get. I have no doubt that the Princes, sincerely interested as they are in coming into the scheme of federation—my hon. Friend opposite spoke the truth on that point, not for the first time, but people need to hear it over and over again before they realise it—when they are fully fortified by the facts and by discussions in this Committee, which will be reported in India before many hours, and by that understanding which is always reached by people who want to arrive at an understanding, will feel, as we feel, that we shall clear up these difficulties and misunderstandings, important and critical though they may be.
Let me refer only to one other matter, the question of treaties. Hon. Members heard my right hon. Friend explain how impossible it is to put the question of the treaties, the sanctity of the treaties in the Instrument of Accession, unless you are going to have an interpretation of the treaties exposed to the hazard of legal discussion in the Federal Court. Nobody more than the Princes would be unwilling to see that course followed. 1037 But my right hon. Friend did not stop there. He went on to declare in the most emphatic way that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to declare the sanctity of the treaties, when this Bill is through, and the adherence of His Majesty's Government to all the pledges, however solemn, that they and their predecessors have given to the rulers of the States. If the Princes have been a little anxious about their treaties, they will not fail to think that that statement has helped to relieve their difficulties and anxieties. That is an illustration of what we can do in these debates.
Let us be on our guard against people who want to defeat this Bill. Of course, they are quite entitled to do it. Let us listen to them with respect. The right hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) said they are perfectly entitled to be in opposition, and nobody complains of their opposition, but let us always understand what the opposition want, and do not let us overrate their arguments. Do not let us give them an importance which they do not merit.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping and his friends are free to oppose, and we are free to proceed with our Bill. We must not attach more importance to their arguments than we think they deserve. I am accustomed and lion. Members are accustomed in the ordinary affairs of life when we hear somebody criticising to ask, if I may use a colloquialism, what is the game? We know the game.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
What do you mean by that? What does the right hon. and learned Member mean by using that expression? [HON. MEMBERS: "Waver-tree!"] Cannot hon. Members let him answer for himself? What does he mean by the word "game" He used the term in an invidious sense, What does he mean by it?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I do not know why my right hon. Friend should always be so indignant when anybody says anything which is a little critical of himself. We have listened to his criticisms, and I think the whole of the Committee understood what I meant. I 1038 absolutely decline, even in face of my right hon. Friend's indignation, to be compelled to make anything more than a perfectly fair charge against him. As I have said before, if he wants to play the game, let him do it. His intention is to defeat the Bill. That is his game.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The right hon. and learned Member is perfectly entitled to say that, but a more unworthy description of the action taken by hon. Members in opposing a Bill to which they have conscientious objection never fell from the lips of a law officer.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
All I can say is that, if a more unworthy statement never fell from the lips of a law officer, I only hope that a more unworthy statement will never fall from my lips. I have detained the Committee long enough with my observations. I think my right hon. Friend will realise that if we are to have his attacks and if we have to endure his cuts and thrusts, he must not complain if sometimes someone who wields a very small sword crosses weapons with his flashing blade. In conclusion, I would say that I join with the hon. Member for Caerphilly in one observation when he said that nobody could complain of my right hon. Friend for making this Motion. I think it has served to clear the air here. I think the air in India will probably be cleared by this Debate, and now that we have had this discussion, let me, in immortal words, say, "Let us pass on."
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I do not intend to keep the Committee many minutes, but the Attorney-General seemed to me to misunderstand the reason why we are voting for the Motion. I do not know, although I listened to the right hon. Gentleman, what new safeguards, what more money is necessary—I do not mean in the way of bribery or anything of that kind—the Princes may require. I do not know what the concessions are going to cost in giving more power to the Princes in relation to federation. I do not know, and I do not think that anyone else in the House knows, and I do not think that it is a good thing to go on building up a federal structure in this Bill until we know exactly what arrangements have to he made with the Princes. There has been a great discussion in the Press and in this House as to 1039 what the Princes have or have not agreed to, but we know now that they have put on record certain objections, and the Secretary of State this afternoon has made a statement in connection with them, but until there has been further negotiations and another statement comes from the Princes we shall not know where they stand. For that reason alone, I shall vote for the Motion, and so will my hon. Friends.
But there is another and a much more important reason why I shall vote for the Motion. The time of this House and the propaganda of the Government and of the Opposition within the Government's own camp is devoted exclusively to the position which the Princes are going to occupy in the Federation. We all desire that the Princes should come in on fair and equitable terms, but the masses of the people who are to live under this constitution, reside in British India, and our complaint is that they have never been consulted. The reason that we want the Bill to be rejected is because we know that those people have far stronger objections to the proposals of the Government than have the Princes, but those people are not listened to at all.
A statement was signed by all those representatives of British India who came to be consulted by the Joint Select Committee, but almost every proposition put forward by the Indians has been rejected. There is not one organisation of any worth in British India which has accepted or said one word in support of these proposals. But the Government take not the slightest notice. I will not say that they treat them with contempt, but they treat them as though they were of no consequence. We resent that. We think that they have an equal right with the Princes
§ to be considered. I know it has been said in a jeering sort of way that they disagree among themselves. Yes, but, you do not give them the chance, which you have given to the Princes, to formulate their demands and requests. You just brush them on one side, and say, as the Secretary of State said to-day in relation to the Princes, that it is for us in this House to lay down the terms and conditions. We dissent from that altogether.
§ We do not want there to be any misunderstanding about our position. If there is going to be this kind of federation, we would rather have no federation at all. This kind of federation is the worst that could have been proposed. I do not think that the Attorney-General did my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) justice in his reply to him. For these reasons, I have risen to tell the Committee and everybody concerned that if we had out way and had the power we should throw out the Bill and consult British India in the same manner as the Government are consulting the Princes. We cannot understand the logic of the Government in taking so much trouble about the Princes, whom we want to see in a, federation, and at the same time refuse to consider and consult the representatives of British India. However difficult it may be to arrive at a conclusion, we think that any constitution imposed upon the people of India is bound to fail, and that to go on with the Bill at this time, when British India is against it and without knowing exactly the attitude of the Princes, is a sheer waste of public time.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 89; Noes, 283.1043
|Division No. 62.]||AYES.||[7.48 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lleut.-Colonel||Cleary, J. J.||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Alexander, Sir William||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Banfield, John William||Daggar, George||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydyll)|
|Batey, Joseph||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Bracken, Brendan||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Bralthwalte, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E.R.)||Dawson, Sir Phllip||John, William|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Edwards, Charles||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Cape, Thomas||Everard, W. Lindsay||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lawson, John James||Paling, Wilfred||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Leonard, William||Parkinson, John Allen||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Levy, Thomas||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Lunn, William||Reld, David D. (County Down)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Remer, John R.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|McEntce, Valentine L,||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Wells, Sidney Richard|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Maitland, Adam||Scone, Lord||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Maxton, James.||Smith, Tom (Normanton)||Wilmot, John|
|Milner, Major James||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||wise, Alfred R.|
|Nall, Sir Joseph||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Taylor. Vice-Admiral E.A. (P'dd'gt'n,S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Nunn, William||Templeton, William P.||Mr. Donner and Mr. Emmott,|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Thorne, William James|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,W.)||Denville, Alfred||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Despencer-Roberteon, Major J. A. F.||Jennings, Roland|
|Albery, Irving James||Dickle, John P.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp't, W.)||Doran, Edward||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Drewe, Cedric||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Asks, Sir Robert William||Duckworth, George A. V.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Assheton, Ralph||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Astor, Viscountees (Plymouth, Sutton)||Duggan, Hubert John||Knight, Holford|
|Ba[...]e, Sir Adrian W. M.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Dunglass, Lord||Law Sir Alfred|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Eales, John Frederick||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Eastwood, John Francis||Leckle, J. A.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Lees-Jones. John|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kalsey||Emrys-Evane, P, V.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Lewis, Oswald|
|Benn, sir Arthur Shirley||Essenhigh, Reginald Clara||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Bernays, Robert||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunilffe-|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Liewellin, Major John J.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Fielden, Edward Brockiehurst||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Boulton, W. W.||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Loftus, Pierce C.|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Fox, Sir Gilford||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mebane, William|
|Braithwalte, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Mac Andrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mac Andrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Gillett, Sir George Master man||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Glossop, C. W. H.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Goff, Sir Park||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Buchan, John||Gower, Sir Robert||McEwan, Captain J. H. F.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||McKle, John Hamilton|
|Burghley, Lord||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Magnay, Thomas|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Grigg, Sir Edward||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Grimston, R. V,||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Gunston, Captain D. W.||May hew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Cassels, James Dale||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Meller, Sir Richard James|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Cayzer, Maj, Sir H. R.(Prtsmth., S.)||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Ztl'nd)||Milne, Charles|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hammersley, Samuel S.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Harmon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Harris, Sir Percy||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyre|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A, D.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Cheimsford)||Morrison, William Shepherd|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Mulrhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Munro, Patrick|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Holdsworth, Herbert||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Hornby, Frank||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Howard, Tom Forrest||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Crossley, A. C.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Barnard||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ormaby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset. Yeovil)||Iveagh, Countess of||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Peake, Osbert|
|Pearson, William G.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Peat, Charles U.||Salt, Edward W.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Percy, Lord Eustace||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Petherick, M.||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Savery, Samuel Servington||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Pownall. Sir Assheton||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Pybus, Sir John||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Radford, E. A.||Shute, Colonel Sir John||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Train, John|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Smith, Sir J. Walker (Barrow-in-F.)||Tree, Ronald|
|Ramsay. T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Smithers, Sir Waldron||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Ramsbotham, Herwald||Somervell, Sir Donald||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ratcliffe, Arthur||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Rathbone, Eleanor||Soper, Richard||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wailsend)|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||White, Henry Graham|
|Rickards, George William||Spens, William Patrick||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Robinson, John Roland||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Rosbntham, Sir Thomas||Steel-Maltland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Stevenson, James||Wood. Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Runelman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Stones, James||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stourton, Hon. John J.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Russell, Hamer Field (Shet'ld, B'tside)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sir George Penny and Mr. Blindell.|