§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [4th June], "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
this House declines to assent to the Third Reading of a Bill which, in its establishment of a new constitution for India, does not contain the means for the realisation of Dominion status, imposes undue restrictions on the exercise of self-government, fails to make adequate provision for the enfranchisement and representation of the workers, both men and women, and entrenches in the legislatures the forces of wealth, privilege, and reaction.—[Mr. Morgan Jones.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ 3.41 p.m.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
We have had a very long discussion on the Bill, and there are few fresh things to say. I have read, although I have not heard, every word that has been spoken in the Debates on the Bill, and it was not until yesterday, on the 41st day of the discussion, that I heard an argument in favour of the Bill which impressed me. It was advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock (Mr. Patrick) in that part of his speech devoted to the immense importance in India of religious feelings and religious emotion, and the difficulty of not giving a fuller voice to Indians in the management of their own political affairs when their affairs are to such a large extent governed by religious considerations. It is a pity that 41 days had to go by before one logical argument was heard in support of the Bill. Apart from that argument, I have been completely unimpressed by arguments advanced in support of the Bill.
As I have listened to the discussions, the case for the Bill has steadily weakened. One by one the arguments by which the Bill was buttressed have been swept away. We were told that the position was altered and that the Princes were anxious about Federation; we know now that the Princes do not 1886 want Federation. We were told that without exception the men on the spot were in favour of the Bill; we now know that that is not so. We were told that the Bill placated a great central body of Indian opinion; we now know that the Bill placates nobody. On the other hand, the ease of the opponents of the Bill has steadily improved. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State took some pride yesterday in pointing to the majorities which had been registered in favour of the Bill, and which had never once sunk below 80. What a sorry boast,. for a Member of a National Government which can command a majority of very nearly 400. He boasts that on a measure to which the greater part of this year has up to now been devoted, the majority has rarely sunk to a level below about. 100. It shows that, while the Measure has commanded the silent vote of those who support the National Government, it is loathed by a large proportion.
We believe that the Bill can do nothing but harm. It will cost much money and will satisfy no section of Indian opinion, because it is based upon fraud and upon telling two different stories to two different lots of people. To the Princes the Government say, "It is quite all right; your fears Are unfounded," and the Government go at the same time to the Indian politicians and tell them that their lawful aspirations for self-government are to be satisfied. A Bill based upon such unstable foundations cannot be a success. It will prove no solution to the Indian problem 'and no departure from or settlement of that problem, but only a jumping-off place for fresh difficulties and dissatisfactions in India and fresh troubles at home in the shape of further unemployment among that section of our industry which depends upon the well-being of India for marketing its goods. Instead of getting India out of the way, we shall be bringing India into the forefront of politics, and we shall be for many years to come in a much less favourable position for grappling with the problem.
I do not wish to say anything to detract from the credit which is due to the Secretary of State for the way in which he has piloted the Bill. We all appreciate very greatly the way in which he has handled it. He used a great many animal metaphors yesterday; I may 1887 perhaps use one more. It is said that the Government have shown great courage in pursuing their policy against the opposition. That courage seems to me rather like the courage of the rabbit which is confronted in its burrow with a ferret. In facing the world with that ferret at its back, all that it is aware of is that the ferret is nibbling at its hindquarters. The Bill will prove an endless source of trouble in the future, and it will bring no satisfaction to anyone in India.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
The Noble Lord referred to the courage of the rabbit when confronted with a ferret. I believe the ferret is usually kept in a bag, and that is where I hope we shall put that particular ferret to-night. The Noble Lord and his friends, notwithstanding our protracted Debates, are like the Bourbons; they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr.Churchill) and his friends have, in fact, been the greatest allies of the Government, because they have enabled the Secretary of State to deal with unrealities which they have created rather than to devote his time to the human realities which we have endeavoured to raise from this side of the House. The opposition between them and the Secretary of State has been like a play, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping being the villain of the piece and the Secretary of State the hero, defeating the villain at every turn. No doubt he will finally dispose of him to-night without loss of blood, and I have little doubt that, when to-day's Debate is over, the two protagonists may properly be found leaving the stage door arm in arm. I do not propose to spend any more time dealing with the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping or of the Noble Lord, because far too much time has already been devoted to them. I would rather turn to the Secretary of State and to the Government.
Perhaps it is not inopportune to say, on this Derby Day, that the Secretary of State is entitled to congratulate himself and his helpers on having rounded Tattenham Corner and having entered the straight. The right hon. Gentleman has had strong hands, a firm seat and a 1888 brave heart—indeed, all the essentials of good horsemanship except one. I wish he had shown a little more gentle handling of the horse's mouth, a little less determination and a little more responsiveness to the real requirements of the situation. Yesterday the Secretary of State seemed to derive a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that, as he stated, the main structure of the Joint Select Committee's Report—a Majority Report—has remained intact in the Bill the Third Reading of which is now before us. How could it be otherwise with a majority of Government supporters on the Committee and with a House behind him with such a majority as the Government now have? It is not true to say, as has been said in former times, that the Government of the day is subject to the House of Commons. In law that may be so, but in fact, as the Secretary of State knows quite well, with a Government with such a majority, and with the knowledge that if they do not hang together they are likely to hang separately, no other conclusion than support of the Government was possible, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to make a virtue of that fact.
Our detailed objections to the Bill have been fully put in Debate, and not least by my two hon. Friends who spoke from these benches yesterday. I do not propose to repeat them. In plain language, His Majesty's Opposition oppose this Bill because not only does it not carry out our repeated pledges, but it does not hold out even the early hope of those pledges being carried out. If the new Constitution provided even a satisfactory starting point, if the foundations were well and truly laid, if we saw that in the near future it was possible for the Indian people to build a superstructure on those foundations, we might be willing to accept half a loaf as being better than no bread. But we are not so persuaded. The major defects of the Bill are two. They are complementary, and to a large extent merge one into the other. On the one hand, the forces and the interests of property and privilege are installed in power practically in perpetuity. On the other hand, the Indian people, no matter how well fitted or how desirous they may be to-day, or they may become to-morrow, cannot of their own volition progress one step on the road to the goal we have promised that they shall reach. 1889 As I say that, I think of the great mass of the population of India, living to-day, in the month of June, on its sun-baked plains, in dire poverty, over-burdened with a vast and increasing population, suffering very largely from lack of food and oppressed in every direction by financial parasites of one sort or another.
I do not believe that, as the Secretary of State indicated yesterday, it depends on the Indian people or on their success and desire as to when India may reach its journey's end. It will not be possible for even the British Parliament, still less the Indian Legislature, to impose their will on the Princes without their agreement; and it is no answer to say, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said yesterday in effect, that the Princes have agreed once and will agree to a modification of their powers again. To-day we are offering them, not less power, but greater and more extended powers, and they are giving up little; but in the future we shall have nothing to offer but a derogation from the rights which they obtain under this Bill.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) spoke yesterday of entrenching the forces of reaction, the Secretary of State rode off on the plea that we were giving the depressed classes a part in the Government of the country. So we are but what a small and ineffective part when there will be at the centre of India a solid block of votes which, with but little reinforcement from the other Conservative elements in the country, will be able for all time to stop the wheels of progress to that full democracy which we on this side of the House at any rate believe to be the ultimate and best form of Government for all mankind. Can we wonder that some responsible Indians prefer the present form of Government, with the hope which it would still hold out for the future? No matter how well educated, in our Western sense, the Indian people may become, no matter how well versed in the art of Government, no matter how far, for example, the Government of an Indian Province may think the franchise may be carried administratively, they will have no power short of a petition to Parliament after many years, with all its disappointments and delays, to go one step further on 1890 the road to real self-government and responsibility for their own destinies, and even then the solid block at the centre will stand in the way.
Finally, the Government have failed to make clear that this Bill is intended to be but a prelude to the enlargement of Indian liberties to the full and equal status enjoyed by other Dominions; for the words "its due place" signify a possibility, if not, indeed, a probability, of a less exalted and a less free place in the Commonwealth than that attained by other Dominions. The Government have, therefore, failed in the practical task of creating a living and flexible constitution like our own, and they have failed to offer a real hope, or even a vision, of what the future may hold with certainty for the Indian people. We are imposing a constitution overloaded with so-called safeguards, calculated, as I think, to defeat the very end in view and to arouse again those feelings of ill will which have already done so much harm. We are making the mistake of giving grudgingly, as it were from unwilling hands. There has been no grace in the giving, and, therefore, no gratitude in the receiving. I myself believe, and fervently hope, that the Indian people of all classes and sections will endeavour to work the constitution, but I fear they will do so feeling, as Lord Lytton said in 1878, that Britain has broken to the heart the promise she has uttered to the ear. I can only hope that a Government may soon be in power in this country which will right the wrongs that are now being done, and will do as Campbell-Bannerman did in South Africa, and do it generously, trustfully and courageously. The House will remember that Abraham Lincoln, in his speech at Gettysburg, used these memorable words:The world will little note nor long remember what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.If I might presume to amend those words as this Bill passes to another place, I would say: The Indian people will little note nor long remember what we say here; but they can never forget what we do here. I hope and pray that we have builded better than we know, and that when the story of this Bill has passed into history, the Indian people may believe we have done our best, that we have had the will but have not found the 1891 way, and that by that time we may have wholeheartedly repaired the omissions and commissions we make to-day.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
As this is the ultimate occasion upon which hon. Members will be afforded the opportunity of making any contribution to our discussions upon this Measure, and as there are many other Members who wish to speak, and who have a greater claim to interest this House than I have, I will endeavour to restrict my remarks to the narrowest limits. The noble Lord the Member for West Derbyshire (Marquis of Hartington), in one of the shortest speeches I have ever heard on the Third Reading of a Bill, invited the House to reject this Bill upon grounds which are comprehensively set out in one Amendment, whereas the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), whose absence to-day I hope no one will misinterpret, invited the House to reject the Measure upon grounds which appear in his Amendment. I do not remember the House ever being simultaneously asked to reject a Measure for two sets of reasons so completely contradictory and so mutually exclusive, so much so that I think that those who support the Government might be excused from taking any further part in the Debate, and allow the two sections of opposition to settle their own differences and cancel each other out. But I have to interpret my public duty, and will endeavour to meet the numerous arguments which I have heard advanced in the long days of the Committee stage.
Whoever framed the Socialist Amendment, I think, could have no conception whatever of the nature and scope of the Bill. The Secretary of State has based the whole of his scheme of reforms upon a principle which, in the first instance, was enunciated by the Statutory Commission. It was that, whatever scheme of reform was proposed for India, it should contain within itself the potentialities of full development, and should be so framed as to enable the Indian Constitution to be evolved in proportion as Indians prove capable of governing themselves until full self-government, Dominion status, or whatever you like to call the ultimate consummation, is attained. The Measure which the Secretary of State asks us to pass to-night is 1892 conceived upon those lines. In view of that consideration the Socialist Amendment is entirely irrelevant and meaningless. There is, of course, no finality in the operation of this Bill until full self-government is achieved. The Socialist Amendment, however, seems to postulate that both with regard to self-government, the franchise and representation, this Measure only takes us to a certain point, and that when that point is reached another Government of India Bill will be required in order to provide for the remaining stages of the advance towards self-government. Heaven forbid. I think that one of the merits of the Bill, one of the reasons why I voted for it, is that through its instrumentality and operation Dominion status could be reached to-morrow; if to-morrow Indians were capable of fulfilling the conditions precedent.
I admit at once that the Socialist Amendment is not nearly so critical as its rival on the Order Paper. The Socialist Opposition do not disapprove of the direction in which the Secretary of State invites us to follow him. The complaint on the official Opposition benches is that the Secretary of State does not ask us to go far enough. But the criticism of the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) is exactly the reverse, and is far more devastating. He refuses to recognise that the Secretary of State is leading us in the right direction. From the wording of the Conservative Opposition Amendment, it appears that their chief objection, or rather their first and foremost objection. is based, as the Noble Lord the Member for West Derbyshire said just now, upon the futility of imposing upon India a scheme of reforms which every section of the Indian people has rejected. While leaving out of account the all-important consideration that the suggestions of the Conservative Opposition, so far as they can be elucidated, would be far more summarily and decisively repudiated than the Government's scheme, it is open to question whether that contention is a valid one. It is daily becoming more obvious that the Princes have not so much rejected the scheme of an All-India Federation as that they have put in a plea for further and better particulars, and, since those have been furnished, there is every indication that the accession of the Princes will be simply a 1893 question of time. With regard to the political intelligentsia of India, they are not so much averse to the Government proposals as they are labouring under the same misconception as to the limitations of this Measure which is revealed in the Socialist Opposition Amendment. Moreover, moderate opinion in India, as expressed in the public views of such distinguished leaders of Indian thought as Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Mr. Jayakar and others, make it clear that they themselves are in favour of co-operation.
In estimating what are the prospects of eliciting Indian co-operation, I would like, with the leave of the House, to intrude a personal experience. I had the privilege, during two successive winters in India, when serving on the Statutory Commission, of having confidential conversations with most of the leading Indian statesmen in the nine Provinces and in the capital itself. Since then I have been in communication with many of them both directly and by correspondence, and, while I am perfectly prepared to admit that private correspondence and private conversations cannot be admitted as formal evidence, they have far more influence on my mind than any amount of evidence heard in the full floodlight of publicity. Experience has convinced me that the hopes which the Secretary of State reposes in the co-operation of Indians in working the reforms will not be misplaced. It will depend, of course, largely upon whom you send to India, and upon what type of Indian will be partly in control of the executive and of the administration. When all is said and done, it is the personal equation which is going to be a far more decisive factor in the working of reforms than anything which is contained in the Instrument of the Constitution. If, as I believe, men of moderate views, both English and Indian, are prepared to work together, I think the most optimistic forecast of the smooth working of these reforms will be fulfilled.
The right hon. Member for Epping, in the course of the Committee stage of the Bill, and in his speeches outside the House, seems to have cast doubt upon the bona fides of those who have publicly expressed their intention of co-operating but he seems to attach the most implicit faith to everything that has been said and written by Indians in disparagement 1894 of this Bill. It seems to me that he revealed an ingenuousness which, in one of his vast experience, is almost unaccountable. But I suggest—and I hope I am not offending any susceptibility in doing so—that the more we discount the clamour which was evoked in India almost before the Bill could have been read, and the plainer the Government indicate that they do not take that clamour at its face value, the sooner will good understanding be reached between English and Indians. The case against the Bill has been absurdly over-stated. Those who speak of it as a meagre Measure of reform, I am quite convinced, will have occasion to revise their opinion at no distant date, and, even when provincial autonomy is set up, they will find that it will call for the maximum effort on their part, and will leave them little time to complain that they have not been given a sufficient burden of responsibility.
To return to the Conservative Opposition Amendment. It is argued by them, as far as I can understand, that even if the whole of the political intelligentsia in India were in favour of this Measure, that body of opinion is only a small body of men, well educated perhaps, but for the most part urban and members of the legal profession, that they do not speak for the millions of India, and that there is no public opinion as we understand the word. Let me reply to that argument with a quotation. I hold the view that Members should be allowed only a very small indulgence in quotations, but I ask the leave of the House to read this one because it is so apposite and so useful for the purpose of my argument. It is an extract from a letter written as long ago as the year 1904 to one great public servant from another great public servant in India who can never have been accused of holding advanced views. These are the relevant sentences:Public opinion has been growing all the while, is articulate, is daily becoming more powerful. To contend that it does not exist, that it has not advanced in the last 15 years, or that it may be treated with general indifference is, in my view, to ignore the great change which is passing over the country, and which, I believe, history will recognise myself as having done much, whether wisely or unwisely, to accelerate — that is, the lifting of India from the level' of a Dependency to the position which is bound one day to be hers, if it is not so already, namely, that of the greatest partner in the Empire.1895 Those words were written not by some administrator ambitious of preferment, eager to propitiate the powers-that-be, as some have recently been most unjustly accused of being; nor are they the words of some idealist whose wish is father to the thought, and who sees things not as they are, but as he would prefer them to be. No, those are the words of Lord Curzon of Kedlestone written 31 years ago, and if his words could carry conviction then, how much more so must they to-day, after three decades which have been filled with far more revolutionary changes in the East than had taken place in any previous three centuries. The expression "unchanging East" since Lord Curzon's day has become completely obsolete, and I say that those who frankly and fearlessly face up to this fact are those best qualified to frame a Constitution for India.
I recollect many years ago standing behind your Chair, Mr. Speaker, in a capacity other than that of a Member of Parliament, listening with awe and admiration to a speech delivered by the right hon. Member for Epping. It was on the occasion of the introduction of the so-called Better Government of Ireland Bill. He was inviting his listeners to look at the Irish problem with a new eye, with a wider range of vision. While I am the first to admit that there is no analogy whatsoever between Ireland and India, I cannot help wondering how it is that when the right hon. Gentleman raised his eyes to the Irish problem the scales fell from them, but when he gazes up at the Indian problem he seems to become afflicted with some form of myopia. Perhaps it is that he does not wish to see the distant scene and that one step is too much for him. Then there is the thread which seems to run through the whole fabric of the argument of the Conservative opposition, namely, that the Indian peoples are not ready for responsible government, or, to put it in their words:a system of government wholly unsuited to their traditions.I confess that the right hon. Member for Epping has completely mystified me in the course of the Committee discussions. I had always been under the impression that he based the whole of his case on the unsuitability of any form of responsibile government for India, but 1896 one of the most trenchant attacks he made upon the Secretary of State was that the Secretary of State was professing to give a form of responsibility which was so hedged round with safeguards that it was merely a delusion and a snare. I should have thought that, if that were so, the right hon. Gentleman would have experienced considerable relief in that the feature of the Bill he objected to most had turned out to be illusory.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My hon. Friend is not quoting me at all, but summarising what he thinks I said. My argument throughout has been that this does not give full responsibility of government to India, but it gives the power to extract it through an instrument that has been set up.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
That is quite true, but I remember the right hon. Gentleman attacking the Secretary of State seriously because he said that the responsibility was merely a sham. I think that his original complaint against the Bill was that the danger was in giving responsibility to India. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can have it both ways. What is the alternative of the Conservative opposition? I believe that that is only a rhetorical question, and that if they attemped to answer it they would be out of order, but it is a question we all have to ask ourselves, and it has been asked by everyone who has addressed himself to this great and complex problem in the last eight years. It was the process in the Joint Select Committee, the winnowing process of sifting the chaff from the grain. What is it?I have never been able to under stand. Do they ask for a system of Federation of British India leaving the Princes out in the cold? All I can reply to that is that I have a. vast volume of opinion behind me when I say that that is a fantastic alternative. If they favour any form of Federation of All-India, they know that they could not bring it into being except upon the terms of the Princes. The Conservative opposition at one period professed to base themselves upon the recommendations of the report of the Statutory Commission. They have quoted our report very liberally in support of their views, and they have not spared myself and other members of the 1897 Commission for what they consider is inconsistency.
I have been asked why I no longer abide by the report in its entirety. I can give two reasons. I have had ample opportunity to revise the views that I formerly held in the light of the mass of evidence which, during the period of two years, was received before the Joint Select Committee. Incidentally, I should like to say—and I am sure that the Secretary of State would bear me out—that my part on that Committee was not one of docile acquiescence in everything that the Government placed before us. On the contrary, the Secretary of State accepted a number of Amendments which stood in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) and others, and, had he not accepted them, we must have withheld our support. The second reason is that, in view of the terms of our report, which left upon me the impression that all our three years' labour had been futile and a waste of time, while I might almost have allowed resentment and pique to influence my subsequent course of action, I was determined that on the Joint Select Committee nothing should influence me but what I believed would make for the best solution of this complex problem. By merely standing firm upon the recommendations of the Statutory Commission I should have contributed nothing to that end. The Secretary of State himself displayed statesmanlike accessibility on the Joint Select Committee, and it seemed to me that it was the duty of all of us to follow his example.
I want to make one final observation. We have heard a great deal inside and outside the House about the surrender of our great Indian heritage. I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth only yesterday use that very phrase. Let us be careful in employing such phrase's that we know exactly what they mean. What is the nature of this heritage in India? Are we there as the heirs of the House of Tamerlane to squander its wealth and exploit its population. We came dangerously near that situation in one period of history when for a brief interval the firm hand of Robert Clive was temporarily removed from the control of the operations of the 1898 East India Company, but since the establishment of the British Raj over a. consolidated Indian Empire we have controlled and governed India in a fiduciary capacity. And this fact explains at once the absolute necessity for safeguards in all probability for a long while to come, and also the gradual association of Indians with the Government and the administration of their native land. If both British and' Indians recognise the true nature of our Government and control of India, I think there will be an end of this talk about surrender of our heritage and also the meagreness of the scheme of reforms, which, if Indians themselves consent to operate, will enable India to take the place which Lord Curzon claimed as her right within the great Commonwealth of the free nations of the British Empire.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The Secretary of State yesterday spoke of the relief that was being generally felt that we were coming to the end of these Debates, and that relief is shared by all. I think it was Mr. Disraeli who once said that he did not profess to understand a Bill until he had heard it fully debated in the House of Commons. I do not claim to know all of this Bill. I am like most other hon. Members who have concerned themselves with this question, in that the more I take part in it the less confident I am of my own opinions. Certainly I thought that I knew more about India when I was a member of the Round Table Conference four years ago than I know today. But I suppose all Members who have taken part in the Bill, those who have wide experience of Indian affairs and those of us who do not profess to have such experience, are glad that we are coming to an end of the discussion. We ought to congratulate ourselves that this big change in India is to come about as a result of discussion and persuasion and not as a result of violence and force. I know that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) came before the Joint Select Committee and gave evidence there came a time when Mr. Jayakar had to cross-examine, and it was to me one of the most revealing parts of that experience. Mr. Jayakar is a man who would take a commanding place in any assembly in the world, and when he and the right hon. Gentleman were in conversation, and 1899 when Mr. Jayakar was cross-examining the right hon. Gentleman, I could not help thinking that the sharp clash of opinion represented by Mr. Jayakar on one side of the table, and by the right hon. Gentleman on the other side would not have been settled by argument and persuasion a century ago. The very fact that it was sought to settle these differences round the table, and that the matter was one for persuasion and argument rather than of arms and force shows, at any rate, that this world is making some progress.
During the progress of the Bill we have all been educated in the process. I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, to whose skill and devotion we all of us wish to pay a tribute, has been educated with the rest. He has discharged a supreme responsibility most honourably, and we are glad that his name will be associated with what will certainly be the greatest political experiment in the history of our Empire. But we have had an education in this House, and I would like to express a word of appreciation to the opponents of the Bill for the way they have carried on the long Debate. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) has shouldered his responsibility in a way which calls for admiration, and when he speaks I am almost persuaded by what he says. We have had the advantage in this House of contributions made by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock), who has had in this matter an Indian summer. His speeches have been reminiscent of his very wide experience, and the House has had the advantage of his very full knowledge and intimate touch with these affairs. I should like to express my appreciation of the contributions made by the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross and Western (Duchess of Atholl). She has startled me by her encyclopaedic knowledge of India, and by her diligence has set the House an example. The only thing I regret is that she should take so mournful a view of the future. When I heard the Noble Lady speaking, I recalled what was said by a French epigrammatist in the 18th Century who, speaking of a pessimist of that time, said that he was always building dungeons in Spain.
1900 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping has only visited us on occasions, but we have always been glad to see him. It could hardly perhaps be expected that he should take any big share in the prolonged detail work of the Committee. That has been left to the rank and file. We might say of him, that he is for the bigger occasion as Johnson made his comment on Milton's use of the sonnet:Milton, madam, could cut a colossus from the rock, but could not carve heads upon cherry stones.Perhaps that is the reason why the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to assist us in details on the Committee. But his opinion on the Bill has been declared all along. It was three years ago that he said to the people of this country, speaking of these proposals:It is a hideous act of self-mutilation astounding every nation in the world.He has condemned the methods of the Government and those who support the Bill. Speaking in the Albert Hall only this year, he said that every intrigue had been used. The Members of the House had been lulled and chloroformed. The Conservative associations had been muzzled. The Joint Select Committee was packed, the delegates from India were picked, and the Lancashire evidence cooked. He went on to say:Every argument offered to the Government against the Bill was met by vacuous gapes, vacant jeers and treadmill peregrinations through the Lobby.He went on, amid the cheers of the 10,000 who were there:The Bill is dead. It is as dead as mutton.He then put the question why the Government should be concerned to go on with a dead Bill, and he said that the reason was:The corpse must be carried forward as a trophy.I understand that he is to speak later to-night. Might we not ask why he should be discussing a dead Bill? That the Bill is dead he has almost the same assurances as Macbeth had of Banquo:Safe in a ditch he bides with twenty trenched gashes on his head.Why should he be troubled any longer with what is dead, dead as mutton? He cried "The Bill is dead." It was only his incorrigible diffidence which prevented 1901 him from saying further: "This was the hand that did it." The right hon. Gentleman makes constant prophecies of disaster. We recognise him as one of the great outstanding historians of our time, but it is remarkable that the great historians have never been able to understand the history of their own day. Edward Gibbons said in 1792, I think it was, that at the first discharge of the Austrian cannon the game would be up in France and the armies would disappear. I think the prophecies of the right hon. Gentleman will prove just as unreliable.
Those of us who support the Bill have no illusions as to the future. We have no belief that there will be an easy progress for this Measure in India. There will be conditions for the next 10, 20 or 50 years that will demand all the sympathy and understanding of the people of this country, but in spite of all the prophecies that have been made I believe that this Bill is the only line of progress and that in passing the Bill we are giving to the people of India a very much fuller share in the management of their own affairs and doing more than we have ever done to fulfil the many pledges that have been given from one year to another.
I should like to associate myself with the protest that was made yesterday by my right hon. Fiend the Leader of my party upon the indirect vote. I recognise that upon the indirect vote for the lower Chamber of the Central Legislature the time for argument in this House has passed. If anyone spoke here with the tongue of an archangel no change could now be made on the passing of this Bill for its Third Reading, but in accordance with the traditions of this House we record our protest. We are opposed to the indirect vote for the lower House of the Central Legislature upon these grounds—that the indirect vote deprives the people of India of a privilege which they have enjoyed for 14 Years; that it sets aside the conclusion of the committee that was charged expressly with the responsibility of inquiring into this matter and advising the House thereon; that it is contrary to the unanmous recommendations of that committee; that it strikes at the principle of unity in India; that it adds to the forces of disintegration at a time when the supreme need in India is for the strengthening of the Central tie; and that 1902 it is going to play into the hands of the extremists. If the Congress extremists wish to capture the Centre they must now intervene in the Provincial elections and capture the Provinces. The indirect vote makes impossible the position of the Governor-General. It robs him of any effective power of dissolution. It makes necessary fantastic constituencies, fantastic both for the Council of State and for the lower House. It sets aside the advice of those most qualified to advise.
Although the decision has been arrived at by a majority of the Joint Select Committee, I believe that the Members of this House would not have voted for the indirect vote if they had read what was said by the Government of India only a few years ago, when they supported the direct vote, following upon the contrary recommendation of the Statutory Commission. I would beg hon. Members of this House to read that report, and they will see that it was not a question merely of pointing out one danger, but that the Government of India erected one danger signal after another. I am certain that the Government and the majority of this House in deciding on the indirect vote against the direct vote are driving the engine against all the signals. They are going against warnings given repeatedly. They are flouting Indian opinion. The reception given to this Bill and the criticisms of the Bill in India have very largely gathered around this question The alteration from the direct to the indirect vote has been regarded in India as the head and front of our offending Only a fortnight ago a correspondent of "The Times" newspaper sent this message from India:Moderates do not understand why Parliament has accepted the principle of indirect election at the Centre. They claim that moderate opinion in this country will be handicapped at the Centre, which will naturally be affected by the composition of the Provincial Legislatures.Reference has been made frequently to the opposition to these proposals by the National Liberal Federation of India. I am sure that the Liberals of India will be flattered by the quotations which the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth and others have made. If they have taken the trouble to and out the grounds on which the Liberals of India object, they will have found that at the centre of their objection is their intense opposition to the withdrawal of the direct 1903 vote in India. At the conference which took place at Poona on these proposals they directed their attention to this matter and said that to India it was a question of life and death. The situation can still be redeemed. It can be redeemed in another place, but I would rather it had been done in the House of Commons. My admiration for the Secretary of State would be greatly enhanced if by a supreme act of courage he would revert to the position taken up by all those who are well qualified to advise him. If he did that he would take out of the opposition at present expressed in India a great deal of its intensity and vehemence.
When the right hon. Gentleman opposite and other Members speak about the opposition to the Bill in India, I wonder if they saw what was published in "The Times" newspaper a few days ago. Did he see what was said by the Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary party? The question has been raised whether the Bill will be worked. That is the test, not what is said on the platform in India. Will the Bill be worked? On the 17th May "The Times" quoted Mr. Satyamurthi, the Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary party, as saying that the party would make the reforms a success in order to carry out the fight for Swaraj.
§ Mr. FOOT
It is a term very difficult to define. I should like to see the Congress element in India inside the Government; inside Parliament. They would be less dangerous there than in agitation outside. "The Times" correspondent added:This seems to mean that the party will accept office, in Madras at least.The opposition expressed in India has been mainly on the ground of the safeguards. I think the safeguards are too many and too onerous. If the Bill had 1904 been prepared by the Liberal party I do not think that it would have been drafted in that way. Although the safeguards are in our opinion too many and too onerous I think that in the main they are defensible in the interests of India, and that they are put forward on that ground. What the people of this country say to India is this: "You are going to have immense powers that are not comparable anywhere else in the world. If you are equal to the responsibilities the result will be that these great Provinces will be practically under your own absolute control, but if the powers break down it is essential that steps should be taken to ensure that there is some government." It is the problem of free government with which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has been concerned. Freedom is a great thing, but it must be built first of all on the foundation of government. It is the problem of free government with which Abraham Lincoln was concerned, to whom reference has been made. Lincoln once said something about the problem of free government:It has long been a grave question whether any Government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can he strong enough to maintain its existence in great emergencies.That was the problem which vexed Pericles and it was the problem that nearly broke the heart of Oliver Cromwell. It was the problem that tested very severely the statesmanship of William Pitt, and it has been the problem of almost every Government throughout the centuries. The problem of securing free government has determined very largely the form and the purpose of the Bill, and explains why a great many safeguards are in it to which so much objection has been taken. I should like to express my agreement with the hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Cadogan), that the safeguards do not depend so much upon the wording of the Act but upon the spirit and atmosphere in which they are worked.
I remember one case in the course of my profession—if the House will permit me to make a personal allusion—in which I had to prepare a partnership deed for a substantial and prosperous firm. I prepared the deed, providing as we have to do for every eventuality and every contingency, for disputes between the 1905 partners, and so forth. When I had finished the deed it was something like 30 pages and was to last for 15 years. Towards the end of the 15 years I was instructed to prepare a new deed. When I met the partners at my office I asked for the old deed and when it was produced it was just as I had handed it to them 15 years before, in an envelope with the seal unbroken. I use that as an illustration of what is possible in India. No one wants these reserved powers and all these extensive powers are only to be used in an emergency which we trust may not arise. It will depend upon the spirit in which the scheme is worked. It will depend much on personality. If ever this country was in need of divine guidance it will be in the appointment of the next Governor-General to deal with these matters in India. I believe that with commonsense and with a desire to work the reforms that our Indian friends need not be troubled by these many safeguards, which given reason and commonsense may pass into political oblivion.
We have our hopes and apprehensions. My main apprehension about this Bill is as to the unity of India. That I believe is the real danger. Anything that can break the unity of India is a danger. Federation in a certain sense adds to that danger. Mr. Panikkar pointed that out in a book published only a few months ago. I have also my hopes. My main hopes are based on the enfranchisement of women, not on a scale that we should all desire, but as a beginning. There is no one here who can calculate what it means in India with some millions of women coming in for the first time to take their share of political responsibility. I have hopes because of the entry of the depressed classes into political responsibility. I recognise the criticism made by my hon. and gallant -Friend the Member for Bournemouth yesterday. I wish that they could have been brought in under other circumstances and under better conditions, but for the first time they are going to take a very substantial share in the working oat of the future government of their own country. My third hope was expressed in the speech made by an hon. Member associated with me in the West Country yesterday, the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Patrick), and that is in the removal of the neutrality of government towards the questions that are 1906 interlocked with the culture and religion of India. The immense problem in India is how we can canalise the life of India. We have to realise the ability and gifts of a people who had a civilisation long before this country emerged from the mists of antiquity. Our hope is in the diversion of the mind of her people from sterile constitutional controversy. We have to redirect all that effort towards the formation of parties which will cut across old divisions and differences and make concentration possible upon problems of social and economic reform. In the redirection of the forces of India we put our hope.
I only want to refer in a sentence to the communal award. I have had some communication with those in India who speak with some knowledge and authority and have been asked to say that their apprehensions are concerned with the fact that the award is to be obligatory for a period of 10 years. If that apprehension can be met, either here or in another place, I have reason to know from those with whom I have been in communication, and who are in direct touch with these matters, that their hopes for the Bill would be greatly strengthened.
Here we are with the people of India face to face with an immense problem. I ask the House to think of what the people of India have to do. They are face to face with an election in which they must find over 5,000 candidates. They are face to face with the setting up of a political structure representing 11 governments, some of them with a population greater than that of the British Isles. They are face to face with an experiment which is probably the greatest in the history of the world. They will need, not less sympathy and understanding from this country, but a great deal more. Fortunately, from our experience, we are able to give the people of India some advantages which they could never secure for themselves. I was astonished yesterday when the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth spoke about sentiment. Those who have tried to follow affairs in India have been struck by the fact that the criticisms which have arisen on the report of the Joint Select Committee and upon the work of the Government have not been directed to the terms of the Bill, but have largely been concerned 1907 with claims as to status, with prestige and standing. I am sure that sentiment comes into this matter to the extent of nine-tenths of the whole controversy. I remember reading Mr. Graham Wallas's book on "Our Social Heritage." He drew attention to the fact that Shakespeare, who knew something about distress and hunger, once spoke of the things which drive a man to suicide. He did not speak about distress and hunger and poverty, but of intangible things:The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes.Those are the things which affect the lives and interests of men. I have taken all the time that has been allotted to me. Yesterday the Secretary of State spoke of the greatness of the aim. It is beyond our computation. One of the most notable political utterances ever made was by General Smuts last year. He said:A new portent of a first order is appearing in Asia, Sleeping Asia is awakening, is stirring from one end to the other. Two-thirds of the human race is on the move, and no one knows whither.That was said by an Empire statesman who commended in general terms the proposals now before the House. We are dealing here with things beyond our measurement and computation. We are dealing with the relations between East and West, and with questions of race. We shall not be troubled 20 years hence with some of the political problems which have occupied our attention during most of our lifetime but mainly with the impact of one race on another, and it may be that we have something in this Bill upon which may hinge the peace of the world. The most distinctive feature of our history has been the association of India and this country. It has been one of the most significant things, and it marks our most distinctive task in this generation. I hope and believe that out of this controversy and these discussions, out of the efforts that have been made by this House, something greater will emerge than can be done by this country or by India, and that is to realise the ideals of Dr. Tagore when he spoke of some gift to civilisation which can come from both 1908 countries together, but which cannot come from either alone. At these times I am an Imperialist. I have no sympathy with the Empire as it is sometimes proclaimed, but with something a great deal broader. I am sure that our hopes do not depend upon the Sections and Clauses in the Bill, but on the measure of good will and understanding existing between the two countries. Those are the things which Burke spoke of as the ties of Empire, and John Milton as being the bonds and ligaments of the Commonwealth. It is in that sense that, greatly daring, and following the example recently set in another place I quote the words of one who in some senses might be regarded as the greatest of all Englishmen:Oh Thou, who of Thy free grace…did'st build up this Britannic empire to such a glorious and enviable height, with all her Daughter Islands about her, Stay us in that felicity.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The speech of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) was divided into three parts. In the first part, he showed his usual contempt for the opinions of any minority except the minority to which he himself belongs. In the last part he led us into such cloudy and mysterious heights that one felt that even the most impressive quotation, which like so many of the right hon. Member's quotations have frequently drawn a meed of popular applause, fell far short of the requirements of the picture he was drawing. The rest of his speech was, in fact, one of the most damaging attacks I have heard delivered on the Bill. Point after point was rammed home with merciless persistency by the hon. Member. All the vices of indirect election and the injury it would do to the future Government of India were repeated in the most vehement fashion. We were told how great would be the difficulties of carrying out an election with 5,000 candidates to be found by a people, many of whom are very little advanced in the scale of modern politics. We were told of the enormous number of voters who will have to be handled and that when the election is over and the new assemblies are working that they will not accept the Bill, and that if they in any way consent to work it it will be only to use it as a lever to extract more. The term "Swaraj" may be interpreted by many of the men who will have the power in India in a manner 1909 which stops at nothing short of absolute independence. The hon. Member concluded by saying how greatly Indians, exposed to these trials and dangers, would stand in need of our sympathies. We shall all agree with him in that. If these misgivings and criticisms are the only support which the hon. Member can give to the Bill, except a somewhat inconsistent vote in the Lobby, I cannot congratulate the Government on the prodigious efforts they have made to win his applause.
We are now at the end of these prolonged debates. It has been a very prolonged fight, and a very uneven fight. We have had a great deal against us. All the forces of the National Government, and all the machinery, prestige, and loyalties of the Conservative party, used contrary to its instincts and traditions. We have had the Socialist and Liberal parties supporting the Bill, except that it does not go far enough for them. All the weight of their opinion, if they would like me to assign due weight to it, has been added to the current against us. All the social influence and political patronage, and power of the Government here and in India, the whole of the vast majority in this House, collected in 1931 on the impulse of a great emergency, on a wave of patriotism and a great desire expressed by the people that Britain should be honourable and strong; all this has been thrown against us. Even now, when I have hardly finished dealing with the hon. Member for Bodmin I understand that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) is sharpening up his Birmingham pencil for his rejoinder with his approved vigour.
I am ready to admit that these forces have proved too strong for us. Our consolation is that we have tried our best, that we have not left undone anything we could have done to place the resistance to this policy before the people of the country. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and I have worked together for five long years and have been ready to sacrifice our time and labour, and, I am sorry to say, in some cases personal friendships, in order that we might do what we consider, arid still consider, to be no more than our duty. I am glad that these long debates in this House are now coming to an end and that they have not been inflamed or complicated by any conflict 1910 about procedure. We came to an arrangement about procedure and the minority have no reason to complain of the time allotted or that they have not been able to state their case with the fullest freedom of debate that could be desired. And I think we may all join in congratulating the Chairman of Committees—if it is not presumptuous to speak in that way of an officer of the House who has assisted us so much—and to congratulate also, I must add, the Chief Whip, who has played a great part in devising this plan for regulating our procedure. We may join in congratulating them on what may well be an invaluable revival of old English Parliamentary customs.
But there my compliments and tributes come to an abrupt conclusion. Speaking for the Conservative minority which voted 80 against the Second Reading and which represents, even under the hardest test that could be applied, at least one-third of the Conservative party in the country, I am bound to state that cur views have not received the slightest consideration from His Majesty's Government. I suppose that if we had been a handful, a baker's dozen of Socialist refugees, great attention would have been paid to our opinions. I remember the great attention that was paid to the opinions of even one single Socialist Member of the Government—Mr. Snowden as he was then, and Viscount Snowden as he now is—when the land taxes were actually kept on for two whole years against the wishes of the great majority of the House simply in order not to hurt the feelings of so eminent a recruit from the Socialist ranks. But being what you are pleased to call Tory Die-hards our feelings and wishes can be safely brushed aside. However, the fact remains that our differences of principle and method upon this Bill are in no way diminished.
Our opposition is not in the slightest way mitigated by anything that has occurred. We must say that we remain quite unreconciled, except to the fact that you are carrying this Measure over our heads. Indeed, in all my Parliamentary experience I never knew a Measure where the gulf between Members of the same party and between men who have so much in common in the work they have to do in the future, as well as in their sentiments and relationship, 1911 has remained so profound and so unbridged. The processes of argument which usually lead to some understanding and which if not developed effectively upon the Floor of the House at any rate make it easy for people to talk over these matters outside— these processes of argument, though employed with so much patience and elaboration, only led many of us to the feeling that on this subject we no longer talked the same language. In our view not one of the main arguments against this Bill—some of which we have set forth in the Amendment on the Order Paper—has been met or even attempted to be met. Ministers have made speeches denying the validity of the arguments or traversing them by counter-assertions, and in every division they have brought in about 200 gentlemen who have definitely made up their minds, not that this Bill is a good one, but that it would be a good thing to put it through and get it out of the way. I said I would pay no more tributes, but I must pay one more to the Chief Whip. He certainly deserves congratulations, not only for his part in evolving this procedure but on other counts as well. The Secretary of State has had the support of several able colleagues on the Front Bench—and particularly the Under-Secretary, who has distinguished himself greatly and has established a Parliamentary reputation of a high order. He has had many able colleagues to assist him on that Bench, but there was one colleague whose powers of dialectic, whose forcible eloquence, whose power to raise in people's minds the most weighty considerations, at any rate must not be overlooked. I do not know whether you could say of the Chief Whip that he was a flower to blush unseen, but certainly he has not wasted his fragrance upon the desert air.
It was clear after this Bill had been in Committee for 10 or is days that there never would arise any situation or any issue upon which any majority of these two hundred steady-voting gentlemen would be won over to any accommodation or where any compromise could be reached. But I think a heavy responsibility rests upon them. Many of them may not be here after the General Election. Nobody knows indeed who will be here. But they will have in after life 1912 to watch the fortunes and the consequences of what the hon. Member for Bodmin described as this enormous and incalculable experiment. They will watch the results of the experiment to which they have committed the British Empire. If disaster comes, if grave evils and deepening confusion follow, they will not be able to forget the part they have played, and a moral responsibility will always rest upon them to the end of their days. At any rate, they have had their way. Perhaps it is better so. If a far-reaching and memorable departure of this character is to be taken, it is better that those who make it should not share their responsibility with others. It is better that they should put the stamp of their decision on our affairs nakedly, bluntly and in its integral character.
I am only going to recapitulate briefly on this Third Reading some of the salient points to which we feel no adequate answer has been made. First of all, there was the Princes' offer. The Lord President of the Council used that offer, quoting the Foreign Secretary's speech, at the Queen's Hall Conference of his party—a most decisive and critical turningpoint—in order to carry conviction and obtain assent to his views. Everyone, I think, will admit there was not very much in the Princes' offer. Whether you will succeed by all the arts you are employing, and will employ no doubt, in making up a 50 per cent. quota of these Princes, even with the terms that those who come in are to vote for all the rest after a certain period, and after all these financial inducements and improvements of the State revenues—whtether you will succeed in securing this 50 per cent. quota I admit is a matter of argument. But surely, when we were told that we were in the presence of an offer from the Princes which we should be taking a step of the gravest responsibility by rejecting, something more than this reluctant attitude on their part might have been expected.
Even now I venture to hazard the opinion that the Princes of India will not come in and that the 50 per cent. quota will not be achieved. I base this upon the fact that I do not believe that the Princes of India will set themselves against the opinion of their compatriots, particularly the Congress Party. When the original conversations took place five 1913 years ago the Congress Party were urging the Princes to come forward into Federation, but now their whole pressure is in the opposite direction. It is far that reason that the Princes have raised this question of Paramountcy, which has nothing to do with the Bill. They have raised it to have a dyke or bulwark between them—and they are setting up all manner of points of legal difference. It is markedly significant that the Government, staking everything on the offer of the Princes, now have _ to announce through the mouth of the Secretary of State that there is no question of the Princes being called together to say whether they will come in or not. The Bill is to be put on the shelf, in the hope that gradually some of the Princes, one at a time, may 'be persuaded to go and sign their names upon the roll. So much for the offer of the Princes.
Then there was the question of the opinion of the Indian Civil Service. Here again my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council took the responsibility of using very strong language. It has been quoted before, but I will quote it again. Speaking at Bewdley on 29t,h April, 1933, he said:I have no doubt, from inquiries I have made, that the overwhelming balance of opinion in the Civil Service is in favour of these reforms. Can we turn down the views of the men on the spot and the men responsible for the -tremendous task of governing India to-day?I think it was a bad thing at that early stage of the controversy to introduce the opinions of the civil servants in India into this matter. We have been sometimes blamed for speaking on this subject, but when the matter was introduced as an important part of the controversy it was impossible that others should not seek to challenge that opinion and take the opposite view. We think that the facts do not bear out the assertion of the Lord President of the Council. We believe that, although a number of the leading people in the Civil Service, especially those most closely in contact with the Government, are no doubt ranked among the supporters of the Bill, the lower down you go in the Service and the more you go to the subordinate ranks, to the people who actually will have to come into contact with the results, the more you find that they view with the very gravest misgivings, and at the best with resignation arid acquiescence, the great changes that 1914 are going to take place in their status, in their relation to the Indian masses, in the influence they will have in their districts, and in the character of the masters and superiors under whom they will be called upon to serve. Here again one has some proof, because the Government thought it necessary for the whole of these Indian civil servants to be allowed to terminate their services at any time upon proportionate pensions— which certainly was a step absolutely necessitated by feelings so wide in that Service that the conditions under which in future they would have to discharge their work would be well-nigh impossible and intolerable. Very great injury has been done I think to the Indian Civil Service. But let me say that I hope and trust that throughout this country there will be no slackening in the desire of young Englishmen to come forward and present their services and to compete in the examinations held for this purpose; and, if they are successful, I hope they will choose the Indian station, because there is the point of danger where their greatest efforts will be needed in the years to come.
Then there is the question of law and order. We have heard a great deal about handing over the police in the Provinces, but the Government have decided to do so under certain restrictions. I am going to use only one argument on this subject. It is difficult to find one that has not been used before, but I do not think that this has been used. It is a very simple illustration of the dangers of the step which the Government have taken, and also it presents in the most conclusive manner an admission that they knew of these dangers. Let the House call its mind back to Clause 26, paragraph (e), which prescribes that men who have been convicted of any offence by a court in British India or in a State which is a Federated State and sentenced to transportation or imprisonment for not less than two years, will not be eligible to be elected to the Federal Legislature. That is the proposal. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in speaking on the subject gave reasons for this. Some of us have doubts about it. We made inquiries, and in response my right hon. Friend used very striking phrases. He said:I made it my business, upon the request of the Joint Select Committee, to inquire the views of the Government of 1915 India and of the Provincial Governments. I found that, without exception, they were all strongly in favour of a disqualification of this kind remaining, provided that there also remained the dispensing power. Particularly did I find the Government of Bengal very definite upon the question.— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1935; col. 780, Vol. 299.]
Then he spoke of the fear that really dangerous terrorists, people who have been guilty of serious crimes, not civil disobedience, might be picked out and set up as candidates and make their way into the Federal Legislature in spite of these crimes, and even, as sometimes happened in Ireland, might be elected because of the crimes committed. This is not a case of a new and ignorant electorate getting excited, because under the system of indirect election it is the Provincial Legislatures which have to co-opt members of the Federal Government. Therefore, we see that all the Governors of all the Provinces in India found it necessary to press the Secretary of State to insert in the Bill a provision that dangerous terrorists will not be eligible, after they have served their sentences, for membership of the Federal Legislature, and they thought that unless these statutory provisions are placed in the Bill there is a danger that the Provincial Legislatures will elect such persons.
There is the admission of what really may be the character of some of these Provincial Legislatures. And yet it is to these bodies, whom you find it necessary to prevent by express legislation chosing dangerous terrorists, that you are to hand over the whole control of law and order, and the lives not only of our white fellow-countrymen, but also the justice which is meted out to the broad mass of the Indian people. I do not wonder at all that your misgivings have prompted you in this case to withhold the control of the secret police from these bodies whom you are entrusting with this responsibility.
Then there is the question of British trade. What of British trade, and what of Lancashire I speak with a disadvantage in this matter, because I have done my best for three years to arouse the people of Lancashire to the dangers with which their livelihood is threatened by the treatment of their trade under this Bill, and I admit that I had not 1916 received any effective or powerful response. I admit my failure. But let me ask to-day, what safeguard, what satisfaction has Lancashire received? I am not aware of anything that has been conceded to it. We have reached this concluding stage of the Bill, and all sorts of suggestions that were put forward and amendments moved and safeguards introduced have proved utterly illusory and vain, and to-day we are parting with our sovereignty, and altering the sovereignty, which was still intact in spite of the Fiscal Convention. We are not allowed to make any claims on account of the defence we give to India at the cost of our soldiers' lives, nor for the credit we have given her, which has enabled her to build up her economic system. None of that is to be held as a valid claim for asking even for preferential treatment. The Clare Lees-Moody agreement and negotiations and mission. What has happened to that now? It is not worth the paper it was written on, little though there was written upon the paper. Lancashire is going to embark upon its future relations with India on the basis of a 25 per cent. tariff as a starting point. And what chance is there of reducing that?
The expense of the new Constitution will alone throw an additional heavy burden upon the already exiguous revenue, the hard-pressed revenue of India. Apart from all invidious political emotions, the practical case, on revenue grounds, will always be able to be employed against any substantial reduction of the tariff. Lancashire may choose to kiss the rod. Lancashire Members and electors may feel that it is their duty, in the circumstances, not to put forward a view which concerns them particularly. But it seems to me a most astounding thing, in a county 10 per cent, of whose members are unemployed, whose chimneys are so often smokeless, whose offices are to let, whose factories are derelict, or even the machinery of the factories have already been shipped to some Eastern country where there is cheap labour. It seems remarkable that from a county of that kind a single member should vote for a Bill of this character, with no protection or safeguards of any kind inserted on Lancashire's account.
I must say a word or two about the presentation of the Lancashire case. My 1917 right hon. Friend the Secretary of State yesterday, very crudely I thought, referred to mares' nests. It was, I thought, specially unfortunate that he should do that on the very day when the report of the Select Committee on Witnesses was available to Members of the House. That report, while expressed in most courteous terms and veiled in legal and diplomatic language, nevertheless absolutely destroys the foundation on which the Committee of Privileges acquitted the right hon. Gentleman—absolutely. This far-fetched distinction between judicial and non-judicial, this attempt to draw a distinction between evidence of fact and evidence of opinion. I am not proposing to go on with that subject now, because we shall have to 'debate it at length, and I hope to submit a more detailed argument to the House upon the subject; but I will quote the final paragraph in the report, because it directly illustrates the point I am making. The Committee say:They think it desirable to affirm the principle that any document received by the officers of any Committee of the House as a communication to the Committee, including any advanced summary of evidence submitted by a witness, becomes the property of the Committee and should not be withdrawn or altered without the knowledge and approval of the Committee.They suggest that provision to this effect might usefully be made in the Standing Orders of the House. There is your mare's nest. I say it was inappropriate—I will use no harder word about this transaction than my right hon. Friend did—for him to put the pressure he did upon the Lancashire people. It was still more inappropriate for him to induce Lord Derby to go where he knew himself he should not have ventured any further, and it was inappropriate for him Ito sit still in the Joint Select Committee and hear this bowdlerised and emasculated evidence poured out by the chosen members of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, when he knew very well from the beginning what their real opinion was. The right hon. Gentleman is, we hear, soon to be translated elsewhere. He will take with him, if that be true, many great and powerful gifts, but I hope he will leave behind one or two things which some of us have noticed during the long period we have been fighting him over this Bill.
1918 The right hon. Gentleman yesterday endeavoured to confront us with what is, after all, a very trite dilemma. He said, in effect, "Are you or are you not in favour of self-determination? If you are not in favour of self-determination, why do you reproach us with not having Indian consent for our Bill?" That is the argument which has been put. We have heard it echoed and re-echoed from every part of the House. The Attorney-General during the Debates in Committee was put up to take the high line against my noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), who suggested that the Indian Assembly ought to be consulted before this Bill was imposed upon them. The Attorney-General took the high line to this effect: How derogatory for the British Parliament that it should be suggested that they should have to consult an Indian Assembly. But the Secretary of State and the Socialist Government—they were both connected with the inception of this policy—set out five years ago to make a settlement by agreement. They told us again and again that consent was indispensable. When I made some suggestions on the Joint Select Committee they ruled them out because they would not be agreed to; consent would not be forthcoming.
It was for this reason that the late Socialist Government deserted the Simon Statutory Commission. It was for this reason that the Round Table Conference was set up in the hope of getting consent. It was for this reason that Mr. Gandhi was coaxed and wheedled over here to take his place at the Round Table. It was for this reason that the Indian moderates were so carefully nursed and picked for that position on the Joint Select Committee. It was for this reason that the Indian Liberals were always held up before us and every effort made to win their support, before unfortunately they were all thrown out of Parliament at the first election after the proposals of the Government were known. How can anyone suppose that if the Government thought they could get a vote or confidence on this Bill from the Indian Legislative Assembly they would not jump at it to-morrow? Of course, they would, just as they would jump at getting a formal acceptance by a body of Princes if they would come in. But they cannot get it and they know they cannot get it, and therefore they have shifted their 1919 ground. They have failed in the whole original impulse and purpose with which they started and now they say, "We are legislating from on high. We are imposing a settlement. What is it to us what the Indians think? If they like it—good. If they do not like it, so much the worse for them. We have to give them what is for their good. We have to play the angel, and impose our superior wisdom on them and give them exactly what we think is for their good, no more and no less."
Surely, then, we are entitled to examine the question from this point of view: Is this really for the good of Indians? Is what you are offering India now for India's good? If there never had been any question of winning assent if there never had been any chance of a settlement with the geographical abstraction called India, is it conceivable that we should be confronted with these proposals? No. These proposals are the rejected addresses of the Government, and in my opinion they bear no relation to the kind of proposal which would have been put forward if the merits and the merits alone had animated the Imperial Parliament in making this plan. Either a scheme must make for better government or it must command the agreement of those for whom it is devised. Either we must have a good system or we must have acceptance. Our case is that His Majesty's Government now have neither. They have reconciled themselves to a vast degeneration in the quality and character of British administration in India, but they have not attained the peace and harmony which come from the active consent and co-operation of those for whom their gifts are designed.
Everyone has the worst of both worlds. The Indian politicians and the Indian people have the worst of both worlds, because they get a poorer administrative service in forms which they dislike—and say they dislike—even more than they do the present system. The Government have the worst of both worlds, because, in their argument, they can neither claim to provide good government nor government by consent. All, then, that we have is an inferior form of government, federal and provincial, which encounters almost universal reprobation. In the name of liberty you have done what 1920 liberty disowns. In the name of theoretical progress, you have opened the door to practical retrogression. In the name of appeasement and the popular will, you have prescribed a course of endless irritation. In response to Indian public opinion, you have supplied what all Indians—all shades of Indian public opinion—repudiate. Whatever may be said about the Constitution being fixed and unalterable, as you declare it to be, it is certainly not final and not enduring. In so far as so vast an instrument of government is worked at all—and I agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite that it will be worked—in so far as it is worked, it will be worked only that it may be changed. You have unsettled everything. You have settled nothing. Those whom you have sought to conciliate are those whom you have most offended. Those to whom your mission is most necessary are those whom you have most entirely abandoned. Those on whom you have to count most are those whom you are teaching least of all to count on you.
We must ask one final question—the greatest of all these questions. Does this Bill mean a broadening of Indian life, a widening and elevation of Indian thought? Does it mean that the Indian toiler when he rises to his daily task will have a better chance of, in the words of the American Constitution. "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? India is a country, almost a continent, which responded to the influence of British peace, order and justice and all the applications of modern science, only by an increase of population. There has been a tremendous increase of population there. New wealth, new food, new facilities for locomotion, new hygiene, new canals, improvements in forestry and agriculture have not made the Indian masses better off. They have only brought into being in the last 50 years 100,000,000 more souls in India. A gigantic population has remained, upon the whole, at a very low level of human subsistence, but has become much more numerous.
Such a vast helpless mass requires extra British guidance, higher efficiency of government, more British civil servants and a stricter and more vigorous administration in all technical matters. All you offer them are liberal formulas, administrative relaxation and decline. The huge 1921 machine of Indian government is to be allowed to slow down, just at the time when the inhabitants of India have multiplied far beyond the limit of their basic food supply, just at the time when they require, above all things, a far higher measure of disinterested and enlightened autocracy. Just at that very time you offer this bouquet of faded flowers of Victorian Liberalism which, however admirable in themselves, have nothing to do with Asia and are being universally derided and discarded throughout the continent of Europe.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
For this bouquet they have to pay a heavy price. Money raised by taxes in India which, like the salt tax, draw exactions from the poorest of the poor, from people whose poverty is inconceivable even to the poorest of the poor in this country—this money is needed and its extraction is only justified if it is used for hospitals, for plague prevention, for technical education, for improved irrigation and other modern apparatus. Only in this way can a population which is one-sixth of the human race be kept at its present artificial level of numbers. In the standard of life they have nothing to spare. The slightest fall from the present standard of life in India means slow starvation, and the actual squeezing out of life, not only of millions but of scores of millions of people who have come into the world at your invocation and under the shield and protection of the British power.
Of course you may say that India is a long way off, and that it will not happen all at once—that the process will be gradual. It is difficult for us to imagine the consequences of the long degeneration which will take place in the processes by which this vast population is maintained at its present artificial number in India. I came out of the House one day last week full of the news of the frightful earthquake which had taken place at Quetta with a death roll of 30,000. I thought to myself of how in a previous century when the news of the Lisbon earthquake arrived here, it was said that London was like a city of the dead for a week, so consternated were the people at the contemplation of so awful a catastrophe. As I went out into the streets that evening I found, indeed, 1922 some mention of the earthquake on the posters, but the bulk of the papers were concerned with a local murder case. That shows how very ineffectual is the popular imagination in realising catastrophes which are distant—as is still more the case when those catastrophes come insensibly and gradually upon us.
These harassed, helpless, utterly dumb scores of millions in India have now to pay a sum of money to the Indian Budget, quite an appreciable, indeed a substantial sum annually, and a much larger sum when an election is to be arranged and 5,000 candidates are to carry through their electoral duties. They are to be asked to pay this sum from their scanty means for a political excursion in a western char-a-bane. You are going to wring from some of the poorest people in the world a subscription for a worse form of government at a higher price. They have not asked for it. It arises out of your wish to gratify the political classes, the articulate classes—the landlords, the mill-owners, the lawyers and the politicians. You have taught yourselves that these classes represent that wonderful mystic conception of India— "India, She."
You have decided and you have the power. You have shown you have the power to force this through, and no doubt you have the power to force it upon the people of India. But it now appears that even these political classes are not satisfied with the government which you are going to give to them, with the constitution which you offer, or with the sacrifice which the Indian masses are to be asked to give. By every organ through which they can express their views, they reject your government and they spit upon your ill-conceived generosity, if generosity it be. Even the very classes of wealthy, small, unrepresentative minorities for whom you have set out to cater, have rejected the dish which your proffer to them.
This, then, is your plan for the better Government of India. We thank God that we have neither part nor lot in it. You have done what you like. You have now a harder thing before you, and that is to like what you have done. Only the years can make their proof of whether you will be successful in that or not. What has astounded me is that the Government should have pressed forward so 1923 obstinately with this Indian policy, which causes so much distress to many important elements in the Conservative party, at a time when the domestic political situation is so uncertain, when the Continent of Europe is drifting steadily nearer to the brink of catastrophe, when we have before us for so many months to come that awful hiatus in our air strength and in the vital defences of Great Britain. I should have thought that common prudence alone would have led' them to make some modification of their plans which are admittedly makeshift, which conform to no logic or symmetry, which are not fixed by any agreement or treaty with any elements in Indian public life. It has astonished me that that has not occurred to them.
Even now there are Amendments which could be introduced in the House of Lords, such as an Amendment requiring that 75 per cent. of the Princes instead of 50 per cent, should come in, or that another white official of high rank should be attached to every Provincial Governor, or some Amendments dealing with the Lancashire trade position. These might be inserted in the House of Lords, and while they would not remove our regrets and misgivings about this scheme, they would undoubtedly mitigate the feelings which exist upon the subject. However, we have to recognise that these Amendments have been refused, and that the Government are determined to use the majority which they got from the working classes in 1931, upon a vehement desire to sustain the strength and honour of the country, for the purpose of carrying this Measure which is profoundly detrimental to the greatness of Britain and which, if the public were consulted upon it, would, I believe, be rejected by them overwhelmingly. I think it is a shortsighted Act. I am sure it is a wrongful Act. It is, to use the words of my Noble Friend, a fraud upon power and a malversation of political trust.
Here we are at the end of the Bill, but we are not, unhappily, at the end of the controversy. When this Bill is on the Statute Book it is true that a memorable chapter in British history will be closed. A great and melancholy event will have occurred of which everyone, even the most ardent partisan against the Measure, must take account. It may 1924 also be true that even more serious events will supervene in Europe. We have neither the intention nor the power to obstruct the setting up of provincial government under this Bill. But the Bill is not instantaneous in its action. There is no day on which it can be said that it will come into operation. It may be a year, or it may be two years before the Provinces can be handed over. It may be five years or it may be more before the assent of the Princes is procured, or before other conditions, precedent to the inauguration of Federal Home Rule, such as conditions of financial solvency, have been effectively established. The interpretation which will be placed upon those conditions will, obviously, be most important. That is why it is necessary for those who feel that all these steps should be watched with the greatest vigilance, should remain in company, and should endeavour to limit and mitigate, as far as they can, the evils which we feel are now being let loose upon the State. In this House of Commons we are in a minority so small, and your majority is so large, that we can be sullenly or superciliously voted down. It is possible that in the new Parliament we may be a larger proportion of your forces than we are now and that consequently you may be more inclined to pay attention to our views. The Secretary of State for India has reached his day of triumph. Let me pronounce a valediction, or as near a valediction as it is in my power to pronounce.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, though I wish him well in his future. He marches on from strength to strength. All his abilities, his industry, all the trouble he has put upon himself and upon so many others during the three or four years this Bill has been shaping, have, in my judgment, added nothing of use or value to the conclusions pronounced five years ago by the Statutory Commission, or the Simon Commission as it was then called, and have added nothing to the acceptance which the Bill received in India. But still the right hon. Gentleman has carried through the Joint Select Committee, by a mental effort of very remarkable merit, and through the Committee 'and the House, this monumental Bill, and as such it will always remain a very great event 1925 for which he is responsible. But responsibility, accountability, will remain upon the right hon. Gentleman, and when, a decade hence, any younger men now in the House survey the state of India, what they will see there will be in the main the handiwork of the Secretary of State. I can remember the conversation between the Wedding Guest and the Ancient Mariner:'God save thee, ancient Mariner! From the Sends, that plague thee thus!— Why look'st thou so? '—' With my crossbow I shot the Albatross.'He has won his victory; he has won the victory for which he has fought hard, and long, and adroitly; but it is not a victory, in our opinion, for the interests of this country, nor a victory for the welfare of the peoples of India, and in the crashing cheers which no doubt will hail his majority to-night, we pray there may not mingle the knell of the British Empire in the East.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Mr. AMERY
Here endeth the last chapter of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. We have listened to not the least eloquent nor the least gloomy of the prophecies with which my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) has been indulging the House for this long time past, and I am not sure that I am altogether doing justice to the prophet, for, after all, Jeremiah had his relatively cheerful moments. I read the other night the account of a lecture given by Professor Beebe about his descent in his bathysphere into the uttermost depths of the ocean. He described how he had never realised till then what darkness could be. I had never realised how 'appalling is the situation in India to-day, and the situation before us, till I listened to the speech which the House has just heard. The gloom which envelops my right hon. Friend's mind seems to be cast even backward upon the present and past in India, and all he has to say about what I have always been accustomed to regard as one of the greatest achievements of constructive statesmanship in the world is that we have added to India's numbers, but that we have in fact done nothing to reduce their miseries.
In the whole of his speech there was not one ray of hope as to the outcome of proposals which, curiously enough, seem 1926 to have commended themselves to everyone who has been a Viceroy in India and is now alive, to almost everyone living who has been a Governor in India, to everyone living who has been a Secretary of State for India, and to practically all of those who, in these last seven years, have studied this subject at first hand and in contact with realities. It may be that my right hon. Friend will be proved to have been justified. It may also be that he may be proved to have been wrong. He spoke just now of that decade hence when youth will survey the Indian scene. If things go well and eternal youth, in the shape of my right hon. Friend, surveys that scene and writes his memoirs, I shall be immensely interested to see with what deft skill he will deal with this particular phase of his many-sided and varied career.
The speech of my right hon. Friend in more than one respect was not only a speech without a ray of hope; it was a speech from beginning to end, like all his speeches on this subject, utterly and entirely negative and devoid of constructive thought. It is not the duty of those who oppose a Measure to put forward complete alternatives, but at any rate one might hope to have some indication of the general alternative course of policy which my right hon. Friend would wish to see pursued. I have not been able to discover what it is. Is it that we should go to India and say that after these seven and a half years, after all the work that has been done, after this progressive development of agreement, which has been very marked in this House of Commons, whatever you may say about the cracking of the Chief Whip—that after all this we should go to India and say, "Enough of this foolery; nothing is going to happen except possibly a few more British civil servants appointed in India"?
At one time I thought that the right hon. Gentleman's alternative was the report of the Statutory Commission, which in some passages of his speeches he seemed to regard as an almost divinely inspired document. Yet after all that he has said to-night and in Committee previously, what remains of the report of the Statutory Commission'? The Statutory Commission recommended unanimously that law and order in the Provinces should be transferred to Indian 1927 Ministers. My right hon. Friend will have none of that. The Statutory Commission recommended indirect election in the Provinces. My right hon. Friend will have none of that. The Statutory Commission from beginning to end so framed and worded their report as to point to Federation as the only ultimate conclusion upon which Indian self-government could be based. He dislikes Federation. The Statutory Commission made it perfectly clear that they endorsed the Fiscal Convention which precluded interference of the Secretary of State with Indian fiscal policy where Government and Legislature were in agreement, except in order to observe the treaty obligations of the Empire or of India. He will have none of that. He wishes to go back beyond that recommendation of the Joint Select Committee of 1919 endorsed by the Statutory Commission, endorsed by the House, and formally endorsed by the then Secretary of State, which said that in every respect except the point I referred to, India was to be in the same position as Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Even if that policy of an entirely mutilated and transformed Simon report is the policy he advocates, then it stands in flat and direct contradiction to his own Amendment on the Paper, which makes the concurrence and approval of Indian politicians the essential condition of any scheme of Indian government.
There is one other thing that I hope my right hon. Friend will forgive me for mentioning. His speech was not- only negative, but it seemed to me to be utterly lacking in sympathy. After all, what we are dealing with in the case of India is not what he has called a, "geographical abstraction." We are dealing with a vast body of men, small in numbers as compared with the mighty population of India, but still a great body of men, educated, able, active-minded, taught our thoughts, bred in our political traditions, believing that they are capable of playing a greater part in the government of their own affairs than they have played in the past, and believing that they have a right to play that greater part. It is no answer to say that they may not do it as well as we can. If we object to the proposals that are put forward, our objections should at any rate include some measure of understanding 1928 and of sympathy for these people whose aspirations and views are, after all, the essence of the Indian problem.
I regret profoundly that my right hon. Friend did not see his way to sit on the Joint Select Committee. Quite apart from the influence which he might have had over the decisions of that Committee, I regret that he lost an opportunity of coming into first-hand contact, day after day and month after month, with those able men who represent some of the best brains of that great country and who, after all, are our fellow subjects and fellow citizens. It is no answer to say, as his Amendment says or suggests, that you should have a Constitution endorsed by politically organised India.
My right hon. Friend spoke for some time of the dilemma that either you introduce your perfect administrative Measure or else such a Measure as Indian politicians approve. That is not the course of statesmanship. Statesmanship does not depend either upon the theoretical principle that you must give people anything and everything for which they ask, or upon the theoretical principle that you must lay out your ideal plan and disregard the human factor. Statesmanship depends upon judgment, upon judgment of the situation, judgment of the men with whom you have to deal. In this matter the judgment of those who for all these years have been studying this question and collaborating closely with Indians in the course of their studies weighs more with me than the dilemma put forward by my right hon. Friend. This Bill, in spite of the criticisms of my right hon. Friend, does hold the field to-day. It holds it in virtue of all the authority behind it. But it holds it also, I believe, in virtue of its essential main features. It is based, first and foremost, upon the recognition that unless you provide for the future unity of India, self-government will only bring discord and perhaps eventual disaster. India, in spite of all her diversities of language and race, is essentially a unity, and all who have ever attempted to bring peace to India have been compelled to extend their power from one end of India to the other. We have brought her a peace imposed from above to her immense benefit, but peace in that form is a phase that cannot last.
1929 We are in this Measure accompanying the initiation of self-government within a, framework that will enable that self-government to maintain the peace of India instead of developing on lines that might tear her to pieces. More than that, under the Measure now proposed, we are endeavouring to start India upon a course of true responsible government, not necessarily party government, not necessarily democracy, but government based on a true sense of responsibility. No responsibility, as we know here, and as nations elsewhere have known to their cost, can be real which is only a sense of responsibility to a party majority. Responsibility essentially implies responsibility towards the supreme executive, towards the Crown and its representatives, and, to my mind, the essential feature of the whole system of safeguards introduced in this Bill is not that they are restrictions meant to impede the development of Indian self-government, but that they constitute a close association and co-operation between Ministers and the representatives of the Crown, who embody the permanent interests of India and the Empire, and who standing above religious or party differences represent the permanent welfare of the whole community. The value of these discretionary powers in reserve is that they will serve to remind Ministers of their responsibility for these things. It is because of that, because it is based, not on the line of abstract democratic principles, but on due provision for the assertion of the authority of the Crown, with emphasis on ministerial responsibility to the Crown, that I have some hope that this experiment will be successful.
Further, it seems to me, when we come to the framework of the scheme, that it clearly divides the whole responsibility. subject to what I said just now. Responsibility for the social and economic life of India, whether in the Provinces or in the Centre, is frankly put upon Indian Ministers. The responsibilty for Indian defence and foreign relations remains no less fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Governor-General and the Secretary of State. That seems to make the scheme essentially sound in its main outline. It is a scheme which embodies the maximum of what I believe we can afford 1930 to give India, at this stage of her development, with safety. I believe it is equally a scheme which embodies the minimum of what we can hope and expect, as I hope and expect, Indians will co-operate to work and to work successfully. It is a scheme which is conservative in the type and spirit of government, but essentially liberal and generous in the wide extension of powers conferred and the wide opportunities that it gives. It was truly said by my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mr. Cadogan), in a most thoughtful speech, that it will ask great qualities of those whom this country sends out to represent the Crown. They will have to show in no small degree wisdom, sympathy and courage. Have we ever failed in the past to produce men who showed those qualities in every crisis of India's history? Need we despair of providing them in future? It will also call from Indian Ministers loyal co-operation and courage to defend that loyal co-operation in the Assemblies. After all, our Empire in India was built up in the past with the help of Indians who showed thou qualities. Again, I say, need we despair, knowing something of the material that exists in India to-day, of finding the men who will understand the spirit of this new constitution and who will loyally work it to make a success of it?
This Constitution holds the field to-day. No one suggests that it holds the field for all time. On the contrary, the Preamble of the 1919 Act, which remains in existence, and the Instruments of Instructions do point to the fact that what this Bill introduces is a stage of training and preparation, and that we regard it as India's ultimate destiny to stand in no inferior status to ourselves within-the commonwealth of British nations. I really fail to understand the grievance of hon. Members opposite when they say that this constitution does not pave the way to that further goal. The objection to that further goal comes from my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping and those who support him. I do not share it. I do not see how we can say to Indians that for all time their status must be one of inferiority. Undoubtedly, the conditions of India are not such as to make equal status possible to-day. But is it not essential to genuine co-operation now that they and we should share the same views as to the ultimate goal? If 1931 I might echo something said by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), the recognition of equality in co-operation within the British Empire as between Asia and Europe may mean a great deal not only to the British Empire, but to the world. There is, however, one thing which I ought to say on this point and which I think is worth saying. We all know the notable sentence in the report of the 1926 Committee which defined Dominion Status as based on equality and on the non-subordination of each member to any other. But the very next sentence, framed by Lord Balfour, went on to say:The principles of equality appropriate to status, do not universally extend to function. For example, to deal with questions of diplomacy and defence, we require also flexible machinery, machinery which can from time to time be adapted to the changing circumstances of the world.It is essential that we should remember this when we are considering the development of India towards equality of status. In the case of the Dominions, that development has taken the shape of a more and more complete dissociation during the last three generations owing to certain circumstances entirely peculiar to their geographical position and to the era which is now coming to an end. The Dominions developed their life entirely away from the great theatres of world conflict. They were not menaced by enemies from without. No serious problems of foreign policy vexed them. They were well content to leave their foreign policy to this country and to leave their defence to a Navy which, whether its headquarters were in the Mediterranean or in the North Sea, covered our security and our trade, and in its stride covered the defence of the Empire. There was no reason under these conditions for any formal plan or scheme, either for military or diplomatic co-operation. We were content to leave to them their local defence and to trust their patriotism—and we rightly trusted their patriotism—to help in an emergency. We have been equally content since the War to allow them to take what share of foreign policy suited them and to leave the rest to us.
The conditions of India are entirely different. Those conditions will compel in the future, as they have compelled in the past, an intimate partnership in both 1932 defence and foreign policy. India cannot defend herself without a formidable British Army. She needs it even for her internal security. In time of war she would have to rely on great reinforcements from the rest of the Empire. India's foreign policy is inextricably interwoven with the foreign policy of this country. In these circumstances, the path of India towards equality can never be the same as that of the Dominions. We have to find some different constitutional machinery whereby partnership in these essentials shall be preserved intact. To-day we cannot tell what that machinery will be. Nor can we tell how the corresponding relationship between ourselves and the Dominions will develop. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping has always regarded the development of Dominion status as a process of disintegration which is now reaching an end—the end of all real Imperial unity—and he dreads India following the same course. I have never taken that view. I regard the step which we took in 1926, and I regard the Statute of Westminster, as merely a prelude, and an essential prelude, towards more effective and closer co-operation in future. I believe that in free co-operation, whether in foreign policy or in defence, we are going to draw steadily closer together. The whole conditions of the world, its economic nationalism, the growth of great military and naval powers outside Europe, are going to bring the Dominions closer together; and when we set Dominion status before India as her goal and model, do not let us think only of the centrifugal forces which have worked during the last 50 or 60 years. Let us think of the fuller and closer unity upon which I believe we are entering to-day with all the Dominions. Within that unity the growth of India's status can take a fitting place.
I have wandered, perhaps, far into the future, but I felt it was necessary to answer those whose hidden fear is not what is contained in this Bill, but the growth of India's status which may come in future. The very essential of what we are doing now must be good will. We have naturally discussed this vast experiment in Committee with an anxiety to leave no loophole for possible misgovernment, for possible corruption and possible incompetence. But if we have looked on the darker side so far, let us 1933 now look upon the brighter side. After all, there is a brighter side. Indian administrators have in more than one field in the last 15 years shown their care for their own people, their capacity, their devotion to justice, and their readiness to make sacrifices to maintain law and order. The political classes in India, of whom, in Committee, there has been a tendency at times to speak rather contemptuously, include men who for sheer keenness of intellect cannot be beaten in any country in the world. We pride ourselves on British character, but India, after all, has shown many examples of self-sacrificing loyalty, and of utter abnegation of personal interest for an idea], such as cannot be exceeded elsewhere.
Let us do what we can to make this Measure a success. I confess that I appreciated much more the tone in which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) spoke yesterday about the future of this Bill than the veiled threats of continued opposition which fell just now from my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping. Good will in this matter is of the very essence of the whole thing. No Constitution will be acceptable if it is a mere grudging concession. This is not a. grudging concession. We are giving it of our own free will. We are not terrorised into giving it. The machinery of administration in India has not broken down. We are giving it in reliance on our own judgment, in the belief that the principles which we have spread throughout the British Empire are sound principles, and that the time has come for a great extension of self-government in India. Let that gift be the gift not merely of cold calculation but of a warm and generous heart towards our Indian fellow subjects. I believe they will respond.
I remember in the Debate last December, when someone had used the parallel of South Africa, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping said "Ali, but South Africa is different. In South Africa you had big men to deal with." They only became big men because of the spirit in which we treated them. I was talking not long ago to a South African on this question and on what followed from our grant of self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange 1934 Free State, the former Boer republics. He made a, remarkable answer. He said "Yes, that may have had something to do with it, but the real thing that was the turning point in South Africa's history, the real thing that made Louis Botha the man he became, was the personal reception that met him when he came to England—the reception he met with from King Edward, from everybody in public life and from the men and women in the streets of London." It was that touch of generosity, of magnanimity, of personal friendship, that led Louis Botha on to the path that saved South Africa and the Empire in the Great War. Is it not possible that the same spirit may help India to find her true future place in the Empire?
When we talk of the disloyalty of some impatient politicians in India, or of the self-interest of the Princes, I cannot help venturing on a personal reminiscence. I was at the headquarters of the Fourth Corps in France when Lord Roberts came in, three days before his death, after a day spent with the Indian Corps. He met at our headquarters that splendid old warrior and old comrade in arms of his, Sir Partab Singh. When he came in Lord Roberts said, "Well, old friend"—Lord Roberts had innumerable friends in India, and old soldiers would walk 100 miles only to see his train pass— "Well, old friend, what have you come to do here?" Sir Partab Singh replied, "I have come, Sir, because I hope to die for my King." As long as there are men with that spirit in India we can launch this great experiment with some measure of hope. It is the greatest constructive experiment this country has ever undertaken. Let us go forward in confidence, and in the belief that the principles which have created this Empire are going to see it through in the future.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Colonel GRETTON
We have just listened to the first speech in support of this Bill which has indicated a measure of hope and confidence in its success. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) has pleaded for good will. That is quite superfluous. There is nothing but good will in this country towards India. The suggestion that we require to cultivate good will towards India and the Indian people is entirely beside the point. In one part of his speech the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook 1935 wandered into the realm of the future, painting the picture which he would like our successors to see. He himself will never see that picture; human life is too short for that. What we really have to do is to look at the Measure before the House in a practical way. The House has finished its examination of the Bill in Committee and on Report, and no further amendment of it is possible here, and now is the time to survey the results of what has been done. It is remarkable how little confidence there is among those who support the Bill in its success. It is frankly a Measure of withdrawal, a Measure of retreat. We are not going fast enough for the hon. Members who sit on the Socialist benches. They would like to make the retreat and the withdrawal, the handing over of power and authority in India, more precipitate and more rapid. The criticism of those of us who take the other view is that we are going too fast, that we are testing the capabilities of our fellow-subjects in the Indian Empire too fast and too high. We ought to have been content with building up in the Provinces a machine of self-government on a scale which would be more manageable, and in that way training them, by custom and use, to exercise control of the Parliamentary machine, and to get to understand its limits and its possibilities. We are not doing that. We have not as yet trained a sufficient number of Indians to act either as chiefs in the Provincial Governments or to take over the Parliamentary machine at the centre and to act as Ministers of the Crown and as advisers of the Viceroy.
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook said that there are good men in India. We agree that there are good men in India, but they must be picked out for the right places and we must find a sufficient number of them. We cannot provide a governmental machine for a vast sub-continent with 350,000,000 people by merely passing a Bill through Parliament and hoping it will work to the benefit, happiness and security of that great country. The problem in India is more difficult than it would be in many other parts of the world, not only on account of the vast size of India, the diversity of the people, of their antagonisms, their old historic controversies and struggles 1936 and the clash of religious factions, but because by this Bill we are running the risk of adding another cause of conflict. At a time when we need to smooth over difficulties and heal old sores we are adding to the other controversies the struggle to gain control of the Parliamentary system.
We are told that if the machine breaks down there are the safeguards, which are reserved to the Viceroy. I would remind the House that the Viceroy is an isolated power at the centre of India. He is surrounded by great dignities and entrusted with vast powers—if he can exercise them—but for aspiring Indian politicians, and those who are struggling to bring about more rapidly the introduction of Dominion status, which is an avowed object of attainment, the Viceroy will be the target. He is the main obstruction, and he will be the force to be attacked and dislodged. The possibility of that has been anticipated by the Government here, as evidenced by the special powers with which the Viceroy has been endowed. We must not overlook the difficulty there will be in enforcing these powers. He has no staff. He has to rely upon the officials, the Ministers, the organised Departments of Government, which have been subjected by this Bill to the authority and power of the elected representatives of the Indian people. The Viceroy's interventions are confessedly to be only temporary. Power must be handed back to the Indianised Government when the emergency has passed. Can we expect a rapid transfer of loyalty and willing co-operation from the civil servants under the governmental machine when it is to be used over the heads and it may be for the suppression of those who have been their masters and are to be their masters again?
It is said that the position of the Viceroy is different because he will have the support of the British Army, but what is the worth of a. force of 60,000 or 70,000 men in that vast Continent unless he has control of the railways, the roads, the telegraphs and the means of communication and of locomotion to facilitate him in sending those troops where they are required? All those Services are being handed over to the Indianised Government. Will the Viceroy and his new advisers be able in an emergency to take over those Services and to operate them 1937 effectively in order either to save the country from outside invasion or to cope with internal disorder? It is not a very hopeful prospect. We are going against the dictates of common sense and previous experience. We are not too much encouraged in these matters by our experience in Ireland. There we tried an experiment, not of imposing upon an Eastern people a conception of government to which they were unaccustomed, but of giving a Constitution to a people of European stock who were more likely to exercise their new power in an efficient manner within the British Empire. Nothing of that kind happened. Immediately the Irish Free State was set up, the stock business of all opposition politicians in Ireland was to aggravate the differences between the new State and the British Empire. One by one the safeguards have been whittled away, and the Prime Minister of the Irish Free State is now hesitating whether to declare an independent republic, and entirely to repudiate the authority of the Crown.
Exactly the same position exists in India. The opposition is controlled by Congress, which has captured 41so control of the Legislature. No good will is expressed in any part of India, and no intention is shown to work the Constitution in the way that will best benefit the people of India. There are no provisions in the Bill for improving Indian administration or for making the governmental machine more effective or more economical. The governmental machine in. the departments is taken for granted. All that the Bill does is to make a new arrangement for the allotment of political power to those who rule India. This is a political measure and not a social measure, nor is it a measure which professes to confer any benefits upon the Indian masses. This is an era when Democracy appears to be breaking down among the European peoples where it originated. Even in this country there are those who speculate how long our present methods and our Parliamentary system can be continued. Democracy may be swept away, but it is on those lines that the Bill is being drafted, in the attempt to set up a democratic government among an Eastern people who are unaccustomed to the way in which Western institutions are carried on.
1938 Never has a Bill been launched under such gloomy circumstances, with so little enthusiasm and so little real support. No one in India welcomes it; the vocal majority in India refuse to accept it. Here we are told, "It is only a step and a stage. What can you expect?" There are those in India who want their stages to be more rapid and they are being invited, encouraged, compelled and agitated to scorn and entirely to set aside this Measure, and to say that independence is the only goal for India. I can imagine no hon. Member who looks at this question from the practical point of view saying that there has ever been a Measure which has started with less practical prospect of success. If my hon. Friends and I thought that the Bill would bring immediate or rapid benefit to the people of India and more contentment and more prosperity, and if it would make less expensive their form of government, we should give it our support without hesitation. The Bill does nothing of that kind. It adds to the cost of their government and makes government more difficult and complicated. I must not develop those aspects of the matter for too long, however, because much has been said about them.
Let me turn to the attitude of those who support the Bill. Many hon. Members who support it have not been present during Debates to hear reasons for doing so. They say, "We do not know very much about the details. We are not experts in the subject. We know that the system of dyarchy which was set up by the Montagu-Chelmsford Act was bound to fail and that something has to be done. We do not like the Bill, but it is probably no worse than any other Bill." That is surely a nice foundation, a sure and stable foundation, on which to establish a progressive reform which will be one of the political monuments in the history of the world. Most hon. Members have shown a spirit of good will and a determination to make the best of it. We have done our best by putting forward Amendments which we seriously and honestly believed were necessary to the Bill. We have failed. It is part of the accepted system in the politics of this country that, when we have done our best, we should not continue to make political war into the indefinite future. We must not be expected to abandon our views or our principles, 1939 but if we can give some assistance in making the Bill less harmful than we think it will be, that we certainly shall do. It would be lamentable to see the work of the last few years in this country and India which resulted in a system of government which was easy for the people, gave them more security and was less exacting in taxes, pulled down and imperilled as a result of a doctrine that western institutions can be put in place of that system as a universal remedy for all ills among all races. That is a mere chimera.
The gloomy forecasts which I have been obliged to make may not be very pleasant, and nobody is less pleased than I am that they have had to be made, but I am determined in my conscience that I will have no part or parcel in promoting a Measure which, I think, will be disastrous and injurious to our race, and disastrous to the people of India.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. MOLSON
The right hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) has made it a complaint against the supporters of the Bill that they have shown no wild enthusiasm for it. I hope to show a little enthusiasm before I sit down, but it is a little difficult to show great enthusiasm for a Bill which is based simply upon common sense, and which has been the work of a large number of conferences and is 'built up from the contributions of many hands. The Bill emerges from negotiations between India and this country, and from the co-operation of almost all political parties. When hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen on the Socialist benches criticise it, they find themselves in some difficulty, because of the share of responsibility which rested upon the late Socialist Government.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) and the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) criticised the Bill yesterday largely on the grounds that in the Federal Legislature there would be, in their opinion, over-representation of the States. It must have escaped their memory for the moment that the proportion of the Princes in the Federal Legislature was agreed upon at the second Round Table Conference and in a committee upon which their party was represented. The only protest against that proportion was 1940 from the Moslems, who were satisfied in the following year. Similarly with regard to their complaint about safeguards. They will forgive me, I hope, if I point out that it is largely owing to political expediency that they have found it convenient to go into opposition on the Bill. It was upon the authority of the late Socialist Government that the present Prime Minister, then the Leader of their party, agreed to the principle of responsibility at the Centre provided that there were safeguards. All that has happened since then has been that the safeguards have been elaborated and made more precise and more effective.
I turn from the opposition on the left to the opposition on the right. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and his friends, at any rate, are not embarrassed by commitments entered into in the past. The right hon. Gentleman reminded us to-day that he has been fighting this policy for five years, that is, since 1930. At any rate, he did not suffer under the misapprehension of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who yesterday, I am sorry to say, repeated on one more occasion the statement, which has been denied and disproved on so many occasions, that at the last General Election the Conservative Members of this House and the electorate were not aware that the Secretary of State for India and the Lord President of the Council intended, if returned to power, to implement and carry out the policy agreed upon at the Round Table Conference.
Duchess of ATHOLL
Is the hon. Member aware that the Prime Minister, in a preface to a recent book "Towards a National Policy," explicitly states that the only policy put before the country by the National Government was one of Protection?
§ Mr. MOLSON
I am not referring to what the Prime Minister may have written, but to the very explicit statement made in this House on 26th January, 1931, by the present Lord President of the Council after the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping had gone out of the Business Committee of the Conservative party in this matter because he disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin). The Lord Presi- 1941 dent of the Council then made the position perfectly plain when he said:If it should happen that we should change places with right hon. Gentlemen opposite, what do hon. Members behind me suppose that our duty would be? We have only one duty, and that one duty is to try to implement so far as we can what has been done in the Conference."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th January, 1931; col. 745, Vol. 247.]
Duchess of ATHOLL
I must remind the hon. Member, because he was not, in the House at the time, that a week or two afterwards the Lord President of the Council met the India Committee of his party upstairs, and his statement was published in the "Times." That showed that all that he meant was that we had to continue the examination of the Federal proposal. That was reported in the "Times" of the 10th February, 1931.
§ Mr. MOLSON
It is as well that I brought with me my fuller list of quotations, rather than my abridged list. Since the Noble Lady has quoted from the 10th February, I am prepared to quote from the 6th March, when my right hon. Friend the Lord President spoke at Newton Abbot. The Noble Lady has suggested that my right hon. Friend went back on what he said on the 26th January, and she has quoted from what he said in February. I proceed now to quote from what my right hon. Friend said in March:Our main objective is clear—the objective of an All-India Federation. But, when we have stated our objective, we must not forget that many grave difficulties have to be surmounted before we can attain it.The point I am making is that to-day we have had from the right hon. Member for Epping confirmation of the fact, which I have emphasised on a previous occasion in this House, that the charges of bad faith against the Secretary of State and the Lord President of the Council are completely unfounded, because it was well known before the last election that the leaders of the Conservative party intended to introduce legislation, if they came into power, which would introduce responsibility at the Centre, provided that there was Federation, and provided that the safeguards were adequate and effective.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is impossible for the hon. Member to carry on his argument if there are continual interruptions.
§ Mr. MOLSON
In that case, I will not give way any further. I only wished not to appear to be unable to substantiate the statements I was making. During the course of the Debates in Committee, two arguments were put forward by the right-wing critics of this Measure. Sometimes they have said that, so far as India is concerned at the present time, there is no need for change, and that in the interests of the masses it is desirable that the present administration should continue. On other occasions they have said that the Statutory Commission were right when they recommended great and immediate changes in the Constitution of India, but that it would only be safe and wise to go as far as the recommendations of the Statutory Commission. It is quite obvious that both of these arguments cannot be right, but I submit that they both can be, and, indeed, are, wrong. In several of the speeches that we have heard it has been said that no one who supports this Bill has claimed that it is in the interests of the Indian masses. I would certainly claim that it is in the interests of the Indian masses that the present system of administration should not continue unreformed.
There is really no difference of opinion among us about the pride that we take in the administration of India during the nineteenth century, when the responsibility for that administration rested mainly upon this House, which carried it on through the agency of a bureaucracy in India. We all recognise that for the first time the masses in India. enjoyed peace, security and efficient and cheap administration, with law caurts to which they could have recourse knowing that they would receive justice. That administration undoubtedly increased their welfare and their prosperity, and not, as the right hon. Member for Epping said this afternoon, only their numbers. There has been a great improvement in the health and prosperity of the peoples of India under British rule, and that paternal administration reached its apogee in the time of Lord Curzon.
During the 30 years that have followed since the partition of Bengal—a decision which has been amply justified on grounds of administration, but which left out of account the sentiment and the patriotism of the people of Bengal—a greater proportion of the time and energy of officials in 1943 India has been occupied in dealing with political questions, in facing political agitation, and in facing ever more frequent civil disobedience and no-rent campaigns. If you take the early years of Lord Irwin's Viceroyalty, before any of these matters arose which are matters of controversy in this House, when Lord Irwin went out there and began to appoint the Royal Commission on Agriculture and the Royal Commission on Labour, it is obvious that he was seeking to follow exactly that policy of enlightened administration in which the right-wing criticis of the present Government regard.as being our special and peculiar mission in India. Then there was the appointment of the Simon Commission, and, for years after that, not only the whole time of the Viceroy, but of all the officials in India, was so preoccupied with maintaining law and order that there was no time for any further advance or for any introduction of reforms. There was very little money, and there was very little time for anything to be done to improve agriculture or industry.
If we are going to seek to perpetuate that kind of administration, we shall find that the birch and the rod will have to be used by this paternal administration in a way which is entirely uncharacteristic of its past record, and which would deprive that system of most of its capacity for good. A paternal Government presupposes a filial people, and that is what I do not believe you will again have in India. There are some like the six Generals who, when the Lord President of the Council referred to the loss of India, published a letter in which they expressed the opinion that the Army in India was more capable of holding it to-day than at any time in the past. No doubt that is true. I hear my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe ((Sir A. Knox) cheer. No one has disputed that, and that was not what the Lord President of the Council meant when he referred to the danger of the loss of India. But I do not believe for one moment that this House or the country will be willing indefinitely to continue to hold India by means of force. The whole glory of British rule in India in the past has not been that it had great force behind it, but that it stood in no need of using that force, because 1944 it was sure of the acquiescence and the welcome of the Indian people.
The hon. Member has suggested that we rule India by force. Does he mean that the Army in India, which is kept for internal peace, is used to enforce administration that is repugnant to the people of India?
§ Mr. MOLSON
I am sorry I did not make my meaning clear to my hon. and gallant Friend. I was pointing out that in the past there has never been any need to use that force, because of the willing acquiescence of the Indian people; but if, after having aroused aspirations for self-government, the policy recommended by my hon. and gallant Friend and his friends were followed, then for the first time it would be necessary for British rule to be maintained by forces in India.
Apart from that philosophical argument, I say, in answer to the next question of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth, that at the present time the Government of India—the administration of the Centre—is in grave danger of breaking down, and is becoming more and more inefficient as the years go by. The right hon. Member for Epping claimed in his speech that "there was never a Government so strong as the existing Government of India." If that were indeed the case, there would be a strong argument in favour of making no change. But, although the right hon. Gentleman appeared before the Joint Select Committee, he was unable to persuade Lord Salisbury, or the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock), or the other Conservative members of the Joint Select Committee, that that was a true view. On the contrary, what they said was:One other consideration which has become apparent in the discussions of the Committee is the weakness of the present central executive. This has proved to be a serious blemish as things stand. It will be increasingly mischievous in the face of inexperienced autonomy of the Provinces.I think there is no doubt in the mind of anyone who has watched the working of the Government of India during the last few years that it is becoming more and more unable to carry out a single, strong, consistent policy. May I mention three cases which I came across during the 1945 time that. I was in India? There was the question of a Bill to stabilise the value of the rupee at 1s. 6d. instead of 1s. 4d. The majority of the Government in the critical division on that Bill was only three, and, if that Bill had not been carried, I do not imagine that the Viceroy would have considered himself justified in certifying the Measure. Again, I remember going privately with some Members of the Legislature representing commerce to urge upon the Government the need for the inclusion in a Bill of, I think, some measure to prohibit mass picketing. The Member of Council told us that though the Government entirely agreed with our views, they did not dare to put it into the Bill, because they were quite convinced that the Assembly would not pass it, and that, if the attention of the Assembly was drawn even to the powers which the law provided at the present time, then probably, against the wishes of the Government, an Amendment would be carried which would make the law even less strong than it is at the present time. The third example that I would give is that of the Public Safety Bill. That Bill was defeated by the casting vote of the President in 1930, and for a period of six months, during which several assassinations took place, the Government of India were without the legal powers which they considered necessary in order to deal with that menace.
As far back as 1928, the Associated Chambers of Commerce said in their evidence before the Simon Commission that there were two logical lines of policy, and only two. One was to go back, and to make the Legislative Assembly subordinate to the Executive; the other was to go forward, and make the Executive subordinate to the Legislature. The right hon. Member for Epping and the Simon Commission have both lacked the courage to follow either one of those two logical proposals. They were neither prepared to go forward nor were they prepared to go back. In view of the fact that some of the critics of this Measure have suggested that the Government would have been well advised to follow the Simon Commission's Report, I would call attention to the fact that, in the evidence given to the Simon Commission, it was pointed out that, of 91 resolutions introduced into the Assembly by the Government, the Government had 1946 only won 51, and had lost 40. So far as power for grants are concerned, they have obtained only 48 and have been refused 56. In spite of that fact, the Simon Commission recommended that the official bloc should be reduced from 25 to 12, and the number of elected members should be increased from 105 to 240.
Surely there could have been only one result from introducing the proposals of the Simon Commission. Whereas in the past the Government of India has frequently held a precarious majority in the Legislature through which it is expected to work, if these proposals had been introduced it would have been in a chronic minority, and there would almost immediately have been a deadlock between the Executive and the Legislature. Lord Salisbury, at any rate, is logical, and he proposes going back and giving to the Governor-General a power of legislation which is more complete and more unrestricted than anything which the Governor-General of India has possessed since 1853. But that is exactly what the Simon Commission said should not be done; they said "There can be no going back from the present degree of responsibility at the Centre." Now it is at last possible to go forward and to make the Government of India responsible, and it is necessary to do so because it is upon these terms only that the Princes are willing to come into Federation.
I have tried to show that without responsibility at the Centre it would not be possible to obtain harmony between the executive and the Legislature. I want to suggest that without responsibility at the Centre it would also be impossible to get harmony between the Central and the Provincial executives. To whatever Federation in the world you look, whether the United States of America or Australia, there is on every occasion a tendency for friction between the centre and the provinces; between the central politicians who appeal to national patriotism and the provincial politicians who appeal to local patriotism; between the centrifugal and central forces. If you take the case of Australia, wherever there has also been a political difference between the provincial and the central government—when, for example, you have had Labour in power in the provinces and a Conservative or a National Government in power at the 1947 centre—that friction has become very acute. There was a time when the New South Wales Government seized by force wire-netting it had imported out of the hands of the federal customs' authorities. There was a time during the War when the Government of Queensland carried on propaganda against recruiting and the Federal Government found it necessary to threaten to create a special federal police force. If you always get this friction in Federation, if it has become so acute where you have got at the same time a political difference of opinion, how impossible would it be to have provincial autonomy in India and respensibility in the provinces. You would have, on the one hand, a British Centre, and Indian executives in the Provinces; a bureaucratic Centre and democratic Provinces; you would have the government of India suspended from the Secretary of State and responsible to him; and the provincial governments supported by the people below and responsible to them. All this would be exacerbated by colour and racial prejudice. I firmly believe it is only by having Federal and provincial governments appointed in a similar way that danger can be avoided. I would also add—and here I part company from hon. Members of the Liberal party—that if the Central Legislature is elected by Provincial Legislatures, that will be an additional link which will make the Centre more sensitive to opinion in the Provinces.
The point has again been made to-day that this Constitution, be it good or be it bad, will not be worked in India. I am quite convinced that Congress dare not refuse to co-operate, because it knows perfectly well that the minorities are willing to work the Constitution. I am also sure that if Congress did try to boycott this Constitution it would fail, as it has failed in the past. At a recent meeting the proposal to take office was defeated by only two votes. Members on the Socialist benches, I am sure, would hesitate to start a strike when the minority of potential blacklegs was only two fewer than those who wished to go on strike. The Congress will not forget its own experience on the introduction of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms. At that time Mr. Gandhi led a non-cooperative movement in the election of 1948 1920, and there was almost a complete boycott by the Congress and Swaraj parties in the election. At the election in 1923 Mr. Gandhi wanted to continue the same policy but Mr. C. R. Das, in Bengal, broke away, and before he died in 1926 he had moved so far in the direction of co-operation that he said that Dominion status was a nobler ideal than independence. In the Centre, Pundit Motilal Nehru also broke away from Mr. Gandhi and went into the Central Legislature in order, as he said, to break the Constitution from within. Hardly had he got into the Legislative Assembly than the Mahratta leaders broke away from him and started a Responsive Group, because they found it was an intolerable position to oppose every Measure, whether good or bad, merely because it was introduced by the Government. At the election in 1926, the two Provinces where Congress lost most ground were the two Provinces where they had succeeded in making the working of dyarchy impossible. In 1926, when I first saw the Indian Legislative Assembly working, Pundit Motilal Nehru was practically the leader of a constitutional opposition, filling very much the position that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) does in this House.
I, therefore, support this Bill because I believe that under it it will be possible for the Indian masses to benefit and to advance to a greater extent than would be possible if we tried to continue the present administration. Our mission in India must fulfil itself in many ways lest one old system should corrupt the land. I support this Bill because it. introduces Federation, which the Simon Commission said was the only permanent and satisfactory constitution for the India subcontinent. I support the Bill because it gives responsibility at the Centre, which will bring to an end the present intolerable and weak position in which the Government of India finds itself. I support it because it will give popular authority to the Central Government, which will enable it to keep in check the centrifugal forces of all those great Provinces enjoying for the first time autonomy in the technical sense, as well as popular government. Finally, I support it because I have confidence that the experience of the Montagu-Chelms- 1949 ford reforms will be repeated, and that it will be impossible for the opponents of this Measure to make a boycott effective, for there are too many men of good will in India who will be anxious to seize the great opportunities that this Measure offers to them of improving the lot and the fortunes of their fellow-countrymen, and of raising the prestige and the status of India in the British Commonwealth of Nations.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. FLEMING
One remark that fell from the lips of the last speaker appealed to me so much that I should like to deal with it for a few minutes. I rather understood from what he said that most of. those who support the Government made this Bill a plank in their platform at the last election, or knew it was going to be brought before the House. I put forward an election address at the last election. I did not know this Bill was to come before this House. I do not know whether I was looked upon then as a supporter of the Government or not, because I happened to be opposed by a National Liberal. That may be why I was not informed of the fact that this Bill was to come before the House. Be that as it may, that is the fact in my own case. I am certain that if the proposals contained in the Bill had been put before my constituents even as long ago as 1931 they would have done with them exactly as they did three weeks ago when we discussed this Bill. They turned it down unanimously.
I represent the biggest division in Manchester. It is a residential division on the South side of Manchester, where a great many people interested in cotton, particularly the Indian section of the Chamber of Commerce, reside. This Bill was discussed three weeks ago, those discussing it being representatives of the cotton trade, several of them city councillors of Manchester, one of them, apart from myself, a Member of this House and all of them quite cognisant with the cotton trade of Manchester. They unanimously turned down this Bill. That is how one part of Lancashire speaks as regards this Bill. I know the purists will tell me that that is not the way to consider a Bill of this magnitude. I hear one of them say, "Hear, hear." When people consider a Bill I have found that they are sure to bring it down finally 1950 to a question of bread-and-butter politics. I have noticed that in Labour gatherings, in Socialist gatherings, in Communist gatherings and even in Conservative gatherings. I am not quite sure whether there are any Liberal gatherings or not now, but I am sure even those gatherings would consider questions finally from a bread-and-butter point of view. I may be wrong, but what I am asking my friends from Lancashire to do is to face the facts, as we ought to do. We ought really to find out what our constituents do want with regard to this gigantic proposal, particularly those who represent constituencies in Lancashire, and, above all, those who come from constituencies where the stable industry is cotton and particularly, again, those constituencies, like Burnley and Blackburn, which depend almost entirely on the India trade.
Last night as I sat below the Gangway I was very interested indeed to hear the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir VT. Smiles)—who, I am sorry to say, is not in the House at the moment—tell us why he supported the Bill, but he did not tell us the one thing which I was particularly anxious to know. He very kindly allowed me to put the question to him. Had he the support, in the views that he expressed on the Bill, of the manufacturers in his own constituency? He knew that I was referring to the cotton manufacturers, and he told me quite frankly that he was stating his own views after what he had seen in India, and as a result of his own knowledge of India. He did not answer the question that I put to him. The House can see now why I put that deliberate question to him. I have not yet heard in this House any Member representing a constituency of Lancashire affected by the cotton trade, and particularly the Indian section, get up and tell us that his constituents have asked him whole-heartedly to support the Bill. I am waiting to hear the first Member of a cotton constituency do that. I am not saying that there are not hon. Members who would be entitled to do so, but it would be news to me to hear the name of such a constituency.
In Manchester we have the headquarters of the Indian section of the Chamber of Commerce, and salesmen and buyers, and people interested in cotton mills all over East Lancashire come to Manchester twice a week, usually on Tuesdays and Fridays, and we get the 1951 views of those men directly interested in the cotton trade particularly with India and Burma. I have met many of these men, and not one of them has expressed any enthusiasm for what this Bill is to do on behalf of the Lancashire trade with India or Burma—not the odd one. I would frankly tell the House if there had been one. I do not pretend that I have met every man engaged in the Indian section of the cotton trade in Lancashire—it would be an impossibility—but it is a singular thing that not one Member of this House from a Lancashire constituency has yet told us that he has been directed by his constituents to support this Bill because it is going to help the cotton trade of Lancashire.
These hard-headed business men of Lancashire judge the future by what has been happening in the past. Can you blame them for doing that? The purists, again, will tell me that that is quite wrong, and that you must not do things like that. Unfortunately, these men who have votes in these constituencies judge things in that way. They are judging this Bill in that way now. It is rather late I am afraid, but still the feeling is growing in Lancashire, and there is still time for that feeling to be made effective. I heard one Lancashire Member remark that it is too late now—the horse has passed the post. It is not too late.' This House does not make laws of itself. The Bill when it leaves this House goes to another place, and I am sure that, if the voice of Lancashire is heard and listened to by those who will control this Bill when it leaves this House, there is still a chance of something being done to make the Bill more acceptable to that great industry in Lancashire, which certainly needs some help.
I heard one right hon. Gentleman speak about his meeting with a great general, I think it was Lord Roberts, and it made me ask myself, Did he think of our feelings when we meet not great generals like my hon. and gallant Friend sitting on this bench, but our old comrades who fought with us, who were weavers before the war and who are still weavers in Burnley, Preston and Blackburn, and who cannot get a job because the trade on which they depend, the India section, has been slowly but surely ruined by the tariff put up against them 1952 in India? When my right hon. Friend was speaking yesterday drawing that picture of the bridge which he was hoping to build, joining Asia to Europe, I thought of the same bridge, but I looked a little further than perhaps he looked when drawing his own picture. At the Indian end of the bridge I saw a great barrier written on the top of which was "25 per cent.," and every Lancashire manufacturer who, we hope, in the future will go along that bridge to peddle his cotton piece goods in that sub-continent will find that that barrier at the end of the bridge has gone higher and higher.
That is the fear of Lancashire, and we see nothing in this Bill which will stop that tariff barrier from going higher. We have no objection in Lancashire tto the bridge of which my right hon. Friend was dreaming, but we ask him, when he makes his bridge, that he will see that it is not made only for one-way traffic. We in Lancashire would like to see real traffic going both ways between India and our country. We have no objection whatever to India being helped in every possible way, and to the best form of government being found for that subcontinent, but we ask the Government, when they are building up this new system of government, to think also of those who have to trade with that subcontinent, and to give a little consideration to them when framing the new constitution. That, we are afraid, is not being done in this case, and that is why Lancashire is slowly but surely turning against this Bill.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
To-night we shall see what may be termed the last round-up of Government supporters on behalf of the Bill in the Division Lobby, and I am sure that those who have stood by the Government in piloting the Measure through the House of Commons, and also those who have opposed the Bill so strenuously during the past months will be relieved to know that at last their labour has been completed, whether it proves successful or unsuccessful. The controversy over this Measure has largely been between the different supporters of the National Government, and it is true, from the observer's point of view, to state that if there had been nothing in the nature of a National Government, or if there had not been the tag of a National 1953 Government attached to this Government, the Conservative associations in this country would have overwhelmingly rejected the Measure. There is not the slightest doubt that 95 per cent. of the people in the Conservative party are up against this Measure. Of that I have not the slightest doubt, because in the main the Conservative party are against progress or change of any kind.
There is no doubt that to every hon. Member in this House who gives consideration to the question of affairs in India, matters could not be allowed to go on as they have gone on during past years. We have had the awakening of what is termed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) almost a continent. It is also true that the minds of the people of India are similar in character to the minds of the people in every other part of the world, and that changes must be going on in their minds. There is nothing constant in the universe but change. Therefore, as these changes are taking place, they are bound to be manifested in the mental and physical powers of the people of that country. We have heard to-day from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping one of the most disturbing statements have ever heard uttered in this House. He said that the natives of India are so poor that even the poorest of the poor in this country have no conception of their poverty, and he further said that a slightly lower standard would lead 'to the death not of millions, but of scores of millions of people in India. That is after a lifetime of British rule in' that country, and of the high Imperialist ideals of the people who run this country and in their spare time take a hand in running the affairs of almost every other nation throughout the world. The Indian people are so steeped in poverty, we are told, that the slightest change to a lower standard of life would lead to the death of scores of millions of these Indian natives. Could a more damning indictment of British Imperialist rule in India ever have been uttered than that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping in this House to-day.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
The hon. Gentleman is quoting my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), and as my right hon. Friend is not present he should, in justice to him, say that 1954 what my right hon. Friend said was that in consequence of the vast improvements due to British rule in India it has been followed by an increase in population of no less than 100,000,000, and that therefore there has been no general rise in the standard of living but a great rise in the population.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
The hon. Member, instead of assisting his right hon. Friend the Member for Epping, is only adding to the condemnation. If no provision has been made by any governing or ruling class of this country for a natural increase of population in that country, we are entitled to ask that they should have a standard of life guaranteed to them at least equal to that of the people in other parts of the world. Statements that have been made even by opponents of this Bill have shown the necessity for a change of some kind. It is not good enough for opponents of the Bill to come to the House and say that we should only return to the status quo instead of piloting this Measure through the House. Those who.have advanced the claim in this House that an extra measure of democratic power should be conferred upon the people of India, have at least some practical suggestion to make in order to deal with the disturbance and awakening that is taking place in the minds of the people of India.
For a number of years, even during the period of the Labour Government, we had reports that 30,000, 40,000 and 50,000 people were put into prison in India, that boys were being whipped, that men had pepper rubbed into their eyes to blind them, because they had dared to demand the right to rule themselves. One thing that has always amazed me in public life, and before I entered public life, is the arrogance and impertinence of the average member of the English ruling class. They assume that they have all the mental capacity and qualities that make for good government and rule in all parts of the world, and that the people of other nations have no qualifications and are not entitled to expect that they should have an opportunity of running their own country in their own way and of making laws and regulations under which to live. I believe in the fullest measure of democratic government in every part of the world. I do not believe that we have the right 1955 to rule India, Egypt, Africa or elsewhere. The people born in any part of the world have a right to expect to rule their country in their own way without interference from outside.
If we deny people the right to rule themselves with full democratic government in order that they may change their lives and make progress as time goes on, as science advances, and the ability of man gives opportunities for reaching higher standards of life, and we deny people the right to take advantage of these improvements that have been devised, we divert them from constitutional channels into insurrectionary, terroristic methods that are bound to bring the whole form of constitutional government into disrepute. It is not good enough to talk here about terroristic acts that have taken place in India. Why not dig a little deeper and give us the reason for those acts? I am against terroristic acts. I do not believe in the taking of human life in any shape or form, either in civil or military warfare, but if you refuse to people the right to give expression to their desires you drive them into actions that they would not have taken on their own account.
In India there is a population approaching 400,000,000 and in this House, in the year of grace 1935, after having fought wars for the right of democracy to govern, after patting ourselves on the back that this country stands for freedom and against dictatorship, we are giving only 30 odd millions of the Indian people the right to vote. Who are going to elect them? The Princes. I have been almost physically sick listening to all the talk about satisfying the Princes. Who are the Princes? What do they mean to the Indian people? The Indian peasants and workers would like to get rid of them. The Indian Princes stand for suppressing the natural aims and desires of the common people. They live in lavish wealth and live a life that no human being is entitled to in modern times. Because of this lavish expenditure of wealth we have on the one hand the Princes and on the other the peasant slaves down in the gutter grovelling for a handful of rice. Indian Princes die, but my reading of history shows that most of them do not die soon enough. The workers and the peasants in India 1956 must not concern themselves about what the Princes or the Indian millowners desire in regard to government.
The Indian Prince, the millowner, the landlord, the money lender, the capitalist, the lawyer are the people who are going to have representation in the new Assembly. They are the people who are going to raise the standard of life of the people of India. I can understand the imperialists position, although I do not agree with it. A benevolent imperialism might hold a rod of iron over the people of India and yet raise their standards of health and education, develop their culture and give greater opportunities for the people while holding the nation in subjection. With that Imperailist aim and desire I could not agree, but I could understand it, but under this Bill people axe denied the right to go into the Assemblies. Who are they? If a man serves two years in prison he is not to be allowed to enter the Central Assembly. I would ask the Government whether it is better that that agitator should be in the Assembly or in the street. From their point of view, looking to past history, it would be much better to have him in the Assembly than in the street. It is his sacrifices or his crimes in the past that have been responsible for quickening the pulse of the people of India, forcing the issue and compelling the British Parliament and the British ruling class to concentrate on some measure of self-government for the people of India. Yet you prevent him from gaining access to the Assembly, while the men who devised the plan that led to his imprisonment are to have access to the Assembly.
It reminds me of what happens in our own modern life. During the genera/ strike the poor people who took part, many of them working men who had become justices of the peace, had their titles taken away from them because of acts in connection with the strike, but this week a number of trade union leaders have been given titles, although they took part in the formulation of the plans for the general strike. That is something that they have to square with their conscience. It is the most disgraceful selling out of working class principles that I have ever seen. No movement can make progress with that sort of thing.
What opportunities will the masses in India have to express their point of view? 1957 Suppose in this House we had a position in which the Labour party were permanently reduced to 40 or 50 members, and there was no opportunity to increase their numerical strength by an appeal to the country, and they knew that not for a very long period could they get any addition to their ranks in this House. Of what use would it be having that type of representation, a small number in this Chamber, which could never become a majority and could never possess the right or the power to carry through their proposals in the Division Lobby. Such a position would never he tolerated in this country. If we had such a position it would drive the whole of the Labour movement from constitutional avenues into insurrectionary avenues that would be unhealthy for the British ruling class. Therefore I am amazed at the proposals in the Bill for keeping out certain people from the Assemblies in India, even with the limited franchise. We on these benches command no great weight in the House. We have no power. The National Government have the power and can drive their Measures through.
Having had a working-class training, I can envisage one thing in India. Set up your Assemblies in India with the limited franchise and no opportunity for the expression of the views of the common people, and you will immediately develop in every village and town revolutionary and insurrectionary groups which will concentrate on this question and raise not only their voices but increase their power in the country. That will help to develop their movement to a greater extent than before. You will be compelled to employ a greater amount of force during the years that lie ahead than you have employed before in India. The Indian people have their propaganda going on all the time. There is a calm just now; the calm before the storm. Go ahead and set up your Assemblies, set your Bill into operation, give power to this limited class in India and deprive the toiling millions of complete expression in the country, and what will he the result?
You will not be able to justify and you cannot justify this Measure from the point of view of democracy and progress. It can only be said that you were compelled to move, thot you have been driven by the force of circumstances to take action because of the demands in India 1958 and the fact that throughout the world India was being cited continually as a black spot that had to be dealt with. You have been driven to move and you have moved the smallest fraction of the way possible along the democratic line. You are setting up institutions that are a fraud and a sham and which would not take in any single person with one iota of political outlook or working-class intelligence. We look forward with a certain amount of joy to the development of the working-class movement in India outside your Parliaments. The Parliamentary system can only be defended when it gives the complete right of expression. If it fails to do that it cannot be defended and ought to be treated with contempt, and that will be done by the thinking people of India when the Act gets going. The people of India have the qualities, the abilities and the statesmen-like capacity to set up and to work their own institutions in their own way. if you had said in 1935, "We will give you the fullest measure of freedom, the right to vote to the whole population of the country; set up your assemblies; get your machinery going," you would have shown to the world that while dictatorship was passing over continental countries, we in Great Britain were conferring the fullest possible measure of freedom on these parts of our Empire and giving them an opportunity of working out their own lives in their own ways.
We stand for an Indian Socialist Republic. We stand for Socialist Republics throughout the world, a commonwealth of republics, in order to take advantage of the opportunities which nature and science are giving. The desire of the British ruling classes was expressed by the hon. Member for Withington (Mr. Fleming), who said that the first qualification of any Bill dealing with India should be what advantage is it going to confer on Lancashire trade. That is an outrageous doctrine. The first qualification of any Bill should be the benefits it will confer on the Indian people. We must get rid of the idea of the private property owner, the landlords and the bondholders, and give to the people of India, indeed to the peoples throughout the world, the right to determine their own existence. Our aim should be to build up a civilisation which is worthy of all respect throughout the world.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Sir Samuel Hoare)
I have to acquaint the House that I have it in Command from the King to signify to the House that His Majesty has been graciously pleased to place at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill His Majesty's interests in the territorial and other revenues at the disposal of the Crown in India and in other matters appertaining to the government of India for which the Bill makes provision.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Mr. SPENS
I have listened to the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) and I say from my own experience of India that I am not altogether sorry that, as he says, he represents only a very small body in this House and in the country. It is 21 years almost since I was one of those who were sent out with the Home Counties Division in the autumn of 1914 to take the place of the Regular troops which had been withdrawn from India to France. During the time that I served at Lucknow in the United Provinces I was impressed by two aspects of Indian conditions. The first was that at that time India was supposed to be seething with discontent, but good administration had no difficulty in controlling it. The second, and much more important consideration, was that before 1915 had run its course there was no question but that in many classes of Indian society aspirations for a further share in self-government were becoming more intense. Those aspirations grew, and coming back in 1919 from Mesopotamia the extent to which this change had taken place was very evident indeed. Hon. Members who have doubts as to the necessity for this Measure and who have suggested that those who support the Government do not do so in the belief that the Bill is necessary for India or is for the good of India, do not realise the change that has run through the whole of Indian opinion during the years from the beginning of the War up to the present.
The period of aspiration has changed to a period of expectation. It would be perfectly impossible for us in this country, having been responsible for the raising of these expectations, not to meet the peoples of India with a constitutional 1960 scheme capable of enabling them to give expression to the views which we have allowed' them to form in regard to self government. I believe that this constitutional scheme can be worked and that it affords to all persons in India who are ready to take part in the government of their country an opportunity of doing so fully and loyally. Therefore, I regard it as a good Bill and one which we should all support. In my opinion, there is no alternative before this country to an offer of this sort to the Indian people. The hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Molson) has said all that need be said as to the detestable system of government, in India at the present time. I put it as strong as that. Equally it is impossible in my view to offer to India any sort of a gradual system of provincial autonomy. To try it in one Province to see if it works and hold it back from another is to make the most hopeless and invidious comparisons between persons residing in this or that part of India and to sow the seeds of discontent.
Equally, it is perfectly impossible to think for one moment of going back to any form of government which existed before the War. It is said that we are pledged. I have heard hon. Members in this House argue, with far more cunning and casuistry than any lawyer, as to whether this or that pronouncement means a pledge of this House or the country. A pledge has nothing to do with it. The point is that we, this nation, have allowed these expectations to be raised throughout India, and our whole prestige in the East, not only in India, has always been dependent on the fact that when we have raised expectations of this sort among eastern peoples we have always honoured our word and given them the opportunity of putting into operation the expectations for which we were responsible. Therefore, in this Bill we are making an offer to India which we were bound to make, which is a good offer, because the Constitution can be worked loyally and freely if the Indian people are willing to work it. If I thought that the constitutional machinery was incapable of being worked, or was not the best machinery we could devise, I should have nothing to do with it, but no one in this House or in India, as far as I know, has said that if the peoples of India are willing to work the Constitution it cannot be worked.
1961 The important question is whether they are willing to work it. If people take the view that no Mohammedan can have regard to any interests except Mohammedan interests and that no Hindu can have any regard to any interests except Hindu interests, it follows that the Constitution will not work. The logic of the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) was impeccable. I do not take that gloomy view of the future of this Constitution. Time after time, in moments of crisis, I have seen Hindus and Mohammedans, Punjabis, Gurkhas, combining indiscriminately in face of some common danger, wholly irrespective of caste, sect, or creed. Having been a, member of a British regiment in an Indian brigade for three and a half years one has seen how in times of crisis and danger all distinctions of caste, sect and creed have been thrown aside. There have been individual Indians in high positions who have been capable during the last few years of exercising judicial and administrative functions. Therefore, I am hoping that the people of India will realise that in this Constitution there is a machinery which gives scope to every loyal ambition of the individual, and I believe that within a few years the people of India will combine, not on objects which are concerned with caste, creed or sect, hut upon objects which are for the good of India as a whole.
There is one other point upon which I must say a word. The Bill contains many safeguards, but not one single safeguard need be used if the peoples in the Provinces and the representatives at the Centre are prepared to conduct their business loyally for the benefit of all. In that case, not one safeguard need come into play. It is only if there is a lack of loyalty or bad administration, or if for purposes of caste or creed there is an abuse of minorities, that the safeguards come into play. It is as though we were setting a steed on the road with a loose rein. The rein need not be tightened provided the steed goes in the way it is directed. They are free. That is the offer we make. They are given this measure of autonomy to conduct their own affairs in their own way without any real hindrance or interference from us, provided that they direct themselves to the benefit of the country as a whole 1962 and remain loyal in their general administration of the country.
There is only one other point which I would make. As I have said, one was conscious when one was in India of the aspirations to self government which pervaded all classes in the community. One is disappointed that during these last years the moderate opinion in India has not made itself vocal and shown a desire to join and work loyally and fully the constitutional reforms which are being offered to India. It is a great disappointment that during these last years that element in India has not raised its voice and shown to us in this country, who believe not only that this offer is necessary to keep our obligations to India but is also good for India, that it is ready to co-operate in carrying through these constitutional measures. But that it is there I have not the slightest doubt at all. It may be that not unnaturally, while the vocal political element is endeavouring to hinder with a view to getting a greater concession here and a greater concession there towards whatever particular end they desire to achieve, these people are waiting to see the final form of the Bill. All that I can say to them is that the Bill gives to them the fullest scope for every legitimate ambition.
The Bill contains as good a working Constitution for India in its present state as could be devised by any country. This Constitution will take the same high place in the history of constitutions that has been given by this country to portions of our Dominions. If that moderate element comes forward this Constitution should be able to work and work smoothly in the years to come. But the doubt exists; and the safeguards are there. India will have had its chance. If India throws away this chance, the people of India cannot complain if the safeguards "are put into play and for the benefit of the people of India as a whole forms of Government are used which are not those of the ordinary Provincial Assembly or the Central Assembly as envisaged in the Bill at the moment. I believe that the chances of that are not great. I believe that there is this big moderate level-headed opinion, that there are people who are just as keen as many people in this country to have a say in the affairs of their country. They are people, doctors, lawyers, landowners and 1963 other, who in the past have said that it was not worth while to leave their profession and go into politics. That position will not longer exist. There will be a chance for everyone who has legitimate ambitions to take a part in ruling his country for the benefit of his country. I believe that the bulk of them will do that. Because I believe that will be the future and that they will be able to combine, despite franchise arrangements and castes, for the good of their country that I, among others, gladly support this Bill.
§ 8.6 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
Before I make some comment on some things which were said by the Secretary of State, I should first like to refer to one or two other things which have been said by others. I should like to correct a. misunderstanding which has appeared in the speech of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) as to the attitude of my friend the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) towards the fiscal convention. He said in the Debate on the Second Reading that he stood by the fiscal convention with the safeguards which it contained, safeguards which we believe could make a great difference for Lancashire workers and other workers dependent for their livelihood on trade with India. I regret that again yesterday in his speech the Secretary of State failed to give any indication to the House of the existence of these safeguards. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping said that Lancashire had not responded to what he had said to that county. I think that that statement was shown by what was said by the hon. Member for Withington (Mr. Fleming) to be a too modest one. He said that it was not too late for Lancashire to speak. I believe that that is true and that if Lancashire speaks clearly it will be difficult for the Government to avoid listening. My three hon. Friends who took the step the other day on this question of renouncing the National Government Whip have received unanimous votes of confidence from their Conservative associations. They have their associations absolutely behind them in the action they have taken.
I should like to say a word in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens). He has spoken with 1964 more conviction in favour of this Bill than anyone yet heard in the House, except perhaps from the Ministerial bench. That attitude of hopefulness and desire to meet the legitimate aspirations of Indian politicians is an attitude in which many of us originally approached this question, and, if some of us have become more sceptical and are not prepared to support as much as is contained in the Government's proposals, it is because in the course of considerable study we have been brought to recognise many hard facts, of which I was unconscious two or three years ago; and, although the hon. Member has a personal experience of India which I cannot claim, he did not refer to the masses, and I do not think that he dealt with the question of whether the politically-minded classes are so glad to receive what is being offered to them as he appeared to think.
The Secretary of State devoted a large part of his speech yesterday to brushing aside the evidence of opposition to this Bill on the part of various sections of political opinion in India. He told us that he was not unduly depressed by the various manifestations of this kind which there have been. But why, if he is not unduly depressed by the opposition of the Indian Liberals, of the Congress party and of the Indian Assembly to his proposals has he found it necessary in the course of the passage of the Bill through this House so to amend the Bill as to make it possible under Orders-in-Council to abolish at any time after the Bill becomes law the communal electorates on which the Mohammedan community lay such immense store? The communal electorates are the sheet anchor of the Mohammedans in this matter. It is on the basis of the communal award that they have been ready to discuss proposals for setting up an All-India Federation, which they know must be mainly under Hindu rule.
In what is now Clause 304 of the Bill, Sub-section (4), power is reserved for the Government under Orders-in-Council at any time to alter the method of election not only to the Federal Legislature but to the Provincial Legislatures without the consent of the community concerned. The Bill, as originally introduced, would only have allowed this procedure with regard to the Federal Legislature, and 1965 this did not imply any violation of the Prime Minister's communal award. But on the Committee stage the right hon. Gentleman extended his power under Orders-in-Council to alter the method of election, which includes doing away with communal electorates, to Provincial Legislatures. It seems to me a clear violation of the communal award laid down by the Prime Minister, under which modifications of the award might be made after 10 years with the consent of the community affected.
In March, 1933, when the White Paper was published the Government went further. They said that His Majesty's Government had pledged themselves not to recommend Parliament to change the award until after 10 years and only with the assent of the communities affected. It is with great surprise that I have realised how the Bill has been amended in this respect. I did not realise the force of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment when it was introduced. When I expressed anxiety on this subject in regard to another Clause, I was assured by the Under-Secretary of State that the communal award is governed by the terms of that award. But all the Government now need do before they submit an Order-in-Council to Parliament is to ascertain the views of the Governments and Legislatures concerned. Ascertaining the views of anyone is a very different matter from securing assent, and ascertaining the views of Governments and Legislatures is a very different matter from ascertaining the views of the communities concerned, because there will be Hindu majorities in the Federal Legislature and most provincial ones and these majorities will be in favour of abolishing these communal electorates.
Therefore, as the Bill stands to-day, the communal electorates, on which the Moslems depend entirely for any cooperation in this scheme, may be abolished under Order-in-Council, anyhow by the Hindu Provinces, before ever Provincial autonomy is introduced. That seems to me to be a very grave matter. I cannot help remembering that Lord Morley, a great and unquestionable democrat, recognised that communal electorates though inconsistent with democracy as we know it in this country, yet are something which he regarded as essential in the case of India. I cannot forget 1966 that one of the Moslem delegates to the Joint Select Committee specifically said, in a Memorandum in 1933, that the only condition on which his delegation had been ready to come to the third Round Table Conference to discuss the setting up of Federation, which they knew must mean Hindu rule, was that there was no disturbance of the Communal Award.
Only to-day I saw in the "Morning Post" a letter from the son of a leading Kahn on the North-West Frontier, Muhammad Azim Khan, Nawabzada of Toru, who states that in the past winter he attended a considerable number of meetings all over Northern India, at which anxiety was expressed about the Communal Award, in consequence of which reassuring statements were issued. They were anxious because of the opposition to the Communal Award shown by many Hindus. He reminds his readers of the loyalty displayed by his community during the War and ends: "It is impossible to exaggerate their feelings of disquiet if the White Paper pledge is not implemented."
It seems to me a very serious matter to leave the door open for pressure to come from India which may induce the Home Government to abolish electorates which have been the sole basis on which this great and loyal community has been ready to enter into negotiations with regard to the new Constitution. It does not seem the best way to recognise loyalty and efficient military service, nor is it a good way of ensuring that better feeling in Asia as a whole to which the Secretary of State referred yesterday as something which he hoped would be an outcome of the Bill. But in considering what Indian opinion thinks about the Bill we have not only to consider the politicians, Hindu or Moslem. We have also to consider the attitude of the Princes. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made no reference to that subject yesterday. I would ask my right hon. Friend why, if he believes that he has the Princes behind him in this matter, his Bill provides for the consent of only 28 Princes as necessary to bring Federation into being. Twenty-eight Princes out of over 400 are enough to satisfy the criterion in regard to the States' seats in the Council of State, and only 10 Princes are needed to satisfy the criterion in respect of population.
? 1967 In this country recently we have had a series of polls taken in regard to agricultural marketing schemes. In this matter Parliament has laid down that there must be a poll of registered producers, and that no scheme can be effective unless not less than two-thirds of the voters, both large and small producers, favour the scheme. It provides also that if the Minister becomes satisfied that less than 50 per cent. of the registered producers have voted, it is his duty to cancel the Order. In this Bill we have the position laid down that the 28 largest States in India can bring Federation into being, whatever the remainder of the 400 think about it. That seems to me all the more undemocratic and contrary to British traditions when I remember that some Princes will gain a monetary advantage from the proposals of the Bill, and that others will lose valuable privileges.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Would the Noble Lady explain to us what is the comparison between the arrangement of a marketing scheme under which a refractory minority is brought in, subject to the decision of the majority, and the position of the Prince in India who declines to come in and can remain outside the Bill?
Duchess of ATH0LL
It is impossible to defend a proposal that 28 Princes can bring Federation into being whatever the remainder of the 400 feel about it. When I look at this provision I feel that it is an indication that the Secretary of State is not sure that this scheme is acceptable to the Princes, and for that reason he has felt it necessary to lay down these criteria. I would like to refer to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook said about the late Sir Pertab Singh, a loyal and warm friend of this country. To exercise pressure of this kind does not seem to me the best way of recognising the loyalty that so many of the Indian Princes have shown to the King-Emperor. Then the Secretary of State also ignored the attitude of the Orthodox Hindus who recently presented a petition to this House, protesting against the Bill on the ground that it is illegal and violates the terms of Queen Victoria's Proclamation of 1858. Whether we agree with their view or not, and I imagine no one here would wish to 1968 associate himself with their views on certain matters, yet we must recognise that they represent the great mass of the majority community in India, and when we are examining what India thinks about the Bill it is impossible to leave them out of account.
There is yet another class whose voice has not been heard, either before the Joint Select Committee or the Statutory Commission and certainly not before the Round Table Conferences because they heard no evidence at all. I refer to the Indians in the Services. Only two nights ago I was sent a copy of a Madras publication in which there was an article by an Indian, who had obviously been in one of the Provincial Government Services, in which he expressed himself strongly against these proposals and referred bitterly to the fact that the Indian Civil Servants had not been asked to give their opinion but had been muzzled. That is also a section of opinion which must be taken into account. The writer to whom I refer says that he knows the machinery from top to bottom and knows how it has been working for a number of years past. Therefore, it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman's survey of opinion in India was extremely limited. It did not go beyond the political classes. It obviously referred only to the Hindus and ignored the other sections of the community to which I have referred. I am afraid I must say that the Amendment which has been made in the Bill in regard to the communal electorates seems to show that the right hon. Gentleman feels that he is not likely to get the effecive support of the Hindu politicians for this Measure unless he can make some concession in regard to these electorates, which may have a very disturbing effect upon Mohammedan opinion.
Then the right hon. Gentleman asks: Who prefers the alternative which is put forward by my hon. Friend and myself? I am glad that at last it should be recognised from the Ministerial Bench that we have put forward an alternative. During the discussion on the Report in December, I devoted several columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT to putting forward what had been already so well put forward by Lord Salisbury and the minority on the Joint Select Committee and filling in some details, in regard to which we moved Amendments during the Committee stage. I was amazed to hear from 1969 the Minister who replied on that occasion that I had not devoted a single sentence to suggesting any constructive alternative. It is therefore satisfactory at last to hear from the right hon. Gentleman some recognition of the fact that we have an alternative to offer. I would say, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman's question, that I have no doubt that at least many of the Princes would prefer some alternative which did not oblige them to enter a Federation in which they fear that they will be exposed to many of the disintegrating influences which are at present widespread in certain parts of British India. I imagine that many of the Princes would welcome the proposal of a consultative council on which their representatives would serve and on which it would be possible for them to voice their views. That was the proposal of the Statutory Commission and of Lord Salisbury.
I think it is also unquestionable that the Moslem community would greatly prefer Provincial autonomy, even without the transfer of law and order, to a Federation which they know will be ruled by Hindus. As to the attitude of the Orthodox Hindus, it is worth recalling that it was said to me by one of their leaders that the late Mr. C. R. Das, shortly before he died and when he was, no doubt, at the height of his political wisdom and experience, was violently against the simultaneous introduction of responsibility at the Centre and Provincial autonomy. I would also remind the House of the opposition shown to the Joint Select Committee by the Hindu minority in Sind to the proposed transfer of law and order. That was also, I believe, the view of the Hindu minority in the North West Frontier Province. It may not have been the officially expressed views of the Hindus of the Punjab, but can it be doubted that many Hindus in that Province would prefer to see law and order remain in neutral hands rather than see it transferred to a Mohammedan minister. Can we doubt, indeed, that minorities in any Province would prefer to see the forces of law and order remaining in neutral hands rather than becoming the instruments, as these minorities fear, of a rival and antagonistic community. It has been represented to me only in the last day or two, what I had occasion previously to realise, 1970 how difficult it frequently is for people in India to speak freely on these matters. That is one of the basic difficulties with which we are confronted. There are many forces in India which make it difficult for men to speak out their minds as they do in this House or as they ought to try to do in this House. I believe, therefore, that there would be infinitely more support from Indians for proposals such as we have tried to outline, than there is or is likely to be in the near future for the proposals of the Government.
But I do not feel that this question can be decided on Indian opinion alone or even on Indian welfare alone. I think indeed, and have always maintained, that Indian welfare must be one of the first considerations to be taken into account in regard to all these proposals. In the last two or three months, however, this country has been faced with a situation which no one could have envisaged in January, 1931, when these proposals were agreed to in outline by the Prime Minister at the end of the first Round Table Conference. It seems to me that it must be our first duty as Members of this House to consider not only how these proposals are likely to affect the livelihood of our own people but also how they are likely to affect the maintenance of that security which is such an important consideration to our people. In this connection, I cannot but feel the gravest apprehension as to the proposal to hand over the Indian ports to Federal ministers. I know it will be said by supporters of the Bill that the Governor-General has a special responsibility which will enable him, in case of national emergency, to take over their control, but meanwhile he will have no knowledge of those who are appointed to manage these ports and whether they will be loyal, efficient and reliable. If they should not have all those qualities, then in a time of danger it might well be that news would leak out of the sinking of our ships, either ships of the Fleet or merchant ships, passing to and from Indian ports which might have disastrous effects on British lives, British shipping and British food supplies. It seems to me that that is one of the most important things to be realised in connection with these proposals. It is an aspect of the question which has not, I think, been considered at all, or, at least, I have not 1971 heard any discussion of it either in this House or outside.
Then again there is the question of the Army. Police witnesses stated to the Joint Select Committee that if the police were transferred, unless certain safeguards for which they asked were given them, the police force had better be wound up. The most important of the safeguards for which they asked have not been given, and therefore we know what expert opinion is as to the difficulty there will be in future in keeping up the morale and discipline of the force. This is bound to bring increased difficulties for the Army administration, and there is the increasing Indianisation of the Indian Army, which again may bring increased difficulties; and, last but not least, the communications of the Army are going to be transferred. There is high expert military opinion, therefore, for the view that, if these proposals go through, the demands which India is likely to make on the Regular forces will be greater in future than they are at present. I understand that they are barely enough at the present time for what is needed. I have seen the Commander-in-Chief quoted to that effect, so that there is high military opinion in favour of the view that in future we shall need more troops in India than we have at present.
In the late War India was garrisoned largely by Territorials, in order that the Regular troops stationed there might be brought to Europe and other fields of war. If it be the ease that the demands on our Regular Army will be even greater in the future than they are now, how can we believe that if we were in a great emergency here, we should be able to garrison India only with Territorials and use our Regular troops for our safety at the heart of the Empire? It must be the first duty of this House to consider national security, and we have arrived at a position in which I think there is very little responsible opinion which does not realise that we have to strengthen our defence forces and that this step is urgent. The Lord President of the Council said the other day that it was an urgent matter to increase our Air Force, not only for our own defence, but to enable us to make good the obligations we have undertaken under the League of Nations. 1972 It seems to me to be taking away with one hand what we give with the other if, at the moment when we are going to increase our Air Force and, I hope, also to add to the strength of our Navy, we transfer powers to an extent which must greatly increase the perils to which our shipping and our fleet will be exposed in Eastern waters in the event of war, and lock up indefinitely in India a large portion of our Regular troops.
Therefore, I would appeal to the Government and ask if they cannot recognise that we are in the presence of a new situation, a situation which no one could have anticipated four and a half years ago, when these proposals were first approved. No one then could have believed that by the time those proposals were worked out the situation in Europe would be such as it is to-day, and I would say to the Government that if they would take their courage in their hands and say, "We must first consider the safety of this country, of India, and of the Empire, and we are not in a position to do what we hoped to do four and a half years ago," they would be able to feel that they had done their duty to the country and the Empire. I believe also that action of that kind, reducing the transfers that they would make—I would not go so far as to say they should make no transfer of powers at all—would bring a grateful response from many in India who at present do not like to speak out and say all that they think.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKPATRICK
I am tempted to follow the Noble Lady with the speech which I made in the Second Reading Debate, but I intervene very briefly first to protest emphatically against the criticism by my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who I am sorry is not here, of Lancashire Members and of Lancashire people. Lancashire Members and Lancashire people are eminently capable of looking after themselves and minding their own business. I regret that there was applause when the right hon. Member for Epping made this point in regard to Lancashire, but I regret still more—I regret deeply—that the ardent supporters of the right hon. Gentleman allowed him to steal the wind from their sails and allowed to pass unnoticed, unapplauded, without a solitary cheer of approval, what I consider was the most important part 1973 of his speech and what was moreover a real, practical, and most constructive contribution to the future successful working of this Bill. I pay him tribute for his real, constructive, heartening appeal, which nullifies—and I am prepared to accept it in mitigation—almost every adverse criticism advanced by him.
As I understood him, he appealed to the best of our young men in this country to choose service in India for their future careers, to make it their first choice, because, as I understood him to say, and as I agree, the need of India for our best young men was never greater than it is to-day. As I believe also—and I have said it year in and year out for the last 12 years—that the opportunities were never greater, I would that it were possible to secure what my right hon. Friend so ardently and justifiably desired, namely, to have some of these appointments made to the Services in India in the future by selection and nomination, both for Europeans and Indians, and not always by open competitive examination. More than ever now we want the best type of Englishmen in India, in the Services and in business. I have intervened briefly because I think the widest possible publicity should be given to the special appeal made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping, that the best of our young men should make service in India their first choice. I do not care which way my right hon. Friend and his followers vote to-night. Their leader has done a very right and appropriate thing.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I should like to pay a very heartfelt tribute to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, on this the last chance of doing it, on the way in which he has conducted these discussions over a very long period; and I do it for one very special reason. I think that when the Under-Secretary of State and myself made our debut in the political arena, we did it on the same platform at Cambridge, when we were both up there, and it is a real pleasure, after that period of years, to see my hon. Friend rising to such great stature in his new position, especially on the difficult task of dealing with a Bill which I hope will be the worst with which he will have to deal in the great career that lies before him.
1974 I was rather amused to find that earlier in the Debate the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), who followed my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), took the opportunity of indulging in a rather unexpected burst of humour by saying that my right hon. Friend's speech was like the last chapter of Jeremiah. I should like to remind the Government and their supporters that Jeremiah was almost always right, and that it was the false prophets who always prophesied good things in order to please the people who sat on high. Of course, the Government will carry this Measure through to-night, but I should like, before we finally go into the Lobby, to hear some justifications put forward for the claim that the Measure will in any way be of appreciable help to the masses of the people of India. This is a matter of urgent importance.
The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) took the opportunity of jibing at British rule by saying that the agricultural workers in India were so poor that their condition was an indictment against the rule of the British in the past. The real position to-day is that the condition of the masses of India who work upon the land—90 per cent. work there—has deteriorated during even the 15 years of the partial reforms under the Montagu-Chelmsford scheme. [HON. MEMBERS: 'No ! "] Is it not a fact that during those 15 years of transferred services taxation in India has gone up? Who bears the taxation in India I Three-quarters of the Provincial budgets and three-quarters of the Central budgets are paid by the smallholders. In fact, I think I am correct in saying that only 7 per cent. of the whole of the budgets come from Income Tax, because India is largely made up of the small agriculturists tilling between six and 12 acres and they have to bear the burden of any reforms that take place if they mean further expenditure. Under the partial transfer up to 1919 the cloth duty went up to 34 per cent. against Indian agricultural peasants who had previously enjoyed the opportunity of buying cheap cloth from Lancashire. During the same period we saw the gentlemen from the towns force up a monopoly in favour of iron and steel in India as against Great Britain or Belgium. That made an increase in the amount which the agricultural peasant had to pay for his agricul 1975 tural implements. Now we propose to go still further. We propose to transfer all the remaining departments in the Provinces. Time after time during the Debates in the Committee stage we put forward Amendments from this side suggesting irrigation boards and similar boards of a non-political character in order to try and safeguard the peasant against the exploitation of the new middle-class and the moneylenders who have been coming into power since 1919.
I should like to say a word about the one safeguard under the Bill which we are told will prevent the continuation of the deterioration and of the increased taxation which the peasants have experienced in the last few years. That one safeguard is the franchise. What does that really amount to? There will be between 40 and 50 per cent. of the adult male population in India enfranchised, but what does the franchise in India mean under these proposals? I suggest that the franchise proposals make a farce of democracy. There is no democracy behind them at all. So long as you have the caste system in India among the Hindus, so long as you have a greater width between the high-class Hindu and the untouchable than exists anywhere else, the vote will mean very little to the peasant because he is bound more closely by religious ties than by mere political ties. The more important point is this. You are handing over the vote to thousands of people who have had no training in self-government. It has taken 300 years or more of training to make it possible to have democracy in this country. We have seen democracies in Europe built on less fruitful soil collapse in the past few years. Now you are taking these people, with no experience and no natural leaders, and you are giving them the vote. It is indeed an indictment of past governments that we have destroyed the indigenous aristocracy in British India by deliberately centralising government year after year. Having centralised their government, and having destroyed their natural leaders, we give the people the vote and no leaders for whom to vote except their landlords. These are not people who have worked on the soil, but people who have come from the towns simply to collect the rents, and who know nothing of 1976 the conditions of their tenants, and, in most instances, care less.
The impoverished peasantry which has to balance its provincial budgets—most of them are unbalanced at the present time—and then pay the extra cost of Federation, are expected to find representatives to send up to the Provincial Assemblies. How can any peasant afford to go up as a representative? How can he afford to face an election? It will be impossible unless he is financed by the moneylender. This scheme makes it easier and easier for the moneylender to say: "You shall have your peasant representatives, and we will finance them. We will send them up, and then they shall be good boys and vote as the new middle-class in India tells them." That is your democracy which you are handing out under this Bill. The depressed classes are in an even worse position. As the result of the Poona Pact, they are tied up in such a way that they have to have two elections before their representatives can sit anywhere. Their first has to be a primary election among the depressed classes themselves, and then their representatives have to go up and fight a still further election in the general electorate, which consists of the depressed classes and various other classes in India. No member of the depressed classes can afford two elections, and probably few can afford one. If they go up, they will be paid for by the rich interests in the towns, and paid to be good boys, rather like the type of working man who is financed by one party to say he represents another. The House knows well enough that, particularly in the Hindu parts of India, most of the peasants are in debt to the moneylenders. How easy it will be, then, for the moneylender, if he does not want to finance a candidate, to stand himself and to say, "Vote for me, and there will be not so much trouble over your debts."
That is what democracy in India under these new proposals means. It is the biggest sham that has ever been produced, and until the caste system is broken down, and until the Indians themselves have leaders of their own type and their own class, there can never be a real democracy. What is the good of putting new shackles upon the agricultural peasants of India, of giving a free hand, by a lessening of British control, to that banian class 1977 which has reaped so much during the past years and looks forward with such eager eyes to reap a great deal more in the days to come?
On the top of that we have transferred law and order, which means that the communal question is going to trouble the police. There is to be no justice as we have known it in the past for the poor of India. I would remind the House of this one point. We have transferred the police. Suppose there is a Moslem Minister and a Hindu chief of police and a communal riot breaks out. The Hindu chief of police may say to the Minister afterwards, "Sir, it has been the fault of the Moslems that this riot has broken out." What will that mean? That he will lose his job, whosoever fault it was, because he strikes against the class of the Minister. That is what the transfer of law and order will mean right away. It must mean the communal question being brought into the police force and the break up of the Indian police force as we have known it, that force which has stood behind Great Britain in good times and in bad and in particular during the days of the boycott, a few years ago, when, if our friends who have gone round saying that we have no real support in India had been right, the police force would have broken in our hands. None of those whom we have trusted have broken down.
Finally, I ask any hon. Members who have not entirely made up their minds to put this one last question to themselves. Whatever may be the expediency of these proposals, do they, in fact, do anything towards improving the condition of the masses of India, or do they not? They do not, and it is our duty to go into the Lobby, at any cost, and vote in favour of those who have fought for us in the past, those to whom we have given peace, and save them from being handed over to the millowners, the lawyers, and the moneylenders.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. GODFREY NICHOLSON
At the beginning of his eloquent speech the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes) extracted some vicarious satisfaction from his association with the political debut of the Under-Secretary of State for India. That brings to my mind my own first association with politics, at the age of eight. It was in January, 1978 1910, when, living in Chelsea, as I do now, I went round to the Secretary of State's Committee Rooms and secured a large poster marked "Vote for Hoare and Tariff Reform." I even went further, and got a small portrait of the right hon. Gentleman and slung it round my neck. So I think I can claim that it is largely owing to myself that the Secretary of State is in Parliament and that the India Bill has come into being. It is difficult, at this stage, to make converts, and I shall not, therefore, spend any of the short time allotted to me in trying to controvert the detailed arguments advanced from the other side. I will content myself with saying that I deeply regret the attitude which they have taken up both with regard to the Princes and with regard to the Services in India. I consider that the point of view which they have put forward has been a travesty of the truth—an unconscious travesty no doubt, but a travesty of the actual facts of the situation in India. I also deeply regret the attitude taken up by the Conservative opponents of this Bill, which seems to me to carry with it the implication that every Indian is disloyal and anti-British. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] I am speaking of the impression which their speeches have made upon me. I am very glad to hear that I am wrong. My own opinion is that there is no conglomeration of races in the world more susceptible to English culture and English ideals than those found in the sub-Continent of India.
I have said that I do not propose to go into details, and I will give my reasons for supporting this Bill in one sentence. My own experience teaches me that the vast, the overwhelming, majority of those Englishmen who are and who will be responsible for the administration of India regard this Bill as right and necessary. To me that is a compelling reason, an overwhelming reason. We have been taunted and jeered at to-day and on every one of the other 39 days of discussion on this Bill with our complaisant support of the Government. My support of the Government is not complaisant. I support this Bill because I honestly believe that it is right, that it is necessary and that it is in the true historical English tradition. The right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) used some weighty words to-day. He said that those who went into the Lobby in support of 1979 this Bill should be fully conscious of, and be prepared to bear the responsibility for, the far-reaching consequences of their action. I agree. I think I speak for all those younger Members who support the Government on this Bill in saying that we accept full responsibility for our share. I think we go further, and that we all feel that we ask nothing better than that such political future as we may have shall be bound up with the fortunes of India, and that we may devote ourselves to the service of India, whether in this country or elsewhere.
I want to be a realist. I want to make it quite clear that I face the dangers, that I see the dangers very clearly. I am full of anxiety, but full of hope. I hope we all act like brave men. Brave men do not shut their eyes to dangers, that if they see dangers they sum them up, they weigh up the situation, and then they go forward, with their eyes open to the dangers but also to the light that is on the horizon. I want to make another thing quite clear. We do not offer this Bill as a panacea or ready-made solution of difficulties. I do not think the problem we are attempting to deal with is susceptible of ready-made formulae or ready-made solutions. I hope hon. Members are clear that the task they have undertaken in passing this Bill into law is not merely the concoction of a Constitution. It is nothing less than the first great effort of the West to find an empirical but a peaceful solution of the eternal problem of the contact of East and West in every aspect. To my mind the contact of Western civilisation with Eastern civilisation, of Western ideas and practicality with Eastern idealism and with what is often inefficiency, present far the greatest problem that modern man has to face. It is also my firm conviction that by our solution of this problem in India the British Empire stands or falls.
The question I asked myself is: Does the country, as a whole, realise that far from having finished with India we are only just beginning, far from having sloughed off our responsibilities and put them on to the shoulders of others we are redoubling our responsibilities? We are redoubling the toil and travail and thought which we and our successors in this House will have to give to the Indian 1980 problem. It is hopeless to vote for this Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear!"] I hope hon. Members will allow me to finish my sentence; I see they clutch at straws. It is hopeless to vote for this Bill without realising to the full all that it entails in the responsibility that we have undertaken. Up to now we have had to play the not too easy task of governors and administrators. We have delegated that task to the best men we could find, and we have sent those men to India. We are now exchanging that role for the role of guide and friend along the path of self-realisation. We cannot delegate that task, which has to be performed by this country and from this country, by legislators in this country and by men whom we send out from this country. We are calling back the responsibility we have delegated to the Englishmen whom we sent to India, and are re-assuming it ourselves.
The success of the experiment will depend upon two qualities. We need, first, sympathy and understanding, and, secondly, and above all, courage. If this Measure fails, we may have to go back upon it in whole or in part. We may have to brave the jeers of my hon. Friends opposite and their successors and go back upon our tracks. It may be necessary to suspend the Constitution in certain Provinces. It will certainly be necessary to amend the Bill in every Parliamentary session for many years to come. I hope hon. Members do not think that this is the last we shall hear of India. We must be prepared for any and every eventuality, and must be determined to carry the plan through successfully to the end. I shall vote for the Bill to-night in the firm faith that, under Providence, we shall succeed, but only if we retain faith in ourselves, our mission and our destiny. I want to impress upon the House my firm conviction that the Bill is merely a skeleton, and that it depends upon each one of us if flesh is to be put upon the skeleton and if it is to be made a living spirit. The whole matter is brought so much nearer to us than it was before. It is because I have faith in our mission and our destiny, and in the English character that I support the Bill. I support it with a clear conscience and a firm determination, not only believing that it will succeed, but firmly determined that it shall succeed.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Admiral of the Fleet Sir ROGER KEYES
I entirely follow and support what was said by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Kirkpatrick) about the absolute necessity of getting the best type of young Englishman to go to India, and I endorse the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Withington (Mr. Fleming) as to conditions in Lancashire. His speech was a cry from the heart of the people of Lancashire, who are the survivors of those splendid divisions who-played such a valiant part in the War, and who are now eating out their hearts in the unemployment caused by the high tariffs put up in India against Lancashire goods.
I am glad to have an opportunity of saying a few words about the Bill. I have attended almost every Debate and have listened to, or read, every speech of moment since the Bill was first presented. I well remember the speeches of the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross and Western (Duchess of Athol') who told us to-night that she made a long speech full of constructive material. I listened to it, and I was outraged to hear the First Commissioner of Works afterwards state, in her absence, that in the whole course of that speech she had not made one constructive suggestion. In the Second Reading Debate, everybody, including the Lord President of the Council and the Secretary of State for India, dwelt on the great risks which were being run and on the magnitude of the experiment. In the calling in which I have spent my life, one often takes or avoids risks on the spur of the moment, and in those times one generally trusts for guidance to instinct, based upon experience and the lessons of history. In my Service, if one unhappily makes a mistake, one is ruthlessly broken, and sometimes very cruelly broken, but it is all so different in politics. Apparently, there one can undertake great risks without personal risk.
The importance of the British Navy to the maintenance of the security of India can hardly be exaggerated. A few years ago the Secretary of State for India, when he was Secretary of State for Air, drove forward a policy to a successful conclusion and with all his skill and obstinacy. He had at that time the support of the Lord President of the Council and other notable authorities 1982 and, despite the advice and protests of experts, who knew that the experiment was opposed to fundamental principles of command and administration and would place a tremendous handicap upon and hamper the development of the Naval Air Service, the policy was carried through. That it has failed can no longer be questioned. I mention the point to show that the judgment of the Lord President of the Council and of the Secretary of State for India is not infallible. The policy to which I refer can be and must be corrected before it is too late to do so and while there is still time.
Suppose those right hon. Gentlemen be leading us astray now. Who will suffer? Nobody doubts that the Bill may involve India, in bloodshed and disaster. The Indian people, thousands of miles away, and the civil servants who have devoted their lives to the great services in India and who are in no way blind to the great additional risks that are being imposed upon them, will suffer. The Army in India will be put into very difficult situations. Those are the people who will suffer if the politicians have made a mistake. Risks are justified, perhaps, to win a great prize, but I would ask the Government: "Who is going to benefit by the Bill?" The Government do not pretend that the Bill will give better government to the people of India and they know that nobody in India wants the Bill, which certainly does not satisfy the Indian politicians, who openly avow that their one intention is to get rid of British rule in. India.
One is so often told that we owe this measure of self-government to the soldiers who fought so bravely alongside ourselves in the War. I know many Indian soldiers. I have fought alongside Indian soldiers drawn from every fighting race in India, and I have the greatest admiration for them, but they are utterly out of sympathy with the race from which the Indian politicians are drawn, and I do not think they would tolerate being governed by them. Every instinct I posesss and my experience in the East, as well as the lessons of history, convince me that the Government are running dangerous risks with an experiment which is irreconcilable to the warring races in India. I was born on the Indian Frontier. My father spent 40 years there, and I think he held a record, having commanded the 1983 Punjab Frontier Force for eight years. He and other soldiers, with John Nicholson, defended the Frontier against those fierce, warlike hill tribes who are always ready to come down and loot and harry the plains. He and his comrades were the soldiers who saved India, who re-established and strengthened British rule the last time that British rule was in jeopardy in India. In those days Russia was regarded as the great menace, and surely Russia is infinitely more a menace now, with her insidious Communist propaganda undermining our influence. Modern inventions have brought that menace far closer to India than it was in my father's day.
We who have listened to the recent debates in this House on defence and foreign affairs are accustomed to hear right hon. Members on the Government Benches taking credit for the great risks they have run in the interests of peace—the risks they have run in cutting down our defences to the edge of danger. Last March they were apologising for the increase in expenditure on defence—an increase that was quite inadequate, as has been admitted. Since March, events have been moving apace on the Continent. At a moment when the whole of Europe is in a state of unrest and apprehension, the Government are pressing forward this Measure, which is opposed to all reason, is opposed to the lessons of history, and is opposed to our recent experience in Ireland—a Measure which can only add to the anxieties of Imperial defence and the perils that surround us.
We who are opposed to this Bill have been contemptuously called Diehards. If to be a Diehard is to put before all other considerations the security, the unity and the welfare of the Empire—the things that our comrades and friends fought for and died hard for in the War, when some of the principal supporters and exponents of this Bill were living more sheltered lives—if that is the case, I am proud to be a Diehard, and I would be ashamed to vote for a Bill which is based on fear—the fear of responsibility to govern, the fear of what may happen in India if you do not placate your enemies in India, the fear that in England you may lose votes from a certain class of persons, the fear of what might happen if the Socialists came 1984 into power. All these defeatist arguments are put forward to persuade Conservatives to vote for this Bill.
I know that a great many hon. Members earnestly and sincerely believe in the Bill. Who can doubt the sincerity of my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. G. Nicholson) who has just spoken? But there are many other hon. Members in this House, and even some Members of the Government, who hate this Bill as much as we do, but feel impelled to vote for it for reasons quite apart from its merits. I beg them to put the unity of the Empire before all other considerations, and to refrain from supporting the Bill to-night, in the hope that the Government may yet be wise enough and courageous enough to postpone or to drop it, and to tell the people of this country and of India that, with the help of loyal Indian statesmen and officials, they intend to continue to govern India until the people of India are really fit to govern themselves. If they would only do this, and if, in addition to protecting London from being bombed, they would provide what is necessary for our maritime security, on which, after all, the Indian Empire depends as well as the life of this country, they would have behind them all the best elements in this country and an overwhelming majority of supporters. In conclusion, I would remind the Government that they are only temporary trustees, and have no right to run the risks which they admit they are running, and to gamble with the great heritage that was handed down to us by our more valiant and far-sighted forebears.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Sir FRANCIS FREMANTLE
I hope I may be allowed to make one contribution to the Debate on the Third Reading of the Bill before it passes from this House, because I think there is one aspect of it which it is useful to have in mind in summing up the general bearing of the Bill. Some time ago I had the good fortune to spend a winter working in the villages and in the actual homes of the people of the Punjab, which brought me into touch with them in a way that can have been the good fortune and privilege of very few Members in any quarter of the House, and I have kept up that contact in various ways since. This Measure is being discussed largely from the point of view of its bear 1985 ing on the welfare of the people, and it is quite useless to bring forward heroics as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Sir R. Keyes) has just done, and to talk about courage on one side or another. There are different kinds of courage in this world. There is the courage of Balaclava or of Zeebrugge. I take off my hat to it, and we should all love to shut our eyes and go blind in that form of courage. But there is another form of courage, the courage of statesmenship.
It does not do for Members like my hon. and gallant Friend to suggest that the Government, or other Members in different quarters of the House, are lacking in courage. It is not a question of virile courage. It is perfectly true that it does not affect us, but it affects in part those gallant fellows, and their wives, who, out in India, are carrying on their work on behalf of England for India. Whatever is going to happen, we have to have them in mind. Much depends also upon the courage of those Indians—some seem not to realise that they exist—who themselves have shown extraordinary courage and insight in carrying out all the tasks that have been committed to them in the last few years. It is not a question of courage, and therefore I rather deprecate the use of the word in this matter. What we want is a little cool, cold logic.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately—that is how it seemed to me—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) came to a deadlock in his speech, to which we all listened with such intense interest this afternoon. He said, and this goes home to many of us, that the real kernel of the problem is that in the last century or so there has been an increase of the population by 100,000,000. That is the real difficulty we are up against. Between the two last census years of 1921 and 1931 there was an increase in the population of 34,000,000, an average of 3,500,000 persons every year. What has been the increase during those 10 years of the main crops on which the people depend for their food? It has amounted to only 1,500,000 tons per annum—practically nothing on which to support the extra 3,500,000 persons every year who are being added to the population. I could go on and give the House all sorts of examples of the resulting deterioration in the physique of the 1986 people. Their nutrition has naturally gone down because there is less food to go round; and in every direction the vital statistics are not comforting. There is a general opinion that that barometer of the health of the people, tuberculosis, is increasing. That is because the people are up against this vital problem. On that point, I am very largely in agreement with the statement made by the right hon. Member for Epping, but what are we going to do about it? The right hon. Gentleman said that surely this was a call for greater autocracy. We have had all the advantages of central government in India and all the help we could possibly give has been poured into India during the last 150 years. The work of the Indian Medical Service has been splendid, and the work of the nursing and hospital services has also been beyond praise. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that there should be more hospitals? That is toying with the situation.
The suggestions made by the right hon. Member for Epping showed that he did not appreciate the real basis of the problem which is: How are we going to get to these things which are at the root of this impairment of the welfare of the people which is going on in spite of all that we have done? The best opinion of Indians and of those who have had charge of Indian administration is quite clear. The British administration has been unable to take the action that is necessary because that action must go to the roots of the habits of the people—their caste prejudices and their religious customs. They must be brought to realise that until they can stop such evils as child marriage—the evil of women being married and having their first children at an average age of 16½and having, on the average, six children before the age of 30—they will have an ever-increasing population with a comparatively small increase, if any increase at all, of nutrition. Our people have been unable to deal with these things because they are regulated by custom, and we cannot interfere with the religious customs and the caste prejudices of the people. We come back, therefore, to realise that there is only one way in which these things can be dealt with and that is by the people themselves. There is one way only in which the people themselves can deal 1987 with them, and that is by being brought face to face with the responsibility.
We come, therefore, to this second point. It is true that they have to have full responsibility before they will take the action that is necessary to go to the root of the trouble in these customs. That will take some time. During that time I believe there will in many ways be deterioration. I have felt some compunction in this matter because I realise, professionally, that when you give people responsibility there will be in some cases improvement of administration and in others there will undoubtedly be deterioration. We shall certainly hear criticisms and in certain parts of India things may deteriorate as a result of the greater measure of self-government given. I say that is inevitable if you are really going to give the people responsibility. I answer those colleagues, like the right hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton), who take that particular line, by saying at once that we cannot stop growth. We cannot stop giving responsibility either to the growing child or to the growing nation. Take, for instance, the boy who is growing up and who goes to his father and says that he is going to have a motor cycle. What does the father say? Does the father say, "No, my boy, there are dangers in a motor cycle, and I cannot allow you to have it." He does sometimes say so, but he does not say so for very long or the boy gets his motor cycle and goes off. The wise father says, "Yes," but he looks round the corner and does his best to see that his boy is guarded. There are risks that the boy may have a, smash and may come to grief. But on the other hand you cannot stop his having what is the popular demand of his generation, which is in this case a motor bicycle; and, although he risks his life, he will be better off for it in the long run, and it is inevitable. Surely we have learned to take an analogy from the individual life and apply to it the communal life.
It seems to me that with regard to India we have to go forward. By going forward we are incurring risks and dangers, but in that way alone shall we be able to get improvement. In that way only can we avoid the disaster and chaos that is otherwise inevitable; and I 1988 see no other way out of this difficulty we are in except to go right back to autocracy pure and simple. All other proposals are simply makeshifts. There are only two alternatives. One is to go right back to the period before the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and the other is to go forward on the lines on which we are now going forward. In that way only, with great anxiety but with hope, we believe that we have got to go forward in support of this Measure, and I hope it will pass both Houses intact.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
In rising to say a last word on behalf of the Conservative dissenting minority against the Bill, I should like to appeal for the sympathy of the House for two reasons. First, because it has not been a pleasant position far us 80 Members to find ourselves, as we have been during the last few months, in constant conflict with colleagues with whom we have worked for years, and to whom we are attached by ties of personal friendship. It has not been a pleasant position, and I am sure that I shall have the assent of my hon. Friends when I say that nothing would have led us to do this but our conviction that the issues at stake in this question are so great that no ties of personal attachment or party loyalties ought to stand in the way of any Member doing what he thinks the right thing in so great a matter. Secondly, I think that all those who speak to-day are entitled to the sympathy of the House on the ground of the impossibility of saying anything fresh after we have had 40 days of eloquence in the wilderness.
I shall, therefore, confine myself to dealing as briefly as possible with what seems to me to be the salient points that have emerged during the course of today's Debate. But before I attempt to do that I should like to say that my right hon. Friend the Member for Spark-brook (Mr. Amery) made what I thought was rather an unfair criticism of my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), whom he accused of using veiled threats as to what his future attitude would be with regard to India. I think that I can speak on behalf of all those with whom I have acted in this matter when I say that, of course, if this Bill passes into law, it will be the duty of every constitutionalist to do what 1989 he can to give that law a perfectly fair trial. I was one of those who bitterly opposed the Irish Treaty in 1921. If I were faced with that issue again, I should take exactly the same line, because I believe that, in spite of the great difficulties of that problem, that was a tragic mistake which has brought many evils in its train. But from that day to this I have never done anything, and nothing would induce me to do anything, to try to stir up again that old controversy or make more difficult the working of the Act which was then passed.
That will be our attitude in regard to India, but I entirely agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. G. Nicholson) and other hon. Members have said, that it is the greatest mistake to think that in passing this Bill we get rid of the Indian question. We shall have the Indian problem with us for the whole of this generation, and this Bill, I am thankful to think, still leaves this country with great responsibilities in India—greater responsibilities than I believe we have power to fulfil. But it will certainly be my aim, and, I think, the aim of all those with whom I have collaborated on this Measure, to do our utmost to see that those responsibilities are fulfilled in the spirit of the Bill. If it were for nothing else, I should rejoice in the fact that our public challenge on this Bill has done good in that it has forced upon the attention of the British public and the British electors some of the elementary facts in regard to India without which it is impossible for the British public and British politicians to exercise what influence will still remain to them under this Bill during the stormy years which we believe are to come. I believe that that education of public opinion in itself will be a work of some value.
The main burden of the Government in answering those with whom I am associated in our opposition to this Bill has been that we have no alternative plan. That was the theme of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and of my right hon. Friend the Member for Spark-brook, and if I had not known them to be absolutely truthful men, I should have been amazed at criticism of that sort after they had attended all these Debates. I am afraid that when we thought they were civilly listening to our speeches they could not have been paying the 1990 slightest attention. The point of view put forward in the very interesting speech delivered yesterday by the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Patrick), I think, represented the point of view of the rank and file of those Members in the Conservative party who are supporting the Government. He said that, after all, changes are inevitable, and Federation is the best solution. The hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Cadogan) even went to the length of telling us that we have to face up to the fact that the East is changing. Really, upon my word, if we are to be accused of not having faced up to the fact that the East is changing, of not realising that some sort of change is inevitable, and of not putting forward any workable alternative, then I am afraid that our hon. Friends could not have listened to a single speech that has been made from these benches.
We have advocated, on the Second Reading and on every stage of this Bill, a policy which, to put in it a nutshell, can be described as a policy based upon the Simon Report—a policy which is fundamentally different from the policy embodied in this Bill. In all this controversy there has been nothing more tragic than the desertion of his Report by the Foreign Secretary. The Foreign Secretary is a man of such outstanding ability, and he so dominated the Simon Commission, that his personal attitude really decided the attitude of all the members of the Simon Commission on this question. I could not help reflecting that, endowed as he is with these immense intellectual qualities and abilities, it is a thousand pities that his great career has been impaired by that lack of faith and spirit which has stood in his way.
This is bound up with the question—and the Secretary of State made a debating point about it in his speech yesterday—of popular acceptance. The Secretary of State twitted us with reproaching the Government because their Bill is execrated from one end of India to the other, and he asked us whether we were in favour of a policy of self-determination? We have never concealed the fact that we do not believe that any settlement of this question will be popular in India. We have always said that it was impossible to find any solution that would meet with popular acceptance in India, and therefore it was best to 1991 frame what we ourselves thought was the best solution. But the question of popular acceptance is fundamental to the whole Government plan. Why was the Simon Report scrapped Y Why was it thrown into the waste-paper basket Simply because of the clamour with which it was greeted in the Indian Press and because the Prime Minister had not the courage to stand by Parliament's own Statutory Commission, and gave way under the outbreak of abuse which greeted its publication. The abuse of the Simon Report, and the so-called offer of the Princes, which has now been exploded, were the sole reasons why the Simon Report was thrown into the wastepaper basket, and the absurd plan of a Round Table Conference substituted. I say "absurd", because a Round Table Conference may be an admirable method of settling a strike, but it is certainly not the best way in which to design a constitution.
Therefore, we are entitled to say that the reason which made you abandon the Simon Report has failed you. In abandoning the Simon Report you were seeking something that would gain popular acceptance and you have failed to gain popular acceptance. Therefore, you are back at the conditions which existed when the Simon Report was published, and it is for that reason that we have urged that we should return to the Simon Report. That Report was a very carefully-thought-out, coherent plan. The Government have never tired of pointing to any part of their Bill for which the authority of the Simon Report could be claimed. But that is not a fair treatment of that document. The Simon plan had to be taken as a whole, and we submit even to-day as a result of all these debates that that plan stands out greatly superior to the plan embodied in the Government's Bill. It was a plan which steered between Scylla and Charybdis in carrying out that extraordinarily difficult problem of training men who have never been used to self-government or have only been used to it to a, very limited extent, to go one step further in the long road of Parliamentary development.
It is because we recognise the necessity of India being self-governed, because we know as well as the hon. Member for Finchley that the East is moving, and 1992 that, we are in an era of transition that we vastly prefer the carefully-thought-out unprejudiced Report of the Statutory Commission to that which has been hammered out amid the popular clamour of contending parties. Let it never be forgotten what a great and tremendous constitutional experiment the Simon Report was. The granting of self-government to vast Provinces, every one of them the size of this country, was no mean or pettifogging plan but a great constitutional experiment. Many Conservatives thought that it was an over-daring experiment, but the fact that we were prepared to go with the right hon. Gentleman the whole length shows that we were prepared to make a great experiment. I would remind the House that in accepting the Simon Report we were prepared to face all the difficulties raised by communal elections and communal voting, which make the whole question, the whole experiment of democratic development in India something of an untrodden country for which no analogy or guidance can be drawn from the history of Great Britain.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook gave a travesty of our attitude in regard to the Simon Report. The Simon Report, we are fully aware, recommended the transference of law and order. That was a general proposition about which a certain latitude of opinion can and must prevail in regard to individual Provinces. Even the Government do not propose to transfer law and order in the Province of Bengal. Many of my hon. Friends and I would certainly have been prepared to transfer law and order in the Province of Madras. It all depends on the state of the Province. What we have said in regard to law and order is that it ought not to be transferred in any Province until the state of that Province makes such a transference desirable. We have urged repeatedly that the solution of this question must lie on the lines of the Simon Report and it is not fair or right for Ministers to say that we have put forward no practical alternative to the Government's proposals.
Our objection to the Government plan is twofold. In the first place, we object to it because we believe that their plan of Federation will not and cannot work. Even at this last hour I would remind the House how very seldom federations have worked in the history of the world. If 1993 hon. Members will cast their minds back, what successful Federation can any of us think of that has lasted any number of years? Probably nearly every hon. Member will say the United States. That is about the only modern Federation that can be pointed to, but what sort of example is that? There you have a Federation of a people who when the Federation was established were almost 100 per cent. Anglo-Saxon, steeped in the constitutional traditions and political experience of England, a homogeneous people living in a sparsely populated but very rich country; a country which is so fortunately situated that it neither fears invasion nor famine—the most happily situated country in the world, and yet that Constitution is so clumsy that for years it has been a stumbling block to many important reforms in America. The clumsiness of that Constitution is a by-word among the politicians of every country. Even in the short space of 150 years it has brought to the great American people the terrible ordeal of civil war. Therefore, let us start off by realising how exceedingly unsuccessful federations have been in the past. I was glad to see that the "Times" last Friday in a leading article congratulating the Union of South Africa on its jubilee pointedly congratulated the statesmen who were responsible for the 1910 settlement in South Africa on having avoided the pitfalls of Federation and on having chosen the model of Canada rather than that of Australia. That is not of much encouragement to us.
What sort of Federation is this going to be in India? A Federation of units many of whom have little in common and some of whom do not even exist; a, Federation where the Federal law on a great many subjects will not run in many of the acceding States; a Federation where the Provinces will pay income tax and the States will not pay income tax; a Federation part of which rests upon the principles of democracy and part of which rests upon the principles of the sheerest autocracy; a Federation which has no control over 60 per cent. of its budget expenditure. was amazed to hear my right hon. Friend this afternoon say that the Bill places responsibility for general policy fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Indian ministers.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I prefer to agree with what the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) said yesterday, in his eloquent speech, that if you had no control over 60 per cent. of your budget you had no control over your social services. How can there be any sense of financial responsibility when more than 60 per cent. of the budget is a reserved service.
And it is a Federation which is based on dyarchy, that form of government which the Simon Commission pointed out did not work well in the Provinces and, for reasons which they gave, never could work well; dyarchy, that form of government which has never been successfully tried in any part of the world; dyarchy, that form of government which the Simon Commission specifically warned us to avoid. That is the coping stone of this jerry-built edifice which the Secretary of State has erected. It will crumble under the weight which it will inevitably have to bear. My hon. and gallant Friend said that a wise father would allow his son to ride a motor bicycle. He is not a wise father unless he sees that the motor bicycle is properly made. This motor bicycle is a ramshackled article which will fall to pieces at the first trial.
There is one more thing which I feel bound to say about this Federation. It is bolstered up by vested interests. There is substance and truth in the criticism of the Labour party that vested interests of a reactionary type have an undue position in the Constitution; and here I must protest altogether against these elements being described as a Conservative influence by hon. Members. In listening to the speeches of Ministers one would think that the Socialists are right when they say that the Tory party exists to protect slum landlords. That is not the kind of Conservatism which I joined the Tory party to serve. I joined the Conservative party because I admire its ideals, Imperial and national, and I believe that its philosopy is founded on the teaching of history and human experience. But here the Government have prostituted the name of Conservatism by packing the Assemblies and cooking the electorates in such a way that the very reforms which every decent-minded man 1995 and woman in this country would wish to see carried out in India will be made very difficult. What is the use of saying that Indians must carry social reforms themselves' The Government have made it as difficult as possible for them. All this was unnecessary if you had stuck to Provincial government. But in order to buttress up your shaky artificial Federation you have introduced elements which some of us are ashamed should have been brought in to prop up the Union Jack in India. We believe that under these conditions the great constitutional experiment can have no fair trial, that much trouble must ensue, and that the people of India will suffer sorely. Those are the reasons why we oppose the Bill. We believe that in departing from the Simon Report, the policy of trying out Provincial self-government on a small basis before you explore the much more difficult and problematical field of Federation, in departing from that wise and unprejudiced advice in response to clamour, the Government are in the position of the dog which lost his bone in search of the reflected image. They have tried to get popularity, and, in doing so, have sacrificed the best policy. They have lost their popularity and have not got the best policy.
The other reason why we feel it necessary to oppose the Bill is the treatment which British trade will receive under it. We are justified in saying that not only have the Government not defended British trade in India, which we believe in view of the services rendered by this country to India we have a right to demand, not only have the Government failed to protect the interests of British trade, but they have gone out of their way to betray them. The Convention with Burma, by which for five years Lancashire goods and British goods are to be subjected to a 25 per cent. tariff in competition with Indian goods which are to come in free, is a scandalous document.
Finally, may I say that we repudiate altogether the suggestion that in making the criticisms we have made, and which we have felt it our duty to make, we are actuated by any lack of sympathy towards our fellow subjects in India. It is because we have sympathy and feel our responsibilities in this matter that we 1996 regard it necessary to take definite action. It is because we have sympathy with the voiceless masses of India, because we appreciate and honour the magnificent record of the Indian regiments in the War, who have not asked for this Bill, and who are going to be placed by it under the yoke of a different race, it is because we have sympathy with the people of India that we feel it necessary to take the stand we have taken. We do not for a moment impute unworthy motives to our friends who disagree with us, but we repudiate the charge that we are unsympathetic or careless of the interests of the people of India. If this Bill passes, thank God our hands will be clean. We believe that it will impede the great and glorious work which Great Britain has carried out in India, where it has been privileged to be the greatest force of progress and justice that India has ever known. On the gates of the Law Courts are written, I believe, a quotation from the Psalms:He shall defend the children of the poor and punish the wrongdoer.It is because we believe that the Bill will make that task more difficult that we cannot vote for it.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It has been the custom of hon. Members who have spoken in the Debate to pay compliments to the Secretary of State and his assistant and to other Ministers who have helped to pilot the Bill to the Third Reading stage. I should like personally and on behalf of my hon. Friends to join in those congratulations. We have had a difficult task, but it has not been made harder by the right hon. Gentleman or any of his colleagues. I am particularly glad to be able to say how much I, at least, appreciate the manner in which the Under-Secretary has carried out his duties. May I be allowed to say a word for my hon. Friends on this side of the House. I have attended most of the Debates, certainly whenever it has been possible and other duties have not prevented me. My right hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) and his two colleagues the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) and the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), who unfortunately is too ill to be here have represented the Socialist views both on the Joint Select Committee and throughout these Debates, and I am sure 1997 the House will join with me in expressing appreciation of the work that they have done.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping is not here. I know he has other things to do. Fellow feeling makes one wondrous kind, and I could not help thinking, when he was expressing to the House the fact that he and his friends were only a small party, what a small party my colleagues and I are when the rest of the House aligned against us. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends do not need much sympathy. I have seen many fights in this House, and I have never seen one carried on more assiduously and with more enthusiasm than that which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends have carried on in their campaign against the Government. I said at the beginning that I was very glad to see this schism in the serried ranks of those opposed to us, and I am glad they have kept on to the bitter end. The more they are divided the better I shall be pleased, and the more they can get on their side the better.
Having said that, I should like to make it clear to the Secretary of State that we are not opposing this Bill in the Lobby for fun, and we are not opposing it as mere politicians. We are apt to talk about politicians and politics as if there were something unworthy about the words when they concern other people. I have been a politician almost as long as the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. G. Nicholson), who started, I understand, at eight canvassing for the right hon. Gentleman. The fact is that under the leadership of the Prime Minister we came to certain conclusions about policy with regard to India. Although he is now Prime Minister of a Conservative Government, we have not changed our minds, and I leave it to him to say whether he has done so. He has not spoken in these Debates, so I do not know exactly where he stands in the matter, but the party which he formally led, and with his assent, pledged themselves to the principle of self-determination for the people of India. It is just there that we fundamentally differ from the Government, and from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping and his friends. We do not believe that you can settle the Indian question by imposing on Indians a Constitution without consultation with them and without their 1998 consent. We understand self-determination to mean that whatever Constitution they live under is one which they accept.
Up to the time the present Government came into office, the policy which was being pursued was one of consultation and co-operation with representatives from India. No one can say with truth that this Bill has been produced after consultation and co-operation with representatives from India. It is a Bill that has been put together by British statesmen, and it is being presented to India as something which we consider is good for India to live under. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he does not take much stock of the opposition in India, because in effect—if I am misrepresenting him I will withdraw—it was simply a clamour which would die down when the Bill comes to be operated, because the politicians will, as they would here, want to be in their places, manning the various offices and sitting in the Assemblies that will be elected. That may or may not be true, but I think the right hon. Gentleman has overlooked the fact that those Indians who came for consultation with the Joint Select Committee have put on record their objections to this Bill, and, so far as I know—and the right hon. Gentleman has never yet told us of any—there is no representative body in India of Indians who have supported the Bill.
In addition to that, if these proposals were at all acceptable we should have heard very much more acceptance of them from members speaking in the Legislative Assembly. No one there speaking for the non-official Indians supported these propositions. Therefore, it is beside the point for the right hon. Gentleman to take it for granted that, once the Bill is through and has to be worked, then it will be worked satisfactorily. I do not know. I shall have a word to say about that later on. But I do want to press the point that the right hon. Gentleman cannot call to his aid any organised body in India of Indians in support of this Measure.
The right hon. Gentleman said, in effect, that we had changed rather in the Amendment we put on the Order Paper. I know that repetition is the law of propaganda, as it were, but in moving Amendments in this House on a Bill of this kind we try to vary them just a little. It is difficult even for a skilled 1999 leader to do. He called attention to our having established the proposal for a Constituent Assembly. We have never put that proposal before this House. It has been discussed outside. We believe still that if the policy pursued by the present Prime Minister when he was Labour Prime Minister had been continued in the same manner when the present Government was formed, we should have had a very different Bill produced. We think still that if there were proper consultation and co-operation with Indian opinion, you could get a settlement of this question without reference to any Constituent Assembly or anything else than the great measure brought before the House. Then the right hon. Gentleman rather put it as against us that we have not put forward any alternative suggestion. He could not have expected that we should produce an alternative Bill. But he does know quite well that my hon. Friends produced a minority report to the Report of the Joint Select Committee. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman read that report but nothing of importance in it is embodied in this Bill.
It has also been said that no one in India has brought forward any alternative to the Bill. While the right hon. Gentleman was Leader of the Labour party a Bill was brought from India, drafted by Indians in 1925, and was introduced into this House—the Commonwealth of India Bill. An entirely different sort of Constitution was proposed in that Bill from that in the Bill now before the House, but Indians had drafted it and had taken the trouble to tell the British Parliament how they thought India should be governed as a partner of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Later, in 1928, there was an All-India Conference held in Delhi, and at that conference the representatives of India, who represented every section of Indian opinion, put forward the heads of a settlement which they asked should be considered. So the right hon. Gentleman and the Government must not continue to try to ride off and say: "We have brought forward these proposals because neither Indians nor anyone else has suggested anything different. We have had to draft a scheme ourselves because Indians could not agree."
I do not know whether the Prime Minister will remember, but I think it is 2000 true that the discussion of the Nehru proposals was dropped simply because the Statutory Commission was going to report, and when that report came out the question of Federation was brought into discussion. I think the right hon. Gentleman is unfair both to Indian public men and women, and unfair to the Opposition. I will leave it to the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) to say whether he is unfair to the Conservative opposition; but, he is certainly unfair to us and to Indian public opinion when he says, "They cannot agree amongst themselves, and we must formulate a scheme for them." On two occasions they have formulated a scheme, and I am certain they would do so again. They have rejected this scheme unanimously, and I think they should have been asked to put forward their own proposals again.
Then I want to call attention to the fact that the Government have thought it worth while to repeal the whole of the previous Act with the exception of the Preamble, and they have done so, I understand, in order to satisfy the demand to those who ask that a declaration dealing with Dominion status should be put into this Bill. On that the Government have asked us, through the Attorney-General and the Secretary of State, to accept the statement of the Government that what is really intended is that ultimately India shall attain Dominion status. That is what I have understood. Both the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General have told us that that Preamble is left in order that the statements relating to Dominion status may in effect be repeated. But what the Government forget when dealing with the subject is that the statement has been made over and over again in India, first that India's goal is Dominion status, and, second, that although certain people have made that statement, nothing has been said binding Parliament; that, the Preamble to the 1919 Act is not definite enough and has been called in question by Sir Malcolm Hailey and others therefore, what is now needed is a new declaration. It has also been said by a Member of the Upper House here that no matter what the Sovereign might say, no matter what a Viceroy might say, no matter what a Minister might say, nothing can bind the country except a 2001 declaration by Parliament. That is what the people of India wanted to have put into this Bill.
I ask the Attorney-General who is, I understand, to reply to give us to-night a clear and definite statement first as to whether the Government consider that this is a Measure leading on to the attainment of full Dominion status by India and second what does he really mean by Dominion status. This is very important. The Imperial Relations Committee of the Imperial Conference of 1926 said:The members of the British Commonwealth are autonomous units within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or internal affairs. They are united by a common allegiance to the Crown, freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.The late Mr. Bonar Law defined Dominion Home Rule as follows:If a self-governing Dominion, Australia or Canada, chooses to-morrow to say, 'We will no longer make a part of the British Empire,' we (the British people) would not try to force them. Dominion Home Rule means the right to decide for themselves.I am not anxious to get any answer to that last question but I am anxious to get an answer to the first question. Whenever I spoke on behalf of the Labour party either in this House or in the country, while the right hon. Gentleman opposite was leader and when he was present, at conferences or elsewhere, I always took the line and I take it to-night on behalf of the Labour party, that we stand definitely for the Indian nation becoming an equal partner, with equal status and with equal rights with the rest of the Dominions of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We think that that question ought to be settled so far as the Government are concerned before this Bill goes to Third Reading. I am not asking whether they think that ought to be incorporated in the Bill. What I ask is whether, in bringing this Bill forward, the Government had in mind that this was to be a logical step leading on to the Indian nation becoming a partner equal, as I say, with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
My hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly pointed out how much attention had been paid, and how much consideration had been given, to the Princes in these discussions. At the risk of being 2002 misunderstood, I am going to say that I do not believe that in international jurisprudence it has ever been considered that all treaties were, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, never to be changed. We cannot accept the view that the position that the Government are putting up in this Bill for the Princes is one which should last for ever. When we have the power, if the condition in India is what people expect it will be, we shall try—I am sure my friends who will be here will try—to get a more reasonable arrangement with the Princes as to their position within the Federal State of India. To me, it is quite amazing that a House of Commons at this time of day should pass a Bill giving the Princes such tremendous power over what is called a democratic constitution.
We are dealing, as we have been reminded again and again, with a population of over 300,000,000 people. I am not arguing whether or not we as a Government are responsible for the poverty-stricken condition of the people of India: I am merely stating the fact and saying that this Bill will do nothing to improve the economic conditions of those people—nothing whatsoever. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not expect the hon. Members who cheer that will cheer this further statement. Those hon. Members from Lancashire who are continuually girding at the Government about the 25 per cent. tariff and so on should remember that they are always saying, "England for the English." Why cannot the Indians say, "India for the Indians"? The point I want to make in that connection is that it is not ill-will on the part of the Indian people, but it is the inability to buy things, the low standard of life under which they are living, which causes the depression in Lancashire. You can take if you like the total number of yards of cloth that go there to-day and the amount that went previously, and then take the amount that is manufactured by the Indians and what is imported, and still there is not nearly enough for the needs of the Indian nation. You have got by some means to increase the consuming power of the people of India. Mr. Philip Snowden, as he then was, said two or three years ago in this House that if you raised their income ¾d. a week per head in India, you would keep every mill in Lancashire going.
2003 Lancashire Members had better pay attention to this. It is the drain from India of interest, of dividends, of pensions, of the cost of the Army, and all the tremendous financial drain that comes from that country year by year that is the trouble. The right hon. Member for Epping may not like that, but he knows as well as I know that this drain does come from India. It is exactly the same as the absentee landlordism that brought about the Irish Land Acts years ago. You cannot drain wealth from a nation without impoverishing the people. That is what is at the root of the business. I join with the Noble Lord in saying that we have done our best, with the aid of right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite, to defeat this Bill. I expect that it is going on the Statute Book. I have many friends in India. Most of them are what are called extremists, and I am very proud of their friendship. I shall say to them, what I would say to my own countrymen, "We hate the Bill, but take it. Use it and do the best you can with it. Get out of it whatever there is of any good and work with the British people to get a better Bill." I have faith that when our people understand the conditions and know that some of our standard of life comes from the impoverishment of these people, they will be big enough to say that means shall be found for giving them a better life and giving them the opportunity themselves of securing a better life.
§ 10.32 p.m.
The ATTORNEY-GENERAL(Sir Thomas lnskip)
The task of saying the last word on this Bill falls upon one who has, perhaps, almost less claim than any other speaker to have his voice heard upon the subject of India. So let me begin, at any rate, by saying one or two things with which everybody will agree, and perhaps I may thank the right hon. Gentleman for his reference to the Secretary of State and his colleagues. I want to join with my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill)—and I wish there were more things on which I could agree with him—in what he said as to the services of our right hon Friend, if I may so describe him, the Chairman of Committees, who has not merely helped us to arrange these Debates so that every question may be 2004 discussed, but has made probably a permanent contribution to our Parliamentary institutions. I hope that it will not be out of place if in these last moments I also pay a most sincere tribute to the Parliamentary draftsmen in their task of most unusual complexity, and to the civil servants whose efforts and wide knowledge have contributed so much to the success of these discussions.
There are two Amendments upon the Order Paper, and I am afraid that it is too much to suppose that those who put them down will not divide and will not go into the Lobby against the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) described it as an unholy alliance. I should not have used that epithet myself. I would rather have described it as an uncomfortable alliance, because I am sure that each section of the opposition would be very much happier if the other were not in the Lobby.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
My right hon. Friend must not display too much irritation at this comparatively early stage. At any rate, the combination has this useful effect of throwing light upon a feature which runs through the very intricate design of this Bill, and that is that the Bill grapples with difficulties. It is only when men have to face each other across the table in connection with this great problem of India, to hear each other's objections, to meet each other's points, and to answer each other's arguments, if they can, that they come down to solid earth. When they get away from the table and from the duty of preparing a Bill they are apt to moralise and theorise, and this Bill is the answer of the practical man to the theorist represented by the ranks led by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. My Noble Friend made a somewhat long reference to-night to the Simon Report. He said one thing which he will allow me to describe as inaccurate, I hope that is a sufficiently mild term, when he said that the Simon Report had been abandoned in answer to clamour. It was not the plan that was eventually adopted for this simple reason, that it was displaced by, in the opinion of the Government, an even better plan. When my Noble Friend described the Simon Report as one to 2005 which he and his friends would give their whole-hearted support he very nearly forgot—he only remembered it just in time—that a cardinal feature of the Simon Report was the transfer of law and order to Provincial Governments. When my Noble Friend remembered it, just in time, he described it as a general proposition, whatever a general proposition may be. It was a feature of the recommendations of the Statutory Commission which could not be neglected when anybody was trying to make up his mind whether the report should be accepted or not.
Let me see where my noble Friend gets himself when he says that the report was abandoned in answer to clamour. His complaint is that this Bill is not wanted by anybody in India. If it be true that the clamour against the Simon Report to which he attaches himself was such as to compel the Government to abandon it, then it seems to follow that nobody wants the Simon Report any more than this Bill, and my noble Friend's argument about nobody wanting the Bill misses a great deal of its point. Is it true that nobody wants the Bill? I do not know. Let me assume for a moment that it is true; but it is only part of the truth. The people who do not want the Bill want not less but more than the Bill. If the people in India do not want the Government, they want my right hon. Friend still less.
So far as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are concerned, when they complain in their Amendment of the undue restrictions that are placed on the exercise of self-government they must have forgotten that the main safeguards embodied in this Bill were devised at a time when they were in power, when the first Round Table Conference was being held, and they seemed then to have given their assent to the proposition that it was necessary that peace and tranquillity, minorities, finance, commercial discrimination and the Services should all be the subject of special safeguards. I see the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) shaking his head. Obviously, there is no time tonight to discuss the point in detail, but I say emphatically that, in germ, you will find in the discussions of the first Round Table Conference every one of the safeguards which I have mentioned this evening.
2006 I will pass to the next criticism in the Amendment. It is said that this Bill provides for the entrenchment of wealth, privilege and reaction. The hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) went so far as to say that it ensured the domination of the Princes for all time. In his closing sentences, his peroration led him to anticipate the advent to power of a Labour Government and to promise that the new Government would right the wrongs of the Bill courageously and fairly. That does not look as though the domination of the Princes were imposed upon India for all time. He must make up his mind what he wants to say.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I agree that that is about the proper description of the prospects of the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his party. It is no good hon. Gentlemen opposite speaking of conditions in India as though they were precisely the same as in England.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
It is a mistake common to both oppositions, and I am glad to hear the Noble Lady cheer what I have said. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping referred to what he described as the vices of the Bill—indirect election, small number of electors, primitive electoral machinery—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is thinking of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot).
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
No, I am not. When the right hon. Gentleman began his speech he dotted the i's and crossed the t's of what the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) said. He said that the hon. Member had set out in clear and striking fashion the criticisms that might be addressed to the Bill. My right hon. Friend adopted the criticisms, and made use of them for his own purposes. That is because the right hon. Gentleman assumes to believe that the conditions in India are such as require precisely the same democratic system as we enjoy in this country. On a previous occasion I called the attention of the House to the fact that Democracy may be expressed in many ways, in many 2007 forms and by many means, and that what is a democratic system in England must not necessarily be applied to India. They have their own conditions, and you have to recognise them. Autocratic government in Indian India is something that has to be reckoned with. It is no good hon. Gentlemen opposite waving it aside as though it were something indecent which must not be treated as a fact.
In this Bill we are facing the task of suiting to the conditions of India that which we have taught Indian people to cherish and desire in connection with the government of their own country. We have to make the best of the material that exists in India. I take leave to say that when the remarkable additions to the electorate are realised—I think hey are between 25,000,000 and 30,000,000 people—the facts that the electorate will be multiplied over four times and that there will be 6,000,000 women included in the 34,000,000 of electors, it will be conceded that the Bill is a step forward in applying Democracy to the new conditions in the Indian continent. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen who oppose the Bill laugh, but that will not alter the fact that there has been a long succession of statements in this country to encourage the Indian people to have aspirations which, at some time or another, we are bound to satisfy, to respect and to treat with sympathy. The Government think that the Bill is a response to a demand which this country has itself created.
The hon. Member for Caerphilly was guilty, if he will allow me to say so, of an extravagance when he said that this Bill was fashioned to please ourselves rather than the Indian people. I conceive that the task of this House is neither to think primarily of pleasing ourselves nor of pleasing the Indian people; but surely we have to approve our own handiwork if it is to stand the test of Parliamentary discussion, and we have done, in pursuance of our duty, what I venture to think is the right thing and the best thing for India. If the hon. Gentleman meant to say that this Bill has been conceived with a view to the interest of this country, there are a hundred arguments that we have used which show that we have not 2008 thought merely of the interests of this country.
Reference has been made to the case of Lancashire. Did the hon. Gentleman think it was easy for us to stand up here, in answer to our friends from Lancashire, supporters of our policy, our colleagues, when they spoke in defence, as they thought, of the trade interests of that great industrial community? We resisted their demands because we thought that it was part of our duty, thinking of the interests both of India and of this country, to reject a policy that would place shackles upon the fiscal freedom of India, and to give to India the right, which has always been conceded, in the constitutional custom of our Empire, to a great community, to manage its own industrial and fiscal affairs. What would have been the Nemesis if we had acceded to the requests that were made on behalf of Lancashire? The boycott, of unhappy memory, was not prevented or brought to an end by force of arms orby domination; it was brought to an end because the people of India began to be satisfied that they were going to receive fair and honourable treatement. [HON. MEMBERS "Oh !"] I have not the least doubt that I am right in what I am saying. That boycott could never have been ended by the display of military power. Hon. Members know that perfectly well.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
There is not a person in this House, except possibly my right hon. Friend, who would dare to get up and say that it was a display of military force that led to the abandonment of the boycott in India. It was, as I have said, because of the sentiment and feeling of greater good will, and a desire to use other methods of attaining the end which both countries desired. I am bound, although my time is but short, to say that I did not quite understand the reference of my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping to the Privileges Report. He seemed to me to be rather like a litigant against whom judgment has been given and who frequents the courts in the hope of persuading somebody that he has a grievance.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Your own Government have appointed this Committee. 2009 The Committee has reported, and the House can read the report.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
All those litigants to whom I have referred are persuaded that they have a much better case than the court believes. I have not time to-night to reopen that discussion, upon which the House expressed a very clear opinion nearly a year ago. I was sorry, too, that my right hon. Friend gave an indication that he intended to carry on the fight after the Bill had been read the Third time. I much prefer the statements made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir B. Croft), my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton), and the Noble Lord who spoke a few minutes ago. Perhaps I am more attracted, as I think the House is more attracted, by the promise they gave of co-operation in spite of their opinions, because of the fact that they have had a longer attachment to the Conservative party than my right hon. Friend.
§ Viscount WOLMER
May I say that none of us was conscious of the slightest difference in what we expressed?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I can only say that all who heard the four speeches will be aware of the difference.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I shall only be too delighted if there is no difference between what was said by the right hon. Gentleman and the Noble Lord. I hope that what the Noble Lord has said is a fact, because nothing could be more damaging to constitutional government than that when this House has ratified a particular proposal there should be carried on a sort of guerilla warfare to embitter relations between this country and India. The right hon. Member for Epping has said that the Princes are not coming into this Federation. The Secretary of State has dealt with that matter on previous occasions. I am not going to attempt to deal with that particular piece of gratuitous folly. There is every reason to believe that the Princes are satisfied with the details which they now find in the Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman is so certain that they are not coming in he need not worry about it. There will be no Federation of India if he is right. I 2010 do not believe in this picture of India seething with hatred of Great Britain. There have been some manifestations of loyalty in India in quarters where it was least expected. The core of India is much more sound than some people would have us believe. There are reactionaries in India no doubt and they dislike the Bill because it threatens the ancient strongholds of tyranny and power. This Bill is a step forward on that road which will enable India to do for herself what we could never have done—to make the reforms which are desired by men of all parties. We have raised these aspirations, and we ought to satisfy them.
The right hon. Member for Epping referred in rather derisory terms to the faded flowers of Victorian Liberalism. He has spent 20 years of his otherwise virtuous life in offering them to anyone who would accept them. Now in spite of his attachment to the Conservative party, has he lost faith in the principles of Victorian democracy? He declared almost with glee that these principles are under a cloud in Europe. All that I can say is that they are not under a cloud in the British Empire. He said that we were handing over India to the lawyers and politicians. Well, I represent one class and my right hon. Friend represents the other. I see in this Bill a gift from the greatest majority which this country has ever known in the history of Parliament. It is a gift which we give willingly. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping And the Noble Lord joined together in offering thanks to God that they were not associated with this Measure. I would rather join with other hon. Members in prayer that this gift may be divinely blessed for the enrichment of the British Empire and future of India instead of thanking God that I am perfectly right and everybody else is perfectly wrong. In this Bill we make a greater transfer of power than any country has ever made in the whole course of the history of the world, and we have made it voluntarily. There has been nothing in the way of compulsion. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State declared yesterday that he was not depressed about the future of India. Unlike his opinion, my opinion is of no value, but there are some facts of the past that I cannot forget. We have established in India, as my hon. and 2011 gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) truly said, the most efficient nad benevolent administration ever known in the East. That has not happened without hazards being taken. Many times in the century and a half of constitutional government in India under this country these questions have been hotly debated in this House. Sometimes it has been difficult to arouse interest in them, sometimes party faction has embittered the controversies, and tragedy has sometimes filled the page of history. But somehow or other, at the end of every effort to do something fresh for India the genius of the British race for government has triumphed, and we have added another stone to the impregnable fortress where freedom is guarded. Why should we despair, as my right hon. Friend invited us to do to-night, when Parliament is bending itself once more to the task of devising something for India.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has asked me what we have to say as to the promise of Dominion status for India.If I have kept it until the last moment, it is because we have said, at length and in detail, in the course of these Debates all that there is to be said upon the subject. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in the clearest possible terms in his speech introducing this Bill and moving the Second Reading, said that the Government had agreed upon the statement which embodied all that we wish to say,
and all, I am sure, that the right hon. Gentleman would wish us to say, if he would rightly understand it. On that occasion my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said:
The Preamble of 1919…is a clear statement of the purpose of the British people, and this Bill is a definite stop, indeed a great stride forward, towards the achievement of that purpose…. Our policy is to do all that we can by sympathetic help and co-operation to enable India to overcome these difficulties and ultimately to take her place among the fully self-governing members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1935; cols. 1165-66, Vol.297.]
§ The Leader of the Opposition asked whether this Bill was intended to be a step forward in the establishment of Dominion Status. I have given the right hon. Gentleman the answer in the words of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Let him read again what was so carefully prepared and so deliberately said to this House on that occasion. This Bill has been meditated in conference, in committee, and now in council. While we have been meditating we are happy to think that India has become more settled and ready to take the gift which this House can give. We shall not be disloyal to the memories of the great men who have ruled India in the past. We shall be completing their work in the spirit of the best of those rulers.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:Ayes, 386; Noes, 122.2015
|Division No. 232.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Bossom, A. C||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Boulton, W. W.||Cazalet, Thelma(Islington, E.)|
|Albery, Irving James||Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Cazalet, Capt. V. A.(Chippenham)|
|Allen, William(Stoke-on-Trent)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J.A.(Birm., W)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Boyce, H. Leslie||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Assheton, Ralph||Brass, Captain Sir William||Clarke, Frank|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Clayton, Sir Christopher|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold(I. of Thanet)||Bullock, Captain Malcoim||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Balniel, Lord||Burghley, Lord||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Conant, R. J. E.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Butler, Richard Austen||Cook, Thomas A.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Butt, Sir Alfred||Cooke, Douglas|
|Bateman, A. L.||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Campbell-Johnston, Malcoim||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Craven-Ellis, William|
|Bernays, Robert||Cassels, James Dale||Crooke, J. Smedley|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro)||Herbert, Capt. S.(Abbey Division)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Groom-Johnson, R. P.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Cross, R. H.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Barnard||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J.(Aston)||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. Leslie||Morris, Owen Temple(Cardiff, E.)|
|Curry, A. C.||Hornby, Frank||Morris-Jones, Dr. J.H.(Denbigh)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Horobin, Ian M.||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Moss Captain H. J.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Munro, Patrick|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Denville, Alfred||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Norie-Miller, Francis|
|Dickie, John P.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Doran, Edward||Hurd, Sir Percy||O' Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Drewe, Cedric||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Ormiston, Thomas|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Iveagh, Countess of||Orr Ewing, I. L|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Dunglass, Lord||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Eady, George H.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Peake, Osbert|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Jamleson, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pearson, William G.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Janner, Barnett||Peat, Charles U.|
|Edge, Sir William||Jennings, Roland||Penny, Sir George|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Johnston, J. W.(Clackmannan)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Eimley, Viscount||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Petherick, M.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bllston)|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Ker, J. Campbell||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Kerr, Lieut-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Pybus, Sir John|
|Fermoy, Lord||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Radford, E. A.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Law Sir Alfred||Ramsay, Alexander(W. Bromwich)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Leckie, J. A.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Lewis, Oswald||Rankln, Robert|
|Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Liddall, Walter S.||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kllmarnock)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Rea, Sir Walter|
|Gibson, Charles Granville||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Reed, Arthur C.(Exeter)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Llewellin, Major John J.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd.Gr'n)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Rickards, George William|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G.C.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Roberts, Sir Samuel(Ecclesall)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Robinson, John Roland|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Granville, Edgar||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mabane, William||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbrldge)|
|Graves, Marjorie||McCorquodale, M. S.||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Mlddlesbro',W.)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Ruggles-Brlse, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Grimston, R. V.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F.E.||Macdonald, Capt. P.D. (I. of W.)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||McKle, John Hamilton||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||McLean, Dr. W.H. (Tradeston)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Macmlllan, Maurice Harold||Salt, Edward W.|
|Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Magnay, Thomas||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Sandys, Duncan|
|Harbord, Arthur||Martin, Thomas B.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Mason, David M.(Edinburgh, E.)||Savery, Servington|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kennlngt'n)||Mason, Col. Glyn K.(Croydon, N.)||Selley, Harry R.|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Meller, Sir Richard James (Mitcham)||Shaw, Helen B.(Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Mills, Major J.D. (New Forest)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Sir Cuthbert||Milne, Charles||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hellgers, Captain F.F.A.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane(Streatham)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mitcheson, G. G.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Stuart, Lord C. Criehton-||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Smith, sir J. Walker- (Barrow-ln-F.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)||Summersby, Charles H.||Watt, Major George Stevan H.|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron||Tata, Mavis Constance||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgsour|
|Somerville, D.G.(Willesden, East)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J.H.(Derby)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Soper, Richard||Thomas, James P.L. (Hereford)||White, Henry Graham|
|Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L||Thomson, Sir James D. W.||Wills, Wilfrid D|
|Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Thompson, Sir Luke||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Spens, William Patrick||Todd, A.L.S.(Kingswinford)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fyide)||Train, John||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Stevenson, James||Tufneil, Lieut.-Commander R.L.||Worthington, Sir John|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Flfe, E.)||Turton, Robert Hugh||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Storey, Samuel||Wallace, Captain D.E. (Hornsey)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Stourton, Hon. John J.||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Strauss, Edward A.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Strickland, Captain W.F.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsand)||Captain Margesson and Mr. Blindell.|
|Stuart,Hon. J.(Moray andNairn)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide(Cannock)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Edwards, Sir Charles||Nall, Sir Joseph|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Ersklne-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Nunn, William|
|Alexander, Sir William||Everard, W. Lindsay||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Astbury, Lleut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. Clement R.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Purbrick, R.|
|Bailey, Erlc Alfred George||Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Batey, Joseph||Greene, William P. C.||Reid, David D.(County Down)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Remer, John R.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Valet)||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Griffiths, T.(Monmouth, Pontypool)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stawart|
|Bracken, Brendan||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Sanderson, SirFrank Barnard|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hartington, Marquess of||Somerset, Thomas|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hopworth, Joseph||Somervilfe, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Brown, Brig. Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brlgg)||Strauss, G.R.(Lambeth, North)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Jenkins, Sir William||Taylor, C. S.(Eastbourne)|
|Buchanan, George||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Burnett, John George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Templeton, William P.|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Kimball, Lawrence||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Caps, Thomas||Knox, Sir Alfred||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Lawson, John James||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Lees-Jones, John||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cleary, J.J.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Levy, Thomas||West, F. R.|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Cove, William G.||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, David (Swansea. East)|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Lunn, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Williams, Herbert G.(Croydon, S.)|
|Critchley, Brig.-General A. C.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||McEntee,ValentineL.||Wilmot, John|
|Daggar, George||McGovern, John||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Davles, David L. (Pontyprldd)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maitland, Adam||Wragg, Herbert|
|Davison Sir William Henry||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Maxton, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Dobbie, William||Mellor, Sir J.S.P.||Mr. Paling and Mr. Groves.|
|Donner, P. W.||Milner, Major James|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.