HC Deb 12 March 1935 vol 299 cc302-10

8.40 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 17, line 29, after "Bill," to insert, "other than a financial Bill."

I move this Amendment more or less formally because I appreciate that a great part of its purpose is covered by Clause 37. The object of Clause 30 is obviously to give each of the Legislative Chambers an equal authority. The purpose of the Amendment is to limit the authority so as to secure, as far as may be, that the Lower House may, as indeed is common with all recent modern constitutions within the Empire, have the first and the last word in regard to financial matters and taxation and the imposition of burdens upon the people. If reference is made to the constitutions which have passed through this House for the purpose of framing a code of government for the Dominions, it will be found that, at least of more recent years, each one of the Acts has specifically limited the power of the Upper Chamber in reference especially to matters relating to taxation and the imposition of burdens and charges upon the people. The Commonwealth of Australia Act, for instance, provides in terms that the Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation or appropriating revenues or moneys for the ordinary general services of the Government; and it goes on to say: The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden upon the people. Very much the same provision, almost in the same words, appears in the South Africa Act of 1909 constituting the Union of South Africa: The Senate may not amend any Bill so far as it imposes taxation or appropriates revenues or moneys for the service of the Government. The Senate may not amend any Bill so as to increase any proposed charges or burdens upon the people. It will be found that the constitutional practice in Canada is the same. It is proposed, as has been said by the Secretary of State, that the ultimate objective of this Bill is Dominion status for India. Should not India, therefore, have the same control over her financial machinery as this House has deliberately given to the Dominions? I am conscious of the fact that some part of the ground is covered by Clause 37. I will not attempt to discuss that Clause, but nothing contained in this Bill would prevent the Executive from initiating in the Second Chamber laws as to taxation and the imposition of burdens and yet in no other British Dominion, so far as I know, can that be done. In moving the Amendment my main object is to ask the Government whether it is by design or intention that Clause 30 gives these parallel or equal powers to the two Chambers and does not put the Lower Chamber in India in the same position as the Lower Chamber in the British Dominions.


I think the hon. and gallant Member must be attaching a little more to this Amendment than I thought he was. The effect of his Amendment, as I understand it, would simply be that the upper Chamber would not be required to pass or assent to a finance Bill, and although I do not want to interrupt the hon. and gallant Member's argument I cannot allow the Government or anybody else, in discussing this Amendment, to enter upon a general discussion of Clause 37.


I was most anxious not to embark upon that, and I was hopeful that I had done no more than make a reference to it which was necessary in order to make clear the argument I was advancing. If I may respectfully say so, I agree that the words of this Amendment are, perhaps, not quite so wide as I had indicated, and possibly they are not even the most apt words for achieving the object I have in view, nor may this be the best place in which to insert them. But, as I have indicated, the purpose of the Amendment is to inquire from the Government how far it is proposed to limit the authority and the power of the lower House to be alone responsible in matters relating to finance and the imposition of burdens on the people.

8.47 p.m.


The hon. and gallant Member says that the purpose of his Amendment is to elicit from the Government their view as to the powers of the two Chambers. The effect of his Amendment would be, in fact, to go counter to the objective of the Government in this Bill of implementing the decision of the Joint Select Committee that in the matter of supply the Chambers should have equal powers. I can give him the answer which he desires very shortly, although I fear he may not agree with it. The Joint Select Committee say in paragraph 215: We entirely endorse the principle that, so far as possible, the two Houses should have equal powers. They therefore suggest that the Upper House should have wider powers in relation to finance, and should be able not only to secure that a rejected grant is reconsidered at a joint session of the two Houses but also power to refuse its assent to any Bill, clause or grant which has been accepted by the Lower House. They go on to say: We think, therefore, that all Demands should be considered first by the Lower House and subsequently by the Upper. and suggest that the powers of each House in relation to any demand should be identical, any difference of opinion being resolved at a joint session to be held forthwith. I have read those two sentences because they explain exactly the object of the Government in inserting this particular provision in the Bill, and in drafting Clause, 30, which has to do with the provision as to the introduction of Bills, in its present form. If the words of the hon. and gallant Member's Amendment were introduced they would defeat the object we have in mind. In answering the arguments he has used to support his contention, I think it would be wise to remember that what he calls the "burden on the people" which might be occasioned by this method of dealing with financial procedure does not apply to the same extent here—if it is a burden at all—as in the Provinces. When we come to consider the provincial section of the Bill it will be seen—and I think this is relevant to my argument—that the powers of the upper House in the Provinces are of a dilatory nature, but as the powers of the upper House in the Federation are equal to those of the lower House there were strong reasons for the course we have taken, and I could, if necessary, refer the Committee to the representations of the representatives of the Chamber of Princes in the course of evidence before the Joint Select Committee. It seems to us to fit into the conception of the future Constitution of the Central Government in India, and having drawn the attention of the Committee to the fact that it is in the Provinces that many of the social questions and questions involving expenditure of money arise, I think the Committee will see that our proposal implements the object of the Joint Select Committee, implements the desire of the Chamber of Princes, and falls in with the general conception of the powers of the two Chambers in the Central Legislature.

8.50 p.m.


The hon. Gentleman has given as the reason for this merely the authority of the Joint Select Committee, but has furnished us with no reasons why the powers of the two Houses should be equal. I think it is entirely fallacious to suggest that this question of finance at the centre does not concern the mass of the people.


To the same extent.


What is going to be the biggest issue at the centre? It will be the question of whether there is to be direct or indirect taxation. There is the whole question of the Customs revenue, which presses very hardly on the masses in many cases, and also the question of income tax. This is a vitally important matter. This is really the only big piece of business of a semi-administrative kind that comes before the Centre at all. In setting up two Chambers both of which are very unrepresentative—the Second Chamber undoubtedly entirely unrepresentative of anything except vested interests—we are loading up the Second Chamber with representatives from the Second Chambers of the Provinces or from the groups of persons of similar type that would be elected to a Second Chamber. Therefore this Second Chamber is going to be predominantly representative of the richer portion of the population and there are also to be representatives of the Princes. It is going to be a far more reactionary body than "the other place" in our Parliament here. This Second Chamber is to be given powers with regard to finance equal to those of the lower House. Not only are they to have power to reject financial proposals but power to amend. I can see no reason for giving them equal powers. Once we get to the point of giving them equal powers we take away the utility of a Second Chamber at all. We on this side regard this as one example of the way in which effective power at the Centre is being taken from the representatives of the Indian people. Complete control over finance is really being given to the nominees of the Princes and representatives of the small and very wealthy section of the community. That is why we are moving this Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 40; Noes, 216.

Division No. 93.] AYES. [8.55 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Daggar, George Holdsworth, Herbert
Attlee, Clement Richard Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jenkins, Sir William
Banfield, John William Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Batey, Joseph Gardner, Benjamin Walter Kirkwood, David
Bernays, Robert George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Lawson, John James
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Grenfell, David Reel (Glamorgan) Logan, David Gilbert
Cape, Thomas Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'. W.) McEntee, Valentine L.
Cleary, J. J. Grundy, Thomas W. Mainwaring, William Henry
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Milner, Major James
Cripps, Sir Stafford Harris, Sir Percy Nathan, Major H. L.
Parkinson, John Allen Thorne, William James Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Rathbone, Eleanor Tinker, John Joseph Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)
Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) West, F. R.
Smith, Tom (Normanton) White, Henry Graham TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr G. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Ganzoni, Sir John Orr Ewing, I. L.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Palmer, Francis Noel
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Gledhill, Gilbert Patrick, Colin M.
Albery, Irving James Goff, Sir Park Peake, Osbert
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Goldie, Noel B. Pearson, William G.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Penny, Sir George
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Greene, William P. C. Perkins, Walter R. D.
Apsley, Lord Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Petherick, M.
Aske, Sir Robert William Grimston, R. V. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Atholl, Duchess of Gritten, W. G. Howard Pownail, Sir Assheton
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Pybus, Sir John
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Hanbury, Cecil Radford, E. A.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Hartington, Marquess of Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Balniel, Lord Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th. C.) Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Henderson. Sir Vivian L, (Chelmsford) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Hepworth, Joseph Rickards, George William
Blindell, James Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Robinson, John Roland
Boulton, W. W. Hornby, Frank Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Horobin, Ian M. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Horsbrugh, Florence Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Brass, Captain Sir William Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Salt, Edward W.
Broadbent, Colonel John Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford) Scone, Lord
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Selley, Harry R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Browne, Captain A. C. Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Burghley, Lord Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Shuts, Colonel Sir John
Burnett, John George Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Butler, Richard Austen Ker, J. Campbell Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Smith, Sir J. Walker. (Barrow-in-F.)
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dlne, C.)
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Kimball, Lawrence Somervell, Sir Donald
Cazalet, Thelma (lslington, E.) Kirkpatrick, William M. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Soper, Richard
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Leckie, J. A. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Christie, James Archibald Leech, Dr. J. W. Spens, William Patrick
Cobb, Sir Cyril Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morianid)
Colfox, Major William Philip Lewis, Oswald Stones, James
Cook, Thomas A. Liddall, Walter S. Strauss, Edward A,
Cooke, Douglas Lleweilln, Major John J. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Cooper, A. Duff Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th) Sutcliffe, Harold
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley) Tate, Mavis Constance
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Templeton, William P.
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Cranborne, Viscount MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick) Thompson, Sir Luke
Craven-Ellis, William MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Crooke, J. Smedley McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) McKeag, William Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro) McLean, Major Sir Alan Todd, Lt. Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Manningham-Builer, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Crossley, A. C. Margesson, Cant. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Train, John
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Martin, Thomas B. Tree, Ronald
Davison, Sir William Henry Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Denman, Hon. R. D. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Danville, Alfred Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Turton, Robert Hugh
Donner, P. W. Milne, Charles Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsand)
Dunglass, Lord Mitcheson, G. G. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Eady, George H. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Warrender, Sir Victor A. G,
Eastwood, John Francis Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Wayland, Sir William A.
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Wells, Sydney Richard
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J. Wills, Willrld D.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Munro, Patrick Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Erskine-Bolst, Capt C. C. (Blackpool) Nail. Sir Joseph Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Weish Univ.) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Womersley, Sir Walter
Everard, W. Lindsay Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid Worthington, Dr. John V.
Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst Nunn, William
Fleming, Edward Lascelles O'Connor, Terence James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Fremantle, Sir Francis O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert
Ward and Major George Davies.

9.2 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 17, line 34, to leave out Sub-section (3).

The purpose of this Amendment is purely elucidatory. We should be much obliged if the Secretary of State would inform us why we are to depart from the practice of this House, in that a Bill is not being allowed to lapse after both Houses are prorogued. We should be very grateful if he would state the reasons which have induced the Government to make this change.

9.3 p.m.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)

The reason is solely one of convenience, having regard to the conditions under which the Indian Legislature have been accustomed to operate. The practice in this country is that Parliament sits for a long session, from January almost to December, but the practice in India is to sit for very short periods, for two or three months and then for a shorter period perhaps, both of which periods made up one session. In practice it would not be very convenient, if Parliament sits for the same sort of period in future as in the past, if a Bill which was not carried to completion in the course of those comparatively short sessions were to lapse when prorogation came about at the end of the session. It is simply a matter of convenience, based upon the practice which has been followed with regard to the length of the session, no doubt largely due to seasonal conditions in that country.

9.4 p.m.


I am much obliged to my right hon. and learned Friend for his explanation, which I think is quite satisfactory, but before asking leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment, I should be grateful if he could answer one further question. The Subsection says: A Bill pending in the Legislature shall not lapse by reason of the prorogation of the Chambers. What is the exact meaning of the word "pending "? Does pending mean that a Bill has been introduced and given a formal reading, or that it is about to be introduced? I think that that small point is worth an answer.


A Bill is only pending when it has actually been introduced or when it has had a First Reading.


I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 31 ordered to stand part of the Bill.