HC Deb 13 March 1935 vol 299 cc439-54

5.43 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 26, line 21, after the second "Court," to insert "or of any district judge."

This is an Amendment which I most earnestly commend to the Government. The Clause gives protection, probably from pressure through discussion in the Legislature, to the federal judges and the judges of the High Court, and it would seem even more necessary to protect the district judges from such pressure. The Report of the Joint Select Committee recommended that protection should be given to the district judges in the matter of promotion, and it is even more vital that such protection should be given to them as is given to the higher judges. This Bill is admirable in its draftmanship, but it does not go down quite deep enough. It does not go down to the small men or the masses, and this is an example of that defect. We want to protect the smaller people. Imagine the district judge at work in a district possibly tainted by terrorism, performing his dangerous and difficult duties, with the difficulties added to them by political pressure through discussion in the Legislature. Surely it is only humane to deliver him from such pressure. I would ask the Secretary of State to consider this Amendment and to afford to the district judge, whose work is attended with great difficulties and dangers, the same protection that the Clause gives to the federal judges and the judges of the High Court who occupy much safer positions.

5.46 p.m.


My right hon. Friend is grateful to those who put down this Amendment for drawing his attention to the matter. The Joint Select Committee recommended the continuance of the rule that the judiciary should be safeguarded from criticisms in the Federal Legislature. It may be that they had in mind the judges of the Federal Court and the High Court, but there are grounds which the hon. Member has put forward for considering whether that protection should not be extended to the district judges. I ask my hon. Friend not to press the Amendment at this stage as my right hon. Friend desires to discuss the matter with the authorities in India. He thinks that it would be right to make this extension if there are no objections, which he does not for the moment foresee.


In discussing this matter with the Indian authorities, will the Secretary of State point out that this is the practice in the House of Commons. We cannot discuss the findings of a metropolitan police magistrate, for example, and this Amendment will not make any change in the practice which obtains in this House.


That point has been raised, but on the other hand, unless it is by a substantive Motion, a judge of the High Court cannot be called in question.


When the Secretary of State is reconsidering this matter—and there are good grounds for an extension of the protection—will he bear in mind that the words "district judge" do not altogether cover the case?

5.48 p.m.


I think from what my hon. Friend said just now that the necessity of protecting a district judge also applies to a sessions judge, and it is important that the Sub-section should include him as well. The comments on civil cases are less likely to be of such an obnoxious kind as those on criminal cases, especially cases connected with terrorists. Another reason for including these judges in this Clause is that the courts of India have very little protection from what is known in this country as contempt of court. Only the High Courts can take any action, and the other courts are left without much protection. It is, therefore, all the more desirable that, so far as discussions in the Federal Legislature go, they should receive full protection. That would indirectly have effect on the kind of comments that are made on them in the Press.


I thank the Solicitor-General for his assurance, in view of which we can have good hope that this omission will be rectified. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.50 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 26, line 23, to leave out Subsection (2).

We are moving this Amendment in no carping spirit. We are giving a constitution to India on the lines of our own Constitution and, as was remarked by more than one Member in the discussion on the last Amendment, this is what we do at home. We do not criticise the judges in this House except under special conditions. We on these benches take no exception to that, and that is why I say that we are not moving this Amendment in any carping spirit, but in order to do what we can to try and improve the Bill. Under this Sub-section the Governor-General is given the power to stop a Bill if it would affect the discharge of his special responsibility in regard to peace or tranquillity. The kind of case I have in mind is a Bill which might be introduced to allow the untouchables the right to enter a Hindu temple. There is a possibility of a Bill of that description being introduced, and, from what has happened in India before, our reason leads us to believe that certain individuals, orthodox Hindus, would go out and cause a riot as they have done before, in order to give the impression that there is trouble abroad in the land and so make it appear to the Governor-General that he should step in and stop the Bill going before the Assembly.

We think that is wrong, and we want to prevent that and to allow the Indians to have the same liberty as we enjoy in this House. We claim the right, here, irrespective of how revolutionary we may be, and how antagonistic we may be to orthodox opinion, to bring Bills before this House. It is true that right down the pages of history those Bills have been thrown out. Indeed, men and women who have dared to enunciate the ideas embodied in these Bills have been arrested and thrown into prison, but we have seen those individuals liberated and honoured, and the ideas for which they were imprisoned and for which our forefathers were deported to Botany Bay become part and parcel of our Constitution, about which every hon. Member, irrespective of how diehard he may be, is proud to boast. Liberties for which our forefathers had to fight have been put on the Statute Book of this country.

Another Bill that might be introduced in India and that might cause disaffection is one to prevent child marriage. Hon. Members who take any interest in the affairs of India believe a Bill of that description would be beneficial to the Indian people, but again, because of religious prejudice, there are individuals who would be prepared to go to any length in order to prevent such a Measure coming before the Assembly. As they have done in the past, they would bribe certain individuals to go out and cause a riot or two, and then they would bring pressure to bear on the Governor-General. If Sub-section (2) became law, the Governor-General would be able to step in and prevent such a Bill coming before the Assembly. All our ideas of freedom are wrapped up in this provision, and it foregoes all that our forefathers fought and died for. It is our privilege in this House to be in the position to give these rights to the Indians, and to give to them what our forefathers died for in order that we might enjoy them. The liberties that we enjoy are not ours to surrender, but ours to defend, and we are now privileged to give those same liberties to a people which up to now have been a subject race to us.

Unless this Sub-section is deleted it will be impossible for any social reform legislation to come before the Legislatures in India. Our forefathers had the same fight as I forecast is possible in India. At the inception of the great and powerful trade union movement in this country those who inaugurated it had to stand all manner of abuse. Employers refused to employ trade unionists, victimised them. Our experience of what was done in this country—with all our boasted tolerance—leads us to foresee that the same thing will be done in India by those who are more powerful than the ordinary peasants. They can cause a strike, they can make it appear that the people are in revolt because a certain measure is before the Legislature. We do not want to hand the power contained in this Sub-section to any Governor-General, no matter how good and tolerant he is. It will place him in the position of a dictator. I am sure that not even the Secretary of State himself would desire to put into any man's hands the power which would be given under this Sub-section. We believe that the more generously we treat our Indian brothers at this juncture the better it will be, not only for the Indian people themselves but for us, for the British Empire. Here is an opportunity presenting itself to us to consolidate our position in the East, to make friends with our friends in India. Time and again we have been threatened with war in the East through misunderstanding.

What could be a better bulwark for the British Empire than to have an India that was "thirled" to us; an India which believed that we were treating them as equals, that we were approaching them through this Bill as men with all our capabilities, as men with a human understanding, as men whom we were going to trust, putting great power in their hands in the belief that with power comes responsibility? We are not going to place the responsibility on a Governor-General. We have always objected to a dictatorship in this country. We do not believe that any one man has a right to have executive authority. It is a long time since we in this country did away with the divine right of Kings, but by this Sub-section we shall place a divine right in the hands of the Governor-General. It has not come from the Almighty, but it has come from almighty Britain. It is we who have now put ourselves in this unique position, in a godlike position, by setting out to place a man called the Governor-General in such a position as he would occupy if he were the Speaker in this House. He will determine whether a Bill is to come before the Legislature, and whether te people may hear the ideas set forth in that Bill propagated or not. I hope the Secretary of State will reconsider this matter and give me as much of a concession to-night as he gave me last night, and then not only the Indians but generations yet unborn in Britain will bless him; because there is more at stake in this Sub-section than appears. Those who oppose us most in our efforts to give the Indians what we claim for our selves here—I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and his supporters are not here—


You have frightened him away.


No, the right hon. Member for Epping is not frightened of anything in this House, or anywhere else. He and his supporters not only claim, but at this very juncture exercise in no uncertain fashion, the right that we are claiming here for the Indians. They go into by-elections, not caring whether they wreck their party or anything else, or cause disaffection in the country. They have a point of view to put and will put it irrespective of the consequences. I ask them to be big enough—I do not say they are small-minded men, because I know they are not, and I cannot attack their courage, because I know they are courageous—I ask them to be big enough and courageous enough to treat the Indians as they like to be treated themselves. That is all we are asking for in this Amendment, and if the Secretary of State aproaches it from that point of view I am satisfied that he will accede to my request.

6.12 p.m.


My hon. Friend has moved his Amendment with the eloquence and brevity with which he always delights the House. In the course of his remarks he raised two very wide and general issues. He has very great knowledge, much greater than I have, of the Rules of Order, and I am sure he will agree that it would not be in order on this Amendment to discuss the fact that in an earlier Clause the Committee have imposed on the Governor-General a special responsibility in respect of anything which would be liable to disturb peace and tranquillity. This Amendment raises a very much narrower question, whether, if the Governor-General is satisfied that the discussion of a particular Bill might itself be a menace to peace and tranquillity, he shall have the power, in his discretion, to prevent such a discussion taking place. It would be quite wrong to place on the Governor-General this responsibility and not give him effective and proper means for carrying it out. That would put a man in an intolerable position.

Therefore, it seems to me that the Debate on this Amendment narrows itself very much to this issue: Is the discussion of a Bill in the Assembly a matter which might constitute or cause a menace to peace and tranquillity, because if it is it must be right to give the Governor-General power to prohibit that discussion? There are questions in India affecting religious and social customs which, if raised in a provocative form, might give rise at a particular moment to dangerous explosions of violence, and it is for that reason that the Government advise the Committee to resist this Amendment and to retain the Subsection, which is restricted, as will be seen, to the discussion of a Bill introduced or proposed to be introduced. It does not prevent them from asking questions, or the tabling of a Motion by a private Member.

This provision has been on the Statute Book for 16 years. It is certainly not our intention that discussion of proper and legitimate proposals for social reform should be impeded in any way. If my hon. Friend looks at paragraph 29 of the Instrument of Instructions he will see underlined there that the intention of the Sub-section is that it is only to be used if the Governor-General is satisfied that the discussion in itself, in obviously very exceptional circumstances, may constitute a menace to peace and tranquillity. My hon. Friend rather suggested that those who oppose some particular social reform may go outside, create a little disturbance in the streets and then go to the Governor-General and say, "Here is a menace to peace and tranquillity." We do not believe that any Governor-General will be hoodwinked by methods such as that. Measures of social reform such as we all have in mind can only be undertaken if public opinion is largely behind them. It is quite unwarranted to suggest that a social reform with public opinion behind it will be impeded in any way by this Sub-section which is intended to deal with very special circumstances and very special cases. We are satisfied that it is only in very special cases that it will be used. No section of the community is more interested in the preservation of peace and tranquillity than those classes to which the hon. Member referred in his speech. In the circumstances, we think it would be unwise to accept the Amendment, and we shall resist it.

6.17 p.m.


The Solicitor-General has not met the point. It is a very common complaint against our rule in India that ever since the Mutiny we have shown timidity in dealing with social evils for fear of raising opposition and disturbance from various kinds of religious or vested interests. It is generally admitted that prior to that event we were far more vigorous in dealing with social evils. A new start is now being made, and we are putting the Governor-General in a position in which he will have to exercise his judgment whether or not to prevent a certain Bill even being introduced. There will be tremendous pressure in the mind of anyone in the Government of India to let sleeping dogs lie and not to interfere, and that pressure will be upon the Governor-General therefore to prevent the introduction of Bills which deal with thorny subjects.

The Solicitor-General brushed aside too lightly the possibility under this Sub-section of deliberate incitement to violence. He knows that there are a great many disturbances in India, and that they very frequently arise from religious causes. The country is in a period of transition, and there have been difficulties such as those which we had in connection with the Gurdwara dispute among the Sikhs in the Punjab, which led to violence. There are questions concerning the rights of the Untouchables, and there may be disputes between the Maths and the reforming bodies in regard to rights in Hindu temples. Trouble may arise in connection with the depressed classes, and there is the general question of reform, particularly in regard to women. In any case of that kind a Bill may be introduced into the Legislature and there will be opposition. I do not know if hon. Members receive, as I do, the various publications of the orthodox Hindus. They send them round, and we know the conditions that exist. We know the ease with which agitations can be got up in India. This Sub-section is an invitation to all the vested interests in religion to make a noise against any social reform.

It is not a question of making a noise in the streets and then running to the Governor-General. It is quite possible in a great country like India with an intense religious life to raise this kind of trouble in a pretty serious way, of which the Governor-General would have to take notice. The effect of this Subsection is that the right way to stop a Bill is not by argument or persuasion but by giving trouble in the country, so that the Governor-General will have to interfere. Suppose we had a similar provision in our constitution. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and his friends, instead of coming down to the House and taking part in our discussions, would be raising Cain all over the country. The Subsection is an invitation to disorder. It is quite unnecessary and rather absurd.

There has been a good deal of agitation on the question of the Sarda Act which deals with child marriage. It is proposed seriously in the Sub-section that such reformers should not be allowed to legislate on the question of child marriage. Are not reformers to be allowed to raise these questions by public meeting, by discussion or by writing? If they are, it follows that you may carry on an agitation for the removal of abuses and cause a good deal of opposition, but the one thing you may not do is to introduce the subject in the concrete form of a Bill in the Legislature. Our whole history of reform has been that ideas are put forward by Bills. Very likely they do not get very far, but the proposals are ventilated. What are the Government going to say to the social reformers—"When you have a certain amount of public opinion behind you you will not be able to test the Legislature, because when the Bill is introduced the Governor-General will say, 'In the exercise of my special responsibilities, and having in view the reports which I have had from various Provinces of agitation, I think it better that this should not be proceeded with'"? You will not stop agitation in that way; you will foment agitation, and you will stop the course of social reform.

6.23 p.m.


The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) does not appear to have put his case so clearly before the Committee as he usually does on other matters. The very example which he gave is against him, and not for him. He has forgotten that the Sarda Act and similar matters have been opposed and discussed in the legislative assemblies in the past few years, although the very same provision as is now proposed existed in the Constitution. If his argument were correct, it would have been impossible for a measure such as that to have been dealt with. The fact is that Bills have been introduced without any interference from the Governor-General. If I felt that the effect of the Sub-section would be what he has suggested and was put before the Committee by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), I should be strongly in favour of its removal, but I am positive that their view is entirely mistaken. The Sub-section will not prevent the introduction and discussion of such Bills unless and until it is perfectly clear that to do so would raise difficulties in India which would require the interference of the Governor-General for the preservation of peace and tranquillity.

The hon. Member for Limehouse is mistaken in thinking that the mere introduction and discussion of social legislation is likely immediately to cause such trouble throughout the country as to make interference necessary. Considerable time is required for information about them to penetrate, and the Governor-General will be more anxious than anybody that such things should be introduced and discussed, because they have not been sufficiently dealt with in the past. There is no possible reason why the Governor-General should make use of this Sub-section to stop discussion, unless a situation arose which was likely to become a menace to peace and tranquillity, and in such a situation there is no other action which the Governor-General could take. It would be quite unfair to put the responsibility of doing so upon him and, as the Solicitor-General pointed out, not to give him power to carry it out. The hon. Member is mistaken in thinking that the inclusion of this Sub-section will jeopardise the discussion of social matters, which we are all anxious to see promoted in India.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 272; Noes, 47.

Division No. 99.] AYES. [6.29 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Elliston, Captain George Sampson McKie, John Hamilton
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Emrys-Evans, P. V. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. p. G. Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Albery, Irving James Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Easenhigh, Reginald Clare Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Marsden, Commander Arthur
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Martin, Thomas B.
Apsley, Lord Everard, W. Lindsay Mason, Col, Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Aske, Sir Robert William Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Fraser, Captain Sir Ian Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)
Blalfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Fremantle, Sir Francis Milne, Charles
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Fuller, Captain A. G. Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Ganzoni, Sir John Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Glliett, Sir George Masterman Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres
Bernays, Robert Glossop, C. W. H. Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Goff, Sir Park Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)
Blindell, James Gower, Sir Robert Moss, Captain H. J.
Bossom, A. C. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Munro, Patrick
Boulton, W. W. Greene, William P. C. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Grimston, R. V. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)
Bracken, Brendan Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid
Brass, Captain Sir William Gunston, Captain D. W. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Orr Ewing, I. L.
Broadbent, Colonel John Hamilton, Sir R W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Patrick, Colin M.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hartington, Marquess of Peake, Osbert
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes) Pearson, William G.
Browne, Captain A. C. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Peat, Charles U.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Penny, Sir George
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Percy, Lord Eustace
Burnett, John George Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Perkins, Walter R. D.
Butler, Richard Austen Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Petherick, M.
Butt, Sir Alfred Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Potter, John
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Holdsworth, Herbert Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Pybus, Sir John
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hornby, Frank Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Carver, Major William H. Horsbrugh, Florence Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Castlereagh, Viscount Howard, Tom Forrest Rea, Walter Russell
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Blrm., W) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Remer, John R.
Christle, James Archibald Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Rickards, George William
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Clarry, Reginald George James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Colfox, Major William Philip Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Ker, J. Campbell Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)
Conant, R. J. E. Kerr, Hamilton W. Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Cook, Thomas A. Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Cooke, Douglas Kirkpatrick, William M. Salt, Edward W.
Cooper, A. Duff Knight, Holford Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Knox, Sir Alfred Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Cranborne, Viscount Leech, Dr. J. W. Savery, Samuel Servington
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Lees-Jones, John Seiley, Harry R.
Crooke, J. Smedley Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Crossley, A. C. Lewis, Oswald Shute, Colonel Sir John
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Liddall, Walter S. Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Lindsay, Noel Ker Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Litter, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe- Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley) Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)
Davison, Sir William Henry Loder, Captain J. da Vera Somervell, Sir Donald
Dawson, Sir Philip Loftus, Pierce C. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Denville, Alfred Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Donner, P. W. Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Doran, Edward MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Duggan, Hubert John McConnell, Sir Joseph Spent, William Patrick
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) McCorquodale, M. S. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Eales, John Frederick Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)
Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Stevenson, James Thompson, Sir Luke Wayland, Sir William A.
Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles Wells, Sydney Richard
Stones, James Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Storey, Samuel Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Stourton, Hon. John J. Touche, Gordon Cosmo Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Strauss, Edward A. Train, John Wills, Wilfrid D.
Strickland, Captain W. F. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F. Turton, Robert Hugh Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey) Womersley, Sir Walter
Sutcliffe, Harold Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Tate, Mavis Constance Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Templeton, William P. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S. Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G. Dr. Morris-Jones.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Grundy, Thomas W. Parkinson, John Allen
Attlee, Clement Richard Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Rathbone, Eleanor
Banfield, John William Hicks, Ernest George Salter, Dr. Alfred
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Jenkins, Sir William Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Buchanan, George- Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)
Cape, Thomas Kirkwood, David Thorne, William James
Cleary, J. J. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Tinker, John Joseph
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lawson, John James Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Cripps, Sir Stafford Leonard, William West, F. R.
Daggar, George Logan, David Gilbert Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lunn, William Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Gardner, Benjamin Walter McEntee, Valentine L. Wilmot, John
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) McGovern, John
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Maxton, James Mr. Paling and Mr. Groves.
Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding) Milner, Major James

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

6.37 p.m.


I understand, Captain Bourne, that you are not calling the Amendment which stands in my name and that of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville)—in page 26, line 28, after the second "the," to insert "treatment of minorities or the,"—and I should like to raise the matter on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." In this Clause we are giving to the Governor-General the power to prevent discussion on certain matters, and I should like to include in those matters—and I desire to point out to the Committee that it is not so included—any matter which is un-English in the sense that it differentiates in any way between the different castes or creeds in the country. Legislation of that kind produces exactly the same result as legislation dealing with child marriage would produce; it produces a more or less fictitious agitation; but it has a far more damaging effect upon the reputation, not only of the Government there, but of British administration generally. Once you get discriminatory legislation introduced into the Indian Assembly, you destroy for all time the idea that all British subjects are equal before the law. The one Measure so far that has brought this issue to the front is the question of the differentiation between the various in habitants of the Punjab under the Land Alienation Act. Under that Act land can only be alienated to what are called the agricultural tribes. The agricultural tribes are not agriculturists, but people who belong to certain castes. The Mohammedan landowners—

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)

I must remind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that we have already had a pretty long discussion on that point, and it must not be repeated now.


I am not aware that we have discussed this question at all yet, though there will be plenty of occasions further on when it will have to be raised. All that I would point out is that it is desirable that, if the Governor-General has the right to prevent the discussion of questions which raise religious and caste prejudice, it is equally desirable that he should prohibit discussions on Bills which will discriminate between one set of British subjects and another on the ground that some belong to one caste and others to another. Discrimination is as vicious as any legislation which can be held to be anti-religious. It is worse in that sense than discussion on child marriage—a question which affects every Hindu or Mohammedan very closely—because, while the Conservative forces in the country are against legislation on child marriage and social customs, the Conservative forces in the country are in favour of this discrimination between castes. If the Government have a right to prohibit discussion which might offend the Conservative elements in India, surely they have an equal right to prohibit discussion upon subjects which are equally vicious in principle, but which have the support of the Conservative elements and are opposed by the more enlightened elements in the country. I cannot see why there should not be in this Bill, not merely the prohibition of discussion provided for in Sub-section (2), but the prohibition of the initiation of legislation which will be, in my opinion, far more detrimental to our good name and to the peace and tranquillity and unity of India.

6.43 p.m.


I am sure the Committee will not expect me to cover the very wide field which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has just opened, particularly in view of the fact that the question of discrimination is dealt with at the beginning of Clause 111. Further, the question of the Punjab Land Alienation Act, to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is always referring, also has a Clause to itself—I think Clause 279. Moreover, most of his speech was directed to the special responsibility of the Governor-General to prevent discrimination—a responsibility to which the Committee has already agreed. This Clause has a much more limited ambit. It deals with the judges, and it deals with a contingency which, I suggest to the Committee, stands apart from any other contingency, namely, a grave menace to the stability of India. There is, it seems to me, a justification for preventing the discussion even of a private Member's Bill in face of the unique gravity of a situation of that kind, but I do not think there would be the same justification for preventing the discussion of even a private Member's Bill which was concerned with the very wide field just suggested by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. That being so, I hope we shall not be drawn into a longer and wider discussion. As I have said, the Clause is one of limited ambit, and I think it would be a great mistake to extend it.

Clause 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.