HC Deb 22 March 1935 vol 299 cc1520-5

Amendment made: In page 50, line 10, leave out "in aid of," and insert "for."—[Sir S. Hoare.]

1.6 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 50, line 12, to leave out "Legislative Assembly," and insert "Legislature."

The object of the amendment is to carry out the intention already expressed in the Bill. The proposal in the Bill is the result of an agreement which was reached with all other parties, and this is not an attempt, as hon. Members opposite will realise, to give cheap education to well-to-do Europeans in India. It is not in any sense an attempt to give extra grants to the children of well-to-do parents because they send their children to this country for their education. The Europeans and Anglo-Indians referred to are Europeans who occupy inferior positions in India, generally in industrial concerns. It was agreed with the other communities that these European schools should receive protection to this extent, that their grants should not be proportionately reduced, should not be taken away, without a vote of three-fourths of the Legislature. The European community in India are grateful to the Secretary of State for the improvement he has made in the Clause. As it now stands the position of these schools is greatly strengthened, and the object of the amendment is to carry a little further the principle of the Bill and the arrangements that have been made. If the amendment is included then a vote of both Houses will be required before any reduction can be made in the position of these schools.

There is one point which should be remembered. The amendment does not raise any financial question. The total amount to be granted for education in the Provinces will still remain in the hand of the lower chamber. No alteration will be made in the financial control of the lower chamber, and in the Provinces the Upper Chamber is not to have financial control. Therefore the amendment will not be giving them control over the financial position. The proportion of money spent on European schools will have to remain as before. But it may possibly happen, owing to some incident in the Provinces, that there may be a wave of feeling which would lead the Lower Chamber to try to get something back on the Europeans by taking away the provision for European schools, the object of the amendment is to enable the upper chamber to then step in and postpone any reduction of that kind until the Province has had an opportunity of reconsidering the whole question. I recommend the amendment for three reasons. First, that it carries out an agreement already reached, secondly, that it only extends to a certain extent the protection already given by the Bill and, thirdly, that these people, Europeans and Anglo-Indians, have been promised this protection. The amendment merely carries that protection a stage further than the Clause does.

1.9 p.m.


I desire to support the amendment. The Joint Select Committee in their Report said: We observe with satisfaction that the White Paper gives practical support to the suggestion made at the Third Round Table Conference for safeguarding Government grants-in-aid for the education of the Anglo-Indians and domiciled European communities. These communities have been somewhat disturbed by the possibility of the withdrawal of the grants-in-aid to their schools. The chief organiser expressed that fear to me some time ago, and anything which would prevent a withdrawal of the grants ought to commend itself to the Committee. I strongly urge that the Amendment should be accepted.

1.10 p.m.

Lieut.-Commander AGNEW

I should like to ask the Secretary of State a question about the Clause as it stands. The assent of the Governor will be required to a resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly in order to make it effective in carrying out a change of policy with regard to these schools, and I should like to ask whether that would be a matter of routine and quite apart from any action the Governor may take under Sub-section (3)?

1.11 p.m.


We all appreciate the reasons which have prompted the hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. Campbell Ker) to move the Amendment. He referred to the agreement which was come to at the Third Round Table Conference at a committee over which Lord Halifax presided and whose members were Sir Hubert Carr, Sir Henry Gidney, Sir Muhammad Iqbal and Mr. Jayakar. That agreement was to safeguard future grants-in-aid for the education of Anglo-Indians and Europeans. The Government, following their own conviction as well as the conviction of the Joint Select Committee, have inserted Clause 83 with a view to implementing to the full the agreement arrived at on that occasion, and it is certainly a cause of great satisfaction that it has been possible to put this provision in the Bill and safeguard future grants-in-aid for the education of these important sections of the community in India. We recognise the strides which Anglo-Indian-education has taken and are confident that it will continue to fulfil a useful purpose in the educational system of India. That is why we attach such importance to this Clause and have had such pleasure in inserting it in the Bill. The hon. Member considers that by proposing to have a vote of both Chambers he will strengthen the safeguards for Anglo-Indian education. At first sight it would appear that this would strengthen the position, but let us examine it in more detail. The position of the Upper Chamber in the Province is not exactly the same as the position of the Upper Chamber in the Federation. It has always been held that the Upper Chamber in the Province should not have the same power of control over supply as the Upper Chamber in the Federation, and I am afraid that we cannot, for this particular Amendment, alter the functions of the Upper Chamber in the Province.

We cannot accept the Amendment. It is impossible to accept it in view of the powers of the Upper Chamber in the Province in matters of supply; they are not the same as the powers of the Upper Chamber in the Federation. But consider the great strength which is afforded by the agreement as it is implemented in this Clause. It will be necessary for three-quarters of the members of the Provincial Assembly to be present and voting to overturn a decision arrived at. That exactly implements the agreement; and it is a further reason why we want to adhere to it. I read out the names of the committee which considered this matter, in order to show the wide range of interests and communities represented on the committee. It is very important for the future of Anglo-Indian education that we should not depart from an agreement come to by representatives of these different communities. When we consider that three-fourths of the Assembly are necessary, not only three-fourths of the members present, it will be seen that the protection is very strong indeed. The hon. and gallant Member for Camborne (Lieut.-Commander Agnew) asked a question about the Governor. If he will read Sub-section (3) of the Clause he will see Nothing in this section affects the special responsibility of a Governor of a province for the safeguarding of the legitimate interests of minorities. Therefore, this clause would operate without reducing in any way the special responsibility of the Governor in all that is entailed for the protection of minorities.

1.16 p.m.


Do I understand that in order that this grant may be reduced it is necessary that three-fourths, not of either the members present or whatever may constitute a quorum in that particular chamber, but three-fourths of the statutory number of members, must both be present and must vote in favour of a resolution of that kind, and that otherwise the grant continues?


That is so.


After the statement of the Under-Secretary, for which I am sure the Anglo-Indian community is very grateful, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

1.18 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 50, line 14, to leave out from "grant" to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert: shall be made for the benefit of the said community or communities not less in amount than the average of the grants made for its or their benefit in the ten financial years ending on the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-three: Provided that if in any financial year the total grant for education in the Province is less than the average of the total grants for education in the Province in the said ten financial years then, whatever fraction the former may be of the latter, any grant made under this Sub-section in that financial year for the benefit of the said community or communities need not exceed that fraction of the average of the grants made for its or their benefit in the said ten financial years. In computing for the purposes of this Sub-section the amount of any grants, grants for capital purposes shall be included. This looks a very formidable Amendment, but it is merely included in order to make perfectly clear the provisions which the agreement had in mind. It merely carries out the very words used by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Ker), when he said that the grant should only be reduced in proportion to the general educational grant. If the general educational grant for a particular year were, say, £1,000, and the Anglo-Indian grant for that year was £100, then if the general educational grant were reduced to £800 the Anglo-Indian grant would be correspondingly reduced to £80.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.