HC Deb 28 March 1935 vol 299 cc2176-8

8.28 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 88, line 32, after "shall," to insert: if and in so far as the Act of the Federal Legislature under which the payment or distribution is made so provides. This Clause contemplates the possibility of the Federation distributing to the Provinces and Federated States the product of some specific tax, such as the salt tax. There was a proposal in the White Paper that if that were done any specific immunity which some State had with reference to that tax should be set off against the amount the State would get if the Federal law so provided. Through an inadvertence, the Clause as drafted does not contain the words, "provided that a Federal law so provides." This is one of the points to which the Princes quite rightly drew attention in their letter as showing a difference between the White Paper proposals and the terms of the Bill, and this Amendment will insert the necessary words.

Amendment agreed to.

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

8.30 p.m.


I do not think that the Amendment which has just been made meets the fundamental objections which have always been entertained by the Princes to this Clause. If I am wrong in that assumption I shall be corrected. I desire to say, in only one word, that the principle contained in this Clause is one to which the Princes have never subscribed and one to which they take the strongest objection. I have merely to refer to a paragraph at the bottom of page 9 of the White Paper entitled, "Views of Indian States," in order to point out to the Committee that there it is shown that the Committee of States' Ministers raise the strongest objection to the provisions of Clause 147, and submit that the principle sought to be embodied in this Clause has never been accepted by the States, which are in general disagreement with that principle.

8.31 p.m.


I think my hon. Friend is right to this extent, that objections, as stated in the original letter, did prevail against the Clause as it appears in the Bill, but my right hon. Friend has had information which leads him to believe that they are now satisfied by the Amendment which has been inserted.


I am very glad to hear it.

8.32 p.m.


May I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on having now managed to get into direct touch with the Princes' representatives, and being able to meet to a certain extent some of the objections as we go along. As that has proved so valuable and indicates that it may save time, would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give an undertaking, either now or at an early stage, that he will get further information from the Princes, in order that we may not have to go through these Clauses again and again? I gather from what has been said that there is a hope that this Amendment will satisfy the Princes. Would it not mean a great saving of time if the pace of this Measure were not hastened so much in the next two or three weeks, until the right hon. Gentleman has got very full information on all these Amendments?

8.33 p.m.


I am glad to say that we are now getting full information. The counsel working with the various Princes are in close touch with my advisers and myself, and I think my hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that the discussions are proceeding very favourably; and I am sure that he will be delighted to hear that the points of disagreement are in all cases diminishing and in most cases are vanishing altogether.


I am sure the whole Committee, who have suffered very much with the right hon. Gentleman over this subject in recent weeks, will congratulate him on being able to make such a statement, but I gather from what he has told us that the question has not been referred back to the Princes themselves. I presume the Princes themselves have not had time to consider it; in fact, I think I am right in saying that there has been no meeting; and I presume, therefore, that it is after consultation with the advisers over here that the right hon. Gentleman is hopeful that the Amendment will meet the case.


My hon. and gallant Friend will be still more delighted to hear that not only have the discussions been going very favourably in London but that the communications which have passed between London and India have been also very favourable.

8.35 p.m.


The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) will remember the difficulty which was outlined by the Secretary of State. Some of the legal representatives of the Princes were not in touch with the advisers of the India Office in the first instance. This would only apply to certain legal advisers of the Princes, and the hope was expressed that all the counsel representing the Princes would be able to work in touch with our legal representatives here. If that had been done in the first instance, in relation to all, instead of to some the counsel—


All this seems to be getting a little out of order.

Clauses 148 to 150 ordered to stand part of the Bill.