§ 3.31 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Committee will find that there are a number of Amendments on Schedule I which have to do with the question of communal representation. It may be for the convenience of the Committee to know that I do not propose to select any of these Amendments because it will, in my opinion, and, I think, the Committee will agree, be far more convenient to discuss the important question of communal representation on Schedule 5, where that question really arises. If any substantial alterations are made in respect of this matter by the Committee to Schedule 5 it will mean that Amendments, mainly of a drafting character, will afterwards have to be made to Schedule 1, and that can be done on the Report stage.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
Is the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) in Order—in page 255, line 25, after "India," to insert:ten seats shall be allocated to representatives to be elected by women members of the Legislative Assemblies, ten seats shall be allocated to representatives to be elected by members of the Legislative Assemblies who are of the scheduled castes, ten seats shall be allocated to representatives to be elected by members of the Legislative Assemblies representative of labour.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. J. C. Davidson)
I beg to move, in page 255, line 18, at the end, to insert:Provided that the Ruler or a subject of an Indian State which has not acceded to the Federation—This Amendment is put down in order to make clear that the subjects of Indian States may be able to be elected to the Federal Legislature and also may be able to be elected, provided that they are qualified, to a Provincial Legislature. Paragraph I of this Schedule, as at present drawn, is too narrow, and, in the opinion of the Government, it would be a hardship that a powerful community of State subjects such as the Merwaris, who are engaged in commerce in India, should be ineligible to election. This Amendment has therefore been proposed. Where an election is to take place in a Chief Commissioner's Province, provision will be made to enable the State subjects to be included through the rules to be proscribed by the Governor-General.
- (i) shall not be disqualified under subparagraph (a) of this paragraph to fill a seat allocated to a Province if he would be eligible to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of that Province; and
- (ii) in such cases as may be prescribed, shall not be disqualified under the said sub-paragraph (a) to fill a seat allocated to a Chief Commissioner's Province."
Duchess of ATHOLL
Will my right hon. Friend give us some idea of the qualifications that will be necessary to make a person eligible to election to a Legislative Assembly to fill a seat allocated to a chief commissioner's province
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
The qualifications are included in a later schedule, and can be discussed when it arises.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am glad that the Government have made this provision for the Merwaris. It is wise that the subjects of native States should be entitled to sit in British India. The Committee and the Merwaris owe a debt of gratitude not so much to the Government, as to the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Kirkpatrick).
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 255, line 25, after "India," to insert:ten seats shall be allocated to representatives to be elected by women members of the Legislative Assemblies, ten seats shall be allocated to representatives to be elected by members of the Legislative Assemblies who are of the scheduled castes, ten seats shall be allocated to representatives to be elected by members of the Legislative Assemblies representative of labour.The Schedule makes provision for the election to the Council of State of representatives of Governors' Provinces, Chief Commissioners' Provinces, and other 823 interests, and it is proposed that 150 representatives should be elected by the college of electors. We are anxious that anything that they do should not destroy the prospects of a representation of the special interests mentioned in the Amendment. We are not satisfied that any representation at all would be given to these three classes of persons. In order to ensure that there shall be a minimum representation, and that the voices of these special sections shall be heard, we propose the Amendment. The numbers we propose will be a small proportion of the total number of seats on the Council. We should very much fear the operation of the Council of State if there were no representation of the depressed classes, or of women or of labour. It could hardly be a representative assembly at all, and the voice of a very large body of people might be condemned to silence for years to come. They might remain inarticulate for generations, unless we take steps now for them to find a place, and decide that they shall be elected by people who will be instructed, in order that the result of the election shall be unmistakable from the outset. The Amendment does not go so far as to say that there shall be 10 women but that women shall elect 10 persons. Still, we hope that will result in the presence of at least 10 women on the Federal Council of State and at least 10 representatives of Labour.
India, like the rest of the world, is going through conditions of great stress and the relations between capital and labour will be involved. It will experience that stress to a greater extent, perhaps, than any other country in the next 20, 30 or 40 years. If India is to arrive at a higher degree of prosperity she will do so largely through becoming more highly industrialised, and in that process of industrialisation employers and workpeople will frequently come into conflict. The workpeople will realise that there is no provision in this new Constitution for any action to be taken to improve the standard of living of the labouring people and will have to fall back upon action to be taken by themselves. It is by their organisations and by their influence in politics that the working people in our own country have secured improvements in labour conditions here, and if we are to give the depressed classes and the 824 labouring classes in India an opportunity in this new era of industrialisation we must at this stage introduce these safeguards for labour into the Constitution. I do not anticipate any resistance to this Amendment on the part of the Government. I cannot conceive of any argument in opposition to it being put forward. I think it must have been through an oversight in drafting that these three classes were left out.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I would ask the Government to consider this Amendment very seriously, because it is designed to remove a grievance which I know the Government did not intend to impose and which, perhaps, they hardly foresaw. It is a grievance which is incidental to the change made in this Bill since the original proposals for the constitution of the two Chambers were suggested two years ago. This grievance is due to the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee adopted by this Committee to change from direct to indirect elections to the Lower Chamber. That decision was made on the merits of direct and indirect election but, of course, I could not go into that matter now. Consequential upon the change in the method of electing the Lower Chamber we found that we have to have a new kind of second Chamber, because the present Assembly is the old second Chamber elected by the Lower Houses in the Provinces. It was therefore decided to set up a second Chamber to be elected by the upper Chambers in the Provinces, and in the case where there were no upper Chambers members were to be elected by a small body of people who would be just the kind of people who would have formed the second Chamber.
The result of that is that the scheduled classes, in particular, have been put under a great grievance. Under the old proposals the scheduled classes would have had, I calculate, at least eight members in the Council of State and now they will have none at all. In the original proposals Madras had the right to elect 20 members to the Council, and they were to be elected by proportional representation by the 215 members in the Madras Chamber. That gave a quota of 11, or 10.75. The 30 members of the depressed classes in the Madras Chamber would therefore have had the opportunity of electing two members to the Council of 825 State. In Bombay, in the same way, they would have been able to elect one, in Bengal two, in the United Provinces one, and in Bihar and the Central Provinces one each. That would have given them a total of eight representing the depressed classes in the Council of State.
I frankly admit that under the old system neither Labour nor women would have been able to elect any at all, but if Labour had thrown in its votes with the scheduled classes, as we were told they might do they would have been represented and the eight seats would have been brought up to 13—there would have been extra representation for Madras, for Bombay, for Bengal, for the United Provinces and if the scheduled classes combined with the Labour members they would have one representative for the Punjab instead of none. As for the women, if they had combined their votes with the other two it would have given them another two seats—one more in Madras and one more in Behar. I do not suggest they would have done that, but they could have done it. The scheduled classes have a very direct grievance because they would have had eight seats undoubtedly and now they cannot have any. On that same argument Labour and women have a more remote grievance, because they could have only got representation anyhow by combining with the scheduled classes. Compare these figures with the present proposals. If hon. Members will turn to pages 257 and 288 they will find that the 20 members for Madras, instead of being elected by 215 members of the Lower Chamber by proportional representation, are elected by 56 members. In Bombay 16 members are elected by 30. In Bengal 20 are elected by 65. In the United Provinces 20 are elected by 60. In Behar 16 are elected by 30. These electorates which are the Upper Chambers in the Province are elected on a very high property franchise.
On that system it seems impossible for the scheduled classes, Labour, and, I imagine, the women, to get any votes at all, certainly Labour or the scheduled classes. There is only one exception to that—Bengal. In Bengal, 27 of the 65 who elect the 20, are elected by the Assembly by proportional representation, and the quota of just over three would give to the scheduled classes if they joined forces with Labour perhaps four 826 members out of the 27, who might possibly get one representative elected to the Council of State. Provision is made for the election of Muslims, Indo-Christians and Europeans to the Second Chamber but none for the three classes mentioned in our Amendment. Certain pledges were given by high authority that those classes would have adequate representation. The Governemnt accepted the Poona pact, which had reference to the communal question, and which guaranteed to the depressed classes "adequate representation in all the legislative bodies." We are discussing one of the legislative bodies, the Second Chamber, which will have practically coequal powers with the Lower Chamber, and the promise made to the depressed classes should hold good in regard to this Second Chamber as in other respects. The Prime Minister, in a message to the chairman of the Franchise Committee, said:The new Constitution must make adequate provision for the representation of the depressed classes.I gather that he meant that representation must be given to them in all the Chambers.
The Committee, I think, will agree on the general principle, and will be in sympathy with it, apart from the special complaint. I have had letters from India on this subject, in which the opinion which I have been putting to the Committee has been very strongly expressed. We are dealing with an important legislative body, and it is not only unfair but it is not wise that important classes should be totally unrepresented upon it. Proposals have been made in the past by hon. Members on the Conservative side of the House for the reform of another place, and some of them have suggested that in the reform of that Second Chamber trade unions should have their representatives. Yet it is proposed that three large classes in India are to have no representation upon these Second Chambers, which will deal with matters affecting their interests. I hope the Committee will agree that that grievance should, if possible, be remedied. I make an appeal to the Government on this matter. The grievance has been unintentionally created, and we suggest that this is one of the ways in which it can be removed. Perhaps the Government will say to me: "Even your figures at 827 their highest only give the three classes a representation of 15, whereas our proposals will give them 30." We think they should have 30, but I am sure that all those classes in India would be very grateful to the Government if they had the certainty of a representation of 15.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Earlier in the Debate, an hon. Member on the Government side raised the question of the scheduled classes—which phrase is used to denote the depressed classes. He said he had been informed that the scheduled classes had no grievance in respect of the Legislative Assembly because, as a result of the Poona pact, they would have a larger representation than would have been possible two or three years ago, when these controversies commenced. That hon. Member was informed that the grievances would be considered when we came to the Schedule which is now under discussion. It is not open for us to go into the merits of the question of direct or indirect vote for the Legislative Assembly, and I have no intention of entering upon that territory. The Committee have now to consider that one of the results of the change—whether that change was for the better or not—is that it is not only an entirely new method of dealing with the Council of State, but the change was arrived at so late by the Joint Select Committee that there was very little time for them to consider the consequences of their decision. That was commented upon in another place by Lord Salisbury, who was on the Joint Select Committee and who put his views later before the House of Lords.
I am not allowed to quote what was said by the Noble Lord in another place. Although he approved of the system of indirect election as compared with the direct vote, he thought that the consequences were fantastic. We shall have an opportunity of commenting upon that view when we are discussing a later part of the Schedule. I am now concerned only to deal with the depressed classes. I had an opportunity of taking part in the Debate in this House in 1931, when we first considered the proposals of the first Round Table Conference, and I expressed the opinion, which I think will now be shared by practically all Members of the Committee, that if India entered upon this great constitutional change she 828 could not shut out consideration of the depressed classes, who number anything from 30,000,000 to 60,000,000 of the population, and that any attempt to shut them out would only condemn to sterility and failure the future of that country. I believe there will be a common feeling on this matter in the Committee, and that even those with whom we have been crossing swords on other aspects of the India controversy will be in agreement that that great section of the Indian people must have a fair share of representation if the constitutional proposals are to succeed.
I have already said that no complaint will be made as far as representation to the Legislative Assembly is concerned. One hon. Member has observed that although under the Poona Pact the depressed classes were given considerable representation, they were still in a minority. That is inevitable, and nothing can be done to change that. The result of the change made at the eleventh hour by the Joint Select Committee was that a grievance was created, so far as the scheduled classes were concerned. Hon. Members who have been in communication with India have had it made clear to them that that grievance is very seriously felt. I shall be interested to hear what the Under-Secretary has to say on this matter, in which he has a very special interest, because in addition to holding the high office that he now occupies he was a member of the Franchise Committee and was brought face to face with some of those problems when, with some of his colleagues, assisted by many eminent Indians, he was able to go over a large part of India and inquire into this matter.
I would like the Under-Secretary to tell the Committee whether the Government recognise that there is a grievance of which the depressed classes complain; and whether this change has taken the representatives of the scheduled classes by surprise? When they were here and joined in our discussions, all the discussions proceeded upon the assumption that the action of the Secretary of State in standing by the White Paper would probably be the final conclusion arrived at. I think that the examination and cross-examination by the Indian delegates would have been very different if they had thought that a system of indirect voting would have been set up. Most of 829 us assumed that because of the adamantine attitude taken up by the Secretary of State all through, such a policy could never be undertaken. Therefore, to my mind the Indian delegates when they left assumed that the direct vote would be the system established. They had not contemplated at that time this constituency for the Council of State.
I would like Members of the Committee to understand that the constitution of the Council of State was never under review by the Joint Select Committee when the Indians were present; it was never across the horizon at that time. If it had been under consideration the very able delegates they had, in cross-examining and examining the many witnesses and experts, would have directed their inquiries in that direction. They have not had the opportunity. So that the constitution of the electing body for the Council of State is something upon which we have had practically no discussion, and certainly no discussion while the Indian delegates were present. The only object in having the Indian delegates present was that we might be able to canvass their views on matters so closely affecting the future constitution of their country. That opportunity in the circumstances never arose.
Therefore, I ask Members of the Committee to understand that there is a special responsibility upon them in this matter, inasmuch as we are now covering territory where we have not had the opportunity of representation of the views of the Indians themselves. We shall have an opportunity later, I assume, before this Schedule is completed, of commenting upon the constituency which will elect the Council of State. I think it is a preposterous constituency, one of the disastrous results of what I think was a disastrous decision in relation to the indirect vote. But there is no doubt at all that the most specific pledges have been given, as the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) has said, to the depressed classes, that they should have reasonable or adequate representation upon any of the governing bodies under the new constitution. I have my sympathy with the Government on the matter. I know that they saw these difficulties from the beginning. That is one of the reasons why the Secretary of State again and again said that he could 830 not contemplate a change of the direct vote to the indirect.
These are the two questions to which I would like to have replies: What representations there were from the scheduled classes upon this question of their representation in the Council of State; whether they expressed their grievance in this regard; and how the Government contemplate that that grievance is in any way to be met? Are the depressed classes to be left without remedy, or to what extent is any remedy likely to go? I believe that the only way in which we can help those who have for many generations been in a condition of extreme disability and hopelessness, the only way in which we can relieve their condition is to give them some responsibility and to give them some representation in both Houses, so that those who want to obtain places in those Houses shall for the first time in Indian history have to go to these people and consult their wishes. From the beginning I have tried to take some interest in the cause of these people. I think it has appealed to me, as to all who, have gone into the matter, and I am very glad, therefore, that the Amendment has been raised, because it gives an opportunity for a full discussion upon a very important matter. I submit very respectfully the questions I have put to the Under-Secretary.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I think that the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) has rendered a distinct service to the Committee in making it clear that this matter of the constitution of the Council of State was not in detail before the Joint Select Committee. As far as we on the Labour benches are concerned I do not think there is any Amendment which is of more importance to us than that now being discussed. The position quite simply is that in the Council of State it is extremely unlikely there will be any representative of women, Labour, or the depressed classes, and unless the Under-Secretary can satisfy the Committee that these very important and distinct sections of the Indian community are to have representation in that body, I hope that sufficient feeling will be expressed to persuade or compel the Government to provide representation for them. In the form in which the Bill is before the 831 Committee it seems to me that that representation can only be brought about by some reservation or allocation such as is proposed in the Amendment.
The hon. Member for Bodmin dealt fully with the position of the depressed classes, and I do not propose to labour their case, important though it is, except to say that unless some special provision is made in the Bill, those 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 of people in the depths of poverty and degradation, and suffering from a number of social and economic disabilities, will have no representation at all in the Council of State. As far as the other two sections of the Indian community are concerned, I would like to say a few words. We on the Labour benches certainly regard the representation of women as extremely important. I do not think there can be any more important factor in the future government of India than that women should have some representation, some foothold, from which they can build up greater representation and greater power in the future. Unless provision is made for them greater than any hitherto or greater than that which is proposed to be made by the Government, women will not have the foothold which in our judgment meets the needs of the situation.
The cause of the great majority of the women in India, the cause of their children and the future of the whole Indian race, depend to a large extent on women being able to come out into the open and to take their share—it may be only a small part at first, but later it would be a greater part—in the government of their country. That is more particularly important in the Council of State and the Federal Assembly. The great majority of women's questions in India, or the most important ones, have no particular relation to Provinces. The marriage customs, purdah, and matters of that sort extend in varying degrees throughout the country, and are therefore more peculiarly matters with which the Federal Legislature and the Council of State are likely to have to deal. It is extremely important that women should have some representation in that Council. We all know that over the greater portion of India women today occupy a position of inferiority. We have done very little in the last 150 years 832 to improve their position. They still suffer from all these deplorable customs, such as purdah, keeping them in effect in seclusion for the whole of their lives; and that statement applies, as we know, to the highest as well as to the lowest. On one occasion I had the privilege of attending the Bombay races. One saw the Maharaja's car drawn up with his wife or wives inside, and the curtain was drawn. That sort of thing applies in varying degrees to other sections of the community. It is essential that we should make a breach in this centuries-old wall that surrounds the women in India.
There is another very important factor. It is important in our own country, but even more important and more serious in India. That is the question of maternal mortality. There are members of this Committee who can speak with greater knowledge on this subject than I possess, I think that the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) gave some figures in a previous Debate which showed that between 100,000 and 200,000 mothers die in childbirth every year. The social services in that respect, the midwives and doctors and so on, are only conspicuous by their absence throughout the greater portion of India. All these matters, apart from general questions of education, the great prevalence of illiteracy amongst women and the 101 questions of that sort, do require that women should be given a foothold in the government of India, and more particularly in that portion of it which will be represented by the Federal Assembly and the Council of State.
We, therefore, hope that the Committee will regard this matter with the seriousness which it deserves, and will pass the Amendment so as to indicate to the Under-Secretary the Committee's feelings on the subject. Is the Under-Secretary able to assure the Committee that unless some provision of the nature proposed is made there will be one woman likely to sit in the Council of State for many years to come? I cannot conceive that he can give an affirmative answer to that question. Apart from the women rulers of important States—there are one or two of them—I do not think it likely that the general body of women will have representation in the Council of State.
I turn for a moment to the question of the representation of labour. There, 833 again, by reason particularly of the matter of indirect election to which the hon. Member below the Gangway has referred, there is no possibility whatever of the labouring elements or the poorer classes of the community, or the trade unions, obtaining within any time that we can foresee a single seat in the Council of State. One knows that those who are to be elected to the Council of State are to be elected by the Upper Chambers of the Provincial Legislatures. Those Upper Chambers themselves will consist for the most part of well-to-do and prosperous landlords or lawyers, or people of that sort, and there is no possibility, indeed it is not contemplated that any of those gentlemen who come under what may be called the Electoral College, except perhaps in an exceptional case—perhaps Mr. Joshi or some other leader of that sort—may be elected.
I do not think there is any possibility that those representing those important classes—representing I imagine 90 to 98 per cent. of the people of India—will have any representation in the Council of State. I imagine the hon. Gentleman will probably say there is a special interest for which we have made provision in other legislative bodies. For instance, we are not proposing to give any representation to commerce or industry in the Council of State. Quite obviously those special interests will already be amply represented in the Upper Chambers both federally and provincially. Therefore, I suggest to the Under-Secretary there is very little validity in that argument.
Again I challenge him: Is Labour, as we know it in India, likely to have any representation in the Council of State? The Princes, as we know, are to have special representation—indeed, an overriding representation, as we think—and there is not going to be one voice able to be raised on behalf of that great and important body in the interests of the great majority of the people of India. I cannot conceive that this Committee is going to sit idly by and let any of these three classes—women, labour or the scheduled class—go without some representation, however small it may be, and that representation can only be obtained on allocation or reservation as proposed in this Amendment. I cannot conceive of the Committee letting that state of affairs go without protest. It may be 834 that some alteration of the communal award in that regard may have to be made. It is far more important that those classes should have representation—a representation hitherto denied to them. We, above all people, sitting freely in this House as we do, among Members representing every section of the community, men and women alike, should see that in India representation is similarly granted to all sections of the community, and particularly to those sections which need it most. If I had to choose, I am not sure that I would not put the claim that women have on a higher basis than that of labour.
It is true that Mr. Whitley's Commission said there was no section which had a higher claim to special representation than labour had, and I think labour has an extremely strong claim. We know the Simon Commission said that the future position of women was the key of progress, and there is no one, who has visited India or knows the least bit about it, who is not anxious to break down the position from which women are suffering in India to-day. I hope that this Committee will insist on provision being made so that those three classes—women, labour and the depressed classes—may be represented on what will be the most important legislative body.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
May I ask the hon. and gallant Member whether he can inform the Committee whether the conference of Trade Unions which met, I think, a fortnight ago in India considered this particular point, and whether this particular Amendment has been tabled from the point of view of labour on account of such representations from India, or whether the decision of the conference had nothing to do with this or reforms in general?
§ Major MILNER
I regret I cannot give the hon. and gallant Member information about a conference which took place a fortnight ago in India, but the Committee might rest assured that this claim has the support of the body representing labour in India. I have a memorandum from Mr. Joshi, representing the Trade Unionists, in which he makes a special point of the lack of representation of labour. I think the Committee may take it that a provision of this sort would have their whole-hearted support.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
On this occasion, the Committee is starting at first hand to consider the question of representation in the legislatures, the constitution of the assembly of India and all ancillary matters, and I think it would be wise at the inception of our discussion of this matter if I warned the Committee of the extreme complexity of the waters through which we must pass. Let us do so in the spirit of wisdom and justice exhibited by the Committee in our earlier deliberations. The wisdom of Solomon was confined to suggesting that a child should be cut in two before the two women who claimed to be the mother, but, in view of all the interests claiming to be represented in the legislatures of India, the wisdom of Solomon would have to be inspired by higher mathematics rather than by the simple solution of cutting one into two. So I hope the Committee will realise the immense complexity of some of the figures and the results of some of the decisions that have been taken by the Committee.
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), for example, realised that a decision had been taken on the question of indirect election. The Chairman of the Committee, if he were appealed to, would tell us we were out of order to reconsider that decision or discuss it now. I shall be wrong if I did not tell the Committee that the Government was fully aware of the difficulties which would naturally result from such a position. It is not my business to burke difficulties this afternoon. My hon. Friend referred to the depressed classes. He asked me whether representations had been made by the depressed classes. From what I know of Dr. Ambedkar, he would not neglect to make such representations, and I think I can assure the Committee that every opportunity has been taken of making representations on the matters which affect the Schedule now under consideration. I must remind the Committee that the depressed classes are, taking the whole field into view, given a large number of seats in the Provincial Assemblies, together with 19 seats in the Federal Assembly. They are—to put it plainly—getting a better deal than some of them originally expected and than some of us originally expected, and it must be remembered that if they cannot get every- 836 thing they want that is usually the lot of man, and certainly the lot of many of the interests which we have to consider this afternoon.
In this particular difficulty, let me try and show the Committee how they do get representation in the Council of State. The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) brought before the Committee some figures which I believe are perfectly accurate. He showed that he had fully investigated this question. I am not sure that the general conclusion which he draws from the figures is quite as optimistic as it might be. The hon. Member for Broxtowe said two seats might be gained by the scheduled class in the Council of State.
§ Mr. BUTLER
We have examined this matter as closely as we can. I am advised by expert advisers, but upon investigating this matter from the beginning it appears that by insisting on proportional representation in conjunction with nominations which Governors can employ in nominating depressed class members to Provincial Councils the depressed classes are very likely to get four seats by that method in the Council of State, and that if the Governors indulge their chance of nominating scheduled caste members to the Provincial Council to a large extent the scheduled castes will perhaps get six seats in the Council of State. It is therefore an exaggeration to say that they are not receiving representation. They are, as I have told the Committee, receiving representation in the Assembly to the extent of 19 seats. They will, as we believe, on the mathematical calculations to which I have been referred in connection with what has been said by the hon. Member for Broxtowe, get four to six seats in the Council of State. Besides this, there is the opportunity which the Governor-General has to use his nominations in the Council of State for the purpose of nominating a member of the scheduled castes. But I do not want to exaggerate. It may be said that from four to six seats will be gained by the scheduled castes in the Council of State.
We now come to the question of women. As the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) has said, it is a question of importance. 837 They occupy a position which is vital to India's future. It is essential that they should be represented in the legislature in order that they may make their voice heard on all those questions which are of particular interest to women. The hon. Member for South-East Leeds is correct in saying that they would not gain any seat at all in the Council of State. Inspired therefore by the wisdom and justice which animates the Committee, the Government considers it would be perhaps desirable to reserve certain seats for women in the Council of State. I think it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I tell them at once that the sort of method we had in mind is very accurately summed up in the Amendment to be moved later by the hon. Lady the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) which is on the Order Paper and which says:Provided that of the seats allotted to Madras, Bombay, Bengal, United Provinces, Punjab, and Bihar, one in each Province shall be reserved to women.We suggest that one seat, therefore, shall be reserved to women in those Provinces, making a total strength of six reserved seats for women in the Council of State, The women would be elected by a method which I need not specifically describe to the Committee but which would be something like this: one seat should be reserved for them, the method of reservation being that if no woman was elected under proportional representation, the woman candidate with the highest number of first preferences shall be declared elected, and the otherwise successful candidate of the same community with the lowest number of first preferences should be eliminated.
§ Mr. BUTLER
It is per Province. If this scheme is accepted, and we accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wallsend, it would mean that there would be six representatives of women in the Council of State—the Upper House.
§ Mr. BUTLER
From the Provinces the names of which I have read out. They are, in fact, the six major Provinces, and there will be one representative from each, elected, if the proportional repre- 838 sentative is not a woman, by the method I have described, the least successful among the candidates being eliminated.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I am sorry if I do not quite grasp the method of election, but may I ask what will happen if, in the election by proportional representation for the Council of State, there were no women candidates?
§ Mr. BUTLER
Really, I think we must assume, from what has been said in the Committee to-day, that there would be women candidates. Surely, when we have taken the trouble to reserve seats for women, it is not going to be suggested that there would be no women candidates.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I was coming to that point. My hon. Friend is quite right; that is a detail which will require to be dealt with, With regard to the first remark of the hon. Member far the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), I do not think it would be right to assume that, seats for women having been reserved, there would be no candidates. As regards the method of election, the hon. Lady is perfectly correct. We are electing through the Provincial Upper House—the Legislative Council of the Province—in cases where there is a legislative council, and, where there is not, through the electoral college described on page 257 of the Bill as originally printed. The hon. Member for Wallsend, therefore, was right to include that as well. That, I think, describes the method which the Government are ready to accept with regard to the proportion of women in the Council of State. I would just ask the indulgence of the Committee to give us the opportunity of further considering the exact wording of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wallsend. I have promised to accept the sense of it. If the Committee will agree to our examining the wording again, and, if we differ from it, altering it on Report I think that that would be the most satisfactory method. The sense of it we certainly accept at this stage.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I come now to the question of Labour. I have shown to the Committee that, inspired by wisdom and justice in this matter, the Government 839 are trying to meet the sense and point of the Amendment. We have already shown that there will be from four to six seats for the scheduled castes in the Council of State, and, on my recent suggestion, there will also be six seats for women. The difficulty about Labour seats is that we have from the beginning decreed that there shall be no representation of special interests as such in the Upper House, whether in the Provinces or at the Centre. That rule has been made, and, in fact, the original representative of commerce, who travelled round with the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds and myself during our visit to India, has had his seat removed from the Upper to the Lower House for the future. It has been decided that there shall be no special representation of interests as such in the Council of State, and to depart from that rule would be impossible for the Government, in view of the many difficulties involved.
I must remind the representatives of Labour, the importance of which I do not minimise, that there will be a distinct rise in the number of seats allotted to Labour in the Lower House to a total of nine, which is a great advance; but, as regards the Council of State, the Government have looked very closely into the justice of the claims of Labour. For instance, that there will be Labour legislation at the Centre, particularly in Part II of the concurrent list, and we are quite prepared, therefore, to stress this point by instructing the Governor-General, in using his nominations, to pay special attention to the needs of Labour. Labour will, therefore, be able to rely upon certain nominations of the Governor-General to represent Labour as a voice in the Council of State, and I believe it is chiefly in order to secure a voice that Labour interests will need a representative in the Federal Upper House. Already the Governor-General is instructed, in paragraph XXX of the Instrument of Instructions, to use his nominations in a certain way, and I would suggest to the Committee that, as we have made the concession that there should be a certain number of reserved seats for women in the Council of State, this would to that extent relieve the Governor-General when deciding upon his 840 nominations to the Council of State, and, therefore, there will be all the more opportunity for him to pay attention to the needs of Labour. Therefore, I hope the Committee will realise that, in the general plan which I am putting before them, we are attempting to arrive at some sense of justice; that, by relieving the pressure on nominations, we give this opportunity for Labour; and that, by the terms of paragraph XXX of the Instrument of Instructions, we make it plain to the Governor-General that it is important that Labour should have a voice in the Council of State.
We are also ready to put in words, if necessary, asking the Governor-General to consult in some manner—into which I do not want to go in detail now—with the representatives of Labour in coming to his decision as to whom he should nominate, in order to give to Labour in India an opportunity of being associated in some way with the choice of their own representatives. Let me say that the Government, in attempting to meet the Amendment, at once realised that there would have been very little chance for women to be represented in the Council of State, and we have attempted to make that deficiency good. We have investigated closely the genuine doubts of hon. Members about the scheduled castes, and I am informed that they will get very probably from four to six seats of their own—
§ Mr. BUTLER
It is very likely that they will get four. I think it is fair to use those words, in view of the complications of the mathematics. In the case of Labour we are further prepared, by the paragraph in the Instrument of Instructions and by the relief afforded by the reservation of seats for women, to give an opportunity to the Governor-General to enable Labour to have a voice in the Council of State. I regret, however, that we cannot accept the Amendment in its original form.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I am sure the Committee will have been delighted to learn that the Government are prepared to make one concession in response to this Amendment, and to provide that the women of India shall have some representation in the Council of State. It is rather curious however, that, while in 841 this country women are still debarred from sitting in the House of Lords, we are in this Parliament making a breach in the old political customs by starting to do in India the one thing that some people think ought to have been done here at home long ago. We are very sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not been able to make the same gesture as regards the representation of Labour. I think he will find that the Instrument of Instructions will not avail as much as the provisions of Statute law. He may give instructions to the Governor-General as much as he likes as to what he should do in nominating representatives of Labour, but there will be nothing in the law to compel him to do anything. Consequently, we are very dissatisfied with the hon. Gentleman's reply on that score.
The argument employed by the hon. Gentleman that, as the interests of commerce and industry are not to be represented directly in the Upper Chamber, Labour as a special interest should not therefore be represented, is one that we cannot accept. The hon. Gentleman knows that the interests of commerce, industry and manufacture in India will see to it that, whatever the method of election may be, they will secure ample representation. Indeed, they will go further, as they generally do in this country; they will not only see to it that they get political power, but they will make every possible effort they can to prevent the working classes from getting any of that power at all. [Interruption.] Men and women who have money behind them have always a better chance of establishing a political machine and securing political power than the poor people.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Surely the Noble Lady understands that the trade union strength in India—I wish it were much greater—is, in comparison with the number of people there, almost infinitesimal. I have read the very remarkable Report on Labour Conditions in India issued by the Royal Commission over which the late Mr. Whitley presided, and it is clear that, 842 if we leave the position as it is now, the working classes in India will be in a very terrible plight so far as political representation is concerned. With regard to the seats which are to be reserved for women, it is obvious that those women will not be working women. It may be taken for granted to start with that they will be rich women. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's statement that no special representation of interests is to be allowed in the Council of State, I would remind him that that is already being done by admitting the Princes there. I should think that being a Prince was a very special interest. If I were a Prince, I should regard it as a very special task to undertake. Consequently, the Government really must look into this subject of Labour representation more deeply than they have done.
I have said before in this Committee that this Bill safeguards the interest of everybody in India—and now the women are included—except the working people of that country. The Army, the Civil Service, the railway officials, and all the paraphernalia of Government in India, including every officer of every kind, will be safeguarded by this Bill, but there is no safeguard for the working people of India. I hope that the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who always argue against this Bill because of their profound sympathy for the teeming millions, will rally to our side to-day and vote for this Amendment, in order that their sympathies may be translated for once into actual law. They have been silent on the Amendment hitherto, but I hope they will stand up soon and encourage us, so that we may secure for the working people of India special representation in these high places. I want to say once again that while we congratulate the Government on coming to the assistance of the women of India we should have liked them to respond to the request that they would also do something for the working classes of that great Continent.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I rise to respond to the invitation of the hon. Gentleman who has just given the Committee an interesting discourse. I do not understand his 843 position or that of his friends who surround him. He has just told us that under this Bill the condition of the working classes in India is going to be terrible. Those were his words. I ask him, therefore, why is it on a special occasion, when he thinks he may be able to curry favour with a special class, that he comes out against His Majesty's Government and waits until a single Amendment like the one that is now before the Committee is moved? If he were sincere ought he not to join with my hon. Friends and myself in order to prevent this Measure going forward at all, and ought he not to oppose every Clause in this Bill, if he thinks this is a terrible—
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I must say I have never declared in this House that the conditions of the working classes would be worse if this Bill were passed. All I said was that politically they may be better off, but I did not think that their economic conditions would, of necessity, be improved by the passing of the Measure.
§ Sir H. CROFT
The words the hon. Member used were "The plight of the working classes will indeed be terrible." If he will withdraw that, I will turn to the next point. I would remind hon. Gentlemen who are seeking to further the cause of organised labour in this particular part of the Amendment that the Trade Union Congress in India passed a resolution recently that the Bill should be dropped altogether. They did not share the hon. Gentleman's optimism that it is going to help them in any degree whatsoever. When he says that every class has been left out except Labour, I myself once more ask hon. Gentlemen sitting on these benches who are Labour? He told us there are practically no organised trade unions to speak of in India. I think he is right to a great extent. There is nothing very widespread in that way. But what is Labour in India, and what representation could you have that is truly representation? It is known that there are over 360,000,000 people altogether in the Indian Empire, British-India and the States combined. Am I wrong in saying that 320,000,000 to 325,000,000 of these are persons who would not come within this 844 scheme at all, and could not be nominated because none of them can read or write? There are not more than a very limited number of organised workers who could provide a nominee for the purposes indicated.
The Under-Secretary, I frankly confess, surprised me. Right through this Bill he has been resisting anything from a Conservative angle, and yet the moment the hon. Gentleman and the hon. and gallant Gentleman behind get up and shake their fists at him he wants to meet them. Let us look at the bouquet that was thrown to the depressed classes. He has reason to hope that there will be four representatives of the depressed classes out of a total membership of the Council of 250. That is just about the strength of the party of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who has not been in his seat recently. I think it is one more than that party, and is anybody going to tell me that that party has any political influence in this country? I think I was once myself a member of a party of six of whom three died and one became so ill that there were only two left. We were very much in the same position as the depressed classes would be in the Council of State. Why has the hon. Gentleman suddenly parted from his decision and the decision of the Government? It is going to be extraordinarily difficult not to make exceptions in other cases if you make them in one. He is going to make every effort to see that there will be four members of the depressed classes in the Council, but that is doubtful. When the siren voice of the Noble Lady is heard he is not quite so definite here. Apparently he is going to give instructions to the Governor-General, if I understand him correctly, to select women representatives.
§ Mr. BUTLER
No, the hon. and gallant Gentleman must do me justice. I said the Government would be willing to accept the principle of the Amendment of the hon. Lady the Member for Walls-end (Miss Ward) which reserves one seat in each of the six Provinces for a woman.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I was confusing that with the next phrase with regard to Labour. I am so sorry. But the hon. Gentleman is going to impose for the first time in the history of any country in the world women members upon a 845 legislative body. I do not know how he is going to justify this. It may be that people who are vocal in India would prefer to have no representatives of women. We know there are to be certain representatives in the other Parliamentary institution for which India is so ripe, but what grounds he has for insisting on having these representatives of women in the Council of State I am unable to understand. The hon. Gentleman laid down the very fundamental proposition that the Government had always stood by the fact that there should be no special representation of interests as such. Are not women an interest as such?
§ Sir H. CROFT
We are very glad to see the Noble Lady taking an interest in the India Debates. It is, I think, the first time she has intervened. She appears as a champion of the well-being of India which she thinks could best be served by getting these representatives into the Council of State.
Why should the hon. Gentleman impose these women representatives upon this very important Second Chamber? If the people of India want to have women representatives, is it not much better that they should decide their fate one way or the other as the people of this country have been allowed to do? Is it not going right athwart the principle of democracy in saying, "Here is a country where it is admitted women are immensely backward in social conditions, yet at one jump we must impose these women representatives upon this Chamber?" I cannot help thinking that the surrender of the hon. Gentleman is one which is very difficult for him to justify. An Amendment comes along which appears to receive the joint support of the hon. ladies of this House and the Socialists, and immediately he gives way. How is he going to justify a breach of this principle which has up to now sustained him? If he is going to give special representation to the interest of women, how can he deny representation for all those various classes which we are discussing in different parts of the Bill?
§ 4.53 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I should like, first of all, to express my thanks to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for having accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss 846 Ward) to which I have put down my name. I am sorry not to find myself in agreement with my hon. and gallant Friend on this Amendment. If we differ in our opinion on this point, I think it is the first time that we have parted company during the discussion of the Measure.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is quite obvious that a great deal of this Debate is really turning upon the subsequent Amendment which has just been referred to, and it is equally obvious that in the circumstances I shall in due course have cause to call that Amendment in the name of the hon. Lady the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward). It ought to be understood that if I allow, as indeed I must, a full discussion now on that Amendment, when that Amendment is called, any discussion will relate simply to the question not of the merits of the Amendment but how it is to be dealt with—that is to say whether it is to be passed now or considered on Report, or something of that kind. I hope the Committee will agree with that view.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I have no desire to emphasise unduly the difference between the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and myself.
§ Sir H. CROFT
There is no difference between us other than this—that I am quite prepared to see women representatives elected by the people of India, but the sudden decision to impose women representatives on the Council of State is a mistake.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I feel it is very important, however it may be arrived at, to have women on the Council of State as well as in the Legislative Assembly. There are very big social questions which specially affect their welfare, their lives and their health. It seems to me absolutely essential that they should be in a Council in which these questions may be discussed. It is all the more essential that they should be represented in the Council of State, because if this Bill is passed in its present form the Governor-General will have no powers whatever in regard to the welfare of women or any other class of persons in India except in so far as he can protect the peace and tranquillity of the country. At the present moment he has the power to require any Act to be passed by the Indian Legisla- 847 ture which is essential in his opinion for the peace, tranquillity and interest of India. As this question of social welfare is being left entirely in the hands of Indian Ministers both in the Provinces and the Central Legislature, it does seem to be absolutely essential that women should be represented in all these various bodies and I am very glad the Government, however tardily, have recognised that fact.
And as they have brought themselves to make a breach in preserving places for a special interest, I feel there is a case to be made out for reserving seats for members of the scheduled castes. The Minister, in referring to this matter, said that members of these castes were, under a communal award, to get a better deal. He referred to the changes made in the representation of the scheduled castes by the Poona Pact made between Mr. Ghandi and representatives of the depressed classes. As the result of that, the number of seats to be reserved to the depressed classes, was considerably increased, but at a cost of the separate electorates which the Prime Minister's original award would have given. As matters stand now, their seats are reserved in the seats to be elected by what are known as the general constituencies. There will be a primary election of members of the scheduled castes, in which they will elect four candidates, and out of these the general constituencies will elect the persons to the provincial assemblies.
When one remembers that the scheduled castes are bound to be very much outnumbered in the general constituencies by caste Hindus, it seems extremely doubtful in the minds of those who know India whether the members of the scheduled castes will succeed in returning the members of their caste they most desire to see elected. If the election really depends on the votes of caste Hindus, and if the interests of caste Hindus and members of the scheduled castes and depressed classes conflict, as they may well appear to do, it may be that there will be members of the scheduled castes who will wish some of their very severe disabilities removed, and members of the castes who do not see eye to eye with them. Does it not stand to reason that, as a result of the 848 final election, where caste Hindus predominate, the members of the scheduled castes finally elected will be those who do not insist on a strong line about the needs of their fellows? It seems almost unquestionable that the general constituencies will chiefly return members of the scheduled castes who can be relied upon not to take so strong a line as other members of these castes.
We have also to remember that members of the scheduled castes are very poor, and it may be difficult for them to meet the expenses of election. Many persons in India are in debt to moneylenders, who nearly always are caste Hindus. That will give the caste Hindus an enormous advantage in many of these elections. Therefore, I am afraid that I cannot agree with my hon. Friend that the members of the scheduled castes are getting a better deal under the revised communal award than the Prime Minister really intended them to have. Though the India Office believe that members of the scheduled castes are likely to be returned to the Council of State in numbers not less than four, and perhaps from four to six, it is open to question whether these four or six necessarily will be men who will be thoroughly representative of the scheduled castes, the men whom members of these castes would most wish to have representing them in the Council of State. I cannot help thinking it might be wise, if the Government could find it possible, to extend the breach which my hon. Friend admits has been made in the original intention with regard to the Council of State. If they are going to insist on places being reserved for women, they might very well insist on places being reserved for members of the scheduled castes.
I would observe to the Committee that my hon. Friend, in what he has promised to do with regard to the Governor-General's Instrument of Instructions, has really put the representation of Labour in the Council of State on a firmer basis than the representation of the scheduled castes, because it is quite certain from what he has said, if I have understood him aright, that if there is no representation of Labour in the Council of State through the members elected to that Council in the various Provinces, the Governor-General will be instructed to make up that deficiency by means of 849 nomination, but no such assurance has been given with regard to the scheduled castes.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am just coming to that point. I and my friends have put down an Amendment which would have given him power to nominate 18. That is a much more adequate number, in view of the multifarious interests that have to be represented if the Council of State is really to be a representative body; but with only six places at his command I hesitate to ask my hon. Friend to pledge the Governor-General to fill up more of these places with members of the scheduled castes, because there might be some other men who, he might feel, would be of great value in the Council of State. Therefore, I would like to ask my hon. Friend if he would not consider further the possibility of reserving places to members of the scheduled castes so that we may be certain that we should have representation of these castes in the Council of State. I do not suggest a number, and I do not think the machinery that was suggested by the hon. Member who moved this Amendment is suitable. He desires, as we know that there should be no legislative councils in the Province.
In that respect this is in line with other Amendments moved from those benches. Setting aside the machinery, I think there is a great deal to be said for the principle of ensuring some representation of these 40,000,000 to 60,000,000 people who are labouring under such terrible disabilities, who have been made outcasts of society by the Hindu religion. I think the case for members of the scheduled castes is very much stronger than that for the representation of Labour as such. In the first place, Labour will be included in the representation of the scheduled castes. They are bound themselves to bring in representation of the labouring classes, and over and above that their position in the social scale is something definite, rigid and immovable, something quite different from the position of Labour. There is nothing defined and rigid and immovable in the position of Labour in India or elsewhere, but in these castes we come to something quite different, something 850 rigid and fixed, something basic in Hindu society. Therefore, I think their case stands on a much stronger basis than the case for Labour representation, and hon. Members opposite must see that we have got a definite assurance that there will be some representation now of Labour through the nominations of the Governor-General.
§ Sir H. CROFT
On a point of Order. May I ask whether, if hon. Members did not continue to discourse on that side of the Amendment—that specifically dealing with women members—then the Debate on the other Amendment would be taken later?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. and gallant Member misunderstood me. The Debate has already been in progress for nearly two hours on this Amendment, and I think more than half of it, at least, has taken place on the question of the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward). What I intended the Committee to understand was that I did not think I could properly rule out in this discussion the discussion of the merits of that Amendment, which comes later. What I said was, and I hope the Committee will agree, that when I came to call the later Amendment there should not be any further Debate on the merits of that Amendment, but that any discussion that might be necessary should be confined merely to what I may call the machinery and procedure of the question—whether that Amendment or some other Amendment should be put in now by the Committee, or whether the matter should be dealt with on the Report stage. I hope that members of the Committee who wish to say anything on the merits of the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Wallsend will do so now.
§ Sir H. CROFT
Thank you, Sir. The only reason I asked was that there was a little misunderstanding as to whether the words did not indicate that reference to the woman's suffrage side of this Amendment should be eliminated.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
While we appreciate the point the Under-Secretary has made with regard to women in the scheduled classes, he has not gone nearly far enough to meet the case. Here is a 851 Council of State consisting of 250 members, and we are seeking to make sure that women shall have at least a minimum of 10 members, the scheduled classes 10 and Labour—10—30 out of 250. If the circumstances in India, electoral, educational and otherwise, were comparable with the conditions in Great Britain, there would be no need to ask for special representation. Through the normal channel of election, whether direct or indirect, the various classes would secure representation according to their ability to persuade the electorate, but the Under-Secretary would be the first to admit that the conditions in India are not at all comparable with the conditions at home. We are asking for elementary justice, that in the early stages of this new constitution, the labouring classes, the outcasts and the women should at least have a chance of their voice being heard. The Under-Secretary tells us that if the Governor-General does certain things—to use his own words he tells us that the Governor-General may do certain things—then the scheduled classes will have, say, from four to six members; but assuming that the Governor-General does not do these certain things, there is no guarantee that the scheduled classes will have one representative out of 250 members.
§ Mr. BUTLER
That is not accurate. We consider they will probably get four places. They may get as many as six if a sufficient number of nominations are given to the Scheduled Castes in the Provincial Upper Houses.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The corrected statement means that the scheduled classes will obtain four seats, and by the charity of the Governor they may obtain six. Is that the situation?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Whatever the circumstances, the maximum representation they can expect will be six out of 250 members. The hon. Gentleman knows well enough whether that is a fair representation of the scheduled classes or not. We think it ought to be a minimum of 10, and to that extent we are fully justified in opposing the Government on this matter. The women are to be given six representatives. If all the women representatives 852 were comparable with some women representatives I know, I should have thought that six were enough; but as we may have a finer type of women available in India than some women representatives I know, I think six are wholly insufficient. If the six are going to be drawn, as may very well be the case, from the higher social circles, I am not sure that I should have one woman on the Council. If I could feel that the women were to be drawn from all sections of the community, so that the voice of the lowly as well as the high could be heard, I should feel that at least a minimum of six members ought to be provided for in this Measure. The Labour section are a very awkward body to deal with. The hon. and gallant Member for the industrial constituency of Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said that the labouring classes were really not entitled to special representation. That is exactly what I should expect from the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth. He does not want the Bill. He wants absolute domination from here in India in perpetuity, but if there is to be a new constitution he does not want Labour representation there any more than he wants it in this country.
The Under-Secretary and his Government have a far greater responsibility than has the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth. They have the responsibility to tens of millions of people for whom this country has been responsible for many years and to whom they have given little or no education. They have not fitted the people for electoral responsibility, any more than British Governments have fitted the Singalese for electoral responsibility in Ceylon. We have now, after 135 years of British administration, given them self-government, but we have started self-government with about 95 per cent. of illiteracy and with such a lack of knowledge of electoral matters, that it would not surprise me if there were no Labour representatives for many years. Without allocating the responsibility, the position is as it is because of an accumulation of facts, and we think that at least in the early stages of this constitution, the labouring classes ought to be guaranteed a minimum of 10 out of 250 seats. They could not produce a social, economic or any other revolution, but they could express a point of view, and possibly one which would be much 853 more useful than the contributions that could be made by some of the Princes, who are to be given a very large representation, not because of their intellectual qualities and educational attainments and knowledge of social questions, but merely because they happen to have been born Princes.
The hon. Gentleman tells us that the scheduled classes will have four representatives and possibly six. Women are to be given six, and Labour may, if the Governor feels that he ought to respond to the suggestions of the Minister here, be given six. But will he give them all the six; and, if he does, what are six representatives out of 250? The Under-Secretary, I think, has already made up his mind that the Governor would never give to the Labour section the whole of the six representatives which he has the power to choose. Therefore, the argument in favour of the Amendment has been fully sustained, and I hope that my colleagues will find their way into the Lobby against the Government.
§ 5.18 p.m.
I wish to thank very warmly my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for stating that he is prepared at a later stage to accept the Amendment standing in my name and that of the hon. Ladies associated with me. We are indeed grateful, and I am glad that I am able to speak for women Members in this House of all shades of political opinion. We are grateful that my hon. Friend so considers the importance of the position of women in India that he is prepared to accept the Amendment. This only confirms my belief that it is the intense desire of the Government that there should be no restriction placed in the way of Indian women playing their full and proper part in the future development and government of India. Not only will the decision of the Government be welcomed by political opinion in this country, but also by political opinion among the women of India. I was interested to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Sir E. Campbell), who has just returned from a, visit to India, that when he listened to a debate in the Legislative Assembly on the report of the Joint Select Committee more than three-quarters of the gallery was filled by women. That is a very clear indication that the women of India are following 854 this report and the subsequent Bill which has been introduced into this House with very intense interest.
I have no intention of going into the merits of the whole position, because I am deeply conscious of the great privilege which is being conferred upon me in the selection of this particular Amendment by the Government in order to strengthen the position of women under the Bill. The work of persistently and constantly advocating, wherever necessary—though not for one moment do I admit that it was necessary from the point of view of the Government—the interests of women in India, is due to my hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), and to my Noble Friend the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor). I should also like to pay a very warm tribute to the work done by Mary Pickford. I know that the Amendment would have met with her very warm and real approval, and I am very proud to be able to pay this tribute to her work and to know that she hoped that the women of India would be given every opportunity of playing their full and proper part in the future progress of women's legislation in that country. I thank the Government for the attitude they have adopted, and I trust that the provisions we are making in the Bill will allow the women of India to develop along their own lines, and that it will be of real benefit to them in future years
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I wish to add my thanks to those of my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) to the Government for the very real and substantial concession which they have made. It is very important that women should secure a certain number of places on the Council of State. I wish that I could feel quite as pleased about the method of choosing women to fill these six seats which have been announced by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. I would like the hon. Gentleman to consider that it is a very curious electorate which he has chosen to select these six women. I ask Members of the Committee whether, if there were to be six men appointed to any body, they would choose as the selectors of those six men a body of 200 women without a man upon it. I am afraid that the bodies which are to choose these women are likely to be 855 almost entirely masculine bodies. The Upper Chambers of the Princes will be representative largely of big vested interests, and there is no likelihood of there being a woman in those Chambers, but I hope that the concession which the Government have made to-day will be merely the forerunner of future concessions, and that they intend to preserve some seats in the Provincial Upper Chambers. But whatever their intentions may be about that matter, they should not have left the election of these six women to the Electoral College. If they reserved a few seats for women in the Upper Chambers of the Provinces it would strengthen the Electoral College.
§ 5.24 p.m.
I should like to add my plea in respect of the last point which the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) has made. It is really a very important point, and I am sure that the Government will see it. If you have men electing the kind of women they want, they will certainly elect the kind that will follow them blindly. That is quite natural. If I had to elect a man to a House I would elect one who was going to follow me; it is quite a natural thing to do.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I was very doubtful when the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) was speaking whether she was not going too far, but now I am quite sure that we must not allow this Debate to develop into a discussion upon electoral colleges and other methods of election.
I think that I have said enough already. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) twitted me for being in the House, and said "Why was I here when I was not here often to listen to the Indian Debate?" I am one of those people who do not like talking about what I do not understand. [Interruption.] The Noble Lady opposite does not understand India. She understands statistics and blue books and that sort of thing. Everybody in the House knows that naturally the Noble Lady cannot understand it, and nobody could understand it who had not been there and had not got the feeling of the country. I make no apologies at all about speaking about the one thing which I understand.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I did not mean to suggest that my Noble Friend need have been here in order to speak, but that she might have been here more often to listen.
No, Sir; in the House of Commons. What has been the story of this Debate? The Opposition have been so persistently poor that they have emptied the House on every debate. That is why some of us have not been here. We could not stand it. That is the Opposition for which the Noble Lady stands, the unofficial opposition. I suppose you call it the die-hard Tory opposition. They are the ones who have made the Indian Debate so dreary that no one can listen to it.
§ The CHAIRMAN
What I wanted the Noble Lady to understand was that we are not now debating discussions upon the Bill.
That gets me back to India. I cannot understand the constitution of India, but I do understand the enormous interest which the women's vote and franchise has on any assembly. I have just come back from a conference where we had women of 39 countries who came from such different civilisations that they might almost have come from different planets, but when one heard them on questions in which women are interested, social, moral and education, they were all as one civilisation. It was extraordinary. All barriers of language and creed disappeared. Many of us who have watched the question of women's position in India, which we believe is one of the main reasons for the India Bill, are deeply grateful to the Government for what they have done. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said that he did not know why we were making such concessions to women. If he had studied the question he would have realised that they are questions which no outsider can touch. They are social and moral questions which only Indian women themselves can put right.
That is one of the reasons why we are deeply grateful to the Government for having made this concession. You will not please a certain section of women in 857 India, because they want to be elected on the same franchise as men, but, as I told them, they have had very little experience of democracy, and if they wait for the time when they will be elected in the same way as men they may have to wait for years. The women of India should be grateful to the Government for having given them this concession. With the possible exception of the Noble Lady the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) the die-hard opposition would never give the women the vote either in India or in England. I think we should be grateful to the Government for the concession they have made to women.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I want to put only one point to the Under-Secretary. I think that he is making a dangerous inroad in the Governor-General's power of nomination. He is only empowered to nominate six members, and the Under-Secretary has practically hypothecated two already in a certain direction. I understand that this power of nomination is that he will be able to get six people who will be really helpful, no matter from what section of the community they come.
§ Mr. BUTLER
It would be dangerous, I think, to attempt to lay down how the Governor-General shall use his power of nomination. What I intended to convey was that we could make special reference to Labour in the Instrument of Instructions, and insert some words asking the Governor-General to consult in some way or other with Labour before he makes a nomination of the representative of Labour in the Council of State. I was not aware that I had hypothecated any particular Member.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would point out to the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) that he must not anticipate the discussion on the Instrument of Instructions, which will be debated in due course.
§ Sir B. PETO
That is one method by which the Under-Secretary of State was going to meet this particular proposal, and, therefore, it seemed to me essential 858 that I should protest. The Governor-General should be left completely free.
§ The CHAIRMAN
There may be a little difficulty in this matter. The draft Instructions have been published, and it may be impossible to discuss some of the details without referring to it, but questions as to the form of Instructions would be out of order on this discussion.
§ Sir B. PETO
I think there is some misapprehension in the reference to the representation of Labour. The phrase has been used "organised labour," but that is a totally different matter to the word "Labour," which, broadly speaking, means up to 320,000,000 out of a total population of 360,000,000. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Page Croft) is not opposed to the representation of Labour. On the contrary, we hold that they do not get a fair chance under the proposals of the Government. In regard to the introduction of women into the Council of State, it seems to me extraordinary that the Government should have made this concession. They have broken down the rule that special interests are not to be represented in the Council of State. On a former occasion I said that when Indian opinion was ripe for women to be on the Council of State they would be elected to the Council of State through the machinery provided in the Bill.
Whenever there is any question of women being members of any body you always find special means being advocated for making them members of that body. I support the view of the hon. Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl), in her observations with regard to the depressed classes. Very little has been said about them. If we are going to have any inroad made on the question of special representation in the Governor-General's Council it should be in favour of the depressed classes, who have a far greater claim than women or organised Labour, but I doubt very much whether the provisions of the Schedule are going to give them any increased representation. I could have hoped that the Government, if they are going to make any concessions at all, would have considered their claims long before those of women, who are to be artificially brought in, or the claims of Labour for special membership of the Council of State.
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I remind the Committee that we have only six days left out of the 30, which it was agreed should be sufficient to dispose of the Bill? Therefore, we should get to-day Schedule 4. The Amendment has been very fully discussed and I think it is time that the Committee came to a conclusion.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
There are very important points in the Schedules which we on this side want to put forward. Some matters put forward by hon. Members below the Gangway have taken a great deal of time, and we really require a big debate on these essential matters of representation which have not previously been debated.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I quite see that, but apparently the hon. Member was not in the House when I dealt with one of those matters to be taken on Schedule 5.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I want to put two questions arising out of the statement of the Under-Secretary. It seems to me that the depressed classes will only get one member on the Council of State, and then only if he can get the support of the Labour vote in Bengal. The Under-Secretary says that they will have four to six representatives, but that will be only if provincial Governors exercise their powers of nomination on their behalf. I want to ask whether the Under-Secretary proposes to insert the proportion of seats to be filled by the Governor in different Provinces to represent the depressed classes. In regard to the representation of Labour, the Under-Secretary suggested that the Governor-General should nominate one or two out of the six. I should like to know whether he will ask the provincial Governors—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that we can go into these questions in discussing this part of the Schedule.
§ Sir H. CROFT
When the Under-Secretary says that the Governor-General will have special consideration for Labour, will he also tell us that this does not mean that it will be limited to the small organised forces of Labour in certain cities, which are known to be Communist organisations
§ Sir H. CROFT
Then may I ask whether it means organised Labour or the general working classes of the country?
§ Mr. BUTLER
If the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) will look at the Fifth Schedule he will see that we actually specify the numbers. We wish to leave it to the discretion of the Governor to nominate whom he thinks best. The Instrument of Instructions definitely picks out the depressed classes and directs the Governor-General to nominate them. Therefore that point has been met. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) it would be wrong for the Governor-General to consult isolated bodies of Labour, and, as I have previously said, it is not clear how we should frame these Instructions.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
The representation of women on the Council of State involves one point which I would like to put to the Under-Secretary. It is, no doubt, an excellent thing that there should be such representation, but the method proposed seems to add one more anomaly to what is already a most anomalous series of proposals. It is proposed to impose a certain obligation upon the legislatures by which, I suppose, these women representatives will be elected. I wish to know whether any attempt has been made to ascertain the opinion of the Legislatures of the six Provinces mentioned. Suppose that these Legislatures are hostile to the proposal, then this system of representation on the Council of State will start under very unhappy 861 auspices. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. J. Davies), in reply to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), said he did not suppose that the position of the working classes in India would be any worse under the Bill than it is at present. I have heard most convincing and eloquent speeches from the Front Opposition Bench pointing out that this Bill would prejudicially affect the industrial workers and peasants in India. We have heard such speeches, especially from the
|Division No. 167.]||AYES.||[5.50 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Milner, Major James|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro, W.)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Bernays, Robert||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Harris, Sir Percy||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Dobbie, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thorne, William James|
|Edwards, Charles||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lawson, John James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cayzer, Ma. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Albery, Irving James||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Goff, Sir Park|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Clarry, Reginald George||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colman, N. C. D.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Conant, R. J. E.||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Cook, Thomas A.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Cooke, Douglas||Grimston, R. V.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Cooper, A. Duff||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th. C.)||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Crooke, J. Smedley||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Blindell, James||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Cross, R. H.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Hammersley, Samuel S.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Dickle, John p,||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)|
|Bracken, Brendan||Doran, Edward||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Drewe, Cedric||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Duckworth, George A. V.||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Duggan, Hubert John||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dunglass, Lord||Hornby, Frank|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Edge, Sir William||Hewitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Burnett, John George||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Elmley, Viscount||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Fox, Sir Gilford||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Ker, J. Campbell|
§ right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), whose opinions, I thought, were widely shared by hon. Members opposite, and that confirms the surprise which was expressed by my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Bournemouth.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The committee divided: Ayes, 50; Nose, 257.863
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Palmer, Francis Noel||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Leckle, J. A.||Patrick, Colin M.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Peake, Osbert||Stevenson, James|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Pearson, William G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Levy, Thomas||Penny, Sir George||Storey, Samuel|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Perkins, Walter H. D.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Petherick, M.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Potter, John||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Summersby, Charles H.|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Radford, E. A.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Templeton, William P.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Remer, John R.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Magnay, Thomas||Rickards, George William||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Robinson, John Roland||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Train, John|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Meller, Sir Richard James||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Milne, Charles||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Savery, Samuel Servington||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Watt, Major George Steven H.|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||William, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Smith, R. W. (Aber'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Munro, Patrick||Smithers, Sir Waldron||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Somervell, Sir Donald||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Norle-Miller, Francis||Soper, Richard||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|North, Edward T.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Nunn, William||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|O'Connor, Terence James||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Sir Walter Womersley and Major|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Spens, William Patrick||George Davies.|
§ 5.58 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 255, line 34, at the end, to insert:Provided that of the seats allotted to Madras, Bombay, Bengal, United Provinces, Punjab, and Bihar, one in each Province shall be reserved to women.
§ Mr. BUTLER
While observing your Ruling, Sir Dennis, that there is to be no Debate upon this Amendment, I wish to repeat that it will be necessary for us to examine carefully the exact wording of this proposal, but on that understanding we are prepared to accept it.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether the seats so allotted will be deducted from the general Mohamedan seats, for instance—that is to say, whether this proposal will mean fewer seats for other people.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This will not alter the communal representation. In my original statement I said that the woman who had the most first preference votes would take the place of the man of the same com- 864 munity who was last on the list of first preferences.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
On a point of Order. May I ask for your Ruling, Captain Bourne, on a matter which is of some importance to many of us? It concerns the representatives on the Council of State to be nominated by the Governor-General. There is an Amendment on the Paper dealing with the subject which is not being called. Some us would greatly like to increase the number of representatives to be nominated by the Governor-General. If the Amendment which raises the question is not to be taken, and we do not have an opportunity of discussing it until the Question is put that Schedule be agreed to, will the effect of the Amendment not having been taken prejudice discussion of the question on that Motion, and will it prejudice it on the Report stage?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
So far as the latter question is 865 concerned, that is not a matter for me, but for Mr. Speaker. I would remind the hon. Member that this matter was discussed and decided by the Committee on Clause 18, and that we must not repeat arguments already used. Before I call on the right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) to move his Amendment, I would remind the Committee of the Ruling given by the Chairman earlier this afternoon, that the proper place for discussion of questions on the communal award is not on this Schedule but on the Fifth Schedule, and I hope that hon. Members will bear that Ruling in mind.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in page 256, line 24, to leave out paragraph 9.
This Amendment is to leave out from the Schedule that paragraph which establishes communal representation in the Council of State. This is not the time or place to argue the question of communal representation in general, but in the Report of the Joint Select Committee there was no decision as to how these people elected for the Council of State should be selected. It is rather a shock to find now that quite unnecessarily this principle has been introduced into the Council of State. The principle of communal representation is one that we do not approve of in this House, and it is not approved by the majority of people in India. Why, therefore, start it in the Council of State? The system of proportional representation would have amply met the case. What is the reason for embodying in the Council of State an entirely un-English system of selecting those people when the normal system would meet the case of the communities and at the same time preserve freedom of choice to the electoral colleges? In those Provinces which have upper Chambers the upper Chamber is an electoral body electing a small number of people to the Council of State. If the upper Chamber in Bengal, for instance, could elect by proportional representation or even directly their representatives, to the Council of State there would be no objection; but we are now for the first time saying that the Council of State is not one body, that we will split it into various communities 866 and allow each community to elect its representatives.
If we really do want to break down these electoral barriers, we might allow the upper Chambers of the Provinces to constitute themselves a general electoral body who are electing representatives to the Council of State, rather than be compelled to divide themselves into their different castes and communities and to elect people on the strength of their communal view rather than as representatives of the Provinces as a whole. We do not want to increase the responsibility of the narrow community, whose politics are not national but the politics of a community or caste.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I am happy to support this Amendment. It is rather difficult in discussing it to avoid dealing with two large and vexed questions involved in it—direct or indirect election, and communal election, quite apart from the question of the Council of State. Having decided that there should be a Council of State the normal thing in federations is that it should be representative of the different federated units. In the constitution of the Council of State you are going to have a very large proportion of representatives of the Princes, and there is no means of controlling, or even any prospect of limiting, the communal composition of that large proportion of the Council of State. When you come to the representatives of British-India the question is how they should be chosen, and all the arguments advanced, when one comes to the matter of communal election, are really based on a position of a balance of power. The crucial points are Bengal and the Punjab, but the matter arises in other Provinces as well. Inasmuch as you are bound to have a majority of the Princes' representatives it is not really a vital question.
The advantage of getting the representation from the Provincial Council was to get away from the deliberate communal representation at the Centre. You will have a certain number of States that are not definitely communal, which will have an influence on the other States. But you are bound under this system to get a substantial representation very little different from what you would get under the other system. I think it was a great mistake of the Joint Select Com- 867 mittee to introduce this principle of indirect election at the Centre. You have a comparatively small electoral body. It is now proposed that instead of there being an election every so many years for the whole of the Council of State, the Council should be changed year by year in respect of two portions of it. You therefore get an extremely small number elected every year, and when you divide that further you get an impossible situation.
It would be better to wipe out paragraph 9 altogether, and leave the election to be proportional representation. The questions that are going to agitate the Centre would not normally be communal questions. They are more likely to be inter-Provincial questions. Although I recognise the dangers of splits between the different Provinces at the Centre on purely local issues, there is on the other hand the fact that the differing interests of the Provinces will tend to cut across communal cleavages at the Centre. It seems to me that you cannot gain by the system introduced at a fairly late stage in the discussions, and certainly not in the original scheme, and that it is really unnecessary. If you say that the Indians insist on it, well, they are insisting on a great many things you are not granting them. This is something that is absolutely bad, and I therefore support my hon. Friend.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
My friends and I felt compelled to support the last Amendment on the grounds I have stated, that we thought we were dealing with the consequence of the decision on direct election. We have to look to this Schedule to see what are the consequences of altering the direct system of voting to the indirect system. So far as I can see, this is one of the consequences, and what we are now considering is one of the results of the change from the direct system to the indirect system. As a result of the change we have had to deal with a changed constituency of the Upper House at the Centre. In making that changed constituency, the proposal now contained in paragraph 9 is in the Bill. If I could be satisfied that this is not a proposal following upon the change from the direct to the indirect vote, that would have an influence on my vote. If it is a consequence of that change, we 868 must take the same course as we have done previously.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I think I can assure my hon. Friend, but perhaps it would be convenient if I traced the history of this particular device, which was first mentioned in the White Paper and is reproduced on page 288 of the Joint Select Committee's Report, where it is stated:It is, however, the intention of His Majesty's Government that Moslems should be able to secure one-third of the British India seats in the Upper House; and if it is considered that adoption of proportional representation in the manner proposed makes insufficient provision for this end, they are of opinion that modification of the proposals should be made to meet the object in view.This secured for the Moslems a proportion of one-third of the Council of State in British India. Therefore, the matter was mooted, and a promise was given before the decision about direct election was made. The Joint Select Committee came to discuss the same question and referred to it in paragraph 9 of Appendix II on page 128 of their Report. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment was wrong in saying that he was surprised at the change from the Joint Select Committee's Report, when it was in fact specifically referred to, and was also referred to previously in the White Paper and in the speech of the Secretary of State at the Third Round Table Conference. In that speech my right hon. Friend specifically promised the Moslems that we should secure them one-third of the seats in the Federal Upper Chamber. That is the object of paragraph 9 of this Schedule.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The Under-Secretary says one-third of the seats. He surely means one-third of the seats of the representatives of British India.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The hon. Member is quite right. The promise was one-third of the British Indian seats in the Council of State. It is in order to implement that promise, which has been given throughout our proceedings to the Moslems of India, that we have inserted paragraph 9 in the Schedule. I have always realised the predilections of the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) for the pure operation of proportional representation. The pure and simple 869 operation of proportional representation, however, does not result in the Moslems securing one-third of the British India seats. It does very nearly, as the hon. Member acknowledges, but it is in order to make it perfectly certain and to implement our promise made to the Moslems, that we have had to insert this complicated piece of mechanism which refers to eight seats. These eight seats will be elected in the manner laid down, and hon. Members who are interested in the details will find them set out in paragraph 9 on page 128 of the Joint Select Committee's Report. The object is slightly to supplement the number of seats which the Moslems would get if they used their votes properly in proportional representation. The method of calculation must be to a certain extent approximate. They need eight extra seats in order to ensure them one-third, and it is to this extent that we have modified the pure operation of proportional representation, because without it the claims of the Moslems, which we have always promised to meet, would not be met. I do not think, therefore, that the departure from proportional representation is quite as formal as the hon. Member may perhaps think it to be.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am sorry to hear this further example of the Government meeting every point of view of the Moslems and neglecting entirely the English point of view. We are legislating as an English Parliament, and we ought to put before India what we believe to be right, and not be committed time and time again to carry out some ridiculous pledge given to the Mohammedans. In this case, in particular, how do the Government know that the Mohammedans want this form of election? Why cannot the Mohammedan leader, Mr. Jinnah, be asked whether he prefers this system to proportional representation? We know that if he were asked he would say that he prefers proportional representation. It is simply because by some hole and corner method the Government have pledged themselves, not to the Mohammedan people in India, but to a few selected Mohammedans, that we are committed to a form of election which runs counter to every democratic principle. It is obvious that there is a difference be- 870 tween electing by proportional representation and electing by this method. If you elect by proportional representation you get the feeling of the whole, and the men responsible to the whole. By this system you elect people responsible to a small coterie. It is all the difference between representative government and collecting together divers selections of interests bitterly opposed to each other. I do not suppose it would make any difference in the number of Mohammedans sitting in the Council of State if we adopted the system approved of by my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee), who really knows more about the problem of representation in India than anybody, but the Government prefer to adopt a system which they know themselves is not right in order to carry out the letter of a promise to people who are not representative of the Mohammedans of India.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I do not want to discuss the major points of principle, but I would like the Under-Secretary to tell me if I have understood this provision properly. The Bill as a whole is clearly drafted, but this paragraph seems to be unduly complicated. Under sub-paragraph (a) they may get what I call a nine year seat and a three year seat on the occasion of the first election; or they may get a nine year and a six year seat; or the other possibility is a six year seat and a three year seat at the start. Then, when three years have gone by, they have an election, and I am not quite clear how long the men elected then will be entitled to sit. Why should this rather complicated way be chosen instead of starting them all off on the same basis? The arithmetic seems to be unduly complicated. There may be good reasons for it, but I had to read this paragraph three or four times before I understood what was being done in this complicated proposal. I would be grateful if the Under-Secretary would explain why this rather complicated arithmetical method has been adopted.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) is right when he says that this is somewhat difficult to understand, but I think it would be wise to stick to the object and not to go too much into detail. The object 871 is to ensure that there are always eight Moslems so elected. Therefore, on the occasion of the first Council of State they all have to be elected. After that they have to be elected according as their seats lapse. If hon. Members will turn to the table of seats of the Council of State on page 262 of the Bill they will see how these seats have been partitioned out so that at one and the same time various considerations are fulfilled in the Council of State and at the same time the rotational retirement of a certain proportion of its members is achieved. That table has been carefully worked out and is the best we can arrive at to achieve the objective of rotational retirement. The drafting of paragraph 9, therefore, relates closely to the method set out for rotational retirement in the table on page 262. If the hon. Member applies his mind to these two, he will appreciate how the exact drafting is arrived at. I think that that is the best help I can give him in the matter.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I understand that in these provinces they have an election three years hence and then another in three years, and then it may be six years before there is an election.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I do not think the hon. Member has studied the table very closely. He will see for instance, in the case of Madras in the second column of the first table that for three years there is to be no seats and then for six years 10 seats, and for nine years 10 seats. Each Province is separated out into a different proportion of seats for three years, six years and nine years in relation to the numbers in the first column. The drafting of paragraph 9 is related to the table on this page and has direct relationship to it. On the first occasion it is necessary for two of the seats of the Moslems to be elected at the same time in the four Provinces concerned, but on later occasions they have their proportion of members divided into two, and it will not be necessary for both the Moslem representatives to be elected at the same time. On the occasion of the rotational retirement of the half of the proportion of the representatives in the Council of State who have to be elected, one Moslem will have to be elected, whereas on the first occasion two will have to be elected.
§ 6.25 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I should like to say how pleased I was to hear the Under-Secretary say that he could not accept the Amendment on account of the pledge given to the Moslems that they should not have less than one-third of British Indian seats in the Council of State. I think that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) under-estimates the importance of this question. Surely he must realise, for he must have had some indications of it given to him, the great dread which is entertained by a great number—I am told the great majority—of the Mohammedans of India, of a Federation which they know is bound to be mainly ruled by Hindus because Hindus so greatly predominate in the States as well as in British India. Therefore, a fixed proportion of seats, in accordance with a pledge given to the Mohammedans, is of vital importance. It is one of the conditions on which they have been willing to consider this question at all. In Record 10 presented to the Joint Select Committee is a memorandum by one of the Moslem delegates reminding the Committee that it was only on the express condition that the communal award was not interfered with that they came to the third Round Table Conference to discuss Federation. Therefore, if there is any going back on the part of the Government, the consequences may well be disastrous to their purposes.
I think that my right hon. and gallant Friend was also inclined to over-estimate the difference between election by proportional representation and election by separate electorates. In proportional representation, the Mohammedans would be working to get in Mohammedans and working on communal grounds, just as much as if there were communal electorates. We, of course, deplore the deep feeling that exists between the various communities. But that is a cardinal question that stares us in the face, and it is no use running away from it. It is no good acting as if the conditions in India were the same as the conditions here and as if it were a homogeneous country. We have to recognise the tremendous differences that exist between the various communities and to recognize that these differences are increasing—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The Noble Lady appears to be going perilously close to the question of the communal award.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am anxious not to trespass on your Ruling, but I think that the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) did not exactly state the position when he referred to a communal majority necessarily coming to the Federal Legislature from the States. We have no assurance that the representation of the States will be on a communal basis. Some of my hon. Friends tried to put down an Amendment to ensure that all communities got their fair proportion of representation from the States, but I understand that that Amendment is not to be called. It is one of the many that are not to be taken. Therefore, I submit that we have no assurance whatever that the Mohammedans in the States will secure even the one-quarter of the representation or thereabouts to which I understand their numbers would entitle them. Therefore, to get their fixed proportion of seats from British India and the proportion which the Government definitely promised them is a vital matter to the Mohammedans.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I cannot allow myself to be misunderstood by the Noble Lady. I am quite prepared to admit that the Mohammedans look upon this scheme with terror, as I should if I were a Mohammedan, and therefore these concessions are made to the Mohammedans; but does the Noble Lady really believe that the Hindus do not look on the scheme with terror, and why not make promises to them?
Duchess of ATHOLL
There is a difference in that the Hindus are in an enormous majority, but I agree that they dislike it too.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Of course they dislike it. The Government made promises to the Mohammedans in order to get their support for this Measure. They have lost that support. They have never made any promises to the Hindus. It is a mistake to think that the only people who are terrified are the Mohammedans or the Princes. The Hindus do not like it, and they constitute two-thirds of the population of India, and their interests ought to be considered. They do not want this Measure.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member is getting far beyond the terms of this Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Then let me get back to the Amendment. The only issue before us is a perfectly simple one: whether the representatives of the various communities on the Council of State should be elected by this system or by proportional representation. Under proportional representation they will get exactly the same number of representatives as under this scheme, but under proportional representation the people elected would be responsible to the whole of the upper Chambers in the various Provinces instead of being responsible to a narrow, caste-selected body. Every instinct of an Englishman should urge us to bring about that form of representation which secures the widest responsibility instead of narrow responsibility. That is the only point at issue, and I should like to have the Noble Lady's support in the Lobby, not because this is an attack on the Mohammedans but because it is a protection for the whole community in India.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'Council' in line 26, stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 261; Noes, 39.
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hornby, Frank||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Cheater, City)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Remer, John R.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Rickards, George William|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Iveagh, Countess of||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Janner, Barnett||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Ker, J. Campbell||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Knox, Sir Alfred||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Leckle, J. A.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Crooks, J. Smedley||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Llewellin, Major John J.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Cross, R. H.||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Dickle, John P.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Doran, Edward||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)|
|Drewe, Cedric||McCorquodale, M. S.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Soper, Richard|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||McKie, John Hamilton||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Dunglass, Lord||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Edge, Sir William||Magnay, Thomas||Spens, William Patrick|
|Elmley, viscount||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Storey, Samuel|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Meller, Sir Richard James||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Milne, Charles||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Templeton, William P.|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moreing, Adrian C.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Goff, Sir Park||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Train, John|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Munro, Patrick||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Norie-Miller, Francis||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Nunn, William||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||O'Connor, Terence James||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Grimston, R. V.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Patrick, Colin M.||Wells, Sidney Richard|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Peake, Osbert||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hales, Harold K.||Pearson, William G.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Penny, Sir George||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney Zetl'nd)||Percy, Lord Eustace||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Petherick, M.||Womersley Sir Walter|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Radford, E. A.||Major George Davies and Captain|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Hope.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Gardner, Benjamin Walter|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cove, William G.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Dobbie, William||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur|
|Cleary, J. J.||Edwards, Charles||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thorne, William James|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Maxton, James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Lawson, John James||Milner, Major James||William, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Leonard, William||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Parkinson, John Allen||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lunn, William||Rathbone, Eleanor||Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.|
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 256, line 26, to leave out "Council," and to insert "Assembly."
I do not wish to enter into the subject dealt with in the last Debate, although it is involved in this Amendment. This Amendment would provide that instead of the Legislative Council the Assembly, which is the very much larger body, should be entrusted with the responsibility of nominating and electing the representatives to the Council of State. The Assembly has about four times the numbers there are on the Council, and the number of Mohammedans is increased accordingly. We on this side do not approve of the principle of indirect election, but that matter has been decided. We would have preferred the omission of paragraph 9, but as that paragraph is to remain we think the procedure in it would be more acceptable to the Indian people and much more in accordance with the wishes of the average Member of this House if those appointed by the largest number of the elected people of India were given the responsibility of selecting from among themselves the numbers to be sent to the Federal Council of State.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
I quite agree, and I was coming to that point. There should be a greater proportion among the Mohammedans. There is a smaller number of Mohammedans represented on the Legislative Council than are represented in the Legislative Assembly, and the argument which I originally advanced would hold good in both cases. The Mohammedans in the Legislative Assembly are about one-fifth of the total membership of that body, which consists of about 225 people; about 50 are Mohammedans. The Legislative Council has only about 75 members and a comparatively smaller number are Mohammedans. Whether we deal with the Legislative Council or the Legislative 878 Assembly, the numbers of the Mohammedans are increased in proportion, so that if you wish the appointment made by the largest and most representative body, you find that body in the Assembly rather than in the Council.
We are denied the opportunity of discussing the community question, which will come up again in a much broader way on the Fifth Schedule, and I am deliberately trying not to make reference to it. Having taken for granted that it is the Mohammedans who will make the selection for the various Provinces, we desire that the largest possible number of Mohammedans shall be given that responsibility, that the Mohammedans who are elected shall be elected by the most representative body and that the functions devolving upon the elected people shall devolve upon the larger rather than the smaller number.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The effect of the Amendment would be to enlarge the Electoral College by the Moslem members of the Provincial Legislative Council and the Moslem members of the Provincial Legislative Assembly. The Government in framing the Bill have followed the advice of the Joint Select Committee on the subject, to which I referred when speaking on the previous Amendment. The question is somewhat detailed. We consider that there is a certain order in our scheme, and the order and method in it are that the members of the Council of State are chosen either by the Provincial Upper House or by an equivalent Electoral College, provision for which is set out in this Schedule. The effect of the Amendment would be to depart from that order and method, which are themselves sufficiently complicated, and to alter the scheme only in respect of the Mohammedans. We think that that would be Confusing.
We appreciate the motive which prompted the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, but we do not think that in this small particular it is worth while departing from the general scheme, 879 more particularly as it would mean that the Hindu Christian, Anglo-Indian and European seats would continue to be filled by the single transferable vote of the members of the Provincial Legislative Council. We think that there is no case for picking out the Moslems for this special treatment, enlarging the Electoral College and creating a certain amount of confusion by treating the Moslems differentially from other minorities. The advice of the Government to the Committee is to keep the paragraph as it is. We regret that we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 257, line 33, after "is," to insert:an Anglo-Indian, a European, or an Indian-Christian, or is.The object of the Amendment is to make it clear that Anglo-Indian, Europeans, and Indian Christians will not be entitled to vote for the election of members to fill the general seats. Those three communities will secure their representation through the electoral colleges, for which provision is made in paragraph 13 of the Schedule, which we shall be considering later. This is almost entirely a question of drafting, to bring the paragraph into line with what has already been inserted in the Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 257, line 37, at the end, to insert:A Provincial Electoral College shall be dissolved and reconstituted at such intervals or in such circumstances as may be prescribed, but may act notwithstanding any vacancy in the membership thereof.The Amendment provides for a gap in the Bill in connection with the problem of the dissolution and reconstitution of Provincial electoral colleges and the question of vacancies which may arise in their membership. In regard to the latter problem, we are deciding by this Amendment that these colleges may act notwithstanding a vacancy which occurs in them. In regard to the former problem, we leave it as one that must be prescribed. The question of prescription is dealt with in particular, in the definition in paragraph 24 of the Schedule, and we presume that that definition will be con- 880 sidered, if the Committee wish, when we reach that stage. The point is also governed by paragraph 25.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move, in page 258, line 31, to leave out "eight," and to insert "six."
These words have to be taken in connection with the words of an Amendment which will be considered later and which proposes, in page 258, line 36, to leave out from "(f)," to "the," in line 37.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I will interrupt the hon. Member for a moment to point out that if the Amendment which he is now moving is not carried, the subsequent one, to which he has referred, would fall, and that, therefore, he had better argue the case for the two Amendments now.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The purpose of the Amendment which I am now moving, and of the consequential Amendment, would be to delete the words(f) the interest of commerce and industry; (g) land holders.The hon. Member who represents the Government may tell us straight away that the interests of commerce and landholding are very important in the Federal Assembly, and I support he will say that the other interests, be they Sikh, Mohammedan, Anglo-Indian or European, are sectional, and that consequently industry, commerce and land-holding ought to have special representation. [An HON. MEMBER "Hear, hear!"] An hon. Gentleman who supports the Government says "Hear, hear!" A few moments ago I moved that Labour should be regarded as a special interest, but I did not hear that hon. Member say "Hear, hear" on that occasion. Hon. Gentlemen who say "Hear, hear" should do so at the right time, and the right time was when I moved that Labour should be regarded as a special interest and ought to have representation in this Council. We shall probably be told by the Under-Secretary of State that industry and commerce and land-holding are special interests. The first interest of the communities I have mentioned will not be their nationality, their caste or their creed; whatever they are, the first interest that they will serve will be industry, commerce and landholding.
881 For an illustration we need only turn to the present House of Commons. What is represented here? We are not here as Christians, Mohammedans or Atheists; the vast majority of us represent our constituencies first, I agree, but in the background there are railways, canals, factories and workshops; they are all represented here. That principle will apply also in the case of India. You can send a Mohammedan, an Anglo-Indian or a European to sit on this Council, but in the main they will represent the interests in which they are concerned from day to day.
We move the Amendment as a protest against the attitude of the Government in not regarding Labour as a special interest. Labour has as much claim as land-holding to be regarded as a special interest, and even more so. The workman is far more important than the landlord. That is by the way. We have said so much that I feel sure, now that the Attorney-General has returned to the Front Bench—I have seen him in consultation with the Under-Secretary of State—that I have convinced the representatives of the Government that we are right.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I am sorry, but the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) must not misunderstand any jubilation on our side. After my remarks there will not be any jubilation on his—but I do not want to disappoint him too early. He said that he moved the Amendment as a protest against the general attitude of the Government towards Labour. The effect of his Amendment would be very inequitable, because it would remove from the tables of representation of the different assemblies the seats for the representatives of industry, commerce and land-holding. In framing these provisions we have tried to arrive at common justice to all the interests. Let me take the question of Labour. For the first time, Labour is to have a substantial interest in representation in the Federal Assembly. It seems very unfair, therefore, that the hon. Member should, on such an occasion, move to leave out the representatives of industry, commerce and land-holding.
Let me remind the Committee of the history of this question. The question was examined in some detail by the 882 Franchise Committee, as well as by other bodies since, The Franchise Committee came to a conclusion which, I maintain, was very fair to Labour. It decided to insert representatives of Labour, as is indicated in column 12 of the table of seats for the Federal Assembly, in this Schedule. From that column it will be seen that there will be 10 representatives of Labour. That is a distinct increase over the one representative which Labour has at present in the Central Assembly.
Now we come to the question of commerce and industry and landlords. The Franchise Committee decided in principle that the landowners' places should be continued, that there is useful work to be done in giving the landowners a voice in the Assembly. The landowners' places, with all their interests, are only seven, and they have not been increased, whereas Labour has been increased almost 10 times. In the case of representation of commerce and industry, the Franchise Committee decided in Chapter XI of their report that there should be functional representation in the Assembly, and, having taken that position, they are given certain seats on the basis of the present allocation for the representatives of commerce and industry. The decision come to and accepted by the Government, therefore, is that the representatives of commerce and industry have been inserted on the old basis which they have under the present Act. Their seats are according to their proportion. It is the same with the landowners.
In the case of Labour, on the recommendation of the Franchise Committee and other bodies which have examined it since, the Government have inserted 10 special seats for Labour. Labour has therefore, in relation to the status quo been treated very much better than commerce and industry or landowners. We have the hon. Member coming to us and asking us to delete those seats, which merely preserve the status quo for commerce, industry and landowners, while he wishes to retain the seats for labour which have been increased more than 10 times. It is extremely regrettable that the hon. Member should want to delete only these two enactments relating to commerce, industry and landowners, and leave only places for Labour. I could have understood him making some case for deleting all interests, but to retain the special interests of Labour and to 883 delete the representation of commerce and industry and landowners, although these seats have not been increased, is a proposal that does not seriously recommend itself. I therefore regret to say that we are unable to accept this Amendment, and we regret that the hon. Member was not more grateful for what we have attempted to do.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
We really cannot accept for one minute what the hon. Member has said. He knows quite well that so far as the representation of commerce and industry and landowners is concerned, they always have been and always will be represented up to the hilt, lock, stock and barrel. If I may say so with becoming modesty, it was only by reason of such representations as were made by those representing labour on the Franchise Committee that it was possible to prevail upon the Committee. I do not wish to say this ungraciously as far as the hon. Gentleman is concerned, for he admitted the claim of labour to some representation. I would point out that the representation on that committee of commerce and industry demurred from labour having representation which the rest of the Committee agreed they should have. The real point is that there is no justification for any special representation of commerce and industry in the Indian legislature, any more than there is any right to claim, or could be any right to claim, such representation in this House. Commerce and industry are well and amply represented in this House, and they will be well and amply represented by reason of their importance and their economic position in a legislature in India. That will be so, also, in precisely the same way so far as the landowners are concerned. Under the immense landowning and land-holding system in India, the landlords are fully represented in all the legislatures there at present, and will continue to be fully represented by reason, again, of their vested interests, their wealth, and the influence that they can bring to bear on their tenants. There is no justification whatever, therefore, for any special representation of any of these interests. Under the franchise provisions in this Bill, my hon. Friend will probably agree that without this special representation for the interests of commerce 884 and industry and landlords, these interests would still be amply represented. In these circumstances I hope my hon. Friends will agree to divide on this matter. The hon. Gentleman opposite hardly does justice to the position when he makes it plain that because labour has something which it never had before, therefore labour should not object to interests continuing their special representation which they have always had and which, whatever we say or whether the columns referring to them are or are not deleted from this present Schedule, they will continue to have.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The hon. Member pointed out that while we are deleting representation of commerce and industry and the landowners, we retain places for the representation of labour. The hon. Member will remember, perhaps, that on the Statutory Commission I was against all forms of separate representation. I realised the need for a representation of labour. I would have liked to have had an extension of the franchise, particularly in the urban areas and the semiurbanised areas. Being unable to get that, we have tried to get some representation of labour at the centre, as the very important subject of labour legislation is a central subject. The hon. Member says, why do we delete commerce and industry and landowners? Anyone who has tried to tackle this question of representation at the centre will know how extremely difficult it is to get any alteration. You have first of all the question of representation of the different provinces, and secondly, we are tied, little as we like it, by the communal award which at the present moment holds the field. It is therefore extraordinarily difficult to make any addition or alteration to the other categories. The Statutory Committee agreed that there was no case for representation of landholders. They are perfectly certain to be well represented. There may be a case for commerce and industry; they are concerned with regard to the matters that are discussed at the centre. But does anyone believe that, as the matters at the centre so largely deal with trade and finance, the big business interests of Bombay and Calcutta and the United Provinces will not manage to get their members elected? Of course they will. They will 885 have plenty of power to get representation anywhere. Why should they be given more than labour?
It is all very well for the hon. Member to say that the Government have increased the representation of labour, but look what it was increased from. It was miserably inadequate before, and in our point of view, if you are going to have special representation in order to protect people, the people you want to protect are the weak and not the strong. Wealth, privilege and land in any assembly will always manage to get representation by the mere fact of its economic power, and the people you have to protect here are people such as women, the depressed classes and the wage-earners. The wage earners, while they get a certain representation in the towns, are very largely unrepresented altogether as regards rural labourers, and no one will deny that the centre, as proposed, is going to be overwhelmed
|Division No. 169.]||AYES.||[7.12 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cross, R. H.||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hornby, Frank|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Dickle, John P.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Drewe, Cedric||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Duckworth, George A. V.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Dunglass, Lord||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Bernays, Robert||Eastwood, John Francis||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Janner, Barnett|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Fox, Sir Gifford||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Burghley, Lord||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Leckle, J. A.|
|Burnett, John George||Ganzoni, Sir John||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Goff, Sir Park||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Goldie, Noel B.||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Gower, Sir Robert||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Cayzer, Maj, Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Chapman, Col, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro, W.)||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Grimston, R. V.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Gunston, Captain D. W.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Guy, J. C. Morrison||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hales, Harold K.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Cooke, Douglas||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Z'tl'nd)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Hammersley, Samuel S.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hanbury, Cecil||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Harris, Sir Percy||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
§ by the representatives of wealth and privilege. Therefore we consider that there is a very strong case for seeing that the weak are represented. It is not going to put them into power, but it is going to give them an adequate voice, that they will not get now if they have just one representative from one province, or even two from the big industrialised provinces such as Bombay and Bengal. If you want to get anything out of the centre, which is going to be other than a representation of the narrow interests of privilege, as things are in India, you cannot get a wider franchise, and you must make special provision. I think my hon. Friend is perfectly justified in moving this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the word 'eight' stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 35.
|Milne, Charles||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Remer, John R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Rickards, George William||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Robinson, John Roland||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Ross, Ronald D.||Templeton, William P.|
|Nall, Sir Joseph||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Nunn, William||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|O'Connor, Terence James||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Train, John|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Owen, Major Goronwy||Savery, Samuel Servington||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Selley, Harry R.||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Pearson, William G.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Penny, Sir George||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Percy, Lord Eustace||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Perkins, Walter R. D.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Wells, Sidney Richard|
|Petherick, M.||Smithers, Sir Waldron||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Somervell, Sir Donald||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.|
|Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Soper, Richard||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Radford, E. A.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Stevenson, James||Mr. Blindell and Captain Hope.|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Storey, Samuel|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maxton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Jenkins, Sir William||Milner, Major James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cleary, J. J.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cove, William G.||Lawson, John James||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Leonard, William||Thorne, William James|
|Dobbie, William||Logan, David Gilbert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||McGovern, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks. W. Riding)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
§ 7.20 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 258, line 40, to leave out "to be filled by," and to insert "reserved to."
This Amendment is merely a question of wording. The wording which we propose is a more adequate definition of the situation as it really is. As the subparagraph at present stands it might be open to the interpretation that only women in the specially reserved seats were eligible for election to the Central Assembly, whereas in fact there is nothing to prevent women standing for and being elected as members of the Federal Assembly through the ordinary election machinery. We, therefore, thought that, as the Act does provide that women should be eligible outside the specially reserved seats, it would more clearly meet the case and make the position much clearer if my hon. Friend would see his way to accept the wording 888 which we propose, or some other wording similar.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I agree with the hon. Lady that her wording does make our intention clearer, and I beg therefore to indicate our acceptance of it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 259, line 9, at the end, to insert:Provided that in the North-West Frontier Province the holders of Sikh seats and in any Province in which seats are reserved for representatives of backward areas or backward tribes the holders of those seats shall, for the purposes of this paragraph, be deemed to hold general seats.The object of this Amendment is to remedy two gaps in the Bill which have become clear as one of the results of the decision on the subject of indirect election. If we had left the Schedule without this proviso, the Sikhs in the North-West 889 Frontier Province would have been disfranchised from the opportunity of voting for election to the Federal Assembly. Therefore we propose that the Sikh members of the Provincial Assembly should be allowed to vote with the Hindu members. There is a great community of interest between the Hindus and the Sikhs in that Province, and we are informed there would be nothing wrong or incongruous in coming to a solution of this sort.
The second gap we wish to fill by enabling representatives of the backward areas who are included in the schedule of seats in the Provincial legislative assemblies, as set out in column 5 of the Table of Seats on page 287, which amount to a certain number of votes in the general constituency, to hold general seats, in order that they, too, as representing the backward areas shall not in fact be disfranchised by the decision that there should be election to the Federal Assembly by the indirect method. I, therefore, move the Amendment which stands in the name of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
§ 7.24 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I wanted to ask a question or two about this Amendment. I quite understand the case in the North-West Province for putting the Sikhs in with the general seats, because, as we know, the Sikhs are part of the Hindu community, but I cannot help feeling rather doubtful as to whether representatives of the backward areas in this or any Provinces will find it easy to hold their own in general constituencies as against the very eloquent Hindu candidates who will stand in those constituencies. Surely we have before us all the time the great success with which the Hindu wields his influence as compared with some other communities in India, and surely it is easy to conceive that in elections he would have a great advantage over persons from the backward areas. If it is regarded as necessary that representatives from the backward areas should have a special electorate for the Provincial Legislative Assembly, it would seem desirable that they should continue those separate seats in this case. It does seem that a member from a backward area is bound to be at great disadvantage if he has to take his chances with the 890 Hindu, who, as we know in this House, is often very clever with pen and speech.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The problem was that we found that these 24 seats in the Provinces representing the backward areas and tribes would actually have been disfranchised. Provincial Assembly representatives of the backward areas are not in every case members of the backward tribe, and it would be regrettable if these 24 were disfranchised. What I understood the Noble Lady to wish was that they should have special seats in order that their influence might be clearer. In making up our minds we were prompted by the certain view that all problems connected with backward areas, almost without exception, would be considered by the provincial assemblies. In Assam or Bihar they would have substantial representation in the provincial assemblies—in the first case nine and in the other seven. In any provinces where their interests were specially concerned they would have proper representation. We do not consider it necessary therefore to alter the table on page 263 in order to include them specifically there, but we do think it would be wrong for them to be disfranchised. The two extreme alternatives would seem, on the one hand, to have special seats, as the Noble Lady has suggested, but which is not possible, or, on the other hand, to leave them disfranchised altogether. Between these two extremes we have arrived at this compromise of enabling representatives of backward areas—24 of them—to vote with other communities and thereby use their influence in elections to the central assembly.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN
I beg to move, in page 261, to leave out lines 9 to 25, and to insert:'a European' means a person whose father and any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is of European race and who is not a native of India as defined in section six of the Government of India Act, 1870;'an Anglo-Indian' means a person whose father and any of whose male progenitors in the male line is of European race but who is a native of India as defined in the said section six.891 I must point out to the Committee that there is an error in this Amendment as it is printed on the Order Paper. In the Amendment as it stands on the Paper the word "and" is printed as "or," so that the Amendment on the Paper reads as follows:'a European' means a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is of European race and who is not a native of India as defined in Section six of the Government of India Act, 1870;'an Anglo-Indian' means a person whose father or any of whose male progenitors in the male line is of European race but who is a native of India as defined in the said Section six.At the present time an Anglo-Indian is a statutory native of India for one purpose, while for another purpose he is a European British subject, and, because of these two definitions, he falls between two stools. Whenever he wants a post to which a European is entitled, he is a statutory native of India, and he is only a European British subject for the purpose of serving in the defence forces of India. This Amendment would give him a defined position, and one which I think would be acceptable to the community. I have not heard personally from Sir Henry Gidney, who is the president of the Anglo-Indian Association in India, but I understand that his definition is almost the same as that in my Amendment. He uses the words "statutory native," whereas, according to my definition, an Anglo-Indian is a native of India as defined in Section 6 of the Act of 1870. The first paragraph of the Amendment has been accepted by the European Association, who are perfectly content with the definition there laid down. If the Committee will look at paragraph 24 of the First Schedule, they will see a very confused definition. It says:'a European' means a British subject of European descent in the male line who is resident in India and—That would admit a great many people who are not European British subjects in the sense conveyed by my Amendment, and I think that, if this Amendment is put into the Bill, it will make it clear for 892 all time what a European British subject is.
- (a) who was born, or has a domicile, in the United Kingdom, a British Possession or an Indian State; or
- (b) whose father was so born, or has, or had up to the date of the birth of the person in question, such a domicile."
With regard to the Anglo-Indian, I have a further word to say, because the Anglo-Indian is entirely dependent on the fact that he is defined as an Anglo-Indian from the point of view of a number of appointments to which he will be entitled, and also from the point of view of the franchise in certain places; and therefore it is very important to secure that only those who are Anglo-Indians as described in my Amendment should receive these privileges. There is no doubt that at the present moment quite a large number of native Christians call themselves Anglo-Indians, and would try, if they could, to creep into the community; while others who are at present outside the Anglo-Indian community call themselves Anglo-Indians, and would claim the same privileges as regards both the franchise and appointments which have been given to Anglo-Indians.
Those who have read that pathetic little book, "Hostages to India," written by an Anglo-Indian, will realise that we in this country are personally responsible for the situation of the Anglo-Indians. They are not the result of any irregular relationship between the men who originally went out to India and the natives; they were deliberately created by the policy of the old East India Company. In those days the voyage to India took six months, and even in the fastest clipper it took three months. The result was that the English soldiers and officers who formed the garrison of John Company in those days were unable to go home during the whole length of their service; they were condemned to all intents and purposes to life service in India. It was very natural that they should contract marriages with the people of India, and John Company encouraged them to do so, giving them special allowances and providing them with accommodation and quarters. They were encouraged to marry Indian women. The Anglo-Indians of to-day are descended from two lines. The officers often married people of high station in India, and the men married the ordinary women of India. Their descendants are now the Anglo-Indians. We, therefore, are personally responsible for the situation, and for that reason it is necessary that we should have a definition which will stand for all time in this Bill, which can be 893 understood by everyone, and which will only permit those who are descended from men of English stock married to Indians to claim those privileges which it is the desire, I am sure, of the Committee and of the House to give them later on.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I find myself in agreement with my hon. and gallant Friend in putting forward this Amendment. I do not want to go outside its ambit, but my hon. and gallant Friend has quite rightly made some reference to a long-standing controversy in which the Anglo-Indian community and Governments of India in general have been concerned as to the status of that community—a status which, as my hon. and gallant Friend has very fairly pointed out, has varied in a rather astonishing fashion according to the purpose involved. Anglo-Indians have had in the past a certain grievance in this regard, and if, as my hon. and gallant Friend has given the Committee to understand, is the case, the Anglo-Indian community would be satisfied with the definition of their status laid down in this Amendment, I think that the Government would be well advised to accept it, and that it might indeed put an end to the long-standing controversy which has caused a good deal of feeling among the Anglo-Indian community.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir WALTER SMILES
I understand, Captain Bourne, that you will not be calling the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Kirkpatrick)—in page 261, line 9, to leave out from "means," to the end of line 25, and to insert:every parson of pure European descent on both sides and who is not a statutory Native of India:Provided that British subjects of the Sephardic Jewish Community including British subjects of mixed European and Sephardic Jewish descent, but excluding Ben-Israelites, Black Cochin Jews, and persons of mixed Jewish and non-European descent, shall be entitled to vote as Europeans:'Anglo-Indian' means every person whose father, grandfather, or other progenitor in the male line was a European and who is a statutory Native of India.In that case, perhaps I might be allowed the privilege of speaking for a 894 minute or two upon the case of British subjects of the Sephardic Jewish community. This is a community of about 2,000 people, almost all of whom live in Calcutta. I believe they were originally of Spanish descent—
§ Earl WINTERTON
On a point of Order. I submit, with great respect, that it is impossible to discuss the question of the Jewish community on this Amendment. The question of the status of the Anglo-Indian community is one of great importance, and it has nothing to do with the Jewish community.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think that that is the case, and, moreover, if the Committee decides that the words which the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Enfield (Lieut.-Colonel Applin) proposes to leave out shall stand part of the Clause, I do not see how the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) can raise that question at all.
§ Mr. JANNER
There is one point which I should like to bring to the attention of the Committee, and on which I should like to have some explanation. It is with regard to the introduction in the first paragraph of the Amendment of the words "European race." I am certain, of course, that there is no intention on the part of the Mover of the Amendment or anyone else to bring into this matter any of that absurd and pernicious theory of raceology which is being spread at the present time in another country. I should like to have a clear definition of the words, so that there may be no misunderstanding in the future. If the point cannot be cleared up now, perhaps the Solicitor-General would give us an assurance that he will go into the matter before the Report stage and deal with it then.
§ Major MILNER
On the point of Order. Would it not be possible, whatever form of words may be used to define a European, to move, in addition, that part of the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Kirkpatrick) which provides that British subjects shall be entitled to vote as Europeans? We are in some difficulty owing to the fact that each of these Amendments covers two or three points, but it occurs to me that it might be possible, whatever happens as regards 895 the definition of a European, to move the proviso in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Preston.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I find it a little difficult to see quite where such an Amendment would come in. The original Amendment is to leave out words in order to insert certain other words, and I have put the question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Would it not be possible to put the quest that the words proposed to be left out shall stand part down to such a point as would enable the proviso in question to be moved? Indeed, it seems to me that it would be capable of being moved at the end of line 25 even if those words were left in. Whether you would select that Amendment is, of course, another question.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
When the Amendment at present before the Committee is disposed of, I will consider whether the proviso can be moved as a manuscript Amendment at the end of line 25.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I ask that the Amendment be properly explained before we hear what the Government are going to do about it? The Amendment on the Paper is quite clear. It says:'A European' means a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors"—and so on. That is perfectly reasonable, but the Amendment as actually moved is ridiculous. It says:'A European' means a person whose father and any of whose other male progenitors"—and so on. If his father is a European, of course the others are. What is the use of these words? They would apply to a person whose father was not a European, but whose grandfather was.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The question is whether it is necessary to include the Amendment at all. If the Amendment includes Spain, the Jews would come in. It is "a European race," not "a race." It is very unwise to introduce the word "Aryan." What I am really anxious to find out is whether this Amendment is to confine the term "Anglo-Indian" to those who are of British origin.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
What is the difference between the provision in the Bill and the proposals of the hon. and gallant Gentleman? We are not the only people in India who have people of mixed blood. The Portuguese and Dutch have just as much to do with the production of people who are called Anglo-Indians as anybody. I think we should have the exact difference between the Bill as it stands and the Amendment moved.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)
This Amendment deals with difficult matters of definition, definitions which, whatever purpose or intention one has, it is not easy to grasp. I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for putting this Amendment and suggesting these words, which, we think, are an improvement on the Bill. First of all, I will deal with the point raised with regard to the Amendment as it appears on the Paper, that is the insertion of the word "or," instead of "and." That is fairly acceptable because it produces this clearly ridiculous result that a man's father might not be of European descent, but so far as he could find a European progenitor he could claim to be a European. It is quite obvious no one would pretend that. The intention of the definition in the Amendment is that a man clearly must show that his father was of European descent. He must also show one other European ancestor. My right hon. Friend may say these words are unnecessary because you cannot claim European race for your father without having a grandfather or a great-grandfather also of European descent.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Yes, it is certainly usual, but, on the other hand, we might have a case where a man whose father was of European race by nationality is placed under the obligation of producing one other ancestor of unimpeachable European race in addition. It is useful to have these words in the Bill. It compels the man to produce one ancestor who clearly comes within the words "European race." Both parts of the Amendment refer to Section 6 of the Act of 1870. It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I reminded them as to what that Section is. That Section makes a statutory definition of a native of India as including any person born and domiciled within the Dominion of His Majesty in India or a person habitually resident in India and not established there for temporary purposes only. Therefore, let us take the Anglo-India who is of European descent and whose father, within the first part, might be European. If, as usually happens, he becomes an habitual resident in India he becomes a native of India. Therefore, those are excluded from the definition of European in the first part of this definition, and the Anglo-Indian if I may refer to the second part of the Amendmentmeans a person whose father and any of whose male progenitors in the male line is of European race but who is a native of India as defined in the said section six.He is a native of India. He is habitually resident in India. Then my right hon. and gallant Friend asked what is the difference between this Amendment and what is in the Bill. Substantially one point is that the Amendment is simpler and shorter. If you look at the definition of "European" in the Bill it is based on domicile instead of race. The Anglo-Indian definition set out on page 161 of the Bill, is simplified in the proposal before the Committee. It makes the condition one European ancestor instead of using the words "European descent in the male line." The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) said quite correctly that it settles the difference as to how Anglo-Indians should be defined, and what should be the statutory definition of them. My hon. and gallant Friend stated, I think, that he has grounds to believe that this definition of Anglo-Indian would prove satisfactory to that community and we have grounds to believe 898 that the definition in the first part of the Clause with regard to "European" is satisfactory to the European Association and people who are interested in this matter. With the correction of the slip, "and," for "or," in the first line we are glad to accept this Amendment.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. MOLSON
It is quite untrue that the definition of European in the first part was agreed to by the European community in the form that it has now been moved. It is not quite clear what the effect will be of altering the word "or," into "and,". My hon. and learned Friend said that the present form was ridiculous, but as the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out the use of the word "and," in place of "or," merely lays down a condition that one who can prove he has a European father must also prove that the ancestors of that father were Europeans also. The point of substance that I want to put to my hon. and learned Friend is this: Does this really mean to say that the definition of European implies pure European descent of the father of the individual who comes under the Act? If so, one gets into the difficulty of finding out exactly what European descent is. I will put to my hon. and learned Friend the position, which is a very usual one, of a family which is domiciled in this country and is really almost indistinguishable from a European family, but where it might well be that in the second generation back there had been some infusion of Indian blood. I think that the purpose of the word "or," in this Amendment was to enable those whose general economic and social position is similar to that of Europeans, who have been born and brought up and domiciled in the United Kingdom, to fall within the category of European in India, and not within the category of Anglo-Indians. It must not be taken for granted that this sudden change at the last moment can be accepted by the European community unless it is made clearer than it is what exactly is implied.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I meant to deal with that point. There is an advantage in getting a form of words which satisfies every criterion and I think "race" is the most satisfactory. I am willing to consider any suggestions any- 899 one else can make. Someone asked a question as to the Sephardic Jews.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not think the word, "race" is the most satisfactory. I hope the Government will consider some other form. May I ask if an American is of a European race? May I ask whether a native of Cyprus is of a European race? May I ask whether a Sephardic Jew is of a European race, or whether one of these new citizens of Palestine is of European race? The hon. and learned Gentleman has not made it clear. We want the widest possible interpretation, and not the narrowest. When an Amendment is put on the Paper and suddenly accepted by the Government one must be a little suspicious of it. Practically all the other Amendments the Government have accepted have been put on the Paper by the Government. Here we have an Amendment moved by a private Member. Naturally we are rightly suspicious of it. I think the Government might consider between now and the next stage of the Bill what they mean. Do they want to include those Americans, Cypriots and Palestinian subjects who ought to be British subjects but by a mistake of the Government are called something else? When the Clause was originally put forward it included Zulus and black men from any part of the Empire. Now they are ruled out, although I think they would have made very good Anglo-Indians. Do let us know what the Government intend to put in so that a form of words can be found which suits the situation very well.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
Surely this matter ought to be dealt with from some different standpoint. In India hitherto under the electoral rules, the European group, of course, is not confined to British subjects, but apparently as amended it can be so interpreted by persons who ethnologically are of the white race. I should have thought that some definition on some such terms as these would have covered the case. It does not seem to me that there is such a thing as a European race. There are white races, yellow races and black races, and I agree that we want the widest possible division. I should have thought that the right expression was 900 The "white race," or some ethnological term which I am not competent to suggest, which would cover the matter. "European race" does seem a very absurd phrase, and one which I think is certainly unknown to the law.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
It is a perfectly well understood term. It has been used for generations, and is one accepted by ethnologists. As vice-president of the International Ethnological Conference, I must protest against the ethnological outrage which has just been committed by the hon. Member opposite. He said it is perfectly easy to define the white race. It is the hardest thing in the world, and the cause of half the trouble in Europe to-day. If we are going to get into these unpleasant racial distinctions, we shall have to describe the pedigrees of every Member in the House. The object of the Amendment is to remove a very substantial grievance which the Anglo-Indian community has had for years. It is universally supported. It is to remove a stigma which the Anglo-Indian race has hitherto felt.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The Noble Lord has said that the term "European race" is perfectly well understood, but is it anywhere defined in any Act? This is a matter under which someone is going to be given a right, and it may come up in the courts. I want to know whether, anywhere, the phrase "European race" is defined, or if it is intended to put in a definition?
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
I think there has been no previous mention of "European race"; the phrase since 1919 has been "European descent." My own view is that "European race" is a much more correct description of status than "European descent," but, as the learned Solicitor-General said, attention will be given to that point to see whether it is not better to use the word "descent" instead of "race." The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) asked "Who is it intended to include?" The intention is to include people who have these characteristics, that they are of European race or European descent. 901 The intention is not to include any particular class of persons except in relation to their European characteristics, whether it is descent or race. Whether they may be Jews, or partake of some other of the characteristics which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned, or not, the test will be European race or descent, but the Government will certainly consider whether some other words than those used would be better.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I should have said "European culture" would have been much better, but why make a change at all? What is the reason for introducing, for the first time into British law, a term which has never been used before?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
"European race" or "European descent." Judging from the Attorney-General, European "descent" is introduced for the first time, in an Amendment, and the only reason is to remove a stigma on the Anglo-Indian community. I cannot see what stigma is given by speaking of them as being of European descent instead of European race.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
My right hon. Friend has misunderstood my Noble Friend. He was not speaking of the phrase "European descent" as a stigma or of the phrase "European race" removing a stigma. The Government's desire was to accept the Amendment which, as my Noble Friend has said, satisfies the Europeans, and the Government have agreed, or are prepared, to accept the terms of the Amendment. When it was pointed out by the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Danner) that "descent" was probably better than "race," the learned Solicitor-General at once said that the Government would consider whether the point was not a good one and substitute "descent" when the matter has been looked into. As a rule, when the terms of an Amendment have been more or less unofficially agreed to by the people it most concerns, it is desirable, on the whole, to adhere to those words, unless there is good reason to depart from them. It may be that there is good reason to depart from them by putting in the word "descent" instead of "race," and my 902 own impression is that that probably will be the conclusion to which the Government will come.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
May I suggest that it might be possible to meet the case if the word "races" rather than "race" were used? I confess myself to be somewhat in the same difficulty as the right hon. Gentleman. I was not aware until now that there was a European race. They seem to differ almost as profoundly as do the races of India. If the word is used in the plural, it might meet the whole case.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Sir REGINALD CRADDOCK
There are two points about which I am not quite clear, and about which I should like very much to hear from the hon. and learned Gentleman. The original definition, as included in the Schedule, in both cases was qualified by the use of both words "British subject," whereas in the definition as it now comes to the Committee the words "British subject" have disappeared. It seems to me that prima facie this is for the purpose of giving votes to Indians, but votes may be given to some persons of European race who are not British subjects at all under this definition as amended. The second question is whether the Attorney-General has considered the case of the trial of European British subjects. In that case it may be possible that the right of certain Anglo-Indians may be abolished by reason of the definition in this Bill, the right to be tried by a jury consisting of a majority of European British subjects if they fulfil the definition in the criminal procedure. If the Attorney-General cannot answer offhand, I would ask that he will consider these two points before the Amendment takes final shape.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
With reference to the second point that my hon. Friend has raised, this is a definition for the purpose of this Bill, and it is not a definition that will govern the construction, necessarily, of the Indian criminal code. I think the question as to how it will affect the trial of British subjects will not arise. So far as the first point is concerned, if my hon. Friend will turn back to paragraph 1 of the First Schedule he will find that the 903 definition of the condition and status of a British subject is mentioned there as being necessary.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Sir W. SMILES
I beg to move in page 261, line 25, after the words last inserted to insert:Provided that British subjects of the Sephardic Jewish Community including British subjects of mixed European and Sephardic Jewish descent, but excluding Ben-Israelites, Black Cochin Jews, and persons of mixed Jewish and non-European descent, shall be entitled to vote as Europeans.The Sephardic Jewish community are a community in Calcutta. They are about 2,000 strong, and they are entirely different from those other Jews who live in Calcutta and other parts of India. This is a special constituency, and in a special constituency I suggest that there are identical interests of this Sephardic Jewish community with the European community. It is for that reason that I ask that they may be included in the definition. The Sephardic Jewish community includes men who are well known and respected in Calcutta. I have heard it said that if the Sephardic Jewish community left India, the Calcutta Turf Club would go West. I think they have won nearly all the principal races in India. I think that they belong to many, if not all, of the clubs to which Europeans belong, and they are respected everywhere as Europeans. It is for that reason that I ask that this Amendment might be included. If the Government are not prepared to accept the Amendment now proposed, I would ask that they reconsider the matter before the Report stage.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
Members of this community are at present prevented from effectively exercising any franchise at all. They do not come within any of the recognised classes of Europeans. They vote, when they have a vote, with the non-Mohammedan class which represents the Hindu majority. There does not seem to be any good reason for putting this particular class of the community with the Hindu majority. They are not Europeans but they au of the white race. I am sure that the Vice-President of the Ethnological Society, 904 who is sitting on the bench opposite, will be able to appreciate that point.
§ Earl WINTERTON
In order that the hon. and gallant Member may not be under any misapprehension, the name of the Congress which I represent is the Ethnological and Anthropological Congress.
§ Major MILNER
Members of this community are ethnologically of the white race. The point which the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway made is that they are recognised by the European community and to all intents and purposes belong to that community. They claim that they are racially entitled to the political status of Europeans. I think that they have been rather badly treated by the Government. Their representation or memorial has been before the Government for many years. It was first put before them in 1929 and again in 1932, and it has repeatedly been put forward to the Bengal Government, and through them, to the Viceroy, and to the Secretary of State in this country. An application was made that the community should be heard before the Joint Select Committee, and it was refused. This is the first opportunity that the members of the community have had of getting their case stated to this House in any way.
The European Association, and, I believe, all the Jewish associations in Calcutta and elsewhere, are behind this application that the particular community should be entitled to vote with the Europeans. But there is no doubt about their social intercourse with Europeans and other classes of the community. They are admitted to membership of all European institutions, including the clubs, but they suffer under this political discrimination. Jewish disabilities have been removed to a large extent in this country since 1777, and I hope that the disability in this case will be removed by the acceptance of the Amendment, or some better worded Amendment to bring about the same result. This community, who number only about 2,000, are responsible and highly regarded members of the population, and are accepted by the European community. I would particularly call the attention of the Attorney-General to this matter, as he has said that if a community, such as 905 the European community, expresses a wish, desire or opinion that others should be accepted into that community, the Committee should have regard to such an expression of opinion. For these reasons the Committee or the Government might quite well accept the Amendment in the form in which it has been moved.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
This is not an easy matter. The Government take the view, as at present advised, that it is really impossible to single out one Jewish community from other communities. As one knows, in this country the two main branches of Jewry are the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim. The one regards the Chief Rabbi as its principal religious functionary and the other regards the Haham Bashi, one Dr. Hertz, and the other Dr. Moses Gaster. There are the two Jewish heads. It would be improper to call them sects. They have a slight difference of ritual and there is a slight difference in the pronunciation of Hebrew, but they intermarry freely. To single out the Sephardic community in India and say that they are to be treated as Europeans for this purpose, and to say that all the Ashkenazim in India are not to be so treated, seems to be wrong. While the distinction between the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim is satisfactory from the point of view of our West European States, when you go to Palestine or further East it ceases to be a complete division of the Jewish community. I believe that in Jerusalem you have the Bokhara Jews, and Bagdadis and Yemenites, and Jews from all parts of the world. A great many Jews of various origins have been settled in India since long before the British impact upon India and the establishment of British Government in India. Therefore this problem is not easy, and to select 2,000 particular Jews in Calcutta, and to say that they shall vote in European constituencies when all other Jews in India vote in the general constituencies, with Armenians and Syrians, seems to us to be prima facie impracticable.
§ Major MILNER
Have the Government received any representations from other Jewish communities? I suggest that they have not.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
We are making inquiries on this subject. This application for a communal franchise for a limited section in Calcutta comes mainly from the European associations.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I am not quite sure. It is a question of the interpretation of what is the existing practice, and I do not know the existing practice in that respect. Jews come from all parts of the world, and it is an extremely difficult question. Once you begin to select part of the Jewish community, and lay it down in an Act of Parliament that they shall be particular voters, you are up against creating a new set of conditions for the Jews, and not only for Jews, but Armenians and other races of that kind. I am surprised at the attitude taken up by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who always says that the great thing is to minimise these communal elections. The great thing is to get the maximum number of people into the general electorate. He has always opposed the idea that the Parsees should be placed on a separate communal role, and their powerful community are not dissimilar from many of the Jews in India and I am doubtful whether either Should be given an exceptional communal position.
Once you start dividing a particular community for the purposes of communal representation, it is extremely difficult to know where you are going to end. I do not see the case for selecting this particular Jewish community, however distinguished, and putting them in one category, and all other Jews in another category. All recent development has been to regard Jewry as one people still adhering to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their ancestors, and holding fast to the Mosaic law. We respect that faith and regard them as one. In Palestine we made no distinction in Jews, no matter where they come from, and, therefore, I suggest that it would be unwise from the Jewish point of view and from the point of view of this Committee to accept the Amendment.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
If I were defending the Arab case in Palestine against 907 the Jews I should be delighted with this Amendment, because it cuts away the whole basis of the contention made on behalf of the Jews in Palestine that they are a united people. If there is indeed this tremendous feeling on the part of this community for being treated as Europeans, it is curious that the Joint Select Committee received no memorial from them.
§ Major MILNER
I have here a memorial from the Sephardic Jews in which they say that they were advised to place the matter before the Joint Select Committee and sent in papers on the subject in July, 1931, and July, 1933, and that on the 25th September they requested that their case should be placed before the Committee. The request was refused on the 10th of October, 1933. It is a remarkable fact and a curious commentary on the proceedings of the Committee that none of its members heard anything of this request.
§ Earl WINTERTON
There were thousands of memoranda sent in, and if I was in error I withdraw it. However, they made no representations to the Statutory Commission. I hope that the Government will be cautious in this matter. Once you give a special status to these people you will be met by a similar demand from Hindus and Moslems. Hon. Members in this Committee who represent the Jewish community, either because they are Jews themselves or have Jews among their constituents, have always argued that the Jews are one race. They cannot say that the Jews are a united race and then put down an elaborate Amendment like this in which one type of Jew is distinguished from another. That is impossible. I should think that it is very wounding to the feelings of other Jews in India to be described as non-Europeans, while these particular Jews in Calcutta, who, we are told, are some of the wealthiest people in the city and great supporters of the Calcutta turf, are treated as Europeans. These other Jews are also descended from Father Abraham and are just as proud of their Jewish descent, but they are not to have the vote. This is really an important matter, and I must assure the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) that no question of hatred of the 908 Jews is involved, although I am perfectly aware that nothing has so much effect on the right hon. and gallant Member as a speech from me on the Jewish question.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am not in the least surprised at the Noble Lord, but I am grossly shocked at the attitude of the First Commissioner of Works. The Noble Lord is quite mistaken. We are always on opposite sides on this matter, and quite rightly. I do not know whether the Noble Lord has a Jew ancestor somewhere in his pedigree, but if the pedigree is long enough you generally find one somewhere.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
But the Noble Lord entirely misses the point. There is no opposition to this Amendment from any Jewish body. There has been approval from the English community in Calcutta. The British community want it; the Sephardic Jews want it, and the Ashkenazi Jews have it already. There is no opposition to it anywhere, except from the Noble Lord. It is like a red rag to the Noble Lord whenever the Jews are mentioned; well perhaps I will put it this way, that he is a little more pro-Arab than I am. The First Commissioner of Works had given us a description of the difference between the Ashkenazi Jews and the Sephardic Jews. The real difference is that the Sephardic Jews have long pedigrees, while the Ashkenazi Jews have not. There is certainly not much difference otherwise between them, and if the Sephardic Jews find that the Ashkenazi Jews in Calcutta have the vote as Europeans, then all they ask is that they should be treated in the same way. It is absurd to accuse me of desiring to add to the community. I want to add to the strength of the European vote in their community. They have a very small community in Calcutta and they have more than adequate representation.
I think everybody is in favour of the British remaining in India, and desires to see an increase in the number of the community. It makes an enormous difference to the power of the European vote in the Provincial Councils or the Assembly at Delhi if it represents large numbers instead of a mere handful. Here are 2,000 fresh people who want to come 909 in as European voters, and the Europeans want to have them because they know that it will strengthen the European element to have these additional numbers of big business men. I cannot think why the Scottish in Calcutta—because they are Scottish and not English—should not be allowed to have the assistance and co-operation of these people who are by culture and education and in every other way the exact equivalent of those whom we term the pure Europeans in Calcutta. The Government ought to consider between now and the Report stage whether they could not include this class among the European community in the interests of the British in India.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman and I are equally anxious that the Jews in Palestine should become British citizens and that we should strengthen our Empire by bringing about co-operation between two different races in the British Empire. I want to see exactly the same thing in India. These people form an admirable class of the community; they are welcomed by the other white inhabitants of Calcutta and I think that, in the interests of the Empire, the Government ought to consider whether they cannot meet this point. The only opposition likely to arise might come from the Mohammedans and possibly from the Noble Lord opposite, who takes up almost as unique a line on the one side as I take on the other on this question. But we are united, I think, in the desire to do our best for the British in India, and I suggest that the best thing we can do in this case is to ask that the Government should see whether they cannot strengthen our position by making this very slight concession to a very important community.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
Is not the real distinction between these two classes of people that the Sephardic Jews are the patricians of the Jewish community while the Ashkenazi are the plebeians. The Sephardic Jews are chiefly from the shores of the Mediterranean, while the others are largely from Holland and Germany. The Sephardic Jews have their own synagogues which are known as Spanish and Portuguese synagogues.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS
We are fortunate in having with us the First Commissioner of Works when any pro- 910 blem arises affecting the position of the Jews. I am always prepared to follow my right hon. Friend on this matter, because I know he has always taken a broad-minded view on the subject. I remember a speech of his over 20 years ago on the question, which impressed me very much. I am rather surprised at the attitude of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). For once, he is definitely reactionary in trying to create a new split and a new community in a country which one might describe as being racked with communities. I rose, however, for the purpose of asking a definite question. In the proviso to this Amendment there are excluded "Ben-Israelites" and "Black Cochin Jews." I think that the word "black" in this connection must refer to ritual and not to the colour of the skin. In other words, if my information is right, "black" in this connection is a word of prejudice, which ought to be omitted.
§ Mr. JANNER
I am sure there is no intention on the part of those promoting the Amendment to infer any characteristic of blackness in a malicious sense. On the contrary I think the only reason why the word is introduced is because it describes a particular type of Jew. There happens to be, in fact, a black race who are Jews.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I admit that this is a realm of knowledge with which I am not familiar but I have been given to understand that there is a class, a group or a section of Jews known as Cochin Jews and I am under the impression that sometimes the word "white" is attached to that description, but that the words "white" or "black" have no racial significance. Originally some significance of that kind may have attached to the word "black," but I am told that to-day it does not indicate negro or negroid or anything of the kind and that a Black Cochin Jew may be as white as my hon. Friend who has just intervened and who was brought up in the same country as the First Commissioner of Works and myself, namely, Wales. I suggest that the word "black" here is calculated to mislead the Committee and I think that those who are responsible for the Amendment ought to explain its exact significance.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. JANNER
I am sure the Committee will pardon me for saying a few words on this subject. I am not going to speak at this stage either in favour of or against the Amendment. What I would suggest is that the matter should be given careful consideration before the Report stage as there appears to be considerable misunderstanding as to the significance of the terms that are being used and the significance of the Amendment itself. I realise and appreciate the courtesy and the liberal outlook which is always displayed in this House when matters of importance to the Jewish people are being considered. I have always recognised that not only the Members of this House but the whole of the people of this country appreciate the fact that the distinctions attempted to be drawn elsewhere between Jew and non Jew are not only vicious but lead to misunderstandings which should be highly deprecated. While I appreciate the sincerity of the attempts which have been made to define the terms in this Amendment I am bound to say that they have not been quite accurate. The terms "Ashkenazi" and "Sephardic" have been used. It is true that these are two sections of Jews whose ancestors came from different parts of the world, but I do not think that this Amendment seeks to draw a distinction in that sense.
As I understand it some Jews come within the definition of European whether they are Ashkenazi or Sephardic. But there is another important section who do not come within that definition. That is how matters stand in the present Act in regard to India. I believe that the terms of that Act defining European and non-European relate to the birthplace and domicile of the grandfathers of the persons actually concerned. That is a matter, of course, of which some Members of the Committee, particularly those who have taken for years a keen interest in Indian matters, will know more than I can pretend to know. On the other hand, there is undoubtedly a feeling on the part of a large section of the inhabitants of Calcutta and elsewhere—although it may not be large in comparison with the number of people in the whole of India—that while their social and cultural standing is that of Europeans, their actual position in questions of voting and matters of administration is a different 912 one. They feel themselves embarrassed when questions relating to status and voting arise. That, I think, is really the point which the Movers of the Amendment would like to have considered and satisfactorily dealt with before the matter is finally settled.
For my part, while I would not like to take the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the whole Jewish community—the Committee will appreciate that that would be exceedingly difficult to do—I do consider, however, that the Amendment ought to be given full attention by the Government, so that when it is raised again by my hon. Friend and his colleagues, then with full knowledge of what is behind it the matter can be dealt with in a way which will meet the case of those who are asking for consideration. I believe they have a very strong case. On a number of occasions they have asked that it should be considered, and I am sure that with the courtesy that is extended as a rule to all sections of the community, this section will be allowed to present their case in a manner understandable by the House.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I hope that the hon. Member will see his way to withdraw his Amendment now. We will consider the matter further, but in saying that I do not want it to be thought that we agree that it is possible to enter into the kind of limitations and definitions that are suggested. It must be borne in mind that because certain Jews are in a high social position, we cannot treat them differently from other Jews. That must be the fundamental basis in considering this matter. Guarding ourselves against any suggestion that socially powerful Jews are to have treatment different from others, we will look into the matter. I think that the hon. Member who has just sat down will realise the practical difficulties of putting into the Statute definitions dealing with the community of which he is a distinguished member. That is not easy, and, in fact, is very difficult.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I do not want to delay the Committee, but I would beg the right hon. Gentleman not to be carried away by the argument of one hon. Member who spoke of the large number of horses raced.
§ Sir W. SMILES
In view of the fact that the evidence in reference to this question was not considered by the Joint Select Committee, I think there is certainly a strong case for these claims being considered, but, after the assurance that has been given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 261, line 25, at the end, to insert:'an Indian-Christian' means a person who professes any form of the Christian religion and is not a European or an Anglo-Indian.The definition which I propose speaks for itself.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 261, line 26, to leave out "and tribes, corresponding," and to insert:or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes, being castes, races, tribes, parts or groups which appear to His Majesty in Council to correspond.I move this Amendment because it is thought that the words in the Bill are a little too rigid to provide for all cases that might arise. The words in the Bill are:'the scheduled castes' means such castes, races and tribes, corresponding to the classes of persons formerly known as the depressed classes.'It has been thought better to extend the words "and tribes corresponding" in the way proposed in the Amendment, so that consideration can be given to the various difficulties that might arise between borderland cases and the matter quickly decided, and a decision embodied in an Order in Council.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
The reference to "His Majesty in Council" appears twice in this sentence. It seems to me rather curious that in one place you should refer to the opinion of His Majesty in Council and then a few words further on, say "as His Majesty in Council may specify." I do not know whether this purely drafting point has been considered, but, looking on the Order Paper, I see no Amendment to deal with it. It appears to me rather clumsy and unnecessary.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, and I will see that one of these superfluous phrases is deleted.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN
I beg to move, in page 261, line 35, at the end, to insert:(2) For the purposes of this paragraph any reference in section six of the Government of India Act 1870, to India shall be construed as a reference to India and Burma.The object of this Amendment is to bring Anglo-Burmans into the same relationship as Anglo-Indians.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
This is really consequential on the Amendment we made a few minutes ago. It is necessary in order to provide for Anglo-Indians in Burma and Anglo-Burmans in India. The necessity arises from the recent history of the union between India and Burma.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in page 261, line 40, to leave out "exercising his individual judgment."
It seems to us that the Governor-General will have quite a lot of responsibility, and we are not at all sure whether in all the omissions that may be made from this Bill and the Act of the Federal Legislature the Governor-General should be called upon to exercise his individual judgment in so many of the functions that are referred to in this part of the Schedule. After all, there will be Ministers who will have some knowledge of and responsibility for what is required, and why the Government leave these matters entirely for the individual discretion of the Governor-General passes our comprehension. He will have to deal with the nomination of candidates for elections, the conduct of elections, the expenses of candidates; to note whether the Corrupt Practices Act has been offended against and all sorts of offences in connection with elections; and he will have to make decisions on doubts and disputes arising. It is obvious that these are items that will have to be dealt with by some authoritative body. Surely these matters, which affect both the Council and the Federal Assembly, ought not to be left to the individual judgment of the 915 Governor-General. Clearly the Ministers, who have been appointed for all such purposes as those referred to in this part of the Schedule, ought to be consulted and the Governor-General ought to act on the advice of the Ministers.
If we are conferring any power at all on Indian Legislatures, the Ministers are assumed to be people who have the ability, knowledge and capacity to govern, and they ought to be consulted before any of these items are dealt with. We think it only fair to the popularly—or unpopularly—elected legislatures that when there is any doubt the Governor-General should consult the Ministers, As is the case in this and any other country. For these reasons we think that these words ought to be deleted, or that, alternatively, there ought to be included some reference to Ministers so that all the powers are not left in the hands of the Governor-General.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The hon. Gentleman has no doubt observed that the matters dealt with by paragraph 25 are matters of definite importance, possibly, to minorities. The hon. Gentleman has laid a good deal of stress upon the desirability of the Governor-General obtaining the advice of his Ministers. There is no reason at all why he should not do that and then give effect to his decision in the light of that advice as he may be inclined. The occasions will probably be very rare when he will not have the advantage of the advice of his Ministers, and it is difficult to visualise the situation in which that would occur. I only want to make it plain that there is no difficulty in his getting the advice of his Ministers, but, if circumstances should arise in which the advice which they gave should not be taken or acted upon by the Governor-General, no doubt there would be very good and ample reason for that position. Having regard to the nature of the points that are covered by paragraph 25 and to the minorities whom they may concern, it is thought better to have these matters decided by the Governor-General in his individual judgment, using that phrase in the sense in which it is used in the Bill.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
We are fairly familiar in the Committee by this time with the words "in his individual judgment." They mean that the Governor-General may have the advice of the Ministers, but that he need not necessarily act upon that advice. It is different from the expression which has been used in other parts of the Bill "in his discretion."
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I hope that the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) will withdraw the Amendment, as it was obviously moved under a misunderstanding. He said that it was all wrong that the Ministers should not give advice to the Governor-General, but in every case where the words "exercising his individual judgment" appear, the Governor-General must listen to their advice, although he need not take it. The hon. Member is usually one of the most well-informed Members of the Opposition, but on this occasion he has not taken the active part in this Bill that others have done, and he does not realise the distinction between "in his discretion" where the Governor-General does as he likes, and "exercising his individual judgment" where he must listen to the advice of his Ministers, and other cases, where nothing is said, in which he has to take that advice.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I still disagree with the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). My interpretation of these four words is that the Governor-General may, without consulting his Ministers, use his judgment.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The hon. Gentleman is still under a misapprehension. There is no difficulty about the Governor-General getting the benefit of the advice of his Ministers, but he is not bound to take it when acting in his individual judgment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. EMMOTT
I beg to move, in page 268, line 1, to leave out "The Governor-General may in his discretion," and to insert "His Majesty in Council may."
The Committee will appreciate that we have now come to that part of the Schedule which relates to the representation of the Indian States in the Federal Legislature. The 917 13th paragraph of the Schedule, to which this Amendment refers, confers upon the Governor-General, acting in his discretion, the power to transfer any State from one group of States mentioned in the Table on page 269 to another group of States, if he deems it expedient to do so. It is, in my submission, important to an appreciation of what is here involved to notice the reasons why this power is necessary. The paragraph goes on to make it clear that the Governor-General may so act in order to reduce the number of seats which, by reason of the non-accession of a State or States, would otherwise remain unfilled, or in order to associate in separate groups States whose rulers do, and States whose rulers do not desire to make appointments jointly instead of in rotation. Then the Governor-General has to be satisfied that such variation will not adversely affect the rights and interests of any State. It is sufficient merely to refer to what I have just read to be assured that the functions which are here referred to are functions of very great importance, and we think simply that it will be invidious to call upon the Governor-General to exercise them in his discretion. Our desire, therefore, is that these functions should be performed not by the Governor-General, even though he acts in his discretion, but by His Majesty in Council; in effect, by the Imperial Government but formally and constitutionally by His Majesty in Council.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
I have listened to the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend and feel that they do support the proposal which he makes. It appears to be a reasonable one, and the Government are content to accept it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
I beg to move, in page 269, line 15, to leave out "all."
This is a further drafting Amendment, the word "all" not being necessary.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this Schedule, as amended, be the First Schedule to the Bill."
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
The discussions on this vital Schedule have ranged over a considerable number of subjects, and had the opportunity occurred, my hon. 918 friends and I would have very much liked to stress certain other points. Before we leave the Schedule I desire to call attention once more to two or three startling innovations which have been introduced under pressure this afternoon. The Schedule as it is now leaving us is very different from that which is printed in the Bill. The Council of State, instead of being formed on simple lines, clearly to be understood, as suggested by the Joint Select Committee, is now to have certain confusions and political differences, and even differences of sex are going to be accentuated owing to a decision taken this afternoon. Women who cannot find entry into these democratic institutions in India in the normal way at the present moment, owing to the fact that ideas about the liberation of women are more backward there than in this country, where we are so enlightened, are to be sent up to the Council of State. There are to be six women from the six leading Provinces, whether that is the desire of Indians or not. Personally, I think it is a pity that the Under-Secretary should have varied the principles which we understood had been precisely laid down at earlier stages. I presume that six male representatives from those Provinces are to be excluded, willy nilly, in order to make way for these privileged ladies, who sail into this Upper House by this extraordinary method.
On several occasions the Government rebuked us on these benches when we made certain suggestions concerning trade and other matters which we felt would be for the good of India. They were shocked at the idea that we should endeavour to impose anything on India. The whole of the serried ranks of Lancashire almost collapsed when they were told that they must not do anything which could be regarded as imposing Imperial preference on India. They faded away like the mist before the sun, after having put up a very bold fight for a tariff advisory board. Why were they driven off the battlefield so easily? Because they were told that it was wrong to impose anything of the kind upon India. Now, contrary to the Joint Select Committee's Report, we are to have these most desirable—as we would consider them in this House—members of the female species imposed upon India, and their presence is going to be felt in the Council of State.
919 Well may Indians declaim against the way in which we are insisting upon what is wise for them according to our Western theories when they see that there are to be six representatives of the angelic part of the world introduced into the Council of State in India whilst we have decided that it is not wise for our women to sit in the House of Lords. It is a violation of the principle which has hitherto been laid down by the Secretary of State that no special interests should be chosen in order that this Chamber may be of a different character from the Legislative Chamber. For some extraordinary reason which nobody understands the Under-Secretary has varied that provision.
The same observations apply to the depressed classes. I think it is rather unwise that the hon. Gentleman should have given way to one or two rather ineffective arguments from the benches opposite, because who is there who has really heard the case of the depressed classes in India who will deny that they really have no effective representation at the present time? Who can deny that the best representatives of the depressed classes in India would be men selected by the Governor-General for their great authority, such as distinguished and enlightened Indians who could look at the problem from the point of view of India as a whole, or distinguished and experienced British administrators who would be chosen on account of their great work? I cannot help thinking that it was unwise to give way in this matter.
Everybody knows that there has been a change of opinion among the leaders of the depressed classes. They seem to be very amenable to any kind of agitation, and I do not believe that they will stand up to any great difficulties, religious or otherwise. I believe that their leaders only swallowed the Poona Pact because Mr. Gandhi refused to swallow his food. They have shown no such leadership as would stand up to political pressure. The Under-Secretary of State and His Majesty's Government would have done far better for the depressed classes in India if they had allowed—although "allowed" is the wrong word—the Governor-General naturally to choose the finest representative he could find in the whole of India, one who could be relied upon to look most favourably 920 upon the problems which confront the depressed classes.
In regard to that part of the subject which is passing from us now, we have this extraordinary decision of the Government to interfere—I do not think that that is the wrong word—by suggestion with the choice of the Governor-General in the matter of Labour representatives in the Council of State. I believe that the Governor-General has six nominated members whom he is allowed to choose. In the opinion of my hon. Friends and myself that number is utterly inadequate. It has been seen time and time again in the last three weeks how vital and essential it is that the Governor-General should have a sufficient number of nominated members who are skilled in administration and who are picked men, able to help these democratic institutions during the strivings of their infancy. Out of this precious six whom the Governor-General has, and who ought to be the absolute pick and flower of the available men in India, we are told now that the Governor-General has to give special consideration to Labour representation.
I was surprised to hear the Under-Secretary of State say that the choice of the Governor-General has to be narrowed down in this connection, and that the Governor-General has specially to consider what are called Labour representatives. There are no representatives of Labour in India. That is an entire misnomer. Vast numbers of the workers of India are utterly unorganised, and the only people who assemble together in any form of organisation are to be found in two or three of the big cities, where there are trade unions. They had a conference three weeks ago. The champions of Labour, whom I am glad to see looking so full of fight on the Opposition benches this evening, will probably bear me out when I say that that conference desired that the Bill should not be inflicted upon India at all. I hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would have taken his cue from his comrades in India, and would have resisted this Measure altogether, but no, he is the principal supporter of His Majesty's Government. When my hon. Friends and I have endeavoured to uphold Conservative principles and have stood out for them in the Lobby, we have often seen the Socialists and Liberals pressing His 921 Majesty's Government through the Lobby from one bad decision to another.
I beg the Committee to realise that words have been bandied across the Table with the result that the Under-Secretary has definitely suggested that the Governor-General shall give special consideration to the question of Labour representatives. I suggest that such organised Labour as there is in India—we have heard from the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) that there is very little of it—falls into two categories. One category can be described as Communist, and wherever they have given votes the votes have been for complete swaraj, and the entire elimination of British goods and all that they call foreign goods. They have a complete disregard of the welfare of industry and labour in this country. I am not sure that the other category is not more numerous. It is the category of trade union organised Labour, which is absolutely under the thumb of the capitalists, the mill-owners—hon. Members know that what I am saying is a fact—who, in the time of boycott can completely control their actions and can force them to take action so disastrous as that then entered upon to the great disadvantage of India.
I hope the Committee appreciate that a very great change has taken place. I regret that the Under-Secretary has given way on these two points, because they are not going to be for the better government of India. If the Bill is to be passed into law, I should imagine that it would be desirable that we should make it strong, and that we should not pander to sectional interests. From whatever point of view we may look at the Bill, no Member of the Committee can fail to realise that it is impossible, in the present state of India, to obtain representatives of Labour. The men who will best represent the workers of India are those who have had experience in all the great difficulties of the vast country areas, and who understand the difficulites which confront the ordinary peasant worker at the present time.
One other subject to which I desire to refer is of immense importance, but time has not permitted us to discuss it this evening. I will only refer briefly to it, in so far as it occurs in the Schedule. It is stated that every Prince is to have absolute choice in selecting the person 922 or persons who, in the Assembly at Delhi, will represent his State. Everybody realises that the Government of India will be Hindu. The vast majority, I think something like 70 per cent., of the Princes and ruling Chiefs in India are Hindu, and the result is that if you go straight ahead and give them no direction in the Bill that the representatives should have some relation to the communal opinions of the inhabitants of the States, the Hindu electorate will be immensely enlarged, and our decisions to set up in the Schedule a number of electorates will be weighted still more tremendously in that direction.
Anything we could have done to have narrowed the religious differences of India would have been wise. We have had that point cropping up in every discussion on this Schedule this evening. The danger for the future is that you have such an overwhelming majority of Hindu members in British India. It has always been put forward to members of this party that the Princes are going to be a conservative and stabilising influence—but I wish to point out this fact, that religion will be at the root of practically every great political difference which will occur in India. Nearly every great, burning topic which occurs in India is on account of these intense religious differences. Does the Committee realise that if the Schedule goes through as it is the Princes will be able enormously to increase their Hindu majority? And the consequence is that far from making for equipoise we are going to overweight the Hindu electorate enormously, because we have done nothing to see that the people of the States shall have adequate representation of their communal differences among the representatives whom the Princes may choose. This always seems to me to be a matter of vital importance.
Here you have great Princes ruling over States. The Prince may be Hindu or Mohammedan, with his subjects following other religious opinions. Knowing what we do about the intense religious feeling in India, are we wise to lay down that a Prince can disregard entirely the religious opinions of the people in his State? Should we not have been wiser to have seen to it that the representation should have been something comparable to the religious opinions of the people who dwell in these States?
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) has made reference to the trade union decision. He told us that the trade unions had met and that they had taken a decision and that he thought members on these benches would follow the lead given by our comrades in India. But in almost the next breath he told us that there really are no trade unionists in India, excepting for a few in the cities. The hon. and gallant Member cannot have it both ways. What he seems to have forgotten is that the attitude of Members on these benches has been consistent throughout this Bill. In one of the first speeches made in these Debates my right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) said that this Bill went no way at all to satisfy his desires or the desires of this party; and that both he and his party would prefer to have no Bill at all rather than accept the one now before us. But as we do not desire to waste time for the mere love of wasting time the Bill is passing through its various stages, and it would have passed through more rapidly but for the hon. and gallant Gentleman and one or two of his friends. The trade unions who met in council to discuss this Bill apparently saw as little meat in it, from their point of view, as we have seen in it from the commencement.
The hon. and gallant Member would be ready and willing to admit that the Indian ryot and the Indian workers generally have had so little education and such little opportunity to acquire knowledge of government, that the Constitution as suggested in this Bill is such that it will be many generations before they can ever hope to get any standing in the Council or in the Legislative Assembly at all. Consequently, the trade unions referred to took the only decision that could be taken, and I am inclined to agree with them. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman says that there are two sections of trade unionists in India. He says that the section who combine for mutual advantages, to bargain for wages and that kind of thing, are Communists; and that they want to break away from Great Britain and do all these things which the hon. and gallant Gentleman thinks of in the Britisher as the most noble manifestations he can display. There is not a Member who demands more vociferously than the 924 hon. and gallant Gentleman: "Britain for the British." But the moment an Indian advocates "India for the Indians," that Indian is a Communist from the point of view of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Sir H. CROFT
If not in my maiden speech then within two months of being elected here a quarter of a century ago I most emphatically demanded that we should give preference to Indian products, and I have never departed from that decision from that day to this. And in any small attempt I may have made to improve this Bill my aim has not been to put India first or England first, but to realise that we are all part of a great Empire. That is why I am resisting this Bill—because I think we are cutting right across that great principle. Instead of getting together we are fatally dividing ourselves.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I do not deny that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has been a real Empire enthusiast from the day he arrived in this House. I would not deny that he has advocated Imperial preference for India or any other parts of the Empire; but one thing he has never advocated and a thing which, according to his present outlook and mentality, he is never likely to advocate, is that residents in other parts of the Empire should have the power to do what he himself is doing this evening—to speak for themselves and to do for themselves what he insists upon our doing for them. He says that there are two categories of trade unionists. There is this one section which demands India for the Indians and demands the right for Indians to govern themselves, to develop their own industries and to do those other things which they think most suitable for themselves. The hon. and gallant Member says that they are seditious and that they are Communists and that they ought not—
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I should hesitate to transgress your Ruling, Captain Bourne, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman was raising the point of the concession, which may mean anything or nothing. I am afraid it will not mean very much to the Labour people in India, who may get one, two, or three members out of the six to be nominated by the Governor-General. It was only in reply to his reference to 925 the trade union section in India that I was making these observations. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said there was another section of trade unionists who had much closer dealings with employers. It would appear from his statements that if an Indian workman joins a trade union for the purpose of bettering his own position and in the process develops a political consciousness and desires to help in governing himself in his own country, he is a Communist. If, however, he joins another trade union, which has some attachment to employers, he is merely a tool of the employers for the purpose of robbing this country of trade.
It seems to me that the concession given by the Government was a very small one. To give one or two representatives to the Labour party, who are not likely to secure many members by the normal electoral methods, is a very small concession indeed. And it is because of the terms of the Bill itself, because of the method of election, because of the absence of education and the absence of that outlook that ought to have been produced long since, in view of the length of time that England has been governing India—it is because of these facts that we were pleading with the Under-Secretary to-day at least to reserve so many seats for Labour, so many for the depressed classes and so many for the women in the Council of State in India. We think that our efforts were fully justified. We were not at all satisfied with the small concession that was made, but so far as it goes the fact that it does enable the voice of the worker to be spoken in an Assembly in India itself is one which we think is a step in the right direction.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
This Schedule certainly calls for a measure of general discussion. After all, it is a bigger thing than the Reform Act of 1832. If you bear in mind one or two operative clauses behind it, the Schedule is analogous to the Reform Act of 1832, which is regarded by many as one of the most outstanding Acts in the history of the British Parliament. Before we part with the Committee stage, we ought to think of some of these provisions. I think if we had gramophone records made of the Debates and played in every market this Bill would never become an Act. It is the most amazing document I have ever seen. 926 There was a certain amount of discussion about paragraph 6. I see that one-third of the members are to serve for three years, one-third for six years and another third for nine years. I find no arrangements to decide in what way or order they are to be chosen to serve for the varying periods. The ordinary system of election would not give you any indication which were the people who were entitled to serve for nine years.
In paragraph 25 it is left to the Governor-General to decide the rules. It was probably a good thing to have left it to him. But just fancy passing through this Parliament an arrangement affecting our own elections under which it was left to the Home Secretary to decide such a matter. Parliament would not tolerate it for one moment in respect of our elections. When you come to paragraph 8, that seems rather definite, because the Governor-General is to do as he likes. Then there was a point which I raised on an Amendment relating to paragraph 9. If you take an individual Province—Madras, for example, where there are two seats allotted to Mohammedans in the Council of State—you get an election, and a man is elected for nine years. Three years later a man is elected for nine years, but when you come to the next three years nobody is elected.
The Under-Secretary gave an elaborate explanation which was so complicated that no one understood it, and he was loudly cheered. He was wrong in that, but all the same we all admire his conduct of the Bill. So far as there is any public opinion, you do not get a proper response in this amazing situation, where in one case the people are elected by a Legislative Council, and in another case by an Electoral College. Then this is what happens when you get a by-election. In paragraph 10, page 257:When a casual vacancy occurs in a seat theretofore held by a person chosen in accordance with this paragraph, a person to fill the seat shall be chosen by such of the members of the Legislative Council or, as the case may be, of the Electoral College, as are members of the same community as the person by whom the seat was held.In other words, if I may try to make an analogy with this country, when a member on this side of the House ceases to be a Member and there is a by-election, the only people entitled to vote at that by-election shall be Conservatives. On the other hand, when a vacancy occurs 927 on the other side of the House, the people entitled to vote shall be Socialists.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
No, no, the whole Council vote. You need not be a Parsee or a Buddhist—they can elect whom they like without check. But here, according to this paragraph, the people who vote shall be on the same side. Such a provision in this country would be amusing. Put it on the music halls and it would be the greatest success that has ever been; it would be a roaring farce. It is going through this Parliament now because the bulk of the Members have abdicated their responsibility. They say: "We have never been to India. We will leave it to those who have been and who know something about it." That is a denial of all Parliamentary responsibility. The day may come when some members will regret that they did not take a proper part. How can there be any responsibility in the Council of State when vacancies can be filled in this perfectly absurd and ludicrous way?
We come to another example in the rules on page 258:The rules regulating the conduct of elections by the European Electoral College shall be such as to secure that on any occasion where more than one seat falls to be filled by the College no two of the seats to be then filled shall be filled by persons who are normally resident in the same Province.You may have two ideal persons at a particular moment. There is a certain amount of racial prejudice in this country. It is not too easy for an Englishman to be elected for a Scottish constituency. They elected Mr. Asquith, it is true. We are more tolerant here. A distinguished constituent of mine came from Aberdeen and is the respected Member for Streatham (Sir W. Lane-Mitchell). Another Scotsman used to be Member for Camberwell and now represents the safer seat of Bromley (Sir E. Campbell).
Then we come to paragraph 15, which is the beginning of the communal award. It is Chapter I of the communal award. Think of trying to construct a Parliament in this country on that basis.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not know if the hon. Gentleman was in the Committee at the beginning of this 928 sitting, when it was generally agreed that the question of the communal award should be left until the Fifth Schedule.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
No, Sir; I have been doing a double turn. I have been sitting on Standing Committee A, where we concluded, after 20 days' sittings, the Committee stage of the Housing Bill, and therefore I missed the earlier part of the Debate. I will, however, postpone the remarks that I have to make on paragraph 15 and other paragraphs until we reach the Fifth Schedule, where the question of the communal award can be more fully developed. What would happen, however, if we tried to conduct ourselves here on this basis? Paragraph (18, a) says:There shall be a primary electorate consisting of all persons who were successful candidates at the primary elections held in accordance with the provisions of the Fifth Schedule to this Act, on the occasion of the last general election of members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province for the purpose of selecting candidates for seats reserved for members of the scheduled castes.I wonder whether most Members of the Committee have read that paragraph. This is the kind of electoral system that the Government are trying to build up. Can it be suggested that it has anything to do with democratic Government as we understand it? Then at the end of paragraph 18 we come to the phrase:Rules made under this part of the Schedule.Paragraph 19 says that theRules regulating the conduct of elections by the women's Electoral College shall be such as to secure that, of the nine women's seats allotted to Provinces, at least two are held by Muhammadans and at least one by an Indian Christian.I am not emphasising the communal award aspect, but, when we pass this Schedule, we shall not know what is ultimately going to happen, because it is all going to be determined by rules subsequently made. Again, paragraph (21, a) says:In the case of a seat allotted to a Province which is to be filled by a representative of commerce and industry, by such chambers of commerce and similar associations voting in such manner as may be prescribed.Sub-paragraph (b) states that, in the case of a seat allotted to a Province which is to be filled by a landholder, the voting shall be:in such manner as may be prescribed.929 Sub-paragraph (c) says the same with regard to the representative of Labour, and I hope the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) will take an interest in the fact that the voting is to be in such manner as may be prescribed. I know that occasionally we have seen, in the case of strikes and at other times, the manner of voting prescribed, but I hope that the manner in which the Governor-General prescribes it will be a little different from that. We think we are passing an Act of Parliament whereas actually we are passing something giving the authority to somebody else. We have not the faintest idea who will then be the Governor-General, or what kind of rules will be prescribed. Again, paragraph 22 (b) consists of the phrase:In other cases in such manner as may be prescribed.Paragraph 25 is the paragraph which enables all the rules to be made, and here we are giving a complete blank cheque to some unidentified future Governor-General. He may make all the rules that be likes, but he has to take notice of what his Ministers think about them. I remember the Representation of the People Bill of 1928, which used to be called the Flappers' Vote Bill; and I remember the Divisions that we had as to whether 3½d. or 4d. per member should be spent, and on all the rules and regulations. We voted on those questions with a full sense of responsibility. But here everything is to be done by rules—the notification of vacancies; the nomination of candidates; the conduct of elections including the application of the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
I hold a unique position in this country with regard to the single transferable vote. In 1918 I was a Parliamentary candidate for the Combined English Universities, and that was the first election to be decided by proportional representation. It worked out in a curious way. I did not get in, but, to the pleasure of us all, the candidate elected was Lord Conway, who was then Sir Martin Conway. He and I were in the most friendly rivalry, and the result so worked out that, had there not been proportional representation, I should have got in. As, however, the method of proportional representation was followed, he got in. We were both Conservatives. The majority of the 930 Conservatives voted for me, but the Liberals put Sir Martin Conway in. Mr. Herbert Fisher, who was Minister of Education, was also elected. He was a Liberal, and the Liberal vote got him in. The Liberals also put in the Conservative Member, Sir Martin Conway, although the majority of the Conservatives voted for me. The Liberal party support this business because they think they are going to get something out of it, and the Labour party used to believe in it, but they do not believe in it now, because it would not suit their present working scheme. The real test of faith in Parliamentary institutions and principles of democratic government is whether you hold the same view throughout, and not whether you change it according to the present position of your party. To return to paragraph 25, sub-paragraph (iv) deals with the expenses of candidates at elections, and sub-paragraph (v) withCorrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with elections.In this country we have been through all the stages of corrupt practices, and we might be better equipped here to determine what these should be, rather than leaving them to be dealt with later on.
In this Schedule we have all the rules and regulations as to the method of representation of the Indian States in the most amazing Federation the world has ever seen. It is a 50–50 Federation. It must be 50 per cent. before it can start, and, when it is started with only 50 per cent. inside, if there is anything they do not like in the Federation they will not put it in their Instrument of Accession. All these pages of complicated matter relating to the establishment of the most extraordinary Federation the world has ever seen are placed in a Schedule which it is difficult even for the experts to understand, and at the end is a long list of constituencies and populations showing the relationships of the various States. This great Schedule is going through its Committee stage moderately late in the evening, with only a small fraction of the Committee present, the great mass of its members having, as I have already said, abdicated from their responsibility. I do not suppose that I have influenced one solitary vote by what I have said, but there are times when you have to say what is inside you or burst. I had 931 no opportunity of taking part in the Second Reading Debate, where general statements were possible, but on this Schedule I have tried, I hope without exceeding the limits of order except on one point where I was not familiar with the arrangement that had been made, to express my views about what I believed to be fundamentally wrong. I believe in the long run we shall regret what we are doing to-night. I have spoken at much greater length than I like to do on the Committee stage, because I feel so strongly on this subject.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The hon. Member who has just resumed his seat has made a very forceful criticism of the Bill. He made reference to the Act of 1832 and drew a comparison between the political excitement that obtained when that Act was passed and the effect on the House of the present Bill. It is a very marked contrast. At the time when the 1832 Bill was passed with a very small electorate the House was crowded and practically all the Members were accounted for, and the Vote was carried by one vote. It will be remembered how Macaulay in a very famous letter to his sister commented upon the scene:The jaw of Peel fell and the face of Pitt was as the face of a damned soul and lorries looked like Judas taking off his neck-tie for the last operation.The hon. Member said to-day that Members are not here, and those who are here and have given some attention to this Bill have great difficulty in understanding it. Is that not all the argument for passing over to the Indian people the management of their affairs?
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
We are discussing the Schedule and we are passing over to the Governor-General very extensive powers of legislation. That is the main basis of my criticism.
§ Mr. FOOT
In future, the Indian people must be more and more responsible for the management of their own affairs. The hon. Member's own criticism of this House of Commons that they cannot follow this Bill, that it was dealt with by experts and must be left to them, met the case of those who claimed that if the Members of the House of Commons find it too much to understand, it is impossible to put that responsibility upon 932 the electorate in this country with whom the decision finally rests. If you attempt to place on the electors a responsibility of deciding what the conditions of India shall be, you will be putting upon their shoulders a task which ultimately they will be unable to discharge.
Whatever may be said about the anomalies in this Bill the greatest anomaly is the attempt on the part of this Government and the country to govern the people of India. I want to draw attention to the criticism that was made just now. I have tried all along to support this Bill even upon points with which I was not in full agreement. Again and again points have arisen where I should have preferred some other construction, but my Friends and I took the view that a common agreement had been reached, and that it was not for us to look around for points of difference. One point of difference, however, did arise. I want to say that to the Under-Secretary. We found it necessary to go into the Lobby against the Government on the Amendment that raised the question of the scheduled castes. I can only say that if there is an assurance to be given that there may be possibly six members of the scheduled castes in the Council of State, we look upon that as being derisory, having regard to the claims of the scheduled castes. It was on that ground that we found it necessary to go into the Lobby against a Bill which we generally support.
There was a further criticism of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). A great deal of the criticism he made to-day would never have been made if the Government had stood by its policy—the policy contained in the White Paper. If that had been done, this fantastic construction of the Council of State would never have been necessary. I quite agree that there are no words in our language that can describe the constituency we have set up for the constitution of the Council of State. The Council of State as at first intended was to have been at one remove representative of the people. They would have been at one remove in touch with the electorate of between 30,000,000 and 40,000,000 in India. As a result of establishing indirect voting instead of direct voting we have had to construct something that frightens the mind to look at, and in setting up a Council of State that is elected by the 933 Upper Chambers in the Provinces, themselves elected upon the most narrow franchise and themselves representatives of the most entrenched vested interests, a great disservice has been done to this Measure.
I have great sympathy with the Under-Secretary in having to pilot through this Bill, and also with the Secretary of State, who in this matter was overborne in the end by the strong claims of those who stood for the indirect vote. In giving way on that occasion they did an immense disservice to their own cause, and maimed their own Measure, and nothing has manifested that more than the discussion on this Schedule to-day. If this Schedule comes to the vote I shall not go to the Lobby in its support, because it contains the results of what, I think, was a disastrous decision. It was a decision against those who were best qualified to advise. I deplored it at the time and said so in Joint Select Committee. I then said that it was a disaster, and we showed that we thought it was a disaster. What has been said from the other side of the Committee to-day upon some fantastic parts of Schedule No. 1 only reinforces the argument.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I am not going to follow the example of some other speakers to-night and making a Second Reading speech on this Schedule. I want in a sentence or two to discharge a responsibility to some of my friends in Bengal and the United Province and make an appeal to the Under-Secretary on their behalf. The women of those provinces feel that the proposal for the reservation of seats for women does them an injustice, because although Bengal is the largest and the United Province one of the largest provinces in India only one woman's seat has been allocated to them in the Federal Assembly. Bombay, which is not so large, and Madras which is no larger, have each two. I will not enlarge upon this subject except to beg the Under-Secretary to increase the representation of women in these two provinces, In an Amendment which has not been called we have suggested a way whereby it could be done without increasing the size of the Assembly or interfering with the communal award. It would be to transfer one vote from a Mohammedan man to a Mohammedan woman in Bengal and a man in a general 934 constituency in the United Province to a woman in a general constituency. The effect would be to give two members of the Federal Assembly from Bengal and the United Provinces respectively instead of one. It would not interfere with communal representation and it would be a very small loss to the men of that community, but it would create a much fairer share of representation for the women of these two Provinces. I ask the Under-Secretary of State whether he could not consider that scheme and do something about it on the Report stage.
§ 10.6 p.m.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) accepts the contention of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Mr. H. Williams) that the majority of Members of the House have handed over the decisions on this Bill to a handful of experts. He holds that that is a strong reason for handing over the Government of India to the people of India.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
If those of us who oppose this Bill believe that it did place real government in the hands of the people of India we would not oppose it, but we are afraid that it will place the Government of India in the wrong hands. In a powerful speech last night Mr. Rudyard Kipling said:For several years our responsible administrators have dwelt almost with complacency on the magnitude of the risks we are running and on our righteousness in running them.That complacency and those risks are very apparent in this Bill.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have been listening to the hon. Member and he seems to me to be making a Second Reading speech against the Bill.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I think that my remarks are relevant. I hope so. I want to point out that the risks that can be run by adopting this Schedule are very real. There is the reduction, for instance, of the Members nominated by the Governor-General. We have been trying to make safeguards real. What we feel is that if matters depend on good will, then trust the Indian people. If good will is not to be obtained, then make safeguards real, and one safeguard which we ought 935 to make more real is to increase the number of representatives in both Houses of the Legislature nominated by the Governor. The principle of nomination is not disputed, because we have 104 nominees of the Princes in the Council of State and 120 nominees of the Princes in the Federal Assembly. You are setting the race-horse and the cart-horse to pull the State coach in double harness, both of them excellent animals but very unlikely to run together in double harness, and the driver will have to be exceptionally skilful in order to drive the coach. What I want to urge on the Government is that the interests which will have to be represented by nominated Members are too great and varied to be represented by merely six nominated members. We have irrigation, forestry, health, a large number of services, each of which ought to have an expert in the Federal Legislature. To reduce the number of such members to six seems to be running a very great risk. I would ask the Government to consider these matters, and possibly on Report to increase the number of nominated representatives. In so doing they would greatly improve the Bill and reduce their responsibility and the risk that is being run.
§ 10.11 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The Committee has considered over the whole of to-day the important issues arising out of the First Schedule. I agree with hon. Members who have spoken that it is right for the House in Committee to consider the whole of the problems arising from this Schedule in the closest possible manner, and we can then have no complaint. I hope, however, that after this long discussion and the answers which we have from this bench attempted to give the Committee will be ready to come to an early decision on this Schedule. I think that I should remind the Committee in the first place, in answer to some of the criticisms that have been made, that this has been exhaustively considered for many years. Hon. Members are sometimes inclined to think that we bring down to the Committee a series of pages and proposals contained in those pages of an extremely complicated nature which we have recently devised. I have been able to show that in the case of an 936 important paragraph—paragraph 9—which ensured the Moslem community one-third of the seats in the Council of State, these proposals have, contrary to the belief of some hon. Members, actually been before the public for the last two years and over.
§ Mr. BUTLER
That is why, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will see, I began my speech by saying that it is right for the Committee to consider these matters. But I am answering points that have been raised, especially by the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. H. Williams). I agree that the Committee are right to consider all these proposals. The other objection is that a great deal has been left to be prescribed or arranged later, either by Acts in India, or to be arranged by the Governor-General in rules or to be arranged by Order-in-Council. The House in future will have every opportunity of considering any of the matters which are to be prescribed by Orders-in-Council. There will be full opportunity for debate, close analysis and criticism. Therefore, all arguments which derive from prescription must from the point of view of the House of Commons fall to the ground. With regard to matters which are to be settled in India, we cannot possibly presume to knew every local condition. There is a very much greater amount of detail attached either in Schedules to this Bill or in the body of the Bill than was the case in any previous Government of India Act or any similar Bill. Moreover, I do not think that there has been a Bill which since the great Reform Bill has been considered in more detail. It is wrong to frame criticisms on certain of the proposals for prescription where some are to be governed by Orders-in-Council, others are purposely mentioned in this Act and are to be dealt with only in detail by the authorities in India.
There is a third class of criticism, if I am to answer the points that have been raised, and that is, for instance, the questions under paragraph 21 (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the Schedule. These are matters which we have told the Committee before must be settled by the delimitation Commission. It is impossible at this stage exactly to tell hon. Members 937 opposite how the Labour seats will be selected. We have announced that that matter must be considered by the delimitation Commission which can decide upon these vital matters after the House has passed the Bill, and when the matter is clearly set out for the Commission to investigate. It is impossible to be seized of the geographic, economic and other facts on which it is necessary to make some of these final decisions on the actual constitution of some of the seats for representation of commerce and industry, and labour in particular. If we investigate some of the criticisms made of the first Schedule we see that in fact the Schedule is not so immature or unprepared as we might have been led to believe. It is the result of close consideration and we believe that its proposals are sound.
I am unaware of any actually new points which have been brought up in subsequent discussions. We are not able to meet the point raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) in connection with the suggestion that States' representatives shall be communally chosen with due regard to communal proportions. I am afraid that the Amendment on the Paper, which was not called, would not have been a suitable way of settling it. We are not able to impose our will in this respect upon the Rulers, and I can only hope that the Rulers will decide this matter in a suitable manner. I would remind the Committee that, fortunately in the Indian States, the communal question has not the same acuteness as it has in British India.
§ Sir H. CROFT
Can the hon. Gentleman give a little further explanation as to why he can give no hope that something may be done? Is it because of anxiety on account of the fact that a State of a Hindu population or a Mohammedan population for all time will not send representatives representing the view adopted by the whole people? Cannot he give any hope?
§ Mr. BUTLER
I said that in this matter we are not able to take discretion from the rulers of States, who themselves will choose either the general representatives they have in the State or representatives who will represent them in person. I would remind the hon. and 938 gallant Member, in elaboration of what I have said, that in the Indian States the communal question does not predominate to the same extent as it does in British India. We would rather not take any step which would encourage that spirit to prevail. In any case, we are unable to accept the words suggested, I am afraid that we are not able to accept either the point of view of the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), which we have already considered and upon which we have received representations. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) touched on the same point with which I have just dealt, namely, the question of prescription and rights made under the Act. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) regarded the concession we have made to labour as a very small one. In conclusion, the concession we have made in giving certain seats to women in the Council of State will, at any rate, besides giving an opportunity to the women of India to take the part we think they ought to take in the future politics of India, relieve some of the pressure upon the nominations which the Governor-General will have to make in the future. To that extent there is an opportunity for making nominations of representatives of the depressed classes or labour who deserve representation. That is an argument which I commend to the Committee.
§ 10.21 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
The Under-Secretary has not answered the question as to whether there will be an increase in the number of nominated members of the Council of State. There has been an enormous drop from 26 to six, and we have already imposed an obligation on the Governor-General as to how he shall exercise his power of nomination. Therefore, I think it is essential that some addition should be made to the small number to be nominated by the Governor-General. As a matter of fact, we had but five hours in which to discuss a Schedule of 20 pages and a number of Amendments we regarded as important, were not discussed, and I rather resent the fact that the Under-Secretary of State shut me out from taking part in the Debate.
§ Mr. BUTLER
If I had seen the hon. Member I would have given way; I had 939 no intention of shutting him out. As he sits behind me I could not see him. The question of the number of nominated seats was discussed on the Bill, and it was decided not to accept an Amendment to increase them. Therefore, I was unable on the Schedule to reserve this decision. There is no intention of having an official bloc or a particularly large number of nominations from the Governor-General, but in our view it is
|Division No. 170.]||AYES.||[10.25 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Albery, Irving James||Graves, Marjorie||Munro, Patrick|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Grimston, R. V.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Guy, J. C. Morrison||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Pearson, William G.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Petherick, M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Radford, E. A.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Burghley, Lord||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hornby, Frank||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Rickards, George William|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Jennings, Roland||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Law, Sir Alfred||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Leckie, J. A.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Soper, Richard|
|Dickle, John P.||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Stevenson, James|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Loftus, Pierce C.||Stones, James|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Storey, Samuel|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Elmley, Viscount||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||McKie, John Hamilton||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelies||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Milne, Charles||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Sir Victor Warrender and Captain|
|Goff, Sir Park||Moreing, Adrian C.||Hope.|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Gardner, Benjamin Walter|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur|
|Bernays, Robert||Dobble, William||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Bracken, Brendan||Edwards, Charles||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Burnett, John George||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Janner, Barnett|
|Cleary, J. J.||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
§ necessary that there should be a small proportion of nominated members for the purposes described in the Bill. We have given six nominated seats, and are unable to increase the number.
§ Question put, "That this Schedule, as amended, be the First Schedule to the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 148; Noes, 59.
|Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Milner, Major James||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Leonard, William||Nall, Sir Joseph||Wells, Sidney Richard|
|Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Nunn, William||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Lunn, William||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|McEntee, Valentine L.||Remer, John R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Mr. D. Graham and Mr. Tinker.|
|Mainwaring, William Henry||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
§ SECOND SCHEDULE.—(Provisions of this Act the amendment whereof is not to affect the validity of the Instrument of Accession of a State.)
§ 10.32 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
I beg to move, in page 275, line 39, to leave out "they," and to insert "the representatives of the Indian States."
This is really only a drafting Amendment and I am sure it will be welcomed by the Committee, because it is to remove an ambiguity. If hon. Members will look at page 275 they will see the words:save with respect to the number of representatives of British India and of the representatives of Indian States in the Council of State and the Federal Assembly and the manner in which they are to be chosen.Quite clearly the word "they" ought to refer only to the representatives of the Indian States and not of British India, because the Indian States could not be entitled to back out of Federation because of some small alteration in the method of electing British Indian representatives. They have got, naturally enough, very considerable interest in the way in which Indian States representatives are nominated to the Federal Assembly. I think the Committee will see that the word "they" can only refer to the representatives of the Indian States and I therefore beg to move the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this Schedule, as amended, be the Second Schedule to the Bill."
§ 10.34 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
With regard to all the exceptions which appear in the Second Schedule any alteration in any one of them will enable an Indian State to withdraw from the Federation and will affect the validity of the Instrument of Accession of the State. I should like to have an explanation of a great many points. The only explanation we have 942 had so far has been from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster with regard to one particular point in which he said that any alteration in the method of electing representatives of British India was of no particular concern. I hope I can get some general line which will guide me through the mazes of this Schedule so that I can see why some provisions are omitted and some retained. There seem to be a vast number of matters in this Schedule, which, if they are once allowed to be cast in this form, may upset the whole constitution. Let me take one or two of them. There is the question of the choosing and summoning of Ministers. There is the special responsibility of the Governor-General relating to the peace or tranquillity of India or any part thereof. There is the procedure for the introduction and the passing of Bills. There might be some alteration made there. There is the question of the Governor-General's power to promulgate ordinances in his discretion or in the exercise of his individual judgment. I cannot see why there should be such an enormous mass of matters which are excepted from the general provisions of the Bill, the Amendment of which is not to affect the validity of the Instrument of Accession of a State.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. Gentleman has referred to three or four specific cases, but may I try to put in general words the scheme of this Schedule. I think that it will be accepted by everyone that under the general scheme of the Bill the States, when they are asked to federate, are entitled to know with certainty certain aspects at any rate of the Federation to which they are to accede. It would be an absurd position if, having said to a State this month, "Will you accede to a Federation," it was possible next month for this House to alter in some fundamental respects the provisions of the Federation to which the State was held to have acceded. Therefore, some schedule of 943 this kind is necessary. It is a sorting out of the various parts of the Bill which should be capable of amendment without in any sense altering from the point of view of the States the constitutional machinery to which they have acceded. The scheme of the Schedule is to set out the provisions of the Measure the amendment whereof is not to affect the validity of the Instrument of Accession of a State.
One sees set out those parts of the Bill the amendment of which is not to affect the validity of the Instrument of Accession of a State, and on the opposite side there are set out those subjects the amendment of which would affect the validity of accession. In drawing up a Schedule of this kind one has to proceed with great care in defining what are legitimate matters on which the Rulers of a State are entitled to ask that there shall be no amendment without their consent. Of course there will be borderline cases. There could be minor amendments which would not really make any great difference to the existing position, and it would be very unreasonable if the States took objection to such amendments and said, "We are going to stand on our rights on this point as affecting the validity of our Instrument of Accession." I do not suggest that small points of that kind will be taken. On the other hand, it is right that any matter which really affects what I may call the general balance of powers, the questions of the reservation of subjects, of executive control and of matters which can be dealt with by the Governor-General in his discretion, matters which are vital to the architecture of the Federation to which the States are asked to accede, should not be amended without their assent.
The Committee will not want me to go through the whole Schedule, but I will take as examples four cases to which the hon. Member referred. He mentioned the choosing and summoning of Ministers. Clearly that is an important matter. There are certain provisions as to how Ministers are to be chosen and summoned. The hon. Gentleman did not suggest any particular Amendment, but clearly it is of the utmost importance to define in any scheme the manner in which Ministers are chosen.
In regard to peace and tranquillity, one of the chief factors in the Bill is that the 944 Governor-General is enabled to over-ride his Ministers. The procedure in the passing of Bills is not a matter in which one contemplates any particular amendment, unless there be something very unusual in the procedure. It is vital in the constitution that there should be a two-thirds or a three-quarters majority. The whole area of the special powers vested in the Governor-General is one of the essential features of the Federation. It has been discussed at great but not undue length by this Committee, which is evidence that it is regarded as a vital part of the structure of the Constitution, and a part of the Bill which ought to be protected. That is one part where the State are entitled to say "This is a change" or "That is altered." But this does not in any way check for all time the development of India. The Committee will see that these are to be the subject-matter of negotiation with the States, because, in effect, they will produce a federation of a different kind from that to which the State has acceded. I hope with that explanation that the Committee may now come to a decision.
§ 10.48 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman how that works out in practice? Provision is made for amendment of the Constitution by this House at the request of the Assembly. Suppose that that were done; that the Assembly passed a resolution which came to this House and that this House thereupon legislated. Would each individual State have to be asked for its consent? If not, would it mean that at any time the ruler of a State could say "Such and such has been done, and therefore the conditions of accession of my State have been upset, and I may now go out of the Federation?"
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
One cannot predict the actual course of events, but one of the most important matters is in regard to the conditions of federation, in so far as the British India vote is concerned. I think I am right in saying that that would not be a matter which would affect the validity of an Instrument of Accession. So far as the size and composition are concerned, that would clearly be a matter on which States would require to be consulted because otherwise it might upset the balance. Let us look at the matter from the point of view of 945 the State. If this were amended it might affect their position in the Federation or affect the constitutional machinery which governs it. On the other hand the method of choosing the representatives of British India is not a matter which in our view might affect the States.
§ 10.51 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
We find at the latter part of this Schedule, on the left hand side the words "The First Schedule" and opposite that the words: "The whole Schedule, except Part 2 thereof." As I understand it any Amendment passed to that Schedule, which in Sub-section (3) specifies the total number of seats in the Council of State, shall not affect the validity of the Instrument of Accession; but any Amendment to Part II of the Schedule, which governs the number of the representatives of the Federal Council each State shall send shall affect the Instrument of Accession. I suggest that is extremely misleading if it is left like that—dividing the Schedule into two parts and saying that any Amendment of the first part shall not affect the Instrument of Accession and that any Amendment of the second part shall. An increase in the number of members specified in Sub-section (3) would affect the proportion of representatives of the States.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I will certainly look into the point which the hon. Baronet raises, although I think he is wrong in saying that the numbers are laid down in the first part of the Schedule.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I think that only refers to British India, but I will certainly look into the point which the hon. Baronet raises. I think I am right in saying, with regard to the division as between the States and British India, their relative proportions are separated—that is to say that any Amendment which, for example, increases the number of British India representatives and State representatives would be a matter which could not be done without affecting the validity of the Instrument of Accession. I think that is the position, but I will certainly look into the matter.
§ 10.54 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I approach this Schedule from exactly the opposite point of view to that of the hon. and gallant Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee). He is anxious that this Schedule should be as comprehensive as possible. I, on the contrary, think that it is a good deal too comprehensive, and my friends and I have put down a number of Amendments on which we should have liked to try to persuade the Government to reduce the size of the Schedule. It appears to us that there are a certain number of important points which certainly ought not to be altered without the Princes being given the opportunity of withdrawing from the Federation. I put down an Amendment to move to leave out line 48 on page 276. If the Committee will turn to page 206 they will see the words: "Chapter 6—The whole chapter." I do not think that that very short phrase really conveys to any one who has not studied the point the enormous importance of the provisions contained in those words. If the Committee will turn to Chapter 6 of Part 3—that is Section 93—they will find that is the Clause which empowers the Governor to supersede the government of a Province if the constitutional machinery has broken down. Let me remind the Committee what it says:If at any time a Governor of a province is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the Province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Act he may by Proclamation(a) declare that his functions shall, to such extent as may be specified in the Proclamation, be exercised by him in his discretion.In other words, this is one of the major and fundamental safeguards to which the Government attach so much importance in the whole Bill. This is one of the emergency clauses, one of the "breakdown gang" clauses under which the Governor is empowered in the event of the breakdown of the constitutional machinery to take matters into his hands. Do the Government really pretend that this is not a fundamental point on which the Princes are entitled to be consulted before it is altered by this House?
We are inviting the Princes to come into a Federation. The Government have admitted the principle that none of the fundamental safeguards of this Bill should be altered without giving the 947 States the right to declare that if such alteration takes place they would rather be outside the Federation. But this is a fundamental safeguard. I hope the Government are not going to say that it does not affect a neighbouring State, because it is obvious that if you get a breakdown of the constitutional machinery in one Province the neighbouring States may be enormously affected. You may have a state of communal tension, of communal riots, of disturbance and indeed of rebellion in a Province. Neighbouring States for many reasons are enormously affected, and I submit that this is certainly one of the subjects on which the Princes of the States affected by such a condition of affairs in any Province ought to be entitled to say, "If you are going to alter this safeguard, then we have the right to withdraw."
It is just that safeguard that I myself am afraid may be altered in the near 948 future. We know hon. Members opposite hate all this sort of safeguard in the Bill. Many of them have repeatedly declared that they think it is an insult to democratic principles and to the self-respect of the Indians that the Bill should contain such drastic provisions as that.
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.