§ 4.18 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
I beg to move, in page 281, line 21, after "Federation," to insert:or, if it is so prescribed with respect to any Province, the Ruler or a subject of any prescribed Indian State.Paragraph (1, a) of this Schedule provides that a person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in a Provincial Legislature unless he is a British subject or Ruler of an Indian State which has acceded to the Federation. The Amendment which I propose is to provide that the exclusion of Rulers or subjects of Indian States who do not accede to the Federation from election to a Provincial Legislature should no longer exist. The Committee will remember that an Amendment has been made already in the First Schedule which will admit the subjects of non-federated States to be rendered eligible in accordance with prescription. The Amendment which I now propose is to bring the provisions of the Fifth Schedule into line with the Amendment which we have already made, and the electoral rules under the present Act allow the Provincial Governments to render such persons eligible both as candidates and voters. There is a definition concerning prescription which the Committee will find on page 261, line 30:'prescribed' means prescribed by His Majesty in Council or, so far as regards any matter which under this Act the Federal Legislature or the Governor-General are competent to regulate, prescribed by an Act of that Legislature or by a rule made under the next succeeding paragraph.As the Committee has already decided this matter in the First Schedule, I propose that a similar provision be made in the Fifth Schedule.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
We are now discussing the eligibility of people for seats in the Provincial Legislature, and the making of it possible for any Ruler 993 or subject in a prescribed Indian State to be eligible for a seat in the Provincial Legislature. I understand there are over 600 of these Rulers, great and small, and it is just possible that this particular proposal is intended to cover Rulers of very small States negligible in size. As it now stands, it will be possible for a Ruler of a large State—Hyderabad or any of the others—who happens to possess a piece of territory inside the Province to be admitted to a seat.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
It depends on the rules which are prescribed as to that matter. Subject to that qualification the hon. Member is right, but it would depend on the prescription by the rules.
§ Mr. JONES
I am not sure to what rules the hon. and learned Gentleman is alluding. Is it the rules governing election? While he is looking up that point, may I mention another? I am not stating the difficulty on behalf of my friends at all; it is one that occurred to me personally. A Ruler, strictly speaking, is not a subject of His Majesty the King. He is an independent authority. In a way, he is a foreign Power. How comes it then that we are making provision for one who is a foreign potentate to be eligible for a seat in a Provincial Assembly inside the Empire? It is a technical matter, I know, and perhaps there is nothing in it, but I would like to have it made clear.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
The idea is to bring the matter into line with the Amendment made earlier in the discussion. There is a large and powerful class in the commercial community and in various walks of life who are technically State subjects—who are engaged in business and various occupations all over India—known as the Marwaris. They were people born in the North-West. It would be a great pity and a loss to the public life of India if they were excluded from taking any part in the Legislatures in the Provinces in which they have settled. The main purpose of the Amendment is to enable them to be eligible for election in order to take part in the public life in that part of India in which they have settled, although technically they are State subjects of another part. That is the basis of the Amendment which has 994 already been carried, and this Amendment we are now discussing follows as a consequence.
§ Mr. JONES
I call see that, but an in dividual Ruler may personally decide not to accede to the Federation, and by reason of owning property in a particular Province he will, because of this particular Motion, be entitled to sit, not in the Federal, but in the Provincial Assembly. There may not be much in this matter, and I am not raising it as an insuperable difficulty, but it seems to me somewhat incongruous that a Ruler, who is in his own person a foreign person and who may have elected to be out of the Federation entirely, may still be entitled to become a member of the Provincial Assembly according to the wording of this Amendment. I do not know quite where we are.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Perhaps I may be able to clear the hon. Gentleman's mind when I tell him that the position which he regards with so much anxiety is the position which obtains under the Electoral Rules under the present Act in relation to the Provincial Legislative bodies. There is no objection under the existing rules of the present Government of India Act to a Ruler of a native State—or, it may be said, a foreign State in one sense—being eligible to sit in the Provincial Assembly. In future, there will be this new circumstance that the person in question may not have acceded to the Federation, but, speaking for myself, I am not sure that that makes any difference at all.
It has been thought right by this Amendment to permit the continuance of the same practice, but I am not sure that it is not rather an academic point, because, as I have pointed out this matter is to be dealt with by rules or by the other method mentioned on page 261 of the Bill, and it might very likely be that some provision as to domicile or business in the Province would be required for the person so concerned to be a candidate eligible for election.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I would like to say, a plague on both your parties. On sound, general principles, why not give the electors the widest possible choice? I do not see why they should not be 995 allowed to elect a clergyman in this country. Why not allow them to elect Americans?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
In any case, it is anti-democratic to attempt in any way to restrict the choice of these people. It is perfectly true they will probably choose the wrong people. They will probably choose the landlords. It might be of advantage if they chose Marwaris instead, who belong to the State of Marwar which seems to export more people into India than any other State. They keep their accounts in an unknown language, and they do not speak English.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I do not wish to intervent in the controversy as to whether the Rulers should be in or out in this case, except to say that, if we are working towards unity in India, it is essential, even for those States not within the Federation, that we should do all we can to get their services in the Federation wherever possible. The Amendment is a peculiarly clumsy wording of a provision that could have been equally well secured by omitting the words in the Schedule:Which has acceded to the Federation.The object of the Sub-section would then have been perfectly clear and obvious. The words:A person…unless he is a British subject or the Ruler or a subject of an Indian Statewould cover the whole position simply and clearly, and would be better than adding the words of the Amendment, which are indirect and less easy to understand. I suggest that between now and the Report stage the Government might think again and see if they can make the position a little clearer. The clearer we can make a Bill of this sort, and the fewer words we use, the better it will be for all parties to work this very complicated proceeding in the future.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) for his help in trying to draft the Bill, but if he will look a little more into the matter he will see that it was necessary in relation to the 996 persons concerned in the Amendment to prescribe, with regard to any particular province, the provisions as to the person mentioned in the Bill. It stands absolute and is not governed by any rules or regulations. I hope that my hon. Friend will not proceed further to differ from me.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I understood from the previous speech of my right hon. and learned Friend that they were covered in page 261. If I am wrong, I apologise to the Committee for having been misled by my right hon. and learned Friend in his previous speech, which seemed to make the matter clear. Now it is more complicated.
§ Sir A. KNOX
What is the matter with the wording of the previous Amendment on the Order Paper—in page 281, line 21, leave out, "which has acceded to the Federation"—which has not been called? It seems to attain exactly the same object in simple language.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
That is the very point which I explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams).
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ Sir JOHN WARDLAW-MILNE
It is because I am afraid that the simplicity which my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) wishes may come about, that I wish to say a few words on the matter. In view of the desire that we all have that the Marwaris should be able to take part in the public life of India, the rules laid down should make it clear that there must be either continuity of residence in the Province in which they are to take part, or some sort of interest, and no possibility whatever that, by this provision, subjects of an Indian State which has not acceded will be able to put themselves forward as candidates. My right hon. and learned Friend mentioned that the rules would probably cover something of that kind, but the Committee ought to have an assurance that rules will be of that character. It is a very important point, and I want to be sure that members of an Indian State which has not acceded to Federation conform to the rules.
§ Amendment agreed to.997
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee, as the next two Amendments really come to the same thing, if we discussed them together, and it will be understood that if there is a desire for the second Amendment to be called, it will only be for the purposes of a Division.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I beg to move, in page 281, line 23, to leave out "twenty-five," and to insert "twenty-one."
The proposal in the Schedule says that nobody shall be a member of the Legislative Assembly until he is 25 years of age or over, or of the Legislative Council until he has reached the age of 30. The purpose of our Amendments is to reduce the age limit to 21, as it is in this House. I do not see why Indians between the ages of 21 and 25 should be deprived of the right to sit, if elected, in either the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council. The younger Pitt was Prime Minister of this country before he reached that age. He made a celebrated reply when attacked and accused of the crime of being a young man, and said, "I have been accused of the atrocious crime of being a young man. That fault I shall attempt neither to palliate nor deny." My respect for the venerable figures in front of me prevents me from continuing the quotation.
§ Mr. COCKS
It was before he reached the position of Prime Minister. It has also been suggested that this House would be benefited and improved by an infusion of youth. If that is the case here, surely it is more necessary in India. I see no reason at all why in India the age should be from 25 to 30. Life is short in India. Under the burning rays of the tropical sun not only is life shorter, but maturity is reached at an earlier age. In India a man of 60 is practically an old man and out of life altogether; in this country he is on the point of becoming an Under-Secretary. I am reminded of a verse of poetry which I read recently. It runs as follows:Join hands with youth: The heart is never oldThat keeps its touch within the dancers' ring.Be slow to break it: neither right nor goldAvails to mend a quarrel with the Spring.998 It was written by a very wise man, Sir Robert Vansittart, the present Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I suggest that the Government should accept the Amendments and allow 21 to be the limit of the two ages mentioned in the Schedule.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
Far be it from me to wish to raise the age of candidates for membership of the Provincial Council or Provincial Assembly in India. I sympathise with a great deal of what the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) has said, but I do not feel that we are engaged in a quarrel with Indian youth if we adhere to the proposals which have been set forth in the Bill. These matters were considered exhaustively before the publication of the White Paper. They were included in the White Paper, and were approved also by the Joint Select Committee. I do not say that in that latter body there were as many young men as I would have liked to have seen myself. I sometimes felt rather lonely, but there was great wisdom in that body. Very often the best results in politics are achieved by the enthusiasm of youth and by the wisdom of old age. This decision was arrived at as a result of that combination. The age for the elector will be 21, which, I think, the hon. Member will agree, is quite fair, and the age for a member of the Provincial Assembly will be 25 and for a member of the Provincial Upper House, 30. We think that in view of the dilatory nature of the powers of the Upper House, it is important that a certain wisdom should inspire those who are members of it, and I am informed and advised that that wisdom can be achieved at the age of 30. In the same way we are told that 25 is a suitable age for members of the Lower House. I therefore regret to say that. I am unable, on behalf of the Government, to accept the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. MICHAEL BEAUMONT
For once I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), who has moved the Amendment. It is a rare occurrence, and one should have it placed on record. I can see the argument which has been 999 advanced by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary with regard to the Council of State, but with regard to the Lower House, I cannot see any reason why anyone who is capable of voting should not also be capable of taking part in the public life of the country. I do not think that the argument that the age is all right over here is necessarily a very sound one, but if this rule had applied over here he and I would have narrowly escaped having to wait before adding our deliberations to this House. There is a great deal of nonsense talked about youth, as there is about old age, but I do not believe that a young man or an old man as such is necessarily better for being so. You get brilliant young men just as you get brilliant old men. If you are to have a choice of this kind, the widest scope should be allowed for the choice of the electors, and therefore I regret that the Government refuse to allow people, though they are old enough to vote and take the initial decision, to carry out their decisions when taken. I do not suppose that hon. Members opposite will press the Amendment to a Division, but the Government might very well have considered making the concession. The argument in favour of it seemed to be sound, except in so far as it was an outcome of the Joint Select Committee, which, I confess, does not commend itself to me. There was no real argument advanced on the other side by the Under-Secretary.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Here again why fetter the choice of the electorate? There must be some reason for it, and no reason has so far been advanced. When there was any doubt as to what practice should be followed in India preference should have been given to our own practice, unless adequate reasons were given for making a distinction. This House, which has made English liberty and created the British Empire, was founded by constituencies being allowed freely to choose any residents from any part of England, anybody they liked at any age they liked. An hon. Member sat for Dorset at the age of 15—a very proper age. A number of Members have sat before they were of age, and in one Parliament no fewer than 30 were under age. They have not 1000 made many mistakes in this country, and why, when our record is all in favour of youth, should we, when we turn to India, come to an entirely different decision? I will suggest one reason. It is that this question has not been, considered in the least by the politicians. It has solely been considered by the permanent officials at the India Office, and they have an instinctive dislike for any form of English Parliamentary practice. They have voted communal representation, which we are discussing later on. They have discussed this new method of limiting the choice of the electorate, and they have, all unwittingly, foisted it upon right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who do not really think that there is any advantage in the thing at all.
We are being told continually that what is good for this country is not good for India. The basis of this Bill is that it is different from everything in English practice. In every way in which it differs it is worse than English practice. There is no point in it. It is simply an accidental dictum of some old fogey in India that we ought to have for India something quite different from what we have in England. Take the case of the Joint Select Committee, on which there was one youth under age; you leave it to a congress of the aged to decide an issue of this sort in favour of the aged. What does this Amendment actually do?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I said "aged." Even my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) is not so young as he was. Just consider what a board of directors would decide if it came to the issue whether a director should resign at the age of 85. All the directors of 85 would be unanimously in favour of extending their service until 90. It is obvious, if you restrict candidates for any constituency to those over 30, that the people over 30 have a vested interest in keeping the age high, and the older they get the higher the age becomes. It is really the creation of a vested interest in antiquity. As my hon. and gallant Friend behind me said, in India they die young. They used to die at the age of 50 in this country with regularity, but now, thank goodness, they do not. In India they die young, and to restrict a man's political career to a span of 15 or 20 years is absurd. What I want to have 1001 from some hon. Members opposite is an argument, not drawn from the authority of the India Office, but drawn from English practice and common sense, as to why we should inflict this arbitrary restriction on the choice of the electorate in the Provinces of India.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
I should like to point out to the last speaker that the Indian of 21 and 25 has not the experience of public matters that the ordinary individual of 21 and 25 has in this country. I think the Government are quite right in fixing the ages they have fixed. There is the old maxim that the young man thinks the old man a fool, but the old man knows the young man is a fool. When the Conservative party was enlarging the franchise in 1924 and 1925 many thought it would be very desirable to raise the age of the electors from 21 to 25. There is no doubt whatever that you can get wisdom at 21, but you are more likely to get it at 25 or 30.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
I hope the Government will not give way on this question. It pains me to find myself differing from my right hon. and gallant Friend, and the hon. Gentleman who has spoken over there, but it is true, as the hon. Member who has just resumed his seat says, that the vast majority of people, certainly in the Conservative party, if they had the chance again would decide that the political age in this country ought to be not under 25. I will say just a word about the scorn of my friends in the Socialist party. Generally speaking, it was felt that had the political age been 25 for both sexes it would have given more general satisfaction, and there would not have been quite such alarm as there sometimes is at youth being carried away by some too enthusiastic cry, to which they have not given a great deal of study. It is because I feel that the Government has gone too far in introducing a franchise of 21 that I think the least they can do is to say that the age of 25 is the limit for election to the Assembly.
The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment, in a very witty speech, was a great admirer of youth, but I cannot remember very many Members of the Socialist party under 25 who have sat in this House. With all the wisdom in 1002 their complete machine and organisation throughout the country, they rarely choose a candidate under 25. When the Committee look at this question fully they will agree that it is most important, because we all want the scheme to succeed, even though we may deplore the Measure. It will be much wiser to stand on the present position of the Government and to see that irresponsible youths in India, who may be much more irresponsible than those in this country, shall not have the opportunity of legislating until they have had some chance of experience. I dare say that in years to come the age may be altered, but at the present moment when we know how immensely behind the average Indian is in political education compared with this country, the Government have done the wise thing in keeping the age limit to 25 and not allowing youth under that age in India to be elected. I cannot help thinking, from the various reports we hear from time to time, that youth in India in political causes is sometimes roused to extreme views simply because the vast majority of them cannot even read—that is admitted—and the result is that they are carried away by a slogan even more than they might be in this country. For all these reasons I hope that the Government, because they desire to see this scheme of reform a success, will not give way on this point and listen to the blandishments of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
I agree thoroughly with what has just been said as to the wisdom of making the political age 25. When this House was engaged in granting the franchise to women, Sir Thomas Davis, who was then the Member for Cirencester, and I put down an Amendment that all should have the franchise at 25. We carried that to a Division and the result, as far as I remember the figures, was that 17 Members voted for the proposal and some 325 against. That only proves that there were 17 sensible Members in the House of Commons.
§ Question put, "That the word 'twenty-five' stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 286; Noes, 55.1005
|Division No. 171.]||AYES.||4.55 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Eady, George H.||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Eales, John Frederick||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Albery, Irving James||Edge, Sir William||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Elmley, Viscount||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Apsley, Lord||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Assheton, Ralph||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fermoy, Lord||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Balniel, Lord||Flint, Abraham John||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Fox, Sir Gifford||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Ports n' th, C.)||Glossop, C. W. H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Morrison, William Shepherd|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Goff, Sir Park||Munro, Patrick|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Goldie, Noel B.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Blindell, James||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||North, Edward T.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Graves, Marjorie||Nunn, William|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Grigg, Sir Edward||Ormsby-Gore, Rt Hon. William G. A.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Grimston, R. V.||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Peake, Osbert|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Pearson, William G.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hales, Harold K.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hanbury, Cecil||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hartington, Marquess of||Petherick, M.|
|Burnett, John George||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Potter, John|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hepworth, Joseph||Radford, E. A.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hornby, Frank||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Rickards, George William|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Robinson, John Roland|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Clarke, Frank||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Iveagh, Countess of||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Jamieson, Douglas||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Ker, J. Campbell||Salt, Edward W.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Sandys, Duncan|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Kimball, Lawrence||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Knox, Sir Alfred||Selley, Harry H.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Law, Sir Alfred||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Levy, Thomas||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Liddall, Walter S.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield Hallam)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Smith, R. W. (Aber'n & Kinc'dinc, C.)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Somerset, Thomas|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Dickle, John P.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Doran, Edward||Loftus, Pierce C.||Soper, Richard|
|Dower, Captain A. V. G.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Drewe, Cedric||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Dunglass, Lord||McKie, John Hamilton||Stevenson, James|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Stones, James||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Storey, Samuel||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Stourton, Hon. John J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Strauss, Edward A.||Turton, Robert Hugh||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S 'v'noakas)|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Tate, Mavis Constance||Wayland, Sir William A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Wells, Sydney Richard||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.||Ward and Major George Davies.|
|Thompson, Sir Luke||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Griffith, F. Kingslay (Middlesbro', W.)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Batey, Joseph||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Bernays, Robert||Harris, Sir Percy||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Buchanan, George.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Corks, Frederick Seymour||John, William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C' thness)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Dobbie, William||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Thorne, William James|
|Edwards, Charles||Leonard, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Logan, David Gilbert||West, F. R.|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McEntee, Valentino L.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McGovern, John||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Goorge, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Paling and Mr. Groves.|
§ Question put, "That the word 'thirty' stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 250; Noes, 55.1007
|Division No. 172.]||AYES.||[5.6 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cadogan Hon. Edward||Dunglass Lord|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Eady, George H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Fermoy Lord|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Cazalet Thelma (Islington, E.)||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Apsley, Lord||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm. W)||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Assheton, Ralph||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton le-Spring)||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Clarke, Frank||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Clarry, Reginald George||Goff, Sir Park|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Clayton Sir Christopher||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Colfox, Major William Philip||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Colville, Lieut-Colonel J.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Conant, R. J. E.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Cook, Thomas A.||Graves, Marjorie|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Cooke, Douglas||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cooper, A. Duff||Grigg, Sir Edward|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Blrchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Blindell, James||Cranborne, Viscount||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Croft Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hales, Harold K.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tafton||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cross, R. H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Craddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Bracken, Brendan||Davison, Sir William Henry||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Dawson Sir Philip||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Dickle, John P.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Drewe, Cedric||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Duckworth, George A. V.||Hills Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hornby, Frank|
|Burnett, John George||Duggan Hubert John||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morrison, William Shepherd||Somerset, Thomas|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Munro, Patrick||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Soper, Richard|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Iveagh, Countess of||North, Edward T.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Nunn, William||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Jamieson, Douglas||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Spens, William Patrick|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Patrick, Colin M.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Peake, Osbert||Stevenson, James|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Pearson, William G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Peat, Charles U.||Stones, James|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Penny, Sir George||Storey, Samuel|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Percy, Lord Eustace||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Petherick, M.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Levy, Thomas||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Llddall, Walter S.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Potter, John||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Radford, E. A.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B' wick-on-T.)|
|Loftus, Pierce C.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Rickards, George William||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Robinson, John Roland||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Sandys, Duncan||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Martin, Thomas B.||Savery, Samuel Servington||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Selley, Harry R.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark. Bothwell)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Milne, Charles||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br' tf'd & Chisw'k)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Sir Victor Warrender and Major|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||George Davies.|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smith, R. W. (Aber'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Buchanan, George||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maxton, James|
|Cleary, J. J.||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Harris, Sir Percy||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Cova, William G.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Dobbie, William||John, William||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C' thness)|
|Edwards, Charles||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thorne, William James|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lawson, John James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Leonard, William||West, F. R.|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Logan, David Gilbert||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lunn, William||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||McGovern, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Paling and Mr. Groves.|
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment I had contemplated selecting is that in the name of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd).
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
On a point of Order. Do I understand that you are not selecting my Amendment, in line 33 to insert: 1008Provided that the choice as between separate and general electorates for the election of representatives to the said chamber or chambers, shall be a matter for decision by the minority community, or communities, in each Province.
§ Schedule 5, page 281, line 33, leave out paragraph 3.
Schedule 5, page 282, line 1, at beginning, insert:
Provided that the choice as between separate and general electorates for the election of representatives to the said chamber or chambers, shall be a matter for decision by the minority community, or communities, in each Province.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is so. I think that the question of communal representation can be more conveniently dealt with on another Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not wish to discuss communal representation. I want to give an option to minorities, where they do not wish to have communal representation, to vote on the general list.
§ Sir H. CROFT
In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) may I formally move the Amendment standing in his name; that is, in line 6, to leave out the words "of which" and to insert the word "and"?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Before the hon. and gallant Member does that I shall be glad if some hon. Member who proposes to make himself responsible for this series of Amendments will explain their meaning. The first is to leave out the words "of which" and to insert the word "and". I think that amendment cannot stand alone. It seems to be one of seven Amendments on this portion of the Schedule, which have appeared for the first time on the Order Paper this morning. Of these seven Amendments two are in the names of the same hon. Members, and are obviously inconsistent with each other, and a third Amendment does not make sense. What is the connection of the whole seven or any number of the seven I have been quite unable to make out. What I want hon. Members to do, if they can, is to tell me what other Amendments ought to be taken in connection with the Amendment to leave out "of which" and to insert "and," and what is the intention of the whole group of Amendments?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
In that case may I ask why you are taking this Amendment in preference to one which has been on the Order Paper for some time?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Then may I ask when we are to have an opportunity of discussing communal representation, in the sense in which I have dealt with it in my Amendment? We have been put off over and over again.
§ Sir H. CROFT
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) was under the impression that the discussion on the previous Amendment would run for some time. May I formally move the Amendment standing in his name?
§ Sir H. CROFT
The Amendment is not in my name, but I believe it is the desire of my hon. Friends to divide up the scheduled castes from the general scheme. That is why they propose to leave out "of which" and insert "and"; in order to make two separate bodies.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The Amendment will read perfectly by itself. I am not responsible for it, but the effect of it is to divide column three from column four. At present the number specified in column four is part of column three, and the effect of the Amendment is to separate the two, with the result that the scheduled castes would have communal representation instead of having a portion of the seats allotted to the community.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am sorry that I have been misled by the Amendment. I was trying to make it part of a series of other Amendments which seemed to alter the general wording of paragraph (4) (i) of the Schedule. If I am mistaken and this Amendment stands entirely by itself, and is not connected with any of the others, I am prepared to call it if hon. Members wish, but it must be understood that, if it raises a discussion on the whole question of the scheduled castes, later Amendments on the same subject will not be called.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must ask the right hon. and gallant Member to wait. I am dealing with what I regard as a point of Order, although the right hon. and gallant Member may not call it a point of Order. I have asked for an explanation of the meaning of certain Amendments, and I want that question disposed of before I deal with any other matter.
§ Sir B. PETO
The Amendment in line 8, to leave out the word "and," and to insert "provided that," to which I have put my name, is a verbal Amendment, and stands entirely by itself.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Is the Amendment, also in line 8, to insert the words "of the general seats" connected with that Amendment?
§ Sir B. PETO
I cannot say. My name is not down to that Amendment. I am only attempting to carry out your wishes and explain the Amendments to which my name appears. There is an Amendment in line 22, to insert "the numbers of seats to be filled by nomination of the Governor." I regret to say that owing to the haste in which it was drafted it is not correctly worded. It should read:The number specified in the 20th column shall be filled by nomination of the Governor.Those words will make it clear that the Amendment is connected with an Amendment on page 1948, to increase the number of members in column 2, and with the Amendment on page 1950 to "insert a new column 20 with the following vertical figures."
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid it may be impossible to select the last Amendment mentioned by the hon. Member. It is put down in the wrong form, it alters a whole vertical column, and thus amends part of many different lines. It should have been done by putting down a new table altogether. But we can deal with that question when we come to it.
§ The CHAIRMAN
In that case I must leave that question for the moment because we have other things to get right. After what I have said I should like to know whether hon. Members who represent the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) and his friends desire to move the Amendment to leave out the words "of which" and to insert the word "and."
§ Viscount WOLMER
I think we would rather that a discussion on this point should be taken on an Amendment which appears in my name and that of other hon. Members.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I put a point of Order? I submit that it is usual when an Amendment has not been selected to allow the hon. Member in whose name it stands to explain why it should be taken so that the Chairman can judge whether it is of importance or not.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. and gallant Member is mistaken. That would entirely upset the practice in regard to the discretion of the Chair in selecting Amendments. An explanation is only given when it is asked for by the Chair, and, if I say that an Amendment is not selected, that statement has to be accepted.
§ Mr. GROVES
Is not this evidence that hon. Members have put their names to Amendments which they do not understand?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I do not want to question your ruling, but I should like to know whether we shall have an opportunity of discussing the last part of the Amendment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, which raises a question which has not been discussed or mentioned before.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman is now referring to the question of communal representation.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It is the last part of the Amendment. May I read it?Provided that the choice as between separate and general electorates for the election of representatives to the said chamber or chambers shall be a matter for decision by the minority community, or communities, in each Province.1013 It raises the question of giving a right to the minorities in the Province to decide that question for themselves. Shall we be able to raise this question later on?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Hon. Members may remember what I said when we were considering the First Schedule. I have come to the conclusion that the most convenient Amendment, or set of Amendments, on which the Committee can discuss what may be called the question of communal representation—and I mean communal representations in its widest possible aspect—are three Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) on page 1947. The first is in line 20, to leave out the word "of"; the second to leave out from "seats" in line 20 to "be" in line 29, and insert "shall"; and the third is to leave out from "vote" in line 32 to the end of line 36. My intention was, on calling the first of these Amendments, to allow a discussion on communal representation generally, and, indeed, on all matters connected with that question. I agree that if that or any Amendment were carried, then on the question of communal representation it might entail alteration in an earlier part of the Schedule, but it is one of those cases where such consequential alterations would properly be made on Report. I thought that the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Caerphilly, to which I have referred, were best suited to a general discussion on the whole question of communal representation, and I had intended to allow the widest possible latitude for that purpose.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Will there be an opportunity of voting on the specific proposal contained in the Amendment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood)? There are many of us who, although we dislike communal representation, yet feel that we have to accept it. At the same time, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Amendment raises rather a different question in that it gives an option to the communities and allows them, so to speak, to opt out of the communal electorate. The point here is not so much the range of the debate as the possibility of voting on a specific Amendment 1014 which is sharply differentiated from the broad question of communal or general electorates.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I suggest, Sir Dennis, that usually a general debate is taken on the first Amendment of a series so that other points may be voted upon subsequently without further discussion. In this case, the Amendment which you propose to select is far down on the Paper, and would preclude the opportunity of voting on earlier Amendments.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
My only wish is to meet the general convenience and to have all these matters discussed with as little expenditure of time as possible. I do not wish to have a discussion on one Amendment which, if prolonged, would entrench a great deal on the discussion of other Amendments and yet make it impossible to avoid a certain amount of repetition in later discussion. However, after what has been said I am prepared, if hon. and right hon. Members wish that it should be done, to call the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on this understanding—that we should take the general discussion of communal representation upon that Amendment and that we should then divide upon such of the other Amendments as hon. Members desire to have put to a vote. What the right hon. and gallant Gentleman says about priority in the selection of Amendments is correct, subject to this condition, that, except by stretching the Rules of Order in a way which I could not do without the general assent of the Committee, it would be impossible to allow that wide discussion which has been suggested on this Amendment. That was my reason for proposing to select the later Amendment which I indicated. But if the Committee, as a whole, assent to a wide discussion on the question of communal representation upon this particular Amendment, then it is only in accordance with what has been done before that the Committee should follow that course and the other Amendments should be called and divided upon if that should be found necessary.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
From our point of view we agree that it would be a sensible thing to take a general discussion upon the 1015 communal award but as the hon. Member for Limehouse has pointed out this Amendment deals only with one aspect of the question. I am sure it will be understood by the Committee that the Amendment only refers to that one aspect of the question and that if the discussion is allowed to range over the whole subject, that does not necessarily mean that the decision upon this Amendment involves a decision upon the whole communal award.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I thought it necessary to supplement what the hon. Member for Limehouse had said in that respect because these are important and far-reaching matters. I have no wish to deprive the right hon. and gallant Gentleman of the opportunity of taking the decision of the Committee upon this Amendment, but we must differentiate this Amendment from the main question. As regards what was said previously about the communal award I understand it to be the intention that the question of the Poona Pact and matters arising out of it should be taken in one discussion. I shall be moving, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, a detailed Amendment later on which I think will provide an opportunity for raising a discussion covering the whole of that subject. In that case we should have two general discussions but we should be voting in each case on the particular question involved in the particular Amendment on which we were dividing at the time.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Of course the hon. Gentleman realises that the issue involved in the Poona Pact is rather distinct from that involved in the communal award, and that we should have separate discussions upon them.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I was referring to a previous discussion and a previous Ruling of the Chair about the Poona Pact and I only wished to explain the view of the Government as to there being two general discussions. I am indebted to the hon. Member for Limehouse for making it abundantly clear.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I submit that the most convenient course, if the general 1016 discussion is found not to deal adequately with certain points, is to select Amendments which do deal with those points and allow short discussions upon them—not ranging over the whole field of the general discussion but necessarily touching upon it to a certain extent. It is impossible to discuss these matters in watertight compartments. It is the general desire of the Committee as has been shown throughout the proceedings on the Bill that these matters should be discussed in the most common-sense, practical and fair manner, and I think if we are allowed to move Amendments on these subsidiary points, the whole subject can be dealt with to the best advantage.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it was yesterday—it was certainly at a recent sitting of the Committee—that with the assent of the Committee it was arranged that a general discussion should take place on one Amendment and that on certain subsequent Amendments the discussion should be confined within certain narrow limits. I realise that a wide discussion on this first Amendment may be found not to cover completely the points raised by subsequent Amendments. It is not necessary for me to remind the Committee that we are working here under a rather special arrangement. Under that arrangement the Chair has, I will not say greater difficulty, but more responsibility, and it is only possible for the Chair to arrange matters so that everything will be covered, if the suggested method is one to which all Members of the Committee assent. Otherwise, it would be impossible for the Chairman to deal with these matters except by a kind of despotism quite beyond anything which has been our practice in the past. The Chair, of course, has no power of automatic closure or anything of that kind but I think, in the circumstances, we can leave the position without further discussion to the general good-will and commonsense of the Committee and proceed on the lines suggested. I shall call first, therefore, the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood).
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
May I be allowed with great respect to raise one point. 1017 You, Sir Dennis, called an Amendment which appears later on the Paper—
§ The CHAIRMAN
No, the hon. Member is mistaken. I did not call it. I asked for an explanation about it and I was informed that it was not desired to move it. It was in the course of that discussion that the other question was raised, but we had not then passed over the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in page 281, line 33, at the beginning, to insert:Provided that the choice as between separate and general electorates for the election of representatives to the said chamber or chambers, shall be a matter for decision by the minority community, or communities, in each Province.I am obliged to you, Sir Dennis, for the opportunity of moving this Amendment and I appreciate the fact that a debate on the whole communal question can take place upon it. I only wish to point out again that the vote will be on the Amendment which I am now moving and which ought to attract the support of a great many hon. Members who are committed to communal representation. The other Amendments in my name on this point are consequential. The Amendment provides that the allocation of seats in the Provincial Assemblies shall be as shown in the relative table of seats. It leaves the table of seats and the communal representation as provided for in that table, as it stands. It merely puts in the proviso that should a minority community in any Province decide that they can be better protected by having votes in the general electorate instead of the separate electorate, then they should be able to forfeit their position as represented by the separate electorate and become part of the general electorate, so that the majority Government and the majority Members would have to go to the minority for their votes and depend on the votes of the minority, to some extent, for their reelection.
In order to make the situation in India clear one must deal with the whole question of communal election per se. This 1018 is the issue upon which all progress in India has wrecked itself up to now. It has been discussed there ever since the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms came in, but by an extraordinary mischance, it has never been discussed by Parliament before. It has been mentioned, incidentally, in connection with this Bill, but the principles on which communal representation is based have never been discussed in this House as far as India is concerned. They have been discussed in relation to Ceylon, but as far as India is concerned we have never had an opportunity of debating the question until now. As we are debating the general question, as well as the specific proviso which I hope to be able to induce the Government to accept, I think we must go into the subject from the beginning.
The question how you can best protect minorities in a democracy has exercised the minds of this country for the best part of 100 years. The outstanding case was South Africa, where we gave votes to the blacks and the coloured people of property. We discussed whether they should have separate electorates electing blacks, or whether there should be a few in each constituency with the privilege of choosing between two whites. In 1858 we came, happily, to the conclusion that the interests of the blacks would best be represented not by their having a certain voice in the Assembly at Cape Town, but by allowing them to have votes for white men throughout the whole country. Whereupon the whites, being dependent upon the votes of a few coloured people and being anxious, as we all are, to please the electors, responded much more readily to the demands for justice for the coloured people. If the natives had had one representative or even half a dozen representatives in the Cape Assembly, they would have had no chance; they would have been a discounted, unacknowledged minority. The white members having no coloured electors would have paid very little attention to the needs of the coloured people, but when we established that great Act and gave representative institutions, not responsible at that time, to South Africa, we insisted that there should be no segregation, no separate electorate for the black and coloured population but that they should come in on the general list.
1019 When we dealt with New Zealand we, unfortunately, took the other line. The Maories in New Zealand have no votes for white men. They can only vote for individual Maories to represent them in the New Zealand Parliament. There are three Maories representing the Maories in New Zealand. Everyone who has experience of New Zealand knows that the rights and interests of the Maories are not as well protected by that representation as would be the case if instead of being able to vote only for Maories the Maori electors were able to give votes for white men. In Kenya and East Africa the problem has been even more keenly debated. There, the Indians are pressing and have been pressing for years for a general electoral roll, to be limited by educational tests and property tests in order to keep down the numbers, and that there should be Indians as well as English on the common electoral roll of Kenya. That matter was exhaustively examined by the Commission sent out to East Africa by the Government and also exhaustively examined by the Joint Committee of Lords and Commons which sat in another place four years ago, and they all came to the conclusion that the interests of the natives and the interests of the Indians would best be protected by having a common electoral roll. In view, however, of the opposition of the English settlers the matter was postponed as a doubtful ideal, and for the present communal representation is imposed on Kenya.
The real desire for communal elections comes not from the minority but from others, from the superior race of higher culture who object to asking for votes from the lower cultured people. In Kenya it is acknowledged that the white settlers do not choose to ask Indians for votes, because it is humiliating to do so. The Indians want votes because the obtaining of a vote on the common roll is an admission of status and equality. The question of having a vote on the common roll has become entirely one of standing. In regard to India we are starting with separate electorates, not to protect the Mohammedan from the Hindu or the Hindu minority from the Mohammedan majority but because it is humiliating for the Mohammedan to have to ask a Hindu for a vote. They resent any form of dependence. We have 1020 to realise that the question of status comes in here to a great extent. It is not so much the protection of minorities but the rendering permanent of a separation between two communities, which we now put in a worse position. The Indians as a whole and each of the communities ask for communal electorates, not for protection but because they dislike being mixed up with the other people. In this country we could not contemplate having communal representation, separate electorates for Catholics, Jews and Nonconformists. If a Catholic or a Jew was asked to have a separate electorate in this country and he was told that it would be a protection for him and his community he would laugh the project to scorn. He would know perfectly well that although a communal separate electorate might give him more Members in the House of Commons, so far as protecting the interests of Catholics or Jews are concerned it is infinitely better to have a few votes for everybody than to have votes for two or three people.
From the point of view of protecting minorities, there is nothing in communal representation. The real difficulty in India is that the Mohammedans demand communal representation. They put forward the plea that communal representation is to protect them in Provinces where there is for all time a Hindu majority and that in face of the Hindu majority they have no chance unless they have communal representation. That plea I believe to be completely unfounded. In connection with the district boards over the greater part of India there is no communal representation but a general electoral roll and the people elected, Mohammedans and Hindus, get along together admirably on the board. The Mohammedans are asking for communal representation but I do not think this House ought to grant it to them. The Government will say that they are pledged to it. The position of this House and the Government would be infinitely stronger if we had put forward a Bill which the Government could defend and which they believe to be the best in the interests of India, based upon our experience and the experiment we have carried out in Ceylon, Cyprus, South Africa and elsewhere. If the Government had put forward a scheme which they believed to be best for India and the Mohammedans had said that they did not 1021 want the scheme, the Government could have said: "The scheme must await enactment until you choose to find out that it is the best method." The Government had to put forward a scheme and if they had put forward one which they believed to be best then, if either the Mohammedans or the Hindus objected, we should have been in a strong position to say: "We have done what we think right and as soon as you agree to it you can have it. Until you do agree we shall continue with the status quo." That would have been the proper way to deal with the matter.
That was the way we dealt with an exactly similar problem with regard to Ceylon. When the Constitution was granted there was a Debate here, but it was done by Order-in-Council, as the result of a Commission presided over by Lord Burnham. Mr. Drummond Shields, representing the Labour Government, actually drafted the Clauses dealing with communal representation. We had exactly the same problem there as in India. Ceylon is divided into even more warring castes than India. You have the Mohammedans there, the low caste Cingalese, the up-country Cingalese, the Indians, who occupy a great part of the north, and the Burghers, who are the half-caste descendents of the Dutch and Portuguese settlers, all demanding, as the Mohammedans are doing, separate electorates in order to secure some voice in Parliament. The Commission came to the very wise conclusion that it was essential there should be a general list in the interests of the whole of Ceylon. There is a general electorate for the whole country, subject to the condition that the Mohammedans and the Burghers have two votes, one on the general list and one on the separate list for their own community, so that their minorities are protected in both ways. They have the protection of having a separate electorate for their own representatives in the Ceylon Parliament and they have a vote on the general list, so that every candidate who stands for Parliament has to go to the coloured men, the Mohammedans and Cingalese and ask for their votes, and his programme has to be made to meet their views. Therefore, you have the coloured interest represented in the Parliament of Ceylon.
1022 I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) that it has not worked perfectly, but no Constitution in the East will work perfectly. It has not worked perfectly because they thought they were going to get more, but as soon as they discovered that there was a risk of losing all that they had got the Constitution has worked admirably. When we dealt with Ceylon we found a solution which satisfies our conscience that we have done the best thing, that it provides for the needs of the country and does not divide the country but in the opinion of the minorities gives them adequate protection. Why was not that done by the Round Table Conference in regard to India? Why was it not done by the India Office? I think it was not done partly because they had not taken the trouble to inquire what was done in Ceylon. It was not done also for a reason which is really discreditable to us. There is a great temptation in India to regard the job of governing India as the business of balancing the parties against each other, of acting by first giving sops to the Mohammedans and then by giving sops to the Sikhs, and then by giving sops to some other section, hoping to keep them your friends by giving each of them something.
If you go to work like that and lay off one section against the other government becomes much easier. In India, now the Hindus say that the Government have been playing up to the Mohammedans and securing Mohammedan support at the expense of the Hindu and that it is their policy of "divide and rule" once more. "Divide and rule" is not the policy of the Government in India—not their acknowledged official policy. Their policy is to carry out the views of decent Englishmen as expressed in this House on the general principles of justice and equity which are the foundation of our Empire. If you have this communal representation it gives to every Mohammedan and Hindu the conviction that it is to separate India and to make the art of governing India easier. Everybody knows that the art of governing a country is a hundred times easier to-day than it was ten years ago. Governing a country now in the days of wireless, machine guns, bombs and aeroplanes is work that a child could do. The position of a Government to-day, whether in India or anywhere else, is 100 per cent. easier 1023 than it was 30 years ago, and it is not necessary that we should sacrifice one iota of the respect that the Indians have for themselves or of our respect for ourselves by doing something which makes government easier and at the same time reduces the respect in which you are held by India.
I dislike communal representation most of all, not because it divides India, as it does, for all time, not because it is a bad protection for minorities, but because it is bad for our reputation throughout the world. Nobody will believe that we think that communal separate electorates are good for India. Nobody in any European country—they tried it in Austria before the War, and see what an explosion it produced in that country—who knows anything about this matter thinks that it is good for India. If we put it there it will merely mean that our name will suffer as well as the name of India. Let me pass from that to the exact Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Perhaps this will be a convenient time to tell the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that I am still not clear as to exactly what he is moving. He told me when I asked him that the three Amendments against his name on the Order Paper went together and were consequential, and that he intended to move all of them. I think that there must be a misunderstanding about that. His first one in page 28, line 33, is to insert a proviso at the beginning of paragraph 3. The second one is to leave out paragraph 3.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am not moving the Amendment to leave out paragraph 3. The other two are provisos, one to paragraph 3 in the case of Provincial Legislative Assemblies, and the other is a similar proviso to paragraph 4 in the case of the Legislative Assembly of each Province. They both deal with the same thing.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will forgive me if I say that he misled me by saying he was moving all three Amendments. My difficulty was added to by the fact that, as printed, the provisos ended with a full stop and that, of course, would make no sense. I understand that what he is now doing is moving to insert after the 1024 figure "3" in line 33 the words of the first proviso. He does not move the Amendment to leave out paragraph 3, and his third Amendment is in the same form as his first, and is to be moved to paragraph 4.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I put the Amendments down to both paragraphs because I was not certain which was the best.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have dealt with the general question at some length because we have not discussed it before in the Committee. Now I come to the special question. Most hon. Members will say that we were pledged to the Mohammedans to do this. At the same time, I would put in this caveat that I do not think that the Mohammedans are so committed to it themselves as they appear to be. It is well known that the Mohammedans have opposed separate electorates because they know that it is futile as a protection to minorities. I think it is possible that a change might easily come about in opinion on this question, but accepting the Government's position that nothing can be done to reduce the protection which the Mohammedans believe they are getting by communal representation, could we not enable the Hindu minorities who do not want separate electorates and who beg for votes on the general electorates to protect themselves, as we should naturally protect them, instead of forcing them also to accept this false security of separate representation?
There are four Provinces in which the Mohammedans are in the majority. They are Bengal, Punjab, North-West Frontier and the new Province of Sind. In all these Provinces there is the Mohammedan majority on the electorate. Therefore, the Hindus are in the position of being a statutory minority. They can never form a Government and can never upset a Government in the Assembly. Can the Committee conceive of what it is to be in the position of a permanent statutory minority, however badly the majority governs and however oppressive they are to the minority? Whatever they do there is no possibility of ever turning the Government out, and the statutory minority will never have a 1025 chance of taking their place. Faced with that position the Hindus very naturally say, "if we are to be a minority we would rather have votes on the general electorate so that if the Mohammedans govern badly we can vote against them and we can vote for some Mohammedans who will do better. If you put us on a separate electorate you might just as well disfranchise us altogether, because we should have no votes for our masters and no votes against our masters. We should have no choice between two masters." A statutory minority is in an un-franchised position.
The Mohammedans would prefer to be disfranchised rather than have to vote for Hindus. The Hindus, however, see their one protection in being able to select the less violent and less antoganistic of Mohammedan candidates who put up. Obviously, if a Mohammedan candidate puts up and 25 per cent. of the voters are Hindus, his policy and platform will be much more moderate. That is well known in Palestine where the Jews managed cleverly at the last election to put the moderate Mohammedans into office and to turn out the corrupt chiefs. That is understandable, and where there is a minority of Hindus, as in these four Provinces, surely this House should give them a vote for the Mohammedans. They would get a few seats because in Karachi there is a Hindu majority, but even if they had only a handful of votes they would be like the coloured people in South Africa who would sooner have a few coloured votes than be a scheduled, segregated and separated body of people. Whose feelings would be upset if the Government made this concession in those four Provinces, or even if they made the concession to minorities like the Hindu-Christians? I am certain that after a few years experience of the impotence of the statutory minority members to protect the interests of the people, the Christians in Southern India would far sooner be on the general electorate than have separate special representation.
We must remember that the leaders whom you consult always see in separate representation a certain chance of getting seats for themselves. Therefore, the leaders are always rather apt to support separate electorates, but if the chance were given to the Hindus, the Mohammedans, the Christians and the Sikhs to 1026 be put on the general electorate, I think it would be certain that they would take advantage of it. What is the objection? The only objection is that some mysterious Mohammedan power—I suppose it is Akbar Hydari—is standing behind the Government, that the Mohammedans were promised they should have communal representation, and that they are going to have it even if they are a majority. Is it worth while to antagonise unjustly two-thirds of the population of India in order to keep a promise to some one or a handful of Mohammedan leaders when we know perfectly well that the scheme is unpopular to the vast majority of the Indian people, and that anything like this will not make it more tolerable to the Hindus but perhaps change the whole attitude of the Hindus to the scheme.
This is not a question for Congress. The people who take an interest in this are the rank and file Hindus, the supporters of the Nationalist party. They are not members of the Congress party. They are obscurantist Hindus. They are not the anti-English element, but people who are and have been all the time loyal to Great Britain. We are antagonising 230,000,000 people in order to keep a promise to—I do not know who. I do not know what the promise was. I cannot believe that even Mohammedans would demand that they should have not only communal representation where they are in the minority, but communal representation even where they are in a majority. But, whatever this promise, here is a case where the House can do justice on English lines. We are not bound by any promise that the Government may have made, we are bound to do justice as between one Indian and another. To disfranchise a minority in four Provinces and to put them in a position where they may never have a place in the Government is un-English and a crime against the principles on which this country has built its constitution.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Mr. AMERY
It seems to me that my right hon. and gallant Friend has never realised the actual reasons which, in the peculiar conditions of India, justify the existence of electorates separated not geographically but communally. We are all agreed in desiring that communal differences should disappear as rapidly as 1027 possible, and would all prefer purely geographical electorates. If common interests and issues of party principle were sufficiently strong to cut across communal differences, obviously we ought not to do anything which even acknowledged the fact that citizens are communally divided. But when communal differences do exist the danger of putting different communities into the same electorate is that the communal issue becomes the dominant issue at every election and swallows every other, and that the only candidates who will succeed are those who champion the claims of their community in the most extreme form and undertake to continue the communal battle in the legislature. When that situation arises surely the only practical way of eliminating the communal spirit, as far as we can, is to recognise the fact that the communities do exist, and that if they are put to fight against each other in the same electorate they will fight as communities and communalism will be intensified.
If we separate them what happens? The communal issue is no longer there to fight about. In a Moslem electorate there is no question about the candidates not being all Moslems together. That issue is eliminated, and the issue then becomes one of some political principle. One candidate may be an advocate of a more industrial policy, one may be a Conservative, one may be a Socialist. The result is that a candidate is returned on a particular principle, and goes into an Assembly to which people who may differ from him in communal origin have also been returned on that same principle, and they tend to work with him. The recognition of communal electorates may not only eliminate the bitterness of communal strife at elections but tend to cut across communal difficulties in the legislature itself. My right hon. and gallant Friend quoted offhand the disastrous example, as he said, of setting up communal electorates in Austria. I remember the facts of that situation rather well, because I was studying that particular problem at the time. In Bohemia racial differences became so acute that the Bohemian Diet was made a complete bear garden by Germans and Czechs, and no business was possible. The Austrian 1028 Prime Minister of the day introduced into Bohemia for the purposes of the Bohemian Diet a division between German and Czech constituencies. The result was that the elections were fought on the issue between Socialism and Conservatism. Czech Socialists and German Socialists sat on the same benches in the Bohemian Diet, and for a number of years the racial situation was undoubtedly greatly ameliorated, although there was a recrudescence of the issue following upon the Great War. There was no doubt that that reform did a great deal to mitigate racial antagonisms where they were most bitter in Bohemia.
Happily, we are free from having to consider such a situation in this country, but the situation does arise in many parts of the world. I am not sure that the present proposals in South Africa are not essentially right and likely to work better than the attempt to try to insist upon the maintenance of a native vote in white constituencies. At any rate, where there are these tremendous differences it is far better to recognise them, and create at any rate the beginning of a political system based on genuine party differences, and when those have become strong enough the time will come, and the sooner the better, when Indians, whether Moslems or Hindus; will be glad not only to work together in the same constituencies but to work together on political issues and not on communal issue. From that point of view I am sure the principle, which, after all, is as old as the Morley-Minto reforms, should be carried on at any rate in the first stage of the great experiment we are launching to-day, and we should not run the risk of what, I believe, would mean a tremendous exacerbation of communal feeling in India, which would result from anything which would look like going back on the principle of security for the minority communities in the different Provinces.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I do not agree with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) nor entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery). I think the one overlooks too much the conditions which make the communal electorates almost essential at the present moment, while the other overlooks 1029 the evils of the system. I think my right hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment is apt, in his mind, to weight the balance too much against the Mohammedans. Hearing him speak, one rather gathers that the Mohammedans are cursed with a greater amount of communal spirit than the Hindus. I feel it is a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other. I regard the whole system of communal electorates as absolutely detestable, and that, I think, has been the view of everybody who has inquired into the electoral system in India, but everyone has also come to the conclusion that in the circumstances we cannot change it at the present time. Therefore, on the main question of the communal award and the communal system of separate electorates, we have to face the fact that if we are to carry on at all we must have them for a time. But I wish to support a narrower point put forward by the right hon. and gallant Member in his Amendment, and that is that where minorities do not wish to have communal electorates they should be allowed to opt out. It is unjustifiable that Mohammedans should get the best of both worlds, that is to say, have a weightage as minorities in some Provinces and at the same time be allowed the full advantage of their majority in others. I will quote a passage from the report of the Statutory Commission. It is on page 71 of the second Volume:A claim has been put forward for a guarantee of Mohammedan representation which goes further than this … This claim goes to the length of seeking to preserve the full security for representation now provided for Moslems in these six provinces and at the same time to enlarge in Bengal and the Punjab the present proportion of seats secured to the community by separate electorates to figures proportionate to their ratio of population. This would give Mohammedans a fixed and unalterable majority of the 'general constituency' seats in both provinces. We cannot go so far. The continuance of the present scales of weight age in the six provinces could not—in the absence of a new general agreement between the communities—equitably be combined with so great a departure from the existing allocation in Bengal and the Punjab. On the other hand it would be unfair that Mohammedans should retain the very considerable weight-age they now enjoy in the six provinces and that there should at the same time be imposed, in face of Hindu and Sikh opposition, a definite Moslem majority in the Punjab and in Bengal unalterable by any appeal to the electorate. On the other hand, if by agreement separate electorates 1030 in Bengal were abandoned, so that each community in that province was left to secure such seats as it could gain by appeal to a combined electorate, we should not on that accouunt seek to deprive the Moslem community of its existing weightage in the six provinces where they are in a minority. In the same way in the Punjab, if Moslems, Sikhs and Hindus were prepared to seek election through a joint electorate covering all three communities, here again we should still be prepared to see this combined with the preservation of the present numerical proportion secured to the Mohammedans by separate electorates in the six other provinces. We make this last suggestion, which really involves giving the Moslem community the advantage of a choice between two courses to follow, because we sincerely desire to see all practicable means attempted for reducing the extent of separate electorates, and for giving the other system a practical trial.I think that was reasonable. What actually has happened is that they have been given the best of both worlds. I think there are very strong arguments for separate electorates in India as things are. I know them quite well. Month after month I heard arguments with regard to the candidates that would be put up and the effect of the various economic interests and so forth, but where there is definitely a majority I cannot think it is right that they should claim a separate electorate against the will of the minority. I am not so sure as my hon. and gallant Friend that all minorities of Hindus are against separate electorates. The point is, why should not this option be given to minorities when they openly declare "We do not need this form of protection"? It is possible that might be the case with the Indian Christians. I do not know the position to-day, but when I was in India all the Indian Christians were against separate electorates. Unless there has been some definite agreement with the communities I cannot see why this particular right should not be granted. If there has been such an agreement I think it is an unjustifiable agreement.
After all, the communal award must be based on something more than mere expediency. The award was, to a great extent, weighted on behalf of the Moslems, and against the Hindus. I cannot see why the acceptance of this Amendment should be held as infringing the communal award in any degree. The purpose of the communal award is to give to minorities a certain definite protection. 1031 If you give a minority the right to say, "We will not accept this protection," I cannot see that you are infringing the award. If a majority community, be it Moslem or Hindu, says: "Even though we have a majority, we fear, if there be joint electorates, that by some means the other people may get a majority," that is up to them. If they cannot rely upon that community, it is their own look-out.
It would be much wiser to accept the Amendment, which has one other very important effect, which is that it does not entirely stabilise the system of communal electorates. It gives the possibility, as time goes on, of one Province or another departing from it. The only hope of getting rid of these communal differences is to get a division of parties on other lines. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook was quite right when he suggested that it is possible to get that, even with communal electorates. I am aware that there was an example in the Punjab, where the Agrarian party was mainly Moslem—though one member of the Hindu community was included—and it had the support of some of the Sikhs, but there is hardly an example anywhere else. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is entirely right in suggesting that when you have communal electorates you get away from a common interest in the election. I am afraid that there may be a temptation to get an advantage for the communal vote by working on communal feeling. The real vice of communal electorates is that you tend to produce the super-communalist. Any inclusion of other electorates means that the extreme communalist must consider people of other communities. I can claim some special right to speak on this subject because, in regard to Labour representation, I have always maintained that it was far more effective to have a Labour vote to which other candidates, other communities and other sections of society should have to appeal, rather than to have a separate and segregated representation for Labour. I believe the same thing applies with regard to India, and on the score alone of future advance and of flexibility, I wish the Committee would accept the Amendment of my right hon. and gallant Friend.
§ 6.34 p.m.
Mr. VYVYAN ADAMS
I agree with the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) that the scope of this Amendment is a good deal narrower than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) seems to think. I wish directly to mention some of his arguments, and I shall limit my remarks to the terms of the Amendment which stands in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and the other Amendment which stands in my own name further down on the Order Paper. The aim of both the Amendments is to remove any mischief that there may be in the communal award. I do not propose to criticise at large the principle of the communal award at this stage. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme complained that the former principle of the British Raj seems to have been, "Divide and rule," but I am sure that both right hon. Gentlemen would agree with me that the right principle to-day is, "Unite and share." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook said that the communal award would probably succeed in eliminating the communal issue in the constituencies. That may be so, but there is no guarantee that the dispute may not be revived in the Legislature itself or may not raise its head when the elected members reach the Legislature. I hope that the Government will either accept one of the Amendments or will, before the Report stage, reconsider the narrow issue which is raised in them.
The purpose of the communal award is the protection of minorities. If we are anxious to make that protection complete and real and not merely technical, we should, I suggest to the Government, allow the minorities to choose the type of protection they desire. Where there are Moslem minorities, they desire, and have in fact chosen, separate electorates; why should we not allow the Hindus also to determine the nature of their own electorates in the Provinces where they constitute the minorities? It may be that on the common ground of sentiment and tradition we owe the Moslems a debt of friendship which it is difficult to express in terms of politics, but we are in the future indefinitely to be the arbiters of the fate of India, and we 1033 shall long remain so after the Bill has reached the Statute Book. We cannot allow the fate of about 230,000,000 Hindus to be affected by any predilection or inclination upon one side or the other in this vast controversy, which embraces all sorts of human values. I hope that the Government will allow the minorities in each Province the degree of electoral protection which they desire, because that will be the only true form of electoral protection under a democratic system.
Hon. Members will, I think, agree that our long-term endeavour should be to enable India to realise political unity, but that purpose will be impossible of achievement if, as it were, we indurate, stiffen or harden an award which may not be acceptable to a population at least five times as numerous as that of the United Kingdom. We need the fidelity of the Hindu community no less than we need the fidelity of the Moslems. Some strange evidence was submitted to the Joint Parliamentary Committee suggesting that at some date there would be a federation of Moslems comprising Baluchistan, Sind, the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Provinces and Kashmir, and it was proposed that with them was to be federated Afghanistan. Such an arrangement is not in accordance with our traditional ideas of Moslem loyalty, and would be quite inconsistent with what, during our history, we have grown to expect from the Moslem community. It should be our purpose to make the two communities our friends, and we can only do that if, by accepting the Amendment, we approach this vast problem without fear, favour or discrimination.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
A word should be spoken from these benches upon this subject, which is right at the heart of the Indian problem. I agree with a good deal that was said by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), but I thought that he introduced into his argument a good many points that hardly served his purpose. He turned to the Ministers on the Government Front Bench and asked, "Who has asked for this?" He used a reference—I am sorry that he is out of the Chamber just now—to what he regarded as the possibility that there might be some secret and 1034 powerful Mohammedan leader dictating to the Government in this matter. He actually said that it might be Sir Akbar Hydari. It is the first time that I have heard the name of Sir Akbar Hydari in relation to this matter. I think that gentleman has been particularly careful to give a public opinion only upon matters that concern the interest of the State and the future of a Federated India. It is preposterous for the name of Sir Akbar Hydari to be brought into this matter, because he probably had no more association with it than the President of the German Republic or any other distant individual. This has not been asked for by the people of this country, who would never desire this extraordinary feature of public government.
The communal electorate is a denial of our conception of democracy. That is, of course, common ground. There are no champions in this country of the communal electorate, and the only reason why it has been adopted is, not some secret pressure from some highly-placed individual, but that it has been the unfailing demand of the Mohammedan community ever since the question of constitutional government arose in India. That is going right back. The demand was made at the very beginning, and it was resisted at the very beginning. I had not the opportunity of serving in the House of Commons which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme enjoyed in those early days. He was here when Mr. Morley was here. All that I have been able to do is to read Mr. Morley's speeches, reminiscences and recollections contained in the two volumes. I know that he was very much disturbed in mind by the demand that was then made. He was democratic enough to see that the demand was contrary to every democratic principle. He conceded the demand because he could not help himself, if the reforms then contemplated were to be given. He may have been wrong, but that was the demand.
I know that the position taken up by Mr. Morley was quoted by Sir Muhammad Shafi at one of the early sittings of the Round Table Conferences. Whatever we may think about the undemocratic nature of communal electorates, we may be sure that if that demand had been denied there would have been no discussion at the Round Table Conference, which would 1035 have been broken up at the beginning. There would never have been a second or a third Round Table Conference, the Bill would never have been before the House and the Joint Select Committee would not have been set up. That may be a welcome suggestion to those who are opposed to the Bill. There it is, and whether the Bill be good or bad, that is the fact. The Bill is here only because we conceded the central demand of a very powerful community, although the demand—I agree here with the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee)—is one which, as far as I know, is not opposed by all Hindu opinion. I did not understand at the sittings of the Round Table Conference, or at the consultations of the Joint Select Committee, that all Hindu opinion was opposed to separate electorates.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not think that there is a minority in every Province opposed to it, but the Hindu party and the Mahasabha are opposed to it.
§ Mr. FOOT
I can hardly accept the right hon. and gallant Gentleman as the spokesman for all the Hindus in India. I do not know to what extent the Mahasabha represents all Hindu opinion in India, but, so far as I can tell, not merely from public statements but from conversations with those who were in this country, there was no declared opposition to the separate electorate on the part of organised Hindu opinion.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Congress party, as my hon. Friend knows, have opposed it for 15 years, and the Hindus, although definitely opposed to communal representation, accepted the evil in order to get the Mohammedans with them in the demand for responsible government. But now, after having had the Bill and after having seen what is in it, they are as opposed to it as they were before, and have gone so far as to say that they would rather not have the Bill at all.
§ Mr. FOOT
I know the opinion of different societies that have met in India, and their strong condemnation of parts of the Bill, but I did not know that it had any association with the establishment of separate communal electorates, and I have not seen that in their resolutions. The only purpose of my intervention was to suggest that there is no mystery about matter at all—that 1036 we need not look around for some powerful Mohammedan figure who is pulling the wires behind the Government. It is an open demand that has been an acknowledged and essential factor of the whole situation for 30 years. That demand, whether it be right or wrong, is made by an element in the life of India which represents a huge population, and represents an essential part of its outlook and philosophy. If we are to go on at all with this or any other Bill, we have to reckon with that demand, and, as long as that demand is made by that very powerful community, I do not think it can be overridden, although it may be contrary to our own conceptions of democratic government.
The smaller and more limited suggestion contained in the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman will, I think, commend itself generally to the Committee. English opinion, built up on an entirely different conception of Parliamentary representation, would welcome the breakdown or elimination of the separate communal electorate as soon as it can be secured, provided that it comes by consent, and provided that it is not imposed by this country over-riding Mohammedan opinion. I hope that the Bill even as it stands will allow for such a change; I hope that even as it stands it will allow for constitutional change in this direction if Indian opinion should be in this direction. If the Bill as it stands does not allow for such a change, even if Indian opinion after an experience of some years should desire it, I think that something on the lines of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal ought to be put into the Measure. Those of us who support the separate electorate because it represents the demand of a great many people in India, and because it represents the condition upon which progress can now be made, do not want to have it charged against us that we have passed a Bill making it impossible for the Indians themselves to carry out reforms which, if they can be secured, will be a very great step towards real democratic government in that country. I hope for some reassuring words later on from the Under-Secretary when he takes part in the discussion.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I only intervene at this point because my hon. Friend the 1037 Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), having defended the adoption of a system of communal electorates in the present conditions of India, proceeded to say that this particular Amendment was one which he thought would be generally approved by persons who take the same view on the general question as he does. The proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) is to leave the decision as between communal and general electorates to minorities, and, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, it would in practice apply only to four Provinces—the North West Frontier Province, Sind, the Punjab and Bengal. I am not going to say anything about the general question of communal electorates, except that I think all of us Englishmen are apt to be a little too smart about our civilised record. It must be remembered that we got over this communal question in the days before religious toleration by seeing that the minority community had no votes at all, and it was not until Catholic emancipation—
§ Lord E. PERCY
I do not think my right hon. Friend can get over the unfortunate history of Catholic disabilities, and it is well to remember that India, quite apart from its special conditions, is entering upon a, phase of representative Government before it has emerged from the phase of religious intolerance. In these circumstances it may well be that the principle of communal electorates is a, necessary principle at a, certain stage. I will not say more on the subject than that, but let us examine what the actual effect of this particular proposal would be.
There is no doubt—and I give this to my right hon. Friend—that in Sind and the North West Frontier Province the proposal is a simple one, and would work; that is to say, that if the Hindu minority in those Provinces opted for general electorates, no further particular difficulty would arise. I will come back at the end of my remarks to the question of Sind and the North West Frontier Province, but take the case of Bengal. My right hon. Friend says that the Moslems demand a permanent majority. They are not getting it. They are not 1038 getting a majority in the Bengal Legislature. Why are they not getting a majority in the Bengal Legislature? When we stand up here and talk in swelling terms about justice, let us see what we are really doing. They are not getting a guaranteed majority in the Bengal Legislature, and they are not getting a possible majority in the Bengal Legislature, largely because of the reservation of European seats. Are we going to say to the Moslems, "You are the majority community in Bengal, and you are to have nothing to say as to whether there shall be general electorates or separate electorates, but we give to the other communities the right to opt. We give to the European community the right to opt for a separate electorate which will give them a statutory representation which will make it impossible for you, the Moslems, to get a majority in the Legislature"? If the Hindus vote for general electorates, then the Moslems, who are refused any voice in this question because they are a majority community, will be excluded, by the operation of this minor minority representation, from any possibility of getting a majority in the Chamber by means of a general electoral roll.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Noble Lord cannot have it both ways. He says that under the Bill as it stands the Mohammedans are excluded from getting a permanent majority in the Government because the English hold the balance, while under the new system he says they will also be excluded from that possibility because the English will still hold the balance. What is wrong with that?
§ Lord E. PERCY
Surely, the answer is quite obvious. What you are saying to the Moslem is, "You believe that you have a majority. Very well; go out and fight for your majority. Do not rely on the guarantee of a statutory minimum of seats; go out and fight for a majority." The Moslem replies, "If I were really going to have a chance of getting a majority, I might consider the justice of giving up my minimum guarantee; but if you are asking me to give up my minimum guarantee and yet not to have any prospect by fighting of getting something better, that is not fair, and it certainly is not justice." The same thing, surely, applies to the Punjab. There, in that delicate balance of communities, if the Sikh minority opts for a 1039 communal electorate and the Hindus opt for a general electorate, and you say to the Moslems, "You have no right to any voice at all," the same thing will happen. The Sikhs must hold the balance, and the Moslems will be unable to get a clear majority in the Legislature.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
That balance of seats has been arranged in one way or another. Supposing that as a matter of fact it were based on the ordinary population basis of voting, in Bengal and the Punjab the Moslems would get a majority.
§ Lord E. PERCY
Of course in Bengal, if there were general electorates for everyone, or if there were any minority seats based purely on population, that might be true, but I adhere to my statement that in practice, if you guaranteed to the Sikhs a minority representation according to population, you would make it practically impossible for the Moslems to secure a majority in the Punjab legislature. That, I think, is the objection to this proposal as regards Bengal and the Punjab. In those Provinces there is not a Moslem community which is demanding a guaranteed majority, but, on the contrary, there is a Moslem community to whom a clear and certain majority is refused, and who in return ask for at least a statutory minimum of seats. If we are going to take the high line about Hindu right and justice, we shall have to find a justification for the special representation which we are reserving to Europeans in Bengal. Under our present proposal I have no hesitation whatever in justifying that special representation. If you begin putting forward the principle which my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme is putting forward, then you run considerable risk of being put in a difficult position in the matter of European representation.
Do not let us forget that there is such a thing as a majority with a feeling of education and economic inferiority; and to lay down as the great democratic principle that you are not to give special protection to an ignorant majority is the 1040 strangest variant of democratic doctrine I have ever heard. I know that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme does not agree. He does not sympathise with the Arab in Palestine or with the Moslem in Sind; and yet in Sind, at any rate, that is the real root of Moslem insistence on communal electorates, even where they are in a majority. Let us be generous enough to recognise that fact, and let us ask ourselves whether, having regard to all these considerations, we should improve matters by making a test case of the only Province in which it is going to have any practical application. I agree with the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) that in the North West Frontier Province the Hindu minority would almost certain opt for a separate electorate; but in the only Province where it is likely to have any practical effect, in Sind, are we likely to make matters worse or better by making a test case of that one Province?
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
It might be convenient if I indicated the view of the Government at this stage with regard to the question of the communal award in general and this Amendment in particular. It has been ruled by the Chair that we should discuss the whole communal award arising out of this Amendment, and the Committee will already have observed that this Amendment relates to one particular feature of it. I think we are all agreed that the different points of view put forward have been put forward with energy and skill, considering the very intricate nature of this subject. I would like to confine myself to answering some of the points which have been raised, and to trying to reinforce some of the points which have just been put before the Committee by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). I think his attitude on this subject is one to which the Committee would be wise to pay due regard. I would like to add to what he said that this is a matter which the Committee should approach in an atmosphere of extreme care and seriousness. Hon. Members are aware of the intensity of communal feeling in India. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) has already drawn our attention to some of the realities of 1041 exacerbating communal and minority feeling, whether in India or elsewhere.
In the remarks I shall make about the communal award in general, I would remind the Committee that Indians in the majority, whatever community may be concerned, do hope that they can assume that this communal award is a settled question and that they can proceed to discuss the future constitutional problems which lie before them, having eliminated as far as they can the exacerbations which arise every time this matter is reopened. In uttering that warning I do not want to deprive Members of the Committee, or to hint at any deprivation, of proper and due consideration of this vital matter here. The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) is apt when he is considering this matter, first, to indulge his great knowledge and liking for this particular subject, which none of us regret; and, secondly, to attribute to the Government rather a cavalier spirit, and to suggest that we are either very wooden and official in our attitude and inspired solely by our estimable advisers in our office, or that we are supreme disciples of Machiavelli, or perhaps of the Roman theory of Empire, and that we conduct all our policy in India on the principle of "Divide and rule." He also very often puts before the Committee the idea that we are anti-Hindu and pro-Moslem. On a, previous occasion the Secretary of State rebuked the right hon. Gentleman for attributing to us purely pro-Moslem sentiments. I would only like to remind him of the words of wisdom which then fell from my right hon. Friend and to say in his absence that I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not misbehave. We cannot possibly accept the theory that we have been prompted by any of the motives which the right hon. Gentleman attributes to us.
Let me remind the Committee of the history of this question. It has been before the consideration of England and India for many years past. It came up in various forms during the last 30 years, and in particular since the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms. It came up in a striking manner at the first and second Round Table Conferences, where the different communities did their utmost to arrive at some decision. Unfortunately, 1042 they were unable to do that, with the result that they had to acknowledge their failure to come to a decision and it was left to the Prime Minister and His Majesty's Government to issue and promulgate what has been known ever since as the communal award. At that period His Majesty's Government made a statement about the communal award from which we have not departed. We laid it down that an alteration of the award would be possible in certain circumstances, and already there has been a slight modification of it in the question of the Poona Pact, which we are to discuss in a separate debate. There is no change in the attitude of the Government towards the communal question from what has been already announced frequently by the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister or other representatives of the Government. If there were likely to be any agreement at the present moment in India on this very vexed question, or on the question of the communal award in general, I could quite understand the Committee being influenced by that. There have been discussions proceeding in India, but the latest news we have is that these discussions—as was announced a month or so ago—have unfortunately come to nought. The discussions took place between Mr. Rajendra Prasad and Mr. Jinnah, who issued a statement to the Associated Press which is reported in "The Statesman" of 7th March of this year. It saysWe have made earnest efforts in order to find a solution of the communal problem which would satisfy all the parties concerned, but we regret that in spite of our best efforts we have not been able to find such a formula.That is an acknowledgment, even in spite of the recent and serious discussions which have been going forward to find some solution, that there is no fresh news on this subject from the Indian front which I can put before the Committee. In view of these facts, in view of the importance and intensity of communal feeling, and the fact that His Majesty's Government have been obliged to come to a decision on the subject after the failure at the Round Table Conferences; in view of the fact that they have no new agreement on which I can inform the Committee, and in view of previous statements of the Government, I cannot add anything new to our pre- 1043 vious attitude to the communal award. I cannot, therefore, from the general point of view envisage with any degree of acceptance the arguments of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Then we come to the question of this particular aspect of the communal award which is included in this Amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) referred us to the Statutory Commission's Report, and suggested that there was a line of approach to this subject on the basis of their recommendations, in particular with regard to communal seats, on pages 71 and 72 of their report. May I remind the Committee that this proposal was received extremely badly by that community—the hon. Member was referring to the Moslem community—after the publication of the Statutory Commission's Report. It was rejected by them, and it was one of the reasons why that community frowned to the extent they did on the findings of my hon. Friend and his colleagues at that time. This is a matter of extreme controversy which I do not think it would be valuable for the Committee to pursue at the present time. May I remind hon. Members that the Statutory Commission did in another place, on pages 60 and 61 of their second volume, dismiss the possibility of joint electorates as being a complete solution of the communal question. They brought forward the usual arguments in favour of that. They said, for example, that it was an attractive idea in a joint electorate that you could get a candidate, say in a Moslem community, who would have to consider the point of view of the Hindu community and who would, therefore, be less actively a communal man. But they were obliged to reject that suggestion in view of the strong antipathy which the suggestion provoked in the minds of the Moslem world in India.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
But surely the Indian Statutory Commission were dealing there with the question of minorities, and not of majorities. When the hon. Gentleman says that the Mohammedans objected to this point, was it on the question of justice?
§ Mr. BUTLER
They strongly objected to this point from their point of view. 1044 They considered it as regards themselves as being unjust. I am not responsible for Moslem opinion. I am simply telling what we think inspired them in rejecting the honest attempt of my hon. Friend and his colleagues to make some suggestions on this point. The fact is that they were totally inacceptable.
This leads me to one of the main considerations which we must have before us in considering this communal award, and that is that it is impossible to get a majority community in India in any particular Province to work a scheme with which it disagrees. That applies, too, to the two great majority communities in India, the Hindus and the Moslems. We have to consider the communal award not only on a Provincial but also on an All-India basis, and when we consider the problems of a particular Province or Presidency we have to consider what reactions a suggestion such as this on the the Order Paper would have on the minority of another Province. There are, in certain Provinces, as the Committee knows, Moslem minorities; and there are in certain other Provinces Hindu minorities—of which the most striking example perhaps is Sind; but there is, it must be remembered, a Mohammedan minority in the United Provinces, to take one example. The communal award, therefore, must be considered on an All-India basis owing to the inter-action of the effect of an enforced decision in any particular Province. An enforced decision in Sind on the basis of this Amendment might have disastrous results if it were enforced on the minority, of a different complexion perhaps, in another Province. It certainly would have a disastrous result on one or other of the major communities on which the decision was forced.
From those two points of view, there fore, it would be extremely regrettable to force this apparently attractive suggestion upon any particular Province. The Committee, however, must be interested by the speech of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot). He asked whether we had considered this matter at all in the Bill. The Government have always in previous consideration of these communal questions said that if the matter can be solved on the basis of agreement, they will always accept that agreement. But we have always set our face against a particular provision such as this which 1045 would upset the communal award and create disturbance in the minds of the electors of Sind. I must remind the Committee that it would be unfortunate if the House were to insist on an Amendment like this, forced upon Sind, when we know that there has been, and may be, communal feeling in that particular Province. Surely the proper method is to come to a decision by agreement. It is possible under Clause 285 for a Province to make representations through the Provincial Legislature to us here, and if such representations were made by the Provincial Legislature of Sind it would be possible for us to achieve the results which the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme would apparently wish to enforce. That is the way in which the Government think that this matter ought to be regulated. We believe, therefore, that we have done all that is necessary on this particular point.
Before I conclude, I would like to repeat the warning of the seriousness of discussion on this particular subject, either of detailed Amendments which the Government cannot accept, or the alteration of the communal award, or anything under it on which the Government are ruled by their statements hitherto. The best way to sum up the whole problem is to read some remarks which were made by Sir A. Patro at the Round Table Conference:The award is passed and the award is generally accepted in India, and on the basis of that award we have all been arguing and advocating and placing our claims. It will be a great misfortune to the country if again an opportunity is given to re-open the whole matter. I, therefore, venture to appeal to the Members of the Committee to bear that in mind in the interests of peace, harmony and contentment in India. On behalf of all the agricultural population whom I represent, I beg to place this view of the matter before you for very serious consideration.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER: I should feel tempted to vote for the Amendment submitted by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) for two reasons: first, that it is logical, though I confess I do not attach very much importance to that reason generally; and, secondly, that it is really—although I do not think he intended it to be—a wrecking Amendment. But, personally, I have not been opposing this Bill by the 1046 method of wrecking Amendments, and I am bound to say that I do not think the Amendment of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme would be regarded as an honest one by the Moslem community. They would feel that they had been tricked by something that was logical and plausible, and that they had been put into a position which, as a matter of fact, would work very materially to their disadvantage. Therefore, for that reason I could not support my right hon. Friend in the Lobby. But what a commentary the whole of this Debate and the very able speech of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is on the whole of this Bill! My hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) went even to the length of asking the Government to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
No; I asked whether a statement could be made as to the possibility of the Indian people themselves getting rid of communal elections if they so decided.
§ Viscount WOLMER
If I misunderstood my hon. Friend I withdraw the suggestion. I understood him to appeal to the Government on behalf of the Amendment. Every democrat, as he has said, must feel that the whole system of communal elections is a negation of democracy. I could not help thinking, as I listened to the speeches this afternoon, that not only is the communal award a negation of democracy, but that you are going to bring about a system which, I believe, will prevent the growth of that democratic spirit and feeling which it is the principal object of this Bill to create in India. The whole working of democracy depends on the various parties understanding each other's point of view. If you create a system under which large communities in many provinces are perpetually condemned to be in a minority, you cannot hope to create a democratic atmosphere or teach the people the A, B, C of Parliamentary government.
In fact, we are not setting up a democratic system of Parliament in any sense or form. The communal award means that you are creating something which is much more like the League of Nations than the Parliamentary system as we understand it. Members must be there as delegates to argue the case of a unit, 1047 which is a foreign unit to those represented by the other members. It has only this difference from the League of Nations, that in nearly every Province there is one over-powering community whose representatives would be able, to a very large extent, to swamp and outvote the members of all other communities. That is a feature happily absent from the League of Nations. And that is the reason for all the safeguards that have been put into the Bill, and if you once got rid of your communal elections, the necessity for half your safeguards would disappear. Until you get rid of your communal elections there can be no hope of a real move forward in the direction of democracy and true representative Government.
Yet when my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme proposes what looks, at first sight, a very simple and obvious method of gradually lessening this communal evil, we see, on a little examination, that you would at once have one of the great communities of India up in arms and feeling that it had been tricked. So it seems that we are very much where we were at the commencement of the problem. You are faced with the fact that India is rift into divisions in which no form of real representative government is really possible. The whole of the theory on which this Bill is based—the whole of the edifice you are erecting is built on a sham. You will be paying lip-service to all the slogans of representative government yet putting in its place a ghastly, horrible counterfeit—something that has no real resemblance to the thing which you are pretending to set up, something which at the same time will give no improvement to the government of the people of India, and for which we must take responsibility. It has been said that the communal question is the kernel of the Indian problem, and so we are here at the kernel of the Indian problem, and I hope the Committee will forgive the lament to which I have given utterance.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. HALES
In supporting the Amendment of the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) may I say that I do so because I believe it will be received with immense satisfaction throughout India? 1048 The longer one is associated with that country the more hesitation one feels in dogmatising or in attempting to express one's opinion on this very vital matter. What I propose to-day is not to express to the Committee my own opinion, but rather to reflect, as far as it is possible for me to do so, the opinion of the people of India as I found it up to three weeks or a month ago when I left India, for England. I had the privilege of being present in Delhi at discussions in the Legislative Assembly in which at the beginning of any Debate the majority against the Government was known almost to a decimal point. In fact, on the occasion of the first Debate to which I listened I was told there would be a majority of eight; there was a majority of seven. The faction of the Congress in giving up civil disobedience has been entirely misunderstood in this country. It was not from any desire to co-operate with the Government, but for exactly the opposite reason, that being, to capture the Assembly and thoroughly to obstruct the policy of the Government. In this they have been entirely successful. Their attempt was to control the council. The communal award has been, so to speak, the last straw which has broken the camel's back. The White Paper succeeded in exacerbating the opinion of the great majority of the Indian electors, and to-day we find almost every leader—with the exception of a small proportion of Mohammedans—absolutely dead not only against the communal award but the White Paper itself.
At the time I was in Delhi Mr. Jinnah favoured me with an interview, and we discussed this matter until the small hours of the morning. I learned then that they were endeavouring to come to a solution of the communal question. They almost succeeded. One thing they lacked. They lacked that balancing power of the British Cabinet Ministers which, I believe, if it had been there, would have enabled them to arrive at a solution. We are attempting to solve this problem with a 6,000 mile telescope instead of a microscope on the spot. What I believe would have brought about the only possible solution of this great question would have been the visit of our Cabinet Ministers to Delhi. In co-operation and long discussions with the Indian leaders they would have brought about the only 1049 possible solution of the question by an agreed arrangement. That is what I firmly believe. It is difficult for the European mind to understand the Oriental. After 18 years' residence in India touring the whole of the East I yet fail exactly to weigh up to a fine point the Indian mentality. There is always the feeling that one is glad that an interview or a special function is over because each wants to get away from the other. But even so there is a point to which we could have come.
If the British Government had been advised to make a settlement in Delhi instead of in London, the great problem, I believe, could have been satisfactorily dealt with. We in this country believe that the Secretary of State for India is absolutely sincere in his desire to give this great boon to India. But what do they believe in India? The vast majority in that country believe the Secretary of State for India to be a cool, calculating scoundrel who is endeavouring in the guise of conferring this supposed great boon to enslave the Indian nation and drag them at the heel of Great Britain in perpetuity. That is a statement which would be admitted by every newspaper in India. False as it is, incorrect and unjust, that is the fact. What has caused it? Possibly his habit of facetiousness and sarcasm may have provoked the cartoons and caricatures of him which make him appear as a sort of cruel Nero which appear so frequently in the Indian press. In caricatures and cartoons he has been depicted as a doctor forcing a dose of castor oil down a helpless Indian's throat, and as saying, "You have to take it whether you want it or not." That is the position to-day. I am giving the Committee the prevailing Indian opinion and not my own, although it does not necessarily mean that I dissociate myself from some of the ideas expressed in India to-day. This thing is bigger than party. It means the salvation or the destruction of the British Empire. Let there be no mistake about that.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that we are discussing the communal award, and that the last part of his speech has no connection with it.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman cannot take this opportunity of delivering a Second Reading speech on the Bill.
§ Mr. HALES
I will endeavour, as far as possible, to keep to the point at issue, but it was necessary to digress somewhat in order to give the Committee a correct picture of the state of India to-day. What should be done even at this eleventh hour would be to suspend the Bill entirely, and take the opinion of the Indian leaders.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have twice told the hon. Member that he must not discuss the Bill as a whole. If he does so again I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
§ Mr. HALES
I will confine myself to the communal award, great as is the temptation to speak outside that point. I would emphasise what I have previously said, that the communal award is the great bone of contention and the one thing which will certainly prevent the constitution working successfully in India. I hope that the Government will accept this Amendment for the simple reason that it would at any rate provide an opportunity of seeing if it would work. There would be no harm done if it proved a failure. It would have enabled the point to be put to the Voters, and if it were a success its scope could be enlarged it a the near future. It is an opportunity which should not be lost.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I rise to support the Amendment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and for the first time in these Debates I find myself in opposition to my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) and my Noble Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl). The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot up to a point showed sympathy with the Amendment, but he pointed out that it might be considered a wrecking Amendment in so far as the Moslems would not like these minorities being given power to decide whether they should come into general or separate electorates. It is not a question exactly as to what the Moslems 1051 want, but, for better or worse, as to what is best for India. The trouble at the moment is that under the communal award there is no possibility of any representative government in the way that we know democracy. We are setting up permanent majorities representative of certain castes and vested interests, and as long as those majorities remain there will be none of that freedom of play between a candidate and the open electorate which makes democracy or any form of representative government possible. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) admitted frankly in his speech that the communal award was a denial of democracy.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I should like to remind the Committee that the hon. Member for Bodmin made a mistake. Although the communal electorate may be a denial of democracy, if you had not been provided with a communal electorate or a communal award we should never have had a Round Table Conference at all, or a Bill or anything before us at the present time. The whole matter boils down to this, that in order to get this Bill at all, or any satisfaction out of the Round Table Conference or anything else, we have to make certain that in the Bill there is enthroned, so far as we know for all time, the denial of democracy as we understand it in this country. As far as we are concerned at the present time, the only thing that gives any hope of a way out towards representative government is to have an amendment on the linse of that proposed by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. He suggested in his speech that there ought to be some bridge by which you might have an increase of the general electorate. He suggested that, after all, it was not such a very serious thing that, where you have in some States a not very communally minded majority, if the minority thought that they could carry more influence by coming into a general electorate instead of remaining in an outside electorate, they should have the right to ask that they should be allowed to vote in a general electorate.
The point made by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) was that majorities in the provinces might 1052 feel that they were badly treated if such steps were taken and they were expected to have to agree to a minority's views on the subject of special versus general electorates. After all, the minorities are the people who have to live with the majorities. They will in many instances undoubtedly have a rough time of it, and it is not asking a great deal that they should have this extra power given to them to select the method of election whether it be special or general. If that were done in certain provinces, and, if as a result of the minorities coming into an electorate, you were to get, instead of your present watertight compartments, rather a more enlightened government, and one more in character and keeping with their own ideas of representative government, it would spread from province to province.
The Under-Secretary raised the point that you have to consider feeling in India. You have to consider whether, supposing at Sind the minority offered to come into a general electorate, it would cause considerable repercussions in other Provinces outside. If in other Provinces minorities proposed also to come into a general electorate, it might lead to a great deal of bitterness in certain Provinces where the majority were violently against any general electorate. If the Sind scheme were adopted, no doubt the minorities in other Provinces, if they thought that they would have a rough time, would stick to their reserved seats and remain there until the time came when they could make their influence felt more by coming in under the system of a general electorate. All that is aimed at in the Amendment is to allow the minorities to have a little more opportunity of deciding the method of electorate which would give them, at any rate, the best chance of having their views reasonably put in the Provinces after the elections were over. That is a matter which cannot be brushed aside in a few phrases, because the Moslem community cold shouldered the Simon Report because it was not sufficiently in favour of separate electorates, which is what the Moslems desire and need. We are facing at the present time, for better or worse, the whole future of India. If there is any chance of this scheme achieving anything in the nature of bringing India to a state of greater independence and happiness—which I do not think it is likely to do— 1053 it is by breaking down to some extent caste supremacy and enabling Indians to work together for their own common salvation. This is what we are aiming at in a very small degree in this Amendment. It would have a considerable effect on the calibre of the members of the provincial assemblies themselves if in the seven Provinces in the future general electorates were accepted by the majority and it was made possible for a man to have the right of representing all classes instead of merely his own class. If that were done you would have men working for India as a whole and not simply for Moslem India or Hindu India, and you would be paving the way for the communal award gradually giving place to representative government as we understand it. Broadly speaking, as the Committee know, I am opposed to this Measure, but when you are going to try a representative system do not bolster it up by a pseudo-oligarchy, but give it the opportunity of developing into something which will grow into a representative system.
§ 7.46 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I regret very much that I cannot share the views expressed by the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes) in his very interesting speech. If he will allow me to say so, I think he has underrated the fundamental differences which exist between Moslems and Hindus. May I remind the Committee that here there is no question of the bitter cleavage that in the past has divided Catholics from Protestants in this country? It is not a question of differences between two branches of one great faith, as in the case of Catholics and Protestants, but of differences between two radically opposed religious systems—the one perhaps more fiercely monotheistic than any religion in the world, and the other a comprehensive polytheism. It is a case of differences between a religious system that is democratic—for in the Moslem system all are supposed to be equal—and a system based on the rigid exclusiveness and autocracy of caste. You have moreover an age long division between two nations that have been separated for centuries by invasion and conflict.
Therefore we do not picture to ourselves the differences that divide Hindus and Moslems if we allow ourselves to compare them with the bitterness which 1054 has divided different branches of the Christian Church in times past in this country. Then there is also the point to be considered that you have to deal here with a minority who in former days were usually conquerors but now find themselves to a certain extent in a position of inferiority as regards education. Last, but not least, those who are the most numerous, the Hindus, are also the wealthiest. In particular they include practically the entire money-lending class in India. Moslems, therefore, find themselves at a great disadvantage if they have to compete on equal terms with Hindus in electoral contests. That is a point that we must never leave out of account when considering this question.
It seems to me that all the analogies which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) gave us out of his great experience of other countries in the Empire were quite beside the mark. They do not seem to be applicable at all to this case. It is true, of course, that Hindu minorities do not want communal electorates, but that is just because they are conscious of the advantage which their gifts of speech and pen give them of improving their position in elections. The majority which the communal award would give Moslems in the Punjab is so narrow that if the Hindus gained two or three seats it would upset the balance. I do not want to refer at length to the position that might obtain in Bengal be-because I think my Noble Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) put that extremely well, but I do want to stress the point that the advantage which Hindus have through their powers of speech and their economic position does make Moslems feel that they must have the special protection of communal electorates, however consistent we may feel such elections to be with the democratic system.
There is also this point, to which I do not think my Noble Friend referred, that because the moneylenders of India are practically all Hindus, many Moslems are in debt to them, and so there must be many Moslems who will not dare to voice their opinions. That is a matter which we must not leave out of account. The Koran forbids the lending of money on usury, and so the moneylenders of India are Hindus, and if Moslems are in debt 1055 to them, as many of them are, it would make it extremely difficult for them to say what they really wished to say in general electorate. And my right hon. Friend when he was putting very warmly and skilfully the case of the Hindu minority in certain Provinces forgot that the Provinces in which there are Moslem minorities are more numerous than those in which there are Hindu minorities.
The special circumstances which obtain in this case make the question one that stands entirely by itself, and we really cannot find any analogy in any other country in the Empire. More than one Moslem of good standing in India has said to me that the great majority of Moslems dread this Federation but do not like to say so for fear of being denounced as unpatriotic. I believe that that is a point which has been overlooked. Here you have 70,000,000 or 80,000,000 members of a martial race, who are very loyal, who fought for us splendidly in the late War, who have a feeling of dread for a Federation under which they know that they must be ruled by Hindus. It is extremely impolitic to do anything to upset or to whittle down the award which, as the Under-Secretary of State has informed the Committee, embodies the chief condition on which their leaders were prepared to come in. It would be a mistake to whittle away the award on which they set such store, though I believe that the only remedy for this cleavage between the two communities is to have a nominated element in every Provincial Assembly.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Order, order! I hope the Noble Lady will not anticipate an Amendment which comes later on the Paper.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I did not mean to do so. I am very glad to know that we are going to be allowed to discuss that Amendment. Finally, may I say that I was very glad to hear that the Government were not prepared to accept the Amendment? But may I remind the Committee that when the Under-Secretary of State said Clause 285 of the Bill gives power to an Indian Assembly to ask Parliament after 10 years to abolish the communal award, he omitted to point out that Sub-section (4) of that Clause enables His Majesty's Government at 1056 any time before the expiry of that 10 years to abolish the communal award. I do not think that that provision was very clearly grasped by the Committee when Clause 285 was being discussed. It does seem to me a very considerable departure from the position which everyone understood meant that the communal award was to stand for 10 years. I think that both the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary assured us that it was the case that the communal award could not be upset for 10 years, but here in Sub-section (4) power is reserved to the Government at any time by Order-in-Council to abolish it. I cannot help feeling that when that is realised by the Moslems it will cause great concern.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I have only a few observations to make, because I think the Committee are ready to come to a decision on this question. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) appealed to the Committee to do what it was their duty to do—namely, to decide what was the best for India. We are all very apt to yield to the temptation to assume that that which attracts us is necessarily what is best for other people. When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, with his engaging simplicity, suggests that he is the one honest man striving to do what is best for India in this Committee, I must part company with him. His unique character was illustrated by his observation—with which I am sure right hon. Gentlemen opposite will disagree—that in these days of bombs and aeroplanes a child could govern even a great country like India. That seems to indicate a very rudimentary view of the task of government. If those are his sincere views, I can only say that the communal award which some people think has been forced on India would seem naturally to appeal to him, because his idea of governing a country seems to be forcing on it that which it would not otherwise naturally desire.
Then the right hon. Gentleman seemed to assume that he knew the opinions of the minorities, and he was, if he will forgive me for saying so, a little pontifical in claiming to voice the views of the minorities. The question of this communal award and the narrower question raised by the Amendment is one which 1057 really cannot be separated from the circumstances in which the communal decision was arrived at more than three years ago. There is a tendency, as has already been noted, on the part of some Members of the Committee to speak with a little superiority of the conditions which exist in India. The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) said that these proposals were a negation of democracy. Nobody familiar with our British system is attracted by this system, but I am not at all sure that it is accurate to speak of the award as a negation of democracy, for democracy is surely the word for a system which enables the people of a country to exercise authority in the government of their country. There may be many ways of enabling people to exercise that authority, but it is not necessarily a denial of democracy that one democracy should seek to express its views in one way and another democracy in another way.
I dare say we all hope and believe that the day will come when India will be able to conduct its Parliamentary affairs in the way which we are accustomed to think is the best way. [An HON. MEMBER: "Never."] Well, we hope that. If the hon. Gentleman desires to occupy the position of the only pessimist, he is welcome to it. There is little doubt that the general opinion is that this is the best method—and possibly the only method—by which democracy in India can assert itself.
Duchess of ATHOLL
Does not the right hon. Gentleman regard it as an essential element in a democratic system that it should be possible to get a change of government as a result of a general election?
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL
The Noble Lady has been long enough in this House to know that we cannot raise these debating points which have no connection with the Amendment. I am not sure of the relevance that has to the question we are discussing.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I only intervened because the right hon. Gentleman was discounting the idea that communal electorates are undemocratic.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL
That opens a much wider discussion than I was embarking on. I was only venturing to 1058 discuss the complaint of whether it is a complete statement of the whole position to say that the communal award is a negation of democracy. It is not akin to the democracy with which we are most familiar. At the same time it may be the best way in which democracy can express itself in India. There is nothing in this country which is a counterpart of the communal divisions which exist in India, and in other conditions you may have to apply other methods than those we use to enable our democracy to give effect to its opinions. The hon. Member for West Leeds (Mr. Adams) made a rather strange appeal to the Committee to allow the minorities to have the right to select the method under which they should vote. He seemed to neglect altogether the observations which were so useful in the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). It is surely a misunderstanding of the whole difficulties to suggest that we can dispose of these difficulties merely by giving minorities what my hon. and learned Friend called the right to select the system under which they vote.
The fact is that the communal system must be taken as a whole. It has to some extent allayed the divisions in India which would have made it, if they had continued, absolutely impossible to make any system of Parliamentary government workable. As the Committee will remember, a door was left open when the decision was given which ultimately made it possible for the Poona Pact, which we are to discuss a little later on, to be arrived at, but it was stated in the most emphatic terms when the communal decision was given by His Majesty's Government that His Majesty's Government would not be prepared to give consideration to any modification of the position which is not supported by all the parties affected. We are in fact dealing with a very delicate piece of work. It is very easy to say that this is only one stone in the arch; let us pull it out. But if you pull out one stone you are in danger of causing the collapse of the whole structure. Whether we like it or not, whether or not it appeals to our views as to a proper system of democracy, the fact remains that this communal system for better or for worse has been regarded as marking the end of bitter discussions and controversies which were going to make this whole conception of 1059 Parliamentary government in India impossible. You cannot tear up a portion of it without spoiling the completeness of the whole. Its greatest merit has always seemed to me to be that, taken as a whole, it has gone some way to allay the divisions which otherwise would have been fatal to this scheme.
My noble friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Athol) expressed some apprehension as to whether Clause 285 of the Bill would not empower the Government to tear up this decision by an Order in Council. She has overlooked the fact that no such decision can be taken until the Secretary of State has taken steps for ascertaining the views of the Governments and Legislatures in India who would be affected by the proposed amendment. She can say that it only requires consultation and that it does not require compliance with the views ascertained. But I think that anybody who is familiar with that legislative device will agree with me that it will be practically impossible for the Government to use powers under Sub-section (4) unless the views of the legislatures were friendly to the decision. I have stated what I regard as the main points to be borne in mind by anybody who is at first attracted by the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, namely, that this matter must be dealt with as a whole, and, although any of us might feel that the decision might be improved in this respect, or that, it must be taken for better or for worse as a whole. The Amendment seems to me to be just that measure of interference with the decision which would rob it of its value without achieving any real purpose for the benefit of any portion of the people who are affected by the decision.
§ 8.11 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I quite see that at the moment when I spoke about Clause 285, Sub-section (4), I had overlooked the fact that a reference would be necessary by the Government to obtain the views of the Governments and Legislatures who would be affected; but is it not—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not think that we can possibly discuss now a decision which the Committee has already taken.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I do not wish to discuss it, but merely to ask whether it is not the case all the same that this Subsection would—
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman of Standing Order No. 18, which forbids repetition.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I would not if I could repeat the Attorney-General's arguments. May I say how pleased I was to have from the two hon. Gentlemen opposite such an exposition of the case? The Attorney-General's arguments would be conclusive if the Bill were an agreed proposition, if the communal award had been agreed to by both parties. If this Bill had been made with the approval of the people of India there would be everything to be said for his speech. But this is not an agreed Bill. The Hindus have never expressed their agreement with it, and now both the Hindus and the Moslems have expressed disagreement with the Bill, partly on the ground that it includes communal representation. That being the position, we are not obliged to implement a bargain drawn up by the Government and one party. We should never have had this trouble over communal representation if the Government had treated the question on intelligent lines. No one wanted this proposal for India in this country. It was asked for by the Indian people. They could not agree on the sort of Bill they wanted and they turned to the Prime Minister and said, "Will you decide for us?" We should have said, "You will get no Bill until you have agreed." We should have waited for this Bill and not have wasted our time. It was a God-given opportunity to get this Bill on agreed lines. In spite of that we are now driving through a Measure which nobody wants, and on the main question we do not agree, could not agree. That is on the general issue.
No one has attempted to reply to the point that if you are a minority you are a statutory minority. You might just as well be disfranchised altogether. The Schedule disfranchises minorities. Take 1061 Sind, where the Hindus are only 25 per cent. of the population, you are putting that minority, without votes, at the mercy of a government of which they are afraid. You are handing over to that government the control over water, justice and the police, and leaving this minority without the slightest protection. All we ask in the Amendment is that such a minority should have the right to vote on a general electorate instead of a communal roll. They will never be in
§ a majority, and they should have a choice as between oppressors and non-oppressors. It is the least we can do in justice to these people in Sind. We should at least give them a chance of some control over the people into whose hands we are committing everything that goes to make life possible for them.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 36; Noes, 197.1063
|Division No. 173.]||AYES.||[8.15 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leads, W.)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Grundy, Thomas W.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Hales, Harold K.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Banfield, John William||Jenkins, Sir William||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thorne, William James|
|Cleary, J. J.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cove, William G.||Lunn, William||West, F. R.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Chartes||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Milner, Major James||Mr. D. Graham and Mr. Tinker.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Denman, Hon. R. D.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Dickle, John P.||Jamieson, Douglas|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Drewe, Cedric||Janner, Barnett|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Dunglass, Lord||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Eady, George H.||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Bernays, Robert||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Fox, Sir Gifford||Loder, Captain J. de vere|
|Boulton, W. W.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Loftus, Pierce C.|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Gledhill, Gilbert||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Bracken, Brendan||Glossop, C. W. H.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||McKeag, William|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Goff, Sir Park||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Gower, Sir Robert||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Grimston, R. V.||Magnay, Thomas|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Burnett, John George||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hanbury, Cecil||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Hanley, Dennis A.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Milne, Charles|
|Carver, Major William H.||Harbord, Arthur||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt' n)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Clarke, Frank||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hepworth, Joseph||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Morrison, William Shepherd|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hornby, Frank||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Cooke, Douglas||Horsbrugh, Florence||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Pearson, William G.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Penny, Sir George|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Petherick, M.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Iveagh, Countess of||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Pickering, Ernest H.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Potter, John||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Radford, E. A.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Smithers, Sir Waldron||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Rickards, George William||Somervell, Sir Donald||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||White, Henry Graham|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Spens, William Patrick||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Ruggies-Brlse, Colonel Sir Edward||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Stevenson, James||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Stones, James|
|Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Storey, Samuel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Salt, Edward W.||Strauss, Edward A.||Mr. Blindell and Sir Walter|
|Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Womersley.|
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I beg to move, in page 282, line 22, at the end, to insert:(iv) the numbers specified in the 20th column shall be filled by nomination of the Governor.I must thank you, Sir Dennis, for allowing me to move this Amendment in a form slightly different from that which appears on the Order Paper. If hon. Members look at the Schedule they will find that it contains on page 287 a table setting out in 19 columns the constituent parts of the Legislative Assemblies and we propose to add a 20th column giving the number of Members to be nominated by the Governor. It will be seen on page 288 that in the case of the Legislative Councils there is a column giving the seats on that body to be filled by the Governor. The Government therefore have maintained the principle of filling seats by the nomination of the Governor in the case of the Legislative Councils but have abandoned it in the case of the Legislative Assemblies. This is one of the most drastic changes in the Bill. It amounts to the elimination of the nominated elements both official and nonofficial in the Assemblies.
It may be useful to remind the Committee of the conditions which exist in regard to the Legislative Assemblies at present. I take the Province of Madras as an example. In that Province the total number of seats now is 132, and 34 of these are filled by nomination, and of those 34, 19 are filled by officials. In the other major Provinces, the proportion is about the same, that is to say, about 25 per cent. of the Legislative Assembly in each case consists of nominated members. In a later Amendment we propose that in that same Province of Madras there should be 1064 18 nominated members out of a total of 233. The total membership proposed in the Bill is 215, but we propose to add 18 to that number so as to leave room for the nominated members without altering the numbers in the other columns of the Schedule. A proportion of 18 out of 233 is, roughly, 8 per cent. or about one-third of the present proportion of nominated members.
Although this is a simple question, it is one of the most important questions that we have to debate. It is of immense importance that we should proceed with, at any rate, some sense of security that these proposals are going to work smoothly, particularly at the beginning. What are the circumstances at present? We are proposing by this Measure to create new and greatly enlarged electorates which will consist largely of illiterate persons, chiefly peasants, with no political experience and untried in selecting representatives. One would imagine that when we were about to have these larger assemblies, elected by new and untried electorates, it would be a reason for maintaining some stiffening of men experienced in administration who would be a guiding influence in these new legislative bodies. We are handing over to the Legislative Assemblies a great many subjects which have hitherto been reserved. We are handing over to them all matters of provincial administration including such vital subjects as the police and the courts, land revenue, irrigation, forests, public health and education. In all these matters the guidance of people who have had experience in administering those services would be of inestimable value to the Assemblies. Yet the Government at this moment and under this scheme propose to withdraw that element which has proved the backbone of the 1065 Legislative Assemblies under the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms during the last few years.
I think our proposal in the Amendment is extraordinarily moderate. We might have asked that the number of nominated members should not be reduced at all. If the size of the Legislative Assembly is to be increased then there should be a greater number of nominated members. We are only proposing however that about one-fourth, roughly, of the present proportion should be nominated by the Governor. In the case of Madras we propose 18 nominated members out of 233, whereas at present the proportion is 34 out of 132. Our point is that it is wrong to do away altogether with this guiding and strengthening element of men who would be in all these cases probably the most experienced members of the Assembly. The Secretary of State has already recognised the necessity of this element in the case of the Legislative Council. It seems to me that if either the Legislative Council or the Legislative Assembly is to be deprived of this element—and I should like to hear what arguments the Government have to put forward on that point—the Council rather than the Assembly should have been selected because the Assembly will be the numerically larger and the less experienced body. They will have to consider and discuss the great bulk of the Measures which afterwards come before the Council. As has already been pointed out, the duty of the Council will be mainly of a dilatory character.
I think I have given sufficient reasons why it is very desirable that we should hear from the Government why they have made this great departure. I have serious hope that they will reconsider the position in the light of what I have pointed out, and tell us that they will not, so to speak, burn their boats, but that they will provide a guiding hand for these new bodies who will have to undertake the future government of these vital services, at any rate from the legislative point of view, without any opportunity being given to the Governor of keeping a sort of general control by being able to nominate a very small but a very influential minority to the Assembly of persons whom he can trust, and who will exercise a wise and guiding influence 1066 upon the debates, and consequently upon the votes in the Assembly.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)
The hon. Baronet has moved the Amendment with moderation, but I am afraid that we cannot accept it. May I say, not in a spirit of criticism, that as the Amendment appears on the Order Paper it took us a very long time to understand what it meant? I appreciate the difficulty of hon. Members in these matters, and the hon. Baronet will also appreciate the difficulty of those who have to deal with these questions in finding out what is the point of a particular Amendment. The hon. Baronet's speech did not show a full appreciation of the basis of the scheme contained in the Bill. It is a scheme of responsible government, that is to say of Ministers responsible to elected Legislatures, subject to the various safeguards and the other provisions of the Bill. For that reason in the Provincial Assemblies we do not make any provision for nominated members. The hon. Baronet said that this power of nomination might enable to be brought into the Assembly men of experience, and that the contributions that they would make to the debate would be valuable, although they were not prepared to go or were not successful in going through the mill of a contested election. With all due respect to ourselves as Members of this House, I think that that argument could be advanced in regard to this or any Legislative Assembly. There are men who could assist any elected assembly by their experience and their gifts, who are either not prepared to go to election or are not successful in going through the ordinary mill of election.
It is very important to realise that if you are adopting, as has been adopted in this Bill, the principle of responsibility to an elected Legislature, you cannot impinge on that principle in any vital respect. The hon. Baronet may say that, logically, he can accuse us of some inconsistency in that we allow an element of nomination in the Second House. I am not afraid of being accused of a lack of logic. One of the things most frequently said about the British Constitution is that it is compounded of a mass of illogical principles. We feel strongly that the principle of responsibility must be preserved, and to introduce the element of 1067 nomination into the Lower House, the elected House would be wrong. We have felt that it was worth while introducing into the Second Chambers in India a small element of nomination but we think that it would be wrong to impinge on the general principle of representation in the Lower Houses, where the members should be elected and be representative of the voters of the country.
I would remind the Committee that the Statutory Commission reported against the official bloc. When this matter was considered by the Joint Select Committee they considered the question whether the Governor should have powers to appoint a Minister who was not a member of the Legislature, but they certainly did not indicate anything of the kind proposed in the hon. Baronet's Amendment, and in our opinion they were right. In any Assembly 18 votes may be decisive. It might well be that 18 persons nominated from outside, unrepresentative of the voters, who were not there by reason of having been elected by the voters, might turn the scale. Ministers who got power by that support would not in fact be Ministers enjoying the confidence of the electors, because they would have their support by virtue of those 18 nominated members. If one were going to argue the question of principle there might be something to be said against the fact that in the Second Chambers we have made rules for nominations, but the Second Chambers are largely revising and delaying Chambers in the Provinces and nomination will provide room for those who have not had the advantage of being able to get into the elected Legislature or were not prepared to submit themselves to elections. To accept the hon. Baronet's proposal would be wrong and would merely cut across the main principle of having Ministers responsible to the electors, which is the basis of the Bill. For these reasons I am afraid that, persuasive as the hon. Baronet's speech was, we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
We are grateful to the Solicitor-General for the kindly manner in which he has dealt with the Amendment but, unfortunately, he has not helped us in the direction which the 1068 hon. Baronet proposes. I cannot help thinking that if the Amendment had not come on at such an unfortunate hour and if there were more Members present there would be many who have no definite views upon these reforms who would desire to support the Amendment. Will anyone deny that under the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms the Provincial Governments have been able to work very largely—one might say almost entirely—up to a certain extent of efficiency owing to the guidance and experience of the nominated members? The nominated members in the old Provincial Governments ranged from 19 in Madras out of 132, to seven in Assam out of a total of 53, which is a larger proportion than is proposed in this Amendment. I detest this Bill, and would be very glad to see His Majesty's Government withdraw it, and I hope that even now it will be possible for them to do so. If, however, the Bill is to go through, if the Government are determined to press it forward in spite of the fact that every section of organised Indian opinion is against the reforms, let us do everything we can to make it as effective as possible.
Could anyone deny that in the infancy of these new constitutional institutions the Provincial Assemblies will be enriched if they have a certain number of picked brains at the disposal of the Governor nominated as members? The Solicitor-General has told the Committee that we must not do anything to interfere with our main idea of responsible government. He told us in almost the same breath that he did not care much for logic. I ask him whether it is not a fact that the whole scheme will undoubtedly work more efficiently if there are these experienced administrators and men of knowledge nominated by the Governor. He said we cannot impinge upon that principle of responsible government. We can all understand the goal at which His Majesty's Government in their moments of optimism are aiming, namely, complete democratic government and complete responsibility; but surely, even if it were only for a period of years, it would be wise to see that there was some small nucleus of tried men who took their part in the building up of this new constitution. When the Solicitor-General talks about the nominated element being able to sway decisions, and how unhappy it might be 1069 if the Leader of the Opposition found that he was defeated by 10 or 15 votes, may I remind him that under my hon. Friend's proposal it is only from 5 per cent. to 10 per cent. of the whole of the members whom it is suggested should be nominated.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The average would be 8 per cent. as against the present very much larger figure, and there would be much larger Assemblies, of course, in days to come. His Majesty's Government want their Bill to function, and in spite of the fact that every politically-minded section in India has told us that it contemplates refusing to work this scheme, His Majesty's Government hope it will be a success. I ask them when they are setting out on something so new, with the British kept out of these Assemblies except for a few representatives of Europeans on the spot, whether they are really wise not to do a little more in order to try and lead these new Assemblies along the paths of Western democratic institutions which they are imposing on India. Would not the best way be to see that thre is just a small group of tried men? Let us not forget that the Governor is to be almost isolated in the Provinces, and would it not be wise to have a few persons who really understood the ideas which we are trying to graft upon the ancient Eastern ideas of government? Would it not be wise to have half a dozen or so in each of the Provincial Parliaments who could help them to interpret the ideas which we think are best for them? Already His Majesty's Government have weakened the power of the Governor in another place by the suggestions of yesterday, and to that extent his choice of nominated members is to be weakened; and I hope that they will consider again whether it is not desirable for real efficiency and success to have some small nominated element in the Provinces in future. It has been found to be essential ever since the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms were introduced, and it alone has made effective work in any of the Provincial Governments possible.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Sir REGINALD CRADDOCK
From my experience of the Morley-Minto reforms originally, from what I have read 1070 and have heard of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, and from the remarks made by the Simon Commission on the value of nominated members to the general tone of the Assembly, I should like very strongly to support the Amendment. I do so on another ground, because the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has so often insisted that we are to have in India under this scheme a real partnership of the Princes, the people of British India and the British Government. That idea of partnership cannot be fulfilled unless there is also some strong British element of experienced administrators upon the Legislatures. The objections that are always expressed to what is known as the official bloc are based purely upon our own ideas in this country, which have grown during the several centuries that have elapsed since the time when this country was in the same stage as that in which British India is at the present day. It is no good saying that this is a complete anomaly. The whole situation in India is an anomaly. I often find that my Labour friends think that when you talk about defeating the Government in India it is the same as it is here. It is nothing of the kind. It is not a defeat of this or that party Government which is replaced by another Government. Whatever the Government is, whether it be Socialist, Conservative, Liberal or, indeed, Communist, it is the British Government. The British Government there has always meant, and will continue to mean, as long as there is a Viceroy and British officers in the Army, and so on, the British Raj. Consequently there should be a representation of the British Raj if it is to be a partner and have some influence in the debates in the Legislatures commensurate with the enormous and important duties of keeping the whole peace of the country, not only from external foes, but from internal dissension, and dissension which takes the form of violent riots.
It is a most illogical situation which is created by the new Constitution, a situation in which the British element, hitherto governing the country through the Civil Service, helped by the other Services, is replaced by the ministers, with, on the top of that, the Governor having no councillors at all, and the legislatures being without any representative of the British administration 1071 upon them. I beg the Government to consider the psychological effect of such a complete reversal of the situation which has existed all these years and has continued to exist since the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms. The position cannot be the same in future if the reserved side, which has kept India peaceful, and has surmounted all the difficulties which have been experienced, disappears, and is replaced only by the Governor acting on his own responsibility or in his discretion. We must have other elements in the Governments in the Provinces and in the Government at the Centre—other elements which represent British experience and the influence of the British Raj. We cannot allow a cataclysm such as is likely to happen under the new constitution. I strongly support the Amendment, and hope the Government will reconsider the situation.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
My hon. and learned Friend was so kind and courteous in his reply that I should like to give him one reason to explain why I cannot accept his arguments and withdraw my Amendment. In all his arguments he did not tell us what I was waiting to hear—whether he thought that if this Amendment were introduced we should produce a worse kind of Legislative Assembly than if it were rejected.
§ What we want to get is the best Government that we can under this Bill, and we are convinced that the addition of a small number of nominated members will make for a better Legislative Assembly, with better security for the government of the country. The hon. and learned Gentleman, who evidently does not care about logic, told us that the Government had made an exception in having nominated members for the Legislative Councils. May I point out that in the case of the Legislative Council of Madras, the one Province I quoted because I did not wish to trouble the Committee with many figures, the total number of seats will be 54 to 56, say 55 as a mean, and that not less than eight or more than 10 seats to be filled by the Governor. The Government have there given the Governor the power of nominating one-fifth of the whole number. All that we propose is that in the Legislative Assemblies not one-fifth, or 20 per cent., but one-twelth, or 8 per cent., of the members shall be so nominated. For the reasons I have given I fear that we must press the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 28; Noes, 192.1073
|Division No. 174.]||AYES.||[9.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Remer, John R.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Greene, William, P. C.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hales, Harold K.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hepworth, Joseph||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Burnett, John George||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Carver, Major William H.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Moreing, Adrian C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Petherick, M.||and Sir Basil Peto.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Cook, Thomas A.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cooke, Douglas|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Boyce, H. Leslie||Cove, William G.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Brass, Captain Sir William||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'Pd., Hexham)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Banfield, John William||Butler, Richard Austen||Dickle, John P.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Dower, Captain A. V. G.|
|Batey, Joseph||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Drewe, Cedric|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Bernays, Robert||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Eady, George H.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cleary, J. J.||Edwards, Charles|
|Blindell, James||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Bossom, A. C.||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Boulton, W. W.||Conant, R. J. E.||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Rickards, George William|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Loftus, Pierce C.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Lunn, William||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tslde)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||McEntee, Valentine L.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halls||McKeag, William||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||McKie, John Hamilton||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro, W.)||Magnay, Thomas||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Martin, Thomas B.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Spens, William Patrick|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Milne, Charles||Stevenson, James|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Milner, Major James||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Stones, James|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Storey, Samuel|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Hornby, Frank||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Thorne, William James|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morrison, William Shepherd||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Munro, Patrick||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Paling, Wilfred||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Parkinson, John Allen||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Patrick, Colin M.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Janner, Barnett||Pearson, William G.||West, F. R.|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Pickering, Ernest H.||White, Henry Graham|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Potter, John||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Radford, E. A.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Rathbone, Eleanor||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Sir George Penny and Lieut.-|
|Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 282, line 37, at the end, to insert "and."
This is purely a drafting Amendment. The Amendment which stands next upon the Order Paper, in page 282, line 38, at the beginning, to insert "except in the case of Bihar," may perhaps be explained at the same time. The modification which is proposed in these paragraphs has to deal with territorial constituencies, and is made on the recommendation of the local government, after consultation with the various religious organisations concerned, and with the Government of India. The matter was referred to in paragraph 10 of the communal award, which recognised that special arrangements for the Indian Christian seats might be needed in Bihar and Orissa, where a considerable proportion of the Indian Christian community belongs to the aboriginal tribes. The object of the Amendments is to remove the Indian Christian seats in Bihar from the category of territorial constituencies, 1074 with a view to special arrangements being made for the seats being filled, by way of indirect election, by associations representing the Protestant and Catholic religious communities in that Province. We were warned in paragraph 10 of the communal award, which was issued over three years ago, that this modification might be necessary at this stage. I know that the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) is specially interested in this subject, and I hope that he will approve the action of the Government in moving the Amendment.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
This seems quite a reasonable Amendment in view of the special position of the aboriginals in Chotanagpur, and of the Christians there. I wish the communal award had given at least two seats to the Christians in Chotanagpur, who have a fairly high state of civilisation, although they are alleged to be aboriginals. I agree that the conditions there are unsuitable for a territorial constituency.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
Whenever I hear that an Amendment is to be accepted because it may please some Socialist, I always look upon it with extreme suspicion, lest anything which is put forward to appease the Socialists be stupid, foolish and a great many other things. I will not go into that particular controversy at present. I want to know, and I have the right to know, about these special seats. I understand we are dealing with Christians. I have not the deep knowledge of this subject which some hon. Members have, but the Under-Secretary of State told us in his speech just now that the Amendment has been moved because of some special arrangement, entered into for the purposes of the various Protestant and Catholic churches working together. That is a most excellent arrangement, as far as it goes, but the Committee has a right to know what the special arrangements are, and how they are working out. This matter may be of vital importance in order that those Christians may have the best possible representation. The arrangement has apparently been made in Bihar, and in common courtesy we ought to be told the details of the arrangement. I have no doubt that the Government, with their very excellent organisation, have the full details, and before we pass the Amendment we ought to be given them in order that we can be quite satisfied that the Government are doing the right thing by those Christian bodies.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
As was stated by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, owing to the fact that in Bihar a number of the Christians belong to the aboriginal tribes, it has been agreed by the Government after consultation with the Christian organisations, that the system of indirect election would be more likely to provide better representation than if there were a territorial constituency.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
That is all that the Amendment proposes to do. When the matter was first dealt with in the communal award, it was felt by those familiar with the matter that some arrangement as to indirect election might 1076 be better in order to secure the best representation for the various Christians belonging to different grades of the community in Bihar. The matter was discussed, and after the organisations of the churches were consulted in those particular communities, the conclusion was come to that a system of indirect election would be better than having a territorial constituency.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
We are dealing here with a large number of people belonging to aboriginal tribes who would not come up to the ordinary franchise qualifications, and the system of direct election is clearly not the best one for aboriginal tribes in a very primitive state of development. It is much better that there should be a system of indirect election through the organisation which is familiar with the needs of these Christians. However uneducated and primitive the society to which they belong, the organisation would be familiar with their needs, and therefore there would be no danger that their interests would not be represented.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Sir A. KNOX
I intervene with great diffidence, as the hon. Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee) has given his consent to this Amendment, but as a back-bench Conservative I should like to have an explanation of this matter. I understand that these people are not suitable for direct election, and I would ask how will they get greater advantages by indirect election?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I should have thought it was obvious. If you have a number of people in a very primitive state of development, and therefore not suitable for selecting or voting for a candidate, it is better that their interests should be represented by, as in this case, a church or religious organisation the heads of which are familiar with their needs and can see that their interests are represented in the Provincial Assembly.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I think the Committee is entitled to ask the Solicitor-General what he means by the ordinary standards and qualifications, in view of the fact 1077 that direct election is being provided for an electorate of 36,000,000, of whom, it is admitted, a very large majority can neither read nor write. What are the ordinary standards and qualifications? Where does the hon. and learned Gentleman draw the line?
§ Sir H. CROFT
Could the hon. and learned Gentleman give us any expression of opinion as to where the line of demarcation is
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 282, line 38, at the beginning, insert "except in the case of Bihar."—[Mr. Butler.]
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 282, to leave out lines 40 and 41.
The object of this Amendment is to transfer the landholders' constituencies from the category of paragraph 5 to that of paragraph 10, thus transferring these constituencies to the special interest constituencies referred to in paragraph 10. In the case of landholders' constituencies, as the House has been informed, and as I think my right hon. Friend has informed the Committee, the final decision as to the method of delimitation and election must take place at the hands of the expert delimitation committee which, as I have already explained, must be set up to decide on one or two questions of this sort when the House has taken its decision on these various matters. In certain provinces it may be considered desirable to fill these landholders' constituencies by special associations, and we have considered, on review, that these constituencies fall more properly into the category of special interest constituencies. We understand that this is in the interests of the landholders, and I feel that hon. Members will agree with me that it is important that they should be elected in the most suitable manner.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
We are assured that this is in the interests of the landholders, and I can assure my hon. Friend that, if that be the real meaning of the Amendment, he will get my support, because it is obvious that, if 1078 anything is to be done in any country, it is the owners of land who are most likely to be able and efficient in building up an organisation. But we are living in difficult days, and the Government are a little inclined to accept mandates from people who have no right to give them mandates. When we come to paragraph 10, we shall have to watch carefully to see that these landholders get sufficient, adequate and proper representation. We realise that they are the people who are most likely to build up an efficient organisation—a political organisation in all probability—because of their stability of thought and mind in India. I urge the Government to do everything in their power to see that these landholders are given a better position later in the Bill. No doubt my hon. Friend is correct in what he says, but he must excuse me, after the very difficult positions he has put up, if I am a little reluctant, until I see how it works out, to accept this too easily at the present time.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ Mr. MALLALIEU
I beg to move, in page 283, line 7, at the end, to insert:7. In any general territorial constituency to which more than one seat is assigned, each voter shall exercise one vote only.This Amendment is prompted by the belief that the future working of the constitution which we are in process of setting up in India will depend, to a certain extent at any rate—in the belief of some of us to a very great extent—upon the degree to which moderate opinion in India may succeed in obtaining representation in the provincial legislatures. The question can be put in a rather more direct manner by asking whether the provincial legislatures are to be composed exclusively, or for the most part, of extremist opinion, or whether they are also to contain some reasonable and just degree, as dictated by their numbers, of representation of the more moderate elements in Indian opinion.
The fear I have at the back of my mind has been only too well illustrated in the recent elections in India, in November, I think, of 1934, when in certain provinces moderate opinion was completely swept away. The recent by-elections in India have all been going 1079 in the same direction. The extremist view is obtaining the upper hand and some of the very best material there has been so far in political life in India has been swept away. This is not merely my opinion, but is the opinion of the Correspondent of the "Times," who described these elections in India last year and said that some of the very best material had been swept away owing to this great wave of extremist opinion which seemed to be reflected in the Legislatures, though not, in my submission, to anything like the same extent in the actual electorate.
I know that it is sometimes very dangerous to attempt to draw too close a parallel between Indian affairs and affairs in Ireland, but in these matters of purely electoral machinery it might not be entirely without use to see what happened in Ireland in the general election of 1918. In that election, which was a vital one for the future of Ireland, there were 47 seats won by Sinn Fein and only 29 by the Unionists and Nationalists together, although these two parties polled more votes than Sinn Fein. The result was that Sinn Fein entirely dominated the situation and, as we know, the Government of Ireland Act has been a dead letter in the south of Ireland all the time, entirely due to the fact that moderate opinion was swept on one side owing to the inadequacy, to a very large extent, of the electoral system.
My conviction is that in the first elections which may take place under the new Constitution which we are setting up now, all moderate opinion, or a great part of the moderate opinion, may immediately be swept aside, with disastrous consequences for the working of the Constitution. It is obvious that if moderate opinion is to be represented, we in this Committee must do something about the electoral machinery so far as the Provincial Legislatures are concerned, because the Federal Assembly merely follows the Provincial Legislatures. The Joint Select Committee—I speak with very great diffidence on these matters, because I do not profess in the very least to be an expert on all the vast intricacies of the Reports of Committees of one sort or another that have studied these questions—gave no direct indication of the method by which elections were to 1080 be held, in respect of communal elections to the Provincial Legislatures. Therefore, this Committee is entirely free, and may accept whatever scheme is considered best.
As a result of the Poona Pact there are to be large plural-member constituencies, in which seats are to be reserved in the election for the Provincial Legislatures. Paragraph 7 of the Fifth Schedule with which we are dealing has laid it down that the scheduled castes for whom the seats are to be reserved are to have a primary election of their own candidates. As I understand it, under the Poona Pact the arrangement was that there were to be elections of this primary nature conducted by the method of the single, nontransferable vote, the simplest kind of election that you can possibly devise for a plural-member constituency.
The Amendment which I have on the Paper in my name seeks merely to extend this principle. It is not bringing in any great innovation on the constitutional scene, but merely extending the principle which was apparently agreed upon in the Poona Pact. The object of it is that the majority in any constituency shall only be able to use its weight once, and that any moderate opinion or any opinion other than the majority opinion, which is substantial, shall at least have a look—in. It may be urged that this is merely a detail. I would say to the Committee that it is just that sort of detail which may make all the difference between the success or the wrecking of this Constitution when it is set up Obviously if the Legislatures are manned by persons only of rigid, extreme opinions, and they determine to boycott the whole Constitution, the whole Constitution may well founder on that very first rock. It is true that we have attempted to overcome such a position as that by safeguards, but I am sure that it will be the desire of everybody to do things, if they can be done in advance now and here, to prevent these safeguards having ever to be called into operation later.
It is exceedingly difficult to demonstrate in a dramatic form to what a tremendous extent this Amendment might obviate the perils which I have suggested to the Committee. I think if I could induce every Member of the Committee to take out a pencil and write down three 1081 figures which I will give to the Members of the Committee, that would probably case matters considerably, but I do not think I shall succeed in persuading everybody to do that. I will take three purely imaginary figures; it is not intended to take any actual constituency. They are chosen just to have round figures to illustrate my point.
Suppose that you have a constituency in which there were, say, 4,000 extremist voters—one need not put any party name to them. Suppose that in that same constituency you have 2,000 moderate voters and 1,500 scheduled caste voters. If the traditional British method of election were adopted in this constituency, which we will suppose to be a four-member constituency, each voter would have four votes. The result would be that these 4,000 extremist voters would completely monopolise the representation in the Legislature, because they would be able, by reason of their number, to return three extremist members. There would, of course, be the reserved seat for the members of the scheduled castes, but with the 4,000 available votes the extremist voters would be able to determine which of the scheduled caste candidates should, in fact, be returned. The results would be, therefore, under the traditional method of voting which is usual in this country in plural-member constituencies, of having the same number of votes for each voter as there are seats to be filled, that the extremist voters would succeed in returning, three members of their own and would, in fact, control the election of the fourth, who is supposed to be reserved. If my Amendment were adopted the position would be very different indeed. Each voter would have one vote, so that the 4,000 extremist voters whom we have suggested in this example would be able to return, as indeed they should in justice be able to return, two members, but the 2,000 moderates would be able to return a member also. Not only that, but the scheduled class would be able to decide which of their candidates would be sent to the Legislature.
I dare say there are many practical difficulties in the way of the adoption of the Amendment, but, if I may respectfully say so, the Members of the Government 1082 are here to point out those difficulties, and I think they will fulfil their duties in that respect. But I beg of them not to return such an answer as this: That there has been no demand for this reform from India. I do beg of them to say no such thing, because it would be quite irrelevant. Our duty is to form for India the very best Constitution we can devise. This suggestion is not contrary to any single decision by any conference, committee or anything of the sort, but—and this is very important—it would give a square deal to those representatives of moderate opinion in India who have sacrificed a great deal—more than we can tell, perhaps—to co-operate with Great Britain in atempting to form this Constitution. It would give them a square deal by giving them just representation in the Legislature. It would also make all the difference between allowing this Constitution in its initial stages to drift straight on to the rocks and making it a working success.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I do think the hon. Gentleman in the admirable speech which he has just made was perhaps a little unjust to the Government when he said they must not say that there was "no demand for this reform." I think we are entitled to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he was addressing the Committee for the moderate opinion in India which he was seeking to champion, because it is important to realise that moderate opinion, as represented by the Indian National Liberal Federation, does not want any of these suggested alterations. It wants the whole Bill dropped. It has met twice recently and it has unanimously made it specifically clear at both conferences that it wished to maintain the status quo, and I think everybody realises that. Mr. Sastri, the friend and hero of my hon. Friend behind, made a most eloquent speech at that conference, and he was so filled with emotion at the proposals that he went into a deep swoon and had to be carried out. That has been fully reported in all the leading newspapers in India. I only rise to ask whether the hon. Gentleman has been advised by moderate opinion in India that his proposal will give them satisfaction or mitigate their hostility to this Bill.
§ 9.39 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The first question which I think I have to decide is whether I should follow the arguments of the hon. and gallant Gentleman on this and on previous occasions, or whether I should address myself to the very careful speech delivered by the hon. Member who moved this Amendment. I think I must adopt the latter course, and I propose to speak in reference to the Amendment before the Committee. We must agree that the hon. Member who has put this matter forward has done the Committee a service in ventilating this subject. No harm, but possible good, could result from this subject being considered. He is right in saying that in the Poona Pact, in paragraph (2), reference is made to the fact that in primary elections there shall be use of the single vote. The hon. Member wishes to extend the use of the single vote to multi-member constituencies, in which there shall be one seat reserved for the depressed class and candidates for other seats in general constituencies.
On the whole, we have wished to keep as many constituencies as possible single-member constituencies. For cases where the Delimitation Committee decide that there must be multi-member constituencies this is an interesting suggestion. I am not sure whether it will actually work out in the way the hon. Member suggests. The Committee will do well to pay attention to his view, and if there is anything in it to consider it in the future. The Franchise Committee did not agree with the hon. Member. They considered this matter from a more or less expert point of view. They said "We prefer the wider opportunities given by the methods of the cumulative vote. The elector can exercise his discretion as to how he will distribute his vote and he is given the opportunity of exercising a wider choice. It, therefore, gives a less narrow outlook to the voter and renders divisions of the community less certain." That sums up the alternative arguments in favour of the cumulative system of voting, and the Committee should consider this matter from that point of view.
I must put before the Committee the attitude which the Government adopt to the Amendment. Not very much interest, as far as we can see, has been aroused 1084 in India in the actual methods of voting. I think that the ventilation of the matter here may stimulate some interest in India. In Madras at the present time they use the single vote. In Bombay they use the cumulative vote. In the latter case, in multi-member constituencies, there are seats reserved for Mahrattas, and in the former case there are seats reserved for non-Brahmins. In these cases the experiment has been made—in one case using the single vote and in the other the cumulative vote. The Government consider it is not really advisable to accept this Amendment at the present time, since the matter has to be looked into by the Delimitation Committee. We are not certain, on the material which we have from India, whether the case for our intervening is a decisive one, but where the opportunity of the hon. Member will really come in is when this matters falls to be decided by Order in Council. This is one of the matters which must be laid before the House in an Order-in-Council. If the hon. Member will defer decision on the matter until then the Government will look into the points put forward in his speech.
I hope that this matter will receive attention in India, and if the hon. Member will accept that point of view as probably the best in the circumstances, I feel sure that the House, when it comes to pass the Order-in-Council, can go into the matter again, since the Order-in-Council must be affirmed by positive resolution. In that case the Committee will have a further chance to consider the matter. It will be ventilated, and the hon. Member's point will receive the attention it deserves.
§ 9.45 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am a little mystified by the reference made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to the Delimitation Committee, which I thought was a committee appointed to delimit boundaries of constituencies. It is rather strange that the Delimitation Commitee should also be charged with the duty of deciding upon the methods of voting. In paragraph (20) of the Schedule I read that it is to be left to the Governor, who will have power to settlethe conduct of elections, including the application to elections of the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.1085 In other words, the Governor is to have the deciding of the method of voting. I am a little mystified by what my hon. Friend has said as to the matter being left in the hands of the Delimitation Committee. I was also surprised he did not make any reference to proportional representation. It is a very big question left to be settled, apparently, by the Governor, in this Schedule. I do not feel clear about it at all. One thing of considerable interest is, that, in the very interesting and carefully thought-out speech of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, I could not find any mention of the system of proportional representation which I always understood his party to support, and which I heard defended in this House some years ago in a debate on the subject.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I was very interested to see the importance which the hon. Member attached to the question of one vote for one person.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I understand that the essence of proportional representation lies in the power to give a second or even a third or fourth vote, that the essence of the principle is the transferable vote. If the hon. Gentleman does not wish that system, it would be interesting to hear if he has anything to say on paragraph 20 which leaves the power to the Governor to introduce this very system of proportional representation.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I find that I was right in what I said. Paragraph 20 says:In so far as provision with respect to any matter is not made by this Act or by His Majesty in Council,and I am informed that this will be a matter which will be included in an Order in Council, and therefore laid before both Houses. That is the Noble Lady's second point. I can understand her difficulty in relating what I have said, but I think that my original remarks were accurate on that point. As regards the Delimitation Committee I said—and I am informed that that was the impression on this Bench—that you have to consider 1086 the delimitation of the constituencies and that it would only be in constituencies of this sort where you would have the single or accumulative vote arising. The Delimitation Committee will therefore have the question before them, and when we have their report we can decide what to insert in an Order in Council, whether the single vote or the cumulative vote. I said that it would give an opportunity to consider the single vote.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. MALLALIEU
After the exceedingly kind and sympathetic reply of the Under-Secretary, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. I however wish to refer to the remark which he made about the Franchise Committee whose views he called in aid of his remarks. That committee made its report before the Poona Pact, which has materially altered the situation. Since he has given the Committee an assurance that the matter will come up again when the question of an Order in Council comes to be discussed, I welcome the announcement and the promise that he will consider these views with sympathy.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) speaks, the Amendment cannot be withdrawn.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
It is for that very reason that I wish to speak. If there is any principle at the back of the Amendment, it should be divided upon, but if there is no principle at the back of it, it does not matter. We are once again leaving things in this Bill which we shall have to deal with in Orders in Council. It means the building up in future of a great deal of work for the House which should really be done in this Bill. It is a pity that we cannot make up our minds sufficiently at the present time instead of leaving the matter to be dealt with by Orders in Council.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 283, line 10, to leave out "qualified voters," and to insert "entitled to vote."
§ This Amendment is a drafting Amendment designed to make the phrase used a little clearer.
§ Amendment agreed to.1087
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 283, line 11, to leave out from "shall," to the end of the paragraph, and to insert:be entitled to take part in a primary election held for the purpose of electing four candidates for each seat so reserved, and no member of those castes not elected as a candidate at such an election shall be qualified to hold:
- (a) a seat so reserved in that Constituency;
- (b) if it is so prescribed as respects that Province, any seat in that constituency.In relation to bye-elections this paragraph shall have effect with such adaptations and modifications as may be prescribed.I understand that it is suggested that at this stage we should have a general discussion upon the question of the Poona Pact. In that case, I will confine myself to referring to the Amendment, which is a question of machinery, and defer any general remarks I may have to make until hon. Members have put their points of view, if that will suit the convenience of the Committee.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I understand that if discussion of the Poona Pact takes place on the Amendment, a course to which I am quite agreeable, there may remain the special case of Bengal. In that case, if it cannot be satisfactorily disposed of in this discussion, I shall be prepared to call the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) in page 1948 on the Order Paper—in page 287, line 3, column 4, to leave out "30" and to insert "10"—on the understanding that in that case the discussion is strictly limited to the special case of Bengal.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for falling in with our view that this was the proper time to discuss the Poona Pact. I think that is so because this Amendment, although comparatively unimportant in itself, is, I understand, necessary in order to provide machinery which would not be required if it had not been for the Poona Pact. Therefore, this is the first occasion on which the Bill really deals with the Poona Pact. That is a matter on which I and those with whom I am associated in this subject 1088 feel very strongly. We feel it necessary to protest with the utmost vigour that we can command against the course the Government have followed in regard to this matter. This is a matter of history, and in order to make our position clear we must go back to the time when at the Round Table Conference it was found absolutely impossible to arrive at any agreement among Indians themselves on the communal question. As the Committee know, the Prime Minister did everything in his power to induce the people who had been summoned to the Round Table Conference as the accredited representatives of the Indians themselves to come to some agreement in regard to the communal question.
§ Sir H. CROFT
May I interrupt my Noble Friend to ask whether it is not a fact that the Prime Minister communicated to this House that unless a communal settlement was arrived at, we should not go forward with the reforms?
§ Viscount WOLMER
My hon. Friend is perfectly right. To carry history a little further back, the Prime Minister had absolutely pledged himself that he would not go forward with the question at all unless there was agreement on the subject, and of course in taking up that attitude he was absolutely right. I was just going to say that the failure of the Indians to come to any agreement on this question is really complete proof of their incapacity for self-government. If a body of men cannot come to a compromise on elementary necessities of this sort, how can they possibly be expected to compromise and to work amicably together on the thousand and one more intricate, more debatable, more disputable questions which necessarily arise in the course of representative government? Therefore, the Prime Minister was perfectly right when he made it a condition that the Indians should arrive at some agreement together. But, as the Committee know, they failed to arrive at an agreement and then the Prime Minister—not for the first time, or, I think, for the last time—went back on his word, went back on his intention, climbed down from the position which he boldly occupied, and went back on the whole of the very sound constitutional doctrine which he had previously preached.
1089 When the negotiations finally broke down, he then said that he would impose a communal award on India, and that he proceeded to do. He published the communal award, which, like, I think, everything else emanating from this country, was met by a howl of execration from all parts of India. But the Prime Minister added when he imposed the communal award that if general agreement could be found to any amendment of it, he would accept that amendment. The award, of course, was not the personal award of the Prime Minister. It was the award, I have no doubt, of the India Office, and it was worked out, with the utmost care and represented, in the opinion of the great experts of that Department who have dealt with India all their lives, the fairest system on which a settlement could be arrived at. But the award, as the Committee know, accepted the system of communal representation, and it provided among other things for separate representation of the outcasts, the untouchables. Then the Government, not for the first time or for the last time, came up against Mr. Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi, who has far more political acumen than the majority of his fellow-countrymen, has long been aware of the fact that the whole position of the outcasts in India has been perhaps the greatest bar to the advancement of the movement that he represents in the eyes of the civilised world. I should like to pay this tribute to Mr. Gandhi, that I believe no Hindu has done more to try to mitigate in certain respects the disabilities under which the outcasts labour.
Now it is necessary that eve should cast one glance at the position of the outcasts. Their position is a scandal to any nation, a scandal to any community, a scandal to the British Empire. It has not been within the power of the British Raj to lift the inhuman disabilities from which they suffer from off their shoulders. It is inherent in Hinduism. When we are engaged in forcing representative government and the system of Parliamentary voting on the Indian people, the position of these untouchables at once clamours for special consideration. A man whose children are not allowed inside the village school for fear their presence should contaminate other children, but who have to learn their lessons sitting outside and listening through the windows, a man who must not approach within so many 1090 yards of one of his fellow-countrymen, a man who must not touch one of his fellow-countrymen's food, a man who is treated worse than an animal, simply cannot be treated as capable of being able to exercise fully those paper privileges which you are offering him.
Therefore, the Government, quite rightly in my opinion in their communal award, provided that the untouchables should elect their own representatives. But Mr. Gandhi saw that the existence of this feature in the Indian constitution would show the world outside the incompatability of Hinduism with democracy, and he set himself to break down this provision which that Government wisely made, and to get embodied in the Constitution the figment—it is a figment—that all Hindus are members of the same community, the figment that all Hindus can be treated as one unit.
That is one of his principal tenets. In order to bring the untouchables and the class Hindus together he announced that he would, unless they made an agreement which would nullify this particular provision of the Government's award, fast to death. That is a threat which had a great deal more effect in India than it would have in some other places. In India it had a miraculous effect. No member of the Committee who is aware of the facts would deny that the Poona Pact was arrived at under coercion. It was not a free pact. If the Pact had been innocuous in itself we might have washed our hands of the matter, even though the decision had been arrived at by coercion. But it is because of these two facts, first that the decision was arrived at under coercion, and, secondly, because the decision itself is unjust, that I think we ought to interfere.
The decision is unjust because it deprives the untouchables of that special representation which the Government's award provided for them. I urge in support of that the following considerations: In the first place the Prime Minister, acting on the advice of the India Office, deliberately thought it necessary that the untouchables should have separate representation, and, secondly, the Joint Select Committee itself has put on record, if hon. Members will turn to paragraph 120 of their report, that in their opinion the Prime Minister's award 1091 would be to give better representation to the untouchables and would be more equitable to them.
§ Sir H. CROFT
Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister actually described it as the birthright of the untouchables?
§ Viscount WOLMER
My hon. and gallant Friend is again perfectly right. I am not quite such a close student of the Prime Minister as my hon. and gallant Friend. I do not know whether it was their birthright or not, but it appears to me to be a matter of the greatest importance to them. How can a man who finds himself in their social position expect to be able to get fair representation unless he has special representation? The arrangement of the Poona Pact was a very elaborate one. It was that the untouchables should themselves elect four candidates and that those candidates should be elected by the general Hindu community. It was a feature of the Poona Pact that the total representation of the untouchables in this matter was increased. It had this fundamental difference from the Prime Minister's award, that the untouchables would only be able to get into the Legislatures by this method representatives who were acceptable to the caste Hindus. That is the whole point.
Here you are dealing with a body of men, 40,000,000 of them or more, who for centuries have been treated worse than animals, who have been denied the elementary rights of humanity, whose religion teaches them that they are worse than dirt, who have not been able to look a caste Hindu in the face man to man within the memory of their race, and you are asking these unfortunate people to select candidates and submit them to the approval of their oppressors. I see the Leader of the Opposition sitting there. I ask him: How would he approve a system of election under which the Labour party would in the first place select their Parliamentary candidates, who would not be returned to this House until they had been approved by the Carlton Club? That is the Poona Pact. Would he regard them as real representatives of the Labour movement?
§ Viscount WOLMER
And yet the right hon. Gentleman is going to support this caste arrangement, because a caste arrangement it is. If I am doing him an injustice I withdraw, but I venture to prophesy that on this occasion as on so many others he is going into the Government Lobby.
§ Viscount WOLMER
It is a wrong and a wicked thing that we are lending ourselves to this arrangement under which these untouchables are to be deprived of the special representation which the Prime Minister thought was necessary for them, and the Joint Select Committee itself says gives them better representation than the Bill itself, and we are going to put into the Bill this sham representation, which will not send to the Legislatures the stalwart champions of the untouchables, who above all people are needed in the new movement of India. If this democratic system is going to work without undue injustice it is above all things necessary that you should have fearless leaders of the untouchables. It is most difficult to find leaders in a race of men who have been treated for centuries in this way and who have been browbeaten from generation to generation. The natural leaders are very few. This system is going to be so worked as to exclude these very men. It will tend to send to the Legislatures mugwumps, compromisers, people who are prepared to sell the birthright of the unfortunate outcasts whom they represent. For that reason we feel that it is necessary to raise this issue. I think that the Government have done wrong in accepting the Poona Pact.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The Noble Lord speaks of the serious effect of the Poona Pact on the depressed classes. As I understand it the depressed classes, through some of their representatives, were parties to the Poona Pact and are anxious that it should not be disturbed. Has the Noble Lord any information that any of the organised representatives of the depressed classes are asking that the Poona Pact should be set aside?
§ Mr. FOOT
The complaint as to duress is not made by the depressed classes but by others, by the caste Hindus, who say that they are adversely affected by the Poona Pact. Will the Noble Lord give us any information as to whether any protests have been received from any of the associations of the depressed classes against the Poona Pact?
§ Viscount WOLMER
I contend that the duress was on both parties. If it had not been for Mr. Gandhi's threat to fast unto death neither party would have agreed. As to the other point made, I think that is a matter on which we are well qualified to form our own judgment. I put an analogy, not an unfair one, to the Leader of the Opposition. I will put it to the Liberal party. Would they regard as real representatives those people who have to be admitted by their political opponents? Of course not; and it is beside the point to ask me whether I have received any representations from the untouchables in India. I have not. The untouchables are not in a condition to make representations of that sort. They are exactly the type of people for whom we in this House have the supreme moral responsibility of satisfying ourselves that they are being justly treated. As a matter of common sense, as a matter of elementary justice, is it a fair and real representation when your representatives are only such people as our political opponents approve?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think we shall get on much better if the Noble Lord is permitted to make his speech.
§ Viscount WOLMER
We feel that this is a matter of enormous importance, and that a sperial responsibility rests on hon. Members of this House. I can well understand the Government desiring to accept an agreement which has the prestige of the Poona Pact, but surely it is a principle with which we are all familiar and accept, that there are certain agreements which should not be recognised. We do not recognise an agreement between a moneylender and a minor; and we should not recognise an 1094 agreement which, as I say, was arrived at under pressure, and which is likely to work out unfairly towards the untouchables. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) says that the orthodox Hindus say that it is going to work out unfairly for them. That is true in the Province of Bengal, but as that point will be raised on a separate Amendment I cannot discuss it now. It is an entirely different point, and derives its force from the special conditions in Bengal. On the general question I appeal to the Government to go back to the original award of the Prime Minister, which the India Office, I know, thinks is more just to all parties than the Poona Pact, a verdict which the Joint Select Committee themselves have endorsed.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I suggest to the Noble Lord that he has unwittingly misrepresented the position. He said that the position was that the representatives of the depressed classes would be selected by their political opponents and he asked us what we would say if we had only four Labour representatives and they had to be selected by the Carlton Club. I may be wrong, but I understand from the Joint Select Committee Report that these candidates are to be selected, first at a primary election at which only members of the depressed classes will be allowed to vote, and, after that, they will go before the general electorate in which both classes will vote—not the Carlton Club alone but the Labour party as well.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I accept the correction but I would remind the hon. Member that in the great majority of these constituencies the caste Hindus will be in a vast majority. Even on his version of the arrangement I doubt whether it would prove acceptable to the Leader of the Opposition, if it were applied in his case. Would he agree to Labour candidates being "vetted" even by a joint committee of the Carlton Club and the Labour party?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Take such cases as Wimbledon and Saint Georges, Hanover 1095 Square. We may select Labour candidates to contest elections there, but what chance have they?
§ 10.23 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have had many letters from Hindus protesting against the Poona Pact and I think this is a case in which we ought to revise the decision which was come to under pressure from Mr. Gandhi's followers. Originally the White Paper proposed direct election by the outcasts of their representatives. The proposal here is that there should be an election, first by a primary constituency and that the four candidates selected should then go before the general electorate. If that general electorate included the outcasts, if it were an electorate in which the ordinary working men in trade unions had votes it would be a different matter but the franchise will be just as the franchise in this country was in 1867, namely one from which three-quarters of the poorest people are excluded. Therefore it will be an electorate less likely to select the extreme keen scheduled caste man and more likely to elect those who are moderate.
The real danger is this. You do, at any rate, give the scheduled castes representatives in the Legislative Assembly but to whom are they responsible and on whom does their re-election depend? If our re-election here depended on the Carlton Club or on the better-off people among our electors, the small shopkeepers and small business men and so forth, even the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) and my own views would be very differently expressed in this House. We might be nominally untouchables. We might have all the feelings of untouchables but we should remember that our continuance in this House depended, not upon those who originally sent us here but upon those who were good enough to ratify our election. You get an entirely different mentality, and the natural effect would be for the man who is elected to become more rapidly moderate than even we become more rapidly moderate when we get into power. It is perfectly natural and you may say that it is perfectly proper, but it is not the same thing as having your own man elected by your own people. It will be infinitely better to have manhood suffrage. That would 1096 be a way out of the difficulty, and it would be perfectly satisfactory. We all naturally tend to assimilate our views to those of the people who elect us to this House or to any local authority. If you have, however you select them originally, ratification by a narrow electorate you are bound to get the views of that electorate reflected. The untouchables have not the inferiority complex to such an extent that they would not assimilate their views to those of other people.
The chief drawback of the Poona Pact is that you are making these large, multiple constituencies instead of our English small constituencies. You are making three-member constituencies instead of single-member constituencies. You are destroying the individuality of the members elected. We represent constituencies with an average electorate of 50,000 each. They know us and we know them and we get called over the coals for what we do or do not do, but if we establish these three-barrelled constituencies everywhere in India they will be enormous constituencies. If you take Bengal, with 47,000,000 of inhabitants, a little larger than this country, it is to have, I think, 140 seats. That will mean that they will have constituencies four times the size of ours, and if you have three-barrelled constituencies it will mean that those constituencies will be 12 times as large as the ordinary constituencies that we represent. That will destroy any touch with the electorate. It will make the elections extremely expensive and will facilitate the representation of party rather than the direct representation of the place, which is so much more important.
From the point of view of the depressed classes, the Poona Pact is bad. From the point of view of democratic representation it is bad because it involves these gigantic constituencies and the lack or touch between member and elector. From the point of view of the caste Hindu it is infinitely worse. Under the Prime Minister's award certain seats were allocated to the Hindus and a certain number to the Mohammedans. The seats that have been taken by the depressed classes under the Poona Pact are more numerous than they were to have under the original arrangement, and that increased number has all been taken from the Hindus. The Prime Minister's 1097 award was bad enough as far as the Hindus were concerned—if I may use the words "bad enough" without it being assumed that I am boosting the Hindu against the Mohammedan—and it was viewed with extreme hostility by the whole Hindu world. The Pact made matters worse, because a great many of the seats which should have been normally Hindu seats were reserved for the depressed classes. That made the situation in Bengal far worse than it was before, but it also made the situation in every Province worse for the Hindu. It only matters acutely in places like Bengal, and the balance between Mohammedans and Hindus is nearer in Bengal than anywhere else.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I cannot help mentioning Bengal. I am saying that it is worse there than anywhere else, but the same thing happens in every Province. The Hindus will have lost seats to the scheduled castes. That is why you get opposition from the Hindus. You get no opposition, it is true, from the depressed classes because it takes rather an acute intelligence to observe the method in which they are to be elected. This system of electing four and then submitting those four to a different electorate is not one which the untrained, backward Untouchable caste will really understand. We can understand that it will not give them the same position, but they do not understand it. The Poona Pact does not apply to the Assembly if my memory serves me aright. Mr. Ambedkar really does not actually represent so much the depressed classes as the genius of a race which, even from the depressed classes, can develop—
Duchess of ATHOLL
We shall be glad if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will realise that we on this side are interested in what he has to say, and if he will not talk to those behind him.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I apologise to the Noble Lady. There are these 1098 really serious objections. It is bad from the point of view of the untouchables to have this method of election, which really will tend to select those who are most easily moved over to a position of dependence, whether financial or moral dependence, and therefore it is undesirable from the point of view of representing the real grievances of the untouchables. It is undesirable from the point of view of representation because of the enormous constituencies. Finally, it is looked at with complete hostility by all the people who call themselves the National party; the whole of the Hindus are furious about it. The opposition to the Poona Pact is one of the most striking features of Indian opinion at the present time. The Committee could do nothing to make this Bill more tolerable to India than by revising the Poona Pact on lines which we would accept, and which we believe to be right from the point of view of the untouchables.
§ 10.35 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This is a general discussion upon the Poona Pact, succeeding the discussion we had on the Communal Award in general, and I wish to say a few words on the subject of this Pact. I am tempted to enter into an argument with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). Earlier in the day we had the privilege of listening to him defending joint electorates with precisely the same kind of argument with which he has been attacking them under the Poona Pact. I am not going to pursue his argument in more detail, I will resist that dialectical temptation, and say only that no other Member of this Committee could have sustained such an effort in the course of the same day. The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) gave his version of the history leading up to the Poona Pact and the result of that Pact. While I cannot accept every word of his conception of how that Pact will operate I appreciate his anxiety for the untouchables. The chief difficulty will be clarified later, when we come to consider the next Amendment, which is to reduce the number of seats which these scheduled castes are to have in Bengal, although the majority of his arguments were directed to the fact that the untouchables ought to have better and bigger representation.
1099 I do not want to mislead the Committee as regards the arguments of the Noble Lord. He regards it as dangerous to alter the system of separate electorates to that of this Poona Pact system by which, after a primary election, certain electors chosen in this primary election are to be the electors in a constituency where the electors will represent both general electors and depressed class electors. We are grateful for the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) for correcting the Carlton Club conception of how this Poona Pact will work. The Government's decision on this matter resulted from the decision of a conference between the depressed classes and the Hindus after the Communal Award had been published. As a result of those talks the Poona Pact was issued in September, 1932, and it was signed by a large and representative list of representatives of the Hindu world and members of the depressed classes, including their leader, Dr. Ambedkar. The Noble Lord has given us his view that this Pact was not established in the interests of the depressed classes. The opinion of the Government is rather different. We regard this Pact as an arrangement which has been worked out by the leaders of the depressed classes and the leaders, as far as is possible to define them, of the Hindu world. The Government consider that the interests of the depressed classes would be better looked after by their own leaders than by the Noble Lord.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The Joint Select Committee said that the Government award should give fair representation.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I shall try to come to that point, which is very relevant to our discussion, but I do think that when it is a question of the future of the depressed classes, bow they will best fare in the elections and what sort of electorates will suit them, the Government are right, and the Committee will be right, to be guided by the leaders of the untouchables and to accept their view in preference to any other view, however authoritative it may be, which is put before us. This Pact was negotiated with the leaders of the depressed classes and the leaders of the Hindu community, and under the terms of paragraph 4 of 1100 the original Communal Award the Government regarded it as an agreement between communities and accepted it as an amendment of the original Award. Although accounts have been given of the faulty operation of this Pact, the number of seats for the depressed classes will be appreciably raised to 151 all over India. Apart from that I am not going to say more in defence of the Pact. It has been negotiated between the competent leaders of the depressed classes and of the Hindu community as meeting their wishes better than the provisions of the system as promulgated by the Government in the Communal Award.
I would put this general consideration before the Committee. In originally deciding upon the communal award, we gave the opportunity for communities to agree between each other, and said that if the communities agreed under certain conditions, the Government would modify the award. This has been the first occasion upon which there has been an agreement between sections of the Hindu community, and it would have been ill-advised for the Government to have neglected this offer of an agreement and of a modification of the award which corresponded, as far as we could tell at that time, to the wishes of the representatives of those communities. The opportunity given under the communal award for communities to come to an agreement was that an agreed settlement would be implemented by His Majesty's Government. We are coming to the detailed question of Bengal upon the Amendment which my Noble Friend is to move later. Meanwhile, he is quite right to remind me that the Joint Select Committee made certain remarks on the subject of the award. The Joint Select Committee said that asHis Majesty's Government felt satisfied that the agreement come to at Poona fell within the terms of their original announcement and accepted it as an authoritative modification of the communal award, we are clear that it cannot now be rejected.
§ Mr. BUTLER
Yes, I am coming to it. The Joint Select Committee expressed a certain amount of anxiety. They said:Under the pressure of Mr. Gandhi's fast these proposals were precipitately modified; but in view of the fact"—1101 and then comes the relevant portion, which I tacked on to my previous remarks, as to the origin of the Poona Pact. The Joint Select Committee were advised that the Pact could not be rejected. Nevertheless, on the succeeding line of their observations upon the Poona Pact, the Joint Select Committee referred to the detailed question of Bengal. As we are to discuss that question and the operation of the Pact in Bengal, it would not be appropriate for me to consider them here. I would conclude my remarks on the same line as used by the Joint Select Committee in the paragraph from which I have been quoting. It is always open to the communities, if they wish to make any modification of the matters arising out of the communal award, to see that we are informed of a decision which they come to. If His Majesty's Government consider that it is a just and a real solution of the difficulty between the two communities, it will be open to His Majesty's Government to amend the original award, or the Pact which has arisen out of it. When we come to the question of Bengal we can further review the incidence of the Poona Pact in Bengal. Meanwhile, the decision about the future operation of the Pact must depend upon whether there is any agreement between the communities; without that, the Government accept the view of the Joint Select Committee that the Pact must stand.
§ 10.44 p.m.
§ Sir R. CRADDOCK
My Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) has given an account of some of the circumstances surrounding and leading up to the Poona Pact. I think that I can give the Committee some supplementary information, as to how the Poona Agreement, as it was called, came to be made. I have information, which reached me from time to time from the part of the country where the subject was first mooted by people whom I have known for many years. The point was this: At the Second Round Table Conference, when Mr. Gandhi and the Mohammedans could not come to any agreement, the minorities met and arrived at what was called the Minorities Pact. The parties to the Minorities Pact were the Mohammedans, the Europeans, the Anglo-Indians, the representatives of the depressed classes and the Indian Christians. 1102 All of these made a pact, and they were particularly desirous that they should all have their special communal electorates, that those communal electorates should last for 10 years, and that they should not be modified except by the agreement of a large majority of their members after the 10 years. Dr. Ambedkar, who is the most educated representative of the scheduled classes, insisted on a special minute being attached to the report in the Minorities Pact, that in the case of the scheduled castes the agreement to have separate electorates should not be modified for 20 years, and that at the end of that time they should only be altered or given up if by that time adult suffrage had been extended to India. He is the leader of one of the principal castes among the scheduled castes—a caste numbering about 6,000,000 with which I am specially well acquainted.
I would direct the special attention of the Committee to the fact that this Minorities Pact caused much alarm to the Hindus, for the reason that they thought that the depressed classes, with their separate seats, would come under the thumb of the Mohammedans, as the Mohammedans were a party to the Minorities Pact. Consequently, in anticipation of the Prime Minister's award, they set about a movement among the Mahars of the Nagpur district, headed by a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and a representative of the depressed classes, who was not a local man but a Madras representative; and together they undermined the opinion of some of the supporters of Dr. Ambedkar, persuading them that they would look after their interests. They said to them, "You are Hindus, and all Hindus must stand together. If you give up your communal electorate, we shall get you more seats," and so on. Having undermined the loyalty of this particular section, who are an important section, they got together the Hindus of their own body and brought about the Gandhi Fast unto Death. This is what Gandhi himself said in his paper called the "Harijan." That is a name which Gandhi has invented for the scheduled castes, and they do not like the name at all, because, although Gandhi may say that it has a high spiritual meaning the actual literal meaning of the words is "God's creatures." They do not like the 1103 name themselves; I ascertained that from their own representatives. This is what Gandhi said in his own paper, the "Harijan":I do admit that the Fast of September last did unfortunately coerce some people into an action which they would not have endorsed without my Fast. I admit also that my Fast coerced the Government into releasing me. I admit, too, that such coercion can and does sometimes lead to insincere conduct.Gandhi's threat to fast unto death unless these people agreed was an offence under the Indian Penal Code, and it is numbered among the offences relating to intimidation and obtaining anything by undue pressure. It had to be made an offence under the Penal Code because it is a method of intimidating and extorting by appealing to the religious beliefs and superstitions of the people whom you try to coerce. This well-known practice is called "sitting down." It literally means that you sit on a man's doorstep, and if he will not give you what you ask you sit there till you die; and your death is on his head and he suffers both in this life and the next.
It was quite impossible for the representatives of the depressed classes to refuse to agree to the new scheme when Gandhi said that he would complete his fast unto death unless they agreed. Dr. Ambedkar and the other representatives of the depressed classes, I am informed, were brought down at the expense of a Bombay millionaire; and so, in these circumstances, with the atmosphere of threat over them, the Poona Pact was effected—with Gandhi threatening that if they did not agree he would fast unto death. In these circumstances the Poona Pact came to be hurriedly accepted, hurriedly signed, and hurriedly endorsed by His Majesty's Government. The Government had to decide whether this was an agreement which should be accepted as an agreement to modify the Prime Minister's award, and they had to do so within, say, 48 hours—and they did so in this great hurry. There was no opportunity for the Provinces to express any opinion at all.
It was in this great hurry and under the threat of this fast, which is an offence under the criminal law in India that the arrangement was come to. The offence is to induce people to agree to something by playing on their religious and superstitious 1104 fears. It is called "sitting dharna," or forcing a man to agree by threats of fasting unto death. I should like the Committee to know that an Amendment for the cancellation of that Pact was moved in the Joint Select Committee by Lord Zetland, who has been Governor of Bengal, supported, among others, by Lord Lytton, the Marquess of Salisbury, Lord Rankeillour, Lord Hardinge and Lord Derby. This Amendment moved by Lord Zetland was lost by 14 to 9—that is to say, the Conservative Members on the Committee were equally divided, nine to nine, and Lord Zetland's Amendment was lost by the vote of the Liberal and Labour Members of the Committee. It does just show that whatever they may say about us—and they are pleased to speak with contempt of us as diehards—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] [An HON. MEMBER: "It is a compliment."] Very well, I accept that. It does show that it is not confined to Members of the ordinary Conservative minority. Those are the circumstances under which these people were really deprived of their seats, because undoubtedly the whole object was to meet the fear that the untouchables would come into alliance with the Mohammedans and be lost to the Hindu cause. I wanted to put the information before the Committee in its absolute accuracy.
§ 10.56 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
The matter we are discussing this evening must bring home to every Member the extraordinary difficulties in which the Government of India is to be carried on in the days to come. Here we have a complete reversal of His Majesty's Government's decision arrived at under the leadership of the Prime Minister because a leading citizen of India decided to fast unto death unless his terms were agreed upon. It opened to us a vista of what modern democracy is going to be in India, because it is quite clear that in every Province you are going to have people fasting unto death until the Government give way on every possible occasion. I desire to protest at the outset against the idea that Dr. Ambedkar can truly represent the opinions of the depressed classes, variously estimated at between 40,000,000 and 60,000,000 of people. They have no machinery to select representatives and 1105 although the Doctor is admitted, I think, to be a man of very high character, at the same time opinion seems to be fairly general in India that he was persuaded that it was advisable to endeavour to meet the opinions which were so drastically advanced by Mr. Gandhi at that time. But the whole policy of the Government was changed owing to this act of pressure, which I think was described by the Under-Secretary as being, "under the threat of Mr. Gandhi."
§ Sir H. CROFT
I agree that the Committee should not be deprived of the authorship of those words and I do not suggest that they were the original words of the hon. Gentleman. I think he would be the last to deny—
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.1106
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.