HC Deb 08 May 1935 vol 301 cc988-92
The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. J. C. Davidson)

I beg to move, in page 279, line 30, to leave out from "entitled," to the end of line 31.

This is merely a drafting Amendment. The words proposed to be left out are redundant in their present place.

Amendment agreed to.

4.5 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 279, line 33, at the end, to insert: 4. There shall be granted to and in respect of the Governor-General and the Governor of every Province such customs privileges as may be specified by Order in Council. This Amendment seeks to remedy certain grievances and personal hardships to which representatives of the Crown have been subject in India in the past. At the present time, as Members of the Committee may know, representatives of the Crown in India are obliged to pay full Customs duties upon anything that they may have brought with them; on arriving in India they have to pay full Customs duties on certain personal effects and belongings which they take out with them. In the last few years there have been cases of the Governor-General and Governors being called upon to pay nearly £100 in duty, which they cannot recover, upon certain personal effects which they take out for their use in order to add to the dignity and convenience of their offices. Under present arrangements they can get their money back again if within two years they either leave the country or return their personal effects to this country, but as appointments to Governorships are for a longer period than two years the present exemptions do not affect the Governor-General or the Governors. The Amendment will provide such exemptions as are fit and proper for those who represent His Majesty in India, and the details of them will be such as are specified by Order in Council. I trust that the Government will accept the Amendment.

4.8 p.m.


Not only have I sympathy with the arguments of my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment, but I can say that the Government are prepared to accept it. If hon. Members will do me the honour of reading paragraphs 428 and 429 of the Indian States Inquiry Committee's Report, they will see that recommendations on very much the same lines as these were made. I am prepared not only to accept the Amendment but to say that, although one cannot state here the exact terms, broadly speaking the concessions which will be made will be those which are granted to every representative of foreign nations in this country.

4.9 p.m.

Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX

Is it possible for distinguished soldiers who go out to fill positions such as that of the Commander-in-Chief, who are in exactly the same position as a Viceroy or Governor, to have the same privilege extended to them? After all, such officers are generally poorer men than the others, and consequently deserve more.


I can safely say that the Government will consider that suggestion.

4.10 p.m.


Lord Sinha was Governor of one of the Indian Provinces for some time, and he, of course, was not a temporary migrant from this country. I take it that in drafting any Order in Council there will of necessity be differential treatment between the persons who go from this country to be Governor-General or Governors, and the person who happens to be domiciled in India and is appointed to a Governorship?


I trust that the Government will not make the differentiation suggested by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). Surely the right ground is that the representative of the King shall not be taxed in this way, and that the privileges which the Chancellor of the Duchy says are extended to members of every foreign State in this country shall be extended, a fortiori, to the personal representative of His Majesty within His Majesty's Dominions.


With great respect, I do not think that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) has appreciated the point. The hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet) referred to the imports of goods into the country for the use and convenience of gentlemen holding the office of Governor-General or Governor. If the person appointed to such an office is already resident in India the thing is not quite the same.


He represents the King in the same way.


Then do we understand that the representative of the King, if resident in the country, is to be free Of Excise Duty? Is it the case, for example, that we can ship Scotch whisky to Northern Ireland for the use of the Governor-General of Northern Ireland and that it is to be free of Excise Duty? Let us see where we are going. I can quite understand the position when an Englishman goes from this country and lives in Paris in a house which is part of Great Britain and is treated as part of Great Britain, and what enters that house is duty free because it has not left Great Britain. Certainly the position is that if you are living in an Embassy abroad you can import into that Embassy alcohol produced in this country and consume it free of Excise Duty. Let us be quite clear as to what we are doing. We all want to put these people in a proper position. If someone leaves this country and takes with him all sorts of possessions for his use as Governor-General, those things ought to enter duty free, but if you are to have substantial numbers of persons appointed from the country itself it is necessary to make sure that in doing the right thing in one direction we do not improperly defraud the Revenue.

4.14 p.m.


I know that the practice in this matter, as regards His Majesty's representatives, is not the same in various parts of the Empire. There are Colonies where the Governor is exempt, and Colonies where he is not exempt. But it would not be in order to discuss other parts of the Empire under this Clause. It is not my purpose to say who is or who is not the individual who may be representing His Majesty. It is not in regard to his capacity as an individual but as a representative of His Majesty. In that capacity he should be free to import any goods he wishes to import free of Customs Duty. That is the principle which I wish to introduce under this Clause.

4.16 p.m.


The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) has strained at gnats while he is prepared to swallow camels. I am very glad, indeed, to hear what the Government intend to do, and I should be very pleased indeed to hear that wines, spirits and beers are included in the privileges of our Governors-General in addition to furniture and objects of art. It used to be a God-send to our representatives in the United States under prohibition that they were able to get a decent drink, and I hope that that privilege will be enjoyed by the Governor-General of India.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 279, line 36, leave out, "receive."

In line 37, after "allowances," insert, "and privileges."—[Captain Cazalet.]

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Fourth Schedule (Forms of oaths or affirmations) agreed to.