§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I beg to move, to leave out lines 83 to 85.
This Amendment is moved in order to obtain from the Under-Secretary the reasons why Bihar is singled out in this way.
§ 3.38 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
This is consequential on a previous decision of the Committee to take out this particular Indian seat in Bihar and insert it in the special interest constituencies. There was a warning of our intention to do this in the original communal award, in which it was said that special arrangements would be made in Bihar and Orissa, where a considerable portion of the Indian community belonged to the aboriginal tribes. The local government of Bihar and Orissa have been interested in this subject. They have reported to us that the Christians and non-Christian members of the aboriginal tribes of Chota Nagpur, where the majority of the Christians are concentrated, do not desire that they should be split up into two different communities because of their religion. They say that it is much more necessary that special representation should be given to the aboriginals and non-aboriginals than that special representation should be given to Indian Christians, leaving aside the aboriginals who are not Christians.
So in this district there has had to be a differentiation between the tribes which are aboriginal and non-aboriginal, or between Christians and non-Christians. It has been decided that the best way to meet this difficulty is to concentrate the Indian Christian seat for Orissa in this area, in which there are so many Christians. It followed from that that some arrangement had to be made, and the local government of Bihar and Orissa summoned a conference of Indian Christian interests in that Province. It was a 1724 very representative conference, and, arising out of it, it was decided that the Indian Christian seat should be allocated by the indirect method of election by the Roman Catholics and the Bihar Indian Christian Council. Therefore this decision to arrange for the Indian Christians to be represented in Bihar is based on the agreement of both sections of the Christian community in Bihar, and it is at their request that we are doing this. The difficulty that has arisen is because the Christians are so essentially located in this particular portion of Bihar and Orissa, and we wanted to avoid the danger of differentiation between aboriginals and non-aboriginals and between Christians and non-Christians, in the matter of representation.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX
I beg to move, in line 97, to leave out "language selected by him," and to insert "recognised language in current use in India."
This is, perhaps, not a very important Amendment, and I do not propose to push it to a Division, but I suggest that the words are perhaps more suitable than those in the Bill.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. J. C. Davidson)
The Government have considered this Amendment, and in principle they are inclined to agree with it. We are prepared to put in words to give effect to this suggestion, but I cannot bind myself to the actual words at the moment. Possibly they will run something like this: "The recognised language in current use in India, selected by him." That would incorporate the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Will that include the varieties of dialects spoken, say, in Assam? I do not know what "recognised language" means.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The idea is not to exclude any language, but to accept the hon. and gallant Member's definition that it should be a language in current use and not one which was invented for the purpose of the gentleman in question.
§ Sir A. KNOX
In view of the Under-Secretary's statement I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I beg to move, in line 156, at the end, to insert:or(g) paid any other direct tax.We are moving this Amendment in a spirit of inquiry. We are not sure whether there are any taxes other than those already in the Schedule. If there are any, we feel that if a subject in India has to pay a tax it should qualify him for a vote.
§ Mr. BUTLER
We have put this particular point to the Government of Madras, and they say that all these taxes are covered. The Franchise Committee suggested that the assessment for any tax, however small, should be a qualification for the vote in Madras. Every tax has been covered and we see no reason for the addition of these words.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Suppose that you get some new direct tax. Would it not be better to cover it in the Schedule?
§ Mr. BUTLER
I appreciate the hon. Member's point. We have considered it, but I regret that the Amendment leaves the situation too open. If we were to accept the Amendment it would mean that any direct tax which was added to this list might add an administrative burden to the machine which the local Government could not manage.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I beg to move, in line 173, at the end, to insert:or(e) paid house rent during the previous half-year.It is a fact that the present franchise in India favours the urban constituency rather than the rural one. Under the Bill, however, this balance is redressed and it may be that the balance has swung too far the other way. We feel that there may be certain residents in the towns, in Madras, for example, who should be on the register, and who could only be on because of this particular qualification.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This matter of house rent was very carefully considered by the Franchise Committee three years ago. They investigated the question both in rural areas and urban areas, and they considered that it was almost impossible to relate rental value to the franchise in the rural areas. That is why, when we were considering the matter, we decided that in rural areas rent was almost an impossible basis on which to frame the franchise. We decided to adhere to land revenue. Let me examine the Amendment from the point of view of urban areas. Our franchise proposals for urban areas are to a large extent based on rent. We have already reduced the urban qualifications for the vote to the lowest point that we consider practicable. As the Franchise Committee said in their Report:Any further reduction which would substantially increase the number of voters would be likely to swell the numbers on the electoral roll and produce an electorate of unmanageable size.As it happens, we have in urban areas reduced the rental qualification to quite a considerable extent. If the hon. Member will study the Schedule in detail he will see that in Bombay, in Bengal, in the United Provinces and in the Punjab, there is a definite provision made for rent. In Bombay we investigated the matter very closely and we found that in some cases lodgers would not be included in the franchise. That is probably the anxiety that the hon. Member has in mind. But in Bombay the rent in the chawls, which we shall include in our franchise, is so low already that it will take in a very large portion of the adult population. We do not think that we can possibly lower it and I am afraid, therefore, taking this Province as an example, we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
At what sort of level is the house tax under the Madras Local Boards Act? Does that include practically all the urban residents?
§ Mr. BUTLER
It includes in the City of Madras, I am informed, a very large proportion of house-owners who would pay house tax on the basis of the houses they occupy.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1727
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I beg to move, in line 196, at the end, to insert:Qualification by reason of receipt of Wages.5. Subject as aforesaid, a person shall also be qualified to be included in the electoral roll for any territorial constituency if during any period in the previous fasli year he was in receipt of wages in cash or kind.This matter was discussed carefully by the Franchise Committee and they certainly came to the conclusion that the difficulties in the way of the proposal were too great, but some of the members of that Committee took the view that those difficulties had been greatly exaggerated. We feel that industrial labour will be to a large extent unrepresented in the Indian legislatures. Labour will only have a few reserved seats and as India becomes more industrialised and as new factories are started, the capitalists will be more strongly entrenched than they are at the present time. It is in the interests of the success of the Bill to see that the industrial workers in the Indian cities and towns are protected against Bombay millowners and other Indian capitalists. We know how necessary it will be to have factory legislation of the most up-to-date kind for the protection of the workers. Such legislation will be not only in their interest but also in the interest of our own people, because it will help to place competition between our industries and Indian in-duties on fair and equitable lines. Therefore it is really to the advantage of my hon. Friends opposite to support anything which will tend to improve labour conditions in India, in their own commercial interests quite apart from any question of ordinary justice and humanity. One method which will help to increase the power of labour under the new system will be to give the vote on a wages qualification and it is for that reason we are moving this Amendment.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
The wording of this Amendment might convey the impression that we on these benches were in favour of excluding from the franchise those who did not get wages. That is not the case. We are in favour of adult suffrage. If we had our way we would not exclude anybody over 21 from the franchise. But as we have not been able to get our own way in that respect, we are bringing in 1728 this Amendment with a view to getting as many as possible included in the electoral roll.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. GORDON MACDONALD
I consider that the case put forward by the Franchise Committee against this proposal is very weak. They emphasise certain difficulties. They admit that those difficulties are less serious in the case of large industrial concerns, but in paragraph 231 of their Report they refer to the difficulty caused by the migratory character of agricultural labour in India and they state, as a still more serious objection, that the remuneration of the agricultural worker is to a large extent paid in kind. I submit that a stronger argument than that is required to convince us that there is a case against the proposal to include these wage-earners. The mere fact that an agricultural labourer may be paid in kind makes no difference. He is receiving wages. If a mine worker in this country received a certain quantity of coal as part of his wages or a cotton worker received some other form of wages in kind, we should consider it all as wages. The case made out by the Franchise Committee is so weak that I cannot understand the Government using it as a reason for not accepting this Amendment.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I agree that this Amendment must seem attractive to hon. Members opposite who wish to encourage the labour movement and the representation of the labour movement in India but the difficulties in the way of defining such a qualification as is here suggested, are very great indeed in the present state of labour in India. In the case of rural labour, the remuneration—as hon. Members themselves acknowledge in their Amendment—is often paid in kind. The Franchise Committee considered the matter carefully and came to the conclusion that owing to the nature of labour in India, the indeterminate nature of the wages paid, the immense numbers involved, and the migratory nature of the labour it would be virtually impossible to make a satisfactory roll on this basis. As they say on page 247 of the Report, in reply to the case of the Labour representatives who wrote a minute of dissent on this point:On the figures they quote, a scheme of this kind would necessitate detailed inquiries 1729 into the earnings in cash and kind of 25,000,000 or 30,000,000 people—an extremely difficult and costly task.Such an inquiry would be almost impossible and there would be all the difficulties arising subsequently from claims and so forth. As I have said, in India, wages are still often paid in kind as they used to be paid in some other countries many years ago and there would be great difficulty in assessing what had been paid in kind. Sometimes a man simply gets a bed for the night in payment for his labour or, perhaps he gets a coat or a meal. I have been told of a case of a camel drover who always got food and, apart from that, was given every third baby camel that arrived as the reward of his labour. Owing to the uncertain nature of those arrivals it would be almost impossible to assess that man's qualification for the electoral roll on the basis of wages. That is the sort of difficulty which would be found in India in trying to assess wages in kind.
However, I do not wish to make fun of the proposal. I think the easiest way of dealing with this matter would be the method—also alluded to by the Franchise Committee—of attempting to compile lists of workers employed in factories and industrial concerns and saying that, above a certain level of wages, say 10 rupees or whatever it might be, those workers would be included in the electoral roll. An assessment of industrial labour in India would be difficult. It certainly amounts to several millions and it is largely migratory. The workers go back to their own villages in the off-period, and return to the towns in the season when labour is needed. It is therefore very difficult to have a roll of workers in factories or industries.
I think that probably the best way of meeting hon. Members opposite is that proposed already—a proposal which has been made by the Franchise Committee—and that is the labour constituency. It will be necessary to choose a certain area which will be regarded as a labour constituency. There will be 38 members representing labour in the Provincial Legislatures. There will, therefore, have to be 38 labour constituencies. In a few cases where there are trade unions, a satisfactory roll can be chosen, but in the majority of cases the constituencies will have to be specially formed, and within a certain industrial area it will 1730 probably be necessary to establish a certain level either of employment, or wage level. That can only be done in certain specified areas, and all those areas, so far as we can see at present, are likely to be covered by labour constituencies. It will be impossible to compile a roll on the basis of wages paid by factories or industries beyond the scope we have already suggested of the labour constituencies, and I regret that even this method is impossible to accept in the way suggested by hon. Members opposite. We have already accepted the principle in the labour constituency in selected areas, but we find it impossible to arrange it all over the country, on the expert advice of the Franchise Committee. It will be quite impossible to accept this Amendment in the present form, owing to the indeterminate nature of the wages paid in cash or kind, which is referred to in the Amendment, and the impossibility of ascertaining how it is to be assessed.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
The curious thing is that in all these debates the Government invariably raise objections to any proposal, whether it be a franchise proposal or otherwise, which is going to give better representation, or, indeed, representation of any kind to the masses of the population in India. The present case is a particular instance of that tendency on the part of the Government. The Under-Secretary knows that the franchise proposals which the Government are putting forward do not in any way meet the case of the landless labourer or the servant employed for wage, whether paid in money or in kind, and he knows quite well that that is the great defect in the proposals both of the Franchise Committee and the proposals which are before this Committee. The hon. Member also knows that on the Franchise Committee, while they were much attracted by the proposal, the majority did not find it possible to recommend a wage earners' franchise to the Government. There were, however, members of that Committee, including myself, who did not agree with that. I am confident that the hon. Gentleman very much exaggerates the difficulty of carrying such a proposal into operation.
We on these benches must always make an effort, whether by this proposal or any other proposal, to ensure that all these classes, numbering many millions 1731 and far and away the greatest proportion of the people of India, should have, not merely a voice, but some real and substantial representation in all the Legislatures. There are half a dozen ways in which this proposal could be made practicable. The hon. Member says that it is not satisfactory in its present form—that it is too indeterminate. I am sure that my hon. Friends would be willing to consider any alternative, as, for example, the alternative that an application has to be made. The hon. Member says that there is difficulty in ascertaining particulars and admittedly there would be some difficulty, but not the difficulty he thinks in obtaining the necessary particulars of the wages paid. It would be quite possible to obtain returns from employers, and to give landless labourers the opportunity to have a vote if they made application for it, and gave particulars of their employer and of the wages paid.
The whole of the difficulties in this matter are like so many other difficulties which the Government have made in the progress of this Bill when we have asked for some more democratic form of franchise, or some extension of the possibility—because it is only a possibility—under the present proposals, of the great masses of the people having a voice in the government of their country. If the Government desired, as they say they do, to give representation to those classes, it would be quite possible to accept this Amendment in its present form, or in some modified form, in order to ensure that the huge body of people—I should think more than 200,000,000—have some voice in the government of the country, which otherwise, under the Government's present proposals, they will not have. I recognise that the depressed classes who are landless labourers for the most part will have, by the reservation of seats, some representation, but that is not sufficient representation of the great mass of the people. Unless the hon. Member is willing to accept some of these Amendments giving the great mass of the people more representation than the Government propose, I hope that my hon. Friends will insist on carrying this Amendment and similar proposals in our Amendments to a Division. I am confident we shall find, when the endeavour is made to work 1732 these franchise proposals, that while the numbers of those on the register will be greatly increased, enormous masses of the population will have a just complaint that neither directly nor indirectly have they any representation in the matter of the laws made by the various legislators of the country. For those reasons, I hope my hon. Friend will press this Amendment to a Division.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The Under-Secretary, I think, rather over-emphasised the matter of the migratory nature of the wage-earner. After all, the provisions in these Schedules are subject to the general requirements as to residence. That may undoubtedly cut out certain migratory labourers, but I should have thought there was a distinct case for those labourers who were not migratory. I think the tendency will be for labourers to become more settled. That tendency, indeed, has shown itself already. There must be industrial areas in Bihar, and probably in the tea gardens of Assam, where you will have wage-earners who are more or less settled in those areas, and who would manage to obtain the vote under the qualifications proposed. I quite agree as to the difficulty of cash and kind, but I think you can get over that. No doubt there are numbers of cases of payments for small service done on one or two days of the year which would have to come out, but the fact remains that under this Bill a large mass of the landless labourers will not get any representation at all. You may get some urban labourers, but not rural labourers. I would like the hon. Member to consider whether the provision, which is not suitable, say, for Madras, might not be applied in Assam or Bihar, or some other Provinces, or even in particular areas. Could there not be a special provision made in their case? You have in these Schedules an infinite variety of qualifications for different cases, and it should be possible to meet this one.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ Sir REGINALD CRADDOCK
This is, perhaps, a convenient moment to make a few observations in reference to the criticisms from the Benches opposite. The qualification in respect of land is so low already that it includes practically everyone who pays rent of the smallest description. In the Central Provinces, 1733 the limit is anyone who pays land revenue or rent of two rupees a year. That brings into the franchise very small people indeed. In many of the districts of the Central Provinces it will bring in numbers of aboriginal tenants. These men are very often nothing but agricultural labourers who have a small plot near their hut, and grow yams and various kinds of beans and maize crops. Many pay two rupees a year for an area, which may be one-tenth or one-twentieth of an acre, and very often a quarter of an acre. Very often it is a fixed sum without any actual regard for the area. There they grow vegetables suitable to be grown without irrigation, and they come up in the time of the monsoon. These people are included, and there are practically none of the rural classes who would not fall within that very low test in the Central Provinces. In the United Provinces, I think, the figure is five rupees, and in Bombay where the land is richer, eight rupees. In the case of the Central Provinces it is exactly similar to the neighbouring district. The two rupees limit is put down instead of the Bombay rate of eight rupees, so that in a cotton-growing country like Berar you may say that the franchise comes down to the very minimum of the poorest ryot in the whole area.
Therefore, I think that my hon. Friend's apprehensions certainly might be allayed in respect of the franchise not going down far enough. As a matter of fact, a great many of these people who can vote are extraordinarily ignorant. Especially is that the case among the aboriginals, and, indeed, among many others. Many cannot count at all. I had a witness before me who, when asked his age, burst into laughter, and asked bow he could be expected to know that. He was about 40 or 50 years old. When asked whether he knew approximately, he laughed again and said he might be 10 or 12 years old. That is only an illustration of the kind of very ignorant person who will have the vote, and I do not see how you could go much lower in the scale, unless you had complete adult suffrage, which would swamp all the electoral arrangements. I heard, from a man who was in high office in Rangoon for a number of years, that the labourers were brought up in lorries by millowners or other employers, and recorded their votes, and, as nearly everybody had the 1734 same name or something very like it, it was impossible to identify the particular voters on any electoral roll which could be prepared. That is one of the great difficulties that will arise when you extend the franchise to such masses of ignorant men. I do not, personally, take exception to this extension so long as it is within manageable limits, but the difficulty is that these people will not be able for years to come to protect themselves by their votes in any way, and will be almost certain to vote for the moneylender, or the capitalist, or whoever is employing them and is in favour of a particular man culculated to suit the moneylenders' and the employers' interests and not those of the voters.
When I saw these franchise lists that are proposed, they rather astonished me, because they go down so far and are far more extensive than anything which the local Governments originally proposed to the Franchise Committee. I suppose they have since been compiled by the local Governments in order to get a certain number of voters, which is rather the wrong way to begin. I think you ought to select a fair test for intelligence and build up your numbers from the people who qualify for that test, but if you keep on going down and down in the scale in order to get a certain umber of voters, I do not think that is really the logical way of dealing with the subject. To give an instance, the Central Provinces Government proposed originally 10 rupees for this test, and now it is brought down to two rupees, in order to get a fixed number of 1, 500, 000, or whatever the number may be, for the total of voters, and it is not on a really intelligent appraisement of the voter who is likely to use his vote wisely or to understand it. But, as I have said, I am not prepared to oppose this proposal, because really the franchise for a long time to come will have so little effect on the choice of candidates that it does not much matter whether they are elected by 10, 000 ignorant people or by 50, 000.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I am very familiar with the arguments used by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock). I have been in the House for about 15 years, and I remember hearing arguments against giving votes to women in this country on exactly the 1735 same lines as those employed by the hon. Gentleman to-day. One hon. Member then on those very benches, I think, used exactly the same arguments against the franchise for women in this country as the last speaker has now used against giving votes to these people in India.
§ Mr. DAVIES
We were told then that our people were not intelligent enough to vote, and indeed the argument was used by some hon. Members in this House then that there were some women too ignorant to put their cross on the paper. If hon. Members will look up the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings in this House, they will see the arguments employed by the hon. Member to-day about granting the franchise to the people of India employed in exactly the same way for the last century in this House. He says the franchise is extensive enough in India already, and you would imagine from what he said that nearly all the adult people in India will get the franchise under this Bill. I am told that the total of electors in India under the Bill will be about 35,000,000. I do not know how many adults there are in India, but I believe the total population of British India is some 280,000,000. I am informed that nobody can tell the actual population in India, but in any case there is indeed a vast difference between 35, 000, 000 voters who are being granted the franchise and the total adult population of India. We ought therefore to know who are the people who are being left out. If the argument of the hon. Member holds good that everybody with a plot of land on which he pays two rupees a year is brought in, where is that huge mass of people in India between the 35,000,000 already getting the franchise and the total adult population of India?
The hon. Member told us about some man who could not tell his own age, but how many Members of this House have received complaints when they are claiming old age pensions for constituents that the old people do not know their own age? In fact, some of them do not even know where they were born, and they are living in this country. It is nothing new for a man of 70 to tell you he does not know his own age, and I am not so sure that every Member of this House 1736 would be able to tell his correct age. Then we are told that these people in India are too ignorant and too illiterate, but the point of view that we want to put forward is that men and women in practically every country in the world never know how to vote correctly until you give them the franchise to try them out. When the hon. Member opposite talks about the ignorance of voters, who were more ignorant than the electors of this country when they returned the National Government? And what a National Government! What a sample of Members of Parliament was returned at the last election! The hon. Gentleman then said that if you tell the Indians a few untruths, they will vote even for the moneylenders. Well, they do that here. They tell untruths over the wireless and bamboozle the electors here just as the hon. Member suggests they will do in India.
§ Mr. DAVIES
If I am self-conscious, I have a good friend in the hon. Member who has the same attribute. We feel rather strongly that wages at any rate ought to be one of the factors to determine whether or not a person is entitled to the franchise, and indeed, if a man is capable of working for wages, he ought to be able to vote at an election. I am sure he is not too ignorant to find out whether or not be is paid a proper wage. There is one thing above all other that we want in this Bill. In transporting the idea of the form of government that prevails in this country into India, on a small scale, we want to extend the franchise not only to meet the present situation in India, but to teach and educate the Indian people, especially the adult population, how to use the franchise. Unless you provide a man with tools, he may never know how to use them, and that is the intention of our proposals. Perhaps it will interest the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), who is very much concerned about this problem and especially about myself, to know that we intend taking this Amendment to a Division.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM WAYLAND
I think the mistake of hon. Members of the Opposition is always to compare conditions 1737 in this country with conditions in India. In India, however, you have a very small industrial population and a very large rural population. You cannot even compare the conditions in India with those in Japan, because Japan is very much more industrial than India. I would suggest to the Government that there are so many seats to be allocated to labour in India, and it will be a very difficult task.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I hope the Government will leave it in the hands of the Opposition to allocate those seats which are intended to be given to labour in India. If the Government did that, I think they would get themselves out of a very great mess, which one can see is going to take place when this Measure, if ever, is put into operation.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
May I protest against the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) that this matter should be left in the hands of the Opposition? I can conceive of no proposal which would be more calculated to damage the people whom we wish to befriend in India, and I hope the Government will not be deflected from their present proposals in that direction. I desire to intervene because the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), who is always so very courteous, spoke about the early situation in regard to votes for women in this country and compared it with the proposal for votes for labour and other classes in India. There never was any argument, so far as I know, at the time when women's suffrage was introduced in this country, that it was a danger on account of lack of intelligence on the part of the women. That was an argument against the later proposal for the general franchise, popularly known as the "flapper" vote. I happened to be on the Speaker's Conference when the general franchise question was considered and when the general agreement was arrived at, and at that time the members of that conference, far from wanting to go, as the hon. Member said, 1738 full steam ahead, were very desirous of limiting the age to over 25.
The difference between us who resist this Bill and those who have supported the Government on nearly every occasion, but who want to go even further than the Government have gone, is that we believe that it is unsound to place the fate of this great sub-continent of India, with territories so great and with a population so vast, in the hands of electors so few of whom can read or write. It may be true to say that under the Schedules there are many millions enfranchised who can neither read nor write, but if you multiply that number and have the vast majority of your electorate quite illiterate, it cannot be a wise way of entering upon the thorny path of Western democratic institutions for India.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
Does the hon. Member hold that because a man is not literate he cannot be intelligent?
§ Sir H. CROFT
I admit that certain people have great natural cunning, even if they cannot read or write, but since it is essential for the electors in any democratic system to understand generally the proposals which their representatives are puttting forward in the Legislature, it seems desirable that, as they can never possibly reach their Members of Parliament personally over these vast areas, they should be able at least to read something in the newspapers as to what their Members are proposing. If you work it out, you will find that in these great constituencies in India Members will be quite unknown to the vast majority of their electors, and I think that will be admitted. Therefore, it seems to me supremely important not to have practically the whole of the electorate illiterate.
The hon. Gentleman emphasises the fact that we must definitely limit the proposals to include those who are in receipt of wages; he is thus trying to build up at this first stage a class consciousness among the workers of India. Once again I desire to say, on behalf of those who resist this Bill, that we consider that the true labour of India among the millions of ryots spread throughout that vast territory will not be in contact with any of the organised labour machines, and we would be unwise to imagine that there is anything 1739 like what we know as the trade union movement in India, where it is merely a drop in the ocean of labour. The vast multitude of people affected by these proposals are the peasants of India, the backbone of that country, who are spread over all these thousands of miles.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
The constitutional arguments against this Amendment have been advanced, and I would like to adduce certain purely practical arguments. The total membership of all the Provincial Assemblies is about 1,650, and the population of British India is in the neighbourhood of 280,000,000. I imagine that the proportion of adults to the total population is smaller in India than in this country, and I believe that, if this Amendment were carried, the total electorate would be between 150,000,000 and 175,000,000. I say that because the Amendment is so badly drawn that it will enable anybody to get a vote in India if he is an adult. If in any period in the previous year he was in receipt of wages in cash or kind—it may be only one anna paid once a year—he would be entitled to have a vote. You have only to establish a contract of service and pay a minimum amount of wages, and you could manufacture votes to any extent under this proposal. If you said that every adult should have a vote there would be something intelligible in the proposal. But there is nothing intelligible in saying that the qualification shall be regular employment, for that would merely mean adult suffrage. Anybody in the land could get a qualification to vote if this Amendment were carried. A man would only have to arrange with a friend to give him a job for an hour and he would be qualified. It is an amazing way of approaching this question. It would mean that the constituencies would have about 100,000 electors. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) is not privileged to represent as many people as that. Not even I have that number; I have 80,000, which is far too many, with all respect to them. It is absurd to suggest that kind of electorate under the conditions which prevail in India.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some members in 1740 America represent as many as 250,000 people?
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
The consequences of the Amendment would be vast electorates and a vast cost of elections. In other words, it would enable whoever owned the moneybags to be the dominating factor to far too great an extent, and the organised moneybags would control the political destinies of India. The pure mechanism of elections would be totally impossible. The organisation of police, of polling booths, and of persons to take charge of the booths would not be possible under existing circumstances if there were adult suffrage in India. I am surprised that the Labour party should put forward a proposal which, if carried, would bring into complete disrepute the whole conception of elections and Parliamentary Government.
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I would not have been tempted to say a word on this question but for the speech of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). He is very cute and keen in detecting the errors or weaknesses in the armoury of other people. On this occasion he not only made reference to the apparent defects in the wording of the Amendment, but concentrated his eloquence on the vast constituencies which, he said, would be uncontrollable. Surely the hon. Gentleman cannot have looked round the world and picked up very much information about Parliamentary constituencies or he would not have made that statement. He has on this occasion rather overstated his case. I have just been to a country where one constituency covers 122,000 square miles and where it was not the moneybag representative who secured election, but a Labour representative. I refer to Queensland, Australia.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
Had they any difficulty in getting people who can read and write to take charge of the polling booths?
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
So far as I can understand every intelligent person went to the poll. [HON. MEMBERS "Voting is compulsory."] It is not compulsory. 1741 Hon. Members had better go out to Australia and make an inquiry for themselves. If they think in terms of the Federal Parliament, they are right, but they are not right in regard to the State Parliaments.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I agree. It does not matter very much whether the electors are compelled to vote by law or are subject to a fine if they do not vote. The point I am advancing is this. The hon. Member for South Croydon was eloquent with regard to the defects of the wording of this Amendment and to the administrative impossibility of carrying it out if it were passed. He was overstating his case, and he had better look round the world to see what is possible where people have been educated up to a point—
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
If the hon. Gentleman and all his colleagues make a point of stating that the Indians are so ignorant that they are totally incapable of casting a vote in an intelligent way, he is not paying a very great compliment to all past Governments of this country which have dominated India so long. They have denied the right of any sort of education to fit the Indians for electoral power, and have now left them in a position which enables hon. Members to put up as their only substantial argument against giving them the vote that they have had no education and that they are all more or less illiterate and incapable of expressing intelligent political opinions. The wording of the Amendment may not meet the desire of hon.
§ Members opposite, and there may be a good deal of truth in the argument of illiteracy and ignorance. That is an excuse, but not a reason why the forthcoming government in India should not be made to face these difficulties and overcome them so that their people may have a much more intelligent interest in the affairs of their own country and at least have a say as to who should be the governing factor.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am rather afraid that this debate seems to be developing into a discussion which has very little to do with the Amendment.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
It seems unwise to move an Amendment which can only do one thing, namely, make the whole of the electoral machinery of India imbecile and ludicrous. It could not do otherwise than stultify elections because there is no possible method of carrying them out in India with the large electorate which this Amendment would mean. I would ask those who are moving it for the credit of the House not to go on with an Amendment which it is clearly impossible to carry out.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has reproached the British domination for the illiteracy in India—
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is just the kind of thing I was deploring as being quite irrelevant to the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 35; Noes, 265.1745
|Division No 186.]||AYES.||[4.43 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Grenfell, David Bees (Glamorgan)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Banfield, John William||Grundy, Thomas W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, Sir William||West, F. R.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Lawson, John James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Daggar, George||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Dobbie, William||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Edwards, Charles||Maxton, James||Mr. John and Mr. Groves|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Milner, Major James|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Moore, Lt. Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Allen, Lt. -Col. Sir William (Armagh)||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Munro, Patrick|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gibson, Charles Granville||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Apsley, Lord||Gilmour, Lt. -Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Assheton, Ralph||Gledhill, Gilbert||Norie-Miller, Francis|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Gluckstein, Louie Halle||North, Edward T.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Nunn, William|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gower, Sir Robert||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Granville, Edgar||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Peake, Osbert|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W).||Peat, Charles U.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (portsm'th, C.)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Penny, Sir George|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Petherick, M.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Bernays, Robert||Hales, Harold K.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Blindell, James||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Potter, John|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hanbury, Cecil||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Harris, Sir Percy||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Hartington, Marquess of||Radford, E. A.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hartland, George A.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Burnett, John George||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Holdsworth, Herbert||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Rickards, George William|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hornby, Frank||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Howard, Tom Forrest||Robinson, John Roland|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hunter Weston, Lt. Gen. Sir Aylmer||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Iveagh, Countess of||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Russell, Alexander west (Tynemouth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Janner, Barnett||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Salt, Edward W.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Clayton Sir Christopher||Ker, J. Campbell||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sandys, Duncan|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Savery, Servington|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Selley, Harry R.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Law, Sir Alfred||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Copeland, Ida||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Levy, Thomas||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine. C.)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Liddall, Walter S.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Soper, Richard|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Loftus, Pierce C.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset. Yeovil)||Mabane, William||Spens, William Patrick|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||MacAndrew, Lt. -Col C. G. (Partick)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Dickle, John P.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Drewe, Cedric||McCorquodale, M. S.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stones, James|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Storey, Samuel|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Bik'pool)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sueter, Rear Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Fermoy, Lord||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Milne, Charles||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Train, John|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Fuller Captain A G.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Watt, Major George Steven H.||Wise, Alfred R.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Wayland, Sir William A.||Womersley, Sir Walter||Ward and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|White, Henry Graham||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Sir A. KNOX
I beg to move, in line 212, at the end, to insert:the Indian auxiliary force, the volunteer force, or the Indian defence force.Under this Schedule the vote is given to retired, pensioned or discharged officers, non-commissioned officers or soldiers of His Majesty's regular military forces in India, and the Amendment proposes to extend the privilege of the vote to retired, pensioned or discharged officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the auxiliary force, the volunteer force, or the Indian defence force. If this Amendment is accepted, as I hope it will be, we propose to move, later, that the same right should be given to their mothers, wives and widows. The Indian auxiliary force and the former Indian defence force have deserved very well of the country. For a considerable time when the sub-continent of India was denuded of regular troops they did yeoman work in guarding stations in India and looking after public order. More recently, during the civil disobedience campaign, they did good work in guarding stations. These forces are mostly manned by the Anglo-Indian community, and during the Great War no less than 80 per cent. of the members did military service in or out of India.
At the present time, as is well known, this Anglo-Indian community has come upon bad days, and probably as many as 90 per cent. of those who would receive the vote under this Amendment are now suffering from unemployment. Of the auxiliary force at least 75 per cent. are raised from railway employæs. They are all Anglo-Indians or domiciled Europeans. It is in every sense really a compulsory service force, because railway servants are compelled to join the auxiliary force as part of their duty. The Anglo-Indian community especially ask that this concession may be granted, and I hope that the Government will be able to meet their wishes. If it is considered undesirable that men should qualify for the vote by only a few months' service in 1746 these auxiliary force battalions and then cease to serve I suggest that a time limit might be inserted, so that the vote should be given only to men and their relations in the case of men who had served about five years with the Colours.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
As my hon. and gallant Friend knows, the Franchise Committee made an intensive study of this question, and came to the conclusion that in view of the low educational qualification necessary for the vote the enfranchisement of the great majority, if not all, of the members of the auxiliary and territorial force not already enfranchised would take place. So far as the volunteer force and the Indian defence force are concerned the same observation applies, although the volunteer force was disbanded in 1917 and the defence force was disbanded in 1920 and so are historical remnants of a past regime. According to our information, they will be fully enfranchised under the present proposals, and to include them specially in this way would be really redundant. So far as the auxiliary force is concerned, although the Franchise Committee did make this recommendation I think I can promise to give further consideration to the possibility of including them, accepting the stipulation which the hon. and gallant Member said he was ready to make, though it is not included in the Amendment, that they must do so many years' service to qualify for the vote, because otherwise serious difficulties might arise. I think I can safely give the hon. and gallant Member the assurance that we will look into the question further and see whether we can accept the proposal on those conditions.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I beg to move, in line 212, at the end, to insert:or if he is a retired, pensioned, or discharged officer or member of the Indian Police Forces.1747 As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) has just said, it is proposed to give the vote to retired, pensioned or discharged officers, non-commissioned officers or men of the regular army. We believe that the same qualities of courage, endurance and experience are also found in the Indian police forces, and we appreciate all that they have done to keep order in difficult times. We believe that something ought to be done to show our appreciation of their services by giving them the franchise on the same terms as it is given to the regular forces.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
It is very pleasant to hear well-merited words of praise bestowed on the great police forces of India, and it is an extremely happy task for me to be able to say that the Government are prepared to accept the Amendment. The numbers which will be added to the electoral roll are not very great, I believe somewhere in the neighbourhood of 170,000.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
As a comparative neutral in these matters, I should like to say how pleased I am to see the Government accepting this Amendment, from the point of view that it does encourage the idea that service to the State should be rewarded. I would also join in thanking the Government.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, in line 212, at the end, after the words last inserted, to insert:8. Subject as aforesaid a person shall be entitled to be placed on the electoral roll for a Madras city constituency without other qualification than that contained in paragraph one of this Part of this Schedule.We want on this Amendment to raise the general question of adult franchise in urban areas. This would mean that in a Madras city constituency—which by a later Amendment we define—mere residence would give a qualification for the vote. I have always been very adverse to segregating labour in special constituencies. I would much rather that the wage-earners should be in a position to influence the views and actions of the 1748 candidates of all communities and all classes; that is to say, that the candidate should have to come before electors who would include all classes of the community, so that they would have to give some consideration to their views instead of segregating them into special classes with special electorates and with special candidates. One recognises that at the present time we cannot get adult suffrage over all India, because the administration is not sufficiently developed. I do not think that objection really applies to the great cities like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, or to the more urbanised areas such as the coalfields, and possibly to some other great cities such as Allahabad, Cawnpore and the like. Our proposal is that you should in those cities give adult franchise and then you would manage to get the wage-earners put on a common electoral roll. At least it would be a common economic roll, so to speak, for we could not upset at the present time the communal constituencies; therefore, some would be in Moslem or Hindu constituencies.
The broad point is that while we recognise that at the present moment you cannot get adult suffrage throughout India, we want to see it in certain areas, where we believe it would be feasible. When I was in India we discussed this matter with people on the spot, and I did not think that the objections were in any way insuperable. I think you would have quite enough people to man the booths in these areas like Calcutta and the adjourning suburban constituencies; and that there would be no difficulties about giving the chance for representation to the masses of the people. I do not think there is any real objection to giving a wider franchise in the towns than in the country. In this country for years we had quite different franchises in rural and urban constituencies; in fact, the franchise used to differ from town to town. We do not propose that the number of representatives should be increased in proportion to the number of voters. There will be the same election of members for constituencies, but in certain constituencies there will be a wider franchise.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that this would be practically a residence franchise. Dose he mean that there would be no distinction between men and women?
§ Mr. ATTLEE
No, the hon. Member will see that lower down on the Order Paper we have a proposal that the wife of a qualified elector should have the vote. Therefore, with that Amendment we should get adult franchise. There is also a secondary Amendment to give votes to widows. The first Amendment is general and applies only to urban areas, but the effect of that with these other Amendments would be that you would get adult suffrage in urban areas. I think this is far better than any attempt to form trade union constituencies or anything of that kind. I believe that for the masses of Indian labour in the great cities there is nothing so good as giving them adult suffrage and getting a proper vote, with the opinion of the wage earners concentrated on the candidates of all communities and all classes.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This is a matter which has been considered on previous occasions. I will, however, attempt to answer the arguments which the hon. Gentleman has just put forward. It seems an attractive idea to those who believe in the extension of adult suffrage that this principle should be extended to the large cities. But in the first place the large cities are very difficult to define. It is difficult to know what cities you would take in, and I do not think the hon. Gentleman actually defined where he would stop in his definition of large towns and at what point a town would become a country town.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This is merely the first difficulty, and, if the other difficulties are disposed of, I might turn to the hon. Member and ask him for his list. I must now consider other arguments against this Amendment. The Franchise Committee considered the question and they considered in the first place that in the urban areas administrative difficulties are undoubtedly less than they are in the villages. That is the reason why at first sight this idea appears attractive. But, in fact, the effect of asking the administration to poll every one—which is what it would come to—by one immediate change in a big city like Bombay, for example, would be a very great jump to take at the present moment and would impose very great burdens on the administrative 1750 machine. One of the difficulties in India is to get the voters through the polling booths in the requisite time. It would undoubtedly be easier in a big city where the presiding officers and polling officers live on the spot to deal with the situation, but even so the time taken in polling a big city would be very great.
In the second place, I think that our own suggestions as indicated in this Schedule do meet to a large extent some of the difficulties referred to by the hon. Gentleman. Leaving aside the question of labour constituencies, if we take the normal level of the franchise in Bombay City for example, we find that the property value defined in relation to a house or building, is an annual rental value of 60 rupees. That is all it is necessary to pay in order to have a vote in Bombay City. We believe that with all the other proposals set out and the qualifications dependent on property, a very large proportion of the adult male population in Bombay City will be qualified for the vote. The qualifications in Madras are local taxation. I have already told the hon. Gentleman that the payment of tax on a house will enable the ordinary house dweller to have the vote. Anybody qualified by the payment of tax on a house will, therefore, be able to vote in Madras City. In the same way, if the hon. Gentleman goes through the main cities according to the different Provinces in the Schedule, he will find that the qualification does go very low. The local Governments have been consulted on the administrative feasibility of these schemes, and I think they are satisfied that they can manage the numbers we suggest. But I am perfectly certain that we should get a reply from the Governments that it would be folly at once to adopt the suggestions of the hon. Gentleman. I agree that it is possible to develop too much the administrative argument. But you must remember that the people who have to work this scheme are the local Governments. If we press them beyond what they can manage and risk the grave danger of an administrative breakdown, the possible effects on the inauguration of the new Constitution would be very bad indeed.
There are some other considerations which make me regretfully decline to accept this Amendment. I have very 1751 often in defending the franchise proposals referred to the change we have made by giving the countryside a better deal. One of the weaknesses of the Southborough Commission's Report was that it was based more on the towns than on the country. That was legitimate at that time. It was following to some extent what has happened in most countries—putting the towns before the country in the first place. One of the best things in the Franchise Committee's Report, to my mind, was that it did spread the level and give the countryside a much greater proportion of the electorate. I think that in Bombay we have the only case now where the proportion of urban electors is definitely more than the proportion of rural electors. In Bombay, 22 per cent. of the urban population is enfranchised and 15 per cent. of the rural population. But in Bengal, for example, we have achieved almost exact similarity of ratio between the urban and rural population. There are 14 per cent. of the urban population enfranchised and 14.6 per cent. of the rural population. We attach the utmost importance to preserving the proper ratio in India between town and country. This was one of the most difficult questions to decide—to try and find an equal level of franchise for the whole of India. If we accept the hon. Member's suggestion we shall at once topple over the balance in favour of the towns again.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I understand that it might make a difference if it were proposed to increase the number of members which the town has against the country. But how is the balance affected if 100,000 people have the vote in a town and elect one member and say 20,000 people in the country elect one member? How is the balance toppled over?
§ Mr. BUTLER
I was alluding to the proportion of the electorate. The ratio of town and country would depend partly on the hon. Gentleman's definition of where a town stops and where the country begins. Some of the many constituencies will actually include both town and country. For instance, in England we have many constituencies which have in their midst a large town from which the constituency takes its name, surrounded by a belt of country 1752 making up a total electorate sufficient to secure the return of a member to Parliament. Our point is that in the electorate itself it is essential to have a proper balance of country people in order that the point of view of an essentially rural population shall be represented. We believe that by giving the urban electorate a greater measure of advance at the present time we should be acting unfairly to the rural electorate. The rural electors compared with the urban electors, as the Franchise Committee pointed out, have much less opportunity of learning how to exercise the vote. They have not the same facility of going to a booth in the next street, but often have to travel a certain distance, and they have not the amenities of education and enlightenment which very often come to those who live in towns and have the benefit of contact with their neighbours. In framing a franchise scheme, one has to be just to each section of the population. We understand the reasons for the hon. Member's suggestion, but we think that it would be unfair to the rural population as well as administratively impossible at the present time.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The hon. Member suggested that country areas would be included in urban constituencies. The whole point of our suggestion is that it would be simpler in towns like Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and other cities where there is an urban population. There is no suggestion to give a greater vote to urban electors in the smaller towns.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I found it impossible, much as I should have liked to do so, to support the last Amendment of the Labour party, because I was unable to see how the administrative difficulties could be got over. I find myself equally unable to understand the objections of the Under-Secretary of State to this Amendment. He objects to the Amendment on two grounds: first, that it is impracticable; and, secondly, that it is unfair. I realise that it would offer administrative difficulties because it would mean very great enlargement of the electorate. May I make two suggestions which would very greatly modify that difficulty, although they were ignored in the Franchise Committee's discussions 1753 when that Committee rejected the proposal. One suggestion is that it is not necessary to assume that elections are all carried out on the same day, or should last only one day. A very few years ago in this country we were accustomed to elections which were spread over several weeks. If you got away from the necessity of polling all the constituencies in the Provinces on the same day, you would very much increase the possibility of dealing with an extended electorate. Obviously, you can move your polling officers and so forth from one constituency to another. That is one way in which the difficulty might be lessened.
There is a second way. The Government have shown themselves fond of the method of requiring a voter to apply for his vote, in the case of women. On a later Amendment, I shall object strongly to that method being applied specially to women. Suppose that it were applied as a method of reducing the difficulty of a very much enlarged electorate all over India, I suggest that there might be a good deal to be said for it. I have never been able to see why what has proved possible and workable in Ceylon, with adult suffrage coupled with the necessity that the voter shall aply for his or her vote, should be impossible in India. The proposal here is more limited than that. It is that what would be practically adult suffrage should be confined to the urban areas. If it be confined to the urban areas where polling arrangements are much less difficult than in the rural areas, and if it were coupled with requirement of application, is it not likely that it might prove as practicable as in the case of Ceylon? I have never seen those two points fully dealt with by those who oppose adult franchise.
Later on we shall be dealing with the various forms of what I am obliged to call fancy franchise adopted for the purpose of giving women the vote, but it will be much more satisfactory, both to men and to women, and would ease the administrative difficulties, if the franchise proposals of the Schedule were not so terribly complicated, and if one could cut the knot by adopting some simple qualification such as is proposed in the Amendment, coupled with the necessity of application. I know that the women of India are very keen about this proposal, and that they would very much 1754 prefer the methods proposed elsewhere in the Bill of increasing their vote, because it would give them a bigger vote and because it is more logical and simple. They maintain that at least in the big cities, and if coupled with the requirement of application, it would not be impossible to poll even considerably larger numbers. Local governments may think otherwise, but the two suggestions, are, I submit, worthy of the Under-Secretary's consideration.
The second point was as to fairness. It is a curiously fallacious argument that this proposal involves any upset of the balance between urban and rural districts. I should be the first to be against it if I thought it did. Is it really maintained that an injustice is being done to a voter in a rural district because the number of the voters in an urban constituency is increased? I should have thought that, if anything, you were doing an injustice to the residents in the urban district. It is better to be one voter among 50,000 than one voter among 100,000. A rural voter belonging to a smaller constituency has a slightly greater degree of power than the urban voter who belongs to a larger constituency. It seems a wholly different and fallacious use of the idea of balance between urban and rural areas, which depends surely upon the number of members which the rural and urban districts respectively can elect, and not upon the number of voters behind each member. As for the argument of the Under-Secretary about the greater experience of the urban voter: that, I assume, is why the proposal is to be limited to the urban voter. There are greater administrative difficulties where there are inexperienced voters. The experiment of adult suffrage can be more reasonably begun in towns where the means of political education by wireless, Press and public meeting are very much greater, and where it is more possible to educate a larger electorate. The two arguments used against the Amendment are not, I suggest, nearly as convincing as those which the Under-Secretary employed against the previous Amendment.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
The hon. Lady has rendered a service by the way she has dealt with the ratio between urban and rural populations. As she so well pointed out, a fallacious argument was used by 1755 the Under-Secretary, and I am surprised that he advanced it at this time of day to the Committee. I was pleased that he did not labour the point of administrative impracticability in the cities because there is no question about that. I am sure that he would not deny that in the larger capital cities the administrative difficulties—I will not say they do not exist—can be overcome comparatively easily. There are enough people to act as returning officers, schoolmasters, clerks and so on, to carry through any election necessary, even under adult suffrage. This proposal is not quite adult suffrage, but is rather household suffrage, and there is no question that its administration in the larger cities could be effectively carried through.
Something has been said about the report of the Franchise Committee. Some of the Indian members of that Committee, Messrs. Tambe, Chintamani and Bakhale, made a minority report in which they strongly pressed for adult suffrage in the large cities. They suggested that it was quite practicable in cities with a population of 100,000 or more, or which there are some 30 in India. They said that if that were considered too much for the Committee—and now for the Government—to swallow they would even be content if they could have adult suffrage in all capital cities, of which there are some 10 in all. They pointed out that one provincial franchise committee which was appointed to sit with the larger Franchise Committee, namely, that from the United Provinces, recommended that the proposal should be introduced in all cities with a population of 50,000 or more. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee) would restrict the proposal to the capital cities, which are some 10 or so in number. It is extremely desirable to make a start, because if you never make a start you obviously will never make a finish. For that reason we feel very strongly on the proposal. It is a matter of justice to get as many people on the electoral role as can be administratively dealt with and taught to use the vote when it is given to them. It would be of great value in order to familiarise the Indian population with the method of the vote, and the desirability of their making up their minds as 1756 between the different policies of different individuals. In that way alone the proposal would be a very valuable one.
The Under-Secretary talked about the balance between rural and urban areas, and he instanced Bombay as having, under the Franchise Committee's proposal, 22 per cent. urban population as against 15 per cent. rural population. As the hon. Lady has pointed out, that ratio can be made almost anything you desire by delimiting constituencies. If the proposal were adopted, instead of there being an injustice to the rural population there might be an injustice to the urban population, because there might be 100,000 voters in one constituency in a city electing one member, and 20,000 rural electors also electing only one member. We should be taking a step in the direction of adult suffrage, and be helping the Indian electorate to familiarise themselves with the voting procedure, with a view, at as early a date as may be administratively practical, of extending adult suffrage, or even this household suffrage, to other parts of the country. I notice that the hon. Gentleman did not say anything about the difficulties in the way of making up the electoral register. Under the Government's proposal, to which the Amendment refers, some sort of residential qualification will presumably have to be established, but there will be no additional work on the local authority.
Probably the Committee may desire to press the Government in this matter, because almost every hon. Member believes in adult suffrage, and we ought to give the Indians an opportunity of making a start with it. The place to make a start is in the larger cities, which are capable of dealing with the matter, and no valid reason has been put forward for refusing this concession. The hon. Gentleman has already made one or two concessions this afternoon, and I hope he may make a further concession in this matter, or at any rate promise to consider it further. If the Government are not prepared to do that, and cannot advance more substantial reasons, one can only conclude that in this as in other matters they are determined to see that the forces of property and privilege and reaction shall be permanently in charge of the Government of India. It is only by giving opportunity to as large classes of people as 1757 possible that we can ever approach even the semblance of democracy in India, and in our view the Government should take at any rate this first step towards that very desirable conclusion.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I have listened to the arguments in relation to this Amendment, and I am bound to say I think that the case which has been put forward by the Under-Secretary has been very largely met by the contentions of the Opposition. I was inclined to attach importance to the danger of this Amendment in exaggerating the claim of the town against the country. That is a tendency which everyone who is concerned for the future of India is desirous of checking. The people of India, in their philosophy and outlook, are countryside people, and the sudden and almost uncontrolled development of the big cities has given ground for apprehension. Therefore, we welcome the extension of power in the country districts, and I do not want to take any step to check a healthy movement on these lines. The point has been made by the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) that it is not suggested that if the number of votes is increased the membership should be increased. I think it is possible to answer that point by saying that there will grow up an agitation in India on the part of the voters for an equality of franchise in this sense, that there will be a complaint on the part of the urban voter that he is not being fairly dealt with, and I am not sure whether he would be satisfied with the answer given in this House that you can give a member to 20,000 in a country district as compared with 60,000 in the town. That answer, although it may seem important to us, will not appeal to the urban voter in India.
I find it extremely difficult to cast a vote against adult suffrage if it be feasible. The whole contention has been that we must, if we can, give to the people of India a larger share in their government, and the Statutory Commission emphasised that the only way to overcome some of the difficulties threatening Indian life was to enlarge the electorate as far as that could be done within the limits of administrative possibility and convenience. Therefore, I should not have the slightest hesitation in voting 1758 for adult suffrage. I think it is almost impossible in the end to give the vote to great numbers of the people of India and to deny it to others. It is not as though we had established a settled rule—for instance, to give it to the literate and to deny it to the illiterate. If we enlarge the electorate, there will be very little difference between those who are brought in as a result of the enlargement and those who already have the vote. On general grounds I must support the Amendment unless the Under-Secretary can be stronger on the point of administrative difficulty. He said that those who were able to advise us in India had stated that it would be practicable to carry out the scheme as it at present stood. Is he able to go further and say that such a suggestion as is now being made in the Amendment has been turned down as impracticable in present circumstances? I understand that this is not a new suggestion, but is one which the hon. Gentleman himself had the opportunity of discussing when he was in India and met some of those who, I understand, signed the Minority Report.
Therefore, I assume that the proposal has already received consideration from those who are qualified to advise. If the hon. Gentleman is able to tell us that those charged with this responsibility say it will be impossible in present circumstances to carry out the proposal, I am so concerned to get some advance made that I do not want to be a party to such a headlong advance as would break down the machine. I would much rather that a certain percentage should now secure the franchise, and that that should be enlarged, than that such an impossible burden should be put upon those who will have to carry it through as would break down the machine at the outset. I have no doubt that, with the grant of the franchise to a certain percentage of people in India, it will be enlarged, and probably that was the desire of the Government as well as of those on this side of the House; but, unless it can be shown that in present circumstances it is administratively impossible, as far as can be seen, to carry out the Amendment in the towns, I certainly, having regard to the history of my party and to my belief in the vote and the education of the vote, could not vote against an Amendment intended to give that protection 1759 against bad laws and bad government which most of us would desire.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
If the Under-Secretary will look at the figures given on page 45 of the Franchise Committee's Report, he will find in them an answer to his case. He mentioned the percentage of 22 for the urban population in Bombay, and of 15 for the rural population, and he did not infer that in that case, where the proportion of the urban was greater than that of the rural population, there was anything impracticable. If there was nothing impracticable in these figures, where the balance is in the direction of the urban population, there can be no practical argument with regard to Madras, the United Provinces, the Punjab and the Central Provinces, Against the figures being brought up to something like the same proportions, and I would ask the hon. Gentleman to meet the case contained in that table of figures. If it is not impracticable to administer those proportions of urban and rural population in Bombay, the same ratio would surely be equally practicable in the other provinces. I have to assume that the Government are anxious to extend the franchise as far as possible. In this Debate we have heard many arguments on the question of illiteracy, but surely that argument cannot be advanced here. Members of the Government themselves should welcome an extension of the franchise if the use of the franchise would give to the people of India the greatest possible measure of self-government, for that seems to be the general principle advanced by the Government in the Bill itself. This Amendment affords an opportunity, not to obtain an adult franchise, but to extend the franchise to a measure in which the intelligence of the people will enable them to exercise it correctly. Therefore, I ask the Under-Secretary to meet the argument as to the practicability of this Amendment, particularly in relation to the table of figures on page 45 of the Franchise Committee's Report.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I have so often, when I have made what has been regarded as a purely official speech, been accused of stressing the argument of administrative 1760 impracticability, that I did not stress it in my original speech so much as I have done on previous occasions, but I think that now I had better develop it a little further. As the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) will remember, I said it would be folly, on the advice we have received from local Governments, to take this step under our proposals. Let me try to develop a little further the question of adult suffrage in the large towns from the point of view of administrative practicability. The expert body which examined this question was the Franchise Committee, and Lord Lothian and his colleagues recorded their view, in paragraph 49 of the Report, that adult suffrage in large towns was out of the question. They then had submitted to them a minute of dissent signed by the gentlemen to whom the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) referred. He said they thought that the difficulty had been overstated, and advocated adult suffrage in large towns. The majority of the committee, including all the members except these gentlemen and Mrs. Subbarayan, met in Simla immediately after the publication of this minute of dissent, and decided to reply to the suggestion that the difficulties had been overstated; and they stated categorically, on page 247 of the Report, that:the introduction of adult suffrage in large industrial centres, like many of the towns mentioned by our colleagues, would necessitate a reconsideration of the proposals in Chapter IX of our Report regarding the representation of labour.Twice, therefore, the majority of the Committee, with the exception of only four members, and including, I think, the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds, although he stated in his minute of dissent, which I have also studied, that he thought the difficulties of wage qualifications had been exaggerated—the majority of the Committee were definitely of opinion that adult suffrage in the towns was impossible.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Surely that is entirely irrelevant. They met together and said that naturally, if labour were given representation through adult suffrage, it would be necessary to reconsider the other methods; but that does not touch the question of practicability, as to which we have had no evidence whatever.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I was coming to that question. I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not desire us at this stage to tear up or reconsider all the suggestions we have made for the special representation of Labour, and I think the Franchise Committee were right in their suggestion as to the relevance of the special seats reserved for Labour when we are considering adult suffrage, because there is no doubt that the special representation for Labour which we have included in our proposal has been included because we thought there might be injustice to Labour owing to the fact that, for administrative and other reasons, we were not able to extend the franchise a little further. I think that the two subjects are bound up together. Even so, in Bombay City, I believe, in one ward or more, it will still be possible for a representative of the wage-earning classes to stand as a candidate and get elected. That was the advice given to us when we were in Bombay. Therefore, I do not believe that the representation of Labour must depend only upon the Labour constituencies even under our proposal.
I will deal a little further with the point raised by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot). I have already said that Lord Lothian and his colleagues definitely did not recommend this suggestion. We have since had the opportunity of the advice of the local governments. Reverting to the administrative question of town and country which has been touched on before, it must be realised that an election places a strain upon the administration in any particular Province. We have placed upon the administration a strain which we think they can bear, but in India we cannot rely, upon the same agencies for conducting elections and preparing electoral rolls or revising them as we can in this country. The whole strain falls on the administration. Very often the administration has to be taken away from its normal duties in order to conduct the actual business of an election and prepare for an election, revise the rolls and so forth. For that reason, we do not wish at this moment, on the advice of the local governments without exception, to place this immense burden of polling the very large numbers in these large cities in India in one go in the immediate future. We believe that it would re-act and place an impossible 1762 burden upon the whole administration of a particular Province if we were to single out its main city and insist that that roll should be prepared on a basis of adult suffrage, including, I understand from the hon. and gallant Member opposite, the women, and that, when the roll was prepared, the election should be conducted.
I can give the most definite assurance to the hon. Member for Bodmin that it is our considered opinion, and one would not like to be responsible for measures which would cause, as I said in my first speech, the inauguratoin of the Constitution to be carried out under such difficult circumstances. We have, I am sure, all enjoyed the exchange of debating arguments on both sides, and I will conclude by saying that I cannot understand the argument of the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) when she said that it really would be worse to be one voter among 20,000 than to be one among 5,000. If that be really her view, I cannot understand her present wish to increase the number of voters in the towns so as to make the urban voter one in 20 instead of, as in the case of the rural voter, one in five.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
The hon. Gentleman said that he bad done justice to me, but I am afraid that he did not quite do so. I have taken the trouble to look at my own dissenting minute on this particular matter, and I see that I said that in my view the introduction of adult franchise in large towns was both feasible and desirable. It is perfectly clear that the hon. Gentleman did not do me justice in that regard. When serving on the Committee in India I dissented from the majority of the Committee and decided, with the three Indian representatives whom I mentioned, in advocating the particular principle which is before the Committee to-day. So much for that, which is more or less a personal matter.
The hon. Gentleman has not told us to-day, notwithstanding the appeal made to him by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), that it is administratively impracticable to have adult suffrage in the large cities. The hon. Gentleman says that the local governments do not desire the work and effort necessary to draw up an electoral roll 1763 and so forth. He will not say to-day—and I challenge him to do so—that it is administratively impracticable to have adult suffrage in the larger capital cities. That was never said by the Franchise Committee. I am speaking from memory, but I do not recollect any Provincial Government taking that very strong view. Admittedly, they demurred with regard to it as they did with regard to 101 things, and to a number of proposals which the Franchise Committee and the Government have since adopted. There can be no question that it is administratively practicable to carry through this proposal in the large cities.
The hon. Gentleman referred us to two paragraphs in the report of the Franchise Committee. My hon. Friend in front of me dealt with paragraph 2 on page 247, and I need not spend much time upon it. The three distinguished Indian members whom I have mentioned expressed the opinion that adult suffrage was practicable and that we ought to make a start with it, and they put in a dissenting minute to that effect. The only comment upon that by the majority of the Franchise Committee was a totally irrelevant one. They did not attempt to meet the statement of the Indian members that it was practicable at all. The majority of the Franchise Committee merely said that, supposing the proposal were carried into effect, it would necessitate a reconsideration of the proposals in regard to the matter and that was all.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The hon. Member said "the three Indian members," and that would lead the Committee to think that the Indian members on the Committee sided with the hon. Member as against the majority. They were three of the Indian members were they not, and the majority of the Indian representatives supported the main contentions of the Committee?
§ Major MILNER
The hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that that is so.
§ Major MILNER
So that there was a majority of Indian members against the general proposals. [Interruption.] I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman means the proposals about the cities or not.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I ought to make the matter clear to the Committee. Certain of the Indians were with the majority, and three were against the majority in their view that we should not have adult suffrage in the large towns.
§ Major MILNER
However that may be, the three Indian members who fathered this proposal were three very responsible gentlemen. I again hark back to what I have already said, that there were other reasons for the attitude taken by the Indian representatives. The point which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin has taken is as to whether this proposal is administratively practicable. I assert that it is. The Franchise Committee, although they say that they had not a large body of evidence in favour of it, do not say anywhere in clearly expressed terms that it is administratively impracticable, nor do the local governments or the Under-Secretary. I appeal to the Committee to make a very small start in this matter. A commencement in the larger capital cities can be carried out without undue difficulties. The local governments have had time and opportunity to make their arrangements and preparations, and it would, I am sure, have a very helpful effect in India. The larger cities for the most part are the seat of what disaffection and difficulty exists, and, if such a proposal as this were accepted by the Government, it would have a very valuable effect indeed in regard to the opposition directed against the Bill.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 34; Noes, 272.1767
|Division No 187.]||AYES.||[5.52 p.m.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cleary, J. J.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Banfield, John William||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Dobbie, William|
|Batey, Joseph||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Edwards, Charles|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Daggar, George||Gardner, Benjamin Walter|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mainwaring, William Henry||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James.||West, F. R.|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Milner, Major James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Paling, Wilfred||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Parkinson, John Allen||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Rathbone, Eleanor||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Lunn, William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Drewe, Cedric||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leads, W.)||Duggan, Hubert John||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Albery, Irving James||Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Alexander, Sir William||Edge, Sir William||Mabane, William|
|Apsley, Lord||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Elmley, Viscount||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Assheton, Ralph||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||McConnell, Sir Joseph|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||McKeag, William|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmln)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Manningham-Bulfer, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Bernays, Robert||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Milne, Charles|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Glossop, C. W. H.||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Blindell, James||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Boulton, W. W.||Goff, Sir Park||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Gower, Sir Robert||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Graves, Marjorie||Munro, Patrick|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Nall, Sir Joseph|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Burghley, Lord||Hales, Harold K.||North, Edward T.|
|Burnett, John George||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Nunn, William|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hn. William G. A.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Peake, Osbert|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Peat, Charles U.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chaster, City)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Penny, Sir George|
|Cayzer, Maj, Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Holdsworth, Herbert||Petherick, M.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hornby, Frank||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Clarke, Frank||Iveagh, Countess of||Potter, John|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Janner, Barnett||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Radford, E. A.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Copeland, Ida||Knox, Sir Alfred||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Ouinton||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Law, Sir Alfred||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Remer, John R.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rickards, George William|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Levy, Thomas||Robinson, John Roland|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Liddall, Walter S.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset. Yeovil)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Dickle, John P.||Loftus, Pierce C.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Train, John|
|Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Spens, William Patrick||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Salmon, Sir Isidore||Stevenson, James||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Salt, Edward W.||Stones, James||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Storey, Samuel||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)||Stourton, Hon. John J.||White, Henry Graham|
|Savery, Servington||Strauss, Edward A.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Selley, Harry R.||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Withers, Sir John James|
|Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Summersby, Charles H.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Smith, R. W. (Aber'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Tate, Mavis Constance||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron||Taylor, Vlce-Admiral E. A. (Pd'gt'n, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Sir Victor Warrender and Lieut.-|
|Soper, Richard||Thompson, Sir Luke||Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Sir A. KNOX
I beg to move, in line 218, after "forces," to insert:or an officer or member of the Indian police forces.I move the Amendment in the absence of my hon. Friends in whose names it stands. It is proposed in the new Schedule that a woman shall be qualified to be on the electoral rollif she is the pensioned widow or the pensioned mother of a person who was an officer, non-commissioned officer, or soldier of His Majesty's regular military forces;We ask that the same privilege should be extended to the pensioned widows or pensioned mothers of officers or members of the police forces.
§ Mr. DAVIDSON
This Amendment follows upon the previous Amendment which the Government accepted. On principle we are prepared to accept it, subject to the question of drafting. I put in that caveat so that we may be able to frame the Amendment in suitable words.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
May I thank the Chancellor of the Duchy for accepting the Amendment, and also congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend on extending the vote to more women? It is a gallant and chivalrous act, and I only wish that some of the women Members of the House had been able to get up and thank him for what he has done.
§ Sir A. KNOX
In view of what the Chancellor of the Duchy has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Sir H. CROFT
On a point of Order. If it be not too late, I thought that the Amendment had been accepted on the understanding that it would be framed 1768 in such words as the Government accepted.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
It can be either withdrawn or the words can be inserted and amended on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, in line 219, to leave out sub-paragraph (b), and to insert:(b) if she is the wife of a qualified elector; or(c) if she is the widow of a man who was at the time of his death possessed of qualifications which would have entitled him but for his death to be included in the electoral roll had this Act then been in force.The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has already conceded this Amendment in principle, because when, earlier, an Amendment was moved to give the vote to retired police officers, he accepted at once the principle that the retired police officer should be given a vote and that his wife should necessarily have one. The principle has been conceded that where someone is qualified as an elector, his wife should also be qualified. I do not think that our Amendment will mean a great increase in the franchise. In regard to the first part of it, we know that if a man is qualified for the vote his wife is also qualified. We also seek to make provision for widows. Everyone knows the position of widows in India and we think it reasonable that a widow as well as a wife should be given a vote.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Our proposal is to give the vote to the widow of a man who was at the time of his death possessed of qualifications which would have entitled him to be included in the electoral roll. The proposal is to enfranchise existing widows and also widows in the future who are the widows of persons who have qualifications. I admit that this means a change in the proportion of the enfranchisement of men and women. One of the great blots on the Bill is the fact that so few women are enfranchised. I think that is a mistake, because we shall have to come, sooner or later, to adult franchise. If we are going to increase the franchise, I think the increases should be of men and women, and not first of a large number of men and then a number of women later. I do not think that it can be shown that the women of India are less qualified to be electors than the men. The point has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) that so many who are proposed to be enfranchised will not know how to exercise it. How are you to learn to use the vote unless you have one? At the first enfranchisement it always takes a long time to learn about the franchise, and it will be the same in India.
I do not profess to have the wide knowledge of India that is possessed by the hon. Member for the English Universities, but I have heard that the women of India have a great deal more knowledge of public affairs than one would usually expect from the fact that many of them live a secluded life. The Indian ladies I have met had as high and intelligent an appreciation of political and economic questions as the men.
§ Sir JOHN WITHERS
I do not know much about Indian affairs, but I have always understood that in certain cases widows are burnt in India. Therefore, it would not be very much use in those cases giving them the vote. I also understand that in accordance with Indian law a man may have a large number of wives. Therefore, there may be a large number of widows on his death. Is it proposed to enfranchise all of them?
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The hon. Member is going back to the days of suttee, before I came on the scene. I do not think that he will find that the number of burnt widows is very large. In any case, if they are burnt, they cannot vote, so it does not raise a very practical issue. If he looks at the Bill he will see that provision is made in regard to polygamy. But the question of polyandry does not arise, because Todas and other polyandrous people are not enfranchised but come in the backward areas. That raises a rather interesting ethnological study. We want to see a wide extension of the franchise. We have been beaten on our endeavours to extend it, and we return to the fight on the subject of women. I do not think that anyone can say that the proportion of enfranchised women to men in the Bill is what it ought to be. Therefore, we have to try all kinds of schemes to enfranchise women. I think that the only really effective way in India of getting votes for the women is by enfranchising a large number of them because their husbands are electors.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
If the Amendment is to be seriously considered, there must be some age limitation in it, because there are numerous widows in India who are under age according to our ideas. The hon. Member, I take it, would not like to give widows of 13 and 14 years of age the vote.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
There are general qualifications and special qualifications, and the general qualifications as to age apply to all. That consideration, therefore, does not arise.
§ Sir H. CROFT
Then I take it that the fact that she is a widow would not qualify her for a vote. The hon. Member speaks with some knowledge of these questions, and therefore we listen to him with interest. Anyone who has had the honour of meeting some of the women who have been leading Indian thought on political questions will bear out what he has said. I have met a dozen or so brilliant women from India who have a great mastery of political questions, but is it not true that, speaking generally, the women of India have not as yet entered freely into political life? Is it not true to say that at this stage the 1771 majority of women in India are not in the same condition for receiving the vote as were our beloved sisters in this country when they were enfranchised? We must keep a sense of proportion and reality, and it must be admitted that the vast number of women in India are illiterate; that the seclusion of the more educated women has not made it possible for them to pick up a horse-sense of politics, such as women do who mix freely with people in the old world.
The general status of women in the East is not the same as that of women in the West. It may happen that when this miracle has been performed, when India has this great boon of Western democratic institutions, we may see a great advance, but do not let us make the fatal blunder of attempting to enfranchise large numbers of persons, and thus have an overwhelming majority of illiterates. That will not work out as the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) would desire. The Simon Commission did not desire to see the wholesale enfranchisement of women suggested by the Amendment to the proposed new Schedule.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
As I foresee that the Government will not accept the proposal, I shall reserve most of what I have to say for those Amendments which, I think, there is a prospect of being carried. The last argument of the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) was peculiarly unfortunate, because it happens that the proposal embodied in the Amendment is precisely the proposal which the Simon Commission put forward—that wives and widows in general should be enfranchised, at the rather higher age level of 20 years. I can anticipate what the Under-Secretary will say about this Amendment. He cannot bring against it any kind of administrative difficulty except one, that it would largely increase the electorate. I recognise that difficulty, but, the proposal in the proposed new Schedule is in favour of the rather better-off class. The wives and widows who are to be enfranchised are those people who now have qualifications which enable provincial electors to vote. Therefore, it is the relatively well-to-do who will be enfranchised, and that is why the organised women of India 1772 who, although they may belong to the educated classes, are intensely democratic in their feelings, dislike the form of wife's franchise offered in the Bill. They hold the view that it will result in enfranchising women who belong to a class which will not hold progressive views. I think that they exaggerate this objection, but if the Government could accept the Amendment, it would give great gratification to the women of India and make the form of woman's suffrage much more adequate and much more democratic. In my view the wife's vote which is offered in the new Schedule is likely to be cut down and, therefore, the increase of numbers will not be so large as would appear to be from the Amendment on the Order Paper.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The effect of adding these words would be that every qualified elector would have his wife put on the roll. In the case of Madras this would add 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 women to the roll. At the present moment there are in Madras 6,000,000 men, and 1,600,000 women on the roll, and if two-thirds of the men are married it would mean that over 4,000,000 women would be added to the electoral roll on the qualifications of their husbands, leaving out of consideration women who are on the roll on their own property qualification, and for education. It is a proposal to add at one blow the largest number of women suggested in these debates, and in view of what I have already said about the strain on the administrative machinery, it will be quite impossible to acid such large numbers. That is the case in regard to one Province only, but a similar increase will be necessary in every other Province if the Amendment were accepted.
In paragraph (c)of the Amendment we are asked to add an existing widow who would be on the roll if her husband were alive and qualified for the franchise. Taking it literally, that would mean that the widow of a man who died 30 years ago would be entitled to be on the electoral roll; and we should have to search for her and put her on the roll. It would also mean that the widow of a man who has been enfranchised since the reforms of 1919 would be entitled to be on the electoral roll, and it would be necessary to seek 1773 out that widow and put her on the electoral roll. Widows have a habit of returning to their village after the unfortunate demise of their husbands. It would be necessary, first, to establish the fact that her husband had the necessary qualifications, then to find the widow, and, after satisfying yourself that she was indeed the widow of the man, place her on the electoral roll. This matter has been considered by the Franchise Committee, and in paragraph 216 they say:We do not consider that it would be administratively convenient to enfranchise women, now widows, on a qualification which their late husbands enjoyed or might have enjoyed had they been alive at the time of the passing of the statute embodying the new constitution.Everything reasonable has been done to include widows. A widow qualified in respect of her late husband's qualifications will, under our proposal, continue to remain on the electoral roll until she remarries. That is a concession which has been made in respect of widows whose qualifications can be traced, and we have gone as far as we can to give a widow whose husband has died after the inauguration of this new franchise an opportunity of remaining on the roll in the event of her not remarrying. We cannot go further and attempt to find widows whose husbands may or may not have had the necessary qualifications. For these reasons, I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The Under-Secretary has given us the views of the Franchise Committee as far as the proposals relating to widows are concerned. Can he state what was the attitude of the Franchise Committee towards the general proposal with regard to the wife of an elector?
§ Mr. BUTLER
On this matter we had the Advantage and help of the late Miss Mary Pickford, to whose work a tribute is due. She would have taken great interest in these Debates. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept this proposal owing to the immense extra burden it would put on the electoral roll and the inadivsability of so rapidly increasing the number of women electors. Such a big jump as this would militate against the success of the extended franchise which we hope to give to women.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I am naturally under a great disadvantage as compared with the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who knows a great deal more about this subject than I do. I cannot follow the argument of the Under-Secretary when he says that we are going to enfranchise an enormous number of persons. We are already putting 35,000,000 electors on the roll at one stroke, and, therefore, an addition of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 does not seem to me to be very large.
§ Mr. BUTLER
It will add 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 persons in one Province alone. And there are all the other Provinces.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I still adhere to my argument. We are definitely of the opinion that the electoral roll in India is too small compared with the population. I do not know where the Under-Secretary got the idea that he would have to search for these widows. I should imagine that in the administration of a proposal of this kind there would be some inquiries, and that widows would come forward and claim the vote. Then an hon. Member used the strange argument, how can you tell whether a widow is qualified because her husband had died 30 or 40 years ago? Take the case in our own country. There are about 250,000 widows in this country who receive a widow's pension by virtue of the fact that their husbands died before the coming into operation of the Contributory Pensions Scheme in 1912; they are receiving the pension by virtue of the fact that their husbands would have been insured under the National Health Insurance scheme if they had been alive in 1912.
We are frankly of opinion that something ought to be done to extend the electoral roll in India, especially to include more women. Once again I say that I am not as familiar with this problem as some hon. Members, but I hope that that is not a disqualification for speaking on it, because I notice that some hon. Members are very much more eloquent in their ignorance than in their knowledge. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth, who always intervenes with a great deal of knowledge of this subject, said that women in India have not yet entered freely into the life of the country. Really they cannot do so 1775 unless they get the franchise. In our own country women did not enter freely into the public life of the nation until they were given the vote. If we are told that the wording of our Amendment is clumsy, I would remind the Committee that when an hon. and gallant Gentleman a few minutes ago moved an Amendment to include on the electoral roll numbers of police pensioners, the Government came to the rescue and told the hon. and gallant Member that they accepted the principle of the Amendment, and they would insert the appropriate words on the Report stage. If the Government would be good enough to accept the principle of this Amendment we are not very keen about the exact words of it.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I also speak on this subject with some diffidence. All of us are dealing with a problem that is very largely beyond the grasp of any company of people in this country. I, therefore, suggest that our only safe course is to have some regard to the recommendations of those who made investigations of the subject on our behalf. We have the great advantage of the report of a Committee which, under the Chairmanship of Lord Lothian included the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner), and the present Under-Secretary, and covered a very wide area in India and took the advice of something like an equal number of Indian representatives. They got into touch with specially constituted committees from the several Provinces of India and they presented—I know there were one or two minority recommendations—a practically unanimous report. That report has been of great value to us here. I am bound to have regard to the fact that that Committee, having upon it very progressive men and women, including the Lady to whom reference has been made, Miss Pickford, who was a devoted supporter of the woman's cause in this country, came to the conclusion that they could not support the proposal contained in this Amendment. They state in paragraph 217 of their Report:Our franchise proposals increase the men's electorate four and a half times, and the women's no less than 21 times.1776 I do not know whether the proposals contained in the Bill do approximately translate into statutory effect what those recommendations were. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will say.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The hon. Member may take it that as a result of the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee that proportion has been substantially restored in general terms.
§ Mr. FOOT
I know that when the Joint Select Committee considered the proposals of the White Paper there was dissatisfaction expressed by some on the Joint Select Committee that the proposals of the Franchise Committee were not fully realised in the White Paper proposals, and Amendments were adopted which, I understand now, did roughly achieve that purpose. But I suppose that all the Committee would be agreed that the Statutory Commission laid its emphasis in the right direction when it said that women ought to take a fuller share in the development of India and that the key of progress was in their hands—that was a frequently quoted passage—and that the women in India in the past had had too little a share. Among the remarkable changes in India in recent years no change has been so noteworthy and outstanding as the stepping of women out of seclusion into the full life of political activity in India, and there should be some attempt on the part of this House to give them an opportunity for expression. Undoubtedly, even the proposals that are now made in the Bill, if carried out, will mean that women will take an increasing share in the political affairs of that country. But I think it would be a very big responsibility for this Committee to adopt the Amendment. We have had no figures put before us, and apparently there is no one who is qualified to say what the number of voters would be. We have had only the figures given by the Under-Secretary, who says that in one of the Provinces it would mean an increase of 5,000,000 voters. There are 11 Provinces in India. The Under-Secretary, of course, quoted a Province where there was the larger population. One result of this Amendment would be that the women's vote would be larger than the men's in India? Is that so? I do not know.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I think I can put the hon. Gentleman right on that point. It would mean that the women's vote would be less than the men's vote, but perhaps not very much less. The Under-Secretary made the suggestion that probably two-thirds of the men were married. The proposal would not put women voters in the majority, because women in India as a whole, thanks to the causes which eat away their vitality, are in a minority.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am much obliged to the hon. Lady for that information, which might have been given to us by those who support the Amendment. At any rate it would mean an untold and uncalculated increase in the electorate, and there is not the slightest indication that there would be any machinery which in present circumstances would enable the will of this Committee to be carried out if the Amendment were adopted. We should have the almost certain breakdown that was threatened if the last Amendment had been carried. It is a breakdown that would be threatened not merely in the urban district, where machinery could be more readily set up, but a breakdown that might threaten the whole of India.
§ Mr. FOOT
A comparison between Ceylon and India is one on which I would like to hear some arguments. I have not studied the conditions in Ceylon. I am trying to understand something of the conditions in India. It may be that a comparison with Ceylon is not fair. We are bound to have regard to the advice given to us by those who can speak, and I gather from what has been said that we should at the very outset put a most difficult burden upon those who bane to work these reforms. If the Amendment were carried one minor result would be that we should be enfranchising widows and wives, but the unmarried woman would have no vote unless she came in under one of the Clauses applying to the rest of the electorate. That was a point to which the Franchise Committee drew attention. It may be that the unmarried woman in India is as much entitled to the protection of the vote as her married sister. 1778 The married woman has such protection as can be secured by the care and thought of her husband, and if anyone is entitled to the protection of the vote I should think that the unmarried woman is entitled even to come first. Agreeing as fully as I can with all that has been said by the supporters of the Amendment, I say that they must have regard to the recommendations of the Franchise Committee. If the hon. and gallant Member for South East Leeds is to speak later I hope he will tell us from his experience on that Committee what was the ground upon which the Franchise Committee came to a unanimous conclusion. Such information would be helpful.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Sir J. WARDLAW-MILNE
I intervene only because of the remarks made by the Under-Secretary. I think he was a great deal too modest in his estimate of the class of people who will be enfranchised by the proposals of the Bill. I should have thought it was a much fairer statement to say that everyone of the men would be married. As is well known to people who have lived in India, marriages there are arranged for boys at a very early age, and there is practically no male population that is not married. This Amendment apparently is to enfranchise the widows for all time; the women are to remain enfranchised after the death of their husbands. A large proportion of men of the type who will be enfranchised under the Bill will marry again if they are unfortunate enough to lose their first wife. It is unfortunately the case in India that men of very advanced age marry very young girls. The consequence is that these very young girls become widows at a comparatively early age.
I think it is no exaggeration to say that probably this Amendment will enfranchise something like 50,000,000 people. It would be an impossible task for any Government to follow the lives of these widows through a long period of widowhood. I suggest that the supporters of this Amendment have not really considered what this proposal would mean. It would be a complete change, and would add a very large number of women to the register, with the probable result that there would be an excess of women voters over men 1779 voters. In view of the conditions under which marriage takes place in India, I suggest that it would be wise to withdraw the Amendment.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I intervene in support of the Government; I think, on this occasion, they are opposing an Amendment which, if carried, would prove extremely unsatisfactory. Under the present proposals 6,000,000 women are to be enfranchised, and I am inclined to think that is more than ought to be enfranchised under present conditions. As long as the caste system continues, women in India are going to vote in the same way as their husbands on almost every issue. We know that, on the whole, women in England do so, except of course that there are hon. Ladies like the hon. Member for Willesden (Mrs. Tate), who, I am sure—
§ Mr. RAIKES
I assure my hon. Friend that my experience of marriage is that of the looker-on who sees most of the game. Seriously, the point which I desire to make is in reply to one which has been put from the benches opposite. Hon. Members have argued that unless women in India get the vote they cannot achieve full political freedom. But the vote by itself cannot be a means of achieving political freedom unless we break down caste barriers. I do not consider that any further extension of the franchise to women is likely to help the women of India to play a greater part in the government of India. Therefore I have great pleasure, in this, the final stage of the Committee proceedings on the Bill, in supporting the Government.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I intervene again, solely because of the speeches of the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes). Believing as I do, that the whole future of India lies in the hands of the women of India, I am not deterred by the suggested possibility—which has been denied—that the Amendment 1780 would result in placing a larger number of women than of men on the register. I should not mind that result in the slightest. But apart from the need of giving women the vote in order that they may be able to change those terrible social conditions which we know to exist, I appeal to my hon. and gallant Friend on another ground. I listened to him the other night denouncing the communal system and with great earnestness and sincerity declaring that one of the evils of the present system was that it led to divisions between religions and castes. My hon. and gallant Friend has made a reference to the Indian ladies who gave evidence. What impressed me most about the evidence of the Indian ladies who came before the Joint Select Committee was that they were absolutely opposed to these divisions.
Surely, those who do not want the communal system to be perpetuated, who do not want India to be divided permanently into electorates of Moslems and Hindus and so forth, ought to support any movement which tends to obliterate those distinctions and bring all these castes and religions into a larger unity. If the women's movement in India is going to achieve that end—and its leaders certainly have that idea—then I think we ought to support it, That is a very strong argument which ought to be well weighed by the Committee before taking a decision on this Amendment.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
I wish to ask the supporters of the Amendment whether, if a man has more than one wife, it is contemplated by the Amendment that each wife should have a vote; and if so whether the result will not be an enormously greater number of women voters than of men voters?
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I do not think the hon. Member was in his place when my hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment answered a similar question.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), who has made a profound study of this great question, suggests that I ought to be sympathetic to the Amendment on the ground that women electors in India will be more likely to bridge over the communal difficulty than men electors. I do not believe 1781 there is any real evidence to that effect. I believe that the women of India, whether Moslem or Hindu, are just as intensely attached to their religious beliefs as the men, and that all Indians, men and women alike, attach more importance to religion than to any political or social consideration whatever. That, I believe to be fundamentally true of the vast majority of the people of that country.
I want to unburden myself to the Committee. If I were a Machiavelli I should support the Amendment. I can conceive of nothing more calculated to bring the whole scheme of these ill-thought-out reforms to a standstill than the carrying of this Amendment. I believe that it would arouse intense feeling in India if you were to impose a system involving a majority of women electors at this
§ stage in the development of the status of women in that country. I feel almost inclined to go into the opposite Lobby from my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes), because I believe that if hon. Members above the Gangway were to carry their point, they would destroy these proposals completely. In that case they would perhaps be the heroes of this country in years to come. But we are trustees for the people of India, and I believe that my duty is to support the Government against an Amendment which I do not believe is in the interests of the people of India.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 33.1783
|Division No 188.]||AYES.||[6.55 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Joel, Dudley J. Bernato|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)|
|Albery, Irving James||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Apsley Lord||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Dickle, John P.||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Drewe, Cedric||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Eady, George H.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lees-Jones, John|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmln)||Levy, Thomas|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Liddall Walter S.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Ganzoni, Sir John||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Blindell, James||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Boulton, W. W.||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Loftus, Pierce C.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Bracken, Brendan||Glossop, C. W. H.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Mabane, William|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Gower, Sir Robert||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Graves, Marjorie||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||McKeag, William|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Burghley, Lord||Gunston, Captain D. W.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Burnett, John George||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hales, Harold K.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Z'tl'nd)||Manningham-Buller, Lt. -Col. Sir M.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Harbord, Arthur||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastie)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Milne, Charles|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Clarke, Frank||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Holdsworth, Herbert||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hornby, Frank||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Howard, Tom Forrest||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Munro, Patrick|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Iveagh, Countess of||Nall, Sir Joseph|
|Crook, J. Smedley||Janner, Barnett||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Jennings, Roland||North, Edward T.|
|Nunn, William||Ropner, Colonel L.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Orr Ewing, I. L.||Runge, Norah Cecil||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Owen, Major Goronwy||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Peake, Osbert||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Peat, Charles U.||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Perkins, Walter R. D.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Train, John|
|Petherick, M.||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Salt, Edward W.||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Pickering, Ernest H.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Savery, Servington||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Pike, Cecil F.||Selley, Harry R.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Potter, John||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Radford, E. A.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||White, Henry Graham|
|Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Smithers, Sir Waldron||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Somervell, Sir Donald||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Islet)||Soper, Richard||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ramsbotham, Herwald||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Spens, William Patrick||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Remer, John R.||Stevenson, James|
|Rickards, George William||Stones, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Storey, Samuel||Sir George Penny and Major George|
|Robinson, John Roland||Stourton, Hon. John J.||Davies.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Grundy Thomas W.||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cleary, J. J.||Jenkins, Sir William||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||John, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Dobbie, William||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Charles||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Maxton, James.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Milner, Major James||Mr. Groves and Mr. Paling.|
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I beg to move, in line 228, to leave out "sixty," and to insert "ten".
Shortly, the position is that the Franchise Committee, about which so much has been said, were instructed to pay special attention to the subject of enfranchising a large number of women. The two amendments they proposed were, first, a literacy qualification, and, secondly, the enfranchisement of the women who were the wives of men having certain high property qualifications. One of our complaints in regard to these franchise proposals is that throughout they depend on property for the most part. While I am bound to say, as one of the members of that committee, that it is extremely difficult to find other qualifications, there is no justification, in my submission, for the proposal to give the vote to the wives of men who have high property qualification as emphasising the objection we already have to these proposals. The two Amendments standing 1784 in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) are to bring down these property qualifications as low as possible. The first one has reference to the wife of a man who has occupied for not less than six months in the previous financial year a house in the city of Madras the annual value whereof was not less than 60 rupees. Our proposal is that 60 be reduced to 10, so as to give the franchise to the wives of men who are not necessarily highly qualified from a property point of view; that is to say, to give the vote to the wives of men who are not so well off in this world's goods.
A property, however small, qualifies a man for a vote. The only reason why women are limited is because it was not desired that too many women should go on the electoral roll, and this 60 rupees is presumably inserted as the limit for that same purpose. I do not know what difference in numbers will be made by the alteration which I propose. I have no doubt that it may be quite consider 1785 able, but as I am of opinion that in cities adult suffrage is admitted to be practicable, and as the Government do not deny that practicability, if the Amendment be passed it will be possible to deal with the increased number of women who will have a vote. In regard to the second Amendment, there again a man in Madras is entitled to vote if he pays any property tax or profession tax. Women are entitled to vote only if the wives of men who pay not less than three rupees. Three rupees is not a large sum, but nevertheless we see no justification for it, and we think that the wife of a man who pays any property tax or any profession tax at all should have a vote.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This Amendment, I think, calls for a certain comment on the franchise scheme as a whole. The women's franchise is based in respect of the property qualification of a husband under the existing franchise, and that is the principle which has been followed throughout in arriving at some decision for the ratio of men to women, and in arriving at a decision on the possible future number of women to be enfranchised. These franchise schemes are extremely complicated. We have been sympathetic before to the women. In adding numbers to the vote the qualification as regards literacy has been reduced.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I rather think that if the Debate goes wider than the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South East Leeds (Major Milner) on the general question as to what is the qualification of women, it might be a convenience if we included also in this discussion the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), which is to add a new sub-paragraph (k) to this rather long one. It seems very difficult to have a discussion on that apart from this if we are going to have a general discussion. I am in a little difficulty here.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Supposing your suggestion were accepted, I take it that that would not preclude the hon. Lady or anyone else challenging a vote on the particular point which she wants to raise?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Certainly not. Of course she would have the right of dividing the Committee on it in the same way as the hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cocks) will have the right. It seems to me that if we are going into the wider question, it will be almost impossible to keep the discussion in order.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
If it is your intention to include the Amendment in my name, will it perhaps be simpler to include also the Amendments on the following page in the names of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) and the hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cocks)—line 248, to leave out "or paragraph eight," and the manuscript Amendment which I handed in? It is very difficult to discuss all these women's Amendments separately. They are so much in relation to each other that if we go beyond this one Amendment, it might be easier to cover the whole lot and discuss the whole question.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I can quite understand that if the Under-Secretary is introducing now the argument that there has been a certain balance brought about as between the prospective women voters and the men voters, then the Amendment as to literacy moved by the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) would be quite relevant to that argument. But I think the other Amendment deals with an entirely different issue, because it contemplates there the total number of women who are to be enfranchised, but it does not touch the issue that is now being raised as to the balance between men and women voters. I must say, personally, it seems to me that the Amendment standing in the names of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) and the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) raises different issues.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I think that it would be very much simpler to have one Debate on qualification, and after that one on application. It would be a convenience, perhaps, if I gave way to the hon. Lady to enable her to explain her Amendment before I continue my speech.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
The Amendment I understand, Captain Bourne, you wish to call is the Amendment in line 244:(k) is included in the electoral roll by reason of literacy.This is a very modest proposal for slightly increasing the number of women voters. It proposes to include among the women who are to vote in respect of husband's qualification not only those who are qualified in respect of husband's property but also the wives of men who are enfranchised by the educational qualification. The educational qualification varies in different Provinces. Therefore, the number included under this Amendment would also vary. I suggest that it would be a very modest addition, because already the education qualification in every case is subjected to the requirement of application. Therefore, those in charge of the roll would have a complete roll of the men qualified by literacy, and women who wished also to qualify under this would merely have to say that they were the wives of those particular men.
Although it would be such a small addition, I think it would be worth while. We want as far as possible not to lay stress upon the possession of property, but, if you are to have any consideration of quality as against quantity, it is a good thing to enfranchise the wives of men who have some education. The wife of a literate man is likely to have some sort of education. The Indian women's organisations, although, as I have already said, on general principles they do not like the wife's vote, have put forward the argument that if it is to be given at all, it should be given to the wives of educational voters as well as to the wives of property voters. Many of these educational voters will already be qualified also in respect of property, and there will be a good deal of overlapping. I should like to know what objection the Government can bring against this Amendment. It is so easy, so simple, and so obviously just that if the wife of a property owner has the vote, the wife of a man who votes in respect of education should also be allowed to vote. Therefore, we should have considerable confidence in asking the Government to accept our Amendment.
With regard to our other Amendment, I hope that the Government might consider 1788 accepting it also. It is an instalment of the large Amendment which we were discussing previous to the last Division, but a very modest instalment. It really asks that the property qualification shall be lowered so as to take in rather more wives who belong to the working classes. There again it is a move in the direction of democracy, but it is not an overwhelmingly large move. Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will let us know how many women it would enfranchise. I do not know, but I do not think the extension would be very large, and everything is to the good that does extend the number of women voters. Hon. Members must remember that, unless we are given actual figures, this offer that the Government are making of 6,000,000 women voters is to a certain extent misleading, because nobody knows what the actual result of it will be.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I take it that the Committee expect me to refer to these three Amendments. They all seek, in different ways, to increase the number of women upon the roll. I was in process of saying just now that we had arrived at a definite decision upon what basis we should place the women's franchise in India, and that that basis was the simple one, thoroughly approved and recommended by the Franchise Committee, of taking the existing qualifications of the male electorate and using them as the basis for the women's qualifications. That is to say, a woman would have to be qualified in respect of the qualifications which her husband holds under the present franchise. That is a clear and intelligible basis on which to place the women's franchise, and on that basis, combined with one or two other qualifications, such as that of education and women under their own rights of property holding, we have arrived at a suitable proportion of men and women, which, the Committee will remember, was somewhat toned down by the publication of the White Paper.
The Joint Select Committee then considered the general level of the women's franchise as proposed in the White Paper, and they toned it up again, with the result that the general conclusion, leaving aside all questions of application, which we are to discuss in our next discussion, brought it up to a figure almost equivalent to that originally suggested 1789 by the Franchise Committee. Although nothing is accepted in the world, especially in the world of women without certain discussion and observations being made, we understand that the original basis suggested by the Lothian Committee was regarded generally as a fair allocation of the franchise for the women of India in future, and I am at any rate able to tell the Committee that gratitude was expressed to us by representatives of women, both in Britain and India, when we followed the advice of the Joint Select Committee and rather toned up the franchise to something approximating to the Lothian ratio. Therefore, this matter has been before the public for some time, and we seem to have done something which I think we may claim is regarded as fair.
The Committee has a perfect right to make detailed suggestions for improving it, but I think it is legitimate to say that this would very much complicate the plan and result in disturbing the general level at which we have arrived and which we regard as fair. Let me warn the Committee about over-complication in a franchise scheme. The Committee has already realised that this is one of the most complicated Schedules that it has had before it, and by adding details we shall further complicate the scheme. I therefore ask the Committee to rest on the general decision taken already, that we should place the women's vote on an intelligible basis which is easy to understand and which will operate in the best possible manner.
Having made that appeal, I would like to deal with some of these Amendments. The first Amendment would depart from the arrangement arrived at and alter in an artificial manner the qualifications of the husband, upon which the woman gets her franchise. It would alter it from 60 rupees rental value to 10 rupees, and the result would be a great deal of inquiry and complication for the local administration. Secondly, it would add a very considerable number of women, and I am not prepared to recommend to the Committee a large increase in numbers at the present time.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I have done my best in the short time available to obtain detailed 1790 figures, but the actual figures for the 60 and 10 rupees are not available, and I have not the exact figures of the amount that this would come to, but I am informed that it would add a very considerable number of women to the roll. Then we come to the second Amendment—in line 231, to leave out from "year" to "in" in line 232. This would respond to the same arguments that I have used already. It would complicate the qualification and add a considerable number of women to the roll. It is very difficult, without applying to the Government of Madras or without making corresponding application to the Governments of other Provinces, to reach exact figures, and I could not give exact figures to-day, but I am informed that the Amendment would result in so much complication and addition that it would really place a great burden on the local Governments.
When we come to the third Amendment of the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), it is possible to arrive at some figures, because we have them here. She wishes to qualify a woman on the basis of the educational qualification of her husband. This is a proposition that is rather difficult to defend in logic, but I presume she wishes to defend it as a device for getting extra women on to the roll. I want to give the figures as to the result in numbers of this proposal, and then to try to show why I think it is difficult to defend in logic. If we were to accept this proposal, it would mean that the wives of literate men in Madras would be enfranchised. It is almost impossible, indeed quite impossible, to say what the overlap with that qualification would be, but the total number of literate men in Madras is 2,703,891. That is a very large number, and if their wives are qualified by this proposition, it means an addition of 2,000,000 to the roll. In the same way, in Bombay, the literate figure is nearly 1,500,000 men, and in Bengal it is nearly 3,000,000.
§ Miss RATHBONE
Are we to understand that the men are to be enfranchised by means of literacy in Bombay? I know they are in Madras, but is not Madras the only Province where men are to be enfranchised in respect of literacy? In that case the hon. Member should allow for the overlap.
§ Mr. BUTLER
That is true. With regard to the Presidency of Madras, it would be necessary to add 2,500,000 to the number, which is more than we can envisage. In the case of the other Provinces, I was misreading the hon. Lady's Amendment, which wishes to attach it to the educational qualification, and not to literacy. In that case it would correspond to the figures, which I find it hard to get, of the actual number of men qualified by reason of the educational qualification in each particular Province. In some Provinces it would be primary, in others middle school, and so on, according to the Schedule. The result would be a very considerable number of women to be added to the roll, besides the great complication which it would involve for the administration.
Then we come to the attempt to defend this qualification in logic. I think there is some logical reason for attaching a woman's vote to her husband's on the basis of a property qualification, because in India, and I believe in this country also, women take a share in and a joint responsibility for the property, and interest themselves in it. If we accept this proposition, that because a man in Madras is literate and has an illiterate wife who is not qualified of her own right to have a franchise because she is literate, it seems to me to put a premium on illiteracy among women, because it does not give them the requisite encouragement to attempt to achieve the same educational status if they can get it at second-hand from their husbands.
I think, therefore, for these four reasons, that the Amendments would be very difficult administratively, that they would disturb a simple and well-understood plan, that they would add large numbers, at any rate on the hon. Lady's suggestion, and, we believe, fairly large numbers on the suggestion of hon. Members opposite, and that they are not easy to defend in logic, we must regretfully decline to accept these three Amendments and adhere to the women's scheme which has been universally accepted in India, we believe, as being at any rate fair, even though some women may wish to go further. I beseech hon. Members, and particularly hon. Ladies, interested in this subject not continually to press Amendments of this sort, because we believe the position proposed by the 1792 Government with regard to women is regarded as reasonable in India. We have tried, and will continue, to do our best in the matter, but we cannot indefinitely add numbers to the women's franchise which they have already secured under the Bill.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. Member has forgotten his Amendment to leave out lines 537 to 539. It would be more convenient to take that particular case on that Amendment.
§ 7.31 p.m.
I do not want to be unreasonable as far as the women are concerned, but when I hear the Government talking about the administrative difficulties I am always a little suspicious. Certain administrators in India would not give any women the vote if they had their way. The Lothian Committee gave one woman in seven the vote, and the White Paper gave one in 20; then the Government burked the administrative difficulties and put it at one in five. When hon. Members talk about the enormous increase in women voters, I would ask them to remember that there are to be only 6,000,000 women who are to have votes, against about 29,000,000 men. Only 2,000,000 of those women will come automatically on the register, and the others have to apply for the vote.
I am only saying that when hon. Members talk about the enormous number of women voters, they must remember that there can only be 6,000,000, and I do not think that there will be even that number. A property qualification is all very well, and I am all for it, but, if we give the vote to women who are married to literate men, we shall probably give the vote to the best type, because we know that the enormous number of Indian students will pick out the best types of women. I do 1793 not think the House need really be afraid of the administrative difficulties or of the increase in the women voters. In a later Amendment we shall prove to the Committee how difficult it will be to get even 6,000,000 women on to the register. I feel that it is for the good of India that the reforms in this Bill should be carried out and that their success vastly depends on the women.
I do not consider that an increase of women voters by 1,000,000 or 2,000,000, considering that there are 29,000,000 men, is a risk that we cannot take. You talk about democracy and you are taking an enormous risk in giving democracy to India, but you are risking it far more if you do not give more women the vote. A woman said to me that we have only had democracy in this country for 16 years for we could not call it a democracy when only men had the vote. India is going to start with a saner democracy than ours was, for we are treating women differently from the way in which we treated them in this country when we were classed for political purposes as criminal lunatics. If the Noble Lady the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) had her way, we would still be in that class. I want Indian democracy to start with as fair a chance as possible, and I believe that we can afford to have 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 more women on the register. If the Government pressed it, they would soon get over the administrative difficulties.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I think it is the common experience of the mere male that the one thing that is more abhorrent to the female sex than anything else is logic. In this Debate we have had that proved to the n-th degree. The hon. Lady who moved one of the Amendments cut clean across logic to show that the particular women she wanted to put on the role of electors had no qualifications as electors at all. She wants to include the wives of those who are literate or have obtained a certain educational standard. The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) attempted to defend it by saying that in her experience of India—
§ Sir B. PETO
In her experience of this country, the educated man generally chooses very educated wives. I can remember an old tag that was going round a little while ago, "gentlemen prefer blondes." In this country gentlemen marry ladies for various reasons, but certainly not for their highly educated qualities. They want something on a little lighter plane. The two hon. Ladies who are defending this Amendment did not put forward the slightest argument to show that they would put on the roll of electors women who were in any way qualified to vote. A qualification seems to be the last thing they wanted, because the Noble Lady said that you could not have too much of a good thing, that 6,000,000 was a small number, and that anything that would add 1,000,000 or 2,000,000 more women was bound to be a good thing.
That is not the basis of this franchise. It is a perfectly logical thing to enable women to have a qualification if they are the wives of men with a property qualification. The possession of property is not the interest only of one of the two married people; it affects them both, it affects their whole outlook, their sense of responsibility, and their stake in the country. To suggest that a woman who is the wife of a man who has attained a certain literacy standard should be put on the roll simply for that reason is the most extraordinary proposition of all these women's propositions that I have heard put forward. I am glad that the Under-Secretary has made it clear that the Government will be adamant on this point, and that, having got what some of us think is too much of a doubtfully good thing when it comes to voting power, the Government will not include anything so ridiculously impossible as the proposal of the hon. Lady.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I should have liked to hear the hon. Baronet address himself to the position of the woman who is to have a vote because of her husband's property qualification. It is just as reasonable to give a woman a vote because her husband has a certain educational or literacy qualification as to give her a vote because her husband has a certain amount of property.
§ Sir B. PETO
I did address myself to that point. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not hear me or understand me.
§ Major MILNER
I must apologise if I did not understand the hon. Baronet, but he did not address himself to it at any length or with any force or logic. It must be obvious to anyone that there is just as much sense and logic in giving the vote to a woman whose husband has a certain educational or literacy qualification as to give it to a woman whose husband has a certain amount of property. I suggest that it does not need argument in any way. The Under-Secretary said that the first two of these Amendments would be difficult administratively and would disturb the present simple plan. I imagine that he meant it would be difficult to compile the register of electors, and so on, but is it not likely to be much more simple to compile an electoral roll consisting of the wives of all those paying property tax or profession tax than to compile a roll consisting of the wives of husbands paying property tax above a certain amount? That would not be much more difficult administratively and would not disturb the Government's simple plan.
Similarly, with regard to my Amendment. Under the Government's proposals there would have to be an inquiry as to the annual value of all houses in Madras city, and all the houses of an annual value above 60 rupees will have to be picked out. It should not be more difficult to pick out all the houses of an annual value above 10 rupees. It would require the same amount of work in going through the list, and my proposal would not in any way be administratively more difficult nor disturb the great and simple—and logical—plan of the Government. Women have an inadequate voting power in India, and there is no justification for the proportions which have been outlined. In Madras I think only one woman to 28 men has the vote. In common sense and in justice we must surely desire to make matters a little more equal. Although they profess it, I do not think the Government have shown any great sympathy with women so far, or any great desire to do anything approaching justice to them, and I would appeal to the Committee to bring pressure to bear on the Government to carry out these comparatively 1796 small but quite useful modifications of their plan.
§ 7.46 p.m.
We do know that the Government have shown themselves sympathetic towards what has come to be known as the women's cause in India, and I believe that is because they are extremely desirous that women should be placed in a position to assist in the solution of the social problems of India. At any rate I take it that that is the view of the Government. They want the women of India to be able to pull their weight in remedying some of the evils which we all know exist there. If that be so I would make this point with great emphasis. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) and one or two other hon. Members who are opposed to any increase in the women's franchise have tried to shatter this Amendment on the score of the foolishness of adding to the electorate women who are not qualified under the qualification of literacy. Surely it is not necessary to possess the literacy qualification to know what is necessary to remedy social evils. It ought to be possible to cast a vote for or against the candidates who offer themselves for election accordingly as they show themselves sympathetic or not towards remedying social evils. I am not qualified to say whether this is a good or a bad Amendment, or whether it would be difficult to put it into operation, but I support it because, from the point of view of getting an adequate number of women voters in India, it is essential to add more women to the register. I believe that the addition of more women will safeguard the objects we all of us have in view and I support the Amendment.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Mrs. RUNGE
Because I am a woman I suppose I shall be expected to support this Amendment, but I am not going to do anything of the sort. I expect I shall be called a traitor to my sex. I want to do the best I can for the women of India, and I am perfectly certain that the common sense thing to do and the best service that one can render to the women of India is to vote with the Government against the Amendment.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. E. WILLIAMS
I am sorry, of course, to have heard the remarks of the 1797 hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mrs. Runge). Surely she appreciates the fact that the women voters under the Schedule prepared by the Government will not be more than about 20 per cent. of the total electorate, about 6,000,000 out of 35,000,000. Surely that is a very small proportion, and I should have expected all the lady Members to be behind one or other of the Amendments designed to increase the proportion of women electors to the aggregate total. But I rose to say a word on the speech of the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto). If he carefully analyses the franchise he will find that it is not based upon logic at all. That is about the last thing that can be found in it. The more one looks into it the more difficult it is to ascertain why this or that proportion or qualification was adopted.
The Government have been trying, I presume, to give the vote to as large a number of persons in the aggregate in each Province as will make self-government possible. This is an experiment, and they have been endeavouring to secure the greatest proportion of intelligent persons, with certain qualifications, to administer self-government as an experiment. If one were dealing with the relation of women to men in society generally, one would say that we are living in a man-made world, with woman as just a convenience to man. Women have possessed property largely by accident—because they happened to be the widows of their husbands, who died and left the property. Surely it is as logical for the wife of an intelligent man, that is, an educated man, to have the opportunity of exercising the franchise, as it is for a woman who possesses property because her husband has died. Looking at this matter sociologically, one knows that marriage is for the purpose of breeding an heir in order that a man may leave his property to an heir. Human society is essentially based upon private property, and woman is just a convenience for the purpose of leaving property to heirs. Woman has been looked upon, substantially, as being an illiterate and ignorant person, never having the opportunities which come normally to man in this man-made world.
§ Sir B. PETO
Is the hon. Member addressing his remarks to me, because I 1798 do not accept the view he expresses on the objects of matrimony?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think we had better leave the history of human society out of this discussion.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not want to broaden the discussion unnecessarily. On the other hand, one has to discover whether a woman who marries an intelligent man is as intelligent as a woman who possesses property, and that seems to be the issue in debate between myself and the hon. Baronet. But I do not want to carry the point any further, except to say that people long opposed the idea of women having the rights which are normally possessed by men. Until recent years women had not even the property rights that men had, apart from the right of the franchise, and there were distinctions in other important matters. I trust that the Under-Secretary will endeavour to meet us on one or other of these Amendments. We think that 20 or 23 per cent. of women voters in comparison with the total electorate is too small a proportion. If the Government are not prepared to accept the exact language of any of our Amendments we hope it will be possible for them to devise some machinery which would give women voters a larger percentage than in the present Schedule. Any machinery which they could devise would be welcome to us. We do not think such an increased percentage would upset the scheme. If the number of women voters, now to be 6,000,000, were increased to 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 it would bring the total electorate up to about 35,000,000, and that would not be too unwieldy a number, and certainly would not upset the ratio or make the scheme impracticable from the administrative point of view.
§ 7.56 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I would ask the Committee to consider the administrative 'side of this question a little more seriously than my Noble Friend the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is prepared to do. She tossed the administrative difficulties aside very lightly, but if I remember 1799 aright the Lothian Franchise Committee attached great importance to them. They discussed what was the largest number of available officials who could be relied upon as competent to discharge the duties of returning officers and polling clerks. They decided that so many of these officials would be required for so many voters, they obtained information from the various Governments as to the number of officials available, and then they worked out their franchise proposals on the basis of the largest number of officials who could be found to carry out the necessary duties at elections.
§ Mr. E. WILLIAMS
Has the Noble Lady considered the possibility of taking the poll on separate days, so that the services of the same officials could be utilised several times in the same election?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
We cannot go into the question of the days on which people should go to the poll. The question before us is whether there should be more women on the register. It is quite in order to mention administrative difficulties lightly, but we cannot have a general debate about them.
§ Miss RATHBONE
The Noble Lady has pointed out that the Lothian Committee thought it was possible to enfranchise one woman to four and a half men. The Bill is not proposing anything like—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I really do not think we can go into that point. The statement has been made, and we cannot have it repeated every time.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I was not dealing with the question of the proportion of women to men but the total number of electors which the Lothian Committee thought there ought to be. From my own recollection of the Lothian Committee's report the total number which the Government propose to enfranchise is the figure of the Lothian Committee, and I take it that is the largest number that can be dealt with by the officials who are available or likely to be available. I believe all relevant considerations were taken into account by the Lothian Committee, and, therefore, if there is any considerable addition to the number of 1800 voters we shall upset the whole basis on which their proposals were made. The machinery will not be able to cope with the larger number, and the thing will break down. That is a consideration which has to be borne in mind. If there be a proposal to add a considerable number of women to that proposed, it can only be done, if the machinery is to be workable, by taking away the vote from a similar number of men. I do not think anybody in this Committee will be prepared to associate himself with that proposal.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. BRACKEN
I only intervene in this Debate, because this is the first occasion on which I have been able to support the Government on the India. Bill. The argument of the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) struck me as being so extraordinary that I think we ought to examine it a little more closely. She said that a man with a university education would normally wish to marry a lady of similar education. That statement is absolutely wrong. The most distinguished university gentleman in England at the present time not so long ago decided to get married, but he did not take to the altar some meticulous bluestocking, but a very fine dancer, a lady of great fame and celebrated throughout Europe.
I was not talking about professors. I said that an educated man would be happier if he married an educated woman than if he married an uneducated woman. It is a very good point and gives you a chance to get up and speak, but stick to the point.
§ Mr. BRACKEN
The Noble Lady, I suppose, regards a professor as a comparatively uneducated person? I want to say another thing about her arguments. She developed the point that it is an awkward thing in a home if the husband has the vote and the woman not and that to the educated man it must seem terrible that his wife could not vote because she was illiterate. The Noble Lady must know perfectly well that family life is not going to be affected because the husband has the vote and his wife has not. There has never been a series of more irrelevant, inconsistent arguments advanced by the feminine section 1801 of the House than those advanced this afternoon and the Government deserve the greatest possible credit for resisting the Amendment. I hope they will not burden this wretched Indian Bill with a provision to segregate a further million women, which will make it more unworkable than it is at present.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
We are not anxious to prolong this discussion as we undertook to complete the Committee stage to-night. Whatever the case for the Government's plan may be, I think it can hardly be argued, as the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) argued, that it depends on logic. There is no logic in saying that a man must live in a place for so many months and have, say, 60 rupees. Suppose it was 59 rupees—is there any logic in it? It may be convenient, but it is not logical. All through this plan it can be argued that it may be a convenient plan, but it cannot be assumed that it is a logical plan. The other point is that there are administrative difficulties. Of course, there are. No one can deny that, but at the same time let us be clear about it. Even to operate this plan you have to go through the preparation and examination of all sorts of lists, and I do not see that the administrative difficulty would be very much greater to operate the plan of my hon. Friends on this side than to operate the Government plan. But suppose we grant the Government case; what is the case for the Amendment?
I would like to make this last plea to the Government on this particular issue. I have said more than once in these debates that the most hopeful thing in Indian public life at this moment, from the point of view of progress, is the emergence of women. There is no other feature in Indian social life so striking as the emergence of women who for long centuries have not been able to participate in public affairs. For the last 10 or 12 years they have come out not merely in thousands; I was almost going to say,
§ in millions, but that is an exaggeration. Certainly, it is the most hopeful sign; and why hopeful? Everybody in this Committee who knows anything at all about India knows that one of the most pressing problems is the problem that deals with child life and woman life. It is a much more pressing problem than is the case in this country, great as it is here. If we have enfranchised our women in this country because women have a special contribution to make in relation to these particular problems of childhood and womanhood, surely in a country that is obsessed with this particular type of social problem the case for women's enfranchisement is all the greater.
§ Last night I ventured to chide the Government for taking a short view of these things. Here, again, I think it is a short view. I admit it is difficult, but, while giving all the benefit to that argument, on the other side there is the incomparable advantage of giving a larger number of the women of India a definite share in guiding the destinies, through legislation, of the future children of their land. I would ask the Government to consider whether from that point of view it is an adequate number, even supposing they do actually enfranchise 6,000,000—and that is a questionable matter—out of this vast electorate which is to be established. I entirely refute the justice of an argument based on property qualification or anything of the sort. The claim for the franchise is the claim of citizenship. Citizens are called upon to obey laws, and the fact that they are called upon to do so is the case for having a right to a, voice in fashioning the laws. Therefore, I would ask the Government to consider more sympathetically—though we grant the case they make on administrative details—the larger claim that we make to enable women as a whole to participate more fully in the actual work of legislation in their native land.
§ Question put, "That the word 'sixty' stand part of the proposed Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 203; Noes, 41.1803
|Division No. 189.]||AYES.||[8.10 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut. Colonel||Assheton, Ralph||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Atholl, Duchess of||Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey|
|Albery, Irving James||Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)|
|Alexander, Sir William||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Beit, Sir Alfred L.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Bernays, Robert|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Blindell, James|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Radford, E. A.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries;||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Brats, Captain Sir William||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Janner, Barnett||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Jennings, Roland||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Burnett, John Goorge||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Remer, John R.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Kimball, Lawrence||Rickards, George William|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quintan||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Law, Sir Alfred||Robinson, John Roland|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Lees-Jones, John||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Liddall, Walter S.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Russell, R. I. (Eddisbury)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Loftus, Pierce C.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Salt, Edward W.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)|
|Dickle, John P.||Mabane, William||Selley, Harry R.|
|Drewe, Cedric||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Edge, Sir William||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Smiles, Lieut. -Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Smith, Sir J. Walker-(Barrow-in-F.)|
|Elmley, Viscount||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Erskine-Bolst. Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Manningham-Buller, Lt. -Col. Sir M.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Soper, Richard|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Fox, Sir Gilford||Milne, Charles||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Stevenson, James|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Stones, James|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Moore, Lt. -Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Storey, Samuel|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Morgan, Robert H.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Goff, Sir Park||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Graves, Marjorie||Morrison, William Shepherd||Taylor, Vice Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Greene, William P. C.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Nall, Sir Joseph||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingiwinford)|
|Hales, Harold K.||North, Edward T.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Nunn, William||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Hanbury, Cecil||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Ward, Lt. -Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Patrick, Colin M.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Penny, Sir George||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Helpers, Captain F. F. A.||Petherick, M.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Pickering, Ernest H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hornby, Frank||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Sir Walter Womersley and Major|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Potter, John||George Davies.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cleary, J. J.||Jenkins, Sir William||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||John, William||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Daggar, George||Kirkwood, David||Ward, Irene Mary Bewfek (Wallsend)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Dobble, William||Lunn, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Edwards, Charles||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Mainwaring, William Henry||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maxton, James|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Milner, Major James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Owen, Major Goronwy||Mr. Groves and Mr. D. Graham.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Paling, Wilfred|
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I beg to move, in line 244, at the end, to insert:(k) is included in the electoral roll by reason of literacy.The Under-Secretary of State for India has suggested that this Amendment would add a very substantial number of voters to the electorate. The only valid objection I can see is that it would include such a small number that the Government
§ might have taken the view that it was hardly worth while. In most of the Provinces, the educational qualification is very narrow, and in all cases the overlap with the property qualification would be enormous.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 52; Noes, 172.1807
|Division No. 190.]||AYES.||[8.20 p.m.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Banfield, John William||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Batey, Joseph||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks. W. Riding)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Cleary, J. J.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Holdsworth, Herbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Janner, Barnett||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Daggar, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Dobbie, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Edwards, Charles||Kirkwood, David||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Logan, David Gilbert||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianeily)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Maxton, James|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Milner, Major James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Loftus, Pierce C.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Albery, Irving James||Fox, Sir Gifford||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Alexander, Sir William||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Ganzonl, Sir John||Mabane, William|
|Assheton, Ralph||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gledhill, Gilbert||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Goff, Sir Park||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Graves Marjorie||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Greene William P. C.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Blindell, James||Guy J. C. Morrison||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hales, Harold K.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hanbury, Cecil||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Harbord, Arthur||Milne, Charles|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Moosell, Rt. hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hornby, Frank||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Hudson Capt A. U. M. (Hackney N.)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||North, Edward T.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Nunn William|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Jackson J. C. (Heywood Radcliffe)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Jennings Roland||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Jennings Major Thomas||Penny, Sir George|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Kerr Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Kimball Lawrence||Patherick, M.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lamb Sir Joseph Quinton||Peto Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)|
|Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Law, Sir Alfred||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Law, Richard K. (Hull. S. W.)||Procter, Major, Henry Adam|
|Dickle, John P.||Leech Dr J. W.||Radford, E. A.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lees-Jones, John||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Edge, Sir William||Liddall, Walter S.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Elmley, Viscount||Llewellin, Major John J.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Remer, John R.||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Robinson, John Roland||Smithers, Sir Waldron||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Somervell, Sir Donald||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Ron Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Somerville, Annessley A. (Windsor)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward||Sopor, Richard||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Runge, Norah Cecil||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||White, Henry Graham|
|Russell, Hamor Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Spens, William Patrick||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Salt, Edward W.||Stevenson, James||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)||Stones, James||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Selley, Harry R.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Sir Walter Womersley and Major|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Thorp, Linton Theodore||George Davies.|
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move, in line 244, at the end, to insert:Special qualification for scheduled castes.10. Subject as aforesaid, a person who is a member of the scheduled castes shall also be qualified to be included in the electoral roll for any territorial constituency if either—
- (a) he is shown in the prescribed manner to be literate; or
- (b) he was at any time during the year ending on the thirty-first day of December next preceding the prescribed date a person actually performing in the Province the duties of an inferior village office, whether hereditary or not:Provided that a person who has been dismissed for misconduct and has not been re-employed shall not by virtue of sub-paragraph (b) of this paragraph be qualified to be entered in any electoral roll.I think that this new paragraph will explain itself, but I ought perhaps to say that it is our desire that a person who is a member of the scheduled castes shall also be qualified to be included in the electoral roll if he possesses certain qualifications which are set out in the Amendment. If hon. Members will look at paragraph 7 of the Schedule, they will see that it lays down that certain other persons in India shall enjoy the same privilege that we are now proposing for the scheduled castes. The wording is very similar to ours, but covers other categories. Paragraph 7 states that:Subject as aforesaid, a person shall also be qualified to be included in the electoral roll for any territorial constituency if he is a retired, pensioned or discharged officer, non-commissioned officer or soldier of His Majesty's regular military forces,while paragraph 8 provides that some women who are related to those persons who are qualified under paragraph 7 by service in Majesty's Forces shall also be entitled to be placed in the same category that we are now proposing for the scheduled castes.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I think I may perhaps be able to assist the hon. Gentleman on this point. It is difficult to grasp, on a first reading of the Schedule, why there is no allusion to the scheduled castes in Madras, while there is a differential qualification in the Central Provinces and the Punjab, and also in the case of Bombay. The intention of the Government has been throughout, since the report of the Franchise Committee, that in cases where, under the ordinary level of franchise, the depressed classes do not get 10 per cent. of their population on the electoral roll, there shall be a differential qualification. This is in order to ensure that the depressed classes shall be properly represented in the electorate. The reason why there is no insertion in the case of the Province of Madras is because it is thought possible that the general level of franchise will be low enough to provide the depressed classes with a franchise within the general level, and to ensure them an electorate of 10 per cent. of their population. If this is not so, a differential qualification will be necessary, and will have to be provided for at a later stage by Order in Council, before, of course, the actual election takes place. The reason why we must wait in the case of Madras is that we hope and think that this franchise level will give us the necessary level for the depressed classes, but that cannot be decided until the electoral roll has been compiled and the extent of any deficiency is known.
The Amendment states clearly what qualifications are desired in the case of the depressed classes. With regard to literacy, this qualification will be unnecessary, as literacy is a general qualification in Madras. With regard to the village servants we have investigated this matter in Madras. The Franchise Committee thought that these offices were 1809 hereditary, but we are now informed that they are not. The question whether a differential qualification for village servants in Madras will be necessary depends, first, on the question whether a differential qualification is necessary at all, and also upon whether the local government advise us that it is necessary in this case. The references which I have already made to the hereditary village servants in Bombay and the Central Provinces will show that we are not against the principle of the Amendment, but have already in fact put into force in the Schedule certain of its suggestions, and in the case of Madras we are only waiting to see whether the differential qualification will be necessary. In the United Provinces 10 per cent. will get in anyway on the franchise level, and that is also the case in Assam. In Bengal the position is rather more striking, for, on the ordinary level of the franchise, over 10 per cent. of the depressed classes will be on the electoral roll. In Provinces where they get that proportion there is no insertion of a differential qualification, and, in Provinces where they do not get it, there is a differential qualification. I hope that what I have said will show the hon. Member that there is really no need for his Amendment.
§ Mr. DAVIES
May we take it from the statement of the hon. Gentleman that he can give us some sort of guarantee that this problem is going to be considered later on?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:
§ Leave out lines 245 to 251.
§ In line 247, after "five," insert "or."
§ In line 248, leave out "or paragraph eight."—[Mr. Morgan Jones.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
I shall be glad if the hon. Member will take his choice as to which of these Amendments he moves. It will be understood, of course, that the others will only be divided upon if necessary, and not further discussed.
§ Mr. COCKS
I beg to move, in line 247, after "five," to insert "or."
I desire to move this Amendment and the following one. The object is to remove the necessity for application in the case of women in the Province of Madras, and, taking the three Amendments together, they are designed to meet the case in Bombay, the rural districts of the United Provinces, the Punjab, Assam and Sind. The Under-Secretary stated last night that under the Government's proposal 6,000,000 women will be placed upon the register. If the application test is retained, I am informed that, this number will be very considerably reduced, and, in fact, reduced, it is estimated, to one-quarter of that figure. The Indian ladies who came before the Joint Select Committee stressed very strongly that the application test should be done away with, and as a result the Government asked the Provincial Governments of India for their view on the matter. The Government did not take this as a question of principle at all. They were impressed, I think, by the arguments put forward by Indian and English women on the point, and they asked the Provincial Governments for their views. In this Bill the Government are following roughly what the Provincial Governments said on the subject. We are not bound to accept the views of Provincial Governments of India as sacrosanct, and also, we know that Government officials are usually inclined to stress the administrative difficulties.
The Government of Bengal had no objection at all to the removal of this test, and, therefore, the test is not included in the Bill in the case of Bengal. If Bengal with 800,000 women with the husband's property qualification feel that they can dispense with the application test, why should it be impossible in Madras, with only 700,000 women, in Bombay with only 600,000, and in Assam with as few as 192,000? If a Province with 800,000 women can meet the administrative difficulties, why should not these others who have far fewer electors? The objections of the various Provincial Governments 1811 differed in degree. The Madras Government said that they considered that the application was essential. They took the strongest line of all. Bombay said that for administrative reasons they were strongly opposed to the removal of the test, I believe until after the first election. The Assam Government, however, merely said that they wished to retain the test. They did not put up any very strong argument against its removal, but said that as a matter of preference they would like to retain it. I ask the Government whether, in the case of Assam, they will not consider removing the test. Assam adjoins Bengal, which has no test of this kind. It is very unfair that the women of Assam should be deprived of the opportunity of getting on the electorate without the test of application, when the women of Bengal have no test at all. The retention of the test of application will greatly reduce the number of women put on the electoral roll. We know that it would be so in this country. If everybody here had personally to apply to be put on to the electoral roll, there would be fewer women on the roll than there are at the present time. In India it will probably have a greater effect, especially with regard to the fact that so many have never been on the roll before. The Under-Secretary, no doubt, may think that these are wrong estimates. The estimates which have been given of the result of putting the application test are, in Madras, instead of 700,000, only 175,000, in Bombay, instead of 600,000, only 150,000, and in Assam, instead of 192,000, only 48,000.
Some Members of this Committee fear the activities of Congress, and I would point out to them that Congress is probably the only party likely to organise applications on an intensive scale. Therefore, if you keep in the application test, it will probably be the Congress party who will get most of the voters upon the list. In the Provinces I have mentioned the objections are purely administrative, but when we come to the Punjab we meet with other difficulties. The Punjab Government base their objection to this proposal on social reasons. The social reasons which exist in the Punjab make it more important than ever that women should be given their electoral rights in this matter. 1812 The experience of women under the present Turkish Government shows that the Moslem religion presents no insuperable bar to women's enfranchisement. They have been given the vote. The Moslems in India are apparently less progressive at the moment than the Moslems in Turkey. The Committee should not forget the fact that when a Moslem delegate came before the Joint Select Committee, he was asked about women in the Punjab and replied that women's interests were best looked after by men. A Moslem lady who was associated with us in our deliberations was extremely indignant at that reply. That showed to me that it was all the more necessary that, if there were social difficulties like that in the Punjab, we should face up to them. In view of the legislative needs of women in the Punjab we should face up to these difficulties and not pander to that attitude. I hope that the Government will give us at least some concession in these Provinces upon the application test.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I understand that as there have been no other speeches, the speech of the hon. Gentleman is the one introducing the whole subject of the application test and the general discussion on the question. The hon. Member wished to gain further concessions with regard to the necessity for application by a woman to receive the franchise in respect of her husband's property in the Provinces of Madras, Bombay, the rural areas of the United Provinces, the Punjab, Assam and the North West Frontier Province.
§ Mr. BUTLER
And Sind. I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving a picture of what he desired. The question of application has been considered, like everything else, by the various Committes, and especially by the Joint Select Committee. In the White Paper the Government, on the strong representations of local administrators in India, were obliged to insert the application provision in most of these Provinces in respect of a husband's property. It was felt to be a very stringent proposal by members of the Joint Select Committee, and that the application might operate to the disadvantage of women. Therefore, at 1813 the instant request of the Joint Select Committee we communicated with the local governments in India and attempted to improve the situation from the point of view of the Joint Select Committee. But I must not conceal from the Committee the fact that the Government had very good reason for insisting upon application originally in the White Paper, and those reasons still exist. However, when we had consulted the local governments we were able to agree with the Joint Select Committee that in certain Provinces, notably Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and the urban areas of the United Provinces and the Central Provinces the need for application could be dispensed with. That is a very big concession which was much appreciated at the time, together with certain other concessions which we are not now discussing, the reduction of the female level of literacy and the educational qualifications, also certain proposals with respect to military wives. We find in the Committee to-day that we are pressed to go even further. I regret to say that in response to previous requests we have already gone as far as is considered safe or reasonable in India.
I should like to go a little into the details of the Provinces in order to explain why we have come to that conclusion. We have conceded the need for application in a certain number of Provinces and in the urban areas of the United Provinces. The reasons why the Governments wish to adhere to application are administrative and social. Take the case of Madras. The ratio of women electors in Madras is approximately 1 to 3.78, a satisfactory ratio. Madras also conceded that women should be qualified in respect of the literacy qualification. Therefore, in our submission, we gave in the case of Madras a very substantial proportion of women electors. We had to deal with this matter seriatim by Provinces; otherwise, we could not respond to the local provincial idiosyncrasies and arrive at a solution which was Anything like satisfactory. We gained in Madras this satisfactory proportion of women electors and the concession of literacy for men and women alike. In Bombay also we had the concession of literacy. In those two Provinces, therefore, we have definitely got for women a satisfactory ratio and a concession about 1814 the educational qualification. We were informed by the local Governments that they cannot possibly add any more in view of the nature of the concessions that have been made, including the satisfactory ratio of men and women electors.
When we put these matters to each of the Provinces we had to be thankful that we were able to get the local administrations to agree to accept the extra burden of the arrangements for polling women and putting them on the roll, because there is considerable inconvenience and trouble to the local government in that respect. In Bengal we managed to get the application provision dispensed with, but we did not there get quite so many concessions in the case of the educational qualification, so that in one Province we gain something on the roundabouts and we lose it elsewhere on the swings. But hon. Members must look at the franchise problem in one total view; otherwise, they cannot appreciate the detailed concessions that we have obtained from the local governments. The addition of literacy in these two Provinces has caused considerable extra administrative burden, not an impossible one but one which causes us to think that the total numbers proposed to be enfranchised in these Provinces where we could not concede application is so great that it would be unreasonable to press them further. The administrative arguments in regard to women are very great. It is necessary to have special woman officers properly qualified not only to officiate on polling days, but in the case of literacy to administer the literacy test to the women electors. The women electors would resent it very much in India if they had to undergo the literacy test necessary through a man. I have already said that in India the whole burden of the pre-election Arrangements rests upon the local government administration. There are no independent electoral organisations to help at this stage, and therefore we cannot impose indefinite burdens upon the administration in the earlier days. I shall say something about the future before I conclude ray remarks.
In the case of the Punjab and Assam there are very strong social reasons which, although they are present in the other Provinces of Madras and Bombay, are more strikingly present in the 1815 Mohammedan Provinces of the North and in Assam (in its position geographically, in the North), and Sind. In order to dispense with application in those Provinces it would be necessary to ask a Government officer to go to the houses and obtain the names of the women in order to put them on the roll. Sir Malcolm Hailey, the Governor of the United Provinces, informed the Joint Select Committee that it would be necessary to have some small revenue officer employed for this purpose, but that he could not guarantee his life and limb if he entered some of the houses with a view to ascertaining the name of the woman who ought to be placed on the roll. Therefore, for social reasons it was essential to cause application by the woman to take the place of automatic registration by the authorities. We were informed definitely by the Punjab Government that they would not be responsible if we dispensed with application, for the social reasons that I have given.
The position of women in Mohammedan Provinces is not exactly the same in the public life of the country as we understand the position of women here, and it would be dangerous and offensive to the customs and habits of a large section of the population if a Government officer were to intrude upon the privacy of a home and insist either by a letter in the first place or later by calling upon a man to get the name of his wife or in any way to assist him to put her on the roll. Therefore, we ask that the woman should apply. Later on it will be made clear that these arrangements can be prescribed and that we are ready to help by way of letting the husband apply on behalf of his wife or by other suitable means in order to assist registration. We do not want to be unreasonable, but we cannot go against the advice of the local governments who for social or administrative reasons cannot further curtail the applications at the present time. I am told that it was intended that one or two other Amendments should be taken, but in view of the fact that nothing has been said about them I must deal with the Amendment before us and regretfully decline to accept it, reminding the Committee that we have given concessions so far as it is safe to do so. Consequently, 1816 I am not able to accept a quite reasonable Amendment, and for the reasons that I have given I hope that it will not be pressed.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir WALTER SMILES
I am in entire agreement with the Under-Secretary on the matter of the Punjab. It would be very injudicious to force such a thing through in the Punjab, but I do not see why he couples the Province of Assam with the Punjab. The people of Assam are nothing like those of the Punjab. They are not so military, so truculent, shall I say, and have quite different customs. They have a great deal more in common with the Hindus in the East than with the Mohammedans in the West. The Under-Secretary has told us of the terrible things which might happen if a Government officer want round inquiring what women in a village were qualified to vote. These terrible things would not happen in Assam. What occurs when a census is taken. I have been an officer of the census, and we used to make the head man in a particular locality responsible for the houses in the village under him. When the Government officer makes this inquiry he can get in touch with the head man in the village to assist him. If the Government cannot accept the Amendment, I hope they will reconsider the question of Assam and will refer the matter to the Provincial Government again.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I regret that the discussion on this Amendment comes after the discussion on the Amendment relating to the proportion of women voters. If it had come before it would have cast a different light upon the subject. The speeches on the previous Amendments were made under the serious misapprehension as to what is going to be the effect of this application provision. Leaving aside the difficulties of removing the application condition, let us consider what is the effect of retaining it. The Under-Secretary last night told us that the Bill proposed to grant 6,000,000 votes to women. I challenged him as to whether he had allowed anything for wastage, and he said that it was the gross 1817 number of those who were entitled to be enrolled. He used, to my astonishment, these words:We do not envisage that the total will be very much reduced by wastage on applications."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th May, 1935; col. 1681, Vol. 301.]I hope he will say upon what he bases that optimistic view. It is not the view of the Joint Select Committee, or the view of common sense. What did the Joint Select Committee say about it?It is in our opinion impossible to exaggerate the importance of securing in the new constitution a substantal increase of enfranchised women.Later on they say:We are only too well aware of the formidable obstacles which every reformer in this field will encounter … We are particularly impressed by the unfortunate consequences likely to follow from the application' requirement, though we fully recognise that under existing conditions there are strong arguments which can be adduced in favour of it.Later they say:We wish to place on record our view that it is important to attain at as early a date as possible, and if practicable before the second election under the new Constitution, the ratio of not less than approximately one woman to five men electors, save possibly in Behar and Orissa, which was recommended by the Indian Franchise Committee. We understand that in most Provinces under the proposals embodied in the White Paper, with the modifications proposed by us above, the ratio of women to men eligible to exercise the franchise will be higher than one to five; but the deterrent effect of the 'application' requirement, so long as it is necessary to retain it, particualrly in the case of women qualified in respect of a husband's property, is likely in practice to produce a much less favourable ratio of women to men on the electoral registers.It was not the view of the Joint Select Committee that wastage would be inconsiderable. The Under-Secretary, of course, does not mean to mislead the Committee, but I suggest that it is rather misleading to represent the number of women voters as 6,000,000, or anything like it. It is not at all unlikely that the 4,000,000 women voters who represent white voters will be cut down by half by the application condition. I have asked people of experience as to what is likely to be the effect. One said that not one woman in five would apply, another that it would be a minority who would apply. Consider the circumstances. The vast majority of women are scattered about in 750,000 villages, long distances between 1818 them, with polling stations five and six miles away. It is true that they can apply in writing, but what proportion of them are able to write? In this country if people had to apply personally in cold blood, not in hot fever of an election, to be placed on the register, how many would do so? This application provision is bound to cut down the proportion of women electors enormously, and there will not be 6,000,000 women voters on the registers. If the difficulties of removing this condition are insuperable, why did the Under-Secretary resist every previous effort to increase the number. If the Government are obliged to retain this condition, surely it would be the fairer thing to bulk out the numbers in some other way. We have put forward proposal after proposal to deal with this matter, but the Government have not accepted any Amendment. In every case the argument has been advanced that it would exceed the franchise proposed by the Lothian Committee. It would do nothing of the sort. If the Government had accepted one or two of the Amendments, we should not have reached the numbers proposed by the Lothian Committee, who did not anticipate the condition that women voters in the majority of the Provinces would have to apply for their votes.
The Government, while they are in favour of a big women's electorate, in actual practice have made promises to the ear and broken them in the sense. They have laid stress on the deterrent effect of the application condition, and all they do in the Bill is to remove it in three or four Provinces. It is no consolation to the women of Bombay, the United Provinces and Assam that the women of Bengal have got to apply. In the majority of the Provinces this application condition will be retained. We are told that in those Provinces where it is retained a quid pro quo is given in the shape of reducing the education qualification of literacy. I myself attach great importance to that literacy qualification, because of its effect in the distant future, when the majority of women in India have received primary education. But the effect at the present time is infinitesimal. The Under-Secretary talks about it as a really substantial concession in point of numbers. If all the Provinces are taken together the educational voters will amount to only 300,000, 1819 we are told. How then can there be a very substantial addition in any one Province? No. We have now come on this Amendment to the really serious black spot on all the proposals of this Bill—this application condition which so greatly takes away from the nominal vote given to the women, and so greatly takes away from the prospect held out to women by the Lothian Committee.
I should not feel so bad about it—I really feel bitter on this subject—if we had even any certain hope for the future. The Joint Select Committee suggested that the application condition should be removed as soon as possible, and if possible before the second general election. But there is nothing to that effect in the Bill. I believe that there is a Clause which permits a Provincial Legislature to remove the condition. Anyhow, there is a Clause which enables His Majesty by Order-in-Council to alter the franchise condition. But we shall have no certainty that it will be done. As the Provincial Governments have been so unfavourable to the cause of women in the past, why should we suppose that they will be more favourable in the future? Parliament cannot so shift its responsibility on to other shoulders.
The Joint Select Committee, following all the other Committees, recognised to the full the terrible responsibility that is laid upon the shoulders of the British Parliament in letting the charge of the helpless women of India pass into others' hands without safeguarding it as closely as possible. In the case of pensioners and service men how careful the Government have been to prevent any possibility of injustice being done, but when they come to the most helpless class of all, I do not say that the Government have done nothing—I know the Government intend to be kind—so far as the franchise is concerned it is not a very good deal that the Government are giving to the women. A potential 6,000,000 of women's votes is certain to be cut down to a very much smaller number by the conditions of application. I beg the Under-Secretary to tell us that he has not said the last word on this subject. I beg him to give us some hope that if he cannot accept the present Amendment in full he will do something for women and will give some compensation, and that at any rate he will in this Bill 1820 and through this Parliament make quite sure that this application condition will be removed before the second general election. That would go some way, and in five years time something could be done to overcome the administrative difficulties.
§ 9.10 p.m.
I was particularly struck with the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles), who has had personal experience in India, and has assured us that in Assam there would be no difficulty at all. The Government should listen to the hon. and gallant Member, even if they do not listen to us, whom they may regard as fanatical on this subject. In the case of the hon. Member for Blackburn they have the advice of a practical man, who evidently does not think that women's questions in India can be settled better by men than by women. I am certain that if we could make Members of this Committee realise what are the conditions in India which we desire to clear up and clean up and which every committee which has dealt with India has said can only be cleared up by the women themselves in India, this Committee would say to the Government, "We know that you are going to have administrative difficulties, but this matter is of such vital importance to the future of India that you should face those difficulties and make certain that there is to be a really substantial proportion of the women on the register." A point has been made about the application condition. If it is difficult for an Englishman to make an application for a vote it must be at least 50 times as difficult for an Indian woman to do so. In fact a great many who have experience of India tell us that it is practically impossible, and that the women just will not make the application. It is no good Saying that it is permissive for local legislatures to waive the application condition later on.
Even Indian women themselves do not realise what a great task they have ahead of them. We have been told that Indian men are more reasonable than Englishmen. I am not prepared to believe it. We know what an enormous difference there has been in the social and moral welfare of this country since women have had the vote here. Five years before the War this House passed only minor Bills 1821 dealing with matters that affected women, but once women had the vote the whole of our social legislation began to change. I remember perfectly well that only 16 years ago if one got up in this House and asked questions about education, housing, children, and the criminal law Amendment, all social questions, very little interest was aroused. I remember the question being raised of the age of consent. You cannot conceive what the fight was in those days. But if such matters were put before the present House of Commons Members would at once say, "All of us agree." The social conscience of this country has changed so much in the last 16 years that I can hardly believe I am sitting in the same House of Commons. As that has happened in England, what could happen in India if the women of India had a chance. Unless this Government makes it possible for the women of India to have a chance, I do not think they will get a chance, so desperate are the religious and social prejudices.
Instead of the Government speaking of administrative difficulties, they should say, "No matter what the difficulties are, we are going to do something." Six million women voters in India are a very small number. The Government should guarantee that the number will be at least 10,000,000. I believe that if women have to depend on an application for the vote there will not be anything like 6,000,000 women on the roll. I hope that the Government will reconsider their decision on the subject. I know how much attention has been given by the Lothian Committee and in the White Paper to the administrative difficulties. I know the position of the Government in regard to this matter, and I am not asking about the Punjab. I take the word of Sir Malcolm Hailey as to that, but I have also the word of the hon. Member for Blackburn who assures us that it can be done, in Assam. I am convinced that if the Government had the will, a way would be found. This is a matter about which many of us are deeply concerned. It is one of the fundamental reasons why we want a change of the Government in India. We realise the things that have been going on there for generations, and that the only thing which could be said against British rule in India was that these matters had not been tackled before. We know that under the old conditions 1822 it was impossible because no outsiders could tackle these subjects. We now ask the Government to make it possible for the insiders, and, above all, for the women to do so.
The progressive women in India to-day are a splendid body. I have never been more impressed in my life than I have been by the manner in which Indian women have fought for reforms in education and other services with everything against them. Against great odds they have done splendidly, and I would beg and implore of the Government to remove wherever they can this ridiculous application condition. We all know that some of us would not be in the House of Commons if we had such a condition in this country. I believe that if we had such a condition here we would find the advanced Socialists active in getting their women on to the electoral roll while probably other people would be indifferent and would not come forward at all. Therefore, from the Government's own point of view of safeguarding the future of India, I suggest that there is no better way of keeping India safe than that of making the vote easier for the women, instead of making it practically impossible for them by this condition.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
The hon. Gentleman's argument in favour of the maintenance of this restriction seems to be illogical. I will not deal with what he called the social difficulties which apply particularly to Sind and the Punjab, but with what he described as the administrative difficulties. As I understand the scheme, it is proposed to set out first the qualifications as far as women are concerned, and that the Government's objective, if their scheme works properly, is to get all the women who come within those qualifications to register their votes in an electoral decision. But then the hon. Gentleman says, in effect: "I am relying on the failure of my plan to get these women to the poll, in order to make it administratively possible to work the scheme." Surely that is the very worst type of constitution-making. If it is impossible to deal with more than 3,000,000 women voters, why not say so and frame the scheme so that you will get only 3,000,000 women voters? You ought not to propose to give votes to a number 1823 of women and then, for the administrative purposes, rely upon a large proportion of those women not being able to exercise the right which you say you are giving to them. When the hon. Gentleman speaks of the removal of the application condition as being a great concession in some of the Provinces, he shows what a large elimination is expected to result from its imposition.
To come to the administrative question itself, assuming that 100 per cent. of these women can be got to make the application, presumably those applications will have to be checked and some record of them will have to be made. Will it be any easier to deal with the 100 per cent. of applications than it would be to deal with the same number by going round and collecting their votes? In fact it will probably be more difficult because each application will have to be checked as regards its accuracy. That will be more difficult than making a direct collection of votes in the way suggested by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) in the case of such a Province as Assam and you will not get over any of the administrative difficulties which arise as regards polling or tests of literacy or anything of that sort. Presumably the hon. Gentleman is not going to say that he hopes 100 per cent. will not apply. Presumably, he hopes that 100 per cent. will apply. He may say "Unfortunately we shall not be able to educate our democracy fast enough to get 100 per cent. to apply immediately, but our objective is 100 per cent." But if he reaches his objective he is going to encounter just the same administrative difficulties as would arise if he did away with application and went straight for his objective and made certain of reaching it. I believe, indeed, he will have even greater administrative difficulties.
The hon. Gentleman is adding this risk of not reaching his objective, in order to satisfy the usual qualms of an administration which does not want to face a greater task than is necessary. The smaller the task the more readily will they face it and everybody can sympathise with that view. But is that to be the determining factor as regards the enfranchisement of the women of India? Once we admit that it is desirable that these 6,000,000 women should vote, we 1824 must logically require that everything should be done in order to get them to vote. We must not rely upon administrative difficulties defeating our express objective. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that his express objective is to get 6,000,000 women to vote but that his real objective is to get only 3,000,000 women to vote. If his express objective is 6,000,000, he must not put fences in his own way, making it difficult to arrive at the end of the course and possibly involving the risk of a fall. I am, sure that if the hon. Gentleman thinks over the matter again, he must say—as I know he will say—that his desire is that every one of these 6,000,000 women should vote on the first possible occasion. If that be his desire, then he must logically add that he does not propose willingly to put any obstacle in the way of achieving that end.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The Committee will probably desire a short reply to some of the points which have been raised. First let me express my pleasure that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has taken part in our Debate. But I must refuse to enter into the net which he has spread for me. His case was presented with perfect logic, but I cannot accept the premises from which he started.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The hon. and learned Gentleman's forensic talent is well known both inside and outside the House, but I am going to deal with the subject in my own way, and I shall restrict myself to restating the case for the retention of application in certain Provinces. Let me say, first, that as regards the case of Assam, I must naturally pay attention to what has been said by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles), who has only recently returned from Assam, and also to the representations of the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) and the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor). In the case of Assam, we have been definitely informed that they wish to retain application, and I cannot go against what they have to say on the 1825 matter there because they are the people who are going to administer the scheme, and it is to them that we shall look for its success. In view of what has been said, however, I can state that I will reconsider this matter of Assam with the local government, but the Committee must understand that I cannot guarantee to have that consideration made in the immediate future, that is to say, within the next week or two. It has to be referred to Assam, and consideration will have to be given to the views of the districts in Assam, and it will be impossible to do it in a hurry. Nor can I hold out any great hope of changing it; but the matter will be looked into in view of the arguments raised in this Debate, and we will undertake to make a change at a later stage, if necessary, by some such procedure as Order-in-Council.
It seems to me that the Noble Lady accepted the position of the Punjab, and, therefore, our difficulties are very much reduced. Therefore, I want now only to clear up a point put to me by the hon. Member for the English Universities in which she said I had been too optimistic about the future of application. I had no intention of misleading the Committee in what I was saying on this important question just before we rose last night. But I do think it is a good thing to set my optimism against her pessimism, and I do not regret what I said. I admit that there will be a small wastage due to application, and the smaller it may be the better. I hope it will not be large, but I cannot give an exact estimate. In most Provinces it is hoped that at the same time the administrative difficulties will diminish and the manner in which the population will accustom themselves to application, will gradually increase, that is to say, that the population will get more used to application in ratio as the administration gets more used to the population. I do not believe that the amount of wastage will be as much as the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) suggested. I suppose the number of women voters will be somewhere between the pessimistic figure which he gave, and the figure of 6,000,000 which we have put in our estimate. I should be only misleading the Committee if I were to seek to give an exact figure. It seems to me that nothing has been said to deny the 1826 social arguments which I used. We do our best for the women, and we get very little gratitude for it. It is not for me to complain because hon. Members have pressed us, but I must remind them of the concessions we have given them during the last three years, ever since we have gone into this subject in detail.
I would not like it to go out from this House that I had been against the Government on the India Bill. To-day was, I think, the first time that I have ever voted against them, and I do not want it to go out to India that I am against it. I think the Bill is a remarkable performance.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I am very grateful to the Noble Lady. I hope that the administrative difficulties will diminish, but I am afraid that the social difficulties will probably not do so. It is very difficult to foresee a great change in the immediate future, though we hope a change will come. I think there has been a change already in some parts of India, and I hope it will develop, although it will take longer than change in the case of administrative difficulties. The only remaining thing to say is as to the future. Under the Bill as drafted it is possible, even before the 10-year limit which governs other Amendments for the Home Government on the representation of Provincial Legislatures to alter this proposal for application, provided that a Provincial Legislature passes a resolution in favour of it, and submits it to His Majesty's Government. It is also possible for His Majesty's Government under the Bill to make this change by Order-in-Council. If they consider that circumstances warrant it, there is nothing to prevent that change being made after the first election. Those who say it will be in the interest of political parties to get their members enrolled may also rely on the argument that it will be in the interests of the politicians in India who wish to further the cause of women to get a resolution passed in their Legislature when they think the time is ripe. In that case, under the Bill, the resolution will have to return to this country and be acted on by us, or very good reasons given why we should not act on it. I can assure the Noble Lady that we would do nothing to stop any Provincial Legislature passing such a resolution or to hinder the taking 1827 of action on its representations. We believe that for the future there is the chance to change, so that the Noble Lady will get the gross total electorate she desires. We believe, therefore, that we have not closed the door; but we must start and proceed slowly upon these important social matters in the East.
§ Miss RATHBONE
May I ask you, Sir Dennis, whether you intend to call my manuscript Amendment dealing with the same subject? I think it would perhaps simplify the matter if I might ask the Under-Secretary whether he could not give us some assurance about the point raised in the manuscript Amendment, which asks for the removal of this condition before a second general election shall be held?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it is fairly obvious from the latter part of the Under-Secretary's speech that this matter has been covered by the discussion which has taken place now. That, as I
§ understand it, is what was intended. I am quite prepared to call the hon. Lady's Amendment if she so desires, and if she thinks it necessary, for the purpose of a Division—but for the purpose of a Division only.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The first time I spoke the hon. Lady had not risen in her place, and, therefore, I had to attempt to cover her manuscript Amendment without reference having been made to it by the Mover, which was a very difficult position. But I have covered this manuscript Amendment in the latter part of the remarks I have already made to the Committee.
§ Question put, "That the word 'or' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 38; Noes, 186.1829
|Division No 191.]||AYES||[9.35 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Groves, Thomas E.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Buchanan, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cleary, J. J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Kirkwood, David||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Dobble, William||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Charles||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Mr. Paling and Mr. John.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (P'rtsm'th, S.)||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Hales, Harold K.|
|Albery, Irving James||Colfox Major William Philip||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Conant, R. J. E.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Assheton, Ralph||Cook, Thomas A.||Harbord, Arthur|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Copeland, Ida||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Crooke, J. Smedley||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Dickle, John P.||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (prtsm'th, C.)||Drewe, Cedric||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Wailer|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Duncan, James A. L. (Remington, N.)||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Bossom, A. C.||Eimley, Viscount||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Ganzonl, Sir John||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Burnett, John George||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Janner, Barnett|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Gledhill, Gilbert||Jennings, Roland|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Goff, Sir Park||Jones Henry Haydn (Merloneth)|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Carver, Major William H.||Graves, Marjorie||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Law Sir Alfred||Owen, Major Goronwy||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Patrick, Colin M.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Penny, Sir George||Soper, Richard|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Little, Graham, Sir Ernest||Petherick, M.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Pickering, Ernest H.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Loftus, Pierce C.||Pike, Cecil F.||Stevenson, James|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Stones, James|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Radford, E. A.||Storey, Samuel|
|Mabane, William||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Rankin, Robert||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|McKeag, William||Rea, Walter Russell||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Read, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Thorp, Linton Theodora|
|Makins, Brigedler-General Ernest||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Robinson, John Roland||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Rothschild, James A. de||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||White, Henry Graham|
|Milne, Charles||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Salt, Edward W.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut. -Colonel George|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Selley, Harry R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morgan, Robert H||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|North, Edward T.||Smith, Sir J. Walker-(Barrow-in-F.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Smithers, Sir Waldron||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Major George Davies.|
§ Two consequential Amendments made.
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I beg to move, to leave out lines 537 to 539.
This raises the question of literacy as affecting the women of the three Provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. When the women of India pressed that literacy should be the qualification for the franchise, instead of a higher educational qualification such as matriculation, the various Provincial Governments of India were consulted, and nearly all of them accepted the view that literacy should be the test, but the three Provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa expressed their opposition to that proposal. I would like to point out the effect of that. Under the literacy test, which is accepted by the rest of India—whether a person can read or write a letter is the kind of test we have in mind—377,000 women would be enfranchised in Bengal. In Bihar and Orissa 77,000 would be enfranchised. Although there is an over-lap of some who may come in on another qualification, the substitution of the matriculation test for the literacy test would disfranchise practically all of them. I have inquired into how many women in Bengal have passed matriculation, and I am informed on the highest 1830 authority that in the last 30 years only 3,000 women have passed at the universities of Calcutta and Dacca. These include those who lived in Bengal Province before the re-partition in 1912.
It is therefore estimated that by substituting the higher test of matriculation for the literacy test, only 1,500 women will be put on the register instead of 377,000. In Bihar and Orissa the result is even more startling. It is estimated that, although 77,000 women would be put on the register under the literacy test, the matriculation test will add only 200, because only that number of women have passed matriculation in those two Provinces. The higher matriculation test from the educational franchise point of view is an absolute farce. In the memorandum which was sent to the Joint Select Committee, it was stated that Bengal was opposed to the literacy test, but I do not know why. All the other Provinces had accepted it. Bihar and Orissa, which are now two Provinces, although at that time they were one, gave the simple answer that the literacy test was impracticable under present purdah conditions. I cannot see why purdah conditions should prevent women who can pass the test and are in 1831 a position to apply from being placed on the register. I would like to ask the Committee how many electors of this country would be on the register if they had to pass a matriculation examination before being registered as voters. How many Members of this honourable House would be here if they had to pass the matriculation test? I venture to suggest that even some Members of the Cabinet could not pass it. Why should we then put such a test on the women of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa?
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The subject which we are now discussing is really a very small addition to what we have already discussed. It carries little further the general discussion which we have had in relation to educational qualifications in three particular Provinces. The point is further narrowed by the fact that on the advice of the Joint Select Committee we decided that after the first election these Provinces should descend to literacy. Therefore, the problem is narrowed to an appreciable extent and it relates only to the educational qualification in three Provinces. There is provision for automatic reduction after the first election. The point at issue is thus very small. The hon. Member wishes that it should be done at once, but the local Government in each case is emphatic against us doing it at once. In view of that position, which I could explain at greater length if the Committee desired, it would be unwise to force these Provinces when there is provision for the future and when the matter relates to a few women in only three Provinces.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Two consequential Amendments made.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I beg to move, in line 968, to leave out from "have," to the end of the paragraph, and to insert:successfully completed the upper primary course at a primary or elementary school.The purpose of this Amendment is to ensure that, as far as possible, the educational qualification should be uniform throughout the country. I have not had the opportunity of comparing the forms of the educational qualification, but I 1832 think I am right in saying that in Madras this is the qualification. In Bombay, however, the qualification is the matriculation standard. The Franchise Committee, of which the Under-Secretary was a member, made a special point that the qualification should be uniform throughout the country. I am surprised that the Under-Secretary has not used the undoubted influence which we know he has with the Government to see that more of the Franchise Committee's recommendations were carried into effect. On this question, in particular, the Franchise Committee said:The evidence which we have received shows that there are numerous educated men in every province, who are at present excluded from the franchise because they lack the prescribed property qualifications, and we think it is desirable that such persons should be admitted to the privilege of the franchise. A provision of this kind will be found particularly useful in the case of civil servants, school masters and others in a similar position, and also of joint families.…. After consideration of the various stages in the educational systems in force, we would grant the vote to all those who have successfully completed the upper primary course, which involves four or five years attendance at a primary or elementary school. It connotes ability to read and write, and knowledge of simple arithmetic, and the course usually includes also a certain amount of instruction in elementary history and geography.The purpose of the Amendment is that this should be the qualification. It is desirable that it should be uniform throughout the country. Why should matriculation give a vote in one Province, and in another Province the standard be the upper primary examination? The authority which the Under-Secretary so often quotes, the Franchise Committee, recommended uniformity. On those grounds, and on the obvious advantage to be gained, I put forward this Amendment.
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This Amendment is related to the Province of Bihar, and I will therefore deal with that specific point first. It appears that the reason why the education qualification is so fixed in the case of Bihar is that there certificates are not ordinarily awarded to those passing the upper primary examination, the successful completion of the middle course being the lowest stage at which certificates are normally issued. The local Government remain of the 1833 opinion that no lowering of the education standard below that embodied in the Franchise Schedule is practicable at this stage. I am sorry to have to repeat these references to the local Governments, as they must not come with any sense of novelty to hon. Members opposite. The wider point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) was that the education qualification should be the same throughout India, and I presume he meant literacy. As the Committee know, the qualifications suggested under the Bill are different; they are matriculation or a prescribed examination not lower than middle school vernacular final in Bombay, Bengal, Bihar, the Central Provinces and Sind, the upper primary or primary in certain of the remaining Provinces, and literacy in Madras.
So I think the hon. and gallant Member's point is quite a legitimate one, because it does appear to be confusing to have these different qualifications, but the reason for the difference is based in almost every case not only on the administrative difficulty, but the difficulty from the point of view of the school records which are kept. We have investigated in each case what records have been kept. It might have been convenient to accept as the education qualification for men the upper primary standard or the middle school standard in Indian Provinces, but in the cases where we have had to apply the matriculation standard we have found that there are not the requisite middle school or upper primary certificates upon which the qualification for the vote could be based. It just happens that the administration of education in those places has been conducted on those lines. The only good point I can say about it is that we have an undertaking from those Provinces that in the future they will keep such records. Therefore, there may be an opportunity in the future to use those levels as the qualification for the franchise, if so desired.
There is another sign of hope for the hon. and gallant Member, and that is that on the representation largely, I think, of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) on the Joint Select Committee we did include a provision, a typical example of which is found at the bottom of page 2131, by which, 1834 after the first election, the local Governments will reduce the qualification. That does give some hope for the future. I am giving an example only, because if we go into too much detail the matter will not be so clear. On the Joint Select Committee we put an end to the perpetual high qualification of matriculation, and we have for the future arranged that those Provinces or Presidencies which have this high qualification shall be in a position to alter the qualification by keeping the necessary records. I hope those considerations will appeal to the hon. and gallant Member and show him that we are attempting to bring down the education qualification in the cases where it is already rather high.
There is yet another ray of hope, and that is that the education qualification is not so important for men as hon. Members may imagine. The education qualification for men will in many cases overlap their property qualification. It is not necessary for them to depend solely upon the education qualification; it is an extra point; but it is pretty certain that among men the number enfranchised solely on the basis of the education qualification will not be large. But the education qualification will cover such gaps in the franchise system as are created by junior members of a joint family who would otherwise be omitted from the franchise, although they might be the most intellectual members of the family, through having no property. It is, therefore, important to have this provision in the Bill. Having made arrangements with a view to the future, I feel that the hon. and gallant Member's point is not of the importance that he considers it, though it is important in itself. I regret that we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ 10.1 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I hope the Under-Secretary will forgive me if I say that we trust we have had the last instance of the citing of the local governments, because I confess my patience is fast running out. When it suits the Government they conveniently throw over the opinions of the Government of India and the Franchise Committee in favour of the local governments. The Franchise Committee were set up to study this as an ad hoc subject, and we are entitled to say that we are reaching the limit of our patience when we find the local governments 1835 of India being continually brought forward as a special prop on which the Government may lean. In point of fact, this is a disfranchising rather than an enfranchising proposal. We are erecting a formidable education barrier. Suppose this qualification were demanded in this country. How many people can say they have reached the matriculation standard? Many people who have passed the matriculation examination probably could not pass it now. It is really an impossible standard to set up in any country. In any case surely a better one can be found. We are told by the Franchise Committee that people may possibly have left school a good many years ago and that the actual certificates may not be available. That must be true, but the school registers must be available, and the fact that the name is on the register of the final class surely ought to be evidence enough to show that a person has been in the primary school, or some other school, as the case may be. We are erecting an impossible standard for electors and reducing the number to a very low figure indeed, and, whatever hope we may have for the future, the fact remains that as large a section of the people as possible ought at once to have a direct voice in determining the course of their country's development. I submit that the Under-Secretary has not defended this proposal as adequately as he might have done. He has failed this time to carry conviction, even to those of us who are most willing to listen to his advocacy of the case.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I cannot resist pointing out a little inconsistency in the reply of the Under-Secretary. He told us just now that we need not be unhappy about his refusal to reduce the education qualification for men, as nearly all men who would be enfranchised on an education qualification were already enfranchised on a property qualification. But when I suggested not long ago the enfrachisement of the wives of these very same educational men voters he represented
§ it as an immense addition to the franchise. I would suggest that he cannot have it both ways. I think the real truth is that the majority of the men educational voters will be on the list through a property qualification and that is a reason why he could have extended the franchise to their wives.
§ 10.6 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
The hon. Lady does me a slight injustice. On her Amendment she was considering Madras. In the case of Madras there is a large number of men on the educational qualification of literacy. When she corrected me and showed me the figures in other Provinces, I corrected my words, if she will remember.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
The argument of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) seems to me to be very reasonable. The standard which is set up in this particular paragraph on the Province of Bihar is high, it seems to me, but this, I understand, is for the first election and that for subsequent elections the standard may be lower.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
The hon. Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) pleaded for a uniform standard, and that seems to me a most reasonable plea, but a difficult one to attain. The literacy education has been in the hands of the Provincial Governments for the last 13 or 14 years, and it is they who will have the future in their hands. Such a standard as the hon. Member for Leeds wishes to attain should be done by agreement between the Provincial Governments in the matter of education. I regret more and more that there is not some co-ordinating power on the subject of education.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 204; Noes, 35.1837
|Division No. 192.]||AYES.||[10.10 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Assheton, Ralph||Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Beit, Sir Alfred L.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)|
|Albery, Irving James||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Blindell, James|
|Apsley, Lord||Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Bossom, A. C.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Boulton, W. W.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Bracken, Brendan||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Radford, E. A.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsay Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Holdsworth, Herbert||Ramsay, T. B. W. [Western Isles)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Rankin, Robert|
|Burnett, John George||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Rea walter Russell|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Reed Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Reid William Allan (Derby)|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Remer John R.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Janner, Barnett||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Jennings, Roland||Robinson, John Roland|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ropner Colonel L.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (p'rtsm'th, S.)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ross Taylor Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Rothschild James A. de|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Kimball, Lawrence||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Lamp, Sir Joseph Quinton||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside.)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Law Sir Alfred||Salmon Sir Isidore|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Salt Edward W.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.)||Liddall, Walter S.||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).|
|Copeland, Ida||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Selley Harry R.|
|Craddock, Sir Regianld Henry||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Loftus, pierce C.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, yeovil)||Mabane, William||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Dickle, John P.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Drewe, Cedric||McCorquodale, M. S.||Soper, Richard|
|Duncan, James A. L (Kensington, N.)||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Sotheron Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Eastwood, John Francis||McKeag, William||Southby Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Edge, Sri William||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Spens, William Patrick|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Stevenson, James|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Manningham-Bulter, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Stones, James|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Storey, Samuel|
|Evan, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Marsden Commander Arthur||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mayhew Lieut.-Colonel John||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mellor Sir J. S. P.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Milne Charles||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Mitchell Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Molson A. Hugh Elsdale||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Moore-Lt.-Col Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Wallance, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Moreing Adrian C.||Ward, Irene Marv Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Morgan Robert H.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rid, N.)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Graves, Marjorie||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Greene, William P. C.||O'Donovan Dr William James||Wllis, Wilfrid O.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Owen, Sir Charles William C.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Owen, Major Goronwy||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Palmer Francis Noel||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hales, Harold K.||Patrick Colin M||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Penny Sir George||Young Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Petherick, M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Pickering, Ernest H.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||and Sir Walter Womersley.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Granfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jenkins, Sir William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cleary, J. J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Leonard, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Lunn, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Dobbie, William||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Charles||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Mr. John and Mr Groves|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Milner, Major James|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Six consequential Amendments made.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,1838
§ "That this Schedule, as amended, be added to the Bill."1839
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Before we depart from the Schedule, at least temporarily, I want to say how disappointed we are that the Government have not been able to meet our wishes in respect to some of our Amendments. In particular, we attach special importance to two subjects, the enfranchisement of women and the enfranchisement of the depressed classes—or of a larger measure of the depressed classes. I do not wish to traverse ground again, but I venture to say that the Government have taken a step which future Governments will learn to deplore. They have not listened to appeals, addressed to them not merely from these benches but from some of the women members of the Committee who sit on other benches. It is of the utmost importance that a larger number of women should participate in the right to vote in India, because there are pressing social problems which merit immediate and urgent attention. There is the problem of child marriage and innumerable cognate problems to which some Government in India must speedily pay attention.
There has been no vehicle by which women's opinions could, in the past, be adequately expressed in India. We Shall probably all agree that in our own country the coming of women into politics—whether that has had a retrograde effect or not is not for us to discuss now—has had the consequence that social, child, health and women's problems have received a larger measure of attention from those who sought the votes of the electors than was ever the case before. That is a tribute to the enfranchisement of women in this country, and shows what a potent instrument in the hands of women the vote can be in pressing upon legislators the claims of those who deserve attention. I am sure the Government will find that they are doing the new India a great wrong in not taking steps to enfranchise a larger number of women than will be the case under the operation of this Schedule. It is claimed by the Government that some 6,000,000 women will be enfrandhised, but it is open to doubt whether in practice there will be 6,000,000, and it seems probable that the number will be considerably less. Our opinion is that there ought to be a good number more, because it is obvious to those who watch the development of affairs in India that the women are becoming more and 1840 more aware of the potential value of a share in determining the political development of their country. I regret more than I can say that the Government have been so adamant in this matter.
What I have said with regard to women applies in a similar degree to the depressed classes. They are people who merit and receive, I am sure, the sympathy and interest of Members in all parts of the House. I can only express regret that the Government have not found it possible to give them a larger measure of political power, so that they might, by the exercise of that political power, do more, perhaps, for themselves than has been done for them by others in the past. I content myself with repeating—and I apologise for the repetition—our objection to the shortcomings of the Schedule as it has been presented to the Committee. We shall not divide against it again, as we have already divided in regard to essential particulars of it, and I content myself with repeating our objection to its shortcomings.
§ 10.23 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I beg the indulgence of the Committee for a few minutes to express my regret that in this Schedule we are not going to enfranchise the number of women that I had hoped. I had intended, and my friends had intended, to support the Amendment dealing with the question of application for registration, but I was very much influenced by what was said by the Under-Secretary as to the social difficulties of that matter, and I felt that, as one who was not closely acquainted with affairs in India, I could not take the responsibility of forcing upon those Provinces the conditions which were explained to us by the Under-Secretary. Had I known how serious those difficulties were, I think I should have supported some of the earlier Amendments that would have enlarged the votes of women. I have been led to believe, and I think other Members of the House have been led to believe, that there would be something like 6,000,000 women voting, out of the 35,000,000 electors that we shall have under the new Constitution, but it seems very clear, from what was said by the Under-Secretary, that there cannot be anything like 6,000,000 women voting. If the social difficulties with regard to registration are so strong, 6,000,000 is not merely an 1841 outside figure, but an impossible figure in the conditions which the hon. Gentleman himself has explained, and the very arguments he has used to show how serious it would be to force these conditions upon the Punjab and elsewhere indicate what a substantial deduction we must make from the figure of 6,000,000.
I am bound to say I regard with apprehension starting upon this immense experiment—the greatest experiment in our Imperial history—if we have not an adequate representation of women in the working out of these schemes. I think it will depend very largely upon, and the hon. Gentleman himself spoke of the importance of, the interest of the Provincial Governments that will have to bring home to the electors in India the rights of the women. Here in this country, supposing the women were to be entitled to vote if they applied, they would know all about it, because the Press would make them well acquainted with their rights. We have in this country highly organised parties who would get into touch with those immediately concerned, but in India those conditions do not obtain. If you have a provincial government that is reactionary, and does not take the steps essential to bring home to the electors their rights, what this House has done in securing even this measure of votes for women may be reduced to a dead letter. You may have districts where very few women will be voting at all, because there is no one to acquaint them with their rights and bring home to them the advantages to which they are entitled. I hope that it may yet be possible on the Report stage to enlarge in some direction or other the 6,000,000 votes we have already in contemplation, because I am sure that there will have to be a very much bigger effort than some of us think.
What has led me to that view was the very strong speech made by the Under-Secretary as the social difficulties which would have to be overcome before women could be induced even to make the application for their votes. If there is to be that difficulty in getting them to apply for their votes, what likelihood is there that those votes will be cast, or even that the application will be made? Will the Government have regard to the fact that the people have been led to rely 1842 upon that 6,000,000, and that as a result of the work of the Joint Select Committee there was to be a very much larger and substantial woman electorate? If it should prove in actual experience during the earlier years' working of this reform that a very much smaller number of women are taking their share in the political life of that country, it will cause a great disappointment. I believe that can still be remedied. We have the remedy in our own hands, and I hope that, in one direction or another, the Government may be able to enlarge the woman electorate, so that we may, at any rate, make some allowance for what will be the inevitable wastage, and bring the vote very substantially below the 6,000,000, which is the figure upon which we have set our minds.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Sir W. SMILES
Before we leave this Schedule, I ought to say a word or two. My conscience pricks me. We are leaving the women of India in a worse state than we ought to do. I am in the happy position of being able to vote on this Bill exactly as my conscience dictates. I have not voted with the diehard party or with any party here, because I have taken advantage of the decision given by the Leader of our party, that we should be allowed to vote as our conscience dictates on this subject of India.
§ Sir W. SMILES
Party Whips I have seen before, but in this particular case they have not been put on to me at any rate. However, I have obeyed them before, and I shall obey them again. This is a very big question, and all of us must realise that the women of India are not in a very comfortable position at the present time. I believe that the last Act which went through the Legislative Assembly, the Sarda Act, about the age of marriage, is being evaded in India. There are a, great many other disadvantages under which women labour in India as compared with the position of women in this country. In this country, in the relationship between husband and wife, it is possible for one to be a Socialist and the other a Conservative, and still there may be peace in the house, as long as the husband does not let the wife know the way he votes.
1843 I can well imagine that application by women for the vote in India will have the very grave effect of reducing very largely the number of women who will go to the poll. I can also imagine an Indian wife saying to her husband words to this effect—she cannot call him by his name, but has to call him by the name of the father of her child—"If you are going to the court to-day will you put in my name for a vote?" I do not think that she will get the vote although she may apply for it again and again. The hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock) has very great experience, far greater than I have, in important Provinces in India, and I think he will agree with me when I say that I doubt whether 50 per cent. of the women who are eligible for the vote will get it through having to make the application. I question whether under this Schedule we are leaving the women of India in as strong a position as they ought to be. I do not believe that India will make progress and be fully worthy of self-government and gain her place in the Commonwealth of the British Empire to which she is entitled until the position of women is far more guaranteed and assured.
I very much appreciate the promise made by the Under-Secretary that he will refer the position in regard to Assam back again to the local Government. There are times when he should not absolutely dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" of the local Government. I have known local Governments in the past make mistakes, and I know that when a new Governor goes to a Province at the end of five years very often he does not endorse the policy of the old Governor. The Under-Secretary might sometimes take the recommendations of the local Governments with a grain of salt. Let him examine the things for himself. He has a tradition of India, and from his speeches I know that he is upholding very worthily the family tradition. The whole Committee is very gravely responsible for the position in which we are leaving the women of India, and there may come a time in the future when we shall regret our action.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Sir R. CRADDOCK
After what my hon. Friend has just said I should like to say a few words. I have not been 1844 keen on extending the franchise to women for the simple reason that I do not believe that the franchise will do them very much good until the education among women has extended and been much more widely diffused than it has been up to the present time. It is only about 20 years ago, I suppose, that female education came to the front in India. In my own Province we could not get the district boards and the municipalities either to allot the funds or to take the slightest interest in the education of girls. So far as the education of girls was concerned, the Provincial Government had to provide the money out of provincial funds. At that time there were few mistresses, who had been trained, to take charge of the girls. At that time you generally found an elderly man of about 65 years teaching these girls. In the village schools practically all over the Province, and in the wilder districts especially, there were always a few girls in the boys' school, but, unfortunately, they were usually withdrawn at the age of 10 or 11 years and never carried on their education always found that these small girls were fully equal to, if not better, than the small boys in the schools. What I want to urge is that things will not advance as we should like to see them until we have reached a stage when grandmothers are educated. It requires more education of the girls before you can get the advantages of an extended franchise for women.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
The last speaker has truly said that we shall not get the full advantages of women's franchise until we have an educated womanhood in India. May I remind him that we shall not get an educated womanhood in India until women can pull their weight in the political world. According to the Report of the Statutory Commission only one-seventh of the money spent on education in India is spent on the education of girls. That is the amount which Provincial Government spend on the education of girls, and we shall not get that changed until we get a more substantial political influence of women than is given by the Schedule. I entreat the Government to take the responsibility on themselves and not trust too much to local governments in India, seeing how 1845 little they have done for the women of India in the past.
§ Major COLFOX
I feel that some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) cannot go unchallenged. It seems to me that he took a great deal upon himself when he suggested that he himself alone on this India Bill voted, according to what he said—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot allow the remarks of the hon. Member to be debated; they have nothing whatever to do with the Schedule.