HC Deb 30 March 1936 vol 310 cc1652-98

Before the interruption of our proceedings I think I had just paid my meed of tribute to the work of the Hammond Committee in connection with the report before us to-day, and now I should like to make one or two general observations on the speech of the Under-Secretary. Of course, it was inevitable that the problem of delineating constituencies should be one of great complexity in the Indian situation, and I think it was a wise decision that, in the main, single-member constituencies should be aimed at. I have the happiness to represent a single-member constituency in this House, and if I have satisfaction, about one thing in connection with Parliament it is that I do not belong to a double-member constituency, for the position there must, even in our own country, be attended with considerable difficulty, especially when, as sometimes happens, the Members belong to opposite sides of the House. With the areas and populations in India it is in every sense desirable to have single-member constituencies, because, as the Under-Secretary rightly said, it does lead to a far greater measure of simplicity. I understand that there are one or two exceptions to that rule, Bombay being one. On the question of voting, I do not know that I have anything very critical to say. I understand that in a multi-member constituency the cumulative vote is to be in operation, and personally I have no very strong objection to that. In general, therefore, I have not much to offer by way of criticism on the general observations of the Under-Secretary. I am very glad that the Government are dispensing with the necessity for women electors to make application for registration.


In Madras.


That was a feature to which many of us took exception, and we are not sorry to find that in Madras it has been possible to do away with the necessity for application. Though I have nothing very critical to say about the general observations of the Under-Secretary, I should like to draw his attention to one feature of the Order with which we, on this side, are more particularly concerned, namely, the Labour seats. One of my hon. Friends who has a much more intimate acquaintance with trade union organisations than I have will later develop this point at greater length, but I am moving the deletion of paragraphs 23 to 27 in Part II so that we may be able to register our disapproval of certain arrangements in regard to the Labour seats, unless the Under-Secretary, between now and the end of the discussion, is good enough to change his mind.

I confess frankly that in this matter we are acting on the invitation of some of our friends in India who are interested in it. To begin with, they take exception to the reservation of two seats only in Madras when, in point of fact, six Labour seats are proposed for that area. They feel that instead of two seats out of the six being reserved for the trade unions, at least three ought to be reserved. It is suggested that the third seat could easily be found from the list in the Schedule to the Order. In addition to that I understand that it is felt that some textile mills in Madura and Tinnevelly should be added to the nonunion Labour seats of the textile workers in Coimbatore and Malabar. I know that this question was considered by the committee, which did not feel able to act on the suggestion, and I understand, too, that the Government of India had the suggestion before it and took the same view as the committee. Secondly, it is suggested that out of the eight seats in Bengal four ought to be given to the trade unions instead of two.

In Bihar there happens to be a large factory area called Jamshedpur. This place seems to have been the subject of a good deal of discussion in the meetings of the Committee. It has had a very checkered career, I gather, from the trade union point of view. At one time, in 1920 or 1921, a trade union of some consequence was established there. Shortly afterwards it came to be recognised officially by the Government, but later, as too often happens in the history of trade unionism in India, a division arose between this officially-recognised union and some other union, and the upshot was that in this very large and important factory area there is now not one trade union deemed to be sufficiently big to merit direct representation and to have a right of nominating to one of these eight seats. There is a feeling among certain Indian friends of ours that this non-union Labour seat should be converted once again into a trade union seat. I confess that I do not know anything about the situation at first-hand, and can judge only by what friends write to me, but they say that in their opinion there is a case for the creation of a trade union seat there.

Another suggestion is that in Sind, where there is a single Labour seat, it should be assigned not to registered factories but to the trade unions in Karachi. It is true that that proposal was turned down by the Committee. A further suggestion is that in Assam one of the four Labour seats should be given to non-plantation labour. I imagine that there must be a fairly strong case for providing at least one seat for non-plantation labour in Assam. Here, again, I admit that the Hammond Committee, after examining the proposition, found there was no justification for the proposals which I am making.

Lastly, I should like to point out that it looks as though the Government have embraced the idea that the Governor should act as a sort of tribunal to determine what trade unions shall or shall not be a constituency within the meaning of this Order. There is a danger that trade unions nominated by the Governor acting as a tribunal himself, or getting recognition through a tribunal appointed by the Governor, might in some circumstances be regarded as pet trade unions of the Government. On this side of the House, and among people with whom we are associated politically and industrially, there has always been a very strong suspicion of trade unions which are looked upon with excessive favour, or with more than parental interest, by the employers. The trouble to which I referred at Question Time to-day originally arose from a problem of that sort—but I do not wish to discuss that further. We should feel very unhappy if, for a long period of time, the power remained in the hands of the Governor to nominate the trade unions who had the right to elect a representative to one of these trade union seats. If there is any virtue in a trade union it is that it shall be independent. Once a trade union loses its independence it loses much of its value. While I admit that in many parts of the country this provision may, for the time being, seem inevitable, I hope that the time will come when trade unions will not have to wait for the favour of the Governor to be able to elect a representative for the trade union seats.

Just as we took objection to many proposals in the Act last year, so we do to many of the proposals in the Order. For instance, we should not like it to be understood in the slightest degree, by any silence on our part this afternoon, that we were giving belated approval to Upper Chambers, or that we are giving our support by implication to special landlord representation. Nor do we want to be misunderstood in respect of the proposal that commerce should have some special representation in addition to the representation it gets like everyone else. We do not raise these matters this afternoon, because we consider that our position is understood as it was stated in the House.

We take particular objection, however, to the provision in regard to Labour seats. I am glad that the procedure which is to be followed in this matter is that of Order in Council. I should hate to think that these proposals, desirable as some of them may be in present circumstances, would become like the laws of the Medes and Persians once they were passed, never to be changed. The method of Order in Council gives us an opportunity, as time goes on and experience is gathered, to adjust our arrangements to meet new conditions. We can only be reconciled to many of these provisions because they are temporary in character. I should not like to think that some of them were to be permanent. I do not know whether it is in order to move the Amendment now or at a later stage, but I do so in order to register our disapproval of the provisions in regard to Labour seats.


As there is an Amendment before the House, discussion will be confined to paragraphs 23 to 27. When the Amendment has been disposed of, we can resume Debate upon the main Question.

4.52 p.m.


I must pay tribute to those who are responsible, not only for what we are considering here, but for the report, and who, by virtue of long residence in the East, know something of the difficulties. Perhaps the very sincere compliment I wish to pay to them may be accepted, although your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, has limited very considerably what I might have desired to say. Within the terms of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend there is, however, room for me to say that, having in view the fact that the principle of encouraging representation of trade unions has received general agreement, not only by the Royal Commission on Labour but by the Franchise Committee, this Order might have been very much more in the direction of that policy than seems to be the case. It is true that trade union membership in India has shown some decline, but the surprising thing, in view of the economic condition there during the last few years, is that that decline has been so small. It is a tribute to the essential stability of the Indian trade unions that they should have been able to keep their membership well over the 200,000 mark, in spite of the difficulties through which they have gone.

Some of the fears envisaged as to the difficulty of allowing greater scope in trade union representation are, to say the least of it, unjustified. Not only is there a substantial membership, but there are no less than 27 railway trade unions, 22 textile unions, 14 unions of municipal employ00E9;s, and 10 dock workers' unions, distributed practically over the whole of the country, with the exception of Assam. After formidable difficulties, they have made for themselves this established position. The proposals in regard to Madras, which is the most highly organised industrial province, are to give six Labour seats, of which, it is suggested, two should be filled by trade union representatives and four should be special Labour constituencies. After the boasted desire to encourage trade unionism, we might have expected something better than 33½ per cent. for organised trade unions and 66⅔ per cent. for non-union industrial workers. In Bengal, only 25 per cent. of the seats allotted to Labour are to be devoted to the trade unions, while 75 per cent. are allotted to the non-union industrial workers. Then there the position in Bihar, Assam and Sind, where there is quite a substantial trade union representation.

A feature that pleases me particularly is the announcement that the salary or wage limitation has been withdrawn. I admit that it was a very low one, but nobody in this House would agree that, either here or in India, the test of citizenship is the amount of money which a man gets from his employer. I congratulate the Minister upon having deleted that part of the proposal. There is also the provision that the railwayman who happens to reside outside the province shall not have a chance of voting as a trade unionist for trade union representative. In the very nature of things, railway trade unionists must be widely scattered in their place of residence. Of the five great Indian railways, all go through more than one province, and some go through three or four. An Order in Council might be made which would allow the railwayman to vote for a trade union representative to represent the railway workers in the Legislature. The encouragement of trade unionism might have been shown, if, where trade unionism is admittedly weak or almost non-existent, as in Assam, it had been made possible that representatives of trade unions disallowed elsewhere might be candidates for Assam. That would have been a real way of encouraging interest in trade union organisation in the Assam province.

Almost my last point is the extra-ordinary suggestion that the employers should prepare the roll of Labour voters who are to cast their votes. We are unwilling in regard to many things that our employers do on our behalf, but we should not entrust our employers with the preparation of the electoral rolls. The report on which the Order in Council is founded refers to illiteracy. Perhaps the most damning circumstance is that, despite our having had charge of India for its own good for over 100 years, we find ourselves hampered, when setting up something like a democratic Legislature, by the illiteracy of the people whom for over 100 years we have been so carefully looking after. Despite that illiteracy, which I am compelled to admit does exist, there is a better way of protecting these illiterates than by letting their employers prepare the register of electors. In the very nature of things the employers cannot do it, because, if it is to be, as is obviously intended, election by trade unionists, the trade unionists are not all employed by one employer, and one employer does not know who are the members of trade unions employed by another employer. In spite of what I have just been saying about India, there is a magnificent Civil Service in that country, and it would be very much better that work of this kind should be done by these excellent people than that it should be put into the hands of the employers.

Then there is the question of the conditions on which the Labour seats are to be filled. My hon. Friend spoke rather strongly about the decision being left in the hands of the Governor as to which of the trade unions were to be recognised for this—shall I say honourable, or onerous—responsibility. But there is something else. I agree with my hon. Friend that the fulfilment of the conditions laid down in paragraph 24, if that paragraph is carried, might be a test as to the bona fides of the trade union, but that the Governor or the tribunal appointed by him should decide, or that it is necessary that any such tribunal or the Governor should decide, seems to me to be entirely outside the question. Proviso (a) requires the trade union to be certified: to be a bona fide trade union existing wholly or mainly for industrial or provident purposes. That itself is a narrower definition than we on this side of the House care to accept, without any interference by the Governor or tribunal on the top of it. I want very seriously to suggest that, both here and in India, it is not possible to do the industrial and provident work of trade union members without doing something outside industrial and provident work. I know that the whole Government of Indiais united in its determination to jail any trade union official who does any political work, and surely it is bad enough to make it clear that he cannot sit in the legislature unless his work is confined wholly or mainly to industrial or provident purposes, without, on the top of that, bringing in either this tribunal or the Governor. A recognised trade union must also be certified: (b) to have been in existence for at least two years and to have been registered as a trade union for at least one year; and (c) to have had throughout the financial year preceding that in which the certificate is given at least two hundred and fifty ordinary members who have paid subscriptions for the whole of that year. In India that means a tremendous membership. Even in England it means a big membership—much more than 250. We know that very few, relatively speaking, of the actual members of a trade union necessarily pay 52 weekly or 12 monthly subscriptions in any one year. There is also a fourth restriction, which seems to me to be all-inclusive. A recognised trade union must also be certified: (d) to have complied with any requirements imposed by or under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926, with respect to the inspection of its books by the registrar of trade unions and with respect to the audit of its accounts. I submit that, if there is a trade union which exists wholly or mainly for industrial or provident purposes, if it has been in existence for two years and has been registered for one year, if in that year it has at least 250 members who have paid 52 weekly contributions or 12 monthly contributions in that year, and if its books are kept in such a way as to satisfy the registrar of trade unions, then it is a bona fide trade union, and no further qualification ought to be required in order that its members may be eligible to elect these representatives. I want to see the trade union movement encouraged as—and I am sorry to have to say this—I am, satisfied it has not been and is not being encouraged officially in India to-day. There is general agreement among the three bodies who have gone into this question that it is desirable to encourage the trade union movement in India, and I believe that the Minister is very sincere in that desire. The best way of getting responsible trade unions in India is to give them real responsibility, to give them a real share in this new venture in the government of that country. I would therefore say, make it as bold as you can, and, having made it as bold as you can, make it bigger and stronger and greater as quickly as ever you can.

5.8 p.m.


My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and I, in the course of the discussions on the Government of India Bill, made 500 speeches between us, and it looked at one time as if he was going to make two or three more speeches than myself. However, I did get in at the post, and beat him by two, and I feel to-day that, if I am not to drop out of this race. I had better say a word or two, so as to be all square with my hon. Friend on the day's proceedings. The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) and the hon. Member for Clayton (Mr. Jagger) have raised, not in any unfriendly or overcritical way, a number of questions connected with the representation of trade union labour. In reply to them I would say that I think we must all be careful not to assume that labour conditions, and particularly the conditions of trade unions, in India, are identical with conditions in the United Kingdom. I wish that trade unions in India were better organised and more stable. I believe that if they were better organised, if they were more representative, if they were more firmly established in the life of the country, they could bring a very useful influence to bear in favour of social reform and of the betterment of conditions; and we all know how much needed that betterment of conditions is in the great cities, and particularly in such a city as Bombay.

But for the time being they are not well organised, in ma ay cases they are not representative, in many cases they are here to-day and gone to-morrow; and, while my hon. Friend and I started, like all of us on the Joint Select Committee, with the idea of making the fullest possible use of the trade union organisations as a basis for representation in India, we did find that it was too narrow a base, as things are now, upon which to found anything in the nature of a comprehensive scheme. Perhaps in course of time that will change. The hon. Member for Clayton was quite right in emphasising the fact that these electoral arrangements must in their nature be of a temporary character and, no doubt, as experience teaches us in course of time, we shall have other Orders in Council for the purpose of altering them. But for the time being I believe that the Franchise Committee have done wisely not to base a greater structure than they have based upon this narrow foundation. Let no hon. Member imagine, however, because the actual representatives of trade unions are comparatively limited in number, that on that account labour is not going to receive a much greater representation in the government of India, and particularly in the provincial government of India, than it has ever had before.

Let the House remember that more than 90 per cent. of the labour population of India is employed on the land. One of the best features of the changes we are considering to-day is the change that gives a greater representation both to agricultural constituencies and, more important still, to agricultural voters from one end of India to the other. Let the House also remember that the special arrangements we are making for what were called the depressed classes, and are now called the scheduled castes, also mean a greatly increased representation for the actual workers, again mainly on the land, in India. I was glad to hear to-day from the Under-Secretary that, in the delimitation of the constituencies, the balance, which in the past was too heavily weighed in favour of the urban interests in India, is to some extent to be adjusted, and that in future the agricultural constituencies will have a, better say in the affairs of India than they have under present conditions. I would suggest, therefore, that the House should resist the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Caerphilly, and should frankly regard all these electoral arrangements as in the nature of experiments, but should take the view that, as things are now, the considerably greater representation which is being given to labour in India is about as big as representation as present conditions reasonably permit.

Lastly, let me say how glad I am that these complicated electoral arrangements for the constituencies have been carried through with such remarkable expedition. Already a large part of my library is filled with books connected with the passage of the Government of India Bill, and I shall now have to add these 300 or 400 pages that we are considering this afternoon. It is a remarkable achievement, and I hope that our friends in India will observe the expedition with which we are proceeding to bring the Constitution into operation. There is no desire, I believe, in any part of the House unduly to delay the operation of the great Measure that we passed in the last Parliament. Constituencies are now delimited, and it is upon the shoulders of our political colleagues in India to take the next step, to organise themselves for the provincial elections next year, and to make the new provincial assemblies really representative of India public opinion.

5.15 p.m.


I rise to speak on this Amendment because during the past three years I have travelled fairly widely in the industrial areas of India and have addressed what trade union meetings I was allowed to address in Madras and in the United Provinces. It is because trade unionism there is in such a very different stage of development from trade unionism in this country that I want the Government to go very carefully even yet through this part that we are moving to delete. I appreciate to the full what the Under-Secretary said, that the Government have every desire to encourage unionism among the Indian workers. But what kind of unionism? This is tremendously important. I lived with Indians. Only very occasionally, and that on purely official occasions, I met English people there. I went to understand the Indian point of view, and I lived in Madras for a time in the house of a trade union leader. The difficulty is that, if you instil into the workers' minds the idea that trade unionism is an English thing and that the unions that are represented are those that are certified as absolutely antiseptic and harmless by the Government, that is just the thing that nothing on earth will induce them to join.

In this House the Government is filled with warm feelings and righteous desires and all the rest of it, but the India that I saw, the India that has been aroused to national consciousness by the Congress, was an India that was being taught to hate everything English, because the English battered them down when they were asking for improved conditions. I was in villages in South India where the organiser who was going to organise the textile mills was being treated by the police exactly as a trade union organiser would be treated in a Pennsylvania coal town, and you cannot say worse than that. The result was a feeling of tremendous indignation among the workers. When you say, as you say in paragraph 24 (a), that it must be a bona fide union existing wholly or mainly for industrial purposes, and that the Governor exercising his individual judgment is the one to decide, you in fact say, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, that only those unions, if there are any such—I have never heard of them—which are absolutely harmless from the point of view of getting any improved conditions for the workers are in fact going to be certified.

What is the position? It is almost impossible to find a trade union leader or anyone in any way representative of trade unionism who is not a member of the National Congress. Trade unions are the organs of the working classes and, where they are engaged in struggling for better wages, the whole general struggle is mixed up in it. It needs only one sentence from the most moderate trade union leader in the conditions of to-day, where you cannot have a meeting without police agents being there, for the Governor in his individual judgment to decide that that union is not going to be scheduled. The net result of all these lists and limitations and ultra-safeguards is going to safeguard the unions so much that no one with any spirit will go into them. A resolution that has been sent to me by air mail, passed by one of the huge mills that I addressed, sums up better than any speech that I could make the feelings of the Indian workers. The mill is extraordinarily well organised. The resolution is: That this meeting enters its strong and emphatic protest against the reactionary method of representation of labour under the new Constitution, as it is being foreshadowed, and is emphatically of opinion that the method of representation of Labour through trade unions under the new Constitution, coupled with the setting up of special tribunals to decide which trade unions should be entitled to vote in the elections, reduces the new method to another backdoor method of nomination, and is only intended to shut out all Radical-Socialist elements from the special Labour constitution and make them safe for the pro-employer candidates, and thus shut out real Labour representation from the consstituencies. That is the opinion of a very large meeting of mill workers. It needs only the slightest understanding to realise that that is the position. It seems to me a pity that the Government should have taken such care that the only unions to be represented should be those that are safe from the employers' and the Government's point of view. Believe me, it does not need the Government to do that as well as the employers. People speak about Indian trade unionism being weak. I wonder how many unions in this country, if they had to make a stand against the kind of treatment meted out by the employers in India, Indian as well as English, would maintain the strength of unionism that we have. The employers will look after that side of it.

It seems to me that what the Government needed to do, if it was going to throw its weight at all into this, was to throw its weight rather on the side of encouraging independence and not tying them up both to the Governor and to the employers as well. The best way to do that is to keep outside it. You are not dealing with an enormously strong trade union movement. I wish you were. You are dealing with the very beginning of it. Why make it impossible at the very beginning for the keenest and most independent and most ardent spirits to accept nomination? Any man who accepts nomination as a trade union leader under this Clause is stamped in the eyes of the workers as being of no use to them at all. The Government would have been very much wiser, if the cause they have at heart is to encourage trade unionism, if they had as far as possible left the unions free from Government interference and not got these elaborate safeguards.

The Under-Secretary said that these unions are a mushroom growth. What else can they be? Industrialism of itself is very much a mushroom growth. Men coming from the villages work for a time. The wages are dreadful, but they are a bit better than they were. The natives go to work during the dry seasons and drift back to the land as soon as possible. You cannot possibly get more than a fraction who can fulfil these very rigid conditions. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) would, I think, admit that all kinds of experts have said that the difficulty always has been that we have gone to India with our centralised ideas of a very ordered country and tried to impose them on the people. I was very interested when the Minister said that our experience of the Eatanswill election w Auld be useful for India. It is like the days when we took Primitive Methodist hymns and hymns essentially connected with the village life of this country and got them sung by the Indian millions. This is the same sort of idea, to impose rule s upon them which would be met with something like opposition in this country, with its strong trade union associations.

You talk about a mushroom growth. It has got to be a mushroom growth. If there is an individual grievance, perhaps because some employer has cut clown wages which are already so low, or imposed additional fines, a whole vast mass sweeps into the union. I have seen these great movements of trade unionism and felt the great pulse-feeling that there is. Perhaps a few months afterwards nearly every single man who had been there has gone back to the land. These are the conditions. We are not anxious to hamper the Minister, but we are really interested that, possibly out of sheer good will, this infant should not be strangled at its birth. You are going to give your guarantee to certain unions, and those are the unions into which the keen India worker will not go. You will put these small groups firmly under the employers' thumb, and you will make it possible for the Government to stamp as illegal all other independent unions trying to put up an independent fight against the terrible wages and conditions. You will have stamped them practically as illegal unions. I appeal to the Prime Minister to realise the importance of this matter, because unless we are very careful the trade unionism which hon. Members are anxious to support may be stamped as illegal. It is because of the complicated nature of the situation that I urge the Minister to look very carefully through this provision once again.

5.31 p.m.


I support the Amendment because I believe that there is a very great deal in what my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) has said. I would ask the Under-Secretary how far or to what extent these proposals comply with the recommendations of the Franchise Committee, of which the hon. Gentleman was a member. The report of that committee was accepted by the Joint Select Committee and by the Government, and I am disturbed to find that there is some departure in a number of respects from the recommendations of that committee. I am confined at the moment to the Amendment which we are discussing. In this connection there are definite departures in spirit from the recommendations of that committee. It is unfortunate that the circumstances of the case leave us no option but to deal with special constituencies. If it had been possible under the conditions in India to do without them, we should have welcomed that position.

The Under-Secretary explained the two types of constituency provided for special Labour representation, and I noticed that he first mentioned the special Labour constituencies. That, I think, indicates rather that the views which the Government and the various local governments in India took in this matter did not put, as the Franchise Committee intended that they should, the trade unions' constitutions first and the special Labour constituencies second. There has been a departure in the Orders which the Government have brought to the House, from the intention of the Franchise Committee in this matter. The Franchise Committee intended that the trade union constituency should be the primary Labour constituency, and that has been departed from. I take objection, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow, to the eligibility of trade unions having to be decided by the Governor. The right way, which, in general terms, was laid down by the Franchise Committee which went into detail upon all those matters, was that certain conditions were to be fulfilled, and then, as a right, the trade unions should be either part or the whole of a trade union constituency. The Franchise Committee recommended that, in order to qualify as an electoral unit, the union should have been registered for a minimum period of one year and have a minimum membership of a hundred. In the case of a first election under the new constitution, that period might be reduced to six months.

What have we here? We have the fact that the Governor, exercising his individual judgment, which means acting at his own discretion, may accept or refuse a trade union. It is not even laid down that the Governor must accept a trade union for this purpose, even if the trade union complies with the conditions laid down in the Order. I have indicated the conditions which were recommended by the Franchise Committee and duly accepted by the Government, and if one looks at the Order, there are a number of additional conditions. A trade union has to be a recognised trade union and certified by the Governor. A trade union shall be deemed to be a recognised trade union if it is certified by the Governor as a bona fide trade union exclusively or mainly for industrial or provident purposes. Maybe we cannot properly object to a condition of that sort, but it is an additional one over and above the conditions suggested by the Franchise Committee. It must have been in existence at least two years and to have been registered for at least one year.

The condition laid down by the Franchise. Committee, was registration for one year. The number of Members the union has to have under the Order now before the House is at least 250 ordinary members, all of whom have to have paid subscriptions for the whole of the year. The Franchise Committee recommended 100 members, and said nothing whatever about the payment of subscriptions. Therefore, the position of trade unions has been made extremely difficult. They are being hamstrung to a certain extent. The Government have tightened up the conditions under which they can be permitted to form trade union constituencies, and for that reason my hon. Friend is justified in moving the reference back of the particular paragraph referred to in the Amendment.

There are other points I wish to raise. I gather that the Hammond Committee and the Government attach importance, as far as trade unions are concerned, to the number of members in those trade unions, but I observe that they did not attach the same importance to numbers when discussing Chambers of Commerce. In the United Provinces there are two seats given to one of the Chambers of Commerce with only 65 members. That is an outrageous state of affairs. In respect of the Merchants' Chamber there is one seat, with the number of voters uncertain. The Hammond Committee, apparently, have not been able to obtain any proof that that organisation has even one member, and the only proof that they have in regard to the other organisation is apparently that they have 65 members. Yet those two organisations have three seats. The Government and the Committee take exception to trade unions unless they have, even in the immature state in which we know that they are in India, less than 250 members. The position is made more difficult. The conditions are tightened up.

It is obvious that, instead of encouraging trade union constituencies, the Government, in drafting these conditions, clearly indicate, what I know most of the local governments in India feel, that they do not desire trade unions to extend and to prosper on the lines of the views that we hold on this side of the House. The result will be, as indeed is the case in some places at present, that unions will be set up which are mere creatures of the employers, and certainly the special Labour constituencies as they are termed will not elect true representatives of Labour at all, but representatives nominated or put forward and supported financially or otherwise by employers. Therefore, the Labour representation, as faras it is confined to special Labour constituencies, will be a false representation of labour. I have said sufficient to indicate the wholly unsatisfactory nature of the special Labour representation provided in this Order. It is true, and I take some unction to my soul for it, that there is a very considerably increased representation of Labour in the general territorial constituencies and through the depressed classes and otherwise. That does not justify the Government in coming here to-day and putting on the Table for the approval of the House an Order which, as far as representation of organised Labour is concerned, is an absolute farce. I hope that hon. Members who think with my hon. Friend and those of us on this side of the House will vote in favour of the Amendment.

5.43 p.m.


We are again discussing a Measure which has already occupied a large amount of the time of the House, and we have the official Labour party moving Amendments, when their policy has been to attack the Measure and not to co-operate in its acceptance in any shape or form.


We were the only people in this House who offered consistent opposition to the Act. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends were never here.


As a matter of fact we stated our attitude.


And then ran away.


The official Opposition refused to co-operate with the Government, but indicated that when the Bill was passed they hoped that it would be operated. Those were the final statements made from the Front Opposition Bench. I did not rise altogether for the purpose of making that statement. I always listen to the discussions which take place, and I find that the Amendment largely boils down to the fact that Labour is not getting a sufficient representation in the Assembly to give it a semblance of a working-class authority. I am not amazed that the Government adopt the attitude which they are adopting in connection with trade union or Labour representation. We were told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) that, in connection with trade unions, the difficulty was in giving representation because they were not of a permanent nature. He said that they are here to-day and gone tomorrow. He knows something about that, because many of the Labour leaders, when they have been effective from the working-class point of view, have been arrested, imprisoned and deported. It. was only when they became docile and ineffective from the working-class point of view that they were tolerated in India. When they secured the hall-mark stamp of respectability from the ruling classes of India and the Government of this country, they became of no use and were looked upon with contempt by the people of India. Time and again the action of this Government in connection with Labour representation and trade union representations in India has shown that they are prepared to tolerate such representation when the representatives become docile and receive the hall-mark stamp of respectability from the Government.

It is the old story over again. When the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) said that the Labour party were unfit to govern, he did not mean that at that time on the Front Bench of the Labour party there were not capable men with the mental capacity to rule this country. He simply meant that they had to conform to orthodox points of view, that they had to dress themselves up in capitalist clothes and capitalist respectability, and in order to do that they must divorce themselves from their militant sections who were revolutionary in their outlook. Having shed those revolutionary elements, then they would be deemed by the ruling classes as fit to rule in this country. The same thing has taken place in connection with India under this Act. The Government are prepared to accept certain trade union representation. We were told by one hon. Member that they are prepared to accept them if they confine themselves to industrial and provident action. It comes to this, that they are prepared to accept them if they are prepared to sit round the table with the employing classes and to discuss conditions with them, but if they go out into the wider fields and attack constitutionalism or Imperialism in any way, the Government are prepared to outlaw them and to refuse to allow them to have representation of any kind.

When the Act passed this House penalties of all sorts were enforced upon certain classes in India. When we on this bench stated our opposition, I pointed out that the Bill was a fraud and a sham. We appealed to the workers of India to refuse to operate it and to concentrate upon building a militant working-class movement that would have the power to overthrow the ruling class of India and the Imperialists of Britain, and to win working-class power. It was provided that if a man went to prison for 12 months he was to be outlawed from being a member of any legislative assembly in India. In other words, if he had been an effective nationalist or an effective working-class representative and had gone to prison because of his action against the landlords, the Princes and the Imperialists, he was to be denied the right of representation. To-day, we get additional penalties. We are told that unless the working-class leaders become a sort of "yes men" to the Princes, the millowners and the Imperialists, they shall not have representation in the Assemblies of India. That is further proof of what has taken place under this Government in connection with India. Time and again the case has been raised of Mr. Bose, who has been refused admission to India and to Britain, and who is cornered on the Continent. Men of that type are refused representation in India.

This sham Assembly in India is typical of the election which Hitler has been conducting in Germany, where he organised a spectacle of electing or defeating himself. He carried that out in Berlin and in Germany and the British Government are trying to impose something of that kind in India. They are adopting the sham and make-believe of admitting a few Labour representatives and trying to give them the hall-mark of working-class stamp. It reminds one of the sort of representation of Labour which is provided in the National Government by the Lord President of the Council and those associated with him. Nobody in this country accepts that as being Labour representation. Not one-quarter per cent. of the Labour voting strength is behind the National Labour representatives, and yet we are told that Labour is represented in the National Government. The same sham is being attempted in India, but it does not deceive any person who has a working-class conscience or the power to discern. The National Assembly in India have rejected this Measure. They have rejected the sham advice given by the Labour party in this country because they know that that party has betrayed them both in Opposition and as a Government. The Indian Congress, representing the Indian people, refuse to accept the Measure. It is being imposed upon them.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)

The hon. Member is going beyond the Amendment.


I can only say that in India this Act is rejected. The people realise that they are not getting the representation, from the trade union point of view, that they could expect. If the vote were given to every man and woman at 21 in India, what would happen? That franchise is not given to the Indian people because they would sweep the Princes, the landlords, the bankers, the capitalists and the imperialists out of India and take complete control of the country. So far as we are concerned on these benches we have refused to cooperate in the past in connection with this Act because we believed that it was a sham and a fraudulent imposition on the Indian people. We are of the same opinion to-day, and I intervene to say again to the people of India, through this House, that they would do well to reject this sham Measure in every shape and form, and to unite 100 per cent. outside this sham Assembly to build up a militant working-class movement in India, and to fight against the Measure in the streets of India.

5.54 p.m.


I do not intervene to folic w the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. MeGovern) into the question as to what would happen if universal suffrage was introduced into India, but to deal with a point raised by the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson), whose genuine desire for the extension of trade unions in India I frankly recognise and appreciate. She thinks, and it was supported afterwards by the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) that would be better if the Government encouraged trade unions, however independent, however many there might be and in whatever circumstances they might spring up, rather than endeavour to guide the trade union movement into channels which are concerned with large organisations such as already exist, in order to face the events of the future. She is convinced that that would be the best way to encourage trade unions. I believe that she is entirely wrong.

If we are to encourage trade unionism in India it would be a great mistake to allow the growth of a large number of new trade unions, springing up in all parts of the country, many of which would not have sufficient backing to give them any real authority in speaking for organised labour. It is because it has been proved in the past that trade unions which spring up from time to time in different provinces would stand in the way of the promotion of real trade unionism and the improvement of labour conditions that it has been found necessary to try and lead the trade union movement into the path that will ensure that the large organisations, such as the textile workers, the railway workers and others, can approach the Government and the employers in bodies which can speak for the workers concerned—bodies that will carry weight with the employers and with governments. I am convinced that the hon. Lady, however anxious she may be, however genuine she may be in what she has said, is profoundly mistaken in believing that what she has put before the House is the right way to encourage trade unionism in India.

The question has been asked why, if trade unions are required to have 250 members as a minimum for recognition, recognition should be given to a chamber of commerce with only 62 members. Any one who knows conditions in India and who knows the associations of chambers of commerce in the last century in India, knows their widespread interests, and also knows that they have had representation on the Councils of the Provinces and in the Centre for many years past. They will realise at once that there is no comparison at the present time between the two sets of organisations. Whether in the future it will be desirable or necessary to reduce the number is another matter, but if trade unionism spreads, then the minimum of 250 will be found to be a matter of no moment whatever. I want to make it clear that however anxious the hon. Member may be for the recognition of independent trade unionism in India, the way she suggests is not the way to encourage a genuine trade union movement in India.

5.59 p.m.


I do not intervene to deal with the quarrel which the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) has with some one on these benches. I wish he would clear up the quarrel without spending so much time on it in the House. I notice that in the document which has been submitted, for fear lest the Governor should not know what his duty is, in almost every other line there appear the words: The Governor, exercising his individual judgment with regard to trade unions. I cannot understand why the Governor is given this power. Judging from what one knows of the Governors who have been sent out there in the past, and who seem likely to be sent out there in the future, I can hardly think that they have much knowledge of what is to be a trade union and what is a trade union. They have little experience. I should like the Minister to give an explanation of what he means by bona-fide trade unions wholly or mainly engaged in industrial or provident purposes. I have never yet been able to understand that membership of this House is other than part of the industrial work of a trade union. Does the provision mean that if an Indian member of an Indian trade union became a member of an Indian legislature, that would be other than industrial work? If so, I thoroughly disagree. The proper place for trade unions to conduct their industrial work is in the councils of the nation. What is meant by the restriction placed upon those who are employed in a clerical, supervisory, recruiting or administrative capacity? Since when has a trade union been split up to the extent that clerical workers or those who are engaged in supervisory work are not considered as part of the industrial machine? I hope this will not be pressed, because it will mean such a limitation on the organisation of working people that you may just as well not speak of trade unions at all. Trade unions are representative of all engaged in the industry, whether on the clerical or operative side; they are all part and parcel of the industry. What is intended by the words: The Governor exercising his individual judgment. He may from time to time reconsider the constitution and registration, and revoke the certificate of registration of a particular union. If he is going to exercise his individual judgment we may have the position in which the Governor does not like the appearance of the union or its officers and he may revoke the certificate of the union. Also, is it seriously contended that the books of a trade union may be examined to see whether or not contributions have been paid week by week or fortnight by fortnight? I notice it says that the contributions must have been paid for the year. Does that mean that someone who happens to have overlooked the payment of his contribution for a particular week or month. is to be excluded by this restriction? I do not know who was responsible for this particular provision, but it seems to me that there is an endeavour not to admit trade union representation at all; a determination to restrict it by all means that can be devised. I do not know who advised the Government on this matter, but they were bad advisers if they thought that this was going to give trade unions representation in India.

6.4 p.m.


We have had a very useful and valuable discussion on a very important aspect of these Orders, although the number of seats involved is only a small fraction of the many which are concerned. The atmosphere has at times become rather charged, and some statements have been made by hon. Members who have Labour interests at heart, which I think they will rather regret after due consideration. The question of basing part of the representation of Labour on trade unionism has been discussed by many authorities and individuals over a, long period of years, and the decision of the Government was to carry out the advice given successively by the Whitley Commission, in their excellent report which has proved of such value to Labour, by the Franchise Committee and by the Hammond Committee, who all recommended that trade unions should form part of Labour representation. The Government at the same time had to face the facts of the situation, the changes and developments which have taken place, and also had to meet certain strong opposition from local governments who gave evidence before those committees as to the value of trade unionism as a basis of the representation of Labour. Nevertheless, the Government decided to press forward with this scheme, not as a reactionary Measure but really as a progressive Measure of reform in India. If it is not as progressive as the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) desires, I think she will acknowledge that it is as progressive as the circumstances of trade unionism warrant in India at the present time.

I am not at all certain that a trade unionism basis of representation is better than a labour constituency basis. There is nothing in the Order which cuts away from the original decision to increase the number of Labour seats to 38 in the Provincial Assemblies. The question at issue is whether the system chosen shall be a trade unionism basis or a labour constituency basis. Let us examine the problem of trade unionism as the Hammond Committee found it. They summed up the problem in these words: Trade unions vary internally, not only in efficiency but also in size, from the North Western Railway Union of the Punjab with a membership of 40,000 to these small unions, 32, which were started in a hurry in order to provide a hopeful organiser with a claim which would justify a trip to Geneva. One has to take into consideration these facts. In my original remarks I endeavoured to say nothing which would wound trade unions, but as the matter has been raised I must give some of the evidence which was given to the Hammond Committee. The Secretary of the Labour Union, giving evidence before the Commission in a letter dated the 3rd September, 1935, used these words: I desire to explain why trade unions should not be recognised as constituencies. In my experience over the last ten years in Madras and as one who started and ran trade unions both registered and unregistered, I have no hesitation in saying that membership of a trade union is very unsatisfactory, that they only represent a very small fraction of the workers, some of them are very small organisations. They will form easy pocket boroughs. That is the testimony of a secretary of a Labour trade union in Southern India, and it represents the feeling of many workers that His not necessarily the best method of achieving Labour representation. At the same time, the Government wish to give trade unionism encouragement, which we believe the vote will give. All we have done is to make a proportion of the seats trade union seats and lay down certain conditions which shall he fulfilled by the trade unions.


Is not the point that by putting down these conditions we shall be making them pocket boroughs?


That, I think, is answered by the double method adopted to secure Labour representation; some by Labour constituencies and others by a trade union basis. Despite the difficulties of trade unionism in India we are determined to give trade unions an opportunity and, therefore, we have laid down certain conditions—upon which various points have been raised. The hon. Member for Jarrow referred to the phrase "the Governor exercising his individual judgment," and the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) thought it meant that the Governor would exercise his individual judgment in order to decide this matter. The term "exercising his individual judgment" is a term of art, and means the Governor after consultation with his Ministers. It does not mean what it appears to mean in plain English. It means the Governor assisted by the advice of his Ministers—it is a term of art. I agree that it looks confusing on paper, but in reality it is a far more democratic provision than hon. Members realise. If we were going to allow the Governor to do this alone we should have put in the term "the Governor in his discretion."

The hon. Member for Rochdale raised the point that we were trying to leave out the clerical and supervising staff. That was a request made by India Labour in all their evidence before the Whitley Commission and the Franchise Committee, and in all the representations made to the Government. The maistres are the jobbers who collect men to work in the factories, and it was thought that if we allowed them to have a share in the election it would mean that they would influence the 40 or 50 men they had recruited and stop them from exercising their free vote. So far from this being a repressive Measure, it is one which is in the interests of Labour, as, indeed, is the whole of the provision. Some hon. Members are afraid that this is to be the pet trade union of the Government. That I think is a legitimate point to raise, because it is not the wish of the Government to confound the choosing of trade unions for election purposes with the quite independent question of encouraging a healthy trade union movement in India. We have taken the advice of the various Committees on this matter and have set up a tribunal, and the best tribunal we can find is the type suggested in the Order. The Governor will be in consultation with his Ministers, and under the new constitution it will be an impartial body.

Trade unions have to fulfil certain conditions, and I give an assurance that it is contemplated at any rate in some of the larger Provinces that the Governors will devolve this work in regard to the tribunals provided for in the Order. I am confident that in several bf the larger Provinces this will be done at once, and that the tribunal will be of a type which will give confidence to hon. Members and will take the question of finding suitable electoral colleges out of the hands of the Government.


May we take it that the tribunal to be set up by the Governor will also be appointed on the advice of his Ministers?


Under the terms of this Order, the Governor will exercise his individual judgment. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) raised an important point of detail when he said that he thought the two years' qualification for trade unions was too long a period. I would like to say that we have met that point in Provinces where it was necessary to do so owing to the fact that some important unions might have been left out. The Amendment moved by hon. Members opposite relates, of course, only to the Province of Madras, and they will understand that there are other Provinces in the case of which the terms will not be identical. For instance, in paragraph 18 it will be seen that in the case of Bombay a six months' period has been inserted, because after very careful inquiries of all the local governments it was found that in the particular case of Bombay certain important trade unions would be left out if the two years' period were inserted. We have put the matter to the other Presidencies and Provinces and they consider the terms, as included in this Order, to be satisfactory from the point of view of the trade unions.

I hope that in summarising some of these points I have shown the House that some of the statements made have been rather exaggerated. For instance, I regret that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-East Leeds should have said that the Labour representation was an absolute farce, because he and I worked together on the Franchise Committee to frame some of this machinery, and, although I realise that he wrote a Minute at the end of the report in which he said that he wished we could all have gone a little further, at the same time he and I thought this was a distinct advance on the Labour representation which exists in India at the present time.


I am sure my hon. Friend did not wish to misrepresent what I said. I said that the representation of trade unions or through trade unions as set out in this Order was an absolute farce.


I am glad my hon. and gallant Friend has made that clear. I would not have wished his sweeping generalisation to have covered the whole of the advance we hope India will achieve by this method. I hope that other similar exaggerations in the light of a little debate and criticism will be found to be limited to this particular province. I realise that hon. Members feel deeply upon it, but I am afraid that, in view of the careful thought which has gone to the making of this Order, I am unable to accept the Amendment which has been moved by hon. Members opposite, and

that we must adhere to the arrangements made in the Order. I hope the House will now be ready to come to a decision.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The House divided: Ayes, 87; Noes, 221.

Division No. 122.] AYES. [6.18 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Adamson, W. M. Hopkin, D. Rowson, G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Sanders, W. S.
Amman, C. G. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton, T. M.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Shinwell, E.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Kelly, W. T. Simpson, F. B
Barnes, A. J. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Barr, J. Kirkwood, D. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Batey, J. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Bevan, A. Lathan, G. Sorensen, R. W.
Broad. F. A. Lawson, J. J. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cape, T. Leach, W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Charleton, H. C. Leonard, w. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Chater, D. Leslie, J. R. Thorne, W.
Cluse, W. S. Logan, D. G. Thurtle, E.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Macdonald, G. (Ince) Tinker, J. J.
Daggar, G. Maclean, N. Viant, S. P.
Dalton, H. MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Walker, J.
Dobble, W. MacNeill, Weir, L. Watklns, F. C.
Ede, J. C. Marklew, E. Watson, W. McL.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Messer, F. Westwood, J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Milner, Major J. Whiteley, W.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Montague, F. Wilkinson, Ellen
Frankel, D. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Gardner, B. W. Paling, W. Wilson, G. H. (Attercliffe)
Garro-Jones, G. M. Parker, H. J. H. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Potts, J.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Quibell, J. D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hardie, G. D. Rltson, J. Mr. Groves and Mr. Mathers.
Agnew, Lleut.-Comdr. P. G. Christie, J. A. Fremantle, Sir F. E.
Albery, I. J. Clarry, Sir R. G. Furness, S. N.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Cobb, Sir C. S. Fyfe, D. P. M.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Courthope, Col. Sir G. L. Gluckstein, L. H.
Asks, Sir R. W. Craddock, Sir R. H. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.
Assheton, R. Critchley, A. Goldle, N. B.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Goodman, Col. A. W.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Crooke, J. S. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cross, R. H. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Crossley, A. C. Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Crowder, J. F. E. Gridley, Sir A. B.
Belt, Sir A. L. Culverwell, C. T. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)
Bernays, R. H. Davles, C. (Montgomery) Grimston, R. V.
Blair Sir R. Davles, Major G. F. (Yeovil) Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.
Blindell, Sir J. Davlson, Sir W. H. Hanbury, Sir C.
Boothby R. J. G. Denman, Hon. R. D. Hannah, I. C.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Denville, Alfred Hannon, Sir P. J. H.
Bowyer Capt. Sir G. E. W. Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Harris, Sir P. A.
Boyce, H. Leslie Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) Heneage, Liout.-Colonel A. P.
Brass, Sir W. Duckworth, W R. (Moss Side) Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Dugdale, Major T. L. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)
Brown, Col. D. C (Hexham) Eales, J. F. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Edmondson, Major Sir J. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Ellis, Sir G. Holdsworth, H.
Bull, B. B. Elliston, G. S. Holmes, J. S.
Butler R. A. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.
Butt, Sir A. Emrys. Evans, P. V. Hopkinson, A.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Entwistle, C. F. Howitt, Dr. A. B.
Cartland, J. R. H. Errlngton, E. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Cautley, Sir H. S. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Hudson, R. S. (Southport)
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chestef) Findlay, Sir E. Hume, Sir G H.
Cazalet, Thelma (Isllngton, E.) Foot, D. M. Hunter, T.
cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Fox, Sir G. W. G. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Fraser, Capt. Sir I. Jackson, Sir H
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Seely, Sir H. M.
Keeling, E. H. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Selley, H. R.
Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Shakespeare, G. H.
Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities) Munro, P. M. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Kirkpatrick, W. M. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Owen, Major G. Smithers, Sir W.
Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Palmer, G. E. H. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Leckle, J. A. Patrick, C. M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Leech, Dr. J. W. Peake, O. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Peat, C. U. Spender-Clay, Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H.
Levy, T. Penny, Sir G. Spens, W. P.
Lewis, O. Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Liddall, W. S. Perkins, W. R. D. Storey, S.
Loder, Captain Hon. J. de V. Petherick, M. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Plckthorn, K. W. M. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Lumley, Capt. L. R. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Lyons, A. M. Pownall, Sir A. Assheton Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. f.
MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. Sir C. G. Proctor, Major H. A. Sutcliffe, H.
McCorquodale, M. S. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Tate. Mavis C.
Mac Donald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.) Rankin, R. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Rayner, Major R. H. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wiqht) Reld, W. Allan (Derby) Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
McKle, J. H. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Wakefield, W. W.
Maclay, Hon. J. P. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J. Ropner, Colonel L. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Magnay, T. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry) Wayland, Sir W. A.
Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) White, H. Graham
Mander, G. le M. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Salt, E. W. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Moreing, A. C. Savery, Servington Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert
Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Scott, Lord William Ward and Lieut.-Colonel Liewellin.

Main Question again proposed.

6.26 p.m.


I wish to intervene in the general discussion only for a few minutes in order to make one or two observations on behalf of my hon. and right hon. Friends, and in doing so, like my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), I do not wish to raise echoes of any past controversies. We recognise that those matters were the subject of controversy during the discussions on the Government of India Bill on which this Parliament has now come to a decision, and on occasions such as that presented by these Orders, we do not wish to awaken those echoes. If I were minded to do so, I think it would be in connection with the decision of the Government not to adobt the proposal of the Hammond Committee to exten dthe number of two and three member constituencies in the Madras Presidency. I think the Government have taken a wise decision there, and they were fortified in doing so by the opinion not only of the Government of the Presidency, but of the Government of India itself. I only wish that on previous occasions, when we discussed the question of the method of voting for the Federal Legislature, they had paid an equal amount of attention to the opinion of the Government of India, because, as far, as I can make out, that was the only subject in connection with the Government of India Bill upon which Indian opinion was unanimous.

I imagine that the first reflection of hon. Members on approaching these Orders must be one of congratulation and thankfulness that we ourselves have not to submit our own electoral fortunes to the test within the framework of such a complicated provision as we are now discussing. We must echo the hope expressed by my hon. Friend in his opening observations that the practical working of the schemes set out in this Order, which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) pointed out this afternoon, are necessarily to some extent in the nature of an experiment, will lead to the reconciliation of some of the differences of class and creed, in time to the adoption of an electoral system and machinery in India which will fully meet the needs of India. The Constitution, as now established, may be open to certain objections from Indian points of view, but it is certain that Parliament cannot be held responsible for the overriding difficulty which has presented itself in the communal question, and one can only hope that the efforts which have been made in the past to deal with that difficulty will be renewed in the future and that it may be found possible, at long last, for reconciliation to take place. By that means many of these questions which now present such difficulties and complications may be simplified and the result may be a situation far more satisfactory to India than anything which this country could propose to her at the present time.

I never approach the discussion of these matters in this House without a real sense of the inescapable responsibility of this Parliament, the majority of whose Members, like myself, have had no direct personal experience of Indian affairs. It is a heavy responsibility and one which must weigh upon us all, but I cannot help thinking that Parliament has been extraordinarily well-served by those bodies to which it has delegated the task of working out the details, and indeed some of the principles, upon which these proposals are based. We had, in the first place, the Lothian Franchise Committee and we have had the more recent effort of Sir Laurie Hammond and his Indian colleagues who, in the short time available to them, have dealt in a masterly way with some of those gaps which were left when the Act was under discussion in Parliament. The achievement of that committee, in the time, was very remarkable. May I add that I do not think they could have achieved that result in the time, had it not been for the services of the large number of Indians who served on the Provincial Delimitation Committees and others who came forward with evidence and, in other ways, made possible the performance of what must have seemed at first a task presenting insuperable difficulties. The work of the committee has enabled Parliament to carry out its task, if not in a way which is completely satisfactory to all, at all events in a way which would not have been possible had we been compelled to rely solely upon the judgment of Members of this House who, as I say, are not equipped by personal experience in India to deal with these matters.

I do not wish to touch upon the representation of labour. We have had a considerable discussion upon it and I think the matter has now been ended, but I would express the view that the somewhat gloomy opinions in regard to the future of trade unionism in India, expressed by the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) and others, could only be fulfilled if this arrangement were, in fact, a conspiracy to check the development of trade unionism in India. We know, however, that the case is exactly the reverse. The Lothian Committee expressed the hope that the prospect of responsibility in connection with the electoral machine would lead to a rapid development of trade unionism in India. That unfortunately has not been the case. Whether the proposals in the Order are the best it possible or not, they are reasonable. Nobody who has studied the history of the movement from the formation of the first labour organisation at Jamshedpur could resist that conclusion, that some test of stability is necessary, and I have not heard from any quarter any suggestion of another test to take the place of that suggested in the Order.

The Government have taken a wise decision with regard to the electoral system in the constituencies in the Punjab and Sind, and in limiting the constituencies for the election of women to women voters alone. While there may be some differences of opinion upon that decision, I think it will recommend itself to Mohammedan opinion as a whole. Realising that these proposals are not final and that they are to some extent in the nature of an experiment, I would express the hope that our friends in India will see their way to give practical help and sympathy in the working out and development of these schemes. If that can be done, these proposals, which represent an important stage in the development of the Indian Constitution, may prove a satisfactory foundation upon which better things can be built in the future.

6.28 p.m.


I share the view which has already been expressed on all sides as to the excellence of the work done by Sir Laurie Hammond and his colleagues and the expedition with which it was performed. Naturally when we come to deal with the details of constituencies and of urban and rural districts and sub-districts and so forth, it is impossible for anyone who is not closely acquainted with India to express any opinion. I have gone through the schedules containing the lists of constituencies and while I do not profess to know all the Provinces, I have been able to test those lists in relation to certain Provinces of which I have intimate knowledge. With that intimate knowledge, I am bound to say that in regard to those Provinces I do not think it would be possible to make any better arrangements than those which are proposed in the report. I was gratified to find on examining the Order relating to scheduled castes to find that some rather regrettable omissions from the previous list had been made good.

I think the view expressed by the Opposition on the question of trade unionism is unnecessarily suspicious of the manner in which the representation of labour is being dealt with under the Order. Even supposing that the future recognition of trade unions for purposes of labour representation did rest with the Governor, it must not be assumed that the Governor will necessarily be on the side of the employers and opposed to the side of the workers. In fact, the position of the Governor is such that his natural tendency will be to feel that it is "up to him" to give the greatest consideration to the weaker party in deciding questions of that kind. Although here to-night, in conformity with the Government of India Act, we are discussing constituencies and qualifications for voting and the representation of various interests and although to-day we are going one step further in that direction, there still remains the question of how these constituencies will work.

The most important thing if we are to have a democratic vote is that it shall be honestly given, without fear or favour, and in that connection I wish to draw the attention of the House to Chapters 21 and 22 of the Hammond Committee's report which refer respectively to the conduct of elections and to corrupt practices. Hon. Members will find in the report a plain and straightforward account of some of the difficulties which may be experienced in keeping elections clean and free from intimidation and corruption. The report refers to one regrettable feature of elections in India, namely, the withdrawal of a candidate after nomination or after scrutiny which means, of course, that his opponent is elected unopposed. It has been shown in certain cases that such withdrawals have been carried out for a pecuniary consideration. Such a practice cuts at the root of common honesty in elections.

The Committee mention that in Bihar and Orissa, the number of withdrawals after nomination was 15 and the number of withdrawals after scrutiny was 55, and they suggest that the Government ought to be extremely strict in the matter and try to check this kind of undesirable practice which appears to have gained a hold in certain Provinces. They have to admit that there will be great difficulty arising out of the fact that, according to the latest returns, 90 per cent. of the new voters will be illiterate. They say that, in such circumstances, having examined all the various ways of voting, they consider that it will be impossible to guarantee the secrecy of the ballot. Some amusing illustrations are given in the report of the kind of thing which happens. For example, there is the case of the voter who has a voting paper given to him, who does not put it into the ballot box at all, but carries it out and sells it. An agent for a candidate collects such papers and arranges for a trustworthy voter to drop them all into the right box. Reference is also made to cases in which the slit in the ballot box is filled up with clay or some other substance with the result that a good many electors, to save themselves the trouble of opening it, deposit their ballot papers in other boxes.

The Committee express the view that we in this country were just as bad ourselves not so very long ago, but the comparison is not very reliable, because, at all events, we had compulsory education since 1870. Under a democratic system there is a large number of illiterate people who are to be got at in every possible way and who would fall victims to every kind of pecuniary temptation and so on. I do not want to dwell unnecessarily on these points, because the Opposition to the Government of India Bill put them forward when the Bill was going through, and the verdict of Parliament was that this constitution should be tried. Therefore, I do not want to revive those old controversies, but I wish to lay emphasis on the need for special precautions being taken by the Secretary of State so as to make any democracy that is introduced into India a little cleaner and purer than it would be if things were left entirely to their own course. I hope the Secretary of State, the Under-Secretary of State, and the India Office will be contemplating further action to check these things.

As regards the hiring of vehicles, it is no good making it illegal, because the Committee points out that you cannot enforce it, and it says the same thing with regard to treating. You have a sort of general treat. All the people you want to vote for you come to sit down at a certain place. As regards vehicles, they get round that prohibition by "A" being in one constituency and "B" in another, and one of them saying, "If you pay for my vehicles in my constituency, I will pay for your vehicles in another constituency."


They do that here.


That may be, but I am explaining that the Committee did lay stress on the difficulties of elections. This matter has not been mentioned at all hitherto in this Debate, and I hope the India Office will take every precaution to make the introduction of democracy in India as sound and safe as possible.

6.48 p.m.


I join with those who have spoken in the praise given to Sir Laurie Hammond and his colleagues, and I tender it specially for the drawing up of this draft of scheduled classes. As all the House knows, these classes are for the most part animistic, totemic, exogamic, nomadic. Many of those on the schedule are of Eponymous origin, many of them occupational and many of them regional. In reference to a remark made by the Under-Secretary of State that the franchise had been increased and the net thrown rather wider so as to maintain 10 per cent., I hope that in taking in these various scheduled classes the net has not been thrown too wide and that there will not be any anomalies which will occur or unfairness or disabilities suffered by some of these people. I speak for a people for whom I can almost literally say nobody else in India ordinarily speaks, except the British official whose job it is. They are poor, despised, depressed people, not liked and unknown. Their manners, customs, and habits are not known to the ordinary Indian. I suggest with all respect that Sir Laurie Hammond's two colleagues on the committee knew much less about some of these casteless people of Bihar and Orissa, which is Sir Laurie's Province, than he did.

There have been some anomalies in these schedules. Take Bengal. I need hardly point out to those hon. Members who know, that among the scheduled classes there are no Bengalis in Bengal, because Bengali happens to be an ethnographical tribal appellation applied to a predatory class whose habitat is the United Provinces. Bengalis of these scheduled classes belong also to the United Provinces, to the Punjab, and to Bihar and Orissa. Again I see under the head "Bengal," the Muchi is included; that is, a shoe or leather-worker; also the Lohar, or blacksmith. These are occupational titles. A leather-worker might be a Hindu or a Moslem. He is also included under the word "Chamar," which also means a leather-worker. Where these tribes are again mixed up is under Bengal, where Munda, and Oraon, and Garo are found scheduled. The Munda and Oraon are definitely tribal, aboriginal people from the old province of Bihar and Orissa, but in the order we are discussing they are included among mostly castes of occupational origin. Though shown in Bengal neither the Munda nor Oraon ought to be so included. They are not scheduled at all in Bihar or in Orissa, of which Province they are aboriginals, and where there are several millions of them. Many thousands of these aboriginals from Bihar who work in Assam belong to real tribes and are totally different from the bulk of the people included in the Schedules.

Again, take the "Kanjars," which is a generic title applied to nomadic, predatory, gypsy-like people. Kanjars are included in the scheduled caste of the United Provinces. But as I know personally that there are very large numbers of Kanjars in the Punjab, and yet they are not included at all in the draft Order lists. I do not want to appear to be too critical. These are matters which will, I am sure, be cleared up, and any anomalies can be amended perhaps before these Orders come back from another place. That is all that I have to say except to congratulate the Under-Secretary of State on the way in which he has conducted this Bill right through and also for the clear way in which he has disposed of all the arguments put up by the Opposition.

6.53 p.m.


I will not start by saying that I do not intend to keep the House very long; I intend to keep the House just as long as is necessary for me to say what I want to say. I should not have risen but for the speech of the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock). He, of course, has a unique knowledge of India, but I should be very sorry if he went away with the feeling still in his mind that the Indians, when it comes to elections, are really prone to be a little worse in the way of corruption than other people. I think they must have read the history of, the rotten boroughs in this country and of local government in this country. I understand that some people have voted there by collecting voting papers and shoving them all in the ballot box at one time. When I first took part in elections in Bow, it was for a vestry, and it was no uncommon thing to collect up the ballot papers in that way and shove them in all together. When it comes to persons making an agreement t. retire, I have certainly read and heard of, and I think I have seen, hon. Members leaving this House on becoming Peers of the Realm. Perhaps there has been no corrupt bargain, but in some mysterious way one has gone to the Lords to make way for somebody else in order to find a place for a Minister.

We are giving some form of self-government to the people of India, and for goodness sake do not let us be too self-righteous about it. If they are going to learn from us the benefits of democracy, let us be content, even if they do make some of the mistakes that we ourselves have made. We got rid of corruption very largely in municipal affairs the more we broadened the basis of representation, and I am confident that the more you broaden the representation in India and the bigger the electorate is—and give them time to adapt themselves to it—there will be less and less corruption and there will be more honesty in public life. During the Debates on the Bill we were continually hearing of a sort of natural corruption of the people in India. I do not believe that for a single moment. I think that perhaps the so-called educated classes may pass through some phases of corruption that our own ancestors passed through and perhaps some of ourselves have gone through in our own day. Let us at least concede to the Indian masses the same standard of right and wrong that we claim for ourselves.

6.55 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir WALTER SMILES

The right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), who has just sat down, certainly illuminated us on the methods of electing vestrymen in this country, but I am sure we all hope the right hon. Gentleman himself will not leave us for another place, because we should all miss him very much here. We are now at the last lap of this very important constitution, and it is by no means the least important lap either. When I look at the complicated constituencies and the different methods of election—the direct vote, the postal vote, the single transferable vote, and the cumulative vote—I begin to get a bit mixed, but the whole thing that matters is not how representatives are returned, but what kind of representatives they will be when they are returned, and I believe that, although this system is very complicated and varies from Province to Province and from district to district, on the whole the representatives who are returned will be very much better than some hon. Members of this House imagined when we came to the Third Reading of the Government of India Bill.

It is impossible to touch upon the whole of the Orders, and I am going to confine my attention to Assam. We are fortunate in Assam in that we have no urban and rural problem, because there are only three towns in Assam which have a population of more than 20,000 people, and a point that I want to take up later is the question of the scheduled castes. I believe the lists are not full enough. Although in Assam we have not an urban and rural problem, we have something that is almost worse, and that is differences between the Surma Valley and the Assam Valley. These valleys are separated by a range of hills, and on the South, in the Surma Valley, the people are Aryan and speak Bengali mostly, whereas in the North they are largely Mongolian and speak the Assamese language. There is a very great difference between these two valleys. I remember that the late Lord Chelmsford, when he came to Assam, had heard of these differences, and he made the remark that he had heard that one valley was Belgravia and the other Whitechapel. and he went on to say that wild horses would not drag from him which valley was which. I propose now to exercise the same discretion.

In the Surma Valley proper, there is no more waste land, and the population in that valley is not likely to increase, whereas in the Assam Valley proper there are now 2,000,000 more acres of waste land, which are awaiting settlement.

It is certain that the population of the Assam Valley will increase very much during the next 10 or 20 years. As to the general seats, the scheduled castes mentioned are all Assamese or Bengali castes, but there are a lot of people left out. There are in the Assam and Surma Valleys 1,000,000 ex-tea garden coolies and their descendants who have settled on Government land. Many of them are depressed classes and in any other Province in India they would fall into the list of scheduled castes. It seems likely that the whole of this population will be disfranchised, and I would ask the Under-Secretary of State to consider this point before the Orders come back from another place. These people who come from Bihar, Orissa, and Madras ar einclined to change their caste when they come to Assam, just as many people in England gain a higher social status when they leave the town where they were born. I would ask the Under-Secretary what machinery there is for additions to these scheduled castes. If we look on page 160 of the Draft Statutory Rules, we see in Part 5, Assam (16): Any other tribe or community for the time being designated by the Governor in his discretion. I would suggest that that might well be added to many of the scheduled castes. It is almost impossible to avoid injustice to somebody or other, and if it were given to the Governor in his discretion to add to this sort of case I believe it would save a lot of bad feeling and hard cases in the future. The population of the Assam Valley is certain to increase. The Mohammedan population has increased by 65 per cent. in the last ten years. It is necessary to give some weightage to the Mohammedans in the Assam Valley, because the Mohammedans are more likely to increase than many other castes. I have seen train load after train load of Mohammedans coming into Assam from the Mymensingh and Dacca districts of Eastern Bengal, and they are filling up the Province at a great rate. There is also the position of the Marwaris to be considered, and I hope that when the Governor makes his nominations to the second Chamber he will not forget them.

If we turn to the women's constituency, I am glad to see that the Hammond Committee selected Ceylon. Among the Khasias matriarchy exists. Property is handed down through the female line, and because of this the women are equal or superior to any class of women in India. I should think that they compare with the Parsees in Bombay. For that reason I am certain that the Committee have selected the right spot for the women's constituency. The Nepalese women are not purdah, and there are many women among them who are the wives or daughters of soldiers in the Ghurka Rifles. Nowhere in the whole of India do we stand a better chance of the election of a good woman candidate. One Khasia man has already risen to a position of a Minister, and I hope that in the future we may look forward to a Khasia woman becoming a Minister in Assam. I think the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) hardly did justice to the Hammond Committee. At the bottom of page 182, paragraph 491, of their report, the Committee state: We wish to make it clear that we have recommended special labour constituencies in those cases only in which the creation of trade union constituencies was impracticable. When I heard the hon. and gallant Member make his speech I almost thought that he could not have read those words. The Hammond Committee tried to carry out the recommendations of the Franchise Committee, and only recommended these Labour seats where it is impossible to find trade unions. We have no trade unions in Assam, and various proposals were made for filling these four Labour seats. I think the Government stated that nomination was the only way possible. They have made a very complicated constituency and provided for rotation of seats. The election takes place every four years, but it is a different constituency each time, and it is another 12 years before it comes back to the same constituency. These tea-garden constituencies are to be represented by the castes and tribes who work on the tea gardens, and they have opened the constituency very wide in that a man who may be a Munda or an Oraon, or belong to some other of the tribes which come to work in the tea gardens, can stand for election for these tea-garden seats.

I have known several of these castes and tribes to be extremely well educated. I remember a doctor in Assam who had a personal servant who came to him as a boy of seven years old. The doctor became attached to him and taught the boy to read and write, and the boy used to copy the doctor's handwriting. Eventually, when the doctor was fatigued or ill, the boy used to write the doctor's letters home to his wife or mother. I have also read of other people who were taught and have become the head writers of the gardens and have become influential people although originally they came from the depressed classes. I have heard of one of them who came over here and eventually became a mayor of a town in England. There is a danger attaching to these seats, and I would refer the House to the Chargola Exodus, which took place on 31st May, 1921. Some political agitators came to the Chargola Valley tea gardens and inflamed and excited the labour force. Eventually 48,000 of them left the gardens and found their way to the railways, selling their cattle, live stock and belongings on the way. They were told there was a new land awaiting them where work was easy and wages good. The poor people gave away everything they had, and when they reached the railway they had nothing for their railway tickets, 1,000 of them died of cholera and there was heart-rending trouble and suffering. I think the way that the Hammond Committee have selected the representatives for these seats will largely do away with that sort of trouble in future. I hope that it will be a Munda that will be speaking for the Mundas, and that it will not be a political agitator who does not belong to these castes and is not actuated by any real benevolent motives, but a person who is a member of the brotherhood and who is trying to do his best for them.

Unfortunately in Assam there is only one important industry and that is tea. We know what happens to towns in England dependent on only one industry. When depression has occurred in that industry trouble has come upon the whole town. If anything happens to the tea industry there is no doubt that widespread depression and suffering would occur through the whole of Assam. For that reason I welcome some of the seats that are to be given to Indian commerce and industry, because I hope that new industries will be established in Assam so that the Province will have something to fall back on. I think that the seven seats given to the European part of the tea industry is rather meagre considering that tea is the staple industry of Assam. I am glad to see that Indian tea planters are getting two seats and we wish that more Indians would take an interest in this industry. I have spoken only about one Province. But even for this one Province the task of drafting these rules must have been very complicated and difficult, and it has been accomplished in a very short time, but I have seen only one mistake as regards Assam. On page 146, after the tea garden seats, the Under-Secretary will see that West is mentioned twice and South not at all in the constituency for Jorhat. I think that must be a misprint and that South should be inserted in one of those boundaries instead of West. Another recommendation is for a manual of election procedure. I think that is necessary. Even under the old constitution it was difficult to find one's way through the different slips of paper and circulars that were received. I think it will be well worth while for the Government of India to start the preparation of an election manual. Newly gazetted officers of the Indian Civil Service going out to India might well make an examination in the election procedure part of their work.

The hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock) referred to some of the irregularities in the election, but I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and I think that given a chance these things will come right. In my experience since 1919 to 1930, when the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms were in force, every election Indians in Assam became more election-minded and democratic, and I believe the procedure and conduct will get better in the future. To read some of the things the Committee wrote about boys posing as women and 100 Chowkidahs arriving in Bombay and finding that they had already been impersonated would make one think that Rudyard Kipling had an Indian Election in his mind when he wrote: The wildest dreams of Kew Are the facts of Khat-mandu And the crimes of Clapham Chaste in Martaban. The House owes its thanks to this distinguished committee for the expedition and thoroughness with which it has done its work, and I hope that these Orders will go through.

7.15 p.m.


May I ask the reason for the various descriptions of "resident" in this Order? In the case of the United Provinces it is stated that a person shall be deemed to be resident in any area if he ordinarily lives in that area. A little later in connection with the Punjab, a resident has to be a person owning a family dwelling-house or sharing a family dwelling-house, In the case of Sind, a person is deemed to be a resident in a house if he sometimes uses it as a sleeping place. That is a definition that might apply to some hon. Members who may claim the House of Commons as a residence. What is the object of these various definitions May they not lead to some confusion? The Under-Secretary may say that there are different conditions in different Provinces, but I should have thought that it was possible to have some more general expression to tell us what a resident is.

7.16 p.m.


The House will agree that the general discussion we have had has been marked by unanimous tributes to the work of the Hammond Committee. Those who worked so hard in India, the Indians on the provincial delimitation committees, the local governments who prepared the work, and all those hardworking officials and draftsmen who have done so much work, deserve the tributes paid to them on all sides of the House. There has been a general feeling of good wishes for the future Legislatures which will finally be set up as a result of the establishment of this electoral machinery. We have had a discussion on the Amendment with regard to a particular point, but apart from that there has been no general objection to the provisions of these lengthy Orders, and that is very satisfactory. I should like to reply to the various points that have been raised. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) raised the question of the definition of "resident." If the hon. Gentleman will remember our discussions on the Schedules to the Act, he will recall that "resident" had different definitions in almost every Province in regard to the qualification for the electorate for the territorial seats. The definitions to which he has referred in this Order are those that apply to the electorates for the special seats, and the definitions follow the original definitions given in the Schedule to the Act for the territorial seats. It would be wrong, therefore, to make a different definition of "resident" than that which occurred in the Schedule to the Act. The reason for the differences between the definitions is that these Orders have in each case been drafted according to the idiosyncrasies of the particular Provinces and the definition are appropriate to the different Provinces.

The next question with regard to the scheduled castes was raised by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Kirkpatrick). In this House there is always an expert on every subject, and the hon. Gentleman has clearly shown himself to be an expert on the scheduled castes. His difficulty arises from a slight misunderstanding of my opening remarks, when I said that the qualifications for the scheduled castes were being slightly enlarged. I mentioned the differential franchise qualification. I did not mean that we had at the last minute expanded the tribes that are included. I was referring, of course, to the slight expansion of the franchise for the members of the castes concerned. The actual lists of the castes have not been put before the House until this date because they were being carefully considered in the Provinces. The difficulty arises from the fact that some scheduled castes appear in some Provinces and not in others. The reason is that in one Province, or in one part of a Province, a caste bearing a certain name may be regarded as depressed or scheduled, whereas in another Province or in another part of the same Province it is very often not regarded as depressed. That is the reason for the difficulties which the hon. Gentleman found in the scheduled castes Order. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) raised the question of corrupt practices, to which reference was also made by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock).


I did not raise it.


The right hon. Gentleman pursued the subject which was raised by the hon. Member for the English Universities. I do not want to disturb the House by promises of favours to come, but I shall have to introduce a Corrupt Practices Order making provision for this particular subject. Therefore, I do not think that we are in order in discussing it further now. We shall be able to discuss it in more detail after Easter when introduce the Order. The hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles), who discussed Assam, raised the question of the ex-tea garden coolies. They will be enfranchised to the extent that they have the necessary territorial qualification of property. We hope that a large number of them will fall into the ordinary franchise. The hon. and gallant Gentleman raised various points in regard to tribes which have been included in these Orders. There is a little confusion, I think, in that the tribes on page 160 of the Legislative Assemblies Order are backward tribes and not scheduled tribes, and the tribes which are to be regarded as tribes upon which a qualification can be based for a, candidate in the tea-garden constituency are different and are included on page 64. Attention will be paid to what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has stated, but I believe that the lists as they stand are probably as nearly accurate as we shall be able to get them. The other points about Assam have been noted by the Government, and I will certainly note the suggestion of the hon. Member that there is a misprint. We have come to rely so much on the officers and on the many papers that come before us that a misprint is a rare thing. The discussion which we have had upon these Orders in Council has been well worth while, and I would like on behalf of the House to wish well to those who have to put into practice a very complicated system.


I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 309 of the Government of India Act, 1935, praying that the Government of India (Provincial Legislative Councils) Order, 1936, be made in the form of the draft laid before Parliament."—[Mr. Butler.] Ordered, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—[Mr. Butler.]

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 309 of the Government of India Act, 1935, praying that the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936, be made in the form of the draft laid before Parliament."—[Mr. Butler.] Ordered, That the Debate be now adjourned.—[Mr. Butler.]

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of section 157 of the Government of Burma Act, 1935, praying that the Government of Burma (House of Representatives) Order, 1936, be made in the form of the draft laid before Parliament."—[Mr. Butler.] Ordered, That the Debate be now adjourned.—[Mr. Butler.]

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 157 of the Government of Burma Act, 1935, praying that the Government of Burma (Senate Elections) Order, 1936, be made in the form of the draft laid before Parliament, subject, however, to the following Amendments: In paragraph 6, in line 22 of page 2, leave out 'sub-paragraph' and insert 'subparagraphs.' In paragraph 6, after line 30 of page 2, insert: '(4) In this paragraph "minister" means a minister under this Act or the Acts repealed by the Government of India Act, 1935.'"—[Mr. Butler.] Ordered, That the Debate be now adjourned.—[Mr. Butler.]

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.