§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 53 of the Government of India Act, 1935, praying that His Majesty may be pleased to issue Instructions to the Governors of Governors' Provinces in the form of the draft laid before Parliament.It may be for the convenience of the House if we have a general discussion on the two Motions for India and Burma, on the understanding that full opportunity is given to hon. Members opposite for consideration of the Amendment which is on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). I shall take the opportunity, when we are considering the Burma draft, to indicate the main lines of difference between, that draft and the India draft. Otherwise the India and Burma drafts cover very much the same ground; and, as we have very often arranged before, it may be convenient to take them together.
The consideration of the Instruments to-day carries one stage further that voluminous work which depends on and follows from the Government of India Act. When a great ship is launched very often she is followed by a series of smaller craft, and in the case of a great Constitution it has been much the same. I myself have been responsible for passing through the friendly waters of this House nearly 30 Orders in Council, or minor vessels, following upon the great ship of the Government of India Act. Here to-day comes a pinnace bearing the Royal Instructions for those who will be on the bridge in the coming reforms in India. Let us hope for its passage fair weather and a calm sea.
Under Section 53 of the Act it is laid down that the draft of these Instructions shall be presented to Parliament and that no further proceedings shall be taken in relation thereto except in pursuance of an Address presented to His Majesty by both Houses of Parliament praying that the Instructions may be issued. This is in conformity with the views of the Joint Select Committee, 1540 upon which hon. Gentlemen opposite were represented. They said:So great are the issues involved in the evolution of the Indian Constitution that it would be neither wise nor safe to deny Parliament a voice in the determination of its progressive stages.So Parliament is asked to share with the executive the responsibility of advising the Crown in a matter—that is the Instruments of Instructions—which has hitherto been a high prerogative act within the executive sphere. To that extent, therefore, there is novelty in the laying of this document before the House. The Joint Select Committee also said that the initiative in proposing any change of the Instruments must necessarily rest with the Crown's advisers, that is to say with the Government of the day. In view of the nature of the Instruments hon. Members will appreciate that it would be difficult for the Legislature to designate to the executive the exact terms in which they shall be phrased. But the Government undertake to listen to the views expressed, and we have an example on the Order Paper of the manner in which hon. Members can bring their influence to bear on the Government to consider a modification of the terms of the Instruments.
I shall discuss this suggested alteration and the reasoned motion for rejection of the Instruments when I come to the particular paragraph in due course. Meanwhile I am only too glad to note that this reasoned rejection contains no general criticism of the Instruments, but confines itself to a particular point. Hon. Members will see that far from the prerogative of Parliament being curtailed in this matter, the prerogatives of Parliament have been actually enlarged by the fact that this prerogative document itself is laid before the House. The material in the document is not new; it is to be found either in recommendations of the Joint Select Committee itself or in the existing Instructions to the present Governors in India. There have been no extensive Amendments since the Instructions were first laid, and the Amendments made have been chiefly to meet points raised in the course of discussion of the Bill.
This letter from the King, which is the simplest description of it, is for the most part in identical terms to all the Governors. It cannot counsel a Governor to 1541 adopt a course which the Act forbids. It is not a legal document which can be interpreted in the courts, but it is a well recognised method of placing on record the duties of the Crown's representative which cannot appropriately be enjoined on him by Statute. We hope that the combination of the rigidity of the Sections of the Act which introduce provincial autonomy, and the flexibility of the Instructions which can be amended by an Address of both Houses, will produce the checks, the balances, and above all that blessed spirit of continuity from one Administration to another and from one generation to another which are the features of the British Constitution.
With those general words of introduction let me run over for the benefit of hon. Members the general lines of the draft Instrument. The first six paragraphs are introductory and I do not think call for any particular notice. Part B relates to the executive authority of the Provinces. Paragraph VII is a particularly interesting one for those of us who are interested in Cabinetmaking in England. The Governor is instructed in general terms, not in rigid terms, as to the manner in which he should construct his Cabinet. The conditions in India are not identical with those in this country. The chief difference which exists in India now and which I think will exist in many Provinces in the future is in regard to the suggested inclusion of Members of the minority communities within the Cabinet. This paragraph is an attempt to consider the claims of the minorities to representation in the Cabinet without prejudicing Cabinet solidarity, while encouraging a sense of joint responsibility among the Ministers.
Paragraph VIII contains, for those who Lave not had the unique privilege of following every jot and tittle of the Government of India Act, the master-key to the whole Act, in that it describes those terms which are found so often in the Act—the term "in his discretion," which means that the Governor can act and his Ministers have no right to tender him advice; "in his individual judgment" which means that the Governor acting in his individual judgment leaves the initiative to the Ministers, but the Governor is not bound to act on the Ministers' advice and has the last word; whereas when the Governor is referred to alone 1542 without this phrase it means that he is acting on the advice of his Ministers.
Paragraph IX is one Amendment which I think may appeal to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) called the aboriginal party, in the course of the discussions of the Bill. In the description of minorities the words "or their primitive condition" have been included with the object of defining as a minority and one which would come under the Governor's special responsibility an isolated section of aboriginals in any particular Province. This should be read in company with paragraph XV of the Instrument, which asks the Governor, if he thinks this course will enable him the better to discharge his duty for the encouragement of these areas or primitive sections of the population elsewhere, to appoint an adviser for the duty of bringing their case to his notice and advising him regarding measures for their welfare. This follows on a request made during the passage of the Bill, and it is valuable that there have been these insertions in the Instrument in the interests of the aboriginal tribes. The following paragraphs deal with the rights of the Services, with commercial discrimination, with the rights of Indian States, and I think are self-explanatory. Paragraph XIIa is one of those paragraphs which is not included in all the Instruments but is included in the Instrument to the Governor of the Central Provinces. It is the basis of the administration of Berar, the basis of an agreement signed between the Nizam and the Viceroy adjusting the future Government of Berar to the new position when the Central Provinces have autonomy. This is, therefore, necessary before provincial autonomy is established.
Paragraph XVa, which I think is the next important one which does not explain itself, is another special paragraph inserted for the North-West Frontier Province, in which the special attention of the Governor is drawn to his responsibility for the tribal areas. Part C deals with matters affecting the Legislature; paragraph XVIII originated from the request of the British-Indian delegation at the Round Table Conference in the course of those very valuable discussions with British-Indian representatives when they came over here.
1543 Paragraph XIX is the one to which special attention has been drawn by hon. Members opposite, and I will do my best to say a word or two on the subject of the Amendment which I see on the Order Paper. Those hon. Members would have preferred to give their agreement to the passage of these Instruments and for the presentation of an Address had special provision been included in this paragraph for Labour representatives to be nominated by the Governors in the Provincial Upper Houses. The first general observation which I have to make about this Amendment is that the absence of any special Instruction to the Governor does not necessarily mean that Labour representatives will be excluded. In fact, there is just as much chance, if the Governor can find a suitable Labour representative, that he will actually nominate him for the Upper House as if there was a mention in the Instrument itself, because the Governor is instructed so to nominate as to redress, as far as may be, the inequalities of representation which emerge as a result of the election.
I remember that hon. Members opposite interested themselves in this point during previous discussions, and we referred the matter to all the Governors in India and to the Government of India, and they are all of the opinion that they would prefer their hands to be free to nominate whom they think best in order to redress inequalities of representation. It is because of that that we feel it wiser not to include a specific reference to Labour in the Instrument itself. Let me just show to the House some of the difficulties with which Governors will have to contend. If they turn to the Table in the Fifth Schedule to the Government of India Act, on page 246, they will see that in some Provinces the Governor's nominations amount to as many as eight, some to six, and some to three. In the case of Bengal the Governor has to consider the claims of such minority interests as the Anglo-Indians, the Indian Christians, the Jews, and the Buddhists, and it may be necessary, when he is making his nominations, to nominate one of those for a seat in the Upper House. In the case of the United Provinces, it would be a pity to tie the Governor's hands ahead when you reflect 1544 that the depressed classes, for example, represent no fewer than 10,000,000 souls in the Province, and if the Governor feels that their representation in the Upper House is not satisfactory, it may be that he will have to redress that inequality of representation.
There is another general consideration, and that is that communities rather than interests have as a general rule, throughout the whole discussion of the Government of India Act, been regarded as being properly represented in the Upper House. If we were to start in the Provincial Upper Houses a breach of this consideration, it would mean that other interests, such as commerce, landholders, and so forth, would regard themselves as grossly ill-treated if we did not include an injunction in the Instrument to the Governor necessitating his appointing a member of those special interests in the Upper House. A third consideration which I will put to hon. Members opposite is that the depressed classes are specially mentioned and to a certain extent—and I realise the limitations of that extent—the depressed classes represent the interests at any rate of the rural labourer, and their representation in the Provincial Upper House will be secured.
Another consideration is that in Bengal and Bihar, where a proportion of the Upper House will be indirectly elected, I think it probable, at any rate in the case of Bengal, that they will obtain by this indirect election one representative of Labour in the Provincial Upper House. The final consideration which I would put to the hon. Members opposite is that these Provincial Upper Houses have of their nature, under the Government of India Act, more of an advisory and delaying function than any other, and I do not myself believe that a strict injunction to choose one person, however difficult it might be for the Governor to do so, to represent Labour would very deeply affect the interests of Labour in that Province. We must remember that Labour, thanks, I believe, partly to the hon. and gallant Member for South East Leeds (Major Milner), has been very largely increased as to its representation in the Lower House, and to that extent I welcome the change, but I do not believe that an insistence upon the nomination of a Labour man would make very much extra difference.
1545 Now we come to paragraph XX of the Instrument, which recalls to some of us the terms of Royal Proclamations in the past. Hon. Members may remember the attractive and dignified language of Queen Victoria's Proclamation, in which she said:Firmly relying Ourselves on the truth of Christianity, and acknowledging with gratitude the solace of religion … We declare it to be Our Royal Will and Pleasure that none be in any wise favoured, none molested or disquieted by reason of their Religious Faith or Observances.I think it is satisfactory that in this Instrument, although we may not be able to vie quite with the excellence of the language that I have just read out, we do ask the Governor todo all that in him lies … to secure amongst all classes and creeds co-operation, goodwill and mutual respect for religious beliefs and sentiments.In a period when we believe that social reform is going to be of first-class importance in India's future, I think it is important that the Governor should be asked to bear these very important considerations in mind. I have said that all the drafts for the Governors are in the same terms with the exception of the draft for the Governor of the Central Provinces and the draft for the Governor of the North-West Frontier Province. We have not deemed it to be necessary, or that the conditions in any Province, even those in Bengal, to which the Joint Select Committee previously directed attention, have necessitated that any change should be made in the contents of the Instrument that we are now considering, and we consider, moreover, that it is important that in all Provinces Ministers should proceed upon the same lines of constitutional advance and that the status of constitutional advance conferred upon one Province should be no less than that conferred upon another.
Now I come for a moment to consider the draft Instrument for Burma, which has not previously been published. The contents of the draft Instrument for Burma follow in general the lines of the Indian draft, except for the definite difference due to the constitution of Burma combining the functions of Federal and Provincial government together. There are certain references, therefore, to commercial questions and to the financial stability and credit of Burma (in paragraph IX), to defence and the constitution of the defence forces (in para- 1546 graph XVI), which are not required in an Instrument that is sent to an Indian Provincial Governor. Similar references will later be included in the draft for the Governor-General, which will be laid at a later date, when Federation is in prospect.
The House will also notice certain minor differences between the draft for Burma and that for India. For instance, there is no permanent settlement in Burma as in India, and therefore there is no need to make reference to that. In the paragraph about irrigation, the problem in Burma is one rather of flooding than of irrigation, and therefore that particular aspect of Burma's rural problem is referred to. There is also in the Burma Instrument a long paragraph, No. X, which includes in it in particular certain provisions for Anglo-Burman education such as were requested by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock) and which carry out the contents of paragraph 470 of the Joint Select Committee's Report. My Noble Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) will see that provision is made for the education of the Anglo-Burman community to the extent that was desired by his committee on the occasion of the Round Table Conference.
Another difference is that the minorities in Burma are racial rather than religious and that they are much smaller numerically than the minorities in India. That they are important goes without saying, and their importance is exhibited in the manner in which they are represented in the Legislature, but there is less need to require the Governor to secure representation of minority communities as such in the Council. Those constitute the main differences between the Instruments for India and Burma, and I think it now only remains for me—
§ Earl WINTERTON
In view of the public controversy which there has been in Burma, I should be obliged if my hon. Friend would say a word about paragraph XX, regarding the rights of immigration of Indians into Burma.
§ Mr. BUTLER
My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, who will be replying, will deal with that matter in some detail, but I will just say at this stage that I under- 1547 stand that the apprehensions of Indians in Burma have been aroused by the fear that there will be undue discrimination against the immigration of Indians into Burma, and by a misunderstanding of the position of the Governor-General. If I may, let me reassure my Noble Friend by saying that there can be no discrimination against Indian immigration into Burma without prior consultation with the Governor-General of India, who himself will take care of the interests of Indians who may wish to enter Burma. Therefore, I think the fear that has been felt on this score by Indians who wish to enter into Burma may be quietened in view of the contents of paragraph XX. In connection with unskilled Indian labour, the Governor of Burma is asked to confer with the Governor-General with a view to regulating the immigration of unskilled labour into Burma. We do that because it is necessary, for reasons that we gave during the passage of what is now the Burma Act, to consider possible restrictions in certain cases of unskilled Indian Labour. The reason we cannot make a simple rule is that we have to make this differentiation in regard to unskilled labour while at the same time we do not want to stop the free entry of Indians in general. That is why we include the general reference to the Governor-General.
I think that the House will want to wish well to the Governor of Burma and those other Governors who have recently gone from our midst and are so well accustoming themselves to the Indian or Burman scene, just as some of our higher Civil Service Governors are accustoming themselves to the political atmosphere under the new reforms. Let hon. Members, therefore, carefully consider the guidance which is to be offered to them and hope that they may possess the right qualities when they receive this royal message of Instructions. These Instruments breathe the spirit of our own Constitution. As the hon. Member who used to sit for Bodmin in the last House, and is unfortunately not able to take further part in our deliberations, always concluded his speeches by quoting Burke, I think that I may take from Burke a suittable illustration in this regard:Public troubles have often called upon this country to look into its Constitution. 1548 It has ever been bettered by such a revision. If our happy and luxuriant increase of dominion, and our diffused population, have out-grown the limits of a Constitution made for a contracted object, we ought to bless God, who has furnished us with this noble occasion, for … enlarging the scale of national happiness.
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper:
To leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof,
this House cannot assent to an humble Address being presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 53 of the Government of India Act. 1935, praying that His Majesty may be pleased to issue instructions to the Governors of Governors' Provinces, unless the draft of such instructions is laid before Parliament in an amended form with the insertion in paragraph xix, line 5, after the word 'women,' of the word 'labour'"—[Mr. Morgan Jones.]
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I take it, Sir, that, in accordance with the suggestion of the Under-Secretary, we shall be able to have a general discussion over the whole ground of the Instruments of Instructions with regard to India and Burma, but I would like you to indicate at this point, if you will, whether at the end of the general discussion you will still reserve to my friends on this side a chance formally to move my Amendment?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is my intention. If the hon. Member will move his Amendment, I will put it at the end of the discussion.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ Mr. JONES
We were interested in the simile which the hon. Gentleman drew at the beginning of his remarks when he compared this Instrument to one of a series of smaller craft which follow in the wake of a substantially sized ship. The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that we have at all times had some doubt of the seaworthiness of this ship. It seems to us more like a ship that took the sea 100 years ago rather than a ship which has to put to sea under modern conditions to meet with the stresses of modern times. I do not want to overstate it, but the words of the poet Southey come to my mind in relation to the craft of a soldier who wanted to come home to England, and Napoleon characterised his craft asA sorry skiff of wattled willow.1549 I am not sure that the India Act is not open to that characterisatin. The hon. Gentleman seemed to indicate that because we have put down only one Amendment we may be presumed to have nothing to say with regard to the rest of the Instrument of Instructions. Our point of view is that the provisions of this Instrument very largely follow what was decided in the Government of India Act, and that being a fait accompli we have not felt it necessary to traverse again the ground covered by certain principles that are mentioned in the Instrument. We would like to make one or two observations about what is contained in the Instrument, none the less.
We note with some interest the phraseology of paragraph VII. We appreciate, of course, that we are now dealing in this paragraph with the problem, of Cabinet making, and it was our desire in the course of the discussion on the Act that, so far as possible, the people of India should be introduced to responsibility for self-government as quickly as may be. Within the limits of that Act it seems to me that paragraph VII carries out the decision of Parliament. With regard to paragraph VIII, which the hon. Gentleman regarded as the master-key of the whole document, he reminded us that the Governors function in two capacities. They function in their own discretion, which means that they take an independent decision without consulting the Ministers; and they function in their own individual judgment, in which case they act after having first consulted the Ministers. I am glad to see the last few words of that paragraph because they do in a way confirm some of the fears and apprehensions that we entertained during the discussions on the Act. What we feared—and I gave expression to the fear frequently in the course of the discussions —was that without these reservations the Governor, either in his own discretion or in his own individual judgment, the tendency would be for Ministers, when difficult decisions had to be made, to shuffle the responsibility on to the Governor, and that, if an opportunity were provided for them to lay the blame on the Governor for this or that decision, it would make rather substantial inroads upon the habit of arriving at decisions themselves and defending them. We are glad, therefore, that this last sentence 1550 warns the Governors against the exercise of this special power and responsibility in such a way as to relieve the Ministers of responsibilities which are properly their own. I hope that the sentence in the Instrument will be most carefully watched by each Governor in each Province. I pass from paragraph IX in order to discuss it a little later when I come to my Amendment. I am a little unhappy about paragraph X because of its phraseology. I think that I know the meaning of it, but I wonder whether, in point of fact, the end of it is not drawn a little too broadly. I know that we must rely on the good sense and discretion of the Governors in this matter, but it seems to me that the last words,but also against any action which, in his judgment, would be inequitable,seem to me to be drawn very widely. I turn to paragraph XII, which refers to the rights of the States. I wonder whether it would be inappropriate to ask at what point it may be said that the economic life of a State is imperilled by legislation in a Province or affected prejudicially. Naturally we are interested in the social problems that will arise from time to time in India, and we are particularly anxious—I may say this on behalf of all my friends—that the Provincial Assemblies shall be able to see as rapidly as possible within the limitations set upon them the social problem as it presents itself in India. It is a big supposition, but suppose a comprehensive piece of factory legislation were passed through a Provincial Assembly. I know that it would only appertain to the particular Province, but many of these Provinces are contiguous to the territory of a State. The question arises, therefore, whether such legislation in a given Province which is contiguous to a State will have a prejudicial effect upon the economic life of that State. We must have some definition of what is adumbrated by these words because it will be competent, it seems to me, for the head of a State to argue that by the mere passage of a factory Bill or any like measure to deal with some social problem the economic life of the neighbouring State is prejudicially affected thereby. It will be an exceedingly difficult decision for a Governor to make. Clearly, the Government, in drawing up this Instrument of Instructions, must have visualised the problem and have 1551 had in their mind what the proper answer to that proposition is. We shall be glad to hear what the view of the Government is.
With regard to paragraph XIIa, does it give the Nizam of Hyderabad any right of interference in respect of any legislation that may be proposed in Berar when it is created? Paragraph XIII, I think, is very much on the same lines. I turn to paragraph XVII, and in Sub-section (d) I note that it says that the Governor shall reserve for the consideration of the Governor-Generalany Bill which would alter the character of the Permanent Settlement.The Permanent Settlement was the subject of discussion among members of the Joint Select Committee before the Bill was introduced, and I do not propose to go into the whole history of it, but I will quote one short passage from the report of the committee:We do net dispute the fact that the declarations as to the permanence of the settlement contained in the regulations under which it was enacted could not have been departed from by the British Government so long as the Government was in effective control of land revenue, but we could not regard this fact as involving the conclusion that it must be placed beyond the legal competence of an Indian ministry responsible to an Indian legislature, which is to be charged inter alia with the duty of regulating the land revenue system of the Provinces, to alter the enactments embodying the Permanent Settlement, which enactments, despite the promise of permanence which they contain, are legally subject, like any other Indian enactment, to repeal or alteration.I must in fairness state the whole story and add the next sentence but one, which says:We recommend, therefore, that the Governor shall be instructed to reserve for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure any Bill passed by the legislature which would alter the character of the Permanent Settlement.I am not going to venture upon a discussion of the merits or demerits of this Permanent Settlement, but I would repeat that if the Indian Provincial Governments are not to be allowed to touch this subject at all, except on the authority of the Governor-General, it will become a bone of very serious contention as the years go by. In saying that a settlement of 200 years ago should be sacrosanct to the extent that the revenues from these 1552 lands and so on shall not be touched, except with the permission of the Governor-General, we incur the serious risk, as India becomes more educated and more alert, of providing a very dangerous bone of contention. After all, these Provinces will be very limited in the matter of finance, in any case; they will be hard put to it to carry on with their work, however free they may be; but if they are not able to touch the revenues from these lands, then the area of their opportunities will be seriously restricted indeed. I admit that the majority decision of the Joint Select Committee was in favour of reservation for His Majesty's pleasure, and I presume that this paragraph just carries out that intention, but we here are not committed to that, and I can only say once again that this Permanent Settlement business will be a cause of acute controversy in these Provinces in the coming years.
I pass now to paragraph XIX. if hon. Members will turn back to paragraph IX, they will see that the Governor is especially enjoined to interpret his special responsibility for safeguarding the legitimate interests of minorities, by reason of their lack of educational and material advantages and their primitive conditions. The hon. Gentleman said that this is a document which cannot, as I understand, become the subject of litigation in the law courts. Am I right?
§ Mr. JONES
Therefore, we are laying down something which is of exceptional importance. The law courts cannot tackle this thing, and because of the special condition of these unfortunate people a special responsibility is laid on the Governor to safeguard their interests. But we submit in our Amendment that there is another minority, so to speak, to which he ought to have regard as well, and that is labour. The hon. Gentleman said rather lightly and gaily that the Governors of India and the Government of India have consulted together on this matter and do not feel that there is very much in the point. At any rate they want their hands to be free. The hon. Gentleman will not deny that the representation of labour as such is a very meagre representation, even in the lower Houses. When we discussed the Bill itself we on this side took the line, in general, that we were not in favour of 1553 Second Chambers. This House decided against us, but since this House has decided that there shall be Second Chambers we are entitled to say that the interest of labour shall be properly represented in them.
The hon. Gentleman said that the Government must have regard to the rights and interests of the depressed classes, and I do not deny that they ought to have special consideration, but we still maintain that among the individuals co-opted into the Upper Chamber there ought to be one or two representatives of organised labour. It is no use the Government saying that they do not know whom to consult, or that there is nobody they can consult. I am told that when labour legislation is proposed by the Central Government it finds it possible to consult with certain trade unions, and, that being so, it ought to be possible to consult them, in regard to the nominations of labour representatives in the Upper Chambers. The depressed classes are, in the main, to be found in the agricultural areas, and I repeat that we are absolutely in favour of their getting special representation, but India is in process of being industrialised to an ever-growing degree.
It is true that as yet the trade unions are, relatively to the whole population, somewhat weak, but as industrialisation proceeds the interests of the organised workers in India will call the more imperatively for protection, and it is not enough to say that they are protected to a limited degree in the lower Houses. Bills which have passed the Lower Houses must go to the Upper Chambers, and what are the workers to do if in those Upper Chambers there is on one with actual knowledge, arising from experience, to put their point of view in relation to any legislation? We are disappointed that the hon. Gentleman has not found it possible to give us a more favourable answer this afternoon, and I think the Government will find out its mistake. I admit that if organised labour had only one or two representatives there they could not influence by vote a single piece of legislation, but with a competent advocate they might be able to influence by voice the discussions in the Upper Chambers, where, I have no doubt, there will be people sufficiently open-minded to listen to the other point of view. Therefore, I hope that the hon. 1554 Gentleman will find it possible to review this decision of the Government.
The hon. Gentleman told us that if we pressed for labour representation of course the landowners would object. Upon what grounds they could object I do not know, for almost every possible interest of an economic or commercial or business nature is amply protected both in the Lower and the Upper Chambers, it is really no use the hon. Gentleman putting up an argument like that. It is really almost too thin.
§ Mr. BUTLER
There are not any special representatives of commercial interests or landowners or other interests in the Upper House.
§ Mr. JONES
No, not directly, but where does the hon. Gentleman suppose the members elected to the Upper Chambers will come from? The poor people? Really, that is a little too thin. Ho knows very well that those who will get into the Upper Chambers Nvill get there because of their special commercial or economic interests. That is an obvious and plain fact, and the people most likely to be left out are those for whom we are pleading this afternoon. We are not asking too much in asking that there should be one or two direct representatives of labour in the Upper Houses. We here do not entertain any very rosy anticipations as to the ultimate workability of this scheme. We have said so many times before, and say it again this afternoon. The Government believe it will work, and that is enough for us, but it will work all the better if the people in general feel that they are getting a square deal from these institutions, and how can they have that feeling when they will be so shamefully under-represented in the Lower Houses and scarcely represented at all in the Upper Houses, unless our Amendment be accepted? It is vital, in my judgment, from the point of view of the success and acceptability of this new legislative machine which we are setting up in India and the Provinces that the people shall feel that it does in some respects reflect their hopes and aspirations, and without an Amendment such as we are proposing I am afraid the position will be even worse than we anticipate.
I turn from that to the Burma Constitution, on which I will say merely one 1555 or two words. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) raised it this afternoon. Perhaps the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence will reassure us on the point. There was a long discussion on it on 10th April, 1935, when I raised a point which was not exactly the same, I admit, as the point raised by the Noble Lord.
I have received a long telegram from certain people in India. I do not believe in their case at all, but I raise the issue at once merely to make quite sure upon the point. They seem to suggest that an undertaking was given in the House to the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham, that a consultation in regard to emigration from India into Burma should be between the Burmese authorities and the Government of India, not the Governor-General. What is the fact, in relation to that, because there is a vital difference? If the consultation is to be between the Government of Burma and the Central Government of India, that is one thing, but if it is to be between the Government of Burma and the Governor-General of India that is a different thing. As I understand the telegram, its suggestion is that the undertaking was that the consultation should be between the Government of India and the Burmese authorities, and not the Governor-General. I would like to know the truth of the matter, because the question arises whether Parliament has or has not been unintentionally misled.
I have covered the points which we intended to raise. They were two. First, we want representation for Labour and the word "Labour" therefore introduced into paragraph XIX, so as to safeguard definitely a formal Labour representation; secondly, if that point were conceded, we would like that the authorities should consult with the trade-union representatives in relation to people who might be appointed to the Upper Chamber by the Governor-General. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
I understood from Mr. Speaker that he proposed to take the hon. Gentleman's Amendment at the end of the discussion. I will, therefore, not put the Amendment now.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will move it formally later.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
The Under-Secretary of State, prefacing the observations with which he introduced these Instruments to the House with a very appropriate quotation from Burke, referred to Mr. Isaac Foot, who used to distinguish our debates in the long discussions upon the India Bill with quotations from the same writer. I regret that, although I have had Burke's writings upon my shelf for many years, I am not able to put my finger upon quotations so readily as the former hon. Member for Bodmin would have done, and to produce a further appropriate quotation from the same author. The hon. Gentleman has referred to this Measure as a pinnace following in the wake of the mighty ship of the India Bill. If he had chosen a military metaphor instead of a naval one, he might have said that this is the spearhead, or at all events some important advance formation, rather than something which was following in the wake. I cannot help feeling that the conditions set out in paragraphs VII and VIII are as important as anything else in the working of the future Constitution. All these matters relating to the choice and selection of Ministers by the Governor, and the important matter of the Governor's own discretion and the like, in these paragraphs, are vital to the working of the Constitution.
I have tried to figure out how it would be possible in this country to choose a Cabinet on the lines described in paragraphs VII and VIII, but I did not get very far before I found very great difficulty. With regard to the conditions in those paragraphs, it would indeed be a miracle if there are any difficulties which have not been foreseen in the course of the long discussion in the various stages, from the Round Table Conference to the present day. There is very considerable hope that many of the contingencies which have been foreseen may be smoothed out 1557 and disappear, if not after the first election in India, then after the succeeding election has ended, when we may hope that political opinion will consolidate and take form in definite parties. I follow up the observation of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) as to the importance that India and the Indians should feel that they are getting a square deal, and that it should be a Constitution which not only works but which seems to work, in the interests of India herself.
I did not intend to make any long intervention in the Debate, but only to explain the attitude of my right hon. Friends and hon. Friends towards this Motion. From the start of these proceedings we have taken up a very definite attitude on the India Bill and the future Constitution. We have recognised that, if the India Bill had been brought in by a Conservative Government and drawn solely to please the Conservative party, it might have been a very different Bill than that which was proposed. Similarly, if a Labour or a Liberal Government had been responsible, the Bill which they would have produced would have been different from the India Act. We believe that the India Act is the best possible political instrument which could be devised in the political situation of to-day, and that being so, we are concerned, and indeed anxious, to see that the Constitution should be brought into operation at the earliest possible moment.
I remember very well at the time when the Bill was finally passed, that some of my Indian friends were apprehensive as to what would occur in India between the passage of the Bill and the coming into force of the Constitution. They feared that there might be a deterioration of the political conditions and atmosphere in India which would make it very difficult for the new Constitution to operate smoothly. I am glad that their fears and apprehensions have not been justified, and that the position of India to-day is such as to lead us to hope that the new Constitution will have a fair, and, if possible, unprejudiced, trial. That leads me to associate myself and my hon. Friends with the observation of the hon. Gentleman, when he said that it was his wish to send a message of good will to the Governors who are 1558 taking up these tremendously responsible duties. The responsibilities are indeed tremendous, and the Governors will require to be fortified by the wisdom of Solomon and some of the patience of Job. That observation applies also to those who will be Members of the new Ministries; they will have very difficult tasks in commencing this tremendous experiment.
We are considering the formal document but, speaking for myself, I do not feel that the success of the Indian Constitution depends upon a rigid application of any formal document. We cannot rely solely upon the written word. If the new Constitution is to be effective in India in the interests of India and the Indians, it can be only by that confidence and experience which is gained by the day-to-day transaction of business and the exercise of responsibility from the time that the new Constitution begins to work. The duty of the Governors and the Ministerial Councils will be at least as important as anything done by the Federal Government. It is through the Provincial Governments that the most active and close contact will be made with the people of India.
I would associate myself with the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence who seems to have received a further mandate of powers to intervene in this Debate to-day. I should like him to say a little bit more in regard to paragraph XII, which requires a. Governorto see that no action shall be taken by his Ministers which would imperil the economic life of any State.It may be that the question is not necessary, but I cannot recall at the moment whether these particular general acts of social legislation would not be dealt with rather by the Federal Legislature.
We think that the various paragraphs of the Instruments of Instruction interpret faithfully the intentions of Parliament in the India Act, and give weight to many of the representations which have been made by many and various people concerned. I mention, by way of example, paragraph XIV, dealing with the question of whether or not there should be a reservation of the recruitment with regard to irrigation services. Hon. Members will recall that there was a considerable difference of opinion on that point in the Joint Select Committee. I think the House will agree that para- 1559 graph XIV, as drafted, is a workmanlike arrangement for dealing with the matter. I think that India will be able to produce an efficient irrigation service, but it is nevertheless important that the Governor should have in his hands means whereby a breakdown could be averted and steps taken to arrest deterioration or inefficiency in the service. The same applies also to paragraph XV which is a businesslike arrangement whereby the Governor should not be compelled to have an officer to advise him specially with regard to excluded or partially excluded areas, if there is a satisfactory arrangement already in operation. This faithfully represents the intentions of Parliament as expressed in the India Act, and we propose to give it our support.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Sir REGINALD CRADDOCK
The Under-Secretary has introduced these Instruments of Instruction with the sweet reasonableness which characterises almost every speech that he makes in this House; I do not wish to go into the difficulties of practical working which are to be found in the Instructions to Indian Governors, because they are really based entirely on the Act, and I am certain that it would be very difficult, even if I were allowed to do so, to proceed to revive and re-discuss matters which we discussed so extensively a year ago. I should like, however, to say one thing with regard to the Instructions to the Governors of Indian Provinces. There are some matters in connection with which, I think, my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) was needlessly nervous as to what might happen to prevent progress in India because a neighbouring State declared that it was affected. I cannot think of any kind of way in which the interests of such a State might be affected, unless it were in connection with some matter like that of the excise laws, which might lead to smuggling of liquor or drugs from one side or the other, or in connection with some case in which the Ruler of a State might possibly consider that the legislation interfered with his own operations in his own State. No case that I have ever come across has ever produced such a suggestion, nor do I think that, if it had been produced, any Governor would have listened to it for a moment.
But, although I have no remarks with which it would be worth while to detain 1560 the House on the subject of the instructions to Indian Governors, I feel that the instructions in the case of the Governor of Burma are not as complete as they ought to be. For example, No. XII of the Indian Instructions, the one regarding the States, contains a provision to meet the very point of which I have been speaking, in connection with the relations of the Governor to the States, but there is no corresponding provision in the case of the Burma Instruction, although there exist within Burma States which, though wild and backward, are still comparable in their tenure with the lesser States in India. I refer to the five Karenni States in Burma, which are the only States in that country. I do not know why the Clause relating to Indian States in the India Instructions has not been inserted also in the case of Burma, and I would draw the attention of the Under-Secretary to that point.
I should certainly have supposed that, under the heading of Excluded Areas, special instructions would have been included in the Instructions to the Governor in regard to the differences between the various excluded areas, on the lines of the provision made in the Indian Instruction, which I welcome, with regard to the possibility of appointing special officers to look after the interests of the aboriginal population. There are plenty of such areas in Burma which might come under a similar provision; to ensure that their needs were duly brought to the notice of the Governor of Burma, and, indeed of the Ministers, because Ministers are often people who have lived all their lives in the towns, and know nothing whatever about what goes on in the aboriginal tracts buried away in the forests of a remote district.
Nothing is said in the Burma Instruction regarding excluded areas, but among the excluded areas in Burma there is one that is very important, namely, that of the Shan States. There is a Federation of the Shan States among themselves, and they are an excluded area from Burma, not so much because of their backwardness—for, indeed, large parts of them are not specially backward, and are becoming more civilised as the years pass—but because of political considerations. When Upper Burma was annexed in 1887, the Shan States were annexed with it, and their chiefs are known as 1561 the Shan Chiefs. They have powers as great as, if not greater than, the rulers of some of the lesser Indian States, but, owing to their annexation at that time, they are British subjects, and, therefore, are not actually independent chiefs in the same sense as the rulers of the Indian States. By practice and custom, however, over all these many years they have exercised powers which no British subject in India would exercise. They are a very interesting race, much akin to the Siamese. They have federated among themselves, and the Shan States Federation has a separate financial system. There may well be occasions on which the Finance Minister in Burma proper is very much interested in the financial relations between the Shan States and Burma proper, and it seems to me, therefore, that it would be very desirable that the Instructions to the Governor of Burma should contain something with regard to his duties in that matter. The Governor of Burma is solely responsible for the administration of the Shan States; it is entirely reserved; but, on the other hand, on the border between the Shan States and Burma complications are liable to arise about excise, railways and many other matters, on which it may be necessary for the Governor of Burma to decide a difference of opinion between himself in his capacity as the guardian of the Shan States and himself as the Governor of Burma proper acting in relation to his Ministers.
Another point to which I should like to refer is with regard to the Instrument in the case of the North West Frontier Province. It will be in force in that Province only. But there is on the other side the North East Frontier Province, and, although no one can pretend that the dangers in the North East Frontier Province are in any way comparable with the dangers of the North West Frontier Province, nevertheless the number of troops available in Burma at any moment is not very large, and from time to time there have been raids by Chinese Shans, and Chinese themselves, into the Shan States, which had for their object the seizure of Mandalay. One such raid occurred in my time, when they proceeded to manufacture new coins, which were to be sent into Mandalay as a signal of their arrival and of what was 1562 going to happen when they conquered Burma and put an old pretender on the throne again. That was not what you might call serious, because it could be easily repelled by the forces available, but there have been instances in which troops have had to be called up in aid of the military police, and one never knows, when there is so much excitement in the world in one country and another, whether danger might not come later on from that side. Therefore it seems to me very desirable that there should be some reference to this matter in the Instrument of Instruction, and I trust that the Under-Secretary, or whoever is going to reply to this Debate, will take these matters into consideration, and that, if it is not possible to amend this particular Instruction, it may be found possible afterwards to issue some kind of supplementary instruction.
There are only one or two other points that I want to mention in connection with the excluded areas in Burma. They include not only tribes in particular districts which are otherwise under ordinary administration, but large areas almost at the back of beyond, and within those large areas there exist still, or at least may revive at any moment, the practices both of slavery and of human sacrifice. Sir Harcourt Butler took that matter up very strongly during his tenure of office, and an expedition was sent into the Hukhong Valley and the area known as the "Triangle," with a view to putting an end to slavery. Of course, for the time being a practice like slavery can be summarily restrained, but the population in those areas is so scattered, and the administration necessarily so loose, that practices of that kind are only too likely to revive if the opportunity occurs. I do not suppose that the inhabitants of those areas have now become so advanced that they repudiate entirely these practices which so marked them in former years. I think some reference to that subject might possibly find a place in the revised Instrument of Instructions to the Government of Burma. Otherwise I have not noticed any particular Instruction in the case of Burma which seems to me likely to lead to any particular difficulty. The Instructions are, as in the case of India, in conformity with the Act, which I have no desire to attempt to reopen at this juncture.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman in the details into which he has entered but, as I am one of his constituents, I should like to say, particularly as this may be one of the last occasions on which I may be able to say it in the House, because this is almost the last of the documents following upon the Government of India Act, how much I have appreciated the way in which he has enlivened our Debates and contributed so many reminiscences of the days when he served the Government of India with credit to himself and the country. I hope he will forgive me for tendering him that tribute. I think it is quite impossible at this late stage to deal with every detail of this very important document, but I think the House is entitled to ask the hon. Gentleman or the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence for an explicit assurance that there is no departure whatever from the Government of India Act, that the Instrument is in precise accord with every detail of that Act and in no way goes further than the Act, and that it does not omit any power or duty that is provided in the Act. I do not know what will be the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), but I am very greatly relieved to see the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence having so much time on his hands and being able to regard his duties so lightly as to enable him to give the time that he must have taken to study the Instrument of Instructions and be able to be present to-day.
To pass to the Amendment, the franchise was largely laid down and almost completely followed, except so far as women are concerned, by the Indian Franchise Committee, to whom a specific instruction was given to take steps to secure the effective representation of Labour. So far as the Lower Houses of the Provincial Legislatures were concerned, the Committee made certain recommendations which in substance have been adopted by the Government. It did not deal with the question of Second Chambers at all, for reasons laid down in the report, but I think it was understood then, and throughout our Debates in the House, that some provision would be made whereby Labour would be represented in the Second Chambers, where there are Second Chambers, in the Provincial Legislatures. It is clear, on read- 1564 ing this Instrument of Instructions and looking at the Table to which the hon. Gentleman has referred us, that save in very occasional cases indeed there is no possibility whatever of Labour being represented at all in these Second Chambers.
The hon. Gentleman gave us two or three reasons for not putting in a special provision for Labour in paragraph XIX. Firstly, he suggested that it was not desirable to cramp the Governor in any way in regard to his right of nomination. But by accepting the Amendment the Governor would be in no way cramped. His duty would then be firstly, as at present, to redress any inequality of representation resulting from an election and, in the second place, to secure representation for women, Labour and the scheduled castes. If Labour is already represented as the result of the election there would be no obligation on the Governor to nominate further. Therefore his discretion would be in no way limited. If the word "Labour" was inserted it would obviously be the Governor's duty to ensure that Labour was represented.
The second objection that the hon. Gentleman raised was that it has hitherto been understood that the Second Chambers represent communities and not interests. All other interests except Labour—the interests of women and of the scheduled castes—will without question be represented in all these Second Chambers. Commerce and industry obviously will be represented. Landowners without question will be represented. They will probably have a larger representation than any other interest whatever in the community that they belong to, and some provision ought therefore to be made for the specialised interests of Labour to be represented. If that is not done, 95 per cent. of the population will be wholly unrepresented in the Second Chambers. I do not think the hon. Gentleman would really approve of that.
His third objection was that they will be represented through the depressed classes. It is true that a certain representation may be obtained in that way, but one knows that it will probably be necessary, by reason of the lack of education of the scheduled castes, for them to appoint members of their own community who, like for example Dr. Ambedkar, have had an education equivalent to that 1565 enjoyed by Europeans. Dr. Ambedkar had degrees in America, on the Continent and in this country, but he was an exceptional man. It seems to me that it is no argument to say that, because the depressed classes will be represented, therefore their representatives will represent Labour. It is clear that such an individual would not represent organised Labour. I agree that he might in some cases partially represent landless Labour, but I feel that there is really no substance in the hon. Gentleman's argument on this point. Is there any reasonable likelihood of Labour being represented other than through that representation of the depressed classes? If the Government cannot answer that question in the affirmative, it seems to me that we ought to insist upon Labour being included in this Instruction. If that is not done, there is no guarantee that it will be represented at all. I do not think anyone would say that Labour ought not to be represented, to however small a degree, in the House of Lords in this country. Similarly, steps ought to be taken to ensure Labour being represented in the Second Chambers in India. Unless we receive the assurances for which I have asked I hope my hon. Friend will carry his Amendment to a Division.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. SORENSEN
These Instruments that we are discussing were, I believe, when we were passing the India Act, alleged to be the real safeguards of the people of India, and it becomes necessary for us now to consider the details of them very scrupulously indeed. Although there may be a somewhat complacent assumption that all now is smooth sailing in India, there may be a real danger of stormy weather ahead, and indeed the danger of rocks as well. I should like to ask whether the reference to appointments to our Services in the second portion of paragraph X does not unnecessarily promote communal divisions. One interpretation of this Instruction is that there may be an encouragement of inefficiency in the Civil Service. If there is to be a due proportion of appointments of the several communities to our service may it not mean that in some cases, in order to make the balance, a larger proportion of the less efficient will be selected from one community than is really justified? There is another point on which we should like further enlightenment in 1566 regard to paragraph XI. As I see it, it looks very much as if part of the intention of the original India Act is being frustrated by this provision. What check is there on the judgment of the Minister to whom these matters are to be referred? The paragraph says that the special responsibilityshall be construed by him as requiring him to differ from his Ministers if in his individual judgment their advice would have effects of the kind which it is the purpose of the said Chapter to prevent even though the advice so tendered to him is not in conflict with any specific provision of the Act.It seems to me as if that lays it down that the old autocracy which we are trying to abolish is in fact being reestablished. It seems to echo Machiavelli and the present Prime Minister in this recommendation. I should like to know from the Minister exactly the explanation of that particular provision. It seems that, if there are disputations and differences of opinion in some circumstances, the Minister may come forward and, without any responsibility, determine himself what should be done. If that be not so, I should like to know exactly to whom the Governor is responsible. Does it not seem likely that in some circumstances the Minister may make a decision entirely autocratic and without due responsibility to any other body, and that if there be an agitation against such a decision, it is likely to be severely suppressed as against the best interests of India. Surely there is the likelihood of the very intention of the Act being flouted and the possibility of the criticism of the Act from certain quarters in India being suppressed.
I assure the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway opposite that when he dismissed quite easily our contention that Clause 12 might prevent proper labour, factory and industrial legislation from being passed, we have only to look back into our own English history to remember how not so very long ago any kind of legislation promoted in this House for the benefit of the people of this country was denounced by many Members of his party as being likely to imperil the economic life of the State. There are many legislators in India now who, whatever legislation might be produced or whatever measures might be brought forward of economic advantage to the workers in the area, would be likely to, 1567 interpret them as likely to endanger the economic life of the State. I should like the Minister to give a very definite assurance that the interpretation of this unnecessary paragraph will not be likely to prevent the development of social legislation and the upliftment in some measure of the conditions of the people in India. Finally I should like to draw attention to paragraph XIX, which says:It is Our will and pleasure that the seats in the Legislative Council to be filled by the nomination of Our Governor shall be so apportioned as in general to redress, so far as may be, inequalities of representation.I am willing to accept the assurance that that is quite an innocent paragraph, but may it not mean in some circumstances that particular candidates who have been defeated overwhelmingly may, in fact, be appointed by the selection of the Governor, even though the electorate itself has not desired that this or that particular candidate should be elected? I believe that this is the case to-day, and that some persons who have been rejected by various electorates have in fact been selected, in spite of electoral rejectment. I hope that this paragraph will not open the door more widely for that electoral abuse. I hope, quite apart from these observations, that the Minister will deal with the point to which my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) has already referred. We need adequate representation for Labour in the Upper Legislature, and I trust earnestly that we shall hear from the Minister words which will, on the one hand, allay our suspicion, and, on the other hand, some assurance that these Instruments are not to he an indirect method of trying to secure the preservation of that autocracy which we desire to abolish in India.
§ 5.50 p.m.
The MINISTER for the COORDINATION of DEFENCE (Sir Thomas I nskip)
I am permitted to intervene in this Debate, I suppose, because I played a small part in the enactment of the Bill that has now become the Government of India Act and the Government of Burma Act. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) expressed some surprise that I was able to spare a little time for this Debate. If 1568 my day was an eight hour day, it might be different, but what I lose on the swings I make up on the roundabouts, and I dare say that my day may get a little longer. We all realise that these two documents which we are considering —Instruments of Instruction—are intended to breathe the spirit of the Constitution which is embodied in that legislation. It is fairly obvious to any observer that the nature of legislation is very different from the nature of a document of this sort. One must be exact and precise; the other must be more general and may be perhaps a little less precise that legislation ought to be.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds asked for an assurance that there is no departure in these Instruments from what has been embodied in the two Acts of Parliament, and I can certainly give him that assurance. It would be impossible for these Instruments to direct or to advise the Governors to take any particular action which was outside that which was permitted by legislation which this House has passed. Therefore, the assurance for which the hon. and gallant Gentleman asked can be given unhesitatingly. I may remind the House that during the passage of the two Bills a draft of these Instruments was furnished to the House, and I may give this further assurance, though it has not been asked for, that, subject to a number of comparatively small Amendments, nearly all of them alterations of language to make the Instrument better for its purpose, these documents which we are now considering are, in substance, the same as the drafts which were so long before the attention of Parliament.
I will try to deal with the various points that have been raised, and it is probably convenient that I should take them in the order in which they are raised in the documents themselves. Paragraph X was first introduced by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), who asked whether the last sentence, which permits the Governor to safeguard the members of His Majesty's Servicesagainst any action which, in his judgment, would be inequitable,will not give rather a wide discretion. The hon. Gentleman suggested that the word "inequitable" is perhaps more 1569 than is necessary to give him the advice which is intended. I rather think that this Clause is intended to be, or finds its companion or its opposite member so to speak in Section 249 of the Government of India Act, which provides for such compensation being paid as the Secretary of State may consider just and equitable. It is impossible, in an Instrument of this sort, to define the exact circumstances in which interests have to be protected, and I think that in a protection of this sort, which is only a pointer to the way in which the Governor shall discharge his duties, the words "inequitable" is an indication, in conjunction with Section 249 of the Act, of the way in which the interests of His Majesty's Services ought to be protected.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I quite appreciate the necessity for safeguarding any financial rights which these people may have, but that is already done, I submit, in the previous words of this paragraph. It not only safeguards the legitimate interests of these people and their rights as provided for in the Act, but also any action which, in his judgment, would be inequitable. I do not quite understand why the "but" also should have been added.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The hon. Gentleman, of course, is familiar with the difficulty in framing legislation of being quite sure that any precise words which you have cover everything which really ought to be covered in the same category. It is quite impossible. Although, to take a particular instance, an officer's pecuniary emoluments might be preserved by reason of preceding words in this Clause, he might in some way or other be subject to treatment which, might be inequitable, as for instance by the compulsory transfer from one unhealthy district to another. It may be that some officer might be treated in that way, and these overriding words at the end would enable attention to be paid to interests which cannot be measured by any pecuniary loss. I think that I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that is the only intention which is at the back of this last sentence.
The hon. Gentleman then referred to paragraph XII, and particularly to the words which direct the Governor toconstrue his special responsibility for the protection of the rights of any Indian 1570 State as requiring him to see that no action shall be taken by his ministers which would imperil the economic life of any State.A number of hon. Members have referred to this matter this evening, and they will remember, if they were present during the debates, that my right hon. Friend the present First Lord of the Admiralty more than once stated and asserted the right of the States to live and have their proper place in the great community from which they cannot be disentangled; but there is no intention in this phrase of dealing with social legislation. I think that my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State more than once referred to this as a provision that would prevent a stranglehold, such, for instance as the cutting off of communications with the State. I can assure the hon. Gentleman opposite that there is no intention whatever of including within this rather vivid phrase—" imperil the economic life of the State "—social legislation which different political opinions might approve or disapprove. The suggestion was made that a Factory Bill would come within these words, and I think that I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that that is not the intention, and, speaking for myself, I do not believe that a Measure of that sort could properly come within the words to which attention has been directed.
I was asked a question about paragraph XIIa, which refers to Berar. The hon. Gentleman was good enough to say that he merely asked the question without making any criticism. He will remember that there are the provisions under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act. When the Central Provinces obtain provincial autonomy, there must be some new basis for the administration of this area which will be made under the sovereignty of the Nizam. This new basis is provided by the agreement that has been signed by the Nizana and the Viceroy. The agreement is a consequence and the corollary of the grant of provincial autonomy. This is the sole reason for the insertion of this paragraph dealing with Berar. The hon. Gentleman then referred in some detail to paragraph XVII, which deals with the permanent settlement. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman really remembers the last sentence in the para- 1571 graph. He will see that it is provided thatif his previous sanction is required under the Act to the introduction of any Bill of the last-mentioned description"—that is, the Bill altering the character of the permanent settlement—our Governor shall not withhold that sanction to the introduction of the Bill.The hon. Member will observe those words. They deal only with Bills which would alter the character of the permanent settlement. The permanent settlement, as its name indicates, is a permanent settlement, but it was always recognised that it would be improper to make it impossible to pass any legislation which dealt with or modified the permanent settlement or even abolished it. For the protection of persons who are interested in the permanent settlement it is proposed to reconcile two points, namely, the good faith of those responsible for the permanent settlement And yet the right of the new authorities to pass appropriate legislation. I think, therefore, that the object of the paragraph is much more innocuous than the hon. Member was inclined to suggest.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
As I understand the effect of paragraph XVII it is that the Governor cannot assent to any Bill which deals with the permanent settlement, but must refer it to the Governor-General. I do not quite understand that the case cited by the right hon. Gentleman affects that point, but I may be wrong. The permanent settlement cannot be dealt with except with the permission and the authority of the Governor-General. Am I right?
§ Sir T. INSKIP
No legislation can be introduced in this case without previous sanction, but in view of these Instructions there is nothing to prevent the Legislature from dealing with a Bill to alter the character of the permanent settlement. There is, however, the subsequent safeguard that that Bill will have to be reserved for the assent of the Governor-General and through him for the assent of His Majesty. There will be no interference with the power of the Legislature to introduce, discuss and pass a Bill, subject to that final safeguard.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
But it is different in this respect, that any Bill 1572 which the Provincial Legislature may pass must receive the sanction of the Governor, and that is an end of it, but if a Bill dealing with the permanent settlement is introduced that is not the end of it, because it must go to the Governor-General for his assent.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
That is perfectly true. It is different in that respect, but so far as I am aware it is the only way of reconciling the two considerations to which I have called attention. The hon. Member is perfectly right in his statement of the position. The next point to which attention has been called is that which arises from the Amendment which will be moved shortly, and I suppose will be put from the Chair. The Amendment is to insert after the word "women" the word "labour" in paragraph 19. I should have thought that most hon. Members would feel that it was very undesirable to limit the Governor's discretion in this matter more than is absolutely necessary. It is obvious, as I think everybody recognises, and as the hon. Member recognises, that you cannot provide for all interests in this way; otherwise the whole business becomes a farce. That would be the case if you direct the Governor to assign one of the seats in respect of which he is entitled to make a nomination, to a number of interests, all of which, if not regarded by hon. Members opposite as important as Labour are important to the people concerned. The Government have made up their mind not to provide for representation by nomination of interests as compared with communities. Hon. Members opposite say, "You will have those other interests represented whether you provide for nominees to represent them or not, and it is a, proper safeguard for Labour that this Amendment should be made." I should think it is quite likely that Labour will secure some representation by indirect election.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The hon. Member shakes his head. If it does not, there will obviously be a stronger case for nomination, but in our opinion a specific Instruction on the subject will be unfair to other interests not less deserving in the opinion of the Government, and it would have the effect of fettering the Governor's discretion. I hope the House 1573 will approve the decision of the Government that this matter is better left to the sense and judgment of the Governor, who will no doubt use it in the Nay I have indicated if it becomes necessary in his opinion that an interest which is not at all represented should have some representation by reason of his nomination. The Government's from decision is that we should not select even an important interest like Labour for special inclusion in paragraph 19 of the Instrument of Instruction.
I pass now to the Instrument in regard to Burma. I have had the same telegram directed to me which the hon. Member opposite seems to have received, and I will try to deal with the point raised. I understand that what the Indians would like is that they should be treated in the same way as British subjects domiciled in India are treated in respect of their entry into Burma. It was with a view to a provision of that sort that my Noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) introduced an Amendment providing that it should be possible to pass legislation restricting the immigration of what is called unskilled labour. On that occasion I made an observation which commended itself to the House, and I hope it will commend itself to the House to-day, that the expression "unskilled labour" is not what one would call a term of art and that it will be very difficult for the draftsman to put into a Bill words which would represent what, generally speaking, we understand by unskilled labour. It would be necessary in a word like that to be able to apply the label to each individual who came along. The House was inclined to accept the advice which I gave it, and the Amendment which was adopted provides a number of safeguards which I think will have the same effect.
Let me remind the House that there will be an Order in Council under Section 138 of the Act which will preserve for three years the restrictions on immigration. There will be no further restrictions on immigration for that period than those which existed at the date of separation. Those restrictions are practically nil, and none can be introduced for a term of three years. Apart from that, there is the provision in paragraph XX of the Instrument that the Governor before exercising his discretionary power of leave to introduce shall consult the 1574 Governor-General of India. That is a not inconsiderable safeguard. Then there is the provision under Section 36 (1) of the Act, which provides that no Measure affecting immigration into Burma shall be introduced without the previous sanction of the Governor. The Governor is to act in his discretion and that means direct responsibility to the Secretary of State and this House. These safeguards taken together really effect the purpose which was behind the Amendment moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham.
My hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Sir R. Craddock) asks why there was no provision corresponding to paragraph 15 of the Indian Instrument. The reason is that that is unnecessary. Section 7 of the Burma Statute provides for the appointment of three counsellors who are to assist the Governor in the exercise of functions which he has to discharge in his discretion. Those functions include the excluded areas and also the case of the Karenni States which are not part of the territories of His Majesty. Therefore, it is unnecessary to put into the Instrument of Instructions that there shall be summoned counsellors to assist the Governor in the discharge of his duties, because it is already provided that he shall have three counsellors to assist him in the discharge of his duties with regard to the excluded areas and the areas which are not part of the territories of His Majesty. In regard to the Federated Shan States, perhaps the hon. Member for the English Universities has forgotten that by a Section of the Burma Act, I think Section 68, there is a lengthy provision under which the Federal Fund continues, and the chiefs will continue to administer the Federated States under the supervision of the Commissioner, who has direct responsibility to the Governor, acting in his discretion under Section? with the assistance of his counsellors. I would, therefore, point out that as the Federated Shan States seem to have the most ample protection it is unnecessary for any other special provision to be inserted in the Instrument of Instructions.
I need say little about the suggestion that there ought to be a special paragraph dealing with the conditions in the North-East of India in the same way that there is special reference to the position 1575 in the North-West. The Government have considered that matter and have come to the conclusion that, having regard to the nature of whatever problems might arise, it was not necessary to have a special provision of that sort.
One other word in reference to Bengal, of which no mention has been made, though may be hon. Members would like something to be said about it. There is at present no valid ground for inclusion in the Instructions to the Governors of any special provision relating to the exercise of powers conferred by Section 57 of the Government of India Act. What I want to say is that if there should be any change in conditions the Governor will furnish a revised appreciation for the benefit of the Secretary of State, and this House can be assured that it will have ample opportunity at any time of bringing into play the powers which are conferred by Section 57. I think it right to make that statement in this Debate so that if subsequent attention is directed to this matter there may be no doubt about the position of the Government of India.
Reference has been made to the great problems which await the consideration of the Governors who will have to carry out these responsible duties. No one can say that we are guilty of complacency in
§ this matter. It has been a common charge against the Government, and I myself have been charged with being guilty of smug complacency, but I can assure hon. Members opposite that we are as conscious as they are of the heavy responsibilities which will be placed upon the Governors in the discharge of the functions entrusted to them under the Act, and I am sure that I can associate hon. Members opposite with the Government in wishing them Godspeed in their responsible labours, and in the hope that the result of all our labours will be a happy and prosperous India and Burma.
Amendment proposed: In line 1, to leave out from the word "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:
this House cannot assent to an humble Address being presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 53 of the Government of India Act, 1935, praying that His Majesty may be pleased to issue instructions to the Governors of Governors' Provinces unless the draft of such instructions is laid before Parliament in an amended form with the insertion in paragraph xis, line 5, after the word 'women,' of the word "labour'"—[Mr. Morgan Jones.]
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 235: Noes, 112.1579
|Division No. 9.]||AYES.||[6.20 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Edmondson, Major Sir J.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Elliston, G. S.|
|Albery, Sir I. J.||Channon, H,||Elmley, Viscount|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Christie, J. A.||Emery, i. F.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstsad)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Everard, W. L.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Flldes, Sir H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Fyle, D. p. M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Craddock, Sir R. H.||Ganzont, Sir J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Crooke, J. S.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Crossley, A. C.||Goodman, Col. A. W.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Crowder, J. F. E.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Bernays, R. H.||Culverwell, C T.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)|
|Blair. Sir R.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Grldley, Sir A. B.|
|Bllndell, Sir J.||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Griffith. F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Grlmston, R. V.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||De Chair, S. S.||Grltten, W. G. Howard|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||De la Bère, R.||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, V W.)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Doland, G. F.||Hanbury, Sir C.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Donner, P. W.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Dorman-Smlth. Major R. H.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Bull, B. B.||Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Harris, Sir P. A.|
|Butler. R. A.||Drewe, C.||Harvey, Sir G.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Duggan, H. J.||Hellgers, Captain f. F A.|
|Cary, R. A.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A P.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Eckersley, P. T.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Cazalet, Thalma (Islington, E.)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hepworth. J.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Morgan, R. H.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff. E.)||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Holdsworth. H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Unlv'a.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Holmes. J. S.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cir'nc'st'r)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Hopkinson, A.||Munro, P.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Nall. Sir J.||Smith. Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Hudson, capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Nicoison, Hon. H. G.||Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Hulbert. N. J.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||O'Neill. Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Hunter, T.||Orr-Ewing. I. L.||Spens, W. P.|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Owen, Major G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Peake, O.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|James, Wing-commander A. W.||Peat, C. U.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Jones. H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Penny, Sir G.||Storey, S.|
|Jones. L. (Swansea, W.)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Plugge, L. F.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Porritt, R. W.||Sutcllffe, H.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Procter, Major H. A,||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Leckle, J. A.||Radford, E. A.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Lees-Jones. J.||Ramsay. Captain A. H. M.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Lelghton. Major B. E. P.||Ramsbotham, H.||Train, Sir J.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Rathbone. J. R. (Bodmin)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Lottus, P. C.||Remer, J. R.||Turton, R. H.|
|Lumley, Capt- L. R.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Ward. Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Water house, Captain C.|
|M'Connell. Sir J.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry)||Wayland. Sir W. A.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Macdonald. Capt. P. (Isle ol Wight)||Rothschild, J. A. de||Wells, S. R.|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Rowlands, G.||White, H. Graham|
|Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Ruqgles-Brise. Colonel Sir E. A.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Willoughby de E[...]sby, Lord|
|Magnay, T.||Salmon, Sir I.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Maitland. A.||Salt. E. W.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon H. D. R.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Warkham, S. F.||Sanderson, Sir F. B,|
|Maxwell. S. A.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Savory, Servington||Dr Morris-Jones and Lieut.|
|Mellor. Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Scott, Lord William||Colonel Llewellin.|
|Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Selley, H. R.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Gardner, B. W.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Paling, W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Parker, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Grentell, D. R.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Amman, C. G.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pethlck-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hardle, G. D.||Potts. J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Prltt. D. N.|
|Barr, J.||Hopkin, D,||Qulbell, D. J. K.|
|Batey, J.||Jagger, J.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Bellenger, F.||Jenkins. A. (Pontypool)||Ridley, G.|
|Benson, G.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Riley, B.|
|Bevan, A.||John, W.||Rltson, J.|
|Bromfield. W.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T,||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rowson, G.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Kelly, W. T.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Burke, W. A.||Klrby, B. V.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Cape. T.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Shinwell. E.|
|Cassells, T.||Lathan, G.||Short, A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, J. J.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Chater, D.||Leach, W.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, F.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhlthe)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R,||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cocks. F. S.||Lunn. W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Stephen, C.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||McGhee, H. G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Daggar, G.||MacLaren, A.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Dalton, H.||Maclean, N.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davles, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dobbie, W.||Maxton, J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dunn. E. (Rother Valley)||Messer, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, J. C.||Mliner, Major J.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Montague, F.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Gallacher, W.||Muff, G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Westwood, J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Whltelcy, W.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wilkinson, Ellen||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)||Mr. Groves and Mr. Mathers.|
|Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Ordered, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—[Mr. Butler.]
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 9 of the Government of Burma Act, 1935, praying that His Majesty may be pleased to issue Instructions to the Governor of Burma in the form of the draft laid before Parliament."—[Mr. Butler.]
§ Ordered, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—[Mr. Butler.]
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.