HC Deb 19 December 1938 vol 342 cc2439-40
1. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Under- Secretary of State for India whether he will make a statement respecting the present position of the scheme of Federation envisaged in the India Act; whether any changes or modifications are likely to be made; and whether he is taking any steps to encourage the democratisation of the Indian States as a preliminary to Federation being effected?

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Colonel Llewellin)

In reply to the first part of the hon. Member's question, full consideration has now been given to the replies received from Indian Rulers as regards the limitations to which they would wish their accession to Federation to be subject. In the light of this consideration His Excellency the Crown Representative will very shortly be communicating to the Rulers detailed information as to the terms on which their accession to Federation as envisaged in the Government of India Act could be considered. With regard to the second part, no changes or modifications are contemplated in the scheme of Federation embodied in the Act. With regard to the third part, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply on Friday, 16th December. to the hon. Member for the Kidderminster Division of Worcestershire (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne).

Mr. Sorensen

Do I understand that, in fact, some proposals towards democratisation are to be included?

Colonel Llewellin

No, Sir. We are not urging anything in that line upon the Princes, but, of course, we are not going to hinder any action which the Princes themselves might think fit to take.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that the Congress Party and those parties sympathetic to Congress are pressing strongly for democratisation without which no scheme of Federation can be complete?

Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman

Can the hon. and gallant Member say what percentage of the Princes have signified their intentions in this matter?

Colonel Llewellin

I should want notice of that question. In reply to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), I am aware that some Members of the Congress Party are pressing for this policy, but Mr. Gandhi when he was here at the Round Table Conference strongly expressed the view that we have no right, in my humble opinion to say to the States what they shall do and what they shall not do. That is the line the Government are taking in the matter.

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