§ 25. Mr. Ammon
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any statement to make concerning the resignations of Sir Sikander Hyat Khan and Sir Muhammad Saadulla from the National Defence Council; and whether Sir Sultan 284 Ahmed is still a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council and Begum Shah Nawaz and the Nawab of Chhatari are members of the National Defence Council?
§ 27. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can give the House any information respecting the resignation of two recently appointed members of the Governor-General's Council; and what reaction the Moslem League has shown to his recent proposals?
§ Mr. Amery
There have been no resignations from the Viceroy's Executive Council. As regards the newly created National Defence Council, its main purpose was, as I made clear at the time, to bring the war effort in the Provinces and States, as well as in the ranks of commerce, industry and labour, into more effective touch with the Central Government. It was on that basis that invitations to serve were issued to and accepted by the Premiers of the four Provinces in which the normal constitution has remained in force, in their capacity as Premiers, and without reference to the fact that three of them were members of the Moslem League. The Working Committee of the Moslem League, convened by Mr. Jinnah, has since called upon members of the League, including the Premiers of Bengal, the Punjab and Assam, to resign both from the Viceroy's Executive and the National Defence Council, on the ground that they had associated themselves with a step taken without reference to and against the wish of Mr. Jinnah as President of the League. These three Premiers have complied with the request of the Working Committee, but as has been reported in the Press to-day the Premier of Bengal has resigned also from the Working Committee and Council of the League to mark his dissatisfaction with the action of those in control of the League. The Nawab of Chhatari had previously resigned from the Defence Council on accepting the post of President of the Hyderabad Executive Council. Begum Shah Nawaz remains a member of the Council. There have been no other resignations.
§ Mr. Amery
No, Sir, I think it was made perfectly clear, both by the Viceroy and myself, that the purpose of the National Defence Council was to bring the Provinces and States, commerce, industry and labour, into closer contact with the Central Government. It was, of course, essential, as is always the case in India, that on any public body there should be a reasonable representation of the two communities, and this fact, I think, was misrepresented by Mr. Jinnah in order to secure the resolution which was passed by the Moslem League.
§ Mr. Amery
No claim had been made by the Government that anybody has been invited as representing the Moslem League. A letter to Mr. Jinnah mentioned that the Moslem community was worthily represented, that is, represented in the sense that there was a reasonable proportion of Moslems to Hindus in the total. It was made amply clear that the basis on which these invitations were issued and accepted in the case of Premiers was as Premiers of their Province and that if they ceased to be Premier their places would automatically be taken by those who succeeded them.