HC Deb 13 October 1942 vol 383 cc1571-2

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Harvey

We ought to express our thankfulness that at such a time the Government of India and the Secretary of State have made this provision for a class of people who cannot help themselves, protecting them from the power of the usurer and the ensuing alienation of their land, which has long been a curse in many parts of India among the poorest sections of the population. It is notable that at such a time the Government should in this way have taken care of the most helpless part of the community.

Mr. Amery

I entirely agree with the hon. Member's comment. Some of the aboriginal tribes as well as the peasants of provinces like the Punjab require to be protected against the money-lender. A recent decision in the courts indicated that the drafting of the original Clause in this connection was a little too narrow, and so for "mortgage or sale" the word "dispositions" has been substituted, and similarly the words "agricultural, land" have been redefined in conection with legislation which covers, for instance, the sites of farm buildings and water rights. It is true, as the hon. Member pointed out, that in this matter we are protecting many of the most helpless elements in the Indian community, but I would also point out that we are incidentally protecting, in the Punjab at any rate, those classes of peasants, both Moslem and Hindu, who provide between them very nearly half the Indian Army, and who would certainly be very much disturbed if they felt that the rights which they have hitherto enjoyed had in any manner been put in question.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clauses 5, 6 and. 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time, and passed.