HC Deb 10 September 1942 vol 383 cc295-6
63. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware of the pleas for renewed negotiations made by prominent non-Congress Indians and of the declarations respecting Indian freedom and self-government made both by the Hindu Mahasabha and the Moslem League; and what specific proposals were made recently to the Viceroy by either of these bodies?

Mr. Amery

I have seen Press reports of the statements and declarations referred to. I am not aware of any specific proposals having been made to the Viceroy by either the Hindu Mahasabha or the Moslem League, though I understand that Dr. S. P. Mookerjee, as acting chairman of the latter body, had an interview with His Excellency yesterday.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. Gentleman taking any steps to become acquainted with the views of these two non-Congress bodies; and will he, having become acquainted with their views, then make some response to their proposals?

Mr. Amery

No, Sir; I am afraid that, being acquainted with the views of those two bodies, I find it difficult to make a response to views which are contradictory of each other.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Would you not consider, Sir, taking steps to deprecate the use of such a term as "Indian freedom," which is entirely misleading and gives a false impression?

Mr. Sorensen

On a point of Order. Do I understand that it is out of Order now to speak of Indian freedom?

Sir Stanley Reed

Are not the points of view put forward by these two bodies absolutely irreconcilable?

Sir T. Moore

On my point of Order—

Mr. Speaker

It is not a point of Order.

66. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Secretary of State for India why, in view of references in the resolution of the Indian National Congress to the intention of the leaders to make further efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Viceroy and the repeated statements of non-Congress leaders that such negotiations might produce results, advantage was not taken of the opportunity thus offered of avoiding the present crisis?

Mr. Amery

There is no room for negotiations in circumstances which Mr. Gandhi described as open rebellion. When the All-India Congress Committee endorsed the threat to start a mass campaign of civil disobedience failing satisfaction of demands which they well knew could not be satisfied, the Government of India had no option but to take immediate preventive measures. Subsequent events have fully justified their action.

Mr. Graham White

Does the right hon. Gentleman, nevertheless, give his whole approval to such efforts as are made by Mr. Rajagopalachari and Sir Tej Sapru, who are working to produce a better atmosphere?

Mr. Amery

Yes, Sir; all efforts made by moderate and statesmanlike people to bring about unity in India are welcomed.