§ 27. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for India the present number detained; the number now awaiting trial or serving terms of imprisonment for offences associated with political action; the total number of prisoners of all kinds; and why figures for the North-West Frontier Province are not available?
§ The Secretary of State for India (Mr. Amery)
According to my latest information the number of persons undergoing imprisonment on 1st May for offences in connection with the Congress movement was 23,286, and the number of persons under detention, whether for a short or for an indefinite period, was 12,704. These figures once again do not include those for the North-West Frontier Province owing presumably to delay in reporting the information. My latest figures for the North-West Frontier Province relate to 1st February, when 232 persons were undergoing imprisonment and 413 were under detention (mostly temporarily) in connection with the Congress movement. No figures for persons waiting trial are available. I have no up-to-date figures for the total number of prisoners in India. In 1939 the daily average was approximately 130,000.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Would the right hon. Gentleman say when he is likely to obtain fuller particulars regarding imprisonments and arrests on the North-West Frontier?
§ 29. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has considered the statement recently published by 25 British missionaries in India, of which a copy has been sent to him; and whether the proposals in that statement, including an appeal for an amnesty to political prisoners, have received sympathetic consideration by the Governor-General and His Majesty's Government?
§ Mr. Amery
Yes, Sir. The hon. Member will be aware that in his farewell address to the Indian Legislature last Monday the Viceroy made a moving appeal to India's leaders to get together and prepare the way, as the signatories to the statement suggest, for the constitutional discussions that lie ahead. In regard to the suggestion in the missionaries' statement to grant an amnesty to political prisoners who are prepared to follow constitutional methods, I would remind the hon. Member that it was the choice of very different methods, which they have shown no disposition to renounce, that has led to the continued detention of Mr. Gandhi and the Congress leaders.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Is the right hon. Gentleman giving any kind of reply to this very representative statement made by Christian missionaries in India?
§ Mr. Edmund Harvey
Does the statement of the Viceroy which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted imply that access will be given to Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Rajagopalachari and others to meet Mr. Gandhi in his place of internment?
§ Mr. Shinwell
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of Indian leaders getting together; how can they, if some of them are in gaol? How does he propose that they should get together? Does he propose to release them for that purpose?
§ Mr. Sorensen
What possible harm can there be for non-Congress leaders like Mr. Rajagopalachari to have contact with the Congress leaders?