HC Deb 13 July 1944 vol 401 cc1866-8
14. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware of the proposals associated with Mr. Rajagopalachari and the pronouncement of Mr. Gandhi, particularly in relation to the Moslem community; and whether, to encourage the opportunities that may arise from these, he will release Congress leaders or, failing this, have facilities for consultation with Mr. Gandhi and other political leaders.

15. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to pronouncements made by Mr. Gandhi in interviews held this month with Mr. Rajagopalachari, indicating his desire to promote co-operation in India and his disapproval of acts of sabotage committed during the period of his detention and to suggestions made by Mr. Gandhi to meet the demands of the Moslem League; and whether further steps are being taken to facilitate the formation of an all-party Indian National Government.

Mr. Amery

I have seen the Press accounts of certain statements made recently by Mr. Rajagopalachari and of an interview with Mr. Gandhi by a correspondent of the "News Chronicle." The former, apparently, refer to proposals for a Hindu-Moslem settlement which Mr. Rajagopalachari discussed with Mr. Gandhi in March, 1943. These proposals were recently communicated to Mr. Jinnah. The present position is obscure and I would prefer to refrain from comment until the situation is clearer. I would naturally welcome any effective move towards a settlement between the two major communities.

Mr. Sorensen

Do I understand that it is quite possible that in the near future the Government will seize this opportunity of resuming negotiations, or at least providing facilities for further consideration of the whole matter, especially in view of the statement made by Sir Firoz Khan Noon only yesterday?

Mr. Amery

I understand from Sir Firoz himself that there was a misunderstanding in the Press. His statement referred to a settlement after the war, and not to the present situation. Any settlement must be a matter for the two major communities to agree upon as between themselves.

Earl Winterton

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that in any negotiations in which the Government of India have a part, equal rights will be given to the Moslem League, as to the predominantly Hindu Congress, which is unalterably opposed to the views of the Moslem League and the great majority of Moslems in India?

Mr. Amery

There is no question of the Government in India exercising one-sided influence in the discussions in any manner.

Sir H. Williams

Will the 50,000,000 people in India who are described as "untouchables" have the same consideration as Mr. Gandhi?

Mr. Amery

They will have their opportunity of urging their claims.