§ The Secretary of State for India (Mr. Amery)
With the permission of the House I should like to make a short statement on a matter connected with the welfare of British troops in the India Command. The Government of India have been, and are, making great efforts to improve and expand welfare arrangements for British troops in India. There is no doubt that a great deal more can be done if further supplies, equipment and personnel can be provided from outside India. Recent improvements in our general situation are now making this possible. In order to assure myself that everything possible will be done and that the further assistance which is now becoming available is applied to the most urgent needs, I have asked my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for India to proceed to India to examine conditions on the spot, to consult with the Government of India, and to report to me personally. His visit will be of short duration and confined to the purpose I have described.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Has my right hon. Friend considered a suggestion which was made to him during the Debate on Indian Welfare which took place just before the House rose for the Summer Recess, namely, that independent Members of Parliament should proceed to India for the purpose of seeing what is happening out there? Many delegations have been out to the Colonies and the Dominions. Has he considered that?
§ Mr. Amery
Yes, Sir. I have carefully considered that suggestion but my anxiety is to get deficiencies remedied as rapidly as possible and, from that point of view, I feel that there will be great advantage in a report being made by someone who can follow it up at once in the India Office, and continue to follow it up.
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden
Will the Minister consider sending to India General Sir Colin Jardine, Director of Army Welfare, who seems to have done an excel- 246 lent job in the Middle East, in Italy and in the North West European theatre of operations? In view of the knowledge and experience of this man would not the Minister let him accompany the Under-Secretary?
§ Mr. Amery
As I explained in the Debate not long ago, it is obvious that in a great many of these military matters there must be immediate contact and cooperation between the troops in India and the War Office. On the other hand, Parliamentary responsibility for the condition of troops in India, British and Indian, rests with the Secretary of State for India.
§ Mr. Amery
I should not like to commit myself definitely as to whether the report itself will be made available, but in any case I hope to lay before the House, soon after my Noble Friend has reported, a full statement of all that has been, and is being, done by the Government of India in connection with welfare.