§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Earl Winterton
In the absence, owing to another engagement, of my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), I want to raise a very important question about the position of these Services. There is, as I shall endeavour to show in the course of my remarks, an apparent discrepancy—and I am confident that the Under-Secretary will be able to tell us why—between the satisfactory statement made by the Prime Minister upon the subject of the Services, and the statement the right hon. and learned Gentleman made in his reply in the Debate on Second Reading. I regret that my right hon. Friend is not able to be present, because he has had more recent experience of the Services than I have, but I had a very long experience, nearly seven official years so to speak. To open a bit of what has hitherto been secret history, there was a period when it was almost impossible to recruit members —that was nearly a quarter of a century ago—to either the Secretary of State's Service, or the other Services. People would not come in because of the uncertainty of the situation and the lowness of the salaries paid. From this long distance of time, perhaps I may now say that I was sent out on an unofficial mission in 1902 to the Viceroy, to induce the Government to agree to such conditions of service as would make it possible to recruit the same splendid type of young Indian who had been recruited in the past, and that equally applied to young Britons. It was very desirable to get young Indians in as well.
To cut short my little piece of history, they were recruited, and as a result, in the 1920's there was a very good intake of Indians, and people from this country. I feel as we all do, including Members of the Government who were in office at the time, that we all have a great responsibility towards these men, Indian and British, who were encouraged by the efforts of hon. Members on both sides of the House to enter these services. Nor is it possible to ignore the fact that, at any rate until the announcement by the Under-Secretary of State in the Second Reading Debate, there was serious concern on the part of many members of the Services. 131 Some of my right hon. Friends on these benches have received a large number of telegrams and letters from India. I have received a good many letters. I will read extracts from a typical letter of concern—it cannot be described as complaint—very proper concern, by a man in the Ordnance Services and Departments, which is a very important body in the Civil Service structure of India. He says:Since this was written.he encloses a memorandum which I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman has seen—we have been instructed to decide whether we elect to serve in Pakistan or in the rest of India. We may make a provisional choice (for six months) and either Government will guarantee us our existing conditions of service.Then follows something to which I wish to call particular attention. The letter says:We have had bitter experience of the way in which regulations have been read at various times. Members of our service, recruited during the war for the duration of the war, returned to England bitterly disappointed with the attitude of the Indian Government who in effect attempted to repudiate the terms of their agreement which was signed in England.A statement of that kind must cause concern to every Member of the Committee, because there is no party division of opinion between the two sides of the Committee about it being the duty, in the case of ex-Service men, and these are British ex-Service men, to do everything we can to help them. The writer continues:We have been unable to obtain any information from the Defence Department as to what are the 'existing conditions of service.' We are credibly informed that, instead of a man being allowed to take all the leave to which he is entitled pending termination of service, should he not elect to serve under either of the two Governments, he will be treated as having served notice on the Government of India. This means that service terminates six months after the service of such notice.It may be that the Government will take advantage of the Clause that 'leave is a privilege and not a right,' in which case the officer will have to continue working right up to the end of this notice period. With transport in its present state, this would perhaps mean a further three months to remain in India without pay. In any case, if leave were granted it would mean spending this leave in India until a passage could be arranged.The writer goes on to make a number of other complaints. I will hand the letter to the right hon. and learned Gentleman 132 privately. I quote it as symptomatic of a feeling of concern which existed until the Under-Secretary of State's announcement. My correspondent writes:…the position of the Europeans of the Ordnance Services is very obscure.I have had a number of letters from other members of the Services.
What we are concerned with, as I have already said, is to reconcile what was stated by the Prime Minister with what was said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I particularly make no party point. I think everyone will agree that it is necessary in a matter of this kind, which affects a large number of people, Europeans and Indians—because I do not want to get on to a controversial point—to make clear that not every Indian in the Services is particularly anxious to serve under India or Pakistan. They may enter under different conditions. It is not a racial question, but a question of the position of these men. What did the Prime Minister say? He said:As regard persons who have been in Government service, whether Central or Provincial, but whose service has not. been specifically under the Secretary of State, I am happy to be able to announce now that the leaders of the Indian parties have guaranteed the existing terms and conditions of service to all their employees, including Europeans. This guarantee covers pensionary and provident fund liabilities, and excludes any question of discrimination between Indian and non-Indian. But it cannot, of course, be regarded as an abandonment of the general right of any Government to revise the salaries of their servants from time to time. It is, however, recognised that, among the liabilities to which I have referred above, there is one category for which His Majesty's Government have a special responsibility, namely, towards Europeans who served in the Secretary of State's and analogous Services. We intend to invite the new authorities to negotiate, in due course, an agreement whereby a capital sum in sterling will be set aside to cover this liability. Meanwhile, those concerned have the assurance of His Majesty's Government that they will receive the pensions to which they are entitled."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, l0th July, 1947; Vol.439, c. 2470.]Then, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State when replying, said this:The right hon. Gentleman's next question"—he was referring to my right hon. Friend the Member for Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson)—was with regard to the Services. He asked what was meant by the term ' analogous service.' Analogous service means officers of 133 the various defence forces. The statement of policy which was made by the Prime Minister on 30th April with regard to pensions covers the members of the Secretary of State's Services and the various members of the Defence Services and for these purposes they are considered to be and are described as analogous services.Mr. H. MACMILLAN: This is rather an important point. Does that include what are called the uncovenanted services?Mr. HENDERSON: No, and I am coming to deal with that now. It does not cover Europeans who are in the service of the various Provincial Governments and ho are not members of the Secretary of State's Services; nor does it cover such personnel as are in the employment, for example, of the Railway Department of the Central Government.That, of course, will include persons in the category described in the letter which I have quoted. The Under-Secretary of State continued:They have their contracts direct with the Government of India or the Governor-General in Council on the one hand, in the case of the Railway Service, and with the Provincial Governments in the other cases. The most we can do is to have got the leaders of the major parties of India to accept the responsibility for pensions and proportionate pensions. Any question of safeguarding their interests under their contracts must be done in another way." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, l0th July, 1947; Vol.439, c. 2556.]I think that is in conflict with the words I have previously quoted of the Prime Minister who said:I am happy to be able to announce now that the leaders of the Indian parties have guaranteed the existing terms and conditions of service to all their employees, including Europeans."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, l0th July, 1947; Vol. 439, C. 2470.]We want to get that matter cleared up by, I hope, a further statement from the right hon. and learned Gentleman which may be sent out to India in order to reassure these people. I do not want to pursue the matter further at this stage because probably my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden, who has now returned, may have something to say later. I think I have succeeded in my task of not making this in any sense a party question. I am particularly anxious that we should not do that. All that I and all of us on either side of the Committee are concerned with, is to see that these admirable people, both Britons and Indians, of the various grades of the Services are given reasonable assurances about their future.
134 Following the quotation which I have just read from the speech of the Under-Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden said:What does that mean?Obviously, he was surprised, like the rest of us, at what appeared to be a deviation from what the Prime Minister has said. The Under-Secretary of State replied:What we intend to do is to cover such matters in the treaty that we intend to negotiate with the successor Governments…[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th July, 1947; Vol. 439, c. 2556.]I gather from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attitude that he is going to clear up this dubiety which exists as a result of what appears to be a difference between the statement made by the Prime Minister and the one made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I end by saying that we on this side of the Committee, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, attach immense importance to this matter.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Brigadier Low
I only want to add one small point to the case which my right hon. Friend has put so fully and forcibly, and that is in connection with the servants of the Government of India. I understand that these include some covenanted and uncovenanted servants. who, as public servants of the Government of India, have a right to pension. They all have the same right to pension, although the pension itself may be of different amount, and whether they are the Secretary of State's servants or not. In either case, the pension is a charge upon the public revenues of the Government of India. His Majesty's Government have chosen to distinguish between the pensions payable to the Secretary of State's servants and the pensions payable to other servants, and there has always been a distinction between the responsibility of this House and the Government towards the Secretary of State's servants and to the other servants of the Government of India.
It seems to me that we can carry this distinction a little too far, bearing in mind that the pensions scheme, in either case, comes from the same revenues, and that the right of pension is a right against the same revenue. It has been, and it will remain until 15th August, the ultimate responsibility of His Majesty's 135 Government to see that these pensions are paid. On 15th August, we cease to be responsible for anything like that, but, under the guarantee which the Prime Minister gave us on l0th July, we remain responsible for the payment of pensions to the Secretary of State's servants. Could not the Government reconsider the position of these covenanted servants of the Government of India who, though under contract with the Government of India and having a right to pensions, are now the Secretary of State's servants? That is the point I wish to put, and it is one which really carries one step further the argument put by my right hon. Friend. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not had time to consider the point tonight, I hope he will read what I have said and think it over.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
May I put one other point of detail before the right hon. and learned Gentleman replies, and also reserve the right to make further observations when we have heard his no doubt entirely satisfactory reply? I want to ask about a certain category, that is, officials who serve in the Central Government and belong to the railway service. Almost all these officials were recruited by the company-managed railways which have subsequently been acquired by the Government of India. When they became State railway officials, some of them executed agreements with the Secretary of State and some with the Governor-General in Council to serve His Majesty. The only factor determining whether the agreement was with the Secretary of State or with the Governor-General in Council was, in fact, the date of acquisition by the State of the railway in question, those acquired before 1935 being acquired by the Secretary of State and those later by the Governor-General in Council. I have figures to show that some 95 European officials have contracts with the Secretary of State and some 338 with the Governor-General in Council. We want to be quite sure that there is no discrimination between these two types of officials.
I have chosen that particular case in order to get down to details to show some of the borderline cases that appear to exist, and this is a particularly difficult case because the officers of the Secretary of State have their pensions fully guaranteed, and if they are not required to stay 136 or are unwilling to continue in the service, they are guaranteed compensation for loss, or are offered alternative employment. I want to ask how the latter cases—those who negotiated agreements with the Governor-General in Council, and who are, in fact, the same type of official as the former category—are to be situated in future. What we want to know is whether the Prime Minister's phrase used during the Second Reading Debate, as to the Indian parties "guaranteeing conditions to Europeans" applies in these cases, and whether the further statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman about the arrangements to be made financially for the guaranteeing of pensions will apply to the latter category.
I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is being asked to deal with such a technical point without proper notice; but, all the time we are receiving the most personal and poignant letters from these types of officials. Here is a difficult point, about a class of persons serving the Central Government and the railways. How does the term "Indian parties," for example, apply to those serving centrally, because they have not a contract direct with a Provincial Government? I should be very grateful if that sort of point could be elucidated, and I hope that, on the main issue, the right hon. and learned Gentleman may be able to give us a satisfactory reply. If he can, it will be very satisfactory to the services concerned.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
I am grateful to to noble Lord for allowing me to remove any doubts that may exist on this question of the position of servants of the Government of India, or of the Provincial Governments of India. Perhaps it would be convenient if I were to put the facts, starting with the statement that was made on 30th April by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I would say, in passing, to the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low), that there is, apparently, a misconception as to the use of the term "uncovenanted service." I think that the noble Lord will agree, from his previous experience, that the term "covenanted service" applies only to the I.C.S. How the abuse of this phrase has crept in I aril not able to say; but, in fact, the technical position is that the covenanted service is really the I.C.S.
137 On 30th April, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated the views of His Majesty's Government with regard to the premature termination of the engagements of members of the Secretary of State's services. The White Paper, which was subsequently published, makes it quite clear what categories were included in that statement. They are the members of the I.C.S., the Indian Police, the Ecclesiastical Establishment. and a number of others that can be found in the document—those who belong to the Secretary of State's Services. In addition, there were those who belonged to what have been described as the "analogous services." They are the officers serving in the Defence Services. Those various categories are to receive such compensation as may be payable under the terms of the announcement made on 30th April. In addition, it was stated that the Indian leaders were prepared to accept liability for the payment of pensions and proportionate pensions. Up to that point, we are dealing with members of the Secretary of State's Services and analogous services.
The next stage is the reference, to which the noble Lord has drawn attention tonight, contained in the Second Reading speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He was then dealing with those who are not members of the Secretary of State's Services or of the analogous services. We have had examples of the categories which are covered—for example, those who are employed under contracts with the Governor-General in Council. Such people include those serving on the Indian railways. Then there are those who are employed under contracts with a particular Provincial Government. As regards those officers, whether European or Indian, the Prime Minister made a firm statement which said of persons who had been in Government service, whether Central or Provincial, but not specifically under the Secretary of State:I am happy to be able to announce now that the leaders of the Indian parties have guaranteed the existing terms and conditions of service to all their employees. including Europeans.He went on to say:This guarantee covers pensionary and provident fund liabilities, and excludes any question of discrimination between Indian and non-Indian."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th July. 1947; Vol. 439, C. 2470.]138 The noble Lord drew attention to remarks that I made towards the end of that Debate, and suggested that it might cause doubt in the minds of those who were interested in this matter because there appeared to be some discrepancy between what the Prime Minister said and what I said. Perhaps it will save the time of the Committee if I do not analyse what I said, but if I state what I intended to say. This was that, as far as the members of the non-Secretary of State's Services are concerned, they are not included within the ambit of the statement that was made on 30th April. When the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) asked:Does that include what are called the uncovenanted services,I understood him to refer to the statement of 30th April. Therefore, my answer was that that was not the case, because the statement of policy as regards compensation applies only to members of the Secretary of State's Services and analogous services. Therefore. I said that the statement of 30th Aprildoes not cover Europeans who are in the service of the various Provincial Governments and who are not members of the Secretary of State's services.I went to say, as I have indicated:They have their contracts direct with the Government of India or the Governor-General in Council on the one hand…and with the Provincial Governments in the other cases The most we can do "—and this is consistent with the statement which the Prime Minister made so far as pensions are concerned—is to have got the leaders of the major parties of India to accept the responsibility for pensions and proportionate pensions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT 10th July, 1947; Vol. 439. c. 2556.]I ought to express my regret to the Committee because, technically speaking, it was not correct for me to use the term "proportionate pensions," since, under their contracts, members of the Provincial services do not qualify for proportionate pensions. They have to serve out their contracts and then they get their pensions. But we are hoping, at any rate in the case of those who, as a result of what is to take place—the transfer of power—will not be able to complete their contracts, that the Governments of India and Pakistan will see their way to granting proportionate pensions to those officers who, at the moment, are not en- 139 titled to them. To that extent, I may have misled hon. Members, and I am glad to have this opportunity of putting the matter right.
With regard to the question of the agreements or treaties, whichever one may call them—there is some doubt as to whether they are treaties or agreements which are made between two Dominions —we are seeking to discuss in these agreements or treaties negotiated with the successor authorities, a good many matters, one of which is the possibility of the payment of proportionate pensions to those who today, under their contracts, are not entitled to them but who, for various reasons, may be unable to stay on for their terms—
§ Earl Winterton
If I may interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman, he will appreciate in that regard that the reason why proportionate pensions were given, in the first instance, in the case of the Secretary of State's services, was because the conditions of service were completely changed; that is to say, as a result of the Government of India Act, 1919, and the greater Indianisation, it was thought right to give proportionate pensions. If that was true then, it would a fortiori, apply today.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson
What the noble Lord says is absolutely right. That is the background explanation of why the proportionate pensions were given to members of the Secretary of State's Services. I do not know whether what I have said has cleared up the dubiety, but that is the position with regard to the pensions rights of the members of the Secretary of State's Services, and the terms of their contracts, as regards those of them who continue in their posts following the appointed day. 15th August.
§ Brigadier Low
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was talking a moment ago about treaty discussions and a treaty in connection with proportionate pensions for these servants of the Government of India. Will he not also enter into negotiations to try to get a pensions fund set up, at least for the European members of those services for whom we have a little responsibility—we have no legal responsibility, but we have a little responsibility —in the same way as he hopes to nego- 140 tiate for a pensions fund to be set up for the members of the Secretary of State's Services.
§ Mr. Henderson
I think it would be wrong for me to attempt to give any commitments because, indeed, I am not authorised, and I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not expect me, to do so. On the other hand, although the position of those for whom he speaks is entirely different from that of the members of the Secretary of State's Services, owing to the very special protection that was afforded by the Government of India Act, 1935, to members of the Secretary of State's Services, I certainly will take steps to ensure that his suggestion is, at any rate, given consideration.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I cannot help feeling a little dissatisfaction with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said. I think if he would put himself in the position of people employed in these Services, who, after reading the Debate today, will say to themselves, "What really is our measure of security?" he will see that it is comprised in a statement by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons and a statement made by himself, both of which boil down to a statement of good intentions, and a report by the right hon. Gentleman that the major parties—presumably, the two major parties—in India have in some unknown way, on some unknown occasion, in some unknown document, made themselves answerable for the continuance of the salaries, pensions and conditions of service. They will ask themselves, what remedy have they if these conditions are infringed? The answer is that they will have no remedy against anybody. All they have got is a statement of good intentions.
Not for one moment do I impugn the good intentions and sincerity of His Majesty's Government in these matters. Of all the people in the world in this connection, the last person whose sincerity I would impugn would be the Prime Minister. Nor do I impugn the good intentions and the sincerity of the two major parties in India. But times change and people change. What guarantee, what reasonable hope have those men got that the successors to the present Indian leaders will honour this obligation? They do not even know if it is an oral undertaking or a written undertaking.
141 There has been no White Paper issued, no document published. Was it given just in the course of casual conversation between the Viceroy and Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Nehru? These are questions people will ask. "What remedy have we if our conditions of service are infringed?" I know quite well that is the way they are looking at it. We on this side of the Committee, and, probably, hon. Members on the other side, too, have had many letters outlining these reasonable questions and anxieties. They are not unreasonable but natural anxieties, reasonable anxieties. I feel we must demand something more definite from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. May we see the documents and know who signed them; and will he at any rate indicate what remedy these people may have if things turn out badly against the expressed wishes of the Government?
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I do not think the Under-Secretary has completely cleared up the situation yet, in answer to the question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). We have had this assurance from the Prime Minister—I need not read it all—to the effect thatthe leaders of the Indian parties have guaranteed the existing terms and conditions of service to all their employees, including Europeans.That is a very satisfactory statement. We would like as authentic information about it as can be given, as has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson). But then during Second Reading the Under-Secretary himself said:The most we can do is to have got the leaders of the major parties of India to accept the responsibility for pensions and proportionate pensions.That is a statement less than the Prime Minister's, because that includes pensions and proportionate pensions. The Prime Minister's phrase includes the existing terms and conditions of service. The Under-Secretary then went on to widen the gap still further by saying:Any question of safeguarding their interests under their contracts must be done in another way.Yet the Prime Minister had already said that the existing terms and conditions were guaranteed, including pensionary and provident fund liabilities.
142 There is a distinct gap between the statement of the Prime Minister, which covers all Europeans, and the statement by the Under-Secretary, because the Under-Secretary went on to say that the safeguarding of the interests—which the Prime Minister had already said were covered—must be done in another way. I then asked the Under-Secretary what that meant, and he said:What we intend to do is to cover such matters 'in the treaty that we intend to negotiate with the successor Governments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 10th July, 1947; Vol. 439, c. 2470, 2556.]I think there is a wide statement and a narrow statement, and into that narrow statement comes a treaty reference which does not come in the Prime Minister's statement. I think it would be advisable for that to be cleared up.
The next point about which I wish to ask is the future of the judiciary. The judiciary in India cover a very wide range, ranging from the High Court down to the subordinate judiciary of the Provinces—criminal judiciary, various subordinate judges, and so on. I do not want to go into the details, though prior to this Debate I did look up the voluminous paperswhich I had filed away after our very lengthy discussions on this matter in the Joint Select Committee and on the Government of India Act, 1935. In that Act, of course, all these matters were most carefully regulated. All questions of postings, the different opportunites in the service, discrimination against members of the service and any sort of bullying or anything of that description, were all provided for. I do not think anybody could now reasonably claim that we could enact to include all such provisions, because the situation has changed so radically, and we are indeed thankful that the Indian parties—to use the words of the Prime Minister—have guaranteed as much as they have done. I think we should know to what extent this assurance covers the judiciary. We have had many representations from members of the judiciary, and, if we can, we should like to obtain from the Under-Secretary, on this important occasion, a statement which gives some satisfaction to them that they are covered in much the same way as the other people are covered.
I also wish to make some reference to a very important class of persons in 143 India, who in moments of crisis have very often been the nerve centre of our communications during our period in India, and who will, I think, have a great future in the country. I refer to the AngloIndians. They are widely included in the Services, especially on the railways, where, as we know, they are among the most reliable engineers. They are included in many other important posts, and we should like to know whether, in the reference to European and Indians, there is any rememberance of the Anglo-Indian community. It may not be possible, on another occasion, to call attention to the definite part played by the Anglo-Indian community, or to ask to what extent the Government and the new successor authorities are remembering them. We feel that we owe them a special debt in a special way. That is one of the many duties we cannot literally carry out, owing to the fact that the transfer of power is absolute and definite. Many of us who have talked about minorities, realise that in the transfer of power goes the responsibility for the Anglo-Indian minorities and the others. It would be satisfactory to know, in regard to the Services covered by Clause 10, that there is an opportunity for the Anglo-Indians to be considered in general terms.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman apprehended my short intervention in the case of those officers under contract with the railways. Some 95 had contracts with the Secretary of State, and some 338 with the Governor-General in Council. The 95 have issued a document from New Delhi, dated 16th June, and they get the whole of the cover from the undertaking given on 30th April. The rest, although they now have a happier time owing to the statement made by the Prime Minister during the Second Reading, do not get exactly the same range of assurance. It is really a case of differential treatment between those who had contracts initiated before 1935, and those who had contracts after that date. It seems rather awkward that exactly the same type of railway official should be treated in two different ways. What I have done is to put again the question of the apparent gap between the right hon. Gentleman's words and those of the Prime Minister in regard to the Services in general, and then dealt with the ques- 144 tions of the judiciary, the Anglo-Indians and the railway service men.
I should like to conclude, on this subject of the Services, by saying that there are many people here and elsewhere who have retired from India, and there are, of course, those who have died and have widows in this country who depend upon widow and family funds, who are looking to the Government to carry out the undertakings which the Prime Minister gave in the Second Reading Debate. Any statement that the Government can make to reassure them will be warmly welcomed. It is right to acknowledge the distinct advance made by the Government in the recent statement. I hope that when the time comes to initiate the treaty, about which we have heard a little, we shall have an opportunity to make some inquiries on what is likely to be included.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
While agreeing that we must discharge our duties in a way that has been suggested, I should like to ask if the right hon. and learned Gentleman can give us some information on how many of those employed in these various services in India are likely to stay on. When I was in India recently I had the opportunity of meeting a great many of these people, some of whom expressed a desire to stay on, but who were not at all sure about the terms and conditions they would get. If they were to get the same terms and conditions as they obtained previously, it would make a great deal of difference to them and to the future of India. These people are well known and trusted by the Indians and the British community, and if they did stay on I am sure that they would render as valuable service in the future as they have done in the past.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Molson
I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to respond to the appeal of the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest), and tell us how many civil servants are likely to remain in India. I rise, however, to make a point which I mentioned on Clause 7, when I asked the Attorney-General whether he could give any information as to what was likely to be the future of the officers of the political Department of the Government of India. In the White Paper dealing with compensation for the services, which 145 was issued in April this year, the Government of India and His Majesty's Government both make it plain that, so far as the services are concerned, inside what is now British India, it is hoped that as large a number of officers as possible will remain, if financial inducements are given, in order to make the transition to self-government in India as easy as possible. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not answer the point I made.
It is logical that if paramountcy comes to an end on 15th August, all those officers of the Political Department, some recruited from the Indian Civil Service and some from the Indian Army, who have been responsible in one way or the other for the administration of the powers of paramountcy, will cease to have any reason to continue to work. When I spoke about the end of paramountcy, I said that in the case of large parts of India the work of the residents in close touch with the Political Department had had much to do with the good administration of those parts of India, especially in States like Kathiawar. I am still wondering whether, in the negotiations which have taken place, any provision has been made for the officers who have been in the Political Department being employed by the new Political Department which will be under the Governments of the two new Dominions. I think it would make a great deal of difference to the ease of transition. If the long tradition of wise, diplomatic, and administrative energy is to be brought to an end at about eight weeks' notice, I believe there is great danger that in many parts of the Indian States chaos will supervene.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
I can say at once that the future employment of Political Officers is a matter for either or both of the new Dominion Governments, and that it will be impossible for His Majesty's Government in any way to bring pressure to bear on either Government, or both, to employ these officers. But as has been said, these men have great experience and ability, and on the basis that they would be willing to serve, I have no doubt the matter will he noted by the Governments concerned. I cannot say at this stage that any steps can he taken by His Majesty's Government to bring this about. I would, of course, remind the hon. Member that political officers are entitled to compensation in the event of premature 146 termination of their engagements. I am sorry if I have failed to clarify the position with regard to compensation. I can only say that whatever omissions there were in my own remarks, the statement that was made by the Prime Minister is the one to be taken as authoritative. Although one reference that I omitted was to the guarantee which has been given by the Indian leaders on conditions of service for those who stay on, both Indian and European, that is of course a very important guarantee, and I for one would be the last to seek to minimise its importance. Therefore, I can only say that whatever hiatus there was in my treatment of the compensation position, the position as stated by the Prime Minister is the one upon which we should work. In regard to whether Anglo-Indians come within the guarantee as to terms of service, the guarantee of the pensions and provident funds includes no discrimination between Indian and non-Indians. It is obvious, therefore, that it covers the Anglo-Indian members of the services.
I was asked about the position of the judges. They are getting the guarantee which is set out in Clause 10 (2). As regards those who serve on, they are to enjoy the same terms of service and pension as nearly as may be in the changed circumstances. The case for compensating the European judges, which is at present receiving consideration, is not quite the same as that for the members of the Secretary of State's services. The judges are independent of control by the Executive, and it is necessary, among other factors, to take into account the argument that, so long as this independence is safeguarded and their appointments and emoluments are preserved, their position is not fundamentally altered by the forthcoming constitutional changes. As I said, the question of compensation for these judges is at present receiving consideration.
The right hon. Gentleman raised a question with regard to two categories of railway officials. He will remember, having played a distinguished part in the passing of the 1935 Act, that one thing that the Act ended was the appointment by the Secretary of State of officials to the service of the Railway Board in India. The 1935 Act took away that power of appointment. Subsequent to the passing of the Act, the contracts of those thereafter taken into the employment of the Indian 147 Government railways had to be made with the Governor-General in Council. That is the explanation of the difference between the treatment of the 35, or whatever the number was, prior to 1935 who came within the statement of 30th April because they are technically members of the Secretary of State's Services and the others who are excluded from the statement.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I realise that might have been an omission in the Act of 1935, but will the Government consider extending the statement of 30th April to cover these latter people who are doing the same service as the men covered by the statement and who have, therefore, greater security?
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not want to enter into the technical side of it or shelter behind the fact that the contract in fact and in law was made with the Governor-General in Council and not with the Secretary of State. At the same time, I think it would be wrong for me to suggest that there is any likelihood of a change being made, but on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman and his friends have pressed the case of those in this particular category, and I will certainly bring the representation to the notice of my noble Friend.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I am sorry to be so persistent. I fully realise the delicacy of the position, and I do not demand a categorical statement tonight. I want to know what the exact position is. Do I understand that the position of these people, who are not in the Secretary of State's Services, is that they are only covered by the statement of the Prime Minister that an agreement has been made either orally or in writing with the leaders of the two principal Indian parties? Is that as far as the Government can go, or can they say that there will be anything in the treaty or agreement which, of course, the House will not have an opportunity of debating or amending later on? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give me a direct answer as to whether this is all that these people have to be content with?
§ Mr. Henderson
I am afraid it is. Until we get responsible Governments established in the two Dominions, we have to negotiate with the recognised leaders of the major parties, and I should have 148 thought that the moral obligation that they are incurring in accepting the liability and giving this guarantee is such that it is inconceivable that successor Governments, which will be in commission after 15th August, would repudiate the undertaking that has been given by their national leaders.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I entirely accept that, but the people whose pensions and livelihood depend on agreements of this sort would feel happier if they had something in writing. Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman publish the agreement signed by the leaders of the parties?
§ Mr. Henderson
I want to be frank with the Committee. I am not in a position to give the terms of the agreement; the information I have given to the Committee was contained in a telegram from the Viceroy.
§ Earl Winterton
I opened the Debate and I do not want to make a second speech. I want to say, however, that I hope the whole Committee feel a particular responsibility in this matter because, apart from the two Members of the Government, there are few who have had more responsibility in this place for speaking for the Secretary of State than I and my right hon. Friend, both of whom represented him in this House. I do not want to carry on a detailed discussion, but I would make a most earnest appeal to the Government to accept as the highest moral responsibility which could possibly rest upon them, the obligation to see that after this Bill comes into effect, representations are made to the two Governments in India to see that these people, including particularly the Anglo-Indians, are given a fair deal; because I can assure the Committee it is an historical fact that we have not always in the past in this country and in this House shown that regard for devoted loyalty which we should have shown.
There was in the Nova Scotia Legislature, after the Maine Agreement had been reached, a Debate in which several people objected most strongly to the fact that splendid people, who had chosen to give up what was secure in order to come into Canada, had reason to be afraid that they would be deprived of their property and that no safeguards had been given to them of any kind. The Government's 149 answer, which was rather like the answer given tonight by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, was that they would give no specific guarantee but that they must rely upon the good will of the Government. An old member got up and said, "I have never been ashamed to be patriotic and it is 40 years ago since I left the land of the almighty dollar to come again under the British flag. I do not know why hon. Gentlemen should suppose that the Government would do anything of the kind, because it happens that British Governments everywhere pay more attention to successful rebels than they do to devoted loyalty."
I am afraid that that is what has happened in more than one instance, as for example, in the Irish settlement. I do not want to get on to a wider aspect of this problem, but I know that there is an analogy there, as everyone will agree who has had letters from former members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. I would only say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we on this side of the Committee, and I hope everyone in all parts of the Committee who attach importance to this, will use moral suasion to see that these conditions which have been promised are fulfilled to the letter, and that all these men will have an opportunity of an honourable career under the new Governments equal in opportunity to that which they enjoyed before.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill