§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading, read.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
My Lords, it is not my intention to occupy your Lordships' time by talking about this Bill. It is quite right, I think, that it should become law, and soon; but there is one point on which I think the House would like to have some assurance from the Lord President and Secretary of State for India. Under the existing law there is a good deal of detail in the Military Administration which has hitherto been carried out under the orders of the Provincial Commanders-in-Chief. By this Bill the whole of that is transferred to the Commander-in-Chief in India and to the Adjutant General's Office there. I am quite aware that there is a provision enabling the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief to get lid of a great, deal of this work, and delegate it to the Local Authorities. But my experience of the office in question is that it is not very fond of parting with power when it gets it. It is impossible, I think, that they can at Simla carry out all the details which this Bill would hand over to them; and unless large powers of delegation are exercised by the authorities in India I feel sure they could not possibly get through the work. In those circumstances, I am sure it will be a satisfaction to your Lordships to hear from the noble Earl that he will impress upon the Viceroy the necessity of exercising powers of delegation, which, in my opinion, are so necessary for the purpose of carrying out the objects of this Bill.
THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The Earl of KIMBERLAY)
My Lords, I am much obliged to my noble Friend for bringing forward this point, which is, I think, of great importance. It is quite true that under the Army Act there exists, as has 5 been stated by the noble Viscount, a power of delegation as regards all minor matters. In fact, I may say there is scarcely anything which cannot be delegated to local officers, and I certainly shall draw the attention of the Government of India specially to this point. As far as my own opinion goes, I entirely agree with the noble Viscount that it would be a monstrous thing if all these small matters were to be dealt with at headquarters. I am sure it cannot be the intention of the Government of India that that should be the result of this Bill; but I agree with the noble Viscount that it is a matter which should be brought strongly under their notice, in order that there should be no doubt on their part as to the wish of Her Majesty's Government in the matter.
§ Bill read 3a accordingly, and passed, and sent to the Commons.