HL Deb 23 October 1906 vol 163 cc29-31

My Lords, I rise to ask His Majesty's Government whether they are yet in a position to make a statement concerning the suggested extension of the representative element and of the limits of discussion in the Legislative Council of the Government of India, to which the Secretary of State referred in his speech of the 20th July,† and for the consideration of which purpose a Committee was appointed by the Viceroy.

I shall only say a very few words in putting this Question to His Majesty's Government, for nothing could be further from my intention than to provoke a discussion which would certainly be premature at the present time, and might possibly be inconvenient. My object is merely to elicit information on a subject which is of the greatest possible interest, not only to those who have had to do with India but also to the public at large, for I think your Lordships will agree with me that the growing popular interest in Indian affairs is a very striking and significant feature of the present day.

My inquiry is made in a sympathetic spirit, for, so far as I understand the objects which the Government of India and the Secretary of State have in view, I am in entire accord with them. It is my firm opinion that the time has come when some decided step should be taken to meet the hopes and aspirations which we ourselves have encouraged among the educated classes of India, to develop by the only possible means—that is to say, by an increased show of confidence—that political capacity which we expect them to show, and to give an earnest of pledges direct and implied which have been made by the British Government. I trust that I shall find myself in agreement with the methods by which it may eventually be proposed to attain those objects. I have only to add that I hope that if His Majesty's Government are not able to reply to my Question at the present time they will at any rate undertake to give the information to Parliament as soon as it is available.


My Lords, the Answer which I have to give to the noble Lord is in the negative. A Committee was appointed by the Governor-General in August last, and that Committee is still sitting. The Secretary of State, † See (4) Debates, clxi., 588. therefore, is not yet in a position to make any statement concerning the proposals which that Committee may make. Those proposals will have to be considered by the Governor-General in Council and by the Secretary of State in Council before any statement can be made.


May I ask the noble Earl whether he will give an undertaking that the information will be presented as soon as it is available?

[No Answer was returned].