After Clause 2, insert the following new clause—
3.—(1) It shall be lawful for the Governor-General in Council, with the approval of the Secretary of State in Council, by proclamation, to create a council in any province under a Lieutenant-Governor for the purpose of assisting the Lieutenant-Governor in the executive government of the province, and by such proclamation—
- to make provision for determining what shall be the number (not exceeding four) and qualifications of the members of the council; and
- to make provision for the appointment of temporary or acting members of the council during the absence of any member from illness or otherwise and for the procedure to be adopted in case of a difference of opinion between a Lieutenant-Governor and his council and in the case of equality of votes and in the case of a Lieutenant-Governor being obliged to absent himself from his council from indisposition or any other cause.
(2) Where any such proclamation has been made with respect to any province the Lieutenant-Governor may with the consent of the Governor-General in Council from time to time make rules and orders for the more convenient transaction of business in his council and any order made or act done in accordance with the rules and orders so made shall be deemed to be an act or order of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.
(3) Every member of any such council shall be appointed by the Governor-General with the approval of His Majesty and shall as such be a member of the Legislative Council of the Lieutenant-Governor in addition to the members nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor and elected under the provisions of this Act.
§ Your Lordships are aware of the circumstances under which what was then Clause 3 was struck out when the Bill left your Lordships' House. Both the noble Marquess opposite (Lord Lansdowne) and the 730 noble Lord who sits next to him (Lord Curzon) were emphatic in saying that the rejection of the clause was not permanent or final. I welcomed that language, feeling that it indicated a conciliatory spirit, and I resolved in my own mind that I would do the best I could in the circumstances of the case to meet that spirit. But, of course, my view of the importance of the old Clause 3 remains very much what it was. I do not believe that the noble Marquess opposite, for example, would contend that what I have indicated as the principle of that clause was an erroneous principle—that it would be a great error and a great inconvenience, both to the Government of India and to Parliament, if, whenever a proposal was made to attach an Executive Council to a Lieutenant-Governor, there should arise in Parliament here a full dress debate in each House on Second Reading, in Committee, on Report, and on Third Reading. I felt very strongly—and I regretted that your Lordships did not agree—that that would be a great error.
Then there is another point which ought not to be overlooked. I have been addressed more than once by noble Lords opposite of great authority and exhorted to pay respect to the Government of India. The Government of India, as a matter of fact, were strongly in favour of the old Clause 3, and Lord Minto, in his speech the other day, under the formal and almost solemn circumstances of an address to his own Legislative Council, said that he greatly regretted that your Lordships had omitted Clause 3, and added that he was in perfect accord with the Secretary of State in this proposal. A very important member of the Executive Council in Calcutta used the same language. The Press used language of a precisely similar kind, and I should like to trouble your Lordships with a passage. Though it has one or two personal references in it, which I may or may not regret, I do not think they at all impair the value of this criticism. The Times of India, speaking of Clause 3 and the action against Clause 3, quote the Viceroy's
language which I have already fairly described, and then proceed—
Then we have here Sir Edward Baker, the only Lieutenant-Governor who would be immediately affected by the acceptance of the clause, declaring that the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal cannot undertake the duties that will be imposed upon him under the Councils Act without assistance. On the other side we have to set the opinion of Lord Curzon's Government in 1905—
I hope the noble Lord will forgive me for reading this—
We are not impressed by that authority, not only because water has run under the bridges at a tremendous pace since it was penned, but because it represented a school of thought that has contained few elements of permanence.
There are other remarks about the noble Lord which I need not quote. The article proceeds—
Then we have Lord Mac Donnell informing the Lords that the choice lies between corporate government whereby the Executive Government is weakened, or personal government whereby the Executive Government is strengthened. That remark puts Lord Mac Donnell out of court. There is no more direct connection between Government in Council and Executive weakness than, let us say, between Lord Mac Donnell and consideration for one's subordinates.
It is a remarkable fact, of which I am only now beginning to understand the full significance, that the Government of India are very sensitive to the intervention of Parliament wherever that can be properly, constitutionally, and conveniently avoided, because language is apt to be used both in another place and in your Lordships' House which in this country, of course, is appraised at its proper value, but what is a mere indiscretion here or in the other House becomes a danger in India. I am bound to say—and I have had the singular advantage of feeling the brunt of the indiscretions in both Houses—I think the palm for master indiscretion must be given to the noble Lord, Lord Mac Donnell, because his language, more than once repeated and put down in the formal shape of an Amendment on the Paper, in regard to the Partition of Bengal has been felt by the Government of India and by myself as having been a most injurious indiscretion, perhaps the most injurious that I have had experience of during my three and a-half years of responsibility for the affairs of India.
§ I pass from that and turn to the immediate Amendment. My object almost from the first, certainly since the weighty 732 speeches in another place of Lord Percy and Mr. Balfour, was to secure that an understanding should be arrived at. My very strong desire is that there should not be exhibited to India a spectacle of any avoidable friction or contention between the two Houses of Parliament, and that the Bill and the regulations that will eventually be framed upon it should go before the people of India as having been granted by the Parliament of Great Britain freely and practically unanimously. That is my point of view. I am told that Asiatics have great difficulty in understanding our Parliamentary system of Government. Sometimes we have a little difficulty ourselves. But what is our system? It may be defined as "contention plus compromise." My principle, therefore, in reference to India would be to have as little Parliamentary contention as possible, and every reasonable compromise that is possible. I have every reason to believe that the noble Marquess opposite, and your Lordships generally, will feel that the Amendment to the old Clause 3 to which we ask the House to agree is a reasonable compromise. The point of it is that Bengal is to have an Executive Council. That, I think, is agreed to by everybody. It is earnestly desired by the new Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal.
§ Then upon the point whether the Government of India is to be free to proclaim an Executive Council in provinces beyond Bengal, what I propose is that the Governor-General shall, if he deals with any other province beyond Bengal, draft a proclamation to be laid by the Government upon the Table of both Houses for sixty days. This may seem a very long period, but communications between the Secretary of State and the Government of India will be, or may be, tolerably numerous, and it is desirable to give plenty of time. The proclamation will remain on the Table for sixty days, and if an Address is moved by either House against the proclamation it is thereby estopped; if no Address is moved it will become operative at the end of the sixty days. At first I thought that it ought to be an Address of both Houses, but it was represented to me that this would be to strip one House of its veto, and, being seriously anxious to meet the fair claim of every one concerned, I agreed that the proposal should take this form, that an Address from either House should be sufficient to stay the 733 proclamation. There is not really much in this either way, because I cannot imagine the Government of India, with the sanction of the Secretary of State necessarily, sending home a draft proclamation with, I presume, the reasons for it set forth—I cannot imagine such a proclamation coming home and being vetoed by either House. It would be impossible—the case of Bengal proves it—for your Lordships to resist a proclamation deliberately framed constituting an Executive Council in another provincial government. Therefore I have every confidence that, in effect, this will make very little change.
§ I should like to say a word upon the Amendment standing on the Paper in the name of Lord Mac Donnell, which is to the effect—as I understand it, that, if it should seem fit, the same powers of revoking and making changes in the Constitution and so forth as now exist under the Statute of William IV, of 1833, should extend to these new Councils. I would point out that the Act of 1833 has been a dead letter, and in reference to the Councils of Bombay and Madras it has never, so I am informed, once been acted upon. The Amendment conveys a kind of innuendo that these councils, when brought into existence, will very likely work so ill that it will be necessary to alter their conditions of existence, of function, and of authority. The Government cannot accept this Amendment. I object to inserting in the Bill, which is an enlarging measure, language which really implies that you suspect that, so far as this provision goes, it may end in either moonshine or mischief. Besides, it is against all tradition of Indian government and administration to take back powers once conferred and to annul bodies once created. I do not think I need or ought to detain your Lordships longer. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Amendments made by the Commons subject to the insertion of certain Amendments in the new clause which has been inserted by the Commons.—"(Viscount Morley of Blackburn.)
§ * THE EARL OF CROMER ,
who had an Amendment on the Paper to omit, from the third line of the new clause inserted by the Commons, the words "any province," and to insert, in their place, the words "the province of Bengal," said: My Lords, it will be observed that I have an 734 Amendment on the Paper which virtually covers the same ground as that of the noble Viscount, and, with your Lordships' permission, I will deal with the two together. The noble Viscount has given us the history of the past in connection with this clause. I do not in the smallest degree challenge the accuracy of his statement, but as I think that the story permits of being related in two different ways I should like to give my version.
Your Lordships will remember that some months ago when this subject was first broached the Government of India wrote a Despatch in which they threw out a hint—I do not think it can be called more than a hint—that Executive Councils should be established in the Lieutenant-Governorships; but they added what appeared to me to be the very wise proviso that that could only be done after very mature consideration and full consultation with the various authorities concerned. Upon that this clause was introduced into the Bill. Possibly there may have been consultations with the local authorities in India, but, if so, we were not informed of them. When the measure came to your Lordships' House some noble Lords objected to the clause on its own merits, but I think the general feeling of your Lordships was not to reject the clause altogether. What we thought was that the evidence laid before us for such a very important piece of legislation as this was insufficient, and that before this clause was put upon the Statute Book we ought to have some indication of the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governors.
The noble Viscount did, indeed, read us a telegram from the Viceroy of India. It was a very important telegram, and naturally we attached very great weight to its contents; but it did not contain the smallest allusion to consultation with Lieutenant-Governors. Neither was any reason given why the Government of India had so entirely changed its mind in the course of the few months. We all therefore, myself certainly among the number, thought that the views of the Lieutenant-Governors should be obtained. What happened in the other House very much confirmed my impression in that respect. I am, I believe, precluded from reading any passages in debate in the other House, but, so far as I understand, Mr. Hobhouse, who was in charge of the Bill, deprecated any 735 further consultation with Lieutenant-Governors. But I must be allowed to say that his arguments tended to exactly the opposite conclusion. What he said was that the Lieutenant-Governors exercised very great authority inside their provinces, but that they could not be reasonably asked, neither could they expect to be asked, to give their opinions on subjects outside their provinces. My Lords, that is my case. Nobody expects that a Lieutenant-Governor should dictate the general policy of the Government of India, but this is a matter essentially inside their provinces and that is why we think their opinions should be invited.
The circumstances have materially changed since I placed my Amendment on the Paper. The difference between my Amendment and that of the noble Viscount is this. Both of them limit the immediate operation of the Bill to Bengal, but whereas by my Amendment fresh legislation would be required, under the Amendment of the noble Viscount Executive Councils will be able to be called into operation without legislation and merely with the proviso that the proclamation is to lay on the Table of both Houses. I quite agree as to the undesirability of Indian matters being frequently before Parliament, though I am not quite certain that I am filled with the same amount of terror as the noble Viscount as to indiscretions which might be committed in this House. At the same time, I should not like to propose anything which would involve frequently bringing Indian questions before us. Therefore I am quite prepared, for my own part, to accept the noble Viscount's Amendment and to withdraw my own.
I should like, however, to add that I certainly could not have withdrawn my Amendment if the noble Viscount had not provided in his Amendment that either House of Parliament should have control over the proclamations. This appears to be a subject about which the House of Lords has eminently a right to exercise some direct control. It is not a financial question or one which in any way touches the privileges of the Commons. It is an Imperial question, and it is a notorious fact that whereas there are a considerable number of members in your Lordships' House who have had actual Indian experience, that experience does not exist to so great an extent among members of the other 736 House. I should like also to thank the noble Viscount for the manner in which he has met my own proposal and others, and I have now great pleasure in withdrawing my Amendment.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I acknowledge with pleasure the admission made by the noble Viscount the Secretary of State at the outset of his speech when he told us that his proposals had been approached on this side of the House in a conciliatory spirit. It has been our desire from the first that this question should be dealt with in a conciliatory spirit, and we have, I venture to think, done all that lay in our power to prevent the discussion from following party lines or from ourselves doing anything which might suggest the idea that we desire to make party capital out of the proposals of His Majesty's Government.
The noble Viscount told us what was, in his opinion, the principle of Clause 3, which has now been restored to the Bill. May I venture to tell him what was the principle which underlay our observations upon that clause? We felt that the clause was one which dealt with matters of such immense importance, matters really of Imperial importance, that this House ought on no account to part with the full and effective control which at this moment it possesses over the provisions of the clause. I cannot believe that we shall be regarded as having been unreasonable in taking that view. What is it that this clause does? It has been spoken of as if it dealt with some purely local and comparatively insignificant detail. Under this clause a new constitution can be given to these great Indian provinces—provinces including a population exceeding that of these islands. To say to those provinces, You shall for the future be governed, not by a Lieutenant-Governor, but by a Lieutenant-Governor with a Council, which is to include native members, and perhaps native members with no experience—to say that is to announce to these important parts of the King's Dominions that their political constitution is to undergo a fundamental change at the bidding of the Parliament of this country. Upon a question of that kind I conceive that this House has a right to have an opinion, and to act upon that opinion; and, if I may be allowed to say so, I am not very much moved by the argument which the 737 noble Viscount founded upon opinion in India and particularly upon the opinions expressed by the Anglo-Indian Press. I submit that we are far better judges of what is constitutionally due to this House, I would say even than the Government of India, and certainly than the Anglo-Indian Press.
We quite understand that the noble Viscount should desire that if it should be found necessary hereafter to create these Councils in other parts of India, the Government of the day and the Government of India should be relieved of the trouble and anxiety by which Parliamentary legislation is always attended. Therefore, many of us have from the first been favourably disposed to an arrangement which, while it avoided these inconveniences, at the same time preserved to this House an absolute and unqualified right of having an effective voice with regard to any proclamations hereafter issued under this clause. Surely that is not an unreasonable view. In the first place, do not let it be forgotten that although the Government of India at this moment is in favour of the third clause of the Bill its affection for the policy which it involves was a few months ago certainly of a very lukewarm character, and it is well known that at a not very remote period the proposal was regarded with unfavourable eyes by the Government of India.
There is another matter. The whole question, as the House remembers, has been lately considered by the Decentralisation Committee, which has presented a very interesting Report dealing with many Indian questions. When we come to examine the Report of that Committee we find that it contains no such proposal as that embodied in the Government's Bill. The proposal of the Decentralisation Committee was, as the noble Viscount knows, of a very different character. Another consideration which greatly weighed with us was the failure to consult the Provincial Governments. As to that I must say that I noticed with considerable alarm and much regret a tendency to treat the opinions of the Provincial Governments as if they were not of any very great importance. I believe that nothing could be more unfortunate than to create the impression in India that changes of this kind can be carried out over the heads of the Provincial Governments. 738 Many of us hold the view that, in these circumstances, whilst the extension of Executive Councils to other provinces might be allowed to remain indefinitely in abeyance, it might be well to make this concession in the Province of Bengal, and I should have gladly supported the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Cromer. But, my Lords, in deference to the very strong representations which have been made to us, and having, as we have, a strong desire that upon a question of this kind there should be no acute difference between the two sides of the House, we are of opinion that the arrangement offered to us by the noble Viscount is one which we may reasonably accept. The essence of that arrangement, of course, is that an Address from either House of Parliament would be sufficient to arrest the further progress of a new proclamation. The noble Viscount told us that in the event of a proposal under this clause coming home from the Government of India and being proposed by the Government of the day, he could scarcely conceive that it should be resisted. I say most certainly that if a proposal of that kind came to us backed in such a manner I cannot conceive that it should be lightly put on one side; but we do desire to maintain, as I said a moment ago, a real and effective control over the matter. We have that real and effective control at this moment, and I certainly do not think we should have been justified in parting with it. I am glad that the noble Viscount has been able to meet us in so reasonable a spirit.
§ * EARL ROBERTS
My Lords, I deeply regret that I was not able to be present when the discussion on this Bill took place a few weeks ago, but I am glad to have this opportunity of saying how entirely I am in accord with the opinions then expressed by Lord Lansdowne, Lord Curzon, and other noble Lords who voted against Clause 3. I regard the formation of Councils in the provinces where they do not already exist as not only unnecessary, but as not being likely to help Lieutenant-Governors in carrying out their onerous duties. But, at the same time, under the Amendment introduced by the noble Viscount, I would certainly not offer any objection to a Council being introduced in Bengal. The important question of the appointment of a native member to the Viceroy's Council has been settled; but 739 I cannot help expressing my great regret that the noble Viscount has not delayed, at any rate for a time, the carrying out of a measure which is likely to have such momentous consequences. I very much doubt whether the presence of a native member in the Viceroy's Council will not be a matter of distrust among the ruling Princes. It certainly will not satisfy the demagogues who are now shouting for it, and, so far as I am aware, it is not desired by the people of India generally. The people believe in their English rulers, but, for reasons of their own, they have not the same feeling of trust in native officials, owing, no doubt, to the prejudices of caste and religion. Some years ago a question arose in India which created a considerable amount of caste and race feeling. I was at the time in Madras, and Sir Madhava Rao, an old friend of mine with whom I was talking the matter over, said—This is the fault of your own people. They raise these questions without knowing what the feelings of the people in India are.In the course of further conversation, I asked what would happen supposing we left the country. He replied:—If you went to the Zoological Gardens, opened all the cages, and let all the wild animals loose, there would be a terrific fight, and at the end of the fight the tiger would walk proudly over the dead bodies of all the other animals.Asked whom he meant by the tiger, my friend replied—I mean the Mahomedans from the north.I do not know whether my friend's prognostications will ever come true, but of this I am certain, that India would never be governed by Bengal Baboos. I am confident that the Bengal Baboos of the present day and men of that class, who are shouting and clamouring for position and place, would not be heard of six months after we had left the country.
* LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
My Lords, with your Lordships' permission and indulgence I should like to offer a few remarks upon the personal references which have been made to myself by the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for India. This is the second occasion during the course of these debates on which the noble Viscount has thought fit to make depreciatory remarks regarding myself. I feel, therefore, that it is due to myself and to the House that I should, as 740 briefly as I possibly can, and with an avoidance of anything like acrimony, so far as I can manage it, explain to your Lordships what my position is. I was invited by the noble Viscount to assist him in the discussing and framing of the schemes of reform now before the House. The letter in which the noble Viscount invited my assistance is entirely at variance in spirit and in language with the language which he has thought fit to apply to me this evening. I most willingly gave my assistance to the noble Viscount, coming over from Ireland for the purpose, and after fully and carefully discussing the whole of the proposals embodied in the Bill I received from the noble Viscount an expression of his thanks and satisfaction for the assistance I had given him. Afterwards we differed. I have always thought that matters connected with India were outside the sphere of party politics, but even if they were not, I do not think that the bonds of party should lie upon me so heavily, sitting on this side of the House as I do, that in a matter of the first Imperial importance I should not express to your Lordships my honest convictions. I have endeavoured, with all respect to the noble Viscount, to express those convictions in this House, and on only two great subjects—namely, the appointment of a native member to the Viceroy's Council and the creation of Lieutenant-Governor Councils—was I really at variance with the noble Viscount.
* LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
I will come to that. Upon these points, if it were necessary for me to ask for your Lordships' approval of my action I could find it in the fact that my views were in harmony with those of the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, who with such distinction presided over the Government of India; with those of the noble Lord, Lord Curzon, who has done in India work which the present time is not capable of appreciating; and with those of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, who knew a good deal of me in India. It is quite true that in regard to the Partition of Bengal I held an opinion at variance with that of the noble Viscount, and at variance, to my regret, with that of Lord Curzon. The whole of my early life was spent in Bengal. I know every district of it. I know the 741 temper of its people and the course of its history, and my belief was that if advantage was not taken of this great occasion to remove a source of what I believe to be real hardship and also a source of much discontent we should be losing a great opportunity. I may be wrong, but that was my honest opinion, and I endeavoured to express it in the Amendment which I placed on the Paper in such a manner as to interfere as little as possible with established facts. This is the history of my intervention in these debates.
I have been accused by the noble Viscount the Secretary of State of being a bureaucrat, and to-night, by inference, he accuses me of a want of consideration for my subordinates. During thirty-five years of service in India I have been brought into personal connection with the great men who have built up and maintained the British Empire there, from John Lawrence downwards, and one of the lessons I learned at their feet was that, a chief must carry his officers with him. I believe, if your Lordships will excuse the personal reference, that I am the only person now living of the Sovereign's servants in the East who has administered the affairs of four great provinces one after another—administered them in times of stress, in times of war, and in times of famine and plague—and in each province it was necessary for me to carry my officers with me, for without them I could have done nothing. I ask your Lordships whether the great men who have administered the Indian Empire would have placed me in one great government after another if it were true that I was discourteous or unfair to my subordinates and unable to carry them with me. The great men with whom I have been associated in India were able to play on that stormy harp whose strings are the hearts of men. They did not learn by sitting in offices or by writing books how men should be managed.
§ * LORD CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I have no desire to intervene in the difference, if difference it be, between the noble Lord who has just spoken and the Secretary of State. Still less would I venture for a moment to take up the position which he has sometimes occupied with regard to me of a tertius gaudens when differences of this nature arise in your Lordships' House. I think there is not one of us who will not have listened 742 with some sympathy, as well as with respect, to the personal vindication of himself which has just been offered by the noble Lord, Lord Mac Donnell. I will not pursue that matter further, except to say that, in my judgment, the passage which the Secretary of State read from the Times of India in its reference to Lord Mac Donnell was singularly ungenerous in tone, and that your Lordships might very properly have been spared its quotation in this House. Neither do I propose to follow the noble Lord, Lord Mac Donnell, on the present occasion into the wholly irrelevant question of the Partition of Bengal. I have always counted myself unfortunate that in dealing with that measure I did not secure the support of the noble Lord. The measure has already, I believe, justified itself, and will continue still further to justify itself in the future; but clearly that is a matter which it would not be proper for me to discuss on the present occasion.
I have risen because, having taken some part in the previous discussions on this Bill and having had some responsibility for recent affairs in connection with India, I do not like to give an altogether silent vote. The noble Earl, Lord Cromer, gave a correct description of the circumstances in which this Bill left your Lordships' House a few weeks ago, and in which we are now asked to recede from our previous attitude with regard to Clause 3. There are many of us in this House, of whom I certainly am one, who hold strongly to the view that government by an individual is for the greater parts of India a better, a more efficient, a more vigorous, and a more rapid form of government than government by a Cabinet or by a Council. There are many of us, too, who regard with some apprehension the placing of native gentlemen, however talented, in positions where they will be called upon in the future, without a previous training in official life and without the steadying influence which service in India gives, to exercise great powers of patronage over natives and English alike. That was the view of some of us who had had experience of India; but the view, I think, of the majority of your Lordships, who have not had that particular experience, was that the reasons given for Clause 3 in the form in which it was first submitted to the House were inadequate and perfunctory. I will not go over that ground again. 743 Accordingly, what we asked for at that stage was that in the interval between the time when the Bill left this House and the date when it should come back the noble Viscount should give us, if it lay in his power, further information as to the views of responsible persons in India, more particularly those who would be affected by this change, whether they were persons in positions of authority or whether they were the leading classes of the community in the provinces that were likely to be affected. As I listened to the speech of the noble Viscount the Secretary of State to-night, I naturally asked myself whether he had supplied your Lordships with the information for which we asked, and which would be sufficient to justify us in receding from our opinion. So far as his speech is regarded from that point of view, I do not think that any one of your Lordships will say that any substantial addition has been made to our information. We have merely been told, what we knew before, that the Government of India are now in favour of this proposal; but, as the noble Marquess behind me has pointed out, their conversion on this matter, although convenient, has certainly been extremely rapid, and only six months ago they were saying something entirely opposite.
The case as regards the Lieutenant-Governors has been given away. Nobody contends that any Lieutenant-Governor in India at the present time is in favour of this proposal, with the important exception of Sir Edward Baker in Bengal. I do not, of course, desire to depreciate the authority of that officer, and I agree that when an official so competent speaks so strongly as Sir Edward Baker did in the debate on the Budget the other day at Calcutta about the needs of his province, the Government at home and your Lordships would accept a considerable responsibility if you ignored that appeal. I may say, in passing, that the case made cut by Sir Edward Baker, resting as it does on the enormous increase in the responsibilities of the Lieutenant-Governor and the work that will devolve upon him and his officials in consequence of the changes in the system of Legislative Councils which this Bill is going to introduce. is in itself the strongest corroboration of the views taken by many noble Lords on this side of the House, including myself, as to the drastic and far-reaching character of the proposals with regard to those Councils which are embodied in this Bill. 744 All the way through it has been our contention that these Legislative Councils in the provinces will not be large debating societies, but small Parliaments, and here we have the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal practically using that argument as a justification for asking for further assistance to himself. As I say, I think that this is a request on behalf of the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal which it would be impossible for us to resist. But at present he stands alone. No other Lieutenant-Governor has been or can be quoted as being in favour of the proposal at this date.
Then the noble Viscount said that the Press of India is in favour of the proposal. I probably make as close a study of the Indian newspapers as does the noble Viscount, and when he quoted that passage from the Times of India, which, by the way, I had also read, I only regretted that I had not brought down with me a passage from the same paper a week or two earlier which expressed a very unfavourable opinion of the manner in which the noble Viscount has conducted this Clause. However, I agree with the noble Marquess behind me that what an isolated Anglo-Indian newspaper says for or against the proposal is not very germane to this discussion. Surely it would have been much more pertinent had the noble Viscount been able to tell us that in the interval that had elapsed since your Lordships dealt with this measure there had been any substantial demonstration of opinion in India in favour of this Clause. To some extent there has been an expression of opinion in its favour, but I cannot help thinking that it has in the main emanated from those who thought that if this Clause were introduced into the Bill and these new Councils set up, opportunities for serving upon them would be created for themselves. I doubt very much whether these provisions have been regarded by any class in India as likely to tend to the betterment of government in that country. Suppose that instead of introducing this provision for Executive Councils in the Lieutenant-Governorships with a clear intimation that he proposed to place natives upon them, the Secretary of State had merely proposed to create Councils of three or four officers, all of whom were to be Europeans and members of the Civil Service. I doubt if he would have found any enthusiasm in any part of India in favour of the proposal. I do not, how- 745 ever, desire to labour that point. I have merely been contending that, so far as additional information is concerned, we stand in no different position from that which we occupied some six weeks ago.
In that case, is there anything in the present state of affairs which justifies us in accepting the proposals now made, as the noble Viscount very justly remarked, in a spirit of compromise? I think that there is. The situation is rendered very different by the steps that he has taken to-night. In the first place, the appointment of an Executive Council is definitely limited to the case of Bengal. In the second place, we are to have opportunities of Parliamentary discussion before any similar appointment can take place in the future. In the third place—rather a small point to which the noble Viscount did not allude—he has introduced into his Amendment a form of words which gives to the Lieutenant-Governor greater powers in the future determination of the duties, authorities, and distribution of work between the members of his Council than were provided in the original form of the Bill. All of these, I think, are points to the good, and justify those of us who regarded the original proposal with some suspicion in adopting a friendly attitude towards the present Amendment of the Secretary of State. I do not think that he will expect me to say that it comforts us for one moment on the main principle. Although the existence of this power will prevent any weak or ignorant Viceroy, any impulsive or despotic Secretary of State, if such a combination is at any time to be contemplated, from introducing an Executive Council into a province of India where it is not required, yet at the same time I take it that it is a pretty correct prevision of the future when the noble Viscount says that the authority of this House or of the other House of Parliament in the matter is one which is not likely to be frequently or rashly used. As a matter of fact, what will happen?
I think your Lordships, in accepting this compromise, ought to have a clear idea as to the future to which we commit ourselves. Bengal will have its Executive Council, as I understand, straight away. I have very little doubt that before many years have passed, when the present Lieutenant-Governors in India are changed and others have taken their places who 746 may not, perhaps, hold similar views, and when constant agitation—and if there is one thing certain it is that when once you concede this privilege to Bengal agitation will immediately start for its extension to other provinces—has prevailed, you will have Executive Councils extended to province after province, and that within the next twenty years there may scarcely be a single province, with the possible exception of those on the extreme frontier, which will not have an Executive Council. If that be a correct forecast of the future, it is a .state of affairs which I, at any rate, cannot regard altogether without apprehension; but, at the same time, the guiding consideration in our minds, I think, ought to be that the responsibility in this matter rests with the Government, and with the Government alone. All through this Bill the attitude taken by the Secretary of State, the manner in which he has more than once appealed to us not in any way to break the coherence or the symmetry of his measure for fear of re-arousing the unrest in India which he hopes by his legislation to allay, has placed the Opposition in a very difficult position, and all of us, I think, who have thought over the matter have come to the conclusion that in the last resort we must leave the responsibility where it has been assumed, where it rests, and where history will ultimately place it. With this expression of my views I will say that I think we may on the present occasion, with justice both to ourselves and to the attitude we have previously taken, accept the compromise which has been offered by the noble Viscount.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY OF BLACKBURN
My Lords, with your Lordships' indulgence I should like to say one sentence in regard to what fell from the noble Lord behind me, Lord Mac Donnell. I do not suppose that there is anybody in this House who is more averse than I am from introducing personal elements into an Imperial discussion. My feeling, which may have appeared needlessly pointed towards the noble Lord, has remained with me since the week in December when I first had the honour of explaining to your Lordships the policy of the Government in all these matters. At that very moment the noble Lord launched views about the Partition of Bengal which he has repeated since, and which were not merely pious opinions. A view against the Partition of Bengal, 747 launched by a noble Lord of his great Indian authority, inflicted a very serious blow on Lord Minto and myself and the Government of India. Here had we been for two years upholding the Partition of Bengal against great difficulties, and with an opinion of it not much differing from that of the noble Lord. The agitation had more or less cooled down, but when a noble Lord of his authority said that it was the greatest blunder ever committed by the Government of India it kindled the ashes of what was an expiring flame.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY OF BLACKBURN
Then in that case it is still worse. Lord Minto and myself, at all events, were bound to treat it as an expiring flame. We will not be parties to a reversal of that Partition. I have said that before, and I venture to say it now. The noble Lord is perfectly entitled to his own opinion; but at a time when he found the Executive Government taking a certain view and doing their best against many and enormous difficulties, I should have thought that a noble Lord who had been so eminent a servant of the Indian Government for so long a time would not have added to those difficulties.
§ * Lord MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD
I can only make a further remark with your Lordships' permission, but I should like to say that my object was to obtain a reconsideration of this question in connection with what was and is a revision of the entire Indian political situation. You are considering the entire scheme and scope of Indian Government, and I thought that the circumstances were such as could properly permit of my bringing this matter under the consideration of your Lordships.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
Amendment moved to the new clause inserted by the Commons—
In lines 3 and 4, to leave out the words 'any province under a Lieutenant-Governor' and to insert the words 'the Bengal division of the presidency of Fort William.'"—(Viscount Morley of Blackburn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY OF BLACKBURN
I now move to insert, after subsection (1), 748 the new subsection standing in my name on the Paper.
Amendment moved to the new clause inserted by the Commons—
After subsection (1), to insert as a new subsection :
'(2) It shall be lawful for the Governor-General in Council with the like approval by a like proclamation to create a council in any other province under a Lieutenant-Governor for the purpose of assisting the Lieutenant-Governor in the executive government of the province. Provided that before any such proclamation is made a draft thereof shall be laid before each House of Parliament for not less than sixty days during the session of Parliament and if before the expiration of that time an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament against the draft or any part thereof no further proceedings shall be taken thereon without prejudice to the making of any new draft.'"—(Viscount Morley of Blackburn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
* LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
My Lords, the Amendment which I have placed on the Paper, proposes to insert, after subsection (3), the following proviso—Provided always and be it enacted that it shall be lawful for the Governor-General in Council with the approval of the Secretary of State in Council to revoke or to suspend so often and for such periods as the said Governor-General in Council shall in that behalf direct the appointment of councils in all or any of the said provinces under Lieutenant-Governors or a Lieutenant-Governor or to reduce the number of councillors in all or any of the said councils and during such time as a council shall not be appointed or shall be suspended in any province under a Lieutenant-Governor the executive government thereof shall be administered by the Lieutenant-Governor alone.This proviso is no innovation. As the noble Viscount, the Secretary of State for India has said, it is to be found in the Act of 1833. Your Lordships are aware that Executive Councils have existed in Madras and Bombay from early time, but these Councils were different from those contemplated under the Bill. The Councils contemplated by the Act of 1833 consisted of three officers who were selected from the Company's servants in India—from what is now known as the Indian Civil Service—for their ability, their experience, and their trustworthiness. Notwithstanding the fact that the Council was so constituted, the Government in 1833, and at an earlier date, thought it right, in their prudence and foresight, to provide that under certain circumstances the Government of India and the Board of Control, as it was then, now the Secretary of State, should have the power to revoke the establishment 749 of any Council, to suspend its operation for any particular time, or to reduce the number of its members. That provision was in the nature of a precaution against emergencies when personal government through the Governor was considered to be the most desirable and most efficacious in the interests of British rule in India.
The noble Viscount stated that this provision of the Act of 1833 is practically obsolete, that it has never been put into execution. I think the noble Viscount will find that the provision has been put into execution. Three members of Council were appointed under the Act, but that number has been reduced to two. Two members now exist in the Councils of Madras and Bombay, and the reduction was effected under that particular Act. It therefore cannot be said that the provision has fallen into disuse. But I go further and say that where you have an Act which is passed not to compass any immediate object but rather for a preventive purpose, surely its efficacy is established by its not being put into operation rather than the reverse. One estimates the efficacy of preventive measures by the fact of their not being made use of. If this particular section of the Act of 1833 is not introduced into this Bill, it is quite possible that the Government might have to pass legislation ad hoc for the purpose which this particular section was intended to meet. Besides, the Councils for the future are to be very differently constituted from what they have been in the past. The Councils in the future are to be mixed Councils, composed partly of European officers of the Crown and partly of native politicians with no previous experience of administration. Who can cast his eyes into the future and say that circumstances may not arise when it will be necessary for the Government of India to have a power, in the first place, to reduce the number of councillors in these Councils? In the next place, if the Councils became so divided that administration was blocked or inefficient, who can say it would not be useful for the Government of India to have power to suspend the Council for a time? The mere existence of such a power would be a safeguard against any such block or inefficiency as I have referred to.
I cannot think that there is anything disrespectful or calculated, as the noble 750 Viscount seemed to think, to throw suspicion upon the Councils to be created, in the fact of our extending to these new Councils the provisions which already exist in regard to the old Councils. In point of fact, the easiest way of doing it would be to say that the provisions of this section should apply to all new Councils created. I should be the last to bring forward a measure which would cast suspicion on the new Councils, but at the same time we cannot say what the future has in store for us. It is the opinion of the majority of your LordshipsȔan opinion which I shareȔthat the creation of Councils in Lieutenant-Governorships is an experiment. It is an experiment which should be safeguarded, and it would be very much better if that safeguard were applied in the beginning rather than at the time when the emergency arose.
Amendment moved to the new clause inserted by the CommonsȔAfter sub-section (3), to insert the words 'Provided always and be it enacted that it shall be lawful for the Governor-General in Council with the approval of the Secretary of State in Council to revoke or to suspend so often and for such periods as the said Governor-General in Council shall in that behalf direct the appointment of councils in all or any of the said provinces under Lieutenant-Governors or a Lieutenant-Governor or to reduce the number of councillors in all or any of the said councils and during such time as a council shall not be appointed or shall be suspended in any province under a Lieutenant-Governor the executive government thereof shall be administered by the Lieutenant-Governor alone.'"Ȕ(Lord Mac Donnell of Swinford.)
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY OF BLACKBURN
My Lords, I have already said as much upon this Amendment as it seems to require. The noble Lord is, I am sure, wrong, if I may say so, when he states that the Act of 1833 has been applied. I have proof that it has not been applied in this. We took the opinion the other day of the Law Officers of the Crown upon the question whether the Crown has or has not the right of putting a third member on to the Council of Bombay or the Council of Madras, and the opinion of the Law Officers was that the Crown has that right. It follows, therefore, from that that this Statute of 1833 has not come into operation; otherwise the Crown would have been stripped of that power.
§ * LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD
By the Act of 1833 three members are 751 appointed to the Councils of Madras and Bombay. There are only two members on each of those Councils now. Consequently one must have been reduced, and I am not aware of any power to reduce the number except the provision in the Act of 1833. That is the only existing authority, so far as I know—and I have made inquiries on the point—by which a member of Council could be reduced, and under that authority one member has been reduced in the Council of Madras and also in that of Bombay.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY OF BLACKBURN
My legal advisers lead me to believe that it was not done under this Act, but under some prerogative of the Crown or I know not what. At any rate, Sir Courtenay Ilbert, for example, lays it down that the Act has remained a dead letter and has never been put in force. But whether I am right or wrong is immaterial. I think I am right. The noble Lord's speech really confirms the suggestion that I brought forward before he moved his Amendment. It is to insert into this Bill a provision which is a sheer innuendo. The House is being asked to give this power as if they expected these Councils, as the noble Lord does, to need to be revoked or mutilated.
§ * LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD
I beg the noble Viscount's pardon. I do not expect it, but I think it is only right to retain this power.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY OF BLACKBURN
If we are going to guard ourselves against all the evil things that may happen, of course we may make a great many clauses. I submit, with great earnestness, that it is most undesirable to insert such an ungracious innuendo as the last parting blow of your Lordships to this Bill. And when I say that, I hope I am not understood as complaining for a moment of the treatment the Bill has received at your Lordships' hands. I cordially confirm all that the noble Marquess claimed. The debates have been thoroughly fair, entirely free from acrimony, replete with weighty arguments, and I should be glad if the last proposal made should not be the ungracious proposal mentioned by the noble Lord.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I must say that it seems to me that if sheer arguments are to be weighed, 752 my noble friend Lord Mac Donnell has had the best of this discussion. You have here provisions which at the present moment are applicable under the existing law to the Councils of the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay. Lord Mac Donnell's suggestion is that there is no reason for discriminating in favour of the new Executive Councils, and that if precautions of this kind are desirable and form part of the existing law in respect of the old Councils, they are certainly not less desirable in the case of the new Councils. That seems to me to be a somewhat difficult argument to meet, and I must say that the provision is one which might have very well been included in the original proposals made by His Majesty's Government for introducing Executive Councils into provinces where they do not now exist. But the noble Viscount states that his advice is to the effect that the section of the Act of 1833 on which Lord Mac Donnell relies is a dead letter. The noble Lord, Lord Mac Donnell, says, on the contrary, that there have been within his knowledge cases in which the Executive Councils were diminished, and he contends that they were diminished under this Section of the Act of 1833; and the noble Viscount, I observe, is not able to tell us under what statutory enactment they were diminished if they were not diminished under this particular provision of the law. Therefore, on the strict merits of the case, I should have been very much inclined to support my noble friend on the Back-bench opposite. But the consideration which weighs more with me is this. We have now arrived at the very concluding stage of the Parliamentary discussion of this Bill. If we carry the Amendment of the noble Lord the Bill will have to go back to the House of Commons, and, judging from past experience, it seems to me highly improbable that my noble friend's Amendment would find favourable acceptance there. If that were so, I do not think we should care to take the responsibility of insisting upon the Amendment when the Bill came back without it to this House. Upon the whole it seems to me better, in the circumstances, to incur such risk as may arise from the omission of this clause, to accept the anomaly, for I think it will be an anomaly to have a provision of this kind applicable to the old Councils and not to have any provision of the same kind applicable to the new councils—it seems 753 to me that we must face those disadvantages, and that it would probably be wise on my noble friend's part if he did not insist upon taking the sense of the House.
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD
I withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Commons' Amendment as amended, agreed to: the rest of the Commons' Amendments agreed to, and Bill returned to the Commons.