HL Deb 23 November 1920 vol 42 cc511-2

LORD AMPTHILL rose to ask His Majesty's Government—(l) Whether the Indian Arms Act of 1919 differs from previous Acts in imposing no restriction on the carrying or manufacture of arms, other than firearms, except in certain specified areas; (2) whether this relaxation is not already causing some anxiety, and whether it may not lead to a considerable manufacture of swords and other lethal weapons; (3) what are the reasons for this change in a long established policy.

The noble Lord said:

My Lords, in asking my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for India the Question of which I have given notice, I only wish to say that I am much obliged to him for his kindness in having allowed me to put it this evening.


My Lords, the Act of 1919, to which my noble friend refers in his Question, did not in certain minor details differ from previous Acts, but the new rules made under it removed, except in the Punjab, Burmah, and the North-West Frontier Province, restrictions on the possession and use of arms other than firearms. Local Governments, however, have power to reimpose these restrictions as regards any class of persons or any areas, and several Governments have done so as regards swords, bayonets and daggers.

Then I come to the second Question of the noble Lord. This relaxation to which I have referred, as the noble Lord suggests, has been causing considerable anxiety in some places, and other Governments are considering the re-imposition of restrictions at least on the use of swords without licences.

In reply to the last Question, this change was made on the recommendation of a Committee of the Imperial Legislative Council on which more than half the members were experienced officials appointed in September, 1918, by the Governor-General in Council to consider the proposals made for the amendment of the rules in order to do away with racial distinctions. As I have already explained, the Act itself makes no change in the previously existing law beyond altering the provision for the treatment of arms for which the licence of exemption has expired or been cancelled.


The noble Earl has left out one point, as to whether the manufacture of arms is going on upon any considerable scale.


That point is dealt with in the second part of the reply; it is going on, and is causing anxiety. The necessity for reimposing restrictions is under the consideration of some of the Local Governments.

House adjourned at half-past eleven o'clock.