§ LORD SYDENHAM rose to draw attention to the situation in India. The noble Lord said: My Lords, any one who has tried to follow events in India during the past five years must realise that the situation has grown steadily more menacing, and the causes of that, I think, are perfectly clear. Since the present Secretary of State took office we have had a long series, a disastrous series, of mistakes, illusions, concessions, and vain attempts to create an artificial atmosphere favourable to impossible policies. And that it is which has led to the weakening of our authority in India. In addition, the effect of the war has been felt throughout India. It added to the general unrest and, perhaps more, added to the general proneness to unrest. But the start of the violent movements which seem almost to have passed beyond control was most carefully selected.
§ In September, 1916, at one of the most critical phases of the war, Mrs. Besant started her Home Rule League at Madras. A month later nineteen members of the Viceroy's Council suddenly formulated the crazy Constitution and flung it at the head of the Government. In December, Tilak, with Mrs. Besant's assistance, captured the National Congress, which became immediately allied with the Moslem League, and, since then, has been the mainspring of a movement directed to wrecking our rule in India. I recall these facts because they are already forgotten, and it is very often said that all the concessions we have made were more than justified by the wonderful rally of India to the cause of the Empire during the war. It is true that the Princes and Chiefs and all the fighting castes of India behaved splendidly and gave fine proofs of their loyalty. It is also true that many Indians did valuable voluntary war work. But the little politically-minded class which alone demanded instant and immediate concessions took advantage of our peril and continued till the war ended to embarrass the Government as far as lay in its power.12
§ In July, 1917, when it was becoming clear that the greatest of the Allied Armies was breaking up, the Joint Conference of the Congress and the Moslem League imperiously demanded that a pledge should at once be given that India would be made self-governing and also that Mrs. Besant should be released from her very comfortable internment. A resolution was passed at the same time suggesting passive resistance to all political work in the Councils, and that is really the germ of the Non-cooperation movement which has now assumed dangerous dimensions in India. On August 20 the Secretary of State replied to all this by the announcement of what was falsely called a new policy. That policy was at least as old as 1858. The Morley-Minto reforms had not been in operation for ten years and they were working exceedingly well. The Indianisation of the public Service was going on at a rapid pace, and more and more power was being conferred upon Indian bodies. Soon after this announcement Mrs. Besant was released at the instance of the Secretary of State and in opposition to the wishes of the Government of Madras, and she immediately announced her intention of creating a calm atmosphere which does not ever appear to have shown itself.
§ Now it is the manner and the time of this announcement and, more especially, the means taken to give it effect which form, in my opinion, the first act in the tragedy of errors in India. Agitation was powerfully stimulated. If so much could be conceded to Mrs. Besant and her extremist friends, in the throes of a great war, how much more might not be obtained by intensified efforts in times of peace? After that the Secretary of State, as we all remember, toured some of the great towns of India and interviewed a number of the leading politicians. Then came the celebrated Joint Report which, I think, was one of the most remarkable State Papers ever issued. It admirably described the populations of India as "marching in uneven stages through all the centuries from the fifth to the twentieth," but it did not go on to point out that the marchers in the twentieth were a mere handful and that the great mass of the people had not yet reached the sixteenth century, though it did admit that 95 per cent. of the people had no interest whatever in any political question. Then it went on to formulate a full-blown democratic Constitution and it proposed deliberately to disturb the 13 placid contentment of the people of India. The authors of that Report made one fundamental mistake and that was of finding the political centre of gravity of India in what they rightly called the limited intelligentsia." They ignored the great. fact— the greatest fact in India—that it is only the tens of millions of workers on t he land who really count in the long run and that no policy not designed for their welfare and suited to their conditions can possibly prove successful. Gandhi did not make that mistake, and he knows perfectly well how to make use of these credulous, excitable millions whom he has now promised to release from the oppression of the "Satanic" Government.
The Report was debated in your Lordships' House on October 23 and 24, 1918, and its principal features were very strongly condemned. The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, said—
I profoundly distrust the idea of imposing Western democratic institutions on a motley congeries of peoples who have nothing in common, or very little in commons, except that they arc Eastern and not Western peoples.
He went on to point out that the Indian Civil Service was "very likely to be done to death politically." The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, on that occasion, said—
What. I want to point out is the tremendous danger in too abrupt a transition from one form of government to another.
He added this—
I am quite sure that none of your Lordships can ha e read this Report without feeling that some of the proposals cannot stand.
I have looked through all the debates on this subject in your Lordships' House, and I think I can say that nothing has since happened of which plain warning was not given, but all those warnings were disregarded. The Secretary of State persisted in his illusions, and the Bill was rushed through Parliament at headlong speed after the position of the. Supreme Government had been weakened by the Select Committee. Three of the conditions on which the noble Marquess the Leader of the House laid great stress were absolutely- ignored. That was the second act of the tragedy.
§ Meanwhile, other warnings of a very different kind were forthcoming. In October, 1917, a well-organised attack of Hindus on Mahomedans in Behar took place. The riots extended over a large area and lasted some days. Many people were killed and British troops had to be used 14 to restore order. That. happened while the Congress of the Moslem League was holding conferences to secure joint action against our Government. That shows how very small the margin is in India between peace and disorder. A year later a similar atrocious attack by Hindus took place at Katurpur and on that occasion several Mahomedans were actually burned alive. The publication of the Rowlatt Report unfortunately followed that of the Joint. Report on which it has a most important bearing. The Rowlatt Report throws a flood of light upon the secret conspiracies in India with their ramifications all over the world. Very few people read this Report and when, after two conspiracies had been discovered in the Punjab, an open rebellion broke out in April, 1919, the situation was not in the least realised in this country. It was a large rising and one more completely organised than the Mutiny, and it was suppressed by the Punjab Government with a total loss of life of 450. The Malabar rising has already cost. 2,000 lives, not including the lives of the murdered Hindus, the numbers of whom will probably never be ascertained.
§ What followed was debated for two days in your Lordships' House and your Lordships, by a large majority, condemned the proceedings of the Secretary of State and the Government of India. The Hunter Committee began to sit too late, after intimidation had been brought to bear upon the witnesses by the, authors of the rebellion. It declined to take some essential evidence and it permitted the grossly unfair cross-examination of General Dyer. For these reasons it failed to bring out the essential facts, but the treatment of the officials who had tried to do their duty in most difficult circumstances had the most deplorable effect throughout. India. All the leading criminals, including those responsible for the loss of life at Amritsar, were quickly amnested and most of them resumed their former activities. The agitators took their cue from the Government and violently attacked the officials who suppressed the rebellion and the Indians who helped them to do so. The officials learned a bitter lesson— that they could not count upon the support of their Government.
§ The direct results of all this were very remarkable. The official apology which was extracted from the Government of 15 India at a later period was circulated broadcast all through Malabar, with comments in order to encourage the rising of the Moplahs. Two officers of the Leinster regiment were hacked to pieces beef; use they did not open fire in time, and it was pointed out in your Lordships' House that such an occurrence was probable. The handling of the Punjab rebellion was in my opinion the third act in the tragedy of India. All through 1919 disorder prevailed in many parts and it was widely proclaimed that the Raj was coming to an end. Last year, therefore, found the Government of India in a very difficult position because it was considered necessary to create a favourable atmosphere for the coming Election.
Now we have. fortunately, an official description of the policy of the Secretary of State and the Government of India in the Report of Mr. Rushbrook It says this—
The Government realise that it is to enlightened public opinion they must chiefly trust for a dissipation of the danger that now envelops India, as it is on that same public opinion that India's political future must depend. It is in this trust that they have refrained in the past, so far as is consistent with the public safety, from repressive action, for they consider that such action should only be employed in the last resort, when indeed a failure to adopt it would be a criminal betrayal of the people.
The idea of taking measures only "in the last resort" in such a country as India is obviously fatal, and it is certain to lead, as it has led, to a very great loss of life. The "betrayal" of wretched people who have been robbed and murdered has actually occurred.
In this House the Under-Secretary of State, a little more than a year ago, defined the policy of the India Office as regards agitation. He said—
Do not interfere too hastily or too violently with an agitation of this nature; let it kill itself, as in time it does.
I hope the Governor of Behar and Orissa knows better now. Even the ordinary law against sedition was not enforced in 1920, until, in March, trouble seemed to be again imminent in the Punjab. Then some mild measures were adopted in a few districts, and two Indian members of the Assembly, to their great credit, strongly supported the Government. One of them said—
How are the minds of the people being poisoned? No Government worth its salt can tolerate such a thing.
All the offenders convicted on that occasion have since been released. In full accordance with the policy of "the last resort," the Ali brothers were not re-arrested until they had done irremediable harm and had been able to engineer the Moplah rebellion.
§ The Elections in 1920 demonstrated con-elusively the unfitness of India for the new Constitution. Of the voters for the Assembly only one-fifth went to the poll, and of those for the Provincial Councils only one-fourth. Of these small minorities many people had not the slightest idea what it was all about. These new bodies, therefore, only represent a section of the politically-minded classes and they are quite out of sympathy with them two hundred millions of the cultivators of India. Already lawyers and banias in the Punjab Provincial Council want to repeal the Land Alienation Act which is one of the principal safeguards of the ryots. The main political feature of the Elections was that they were boycotted by the dominant political Party which enabled a certain number of Moderates to obtain seats. We have, therefore, handed over immense powers to a little oligarchy on the plea of conferring upon India the blessings of democracy.
§ The general effect of the birth of the Constitution was a great increase of organized agitation against British rule and Europeans, and it is that which has led to most deplorable incidents throughout the length and breadth of India. The Gandhi Non-cooperation movement and the Caliphate movement have gone on hand in hand, though the two great communities have nothing in common, as the latest attack on Hindus by Mahomedans again proves. We have been frequently told that the Non-cooperation movement was on the point of collapse, and in some respects it was certain to break clown. The Indian lawyers would not give up their practice in British Courts and Indian officials would not resign their seats. Gandhi, therefore, began to address himself to the preaching of race hatred and contempt among the masses themselves, and any one who knows India can conceive the terrible possibilities of teaching of that kind.
§ The Moplah rebellion, which I regard as the fourth act of the tragedy, remains to be suppressed, and the difficulties are considerable in so tangled a country. It was a well-organised rebellion, and one organised under the eves of the Government. The preparations had been going 17 on for some time. The other day the noble Earl charged me with exaggerating the gravity of the situation. Hardly more than a week later the rebellion, broke out; and the India Office and the Government of India must have known that it was then imminent. The district conference of May, 1920, gave ample warning Violent speeches were made. The extremists carried the day and the Caliphate volunteers started a systematic propaganda in every village. Fifteen months later the storm burst. These poor fanatics had been told that British rule had disappeared and that the Ali brothers had been established: and they had sonic reason to believe that it was true.
§ They are now experimenting in self-determination, and the result is a shocking loss of life which might easily have been prevented by a Government which really governed. The only bright feature I can 'find is the tine behaviour of the district officers and police which I believe saved Calicut from a great massacre. Some of the Moplahs proved staunch but demobilised soldiers ranged themselves with the rebels and, of course, their training was useful to the rebellion.
§ While the Civil administration appeared to grow weaker a. deadly blow to our system of justice was delivered by the sudden abandonment of the prosecution of Messrs. Kernani and Bannerjee. I cannot give the details, which are still somewhat obscure, but nothing has caused greater indignation throughout India among all Europeans and among a large number of Indians. A large sum was spent in getting up the case and the Advocate-General of Bengal stated in Court that he believed it was complete. Rumours had been started, and, in February, the Minister of Commerce and Industry was asked in the Assembly if the prosecution was about to be withdrawn, and lie replied that lie knew of no such decision. The plea was that if these persons were convicted the shareholders in their businesses would suffer pecuniary loss. That. plea conflicts with the whole theory of British justice, and the effect was to saddle upon India a scandal of the Marconi type. I hope the noble Earl will tell the House the total sum involved in the alleged frauds on the Munitions Board, the number of concerns with which the accused were connected, and whether the prosecution of the European subordinates is to be continued while the principals have gone free.18
§ What is the present situation in India which I have ventured to describe as a tragedy? I can only describe it very briefly as it appears to me, and I hope my view is wrong. For the reasons I have given all authority has certainly weakened throughout India, and it is widely believed by the masses that our rule is either ended or is shortly coining to an end. The latest demands from the advanced members of the Assembly are that diarchy, which has proved quite unworkable in the Provinces, should be applied to the supreme Government and that the Provinces should be made completely autonomous next year, full Dominion Home Rule to be given at the end or the fourth session of the Assembly. That means scrapping of the Government of India Act, and s a direct challenge to the authority of Parliament. It is hoped and believed that such a ferment can be created: in India as to secure these further concessions. From the Southern State of Travancore right up to the little States in the Simla Hills, disorders, large or small. are now constantly breaking out. Political strikes are frequent in all the great industrial centres, and they are nearly always accompanied by some loss of life. Shameful intimidation is going on even in remote country districts. The boycott of Europeans in the country districts is still being carried on, and insulting behaviour to our men and women in India tends to increase. Our failure to maintain law and order explains all these and some other very serious symptoms. Reliance upon public opinion, or upon Moderates who do not really count, to help us in this primary duty has proved perfectly futile.
In the East, a Government which is once believed to have lost its strength also loses all its best friends. Sir Verney Lovett has put that vital matter in two pregnant sentences—
We shall not understand Indian affairs unless we realise that peace and order In the great subcontinent depend principally upon the prestige of the Central Administration, upon the honour or dishonour which attaches to the British name in. India. Whatever may take the place of that prestige in the future, there is nothing whatever that can take its place to-day.
In the past law and order have been maintained, not only by military force but mainly by the personal qualities and the personal influence of our district officers among the masses of India, and that influence and that prestige are tending
unquestionably to he destroyed. The great Services which have made India what she is are at the present moment visibly crumbling away. Members of the Indian Civil Service have felt it their duty to warn young men against coining to India. It was realised that their position might be difficult, and measures were proposed for giving them their release, but up to the present nothing whatever has been done in that direction. At the last open competition held in London, of nineteen successful candidates only three were British. The recruitment for the Medical Service and for the Police is becoming more and more difficult. The fact is that the great Services are becoming disheartened, and are tending to wither away. There is nothing whatever that can take their place in India. Already corruption is showing itself in many places, and the real people of India will find out before long what. lies before them.
§ I turn to the military situation. I must not repeat what I said in this House a short time ago. Eighteen fine Cavalry regiments have been destroyed or are being destroyed, and what the reduction in the Infantry is going to be I do not know. The British Forces in India. have been much reduced, and the Commander-in-Chief lately explained that this was the reason for the withdrawal of the detachment at Malapuram. It was here that the Moplah rebellion first broke out. More reductions of the military forces are demanded, but I understand that the Viceroy has said that he will not countenance any further reduction of the British Forces, and I am very thankful to hear that. Last year the general lawlessness on the North-west Frontier was greater than it has been at any time since we went there. What will come out of the nine months of these protracted negotiations at Kabul no one can tell. There surely was never a time when a reduction of military strength was so dangerous and so inopportune.
The loyalty of the Indian Army is being very sorely tried. Gandhi has recently proclaimed in his paper that
The National Congress began to tamper with the loyalty of the sepoy in September of last year, that the Central Caliphate Committee began it earlier, and that I began it earlier still.
We must reiterate from a thousand platforms this formula of the Ali brothers regarding the sepoys, and we must spread disaffection openly and systematically until it pleases the Government to arrest us.
What must be thought in the bazaars of a Government which does not take up a challenge of that kind? If the Indian Army remains true, as I believe it will, under the great pressure which is now being brought to bear upon it, the reason will be the affection and confidence which are inspired by the British officers of that Army, and if we ever come down to the type of officers, native or British, who are not real leaders of men, that Army will be in the gravest possible danger. But there is another possibility in the future. The fighting classes of India will never accept the governance of the limited intelligentsia, which they always despise. Under Home Rule we must either retain complete control over the Army, which, I think, would be quite impracticable, or the Army will break up and pass into the hands of Indian leaders who can offer it good terms, and then the India of pre-British days will quickly return.
§ It is frequently forgotten that one-third of India is governed by hereditary Princes and Chiefs. How will the democratic Constitution affect them? They must know, and they do know, that the methods successfully adopted in India will be relentlessly applied to them as soon as it becomes possible. They will have to face what our officials have to face now, a campaign of lies and abuse. Some of them, I know. have already to face these campaigns, but the more powerful Chiefs have sternly forbidden agitators to enter their territories. I read in the paper yesterday that there has been a rush of fugitives from Malabar into the native State of Cochin, because they think that they can find security under native rule. The British Resident in Hyderabad and his wife were pelted with mud the other day. That, however, did not occur in the territory ruled over by the Nizam, but in the British enclave of Secunderabad, one of the great cantonments of India.
Some of the smaller States have already been the scene of organised riots. One of their Chiefs wrote to me the other day—
Notwithstanding toy leaving prohibited the holding of public meetings, secret night meetings were held, and for nine to ten months the situation was simply alarming. The agitators in British India jump from one conclusion to another. Their proceedings are so subtle that the effect is quite otherwise than what is disclosed by their pretensions, and their doings are more or less reflected in native States. I do not understand how long the Government is going to be silent over such a condition of suspense.
These chiefs, like the loyalists of Southern Ireland, feel that they are being abandoned by a Government which professes to protect them. In some quarters I know that there is hope that the new Councils will in time rise to a full sense of their responsibilities, and prove helpful to the Government in the maintenance of order. I am afraid I can see nothing to justify such hopes. Most of the Councils have constituted themselves already as an opposition to all Government measures, and they have bitterly criticised Government servants. In Bengal there was an attempt to cut down the Police vote, which could only be avoided by the expressed decision of the Governor to exercise his veto. Other Councils have shown a distinctly anti-British spirit, and are able to intimidate the Moderate members, who might cooperate with us if they were not afraid to do so. What will happen when the extremists take possession and form majorities on these Councils can easily be imagined.
§ In the municipal field, hostility to us, incompetence and corruption are growing steadily. The almost Bolshevist Municipal Council of Lahore recently ordered the Superintendent of the Fire Brigade, who was an ex-British soldier, to wear the Gandhi uniform, which forced him, of course, to resign his appointment. The Amritsar municipality is now spending 54,000 rupees a year to administer 26,000 rupees. Sanitation and roads, I ant told, arc getting into a shocking condition. Another municipal council has abolished Western medicine and restored the Ayurvedie and Unani systems. Education is disordered almost all over India. In Bengal there is a reduction of 42 per cert. in the number of collegiate students, and nearly 50,000 boys have disappeared from the recognised schools. This is entirely due to Gandhi's propaganda, and wherever the hand of the Government has been removed, or appeared to weaken, there are signs of a reversion to the pre-British conditions which Mrs. Besant once described as "Heaven."
But the outstanding result of all our concessions and amnesties, and neglect to enforce the law, has been to produce race hatred to an extent never before known. That is also exactly like the case of Ireland, which was peaceable, most prosperous and not unfriendly before the advent of Mr. Birrell. By showing weakness and fear we have already alienated many of our strongest supporters. A loyal and distinguished Indian lately wrote —
It is getting clear every day that all those who stood for Government, it was a power, have been absolutely left in the lurch, and all enemies of Government have been brought to the forefront. I would have always stuck to n the Government. But when there is no Government left, or whatever it is has joined its own enemies, one would have to be against. the Government if one was against its enemies.…Under there unique circumstances we are seriously thinking of joining the Congress.
I know of other loyal Indians who are thinking the same way and one can well fancy, a South Ireland loyalist having the same feeling. The saddest feature in the situation is the continuous loss of Indian lives, which goes on at short intervals and threatens before long to assume large dimensions. The people who believe that. law ought not to be enforced if there is any risk of loss of life are always the cause of heavy losses of life in the long run.
§ I do not underrate for a moment the great difficulties of the Government, the pressure brought to bear upon them here and in India, the deadly influence of paid propaganda, and the reaction upon India of the revolutionaries in Russia and Ireland. But my own experience, on a small provincial scale in 1908, taught me that there are elements in India which will rally in support of order, if they believe that the Government only acts for the welfare of the people and is prepared to support those who stand by it. I hope that your Lordships will pardon me if I seem to speak too plainly. I feel strongly that the truth ought to be known, and that it is not known, and I sympathise most deeply with the voiceless masses of India who will be the greatest sufferers in the future, and who have already suffered very severely. Our first duty in India is to maintain law, security and justice. If we fail in that our only justification for being in India is gone. It is my firm belief that authority must be reasserted in India for the sake of the simple, credulous, easily-misguided people who are now being used as pawns by people who are really revolutionaries. I do not know if it is already too late, but it would have been easy not very long ago. If it is too late, then the old question "Can a democracy govern an empire?" will have received a final and decisive answer.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON)
My Lords, I 23 desire to intervene only for a few minutes at this stage of the discussion, and that for a particular reason, which I will explain to your Lordships. 'When the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, a week ago suggested to me the desirability of having a debate upon India at an early stage, and indicated the possibility of taking that discussion to-day, I gave a provisional assent, subject to consultation with the Secretary of State for India, whom I had not yet seen upon the subject. When I discussed the matter with him I ascertained that, for reasons in which I concurred and which I will presently explain to the House, he thought it very undesirable that the debate, although lie did not at all deprecate its taking place in the course of the present session of Parliament, should be held at this moment.
Accordingly, I communicated with Inv noble friend, Lord Sydenham, to whom I explained the reasons which I had in my mind, and whom I urged to postpone his Question for a short time. It then transpired that the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, had a similar Notice on the Paper. I believe Lord Sydenham communicated with him, and the result of the communication was that neither noble Lord felt disposed to give way, and the Notices have appeared upon the Paper this afternoon. It is not for me in any way o fetter, or even to comment upon, the exercise of independent judgment by those two noble Lords. They are, no doubt, animated by a due sense of their own responsibility, but I must confess that in my experience it is a rather unusual thing—I think I may almost say an unprecedented thing—if a Minister, and perhaps even more if the Leader of the House, asks a noble Lord, not to take his Notice altogether off the Paper, but, for reasons which he gives, to postpone the discussion of it for a few days —I say it is a most unusual thing for that request to be ignored.
Now, my Lords, let me state to the House what were the reasons which I put to my noble friend, Lord Sydenharn. They were two in number. I told him that His Majesty's Government is in daily, I might almost say hourly, communication with the Viceroy and with the Government of India, on matters of the utmost importance, but I told him that the state of those communications rendered any definite pronouncement on the matter by the spokesman of the Government. premature, and 24 indeed impossible, and any discussion of the Indian question, in my judgment, unwise and inopportune. I pointed out to him, further, that the Prince of Wales is about to start to-morrow on a journey upon which all our eyes are bent with intense interest and hopeful expectation, and that I should greatly deplore if anything were said, even by accident, even unconsciously, to mar the harmony of his departure. Those considerations did not prevail, but let me say a word about each of them.
As regards the position of the Government, we have just listened for the space of something like forty or forty-five minutes to a description by the noble Lord of the present position in India as lie sees it. He has depicted it as a position where the agitators hold the field, where the Government has lost authority and prestige, where the administration of the law has to a large extent ceased to exist, where the Councils set up under the scheme of the Secretary of State and Lord Chelmsford are already proving their failure, where the municipalities are even worse than they have been at any time in their chequered history, where the educational administration has fallen to pieces, and where the relations between the two races in India have reached a pitch of dislocation, if not worse, unprecedented in our history. That is the picture drawn by the noble Lord. I do not propose, after what I have said, to discuss to-day how far it is true. It does not altogether tally with such information as I have upon the subject.
But the point I want to put to your Lordships is this. Does the noble Lord ask your Lordships to believe that. he alone is in possession of this information? Is it not perfectly certain that the whole of the conditions in India are not only as well known to the Viceroy and his Council, but must be much better known to them than to any of us here? Is it not the case that the Viceroy and the Government of India alone at the present moment are in a position to estimate the significance of the symptoms to which my noble friend refers The Viceroy and his Council know whether or not these schemes of the agitators to whom the noble Lord referred are successful. They know better than we do whether the promises of Mr. Gandhi and his friends are in course of being fulfilled, or whether that agitator, having failed, as I believe he did, with the intellectuals, is also in the course 25 of failure in his appeal to the peasants. They know far better than we can whether the atmosphere in India is that of the dangerous excitement to which the noble Lord referred or whether it is one rather of disappointment and disgust at the failure of the promises of the agitators to materialise.
These considerations the Government of India must balance, and they are balancing them every day. The Viceroy of India, during the last two or three weeks, has been engaged on official duties in Kashmir. He returns this week and he joins his Council at the end of this week. Every one of these matters will come before him and before them on that occasion. So far as we are concerned—and I suppose that the speech of the noble Lord contains some sort of challenge addressed to this bench—the Viceroy is assured, and has been assured, of the complete and unanimous support of the Government in any action that he and his colleagues may choose to take. He has not to wait for orders; he possesses full powers at any day and at any time to act in the manner which he and his colleagues think desirable for the vindication of the law and order which my noble friend seems to think have ceased to exist. But at this moment, in the circumstances which I have described, for your Lordships, even by implication, to interfere, or to dictate, or even to suggest to the Viceroy and his Council that they ought to take this or that action, with the imperfect information at our disposal, and at this great distance of space, would, I submit to your Lordships, be undesirable and unwise.
And, also, a debate in this House is capable of exercising a very unfortunate effect. The noble Lord spoke with a certain amount of moderation of form, and yet I can easily imagine, if sentences from his speech, highly coloured as they were, containing adjectives that did not err on the side of moderation, followed, as it conceivably may be, by speeches of a similar, perhaps of an even more vehement, character —I can easily conceive, if passages from speeches of that nature were transferred on the telegraph wires to India, very likely distorted and exaggerated in the process of transmission, they might produce an effect very different from that which they do in the tranquil atmosphere of your Lordships' House.
There is, further, the second consideration to which I alluded just now. A report 26 in India of a debate of the character that I am speaking of in your Lordships' House—which, if I may be allowed to say so in passing, carries great weight in India —may exercise a very deleterious influence at the moment when that tour is beginning to which I referred a few moments ago. To-morrow the Prince of Wales leaves England with the expectation on our part, and, I am sure, with the personal desire on his, of adding materially to the great services which he has already rendered in similar tours in other parts of the world.
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
Wherever he has gone he has hitherto been the herald of good understanding and good will, and a harbinger of peace. In India his wonderful and winning personality, his record and his quite uncommon power of speech, wholly apart from his illustrious rank and position, will, I am sure, make a most definite and desirable impression, not only upon the Princes but upon the masses of India. Of course, the question of whether he should go or not is one which has been very seriously considered, and the decision which has been taken that the tour should be proceeded with is one that has been arrived at upon the united advice of the Viceroy and his colleagues. They are prepared to guarantee that every conceivable precaution will be taken, and that nothing will be left to chance.
In these circumstances, my Lords, do let us combine to start this tour, so fraught with great possibilities, in an atmosphere in which there shall not be a single jarring note. It would be a great pity, I think it would be almost a crime, if anything was said here—I do not say it has been said, and I am perfectly convinced it will not be said—to cast any cloud upon the progress of that young Prince in this great Dominion, which, if it proceeds with the éclat which has attended his previous journeys, may indeed carry a message of good will and be fraught with much blessing to the Indian Empire.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I do not rise to take part in the Indian part of this very important discussion, but, as my noble friend Lord Sydenham has been in communication with me in reference to the occasion for taking this debate, I feel perhaps it would 27 be becoming if I explained to your Lordships why, in our humble view, this debate ought to take place. The noble Marquess has said that he thinks it is very unusual that a debate should not be postponed for a few days upon the appeal of the Leader of the House. If the noble Marquess had come forward and said, or had said privately to my noble friend, that he desired this debate should take place in three or four days' time, perhaps a week's time, upon a given day which could be announced to your Lordships, no doubt it would have been our duty to have considered very carefully whether we could not have fallen in with his suggestion. But that, of course, was not what was suggested, and anybody who has listened to the noble Marquess's speech will see that any such limited suggestion that it should be postponed for three or four days to a named day was wholly inconsistent with the whole of his argument.
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
No; the noble Lord is not correct. When I communicated with my noble friend I did not suggest that he should take his Notice off the Paper; I suggested that he should leave it on the Paper, and that it should be taken at such time in the present session of Parliament—which, after all, is going to be short—as I should inform him would be in the public interest.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It was clearly inconsistent with the whole of the tenour of the argument which the noble Marquess has just delivered to the House, for lie explained that he thought that in his judgment, in the critical condition of things in India, a debate ought not to take place. What difference would two or three days make if that were so?
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
Perhaps the noble Marquess will allow me to answer his most unjust remark. The point I made was that, in the first place, at the present 28 moment His Majesty's Government, owing to the conditions which I have described, were not in a position to make that statement to the House, which they probably would be in a position to make at a rather later date; and, secondly, that a debate taking place on this day, the very day before the Prince of Wales starts on his journey, was unwise and inopportune.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Marquess knows as well as I do that there is nobody in your Lordships' House who does not view with immense sympathy the Prince of Wales's visit to India. We all hope that it may fulfil all expectations, and we are deeply grateful to His Royal Highness for the public service which on repeated occasions he has given to his country.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is clear that the Prince of Wales's journey to India is going to last many months; so what real value is there in the argument of the noble Marquess that a postponement of this debate for three or four days would make any difference whatever? No! The whole argument of the noble Marquess—and it was a very legitimate and proper one for him to put forward—was that a debate about the condition of India at the present time would be inopportune, partly with reference to the visit of His Royal Highness and partly with reference to the general condition of India. That brings us to the point as to whether Parliament ought to forego the right of criticism in respect of India at the present moment, and the particular question whether it is to-day, or to-morrow, or two or three days hence, is not relevant to the argument of the noble Marquess to-day. The whole point of his contention was that we must be silent in respect to the condition of India. I am afraid we cannot take that view. We think that the condition of things in India is so grave that a discussion in Parliament must take place. That is what we mean when we speak of a democratic form of government, and we venture to think that such a discussion must take place. Had it been a question of putting the debate off until, let us say, this day week, that would have been a matter for consideration, but the view we take is that the debate ought to take place.
29 Then it is not only in respect of conditions in India that we receive these private appeals from the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House. I do not think I recollect an important discussion of any kind during the last few years in which there has not been a request from the Government that we should postpone the discussion. It is always taking place. They are perfectly entitled to suggest it, but these appeals do not impress us quite so much as they would do if they were more unusual. It is for these reasons that we thought it necessary to bring on this discussion, but I ought not to resume my seat without saying that I share with the noble Marquess a conviction of the great responsibility which rests upon every member of your Lordships' House to express himself with the greatest care and the greatest caution in respect of these very serious and difficult matters, and I say with great confidence that every member of your Lordships' House will share that view. I am sorry if we have not been able to fall absolutely into line with the wishes of His Majesty's Government, but it is necessary for us to do our duty, just as it is necessary for the Government to do theirs.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, I had no intention of taking any part in what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, calls the Indian part of this debate because, like the noble Marquess who leads the House, I am sorry that it is taking place to-day. Before Parliament met, my noble friend, Lord Pentland, wrote to me and asked me whether I thought it likely that the Government would be prepared to engage in a debate especially with reference to the condition of affairs in Southern India, and whether I thought they would be willing to make some statement on the subject at the opening of the session. I advised my noble friend to write to the Under-Secretary for India in order to find out whether His Majesty's Government desired to make a statement at present, and I implied to my noble friend, as I think he will agree, that I hoped he would be guided in this matter so far as possible by the views of the India Office. My noble friend did write and received a reply from the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, very much in the sense of what the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has just said. In those circumstances I should not have advised my noble friend to press for a statement at present. and I confess I am sorry 30 that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and his friends have thought it necessary to raise the whole question of administration at this moment.
My noble friend, Lord Sydenham, as the noble Marquess admitted, expressed himself in terms of general moderation, although it cannot be said, I think, that the implications of his speech were in themselves moderate. He seemed to consider that the whole administration of India, principally, of course, that of the Secretary of State—we are all, I think, pretty well aware of the noble Lord's opinion of that member of His 'Majesty's Government— but the implication was that the Viceroy, the Government, and the Administration generally were not playing their part in maintaining law and order in India; that, guided by the maleficent- influences from the India Office, both the civil and military administration in India appeared to be altogether paralysed at this moment. That is the general impression one gained from my noble friend's speech.
Like the noble Marquess opposite, I am sorry that at this moment when His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, is starting on that great expedition of which everybody has spoken with sympathy, which I am certain is shared by every member of your Lordships' House, a debate of this character should take place. I agree with the noble Marquess behind me that a postponement of three or four days would have had no effect one way or the other, and I also agree that it would have been hardly possible that this session—which, I think, may last somewhat longer than the noble Marquess opposite appears to think it likely—should close without some discussion upon India, conducted, as I hope, throughout in terms of moderation and without any suggestion that the Government of India is so enfeebled, whether by legislation or otherwise, that it is unable to take its proper place in maintaining law and order throughout the Indian Empire. But as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and those who agreed with him have not found it possible to accede to the appeal responsibly made to them by the Leader of the House, one can only hope that the debate will proceed peaceably and that, so far as possible, noble Lords who take part in it will abstain from provocation on one side or the other.
§ LORD AMPTHILL
had given notice to call attention to the present state of affairs 31 in India; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, as I have a definite Motion on the Paper, perhaps it would be convenient if I said what I have to say now. I should like to point out in the first place that none of the considerations put forward by the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House, affects that which I intended to say. I desire to call attention to four definite points which I should in the ordinary course have made the subject of questions, but I thought it was more convenient, as an Indian debate was fixed for to-day, to raise the matters in that debate, and to make a Motion for Papers in order that the necessary information might be laid before Parliament. I may say at once that the four matters to which I am going to refer, and to which I intend to restrict myself, have no reference whatever to the tour of His Royal Highness in India. In regard to that particular matter I cannot see what difference it makes whether an Indian debate takes place to-day, or the day after to-morrow, or a week hence. His Royal Highness will be on the sea for nearly three weeks, and if the argument put forward by the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House, is to hold good, no reference should be made to India in either House of Parliament during that period. That amounts to this—that we could not discuss India during the present session of Parliament, or even until the Prince returns.
That will not do. In spite of what the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has said, Parliament is responsible for India. Great Britain is responsible for the good government and the welfare of the peoples of India, and that is the greatest and noblest responsibility that has ever been borne by one race for another. My reason for putting down a Motion was that I felt it a duty to call attention to the position of the public servants in all the public Services in India who, on our behalf, discharge that responsibility, and who, up to the present day, have by common consent discharged it in a magnificent manner — in a manner, in fact, which is written in letters of gold in the pages of history.
Before I proceed further I should tell your Lordships what are the four questions in regard to which I propose to move for Papers. The first is the question of proportionate pensions for members of the public Service. That is an old question which I raised at the end of last session, and in regard to which a further reply is 32 due to me. This question cannot possibly affect the present situation. The second question is in regard to the Moplah rebellion, a matter of urgent public importance. which ought to be brought before Parliament and before the people of this country. The third thing is the Kernani case, and the fourth the Grant case, another matter affecting the position of our fellow-subjects in India which also demands the attention of Parliament.
I will begin with the first. In a letter from an official in India, which I have received, he states that the real unrest in India to-day is among the English officials who are uncertain as to their position and prospects. The publication of the conditions upon which they are to be allowed to retire has been delayed for a very considerable time. Your Lordships may remember that shortly before the adjournment for the recess—I think it was August 10—I called attention to this matter, and asked that an assurance that had been held out by the Joint Select Committee of the Government of India that proportionate pensions should be granted should be confirmed without delay. The noble Earl the Under-Secretary of State replied that the Government accepted the principle. Indeed, he stated so in the warmest terms. He said:My answer to that Question is an unqualified affirmative. His Majesty's Government do certainly accept the principles advocated both by the Government of India and the Joint Select Committee that members of the Public Service in India should, in certain circumstances, be permitted to retire on proportionate pension.He also said that the Secretary of State had agreed that these cases should be dealt with as a whole by Regulation instead of individually by the Secretary of State, because there was an unfortunate impression abroad that that was the intention of the Government. He told us that the India Office was settling the terms of such Regulations with the Government of India, and that the Secretary of State would take the first opportunity of making them public.
I believe I am right in stating that the Secretary of State, in another place, led us to believe that in about another week we should have that information. Nearly three months have passed, and no Regulations have been published. In view of what has been said, I do not want to use strong language, but it is very difficult to exaggerate the feeling of discontent 33 which now prevails in the public Service on account of this, and also on account of the appalling conditions under which officers have to serve in India. There is among them a feeling that the Secretary of State is furthering the desire of the Indian educated classes to squeeze or starve British officials out of India, and thereby to obtain more rapidly his pro-tossed aim of Indianising the Service. I adhere entirely to facts. Deputations from the Civil Service waited on the present Viceroy in September to urge an improvement of the conditions of service in India, and to ask for an early decision as to proportionate pensions, and they got no satisfactory reply on that point. An officer of high standing in the Indian Civil Service, writing by the last mail, says that no concession that costs money has a ghost of a chance of getting through the Assembly. Not only that, but any concessions now given will merely enure for the benefit of what will soon be a purely Indian Service, and as such be grossly overpaid.
Even if it, is the aim of the present Administration to drive British officials out of India— and nine out of ten of them believe that that is the aim—is that a valid reason for denying them even the minimum of compensation involved in the grant of proportionate pensions? It is very difficult to understand why there should be such delay about so important a matter, in view of the deplorable consequences which delay is having. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House urged us to believe that the Viceroy and the Government of India, and all the authorities of India, know of these things much better than we do. Of course they do, but they know tit s, too—and that makes it all the more incomprehensible that there should be any delay about a matter which affects the contentment, confidence and loyalty of the public Service —that the prospects of British officials in India to-day are so gloomy that it is reported that in one Province 30 per cent. even of the junior civilians are only waiting for orders for proportionate pensions in order to resign the Service, and it is believed that the reason why these Regulations are withheld is that this exodus from the public Service is naturally dreaded.
All I have said so far refers primarily to the Indian Civil Service, which is regarded as doomed, but it applies equally to the other great Imperial Services—namely, the 34 Indian Medical Service, the Public Works Department, and others. At the present moment fifty applications to resign by officers of the Indian Medical Service are pending at Simla, and more are coming in weekly. That does not look like a healthy state of affairs. In such circumstances how can honest and efficient administration, for which the British Parliament is responsible, be secured?— -for in spite of the astonishing remarks made by the Leader of the House the British Parliament is responsible. How can honest and efficient administration be secured if the majority of the best men in the various Services are anxious to resign at the earliest moment they can? The. noble Earl the Under-Secretary may reply that others will be able to take their places. But where are you to get them? The India Office is very well aware that British recruits of the stamp and the number required are not forthcoming.
My noble friend Lord Sydenham referred to the case of the late Indian Civil Service examination. It is well worth while giving your Lordships more of the facts. From particulars which have appeared in the Press I find that of the twenty-three candidates for the last competition for the Indian Civil Service, Home and Colonial, seventeen would seem, from their names, to be British and six of Indian origin. Of the seventeen British candidates not one selected the Indian Civil Service as his first choice, while eleven are prepared to go without an appointment rather than accept one in India. That is a nice state of things. The only successful candidates who elected for India were the six Indians
Under the new scheme half the vacancies are in a few years to be filled in India, and one-fourth arc already so filled. The competitive examination in this country was expected to supply the British element, but if the figures I have quoted are any guide the number of British candidates will be very small in a few years. India will shortly get half elected in India among the Indians, and the other half, which ought to be filled by Englishmen from this country, will also be monopolised by Indians and the Services of India will be Indianised. That is the position. The people who will fill the places which hitherto have been occupied by that magnificent race of public servants, the Indian Civil Service, will be natives of India, who are not bred 35 for it, and have neither the experience nor the prestige. The question to consider—and this is where the responsibility of Parliament comes in—is, how many British bayonets will be required to keep these men in place and power? We shall have to support them as long as we are responsible for India, and it is a very serious consideration for Parliament. The District, Magistrate or Collector in India rules over hundreds of thousands of people by the sheer force of prestige, because he is an Englishman representing the great, just and beneficent British Raj. But take him away and put in his place a man who is loathed and despised by half his fellow-countrymen and you will have to support him with armed force.
Take the Medical Service. The Indian Medical Service has been boycotted for years by the great medical schools in this country. British candidates are not forthcoming for this Service or for the Police. How can the British standard of administration be maintained in these circumstances? That is the question we have to consider. We have ruled India because we have kept the administration up to a certain standard; take away the men who have maintained it at such a high standard, and it goes. That is where the responsibility of Parliament enters. Who is responsible? It must be the India Office which set out on a deliberate policy of wrecking the Services by eliminating the British element and lowering British prestige. Now they are going into the highways and the byways to induce men to come in. But they cannot do it.
You may maintain silence in Parliament, and you may silence the Press, as is now done in some extraordinary way, but you cannot stop men in India from writing home to their friends. That is what they are doing now. They are writing to their friends in public schools and universities and are saying, "Do not come to India whatever you do." I have heard it from mare than one quarter and it is a most deplorable thing. That is the reason why the Secretary of State will not get men of the same stamp to fill the places of the men he is driving and squeezing out of the public Services in India. It is also the reason why I am moving for Papers to show what these Regulations are, and what the scale of pensions is to be. It is a matter of urgent public importance; in fact, nothing could be more desirable than that this 36 knowledge should be available for every public servant in India at the present time.
Let me say a few words on the second subject—the Moplah rebellion. I know something of the Moplahs, because it was my good fortune to be Governor of Madras for over five years. Nothing is more familiar than a Moplah rebellion. It is a thing we were always anticipating, and every one who knew the stories of the Moplah rebellions knew exactly how they were dealt with. The Moplah is in many ways a delightful creature. We had two battalions of Moplahs, which were, unfortunately, disbanded. They were great, jolly, cheery sportsmen, full of humour, magnificent in physique and, on the whole, thoroughly honest fellows. But the Moplah, owing to his breeding and race, happens to be at times a wild fanatic. There is no race of people in the world who are so easily affected by any call of fanaticism, and when the Moplah becomes a fanatic he becomes exactly like a mad dog, and the only way to treat him is to treat him in the same way as you would treat a mad dog. His only object at such a time is to die. He does not want to live. His firm belief, that if he gets killed in fighting against the infidel he goes straight to Paradise, makes him desirous of getting killed. They generally shut themselves up in some temple until every one is killed. You will see therefore that the ignorance and fanaticism of the Moplahs makes them ready material for seditious propaganda, and that is all the more reason for protecting them against it.
In pursuit of the Montagu-Chelmsford policy of—I will give their own words—Disturbing deliberately the placid pathetic contentment of the masses for their own highest good,all safeguards and precautions were abandoned. Gandhi and the Ali brothers were allowed to preach openly doctrines of Non-co-operation with a "Satanic Government," and the duty of Mahomedans to join in a Jehad, or holy war. That is really asking for trouble. You might as well drop a lighted match on a powder-barrel. Their agents had been active there for months. They organised the Caliphate Volunteers, who raised the Turkish flag when the rebellion broke out. But the Turkish flag and the Caliphate agitation had nothing to do with it. It meant nothing to the Moplahs. All it meant was that they had got their Government and were going to 37 kill the Hindus. "If we cannot get them forcibly to join Islam, we will kill them and take their wives." That is their idea of self-government and self-determination.
The second reason is this. The leading agitator, Yakub Hassen, a member of the Madras Council, who was imprisoned by the local authority for preaching sedition among the Moplahs, was released immediately the rebellion broke out. It seems incredible. Thirdly, the District Magistrate's warnings of the impending rebellion were disregarded and his application to extend the Sedition Meetings Act was refused. He was refused permission to do the one thing that could have stopped the trouble. Then, fourthly—and this is even more extraordinary—the British garrison at Malapuram, which is the great Moplah centre, was removed this spring in deferenee to the demand by the new Legislative Assembly for reduction in the Army, and especially the British garrison. it was simply an axiom of the Government of Madras, with which I am familiar, that it would be dangerous ever to remove a garrison from Malapuram. That was pointed out again and again, not as affecting the present situation, but the stationing of the Army, and it was always regarded as an axiom. In spite of that, although they knew the rebellion was coming, they removed the garrison. This was stated by the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Rawlinson, in the Assembly in September. Fifthly, the Moplahs were encouraged to believe that rebellion was a safe game by announcing and circulating among them—I am quoting the words front the Madras Government Publicity Bureau—The apology tendered by the Supreme Government for the Punjab incidents in the Imperial Legislative Assembly.This is from a new' institution which apparently exists in Madras, and it was published broadcast by the agitators with comments of their own.
Finally, we have the authoritative statement of the present Governor of Madras to the Madras Legislative Council in September last, that the Moplah rebellion was an inevitable outcome of the propaganda associated with Mr. Gandhi. But Mr. Gandhi is still at large. The author of the thing is still allowed to go about. The Hunter Committee, the Government of India and the Home Government were unanimous in holding that Gandhi's passive resistance caused the disorders and the 38 Punjab rebellion of 1919. I ask your Lordships how many more rebellions will this man be allowed to bring about, and how many more thousands of lives is he to be. responsible for, before he is arrested? How much longer is he going to be allowed to defy the law, and to boast of doing so? It is difficult to understand why he is not arrested now. it was quite easy to understand it in the late régime, because Mr. Gandhi was, as a matter of fact, pursuing the same policy and the same methods as the then Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, and the Secretary of State. Their policy was deliberately to disturb the placid, pathetic contentment of the peoples of India for their highest good. That is what Mr. Gandhi is doing, and so it would have been inconsistent to have arrested him then. Rut the present Viceroy is not bound by any such policy; he has not declared himself to be in favour of that policy; and so it is difficult to understand why he does not do the obvious, and arrest this dangerous and crazy fanatic.
Why has the Moplah rebellion been going on for three months, with the loss of thousands of lives and appalling cruelties? The reason is simply that there was lack of vigour and initiative in handling it at the start. Your Lordships will remember hearing in this House the extraordinary statement by the late Under-Secretary, Lord Sinha, who said—Do not interfere too hastily or too violently with an agitation of this kind. Let it kill itself, as in time it does.Since that pronouncement was made thousands of lives have been lost as the result of Gandhi's further agitation. That this was no chance phrase, adopted hastily by Lord Sinha himself when he was answering for the India Office, that it was part of a settled policy, is clear from the fact that the late Viceroy also used it, and suggested that the Gandhi movement should be left to die of its own inanity. How is it to be wondered at, when such a policy holds good, that anarchy and rebellion should run riot?
Contrast this with the Punjab rebellion of 1919. That was crushed in two weeks, with the loss of 450 lives all told. This rebellion has been going on for three months, and has caused the loss of at least two thousand lives, apart entirely from the untold numbers of Hindus who have been murdered in every circumstance of barbarity. The officers, civil and military, 39 who crushed the Punjab rebellion in a fortnight were visited with censure and displeasure by the same Government that at the outset had called upon them to use drastic measures and had assured them of its full countenance and support. The consequence of censuring those who had done exactly what the Government had told them to do has only- been to paralyse officers, civil and military, who were confronted with the same duty in similar circumstances.
My noble friend has referred to the case of two young officers of the Leinsters who were out with small detachments, and it is quite worth while to tell your Lordships a bit more about it. They were confronted with a large rebel gathering early in the outbreak, and, thinking that they were acting in accordance with the wishes of the authorities, instead of opening fire they endeavoured to parley with the rebels. What was the result '? They were immediately hemmed in, murdered, and mutilated in the most horrible manner. Are there not others besides the Moplahs who were responsible for their murder? And does not this justify, more than anything could possibly justify, the vote which your Lordships gave in this House in the matter of General Dyer?
In such conditions as those which I have named, rebellion spreads like a forest fire, and early in October, seven weeks after the outbreak, we find—and this is really a most noteworthy point—that a thousand residents of Malabar, of all classes, are petitioning the Viceroy to take more drastic measures to save them from misery and death. We find unfortunate Hindus asking why aeroplanes and machine guns, which were used with such effect in the Punjab to disperse the rebels, were not used to protect the loyal population in Malabar. It has all been in the papers, or rather in the only two papers which publish any information about India. No such appeal has ever been made to the Viceroy before; it is unique in the whole history of our administration, and the fact that it was made shows your Lordships what are going to be the consequences of self-government in India. Those consequences will be either that the Hindu will cut the throat of the Mahomedan or that the Mahomedan will cut the throat of the Hindu, where he is in a predominant position. That has happened at once, at the very suggestion that British rule had ceased, in Malabar.
40 I should like to tell your Lordships something about the refinements of torture which are being used by these Moplah fanatics. There is one leader there, as I see by the papers, who delights in flaying his victims alive. Another thing is that they have compelled high-caste Hindus to dig their own graves, and, after murdering them if they refused to embrace Islam, they buried them in graves of their own digging. There can be no higher refinement of torture than that for the native of India, for in so doing the Moplahs are dishonouring the Hindus in this life and destroying their chance of salvation in the next. Your Lordships, I am sure, know enough about India to be aware that it is fatal to the Hindu to be buried just as it is fatal and destructive of eternal salvation for the Mahomedan to be burned. They care more about that than anything else, and if you make a Hindu dig his own grave and then, if he staunchly refuses to change his religion and embrace Islam, you bury him, he knows that he has no chance whatever of eternal life. These things are taking place daily in a tract which has been for a hundred years under British rule.
I want to ask for Papers showing what passed between the Government of Madras and the Collector of Malabar and the Madras Government and the Government of India, in order that we may know why it was not possible to crush this rebellion at the outset. The paralysis of authority —my noble friend did not use any terms too strong in regard to what is going on—has spread to all departments of Government, and I want to call attention to the case of Mr. Harry Grant, a zamindar or landowner in the province of Behar and Orissa, and his estate manager called Antonini. Mr. Grant's estate includes certain lands which are periodically submerged by the Ganges. When they appear above water they become highly fertile, and he lets them to tenants, but when they are submerged no rents are charged, and, naturally, no crops are derived from them. These lands, which are a feature of the Ganges, are an object of covetous desire on the part of the turbulent villagers in that region. Mr. Grant, who had let them to certain tenants, found that those tenants were going to be disturbed by the villagers, who wished to take possession of the lands. He therefore appealed for protection on six occasions in December, 1919, November, 1920, December, 1920, and in January of this year, and in every case protection was 41 refused. As the position became intolerable We, Mr. Grant had to protect himself, and so he engaged some men to supplement his ordinary peons and watchmen whom everybody has to employ in India, to watch and guard his land and property and to protect his tenants. He got forty Ghurkas, ex-sepoys, from Lucknow, to protect himself and his land and tenants. When they arrived on the spot they were ambushed by a large mob, carrying lighted torches, axes and lathis. Twenty of the Ghurkas were killed outright, and the rest were wounded and scattered.
As a result of this serious affray the local police decided to bestir themselves, and arrested Mr. Grant and his manager on a charge of inciting to an unlawful assembly. They were placed before the sub—divisional Magistrate, where both claimed to be tried as European British subjects. The case against Mr. Grant was transferred to the Court of the District Magistrate, but the sub-divisional Magistrate refused to treat Antonini, the manager, as a European, and the latter was therefore forced to appeal to the High Court, which quashed the sub-divisional Magistrate's ruling and ordered Antonini to be treated as a European British subject. Believing that he would not get justice from the District Magistrate, Mr. Grant applied to the High Court to have the proceedings quashed. The High Court ordered the hearing of the case to be transferred to the Court of the District Magistrate, Monghyr, an adjacent district. The District Magistrate, Monghyr, heard the case and delivered a judgment absolutely exonerating Mr. Grant from the charge made against him by the Bhagalpur Police. He pointed out that there was indisputable evidence that Mr. Grant did not wish or intend to create a breach of the peace; that he was forced to employ the Ghurka watchmen as the only alternative to being forcibly dispossessed of his property; and that he would not have been obliged to do this if the local magisterial and police authorities had done their duty and given him the protection for which he had asked so many times, and to which he was entitled.
Mr. Grant has no redress. His. crops have been forcibly seized, his watchmen have been murdered, he has been unjustifiably forced to spend a large sum of money in defending himself in the Courts from charges which ought never to have been brought against him; and he has no 42 guarantee that the mob will not be permitted to behave in exactly the same way when the next crops are ready for harvesting. What I want to know is what is going to be done to give Mr. Grant some compensation, and to prevent a recurrence of a business of this kind, which not only affects Mr. Giant but discourages public confidence in law and authority all over India. That is the Grant case.
Then I wish to say a word or two on the well-known Munitions Board case. Failure to enforce the law against the Ali brothers, until they had brought on the Moplah outbreak, and Ghandhi, because they were influential people, is paralleled by the decision of a member of the Government of India, with which two of his colleagues in the Council agreed, to drop the prosecution of Sukhlal Kernani and Bannerjee, two wealthy Indians of Calcutta, although, in the opinion of the Advocate-General, there was an overwhelming case against them of swindling the Government out of large sums of money. Lord Reading, bowing to public outcry against this scandalous decision, repudiated his colleague's action, and Sir Thomas Holland resigned. I want to know why the two colleagues consulted by Sir Thomas Holland, and who approved of his action, did not also resign their appointments, when they were partly responsible for his action. I want to ask, when I move for Papers, for the Minutes of the Executive Council of the Governor-General, showing how the decision not to order a prosecution was arrived at, and also for Papers giving Sir Thomas Holland's reasons for his action.
The present Administration, both at the India Office and in India, has entirely lost the confidence of the public, alienated its loyal supporters, disgusted its faithful servants, many of whom are eager to quit its Service, and brought about discontent, disorder and rebellion throughout the length and breadth of India. What I would like to ask your Lordships is whether this is the result of the much vaunted reforms, and whether we have any hope that the results of those reforms will be any better in the future. When the Reform Bill was introduced in this House, the noble Marquess the Leader of the House assured us, in terms of impressive solemnity, which certainly gave us the idea that he was making pledges on behalf of the Government, that an essential condition of these reforms was that there should be no lowering 43 of the standards of the Civil Service, whose work had enabled India to take its present place in the Empire. Has that condition been fulfilled, in view of the circumstances to which I have called attention
The second condition which he laid down was that nothing should be done to impair or diminish the authority of the Central Government in India. Has that. been fulfilled? The third was that nothing should be done to weaken the protection given by the British Raj to the masses to whom the franchise and the vote meant nothing. Yet here you have a large population obliged to appeal to the Viceroy for protection against murder and outrage of all kinds. The fourth condition was that nothing should be done to encourage the belief that India can safely cut herself adrift from the Empire. That belief is universal now in India. If you look at the newspapers you see every day some resolution passed by a public body, showing that the people believe that British rule is coming to an end very shortly. I believe that the Lahore Municipal Council have decided to pull down the statue of John Lawrence. Therefore, that condition has not been fulfilled.
I ask your Lordships to look at the India of to-day and to contrast it with the India of 1917, or any other time prior to the advent of the present Secretary of State. What is the responsibility of your Lordship's House? It was suggested to us at the outset of these proceedings that we have no business to interfere; that it was the business of the Viceroy and of the authorities in India; but it is laid down in the preamble of the Reform Act that the time and manner of each advance can be determined only by Parliament, upon whom responsibility lies for the welfare and advancement of the Indian peoples. Do your Lordships think that that responsibility is being properly- discharged by the present Administration, either here or in India?
Before I sit down I will venture upon a prophecy. That prophecy is this. I believe that the Ali brothers were interned merely in order to provide material for clemency, and that, just as the leaders of the Punjab rebellion were amnestied after a few months, so these two will shortly be released and similar action will be taken. It is easy to conjecture that, because we see what is going on elsewhere— 44 in Ireland, for instance. I thank your Lordships for having listened to me so patiently. I am sure you will agree that the four matters to which I have referred are matters of definite and urgent public importance, in regard to which I am justified in asking the Government to furnish Parliament and the public with further information. Therefore, when the proper moment arrives, I shall, with your Lordships' permission, move for Papers.
§ THE EARL OF M1DLETON
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the noble Lord into the important questions which he has raised, but I must confess I think this House is not open to the reproach which the Leader of the House addressed to us, or the suggestion that it is at all likely that an unwise or inopportune discussion would be countenanced in this House. I do not know any body of men on whom for the last seven years the Government have drawn so generously for reticence and reserve. And I will go further and say that on many occasions, some of which I could mention, the effect of that reticence on our part has been that action has been taken against which it was well known we should have protested, and with regard to which we have found ourselves afterwards quite unable to make any impression upon the Government or upon events. It is for that reason that I suggest to the noble Marquess that there is a reciprocal liability upon him and upon the Government for the demand which they have made upon your Lordships to-night.
Events are moving very fast in India. I should like your Lordships to consider the position in which we are placed. We had very little opportunity of discussion on any subject at the close of the summer part of the session. We were bombarded with measures to such an extent that it would have been almost impossible to find even a small part of any one evening on which we could have brought up questions. We have every hope that these sittings will be of brief duration, and therefore it will be February before any questions can be brought forward. That means that for seven or eight months your Lordships and Parliament will be debarred from any exercise of their undoubted duty of reviewing what is now going on in India.
That being so, I would venture to ask the noble Marquess to give us a direct 45 pledge that on certain points not only will no action be taken by the Government but that there will not be that degree of acceptance of policy which would not merely make its reversal impossible but would make its incidence entirely independent of any criticism which we may pass upon it in this House. There is one question, which I am merely going to indicate to the noble Marquess, to which this applies. We have heard, and it has been reported in the public Press, that great changes are to take place in the Indian Army and considerable reductions of British troops. I shall not even mention any of the points which fell from. Lord. Sydenham or those which, by innuendo, also fell from Lord Ampthill, But I do say this—that there is more authority in this House to discuss the desirability of maintaining at its full strength the force of British troops in the Indian Army than in any assembly in the world. And I ask the noble Marquess to give us a definite assurance that, if those measures are, as we believe, under discussion, no step will be taken until we have had the opportunity of thoroughly reviewing them in this House. I think we have a right to ask for that assurance. I cannot imagine a more dangerous thing in the present state of India, internally and externally, than any attempt to square the Budget by a rapid or undue reduction in the military forces.
I should like to ask that the points which have been raised with regard to the Civil Service should receive special attention from the Government. There is great uneasiness in this country as to the condition of the Civil Service; and, speaking as a member Of t he Committee of winch my noble friend, Lord Selborne, was Chairman, there was an absolute Parliamentary bargain, if you may call it so, with regard to the Civil Service. In both these matters E would point out that the responsibility cannot rest with the Government alone. Parliament, as has been well pointed out by Lord Ampthill, has a direct and absolute responsibility for the future of India. Arid the fact that subjects of the greatest importance are tumbling over each other for settlement, that members of this House who are in the Government, like the noble Viscount who would normally be sitting on the Woolsack, are so engaged with Cabinet Committees arid settlements, both at home and abroad, that they are unable to give the ordinary time to them which 46 the importance of those subjects would have commanded at any other period of our history, makes it the more necessary that we should insist., so far as we can, that the authority of Parliament is not set at naught, especially with regard to these great questions in India.
Therefore it is that I appeal to the noble Marquess, who has obtained by his appeal to-night an immunity from criticism and discussion which at any other time it would have been difficult to justify, an assurance that decisions which might be seriously altered by discussions here will not he taken during the close time which he is asking that we should apply to the Government.
§ VISCOUNT CHELMSFORD
My Lords, you will hardly be surprised that I should wish to address you to-night on this very important question. It is only sonic six months ago that I gave up the responsibility of the government of India. I do not disclaim any responsibility for the acts which. I did during my tenure of office, and I welcome this opportunity of putting before your Lordships some of the considerations which weighed with me in the conduct of affairs during my term of office.
Personal questions have never weighted very strongly with me, and I have never put for ward the personal view of things when I felt that the public interests outweighed those personal considerations. And I should not have alluded to any personal matter if it had not been that both Lord Sydenham and Lord Ampthill, in the course of their remarks, asserted quite plainly to your Lordships that I had not supported the officers in the Punjab rising. Now, I have endeavoured ever since that rising to abstain, though at the risk of misunderstanding of my own attitude, from utterance on the question, because I do not wish to say one word which would increase the tension which had arisen over those unfortunate occurrences. But let me state in a few sentences what my position was; what I did and what I did not do.
The Punjab rising was a very serious one, especially serious because of the virile and martial character of the men of the Province of the Punjab. Action had to be taken, and had to be taken summarily and promptly. I assured Sir Michael O'Dwyer, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, and I assured, through a 47 resolution of the Government of India, his officers, that they would have unwavering support in any action they thought it advisable to take. The rising was put down. When we came to discuss the question of the rising, if your Lordships have read the Despatch which the Government of India wrote on this subject you will have seen that we showed that so far as the rising was concerned, we, the Government of India, had given unwavering support to the local Government in the action they found it necessary to take. We praised Sir Michael O'Dwyer for his conduct during that time. We praised the officers of the Punjab generally for the action they took during that time, and we praised the military officers who took action under their leaders.
We found it necessary, in certain cases, to express our disapproval of methods which had been adopted which we said were both injudicious and improper. It is, surely, an impossible doctrine of agency that when you inform your agents that you are going to give them unwavering support, it carries that support to actions which cannot be justified according to the ordinary method of action. It seemed to us that it was impossible for us to pass over certain methods which had been adopted, and we said in our Despatch that those methods had been both injudicious and improper. So far, and so far alone, can it be said for one moment that full support was not given to our officers in the Punjab with regard to those occurrences. I have not put General Dyer's case, because that was a case which stood on its own footing, and our position is made quite clear in our Despatch with regard to that case. But I am now referring to those cases of subordinate officers who acted under the Punjab Government, and so under the Government of India, in connection with that rising. I ask your Lordships who have any doubt in the matter to read that Despatch and see whether there is any indication in it of our having let our officers down by one jot or one title. I should no have alluded to that matter had it not been put forward twice in the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Ampthill and Lord Sydenham, that I had not, or the Governor-General in Council had not, given that support to our officers during that rising which our officers had a right to expect from us.
Now let me pass on to the subject of our discussion this evening, which I desire to 48 treat in the broadest possible way. The dominating factor in the present Indian situation is the race and colour issue. Race feeling is not a growth of yesterday or to-day. I remember that when the noble Lord, Lord Meston, who is sitting on the benches opposite, was giving up the Lieutenant-Governorship of the United Provinces, I think at the end of 1916 or the beginning of 1917, he told me he was sorry to say that he had never found the racial feeling so strong as it was at that time. But it had not commenced then; it is the growth of years. What I would impress upon your Lordships is that strictly speaking it is not an Indian issue at all. It is a world-wide issue. There is a revolt of the coloured races going on all over the world against the ascendancy of the white races, and if your Lordships are interested in the matter and would ask for justification, which, of course, I could not give in the course of a short debate like this, I would recommend you to read a book written by an American, a Mr. Stoddart, which came out some six months or a year ago, and is called "The Rising Tide of Colour." I do not for a moment suggest that I endorse all the conclusions in that book, but it is a collection of facts with regard to this very great question which it is well worth the while of any of your Lordships to read.
But though it is not merely an Indian problem, it. meets you in almost every Indian question which comes up. Take the relations of India to the Empire. One of the most serious questions that confront His Majesty's Government at the present moment is the position of Indians overseas. We had it in connection with indentured labour in Fiji. We have had it lately in connection with East Africa, apart from the question of the position of Indians ill the Dominions. Take the question of railway policy. One would imagine that this race issue would hardly come into the question of railway policy; yet, I think, those of your Lordships who are familiar with the controversy of State, versus company management in the railways of India at the present moment will find that this race and colour issue plays a very prominent part in it. Take the question of contracts and appointments under Government. We are continually being accused of undue preference to the British. Take even that most difficult problem of exchange on which a Commission appointed by the Secretary of State sat not so very long ago. The 49 Report of that Commission was attacked on the ground that it was devised to favour the British financier. And so I might go on. I am not discussing the validity of these arguments; that would be beside the point at the present moment. I am merely indicating what. I would impress upon your Lordships is the all-pervading character of this issue in connection with the situation in India.
Two consequences have flowed from this. In the last I think we may not unfairly say that we governed India on the basis of the acknowledged superiority of the British race. That superiority is now challenged, and in surveying the situation you. cannot ignore the fact that the challenge has been made. Secondly, it is often said, and said truly, that there is no Indian nation; that there are hundreds of races and innumerable creeds. But this colour issue has become the unifying force in India, and through all the diversities of -creeds and races it is creating a unity. That, again, is a fact which you cannot ignore in surveying the position of things in India at the present moment.
Passing from that dominating factor which many of your Lordships must have in mind when you consider the situation in India, I come now to the second large issue. That is the issue of the constitutional reforms which have beery identified with the names of the Secretary of State and myself. I think it may be said not unfairly that a man's view with regard to the situation in India will he largely coloured by the fact whether he is for or against that scheme of constitutional reform which was introduced at the beginning of this year. Those against that policy—we have heard it said to-night by noble Lords —would say: "All the trouble is due to your policy." I would say that but for that policy the whole of India would be against you, and you would not have a friend at all.
Let me put one or two considerations with regard to this issue. Lord Sydenham was quite right when he said this policy is no new one. It is the logical and inevitable sequel of the past— not the reforms of 1892 associated with the names of Lord Dufferin and Lord Lansdowne, nor the reforms associated with the names of Lord Morley and Lord Minto, but going back to Macaulay's Minute of 1835. In 1835 Lord Macaulay, as many of your Lordships are aware, got the consent of the Governor- 50 General in Council at that time to make English the medium of instruction in the education of Indians. I am not concerned for a moment this evening to argue whether that policy was right or wrong. I have often talked over the question with educated Indians, and many of them have said to me quite frankly: "We think it was a wrong policy." Also, at that very time it was a matter of fierce debate in the Governor-General's Council, and certain of the members of the Council, who have been styled in history as Orientalists, resigned their position when Lord William Bentinck accepted Lord Macaulay's Minute.
But it is au act of State which has carried tremendous consequences in the history of India. In the first place, it has created that class of Indians, to whom I have already alluded, who arc imbued with our views, our ideals, and our inspirations, and who have challenged us with regard to our acknowledged superiority. In the second place it has moulded the minds of educated Indians in a way that led to the inevitable demand for political development that should imitate the model held out to India. Can it be said, in the face of the history following on Lord Macaulay's Minute, that the reforms which we instituted last year are anything but the inevitable and logical sequel to Macaulay's Minute'? It is sometimes said—and Lord Sydenham has said to-night—" You have based your policy on the conciliation of the politically-minded classes, an insignificant fraction of the population, and not the true leaders of the people." That is a very plausible argument. I would ask your Lordships to consider where it would lead you.
Is there any country in the world where, in matters of government, you can ignore the politically-minded class, and where that politically-minded class is not a small fraction of the population? Of course it is the politically-minded class that demands reform, that presses on reform, and that is going to influence the rest of the population. And even in India you cannot under-estimate the influence of this class. Take, my Lords, a village scene. You motor through a village, and you find a collection of people around the village well, being addressed, or read to, by some man. They are illiterate probably, and could not read or think for themselves upon these questions. But there is a member of the 51 educated class sitting in the middle of the village reading a vernacular paper, or explaining some theory of political development which they do not understand, but which, at all events, is influencing them. It is impossible to say that you can pass by the influence of the politically-minded classes in India.
In this matter I have had always before my eyes the Irish parallel. I recognise that every historic parallel can be pressed too far, but I would ask your Lordships to consider that parallel for what it is worth. In the year 1801 Mr. Pitt, as we know, passed the Act. of Union, but that Act was part of a much larger policy, aimed at the conciliation and winning the cooperation of the Roman Catholic Church. The latter portion of his policy was, as we know, dropped, largely owing to the opposition of the Sovereign of the time. Might not the course of Irish history have been vastly different if that policy had been carried out in its entirety, and the cooperation of the Roman Catholic Church gained at that time? What we are aiming at in India is winning the co-operation of the politically-minded classes. Let me draw the parallel—like the Roman Catholic priesthood, a fraction of the population; like the Roman Catholic priesthood, the educated portion of the population; like the Roman Catholic priesthood, with little or no experience of government; but., like the Roman Catholic priesthood, if cooperation is not secured, with infinite capacity for making government difficult.
I have felt it necessary to review my policy in some detail, because I wish to make your Lordships understand the general considerations which have governed the policy with which my name is identified, especially when we come to deal with the great problem of Non-cooperation. I think your Lordships will have gathered from what I have said the paramount importance that I attached to constitutional reform. I have shown you the depth of racial feeling that you might realise that it would be only through the Councils that Englishmen and Indians could come together and understand each other. There is no such help to understanding as partnership in work, and so it is through the Council that one may hope that the understanding will come which will ameliorate the racial feeling that at present exists. I put before your Lordships Lord Macaulay's Minute to show you the 52 inevitableness of asking for reform. I cited the Irish parallel to emphasise the disastrous results of not securing cooperation. In my policy I felt it imperative that the new Constitution should function; that we must win to our side the cooperation of the Constitutional Party, and that in any action we might think right to take we should have secured the support of the Constitutional Party. It was obvious then, if that policy was to be pursued, that a policy of repression, preceding or coinciding with the initiation of reforms, would, in the. first, place have jeopardised the whole of the policy, and, in the second place, have made the Constitutional Party suspicious of the honesty of our intentions. I knew that we might have an uncomfortable time, but I felt that the gain would be great.
Lord Ampthill has given you a quotation from a speech from which I do not recede for one moment. I knew that we might have an uncomfortable time, but I felt that the gain would be great if the policy of Non-cooperation were rejected by the Indians themselves, endowed for the first time with responsibility. In other words, I took a long, and not a short, view of the situation.
It has been mentioned once or twice this evening that the Secretary of State for India is a sinister figure in connection with the policy in India. May I say this, and say it most emphatically, that as regards the question of our policy with reference to Non-cooperation the Secretary of State from beginning to end has had no part or lot, in it, except to be kept fully informed by myself and my Government of all that we were doing and the policy we were pursuing. I think it is only fair, when a great public servant is being continually attacked for a policy which is not his, though he may have accepted it but did not initiate, that I who am responsible for it should most distinctly say where the responsibility lies. It lies on my shoulders.
How far has this policy of outs been successful? Three stages were laid down for working out the policy of Non-cooperation, and stages two and three were not to come into operation until the failure of the first stage. As a matter of fact stages two and three did not come into operation while I was in India. There were various items in stage one. I will give them briefly, and ask you to consider how far the Non-cooperation movement 53 has been successful with any of them. There was surrender of titles. In February last there were five thousand holders of titles in India and only twenty-four surrendered their titles. The next item was refusal to attend Government functions. I have never heard of garden parties of the Viceroy or Governors refused on the ground of Non-cooperation. These are small matters, but I am taking the items laid down in Mr. Gandhi's proposal.
Next, withdrawal from Government schools. This was very interesting, because it was a direct struggle between Mr. Gandhi on the one side and the educated classes on the other. When Mr. Gandhi went down to a school the students invariably came out and remained out as long as he was in the vicinity. But as soon as he went away the students went back. They were not going to be deprived of the education they could get from the schools and colleges, and so it used to be in some cases a regular see-saw. But the policy of Mr. Gandhi with regard to education has failed and it has been defeated by the action of Indians themselves. I come to the boycott by lawyers and the setting up of separate Courts. When I was in India I said that I happened to be a barrister myself and that from my experience I did not see lawyers giving up their practice in order to follow Mr. Gandhi. That was perfectly true. They have, not. It is probable that one could count on the fingers of one hand the number of those barristers who have given Imp their practice; and, of course, separate Courts have never been accepted in any way.
Another item which looked serious, but was not so serious at it looked, was refusal on the part of the military to serve in Mesopotamia because of the broken pledges in connection with the Caliphate. As a matter of fact, shortly after that practically all our soldiers were withdrawn from Mesopotamia and we never had any cliff-lenity in getting soldiers to go there. Then, lastly, there is refusal to stand for the Councils or vote for the Councils. That was put forward by Mr. Gandhi as a deliberate challenge to the new Constitution. It is true. that. a large number of voters did not vote, but it is equally true that a great number did vote; a surprising number considering the novelty of the great experiment. If your Lordships will look at the figures given in the Report of Mr. R. Williams you will see that a surprising 54 number of people did vote on the first occasion. We had, and have, absolutely full Councils. Stages two and three are relinquishing civil appointments and withdrawals from police and Army. As regards those I cannot speak, because they were not brought into operation while I was in India, but I have no doubt the Under-Secretary of State will be able to give your Lordships full information with regard to them.
To sum up, the educated classes have refused to join in the movement, and not only that, each day you see fresh desertions on the part of the educated classes from the movement. There was a remarkable speech or letter reported the other day by Mr. Wadia, who has been one of the thorns in the side of the Madras Government of recent years, because he has been the leader of the industrial strikes in Madras. If the report in The Times is accepted as accurate, he has in the most emphatic terms severed himself from Mr. Gandhi and denounced the impracticability of his movement.
Now we come—and this of course is the grave issue—to the masses. What of them? I think your Lordships must remember that we are not living in ordinary times, but in times when we feel the aftermath of the great war. Economic causes and not political causes in the main are the reason for the inflammability of the masses in India at the present moment. The high prices for cloth and food make it very easy to inflame them at the moment; and there are also a certain number of problems quite unconnected with Non-cooperation which have to be considered as well. The noble Lord, Lord Mac Donnell, who is now in the House, will remember that in the United Provinces the question of the tenants' rights in Oude was always a burning question and that the Government of the United Provinces found it difficult to move in the direction of giving the tenants in the Province of Dude the same occupancy-rights as were possessed by tenants in the Province of Agra. It has existed ever since the noble Lord's time and the present Government has endeavoured to remedy the grievance. When you hear that there are disturbances in Oude they circle round this question of the grievance of the tenants against their landlords. The Non-cooperation movement leaders are skilled and will rub salt into any sore they may find in the body politic, and so they managed to raise disturbances there. But consider the 55 difficulty of prosecuting in a case like that, where you find people coming forward and impressing upon tenants grievances which really exist in their daily life, and saying, "You ought not to stand this."
That form of agitation has been known in the past history of Ireland and elsewhere, and is one of the most difficult forms of agitation for any Government to meet. While it is a serious question, this question of the masses, you have got to remember the economic causes which are at the root of it, and that they have grievances, and to hope that things may become better. I believe they will become better, because the Government, as I hope I have been able to convince your Lordships to some extent, have now got the Councils behind them in any action which they may find it necessary to take with regard to agitation, and, what has been more important, and a thing which could not be ordered or controlled by any Government, this year's monsoon in India has been one of the best on record. It will be much less easy to move the masses when they are busy ploughing their fields and reaping their harvest, than when they are considering how they are going to get a living during the coming year. The contentment of the masses depends upon the price of the chapatti.
One word about the Moplah rising. I cannot say much about it, because I have been away from India. No one can talk lightly of a rising, especially a rising in which so much blood has been shed and so much property has been destroyed, but I think there are considerations which ought to induce us to look at the hopeful side of this question. In the first place, the country in which it has happened is an isolated part of India, so far as any part can be isolated. In the second place, the Moplahs are an ignorant and fanatical people, and they will get little or no sympathy from the rest of India in what they are doing. In the third place, the Government has public opinion behind it in dealing with this rising, and I believe that the Moplah rising is one of the greatest blows which has been given to Mr. Gandhi and his movement, because it has undoubtedly alienated from him an enormous amount of public support.
I must not trespass upon your Lordships' time any further. When a Viceroy leaves, a curtain falls behind him on the country which he has governed, and he 56 rarely knows with regard to the situation in India any more than is known by the man in the street. But I should like to enter this caveat: beware of rumours which reach you from India. From my last six months, I could tell your Lordships of four absolutely false reports which were circulated in England and appeared in the Press, any one of which might cause very grave apprehension in England. I have been speaking so long that I ought not to give you the details. But Lord Selborne evidently wishes to hear them, so I will give them very briefly.
The first report is this: I received a telegram— perhaps the Under-Secretary will remember—from Mr. Montagu, saying, "You have never told me that soviets have been established in the United Provinces." When I received this telegram I rubbed my eyes. I said that I did not know it either, but that I would make inquiries. I made inquiries, and I found that this is what had happened. A certain enterprising journalist had gone round to the office of a newspaper, whose editor he knew, and said to him, "By the way, can you tell me what a Kisan Sabhais?" I may tell your Lordships it is a tenants' association. The editor threw over his shoulder—either pulling the man's leg or feeling rather bored—"It is a sort of soviet." Off goes the journalist and sends a telegram to England saying that soviets are being established in the United Provinces. I can assure you, because I had it at first hand, that this is exactly what happened in connection with that rumour.
As to the second rumour, I heard indirectly that a telegram had gone home to the effect that, on my way to visit Calcutta, my special train had been stopped and that I had to return to Delhi. Having heard this, I at once telegraphed to the Secretary of State saying that I understood this telegram had gone to England in connection with myself, and that I could only say that I was not due to start for Calcutta until four days hence. But the telegram got into the papers. A third rumour was that the Sikh regiments had mutinied. It was absolutely without foundation; there was not a word of truth in it at all. The fourth rumour was that the Commander-in-Chief, in a speech which he made in the Council of State had gravely dissented from my policy and from the policy of the Government. Directly I received this from the Secretary of State, 57 I sent for the Commander-in-Chief and asked him about it, and it turned out that the whole thing was a mutilated translation of the Reuter message which had gone home. In these ways scares are made, and I would earnestly ask your Lordships to beware how you receive rumours from. India
Now you have as Viceroy and Governor-General a statesman who is known to many of your Lordships; a man of great distinction; a man proved in many fields; a man of wisdom and experience, specially chosen to steer the ship of State on the new course in which it has been launched. You have at his side a Commander-in-Chief, a soldier of great intellectual ability and of proved nerve and resource in the great war. I would say, trust them and forbear to make their task more difficult by gloomy apprehensions or doubting fears, and. you may be sure they will see to it that nothing amiss happens to the great charge which is in their hands.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, I should like to make two observations in respect of the very interesting speech to which we have just listened. The first is, how great is the gain to the House in the return of my noble friend, and the second, that I think his speech alone has been a complete justification of this debate, and in itself an answer to the objection taken by the Government. My reason for rising before fly noble. friend, the Under-Secretary, is to put to him one specific point, and one point alone. Great controversies have raged around the whole policy with which my noble friend, Lord Chelmsford, is identified, and which is now embodied in the Indian Constitution and the Government of India Act. We had, the echoes of those controversies through many months in the Committee room of this House, when I presided over the Joint Select Committee of the two Houses of Parliament which dealt with the Bill which became an Act. But there was one aspect of the controversy upon which I thought there was complete agreement, unanimous assent, and that was that there should be no question of a change in the Constitution now adopted for ten years.
I understood that the Government of India agreed, that His Majesty's Government agreed, and that Parliament agreed. Most certainly the Joint Select Committee had the strongest possible opinion, which 58 they manifested with all the power at their command, that a ten years' trial should be given to this Constitution; that at the end of that period a Parliamentary Commission should be sent out; and that any future change or development., in one direction or another, should depend upon the Report of that Commission. I thought that that was a universally agreed policy, and it seems to me, to-day, as it seemed then, to be eminently wise.
My reason for bringing this forward is because I read with great dismay—I use no less an expression that that—in the Morning Post of October 3 a report of a debate in the Legislative Assembly at Simla. The telegram is dated September 29, and it says:The Legislative Assembly devoted the whole of to-day to a discussion of the resolution moved by Mr. Mozoomdar (non-official, Bengal) in favour of the establishment of complete provincial autonomy, an early extension of responsibility in the Central Government, and the conferment of full Dominion self-government on India from the beginning of the fourth term of the Legislative Assembly in 1929.Now, I do not think there is anything remarkable in the fact that one Indian gentleman, a member of the Assembly, should think it right to bring forward such a proposition. That is not the subject of my dismay; nor is the fact that, according to this report, the proposal received much support from Indian non-official members, "whose main argument was that the success already achieved by the reformed Councils justified an immediate further advance." I cannot. say that I think that that attitude was wise. This "tremendous experiment,". as Mr. Montagu and Lord Chelmsford always admitted it to be, and as every thinking man, whether European or Indian, who came before our Committee agreed that it was, has not yet been in operation a full year, and to say that the success is so great that an immediate farther advance is justified, seems to me to show a rather unstatesmanlike frame of mind.
My dismay does not come from that fact either, but from the reported attitude and reply of the Government of India, and it is to that matter that I want to draw attention. Sir William Vincent, it is reported,acknowledged the success that had been achieved by the Councils and the assistance they rendered the Government, but pointed out that the despatch of August 20 and the Government of India Act laid down that the grant of a further measure of political advance must be decided by 59 the Secretary of State for India and by Parliament, and asked if it was likely that after a brief experience of the reforms extending over only nine months Parliament would be prepared to accept the proposal now before the Assembly.That is exactly what you would expect Sir William Vincent to answer. But that is not how the matter ended. The report continues—Eventually the Government suggested that the wishes of the House would be met if an undertaking were given that the Viceroy would be requested to convey to the Secretary of State the view of the Assembly that the progress made by India on the path of responsible government warrants the re-examination and the revision of the Constitution at an earlier date than 1929.I must confess that I read that report with nothing less than dismay. The least that can be said about that is that it is a very equivocal attitude for the Government of India to adopt.
It may be argued that there is no pledge there, or even indication of intention, to re-open this question of the Constitution before 1929, but I venture to make this prophecy without the slightest hesitation, that ninny Indian members, and many Indian gentlemen, will point to this and say, "Oh ! the Government led us to believe that they might be prepared to re-open this question before 1929." I am convinced that the wise and statesmanlike thing to have done would have been to have said, quite definitely, that it had always been agreed there should be no reopening of the question for ten years from 1919, and that that had been, and was, the policy of the Government of India. If the majority of the non-official members of the Assembly had chosen to pass a Resolution in a contrary sense, that would have been entirely within their constitutional rights, but the responsibility would have rested alone upon them, and I deeply regret that the Government of India should have given any kind of indication that, in any circumstances, it would be prepared to pluck up the plant which was just growing, before its roots had had time to form, and to re-open this question before the end of the ten years.
What is ten years for the experience of an experiment such as this I say without hesitation that there is no other civilised people in the world who would think that nine months', or twelve months', or even twenty-four months' experience was sufficient experience in a matter of this gravity. It is not the way in which we have passed from constitutional development 60 to constitutional development in this country. We have always, by universal national instinct, agreed that each stage should have a. far longer period than appears to he popular with some of our Indian fellow-countrymen. I regret that they should take that view, but what fills me with dismay is that the Government of India should give them any encouragement.
§ LORD SUMNER
My Lords, at this hour I want to put two points only to the noble Earl before he replies. Lord Midleton asked that he should give us certain assurances, if he could. May I add to those assurances that some consolation be given to us with regard to the Calcutta case of Messrs. Kernani and Bannerjee. The discussion has been so discursive, and at the same time so informing, that I almost hesitate to go back "to one point which may seem to be a small one. At the same time, it is one of those practical matters as to which nobody can really feel any doubt. Whether he may be on the side of the reforms or against them, whether he may be content to pay the price of a very uncomfortable time in the process of winning the political classes to co-operate with the British Government or not, one thing is quite clear—namely, that a repetition of such an incident as the Kernani and Bannerjee case, as I understand it, must undermine the authority of the Government and must discredit British I rule in India.
Let me remind your Lordships for a moment what it was. I do not assume that these men were guilty, because they were not prosecuted, but they were charged with swindling and fraud, by which large sums, in connection with munitions, were obtained from the Government of India, and so far was there a case resolved upon,' and prepared and proceeded with, that the Advocate-General of Bengal declared, obviously with as much sincerity as annoyance, that he believed that he had a case, of which one may say the least when one says that it was a strong case that should have been tried. No one who knows that gentleman's experience at the Bar in England will doubt that he was fully competent to form a judgment as to whether it was a case in which there was a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction. That prosecution was abandoned.
Now, again, I do not want to say anything that I can avoid saying about Sir 61 Thomas Holland, because he has resigned. His resignation, I understand, has been accepted, and it may be said that, as far as he is concerned, the chapter might well close. But just see what the explanation given was; because I say that until an explanation like that is finally and for ever repudiated it is quite incredible that the ad ministration of justice in Bengal can be in safe hands. These people who were connected with the agitations of which we have heard apparently were concerned in a number of joint stock companies, in which considerable number of their enthusiastic and agitated followers had invested their modest savings. And the reason given for not; proceeding with the prosecution was that: if these persons were convicted and went to gaol the conduct of these companies would come to an end, the money of the investors would be lost, and. there would be very grave discontent—and so, I dare say, there would have been. The companies cannot have boon very substantial if the abstraction, or the temporary segregation, of their two chief men in consequence of their conviction was to bring the whole edifice to the ground; and I imagine that therefore the savings invested in these companies would probably be lost, or will probably be lost, in any case. But, be that as it may, that was the motive as I understand it—I get my information only from the papers—the avowed motive for the action which Sir. Thomas Holland took, with the concurrence of some of his colleagues.
It is not enough to allow a thing like that to pass into oblivion: it is a thing which ought to be repudiated. When Sir: Michael O'Dwyer and other officials under him have, as I am glad to hear the late Viceroy say, earned the approbation and the support of the Government of India, if it is, nevertheless, necessary to season that approbation, and to modify the satisfaction that might be derived from it by pointing out where they were in error, still more is it. necessary, when such an excuse as this has been offered as their reason for their conduct in the case of Kernani and Bannerjee, that in the most public way, and so as to close this incident forever, it should be made perfectly well known that there is no one too small to be protected, and no one too great to be brought to justice for his crime.
That, at any rate, is a principle upon which any person interested in the Government 62 of India can feel that he stands with firm feet, and I trust that the noble Earl will not merely say to me, as lie is justified in saying, that in the hands of a Viceroy of vast legal experience, sound judgment, and calm intelligence, no such thing would ever be likely to happen again, but also that it should be firmly and definitely repudiated as a. thing that can no longer be possible in connection with the administration of India.
I wonder if I may make another appeal to the noble Earl, only because he is faithful unto the end, and the noble Marquess who leads the House, called away by more serious duties, is not in his place. Does he think that he could suggest to the noble Marquess who leads the House that it really is not necessary to admonish your Lordships to preserve decency and decorum in debate; that the choice of our adjectives might just as well be left, as it was left in Lord Sydenham's case, to time circumstances which they describe? It was the facts of Lord Sydenham's speech, not any single adjective that he used, that lent colour to a most interesting, address. And it would be certainly a. satisfaction to those of us who have few things more at heart than the dignity of the House and the prestige of its debates to feel some assurance that we shall not be told another time to mind our p's and q's.
I have some difficulty in believing that the patient and placid contentment of India goes so far as to take an interest in the debates in your Lordships' House, but we were told that words falling from us lightly here, to which nobody ever pays any attention in this country, find their echo in the distant plains of Hindustan. If that be so —and, coming from such an authority, I feel it must be so—I think it is the experience of us all that our language is carefully chosen, and that we are prepared to pursue the path of moderation, even at the price of the sacrifice of all liveliness in our discussions.
§ LORD MESTON
My Lords, may I interpose for a very few moments not to weary your Lordships with questions of detail, but to invite your attention to a wider aspect of the case, which is sometimes overlooked, and certainly was not emphasised in the speeches of the two noble Lords who initiated this discussion? Whatever else we may disagree upon we are certainly all agreed that the rimes in India 63 are difficult, particularly, for those on whose shoulders rests the responsibility for the administration of Government., and we do not want to add in any way whatsoever to those difficulties. But what I suggest to your Lordships is that we do materially increase the difficulties of those who serve in India if we do not have a precise understanding of the very complex and difficult issue that has been in their minds, and has been the crux of their whole life and duty during the last few years.
A good many years ago, in a very brilliant essay on Imperialism, the late Lord Cromer pointed out how slow the ordinary Englishman is to understand, how reluctant he is to admit, that in dealing with subject nations there are only two principles of government, and that the domination over those nations must be based on one or other of these as its sole foundation. One principle is military domination; the other principle is the right of people to manage their own affairs. In India it is the declared policy of His Majesty's Government that we should move, slowly it may be and by stages, still that we should move definitely, from the one principle to the other; and we cannot always be dragging out the former principle and brandishing it before the world, because, if we did, it would be difficult for the world to believe, particularly difficult for India to believe, and in time it would be difficult for ourselves to believe, that we do mean to press on towards the goal which we have set out and professed to accept as our goal in Indian affairs.
During a time of transition such as is happening now, when momentous changes are affecting a vast area and an immense population, it is inevitable that there should be some confusion, much unsettlement, and much perplexity. And the only solvent for that confusion and that unsettlement is patience, infinite patience. Here I venture to describe the broad issue that has been constantly before the rulers of India during the last few years. It is not an issue between strength and weakness, as our critics so often try to make out. Strength is all very well in its way, and, when you have got a large Army at your side and a docile people below you, strength is remarkably easy, and in some quarters remarkably popular. But there is something better than that. The real issue is between strength and patience. There have been times and seasons in the 64 course of the world's history when strength and patience mean the same thing, and I believe, and I ask your Lordships to believe, that such a time has been during the last few years in India.
Now, let us try to understand exactly and precisely what is the purpose of those who have been trying to destroy the peace of India ever since the Rowlatt Act agitation at the beginning of 1919. The Rowlatt Act was only a pawn in their game. What they hoped was, and what they still hope is, to make the new Constitution impossible. Why? They hoped to make it impossible because they believed, and still believe, that it will be the means of binding India closer and by a more durable tie to Great Britain even than it is to-day. The whole of their energies have gone out to prevent that. Their plan has been to embark on all sorts of provocation, threats of lawlessness, and enticement to crime, in the hope that they would force the Government into a policy of retaliation and repression, and that through that policy it would become impossible for us to fulfil our promises that our policy should completely break down, that we would be shamed in the face of the world, and that ultimately India, alienated from us by our failure, alienated in every class of its population, would embark upon the task of getting rid of us by red revolution. That. is definitely the programme and the hope of those people who have been trying to wreck the peace of India during the last three Years.
I ask your Lordships once more to believe that the remedy, the only real and true remedy in the hands of the rulers of India, against that programme and against that policy is infinite patience and infinite tolerance which, I believe, has been already justified to a very large extent by the manner in which the people are coining forward and co-operating with the Government in action against these very firebrands whom they would otherwise regard and shield as heroes and as martyrs. I do not pursue this matter into any further detail because that will be done much more capably that I can pretend to do it, and with much more knowledge, by the noble Earl, the Under-Secretary of State. But was anxious that your Lordships should judge India and the Indian administration of recent years not by whether a particular noisy demagogue was clapped into prison or another one was interned under a lettre 65 de cachet, but with reference issues and to that larger vision situation demands.
Before I sit down t wish to make an appeal to the noble Earl, the Under-Secretary of State, and in doing so I find myself in unison. I think, for the first time I on Indian affairs with the noble Lord, Lord Ai-opting. While the Government in its high places and the extremists in their recesses are planning strategy and working out large political issues, the poor public servant in the district is being squeezed between two mill-stones. On the one hand, he is expected to show loyalty to the new régime, and I know that he does it. On the other hand, even those who are most loyal and most anxious to help the new régime are being badgered and attacked, not exclusively by the extremists but too often by those who ought to know better, and to the trials of the (Innate are now being added the trials of growing impoverishment to-day and anxiety as to the future.
The Indian Civil Service never required heartening and encouragement from your Lordships so much as it does to-day. The Joint Committee, as the noble Earl, Lord Midleton, has pointed out this evening, made definite recommendations regarding their adequate protection in the execution of their duties, and those recommendations were—I think I speak with approximate correctness—converted into definite pledges at the time when the Bill was before Parliament. What I appeal to the noble Earl to do is to re-affirm, if he will, those measures of reasonable protection and to give to the public Services in India reason to believe that those measures will be carried out in the spirit as well as in the letter. I do not suggest, for a moment, that there has been, or that there is likely to be, bad faith, but I can assure your Lordships that there is a genuine feeling of apprehension among the public Services that the Government may find itself forced into a position in which it will be unable, however willing it may be, to fulfil these pledges to the full.
I hold in my hand a letter which I received recently from a young member of the Service to which he and I belong, and from which I would ask the permission of the House to read a very few sentences. This is what he writes—For the last two years the Service as a whole has been asking in vain for proportionate pensions. If the Government do not understand the depth 66 and intensity of feeling in the Service upon this point they are very badly advised. If they are afraid to grant us the right to retire on proportionate pensions whenever we choose for fear of general stampede, then they are entirely ignorant of the facts of the ease. We all of us want the right of retiring on proportionate pensions; not 1 per cent. of us want to retire now.…The fact is—and this, I think, is a very interesting and encouraging statement—that for the great majority of us the conditions at present arc not intolerable, and we have no intention of exchanging our work for idleness at home. But the gnawing anxiety which we suffer in feeling that a time may come when we shall either have to resign and starve or remain and serve under impossible conditions is the whole explanation of the malaise which you and other observers have noted.…Our forebodings have been increased by recent events. It appears that the Secretary of State has held out a tentative offer of immediate retirement on proportionate pensions to civilians of between fifteen and twenty-five years' service. It however, understood that the offer was prompted solely by the hope that certain undesirable officers would seize the opportunity to relieve Government of service which it did not require, and that as the only civilians who asked to be allowed to avail themselves of the offer were one or two men of the best type, the offer has been withdrawn. In other words, we are told that if we serve Government well we shall not be granted a proportionate pension when we want it, but that if we serve Government badly we shall obtain that privilege. Can you wonder that the Service suffers from malaise when every civilian knows that good work binds him irrevocably to this country to endure whatever fate may bring, while tad work will earn him the inestimable privilege of retiring on a proportionate pension whenever he wishes?I do not vouch for the exact accuracy of what is written by a man far from the centre of Government, but it is symptomatic of the feeling among an intelligent and, I believe, a loyal Service. As they have done splendid work for India in the past, I trust they will not be now left unprotected.
THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE EARL OF LYTTON)
My Lords, after what has fallen from the noble Marquess who leads the House, I do not propose to say anything more about the wisdom in the public interest of holding this discussion to-day, except this. In asking for a postponement of the discussion the Government were in no way actuated by a desire to avoid criticism. There was no disposition on their part to refuse to this House full and. ample opportunity of discussing the whole aspect of the present situation in India. But we had more ground than I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner, seems to appreciate in making this request. For 67 reasons which were partly explained by the noble Marquess who leads the House, but which could not be fully explained or discussed in this House—reasons, however, which I think were quite clearly explained in private correspondence—we did not desire to have this discussion to-day, and we did appeal to noble Lords who had Notices on the Paper to postpone for a short period (and that was all that we ever required) the discussion which they desired to institute.
The noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, explained to your Lordships that he considered himself under no obligation to meet us in this way, because the matters he was going to raise were matters which could not in any way affect the public interest or the visit of the Prince of Wales. But I made an appeal to the noble Lord to postpone his Motion for the reason that I was not in possession of information which I desired to give him, and for which he asked, and which I assured him I would be in a position to give him next week. When that was the position in which the Government were placed, I think that they were entitled, having regard to the universal courtesy which your Lordships extend to Ministers when they make these requests, to expect that the Motion might have been postponed.
So far as Lord Ampthil's four points are concerned, on two of them, for the reasons I explained, I am unable to-day to give him any information. With reference to the question of retirement on proportionate pensions, I have already assured him that the Government of India and the Secretary of State fully accept the recommendations made by the Joint Select Committee, and arc in favour of extending fair and generous terms to men who desire to retire because they cannot conscientiously carry out the new scheme of reform. The noble Lord is not entitled to think that the delay in issuing those proposals is due to any weakness in that determination, and is not, let me assure Lord Meston, from fear of a stampede or from any failure to realise the intensity of the feeling on the subject. The delay arises solely from our desire to do the very thing that Lord Ampthill has pressed us to do—namely, to lay down a scheme and fix a scale, which will be fair, and, I hope, not ungenerous, of pensions on which it will be possible for men to retire in the circumstances to which I have referred.
68 All this, however, is a financial matter of very considerable detail and intricacy, necessitating continuous correspondence by telegram with the Government of India. I hoped that I might have been in a position to announce to your Lordships this week the decision arrived at, but I am not able to do so. The Secretary of State, I believe, has announced in another place to-day that he hopes to make a statement on this subject either this week or early next week. As soon as we have the information we shall lay it before Parliament, and it will then be for your Lordships to express your opinion as to whether or not you are satisfied that we have carried out our promise. But do let me assure both my noble friends that that, and that alone, is the reason for delay in producing the scheme.
On the question of the Moplah rebellion, it is our intention immediately to produce a White Paper and lay before Parliament in that form a full and detailed account of all the proceedings in the matter up to the present time. Therefore, I hope to be able on those two points in the near future to satisfy Lord Ampthill. Papers, as I have explained, will be produced on those two matters. With regard to the other two, I will say a word, but I am not in a position to produce any Papers.
Lord Ampthill raised the question of what he describes as some land belonging to a Mr. Grant. The noble Lord obtained his information, I have no doubt, from a newspaper account, and I do not, therefore, hold him responsible for the fact that the account was somewhat inaccurate, and an ex parte statement. Your Lordships are probably unaware, though my noble friend Lord Ampthill from his Indian experience knows, that a great river like the Ganges is, at some parts of its course, as much as seven miles wide between the two banks, but the river itself only occupies in that extent of seven miles the comparatively narrow space of one mile, and on each side of this one mile there is a very large, very rich and valuable alluvial deposit. These alluvial grounds have in India from time immemorial been the subject of the most acute controversy and dispute. The difficulty of deciding their ownership was experienced long before the British ever were seen in India. This question is almost as old as the Ganges itself, and the ease to which my noble friend referred was just one of those matters where there was a dispute as to the 69 ownership of some of this alluvial soil. It was represented in the newspaper from which my noble friend obtained his information as a property to which Mr. Grant was legally entitled, and of which others wished to dispossess him.
Stated in that form it would naturally be very misleading to your Lordships, but, from the explanation that I have now given, I beg your Lordships to understand that this particular incident is one of many that have occurred throughout Indian history, one which presents very great and particular difficulties and one which has no connection whatever with politics or the present political situation. No doubt it will be used by those who think that any stick is good enough with which to beat the Government, and who think that any kind of discontent or riot— because in this case there was considerable riot with great loss of life— is further proof of the iniquities of the Government and of its policy. But this question, I emphasise, has nothing whatever to do with politics or the present. political situation in India.
Lastly, there is the Calcutta munitions case to which Lord Ampthill referred, and to which reference was also made by Lord Sumner. I see the noble and learned Lord is not in his place, but if he were here I would ask him to imagine what were the feelings of the late Lord Chief Justice in this country when he learned of the action taken by one of his Council, and the reasons alleged for the withdrawal of the prosecution in this case. Your Lordships may readily believe they were the feelings that would have been experienced by Lord Sumner himself if he had been placed in such a situation. It is not necessary to ask me for a repudiation of the cause of the withdrawal of that prosecution, because such a repudiation has already been given by the Viceroy himself. There has never been any question about his attitude on the matter. Having in view his great legal experience and traditions he regarded with the utmost dismay the announcement that was made by a member of his Council, arid had no alternative in such circumstances but to accept the resignation of Sir Thomas Holland. Not only has the Viceroy dissociated himself wholly from the reasons given, and not only is that shown in the resignation of Sir Thomas Holland, but he has also taken steps to ensure that the circumstances in which such a decision was given without consultation with him can never again be repeated. 70 There is nothing new about that case that I can say, and there are no Papers which I can lay. The suggestion, if I understood Lord Ampthill aright, that we should lay before Parliament Minutes of the Viceroy's Executive Council is one which I was much surprised should have come from him. You may equally fairly ask that we should lay before Parliament Minutes or decisions of the Cabinet in this country. All the facts regarding the case have been stated in public; the opinion of the Viceroy about it is known; and with the assurance I have now given I hope your Lordships will be satisfied that we have said that can he fitly said on the subject.
The noble Earl, Lord Midleton, asked a question which I confess I was a little surprised that lie should put to me as a kind of bargain in consequence of the fact, as he described it, that we had obtained immunity from discussion. That is just what we have not obtained. We asked that the discussion should not take place, but your Lordships decided otherwise. I am surprised that the noble Earl should call upon the Government—
THE EARL OF LYTTON
If the noble Earl intended to make a speech and refrained, and if this speech would have been of an embarrassing character, I can only express my gratitude to him. Not in any spirit of reciprocity but because it is perfectly easy for me to do so, I will at once give the noble Earl the assurance he sought. He asked that the subject of the Civil Service should receive attention. I have already dealt with that matter and need say nothing further about it.
The noble Earl also asked for an assurance with regard to the Indian Army. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding on this matter, and sonic of it appeals in the speech of Lord Sydenham. The position with regard to the Indian Army remains exactly where it did when I gave an assurance on the last occasion in this House to Lord Sydenham. There have been no recent reductions in the Indian Army. As I stated previously the question as to what the future strength of the Army should be has been referred to a Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence, and until that Committee has considered the 71 question and made its Report no action will be taken. I hope your Lordships will feel that we could not refer to a higher or better authority the question which the Secretary of State has declared is the guiding principle of his policy—namely, not what Army can we afford, but what Army is necessary for the protection, external and internal, of India, and when we are informed what Army is necessary we shall take steps to provide the means to maintain that Army. The question of what Army is necessary is now under consideration by the Committee of Imperial Defence, and I can only repeat the assurance that no action will be taken until that Report has been obtained.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
The Committee of Imperial Defence has just begun its sittings. It is considering the matter at the present moment, but I am afraid I cannot say how long its discussion is likely to take.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I am not in a position to give any pledge on the matter. The Committee has not made its Report; the Cabinet has not considered it; and it is premature at this stage to carry the matter any further.
I should be quite content to leave the question of the present situation in India as it was left by the very able and weighty speech of Lord Chelmsford That we should have had a speech from so influential an authority is, as Lord Selborne said, a great advantage to this House. I cannot add anything to what fell from Lord Chelmsford, but I must make some comments from the point of view of the Government, lest if should be thought that the Government shirked discussion of the matter. I must enter a protest on behalf of the Government at the attempt made by Lord Sydenham in his speech to represent India as if it were seething with rebellion and sedition, as if it were disloyal and īn a state of agitation from one end to the other; and further to describe the Government of India as a weak and timid Government which has lost all authority.
72 Above all, I must protest against what I think was a most ungenerous and cruel suggestion, that officers in the Indian Service to-day could not count upon the loyal support of the Government which they served. Lord Chelmsford has dealt with that and stated how groundless is the suggestion. Surely no one will contend that loyal support to your servants is to be carried so far as to mean that in all cases, whether your subordinates did right or wrong, they are to be supported. There has been nothing in the action taken by the Government of India in the past in dissociating itself from wrong or misguided action, to justify the statement that servants in India, whether civil or military, cannot count upon the full support of the Government in any action they may take. The noble Lord, Lord Sydenham, dates all India's troubles from the pronouncement of 1917. He took us back to that date to-day, and he said that from the moment you announced your intention to associate Indians in the Government of their own country, and advancing by gradual stages—
§ LORD SYDENHAM
I beg the noble Earl's pardon I went back to 1916; the proclamation of Indian Home Rule by Mrs. Besant in 1916.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I beg the noble Lord's pardon, but neither the Government of India nor the Secretary of State can be made responsible for that proclamation.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I am speaking about the responsibility of the Government, and I do not think I have misquoted the noble Earl when I say that, so far as the responsibility of the Government is concerned, he considers the first mischievous step was taken in the pronouncement of August, 1917. From that, he said, followed immediately the wicked Act of 1919, an Act to which he is constantly referring in publications in the Press as a disastrous Act. He says that as a result of that Act we have set up a number of political assemblies in which nobody takes any interest in India, and he went on to explain that, because of the little interest taken, only some one-fifth or one-fourth of the electors could be persuaded to come to the polls. That is but one instance of the readiness 73 of those who disapprove of this policy to quote anything which they consider will strengthen their ease. The Government has published a White Paper setting forth in great detail the results of the Indian Elections.
The noble Lord in the remarks which he has just made has not analysed the figures of the returns at those Elections. He has apparently not noticed the covering preface to that White Paper, in which it is explained what were the principal reasons for the small vote in certain districts. He did not tell your Lordships that in great parts of India the electors attended very fully, and that in some cases as many as 50, 60, and even 75 per cent. of the electors went to the poll; and that if you could withdraw the small proportion of voters in the Mahomedan urban districts, which was directly attributable to the Caliphate agitation and the Mahomedan grievance of which I will speak in a moment, the attendance was somewhat higher and not lower than was to be expected, considering that it was the very first Election.
But, says Lord Sydenham, we have set up those Assemblies, in which "nobody takes any interest "; we have encouraged a mere handful of seditious persons to defy the law; the Government is too afraid of this mere handful of persons to proceed against them, but in hopes of appeasing them we have reduced our Army; in consequence of this nerveless and feeble Government, rebellion is spreading over the land., life and property are no longer safe, the law is openly defied, and both political power and military force arc slipping from our grasp.
That is the truth which Lord Sydenham thinks it is necessary that your Lordships should know, and before saying anything by way of contradiction of this fiction of his imagination, I should like to pause and ask the noble Lord this—If that is his reading of history, if that is the picture of India which he sees to-day, then what is his remedy? Presumably, if the noble Lord had his way, he would repeal the Act of 1919; he would apologise for the mistaken pronouncement of August, 1917; he would abolish all these silly Councils in which nobody takes any interest; he would double or perhaps treble our military forces in India, and put everybody into prison who ventured to criticise his Government. Then, when you have stifled all the political emotions and aspirations of the 74 country, when you have crowded your troops into India, and when you have filled your prisons, then, says the noble Lord, a sigh of relief will go up from one end of India to the other, and every one will be happy. I can only say that it is lucky for India that the noble Lord is not in a position to apply his remedies.
He says, and other speakers in this debate have repeated, that Parliament is responsible. I do not deny it for a moment. We do not wish in any way to deprive Parliament of its responsibility in this matter, and let me assure the noble Lord that, if and when he can get Parliament to adopt his view and instruct the Government to apply his remedies, the present Government will cease to exist.
I am not going back at this stage to defend the policy of the Government of India Act, but as this debate may be read in India, I cannot refrain from saying, as shortly as I can, that not only has the Government never considered the question of going back on the Act of 1919 and has not the slightest intention of applying a different policy, but that, in our opinion, in spite of the very great difficulties under which it was inaugurated, this new Constitution has worked quite as well as could have been expected, and that, looking at the result of only one session in the Assembly, in the Council of State and in the various provincial Assemblies, there is every reason for the Constitutionalists in India to be pleased at the work which those Assemblies have done. They have a high tribute of praise from a very competent authority.
The President of the Legislative Assembly in India is a man of very long experience of Parliamentary life in this country, a man with a very high political reputation, and no one, I think, could be in a better position to judge how the Assembly over which he presided had worked than Mr. Whyte. At the end of the first session of this new Parliament, Mr. Whyte paid a very high tribute to the wisdom, the sense of responsibility and the respect fox constitutional procedure which the Assembly had shown. In the opinion of His Majesty's Government, the tribute which Mr. Whyte paid was very well deserved.
Let me pause here to say one word in reply to Lord. Selborne, because it is in consequence of that tribute from Mr. Whyte that the members of the Legislative Assembly expressed the wish that a 75 further instalment of responsible government might be given to them. I do not think that the noble Earl is quite justified in the dismay with which he read the account of that debate—I think "dismay" is the word he used—
THE EARL OF LYTTON
At the attitude of the Government of India in that debate. The outcome of that debate was a suggestion by the Government of India that they should forward to the Secretary of State the wishes of the Legislative Assembly that it might not be necessary to wait for ten years before considering a further extension. The noble Earl is quite right. It was, I think, clearly the intention of the Joint Select Committee that there should be two sessions of the new Parliament, one complete Parliament of four years, then a General Election, and that before the end of the second Parliament, a Statutory Commission should be set up, and that that commission should report as to its working. We should, therefore, have a report of the Commission before the end of eight years, and that examination will take place after six or seven years' experience of the working of the new Constitution.
I submit to my noble friend that time is only an important consideration in this matter in so far as it is necessary to provide experience, and were it proved by experience that there was a defect in the existing Act which Parliament in its wisdom had not foreseen, and that that defect required remedying, I do not think that any Secretary of State would be debarred by that understanding from coming to Parliament and pointing out what the defect was and asking for its remedy. It is certainly the intention of the Government that if there is to be any change in the Government of India before the Statutory Commission contemplated in the Act makes its Report, it must be as a result of proved experience and not merely because demands are made by any individuals. Therefore, although for the reasons which I have just mentioned I cannot give my noble friend any pledge that if experience proves it is necessary to come to Parliament for a change no Government will come, I can give an assurance that no Government will come to Parliament to change the Government 76 of India Act unless the experience of working it has proved a change to be necessary.
I may be asked, after I have spoken of Lord Sydenham's picture of India as a fiction of his imagination, whether I am completely satisfied with the position in India. Nobody who knows the situation there can be foolish enough to state that he is satisfied with it. It would be impossible to deny that the situation in India continues to give very grave anxiety, both to the Government in India and to the Government at home, and, in particular, there is one feature to which no reference I think has been made in the discussion to-night, but which is really at the root of most of the trouble in India, and that is the Mahomedan discontent, caused by the Treaty made with Turkey at the end of the war. That Mahomedan discontent is the backbone of the Non-cooperation movement, the explanation of the boycott of the Councils, and the reason why the small polls are chiefly to be found in the Mabomedan areas. It is that which led to the Moplah outbreak, and I expect Lord Chelmsford would agree with me that there is no one thing which could bring greater relief to the Government of India than the knowledge that a satisfactory peace had been arranged between Greece and Turkey.
The reason why I maintain that this Mahomedan agitation is wholly unjustified is because it is common knowledge that the Government of India has never lost an opportunity of representing to the Government at home the necessity, if it were possible, of securing a satisfactory peace in that part of the world. What, however, the Mahomedans in India apparently fail to realise is that the satisfaction of their demands in this matter does not rest with the Government of India, or with the Imperial Government, but that this is a matter which is of concern to all the Allies who signed the Treaty, and has to be considered not only in relation to Mahomedan feeling in India, but to the obligations of His Majesty's Government to their Allies, and their other international obligations.
But, as I have said, that is a root cause of much of the agitation in India at the present moment, and it is that which has led to the Moplah rebellion, and Lord Chelmsford said quite rightly that no one can talk lightly of that very serious rebellion. It is a rebellion which has caused 77 the most serious anxiety to the Government of Madras, and I should like to take this opportunity of stating that His Majesty's Government have complete confidence in Lord Willingdon, the present Governor, and his Government, in the steps which they are taking to deal with this rebellion. The fact that the Government of Madras is able to deal with it at the present moment is, I think, a further proof of the success of that very policy which Lord Svdenham has condemned, because the Government of Madras is able to-day, as it could not have done before the Act of 1919, to rely upon not only the support of the people of Madras, but upon an Assembly in which the sentiments and opinions of a completely loyal Province can be expressed by purely constitutional means; and there is no doubt whatever that, in spite of this revolution, generally speaking the whole Province of Madras is entirely loyal and giving support to its Government.
I have no further information to give to my noble friend, Lord Ampthill, on this question, although I have assured him that the Government intends immediately to publish a White Paper giving the fullest information. There is, however, one matter referred to which I should like to correct. It was stated, I believe by both noble Lords, that the garrison at Malapuram was withdrawn sonic time previous to the outbreak of the rebellion, and I think Lord Sydenham told the House that that was a consequence of the reduction of the Army in India. My information is that the troops were returned to Malapuram just before the outbreak, and that there was a garrison at that place when the rebellion broke out. That is the information which I have received, but if I am wrong in that matter and it is true that troops were not there when the outbreak took place it was not because of the reduction in the Army; it was not because there were not troops available. At the present moment there are more British troops available in India fir civil disturbances of this kind than there were before the war. In 1914 there were in India. for these purposes one British Cavalry regiment and twenty-four British Infantry battalions, and in February, 1921, there were three Cavalry regiments and twenty-eight Infantry battalions, and if there was no garrison at Malapuram it was not due to the fact that the Army had been so reduced that troops were not available.
I want to say only one word in conclusion about the policy of the Government. 78 Our view is that in spite of the Moplah rebellion, and in spite of the Non-cooperation movement, the great mass of the Indian people are entirely loyal. That they are loyal is due, as Lord Chelmsford has pointed out, to the passage of the Government of India Act, 1919, and to the policy of which that Act was an illustration. Instead of that Act being responsible for the Non-cooperation movement and the Moplah rebellion and other troubles in India, had it not been for the policy which has been so bitterly criticised by Lord Sydenham the troubles of the Government of India to-day would have been very much greater.
The point which I want to make to your Lordships is this—that the policy of the Government is of necessity a dual policy. It involves two features, in both of which I ask for the support of public opinion in this country. One is that we should with complete sincerity carry out the Declaration made in 1917, of our desire to help the Indian people by gradual means and successive stages to approach to complete self-government. The other is that it is our duty to the law-abiding and constitutional people in India to uphold the law with firmness and impartiality and punish law-breakers and disturbers of the peace. The difficulty in which the Government is placed is that, whereas it requires support for both parts of its policy, it is too apt to receive support only with regard to one of them by these different sections of opinion in this country.
Those who, like my noble friend Lord Sydenham, are always urging the Government to take more vigorous action in enforcing the law, are at the same time always telling the public of their complete disbelief in the policy embodied in the Act of 1919. And those who assure us of their belief in that policy, and who make a profession of their sincerity in supporting that policy, are apt too often to be lukewarm in the support which they give to the Government when it is necessary to enforce the law against law-breakers. And therefore I have no right to expect support from Lord Sydenham, who never conceals the dislike which he has to the whole of the policy of the present Government in India; but I would appeal to those of your Lordships who do render support to His Majesty's Government that you will give us equal support in those two branches of our policy which cannot be 79 dissociated, and must stand and fall together.
The attack which the noble Lord has made upon the Government for its present administration in India must necessarily embrace all the Governments of India at the present time; and, though I am perfectly prepared at any time to answer any criticisms which the noble Lord may bring against His Majesty's Government, I appeal to your Lordships to do nothing and say nothing which would imply a want of confidence in those who are charged directly with responsibility for administration in India. The noble Marquess who leads the House has told your Lordships that we have been recently in daily communication with the Viceroy and his Government on administrative matters. The Viceroy also is in continuous communication with the Provincial Governments. And if anybody thinks that either the Government of India or the Provincial Governments have been deterred by instruction from the Secretary of State at home, from taking any action which they think necessary, I hope that belief will be dispelled by the words which Lord Chelmsford has used in this House. He has assured your Lordships that whilst he was responsible for the Government of India the Secretary of State at no time sought to interfere with his discretion, or to send him instructions as to how he was to behave in purely administrative matters.
That has been the policy of the Secretary of State throughout, both with Lord Chelmsford and with his successor. He has at all times made it perfectly clear that any action which the Government of India, or any Provincial Government, thought it their duty to take in the direction of enforcing the law or preserving order will receive the whole-hearted support of His Majesty's Government. Since we have expressed our confidence in the Viceroy and Provincial Governors I would end by appealing to your Lordships also in this very difficult and anxious situation in which they arc placed to extend to them the confidence which their administration deserves.
§ LORD AMPTHILL
My Lords, I have still to make my Motion for Papers. The 80 Papers for which I desire to move are: In the Kernani case, Papers showing how the decision to withdraw the prosecution was arrived at, and Sir Thomas Holland's reasons for his action; in the Grant case, Papers giving the order to prosecute Mr. Grant, and the judgment of the Court; as regards the Public Services, the Regulations as to proportional pensions for premature retirement, and the scales for the same; and, as regards the 1Ioplah rebellion, the correspondence between the Government of Madras and the Collector of Malabar, and between the Madras Government and the Government of India. I beg to move.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I am willing to accept this Motion on the understanding that it is left to the discretion. of the Government as to what Papers they will lay on the Table. If, by a Motion for Papers, is meant an undertaking on behalf of the Government to lay before Parliament all the Papers referred to by the noble Lord I could not, of course, accept his Motion. I have informed him that on two of his points I hope to lay Papers very shortly, but that on some of the other points I am unable to comply with his wishes. There has been no Notice on the Paper, and there is not now any Motion on the Paper for specific Papers. I am informed by the learned Clerk at the Table that it is necessary, according to the Rules of the House, to move for specific Papers, and it is not possible, therefore, for the noble Lord to make a general Motion for Papers. If he will withdraw his Motion, I have given him an assurance that on certain matters I am prepared to lay Papers. If the noble Lord wishes to put down another Motion for laying the Papers to which he has referred I shall not be able to accept that.
§ LORD AMPTHILL
I am content with an assurance that such Papers as can be laid will be laid. It was only to conform to the Rules of the House that I specified the Papers I wanted. In the circumstances, I withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes past eight o'clock.