§ LORD ISLINGTON rose to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will inform the House of the reasons that have influenced him in deciding to appoint a Royal Commission on the Public Services in India; whether he will specify what subjects connected with the Public Services it is proposed that the Royal Commission on the Public Services which reported in 1915; whether he can give an estimate of the cost that will be incurred by this Commission; and whether the whole cost is to be borne on the Indian Exchequer.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the object which I have in view in putting this Question on the Paper is, I will admit at the start, to make an earnest appeal to my noble friend to reconsider, if he will, the decision to which he has come to appoint a Royal Commission on the public Services in India. Speaking 210 with some claim to familiarity with this subject and its bearing on the situation to-day with reference to the new legislative reform schemes, I hope that the House and my noble friend will exonerate me, in whatever I may say, from any personal bias in the matter, because I raise the Question solely on public grounds.
§ The appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into, and report on, the public Services in India is really not necessary at the present time, I suggest; indeed, the present time is a very inappropriate one for an Inquiry. It was only in August of 1915 that a Royal Commission reported on this subject. It dealt very exhaustively with practically every phase and aspect of the public Services in India. It sat practically continuously in this country and in India for two and a half years, and during that period it dealt with all the different aspects of no fewer than twenty-four Services which go to make up the administrative system in India. It dealt with the organisation and the whole of the arrangements of the Imperial and provincial Services both in regard to the European and the Indian elements. It dealt with the various methods of recruitment from both races, for their training and their probation. It dealt with the salaries in every Service and in regard to every grade in each of the Services. It dealt with leave and travelling allowances and with the whole subject of pensions for the officers in the Service. It also dealt with the proportion that should gradually develop as between Europeans and Indians in the Service, and it made many recommendations, long overdue, to remove anomalies and injustices as between the two races in the different source of chronic discontent in India at the time.
§ In short, I venture to say, not a single branch of the whole of this great subject was really omitted by the Royal Commission of 1915. The Commission laid down principles to guide the future arrangements of the Services and—I would refer this to the sympathetic attention of my noble friend—those principles hold good to-day under the altered conditions brought about by the new reform scheme just as they held good 211 hitherto. Where they may require modification and adjustment, that can easily be effected to meet the requirements of those new conditions.
§ I speak with some intimate experience when I say that the work attached to a Royal Commission dealing with a subject like the public Services in India is very laborious. The Inquiry is a very protracted one, and it is a very costly business. I think that my noble friend will find, if he adheres to his decision to appoint a new Royal Commission, that it will be almost impossible to limit the scope of the activity of a Commission of this character. The geographical extent of India is so great, and the various and divergent conditions that, prevail in the eight provinces of India are such, that it will be found impossible to limit to any serious extent the scope of an Inquiry of this character. Again, the Commission will have to be of a thoroughly representative character, as representative in this country as it will be representative in India, and I think it will be found, even more to-day than it was six years ago, that, so constituted, it will be no more harmonious than it was at that time. I think I am right in saying that the cost to the Indian taxpayer of the Royal Commission of 1915 exceeded £50,000, if you take everything into account.
§ I should not have raised this Question unless I were fortified by a certain knowledge both of the public Services and of the scheme and working of the new reforms in India. I have no doubt that the ground that influenced my noble friend in coming to a decision to appoint a Royal Commission is that conditions have so changed, owing to the advent of a Parliamentary system of government in the Provinces and an entirely developed system of Central Government, that the findings of this, though recent, Royal Commission do not hold good to-day. It will be alleged, I have no doubt, and with truth, that the salaries in many branches of the Service, especially the Imperial branches, to-day are quite inadequate and that the conditions are unsatisfactory. The cost of living in India as elsewhere, as a result of the war and other conditions, has largely increased. As to that I would say that the principles upon which all these salaries were based in the recommendations of the late Commission are of such a character that they can 212 easily be made adaptable to any changes of that description. Material is available to the hand of my noble friend in his own office and in the offices of the Government of India and the Provincial Governments, upon which, without any further elaborate Inquiry, to make adjustment to those altered conditions. Undoubtedly, if salaries are found to be totally inadequate to meet the demands of the present time, those salaries can be raised with much greater promptitude by executive order, based on the material in the hands of the authorities, than by the somewhat slower methods of a Royal Commission.
§ Then it may be said, and, again, truly—and this, of course, is one of the most grave of the problems which face my noble friend and all who are associated with the Government of India to-day—that the conditions under which civil servants are working in India are very unsatisfactory. As to that, I think that the whole of that great category of questions comes within the scope of what may be regarded as a political problem. They are very difficult questions. I do not believe that they will be found to be insuperable, but I cannot believe that they are susceptible of further solution as the result of prolonged inquiry by a Royal Commission. Then, again, it may be said that the whole system of recruitment is a very difficult one. I have no doubt that my noble friend will say, with truth, that he is at his wit's end to know how to obtain recruits for the Imperial Services, the Indian Medical Service, and so on. There cannot really be any very great advance or improvement upon the method of recruitment laid down as a result of the findings of the Royal Commission of 1915.
§ As provincial autonomy develops, as it undoubtedly will in the years to come, there will be considerable variations; but those very variations in recruitment were to a peculiar degree anticipated in the Report of that Royal Commission. It was laid down in the Report that nearly all the technical Services in India, those which are now the Transferred services, should by a steady process become Indian Services, and the sole participation and co-operation of European assistance would in future come from selected posts being reserved for men of eminence in these particular technical subjects, who 213 would go out to assist those Services. Probably that will be the process which will cake place with the progress of provincial autonomy in the future.
§ In a recent Despatch, my noble friend told the people of India that he was not prepared to disturb the present order, but that he adhered to the principle laid down in the Act, and strongly confirmed by the joint Committee on Indian affairs, not to disturb the present order of things for the next ten years. I think he was wise in that decision, and that there is a very big scope for Indian development under the Reform Act. At least for ten years we can watch its development, and it will be quite time enough, at the conclusion of those ten years, for a Royal Commission to go out to India and report as to whether there should be modifications and extensions. That decision on the part of my noble friend appears to me to be a very strong argument against disturbing the existing system, which prevails as the result of the findings of the Royal Commission of 1915. It would only mean a new Royal Commission, and I am convinced that it would mean going over a great deal of old ground and, to a very large extent, coming to similar conclusions.
§ The process—again I speak with considerable personal experience—is bound to raise a great deal of racial animosity. No matter how firm or tactful a Chairman you have of a body of this character, composed as it is, with the witnesses whoever they may be, he will be unable to control questions being put and answers made which will be immediately seized upon by the extremist Press and the extremist agitators. It will be found very difficult, if not impossible, to avoid that kind of thing, and it would be a great misfortune if that were to take place now to revive embitterments which have shown very satisfactory signs, during the period of office of my noble friend, of subsiding.
§ My noble friend must realise by now that this proposal is not a popular one in India. I hear it condemned on all sides. It is said—and there may be some reason for it—that whilst retrenchment committees have been working during the year in each of the provinces to reduce the staffs and salaries of Indian officials in the Provincial Service, at the same moment the British Government appoints a Commission to report on the salaries 214 and the conditions of the European Imperial Services. I cannot believe that that will prove to be a successful method, in the present atmosphere of India, of securing an improvement of the conditions of those in India whom we all desire to see secure an improvement. In what I have said, I do not for a moment wish to give the impression that I underrate in the smallest degree the very great difficulties that beset my noble friend in his task in India. He finds himself in the gravest difficulty as regards both the securing of officers and dealing with very serious political questions. I would say that few of those questions are susceptible of a really satisfactory solution through the instrument of a Royal Commission. They require very great care, tact, and sympathy, which I am sure will be always exhibited by my noble friend at the head of the India Office. They require also the same qualities in the Governors of the provinces, and in all those in executive rank who work below them. You have to deal with a great change in the Civil Service, which has worked for years under what we may call an autocratic system and now has to work under a developing Parliamentary system. Only time and those qualities which I have mentioned are going gradually to mitigate, and I hope eventually to solve, the difficulties.
§ The financial position in India, as my noble friend knows a great deal better than I do, is to-day a very serious one. The Central and Provincial Exchequers are in a very grave condition. It may be found necessary, in order satisfactorily to adjust the Revenues both for the Central Government and for the Provinces, to have an impartial Committee to inquire into the matter. Perhaps—although this stands outside my Question, and I shall quite understand if my noble friend is not in a position to answer me—I may ask if he could give any information to the House in regard to that subject, and as to whether there is a Committee sitting in India, or whether he contemplates the appointment of a Committee to readjust those Exchequers, and to place them as near as possible upon a firm and solvent basis.
§ In conclusion, in regard to the Royal Commission for the Public Services contemplated by my noble friend, I would urge upon him most earnestly before he appoints that Royal Commission to con- 215 sider the matter further. I do not believe it will advance the solution of the problem. It will cost a great deal of money and will, I have no doubt, meet with very strenuous opposition from the unofficial elements in the General Assembly in India. It will also, I believe, make the task of the moderate Indian element—increasing as it is, I am glad to say, every day—more difficult, becoming more so as the Election draws near. I think that what I have said will show my noble friend that I raise this Question in no hostile spirit to the Government or to him, but in the sincere belief that a Royal Commission is neither necessary nor expedient at the present moment.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, I think my noble friend was not in the House when I pleaded for all I was worth that this Inquiry should take place, and I received a very sympathetic reply from the Secretary of State, who told us that he was at that very time considering the instituting of an Inquiry of this kind. I cannot help thinking that that would have been a proper time for my noble friend to have raised his protest, and not after the Secretary of State had announced clearly to India and to us at home that this Commission was to be appointed. The situation has totally changed since the days of the Commission to which my noble friend has referred. This Commission made, it is true, a most exhaustive and most valuable Report dealing with the circumstances of that time. But everything has changed. The great public Services of India are now visibly crumbling away, as I ventured to point out must happen about four years ago. I well remember that in those days, which now seem far distant, the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, speaking with his great authority, said that he feared that the Civil Service would be done to death politically. That is exactly what is now occurring.
The public Services are now in such a state that it is absolutely essential that something should be done to stop the decay, if, indeed, it is not already too late. Facts about the conditions of the Services have lately been embodied in a Memorandum submitted by the public Services of Bombay, which I have in my hand. This body states:—We believe that it is no longer necessary to adduce argument to show your 216 Lordship that many classes of European Government servants have not for some tune been able to live on their pay, and have no prospect of being able to do so. This has been officially admitted and is no longer denied in any responsible quarter.That is a very grave statement. It explains the position of these public servants, who are our own fellow countrymen serving and working intensely hard in the heat of India and who were the subject of a disgraceful attack by an hon. and gallant Member in another place only last Tuesday.
It is a popular delusion—I do not know whether my noble friend shares it—that an Indian administration of the Services would be a cheap administration. That is an absolute delusion: nothing of the kind. Already the expenses of the administration have gone up, and in my opinion they will increase more and more. This is what the memorial says on that point:—We feel bound to point out that one factor which operates to postpone an improvement in the pay of European Government servants is the extravagant pay now given to Indians in the higher branches of Government service. My association speaks with some diffidence of the rates of pay proper to Indians, but it cannot but observe that Indian States are able to get Indians of the same calibre and qualifications as those in Government service at little more than half the rates, while the same Indian States, when they require a European officer, can only obtain him at rates higher than those paid by Government.I believe that statement is absolutely correct; it was happening in my time, which now seems so long ago.
The association sums up the present position in these words:—Europeans in Government service are now for the most part seriously embarrassed and many are ill dire distress: and our council is perhaps in a better position than your Lordship to realise how seriously these conditions are already affecting the Indian administration, and how soon they must, if they are allowed to continue, result in real disaster. Our council earnestly request for measures of immediate relief, and ask your Lordship to bear in mind that European Government servants are now so heavily in debt that considerable retrospective effect must be given to these measures.I am sure your Lordships will feel, as I know the Secretary of State does, that this position must be altered without delay, and you will, I am sure, realise that it is a totally different position from that which was faced by my noble friend more than ten years ago.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
I am sorry if I was incorrect. I do not know what the noble Viscount has decided with regard to the terms of reference to his Commission, but I am quite clear as to what kind of investigation is required. We need, first of all, to ascertain how the Services now stand as regards resignations and recruitment. Those are matters of simple fact and can easily be ascertained. Then we want a decision from the Government as to the numbers of British public servants they mean to retain until such time as the present Constitution is reviewed after ten years of its operation. Having fixed these figures the next thing is to decide what steps must be taken to restore confidence and contentment in the Services, which have been rudely shaken, by the proceedings of the Government of India and especially by the notorious O'Donnell circular. We have to make sure that we can provide the minimum number of public servants required and that they shall be men of the right type, which is the only type worth while sending out to India. We also need a clear statement showing the increase of all kinds of crime and corruption which has been brought about since the new régime began. The Reports of local Governments will give that information.
Those are, I think, the main points as to which inquiry is vitally necessary at the present moment. I believe that this Inquiry might be held in London. The noble Viscount, I know, thinks otherwise, and he has much more knowledge than I can possess. In any case, I cannot see any reason whatever for such a prolonged and expensive Inquiry as that which took place more than ten years ago. The work of the new Commission will differ in essential particulars from that which my noble friend carried out. I am sure that the noble Viscount will remove any apprehensions on the part of the noble Lord and will show that the procedure he now contemplates differs in essential respects from the procedure which my noble friend so ably carried out some years ago. I hope the noble Viscount will not for a moment think of withdrawing from the purpose he has already announced.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (VISCOUNT PEEL)
My Lords, I 218 do not for one moment suggest that there is any hostile intention on the part of the noble Lord in asking this Question about India. I am sure he is the last man, on so serious a subject as our relations with India, to attempt any criticism of a hostile or Party kind. He has had far too much experience of the administration himself. Rut the issue between us is absolutely clear. The Government and myself are supporting a Commission of Inquiry. The noble Lord is against it, and I should like to deal with one or two of the reasons he gave for dissenting from the proposal.
I think his view is to some extent based on his own Commission. It was conceived on a magnificent scale. It was a large and representative Commission, and my noble friend proceeded to his work with an almost, Oriental indifference to the passage of time. No Mogul could have laid out his work on a more stupendous scale. It began in 1912. It reported, after four years of strenuous work, in 1915, but I understand that the results of its labours, for causes over which my noble friend had no responsibility, were not laid on the Table of the House until 1917. Generalising on all Royal Commissions from this single instance, my noble friend Lord Islington thinks of a Commission which takes something like seven or eight years from the time it begins before it reports. No such Commission, laid out on these broad lines, ever suggested itself to me or to the Government.
Another consideration also occurs to me. The noble Lord thinks, and not unnaturally, because the work done by his Commission was of great value—I am the last to undervalue it; I have studied it with a humble and worshipful sense of its superiority—that there should be no other Commission in India. His Commission has worked for all time; it has dealt with the whole subject; it has exhausted it, and he looks upon it as almost irreverent that there should be any subjects connected with these Services which another Commission might have to investigate. I am ready to pay a tribute to my noble friend's work on that Commission. It was extremely valuable, and a large portion of its recommendations have been carried into effect. I do not wonder, therefore, that the noble Lord plumes himself on that Commission, because he 219 knows how rare it is for the recommendations of a Commission to be carried into practical effect.
It is a melancholy thing that I should find that the noble Lord is against me on this subject, but I have the consolation that the great authorities are divided. The noble Lord was associated, when he was at the India Office, with Mr. Montagu, and though the noble Lord is against the Commission, his chief at that time, Mr. Montagu, is in favour of it. Although the noble Lord has fallen by the way, I can claim at any rate the support of Mr. Montagu in favour of this Commission. It so happens that my predecessor wrote a certain number of letters to The Times at the end of last year advocating the Commission. No doubt the noble Lord read them and studied them, but apparently he has not been convinced by their argument. I have also this to lament on the part of the noble Lord, that though he objects to the Royal Commission, he does not seem to suggest any other method by which we can arrive at the conclusions at which I hope to arrive through the work of this Commission.
He was barren in suggestions, except that I suppose I ought to infer that a further perusal of the almost inspired text of his own Report would give me all the suggestions I could want for dealing with the present situation. I was impressed by this lacuna, perhaps I might even say this error, in the speech of the noble Lord. He seemed to me to take little account of the vast changes that have taken place in India and in the Government of India during the last two years. No one who approaches this subject from the point of view of the position in the years before the war, and ignores what has happened in the years since the war, can possibly form an opinion of any value on the position of the Civil Services and their relation to the Government of India.
There are two other points which I should like to mention before I answer the specific Question put to me by the noble Lord. He was good enough to say that he agreed with a Despatch that I sent some months ago to the Government of India about the future of constitutional development. He is of opinion, apparently, that this Commission may to some extent impinge upon these constitutional questions, and that by suggesting 220 it I am to some extent derogating from the value of that Despatch. This Commission will not, of course, deal with constitutional questions. On the contrary, I regard it merely as a corollary of the Act of 1919 and of the reforms that were then instituted. It is proposed to establish what will certainly be a small Commission, and not a large representative Commission, such as would certainly be necessary to go into constitutional questions. It should be quite clear that such an inquiry would involve a very different procedure from this establishment of a much smaller Commission, with a limited scope, to inquire into one or two specific points.
It is true that the noble Lord did attempt to drive me away from the proposal by suggesting that the establishment of a Royal Commission of that kind would set up a good deal of racial feeling, would be severely criticised in the extremist Press, and would give some material to agitators. I think it is very likely that it will. There is hardly any action of the Government of India during the last few years that has not given material to agitators, and if the noble Lord had now, as he had at one time, the duty that I have of reading the perpetual attacks on the Government poured out in the vernacular Press, I do not think he would attribute the same importance to them as, to judge from the speech he has just delivered, he attributes at present. I think that it would be extremely foolish to be driven from a course which one thinks wise—an attempt to establish the position of these Services—by the mere fact that the course which one advocates may be criticised by the extremist Press and by a number of agitators.
§ LORD ISLINGTON
If I did so, I meant to suggest, as I do now suggest, that people of the highest standing, both European and Indian, are strongly opposed to this proposal.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
This is a new testimony, which I am very much interested to hear. I was going to say, in addition, 221 that, if the noble Lord comes to a wider field, it is admitted by the wiser schools of political thought in India that it is necessary, not only that there should be substantial recruitment for many years to come from this country, but also that the Services themselves should be placed in a satisfactory and contented position.
In answer to the noble Lord's point concerning expense, may I add that no doubt his Commission was an expensive one? I rather admired, in those pre-war days, the magnificent lavishness of the noble Lord's expenditure, but I am far too well aware of the present financial condition of India to suggest anything in imitation of the noble Lord in that respect. Any expenditure that there will be on this Commission will, happily, be small, because it will be a small Commission—of course, there will be Indian members upon it—and I am quite sure that a very few mouths, not years, will be sufficient time to enable the Commission to report. I must give this credit to the noble Lord, that so much of the spade work, shall I say, has been done by the noble Lord's Commission, so much historical work and so on, that it will not, I think, be necessary to go into any of the past history of the Services. We shall be able to deal with the immediate facts of the day.
The specific Question that I have been asked is: What are the facts that induced the Government and myself to appoint a Royal Commission? There are very definite and very specific facts, very grave facts, some of which I desire to lay before your Lordships. I am not, of course, basing myself merely on these particular facts, or on figures. I am basing myself also on innumerable representations from a great many persons thoroughly competent to speak about the position of the Services in India, and also on a large number of memorials which have reached me from different sections of those Services in India. If your Lordships will allow me, I intend to trouble you with one or two figures. First of all, there are two difficulties. One is that there is a great deficiency of recruitment, both at this end and also at the other, in India. We get a large number of persons from these Services who are retiring on what, as the noble Lord well knows, are proportionate pensions.
222 I should like, first of all, to deal with the figures of the shortage of European candidates. As the noble Lord and others of your Lordships know—particularly my noble friend Lord Mac-Donnell, who was Chairman of a small Committee to inquire and advise me on this particular subject—great difficulty is experienced in securing Europeans of proper quality for the Indian Services. When my noble friend Lord Islington reported, and during the time in which he was at work, no difficulty of this kind had arisen. It had not arisen, in fact, in the year 1915, when the Report was finally written. These difficulties of recruitment have been due largely to the uncertainty of recruits, and also of their relatives, as to their future prospects. I will not say that the situation has arisen yet, but it might very easily arise, in which there would be very serious danger that the administrative machinery in India might be impaired unless the whole subject was examined into and dealt with. It is very important, in view of this shortage, that some outlines of the career, at any rate, should be laid clown, which might be offered to the right type of recruit.
Now let me mention one or two of these figures. I will take first the question of the recruits that have come forward for the Indian Civil Service for the years before the war and for the years after the war. Of course, the different Services are suffering, as the noble Lord knows. I mention the Civil Service because that is the largest and the most important of these Indian Services, but I want to give one or two examples, such as the Police Service, where the wastage has been considerable. I am taking now the candidates. In the year 1913 the number of Europeans was 138, and of non-Europeans 25, making a total of 163. In the year 1914 there were 157 European candidates and 26 non-Europeans, making a total of 183. Those are the two years before the war. I omit the years immediately after the war, because, of course, they are, not comparable. I take the years 1921 and 1922. In those years you have respectively 16 Europeans and 57 non-Europeans, making a total of 73, and 18 Europeans and 52 non-Europeans, making a total of 70—a deplorable comparison, as will be seen, with the numbers for the years 1913 and 1914.
223 But one has to examine not merely the number of candidates, but those who were accepted. In the open competition for 1921 the numbers of probationers selected for appointments in the Indian Civil Service were three Europeans and thirteen Indians, a total of sixteen. In 1922 the numbers were six Europeans and ten Indians selected, a total of sixteen. Now the comparable figures in the year 1913 were forty-two Europeans and two Indians, a total of forty-four. Those are one or two figures showing the shortage of recruits at this end of the scale. But the other end of the story is perhaps even more unfortunate, that is to say, the number of those retiring on proportionate pensions. Up to now—I think the period is from November, 1921, to nearly the end of February, 1923, so that the figures are almost up-to-date—the number of applications for retirement on proportionate pensions is 227, and the number of applications already sanctioned is 217. No fewer than fifty have been sanctioned from the Indian Civil Service. From the police the number is larger, namely, eighty-one, and in the Public Works Department, thirty-three.
Therefore we have, as it were, a drain at both ends, which has to be met somehow. Not only have we to face the actual arrears of recruitment that have accumulated since the war put an end to all recruitment, but also the fact, which is the most serious aspect of the case, that although the universities are returning to normal conditions, European recruits from those universities are not forthcoming in anything like sufficient numbers. This point is all the more serious because we have to cope not only with the normal wastage in ordinary times, due to casualties and retirements, but with the abnormal wastage due to those premature retirements on proportionate pensions of which I have given the figures. But the case, I think, is even worse than this, because even with the normal wastage we should not have been able to make up the full number required, in spite of special recruitment of ex-Service candidates under the Indian Civil Service (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1915, and in spite, further, of the reduced demand for Europeans owing to the increasing number of Indians, based very largely on the proposals of Lord Islington and his Commission.
224 If the retirements on proportionate pensions continue, it is obvious that that fact will add to the difficulty of obtaining the requisite proportion of European recruits. Indeed, already the numbers of Indian recruits taken have increased beyond the proportions laid down in 1920, and, I think, in excess of those laid down by Lord Islington, because of the small number of European recruits coming forward. I am dealing with this matter not merely from the point of view of the Services themselves, but from the point of view of Indian administration, because it is generally recognised, and recognised by so many wise Indians in India, that it is essential that the two elements in these services—Indian and British—should work together.
Let me diverge for a moment to the Police Service, which is an extremely important service in the different provinces. I have already given the number of retirements on proportionate pensions which have been sanctioned. There is not quite the same difficulty in getting recruits for that purpose. The difficulty is rather that there is a large number of retirements among the senior officers. The position, from the points of view of recruiting and premature retirement, is therefore a very unsatisfactory one indeed.
The second point which very largely operated upon our minds in proposing the Royal Commission, was one which could not have been considered by the Commission of 1915, because it is due to the totally new state of facts which has arisen under the working of the Act of 1919. It was this:—This Act, as those who follow Indian affairs know perfectly well, has totally altered the whole position of the different Services, and it is absolutely essential, in the opinion of the Government, that the position and functions of those Services should be fully considered in the light of the altered circumstances. The last thing which I like to do is to criticise one's predecessors. I know the very great difficulty under which they worked. I think, however, that it might have been better, and more logical, if an Inquiry of this kind had been gone into at the time when these reforms were instituted, and the necessary results of these reforms upon these Services had been fully considered. But I agree that it is perhaps easier to do this at the present moment, after three or four years 225 experience of the working of the reforms and of their effects upon the different Services, and that we are in a far better position, not merely to speculate upon but actually to investigate the effects which have produced this altered position.
The only other point with which I need deal is this. My noble friend rather suggested that we had in hand a great deal of information which we might have made use of ourselves. I think he suggested that one might, perhaps by a stroke of the pen, have improved the position of the different Services financially. It is true that the Services are placed by the Alt of 1919 in a special relation to the Secretary of State in Council. It is true also—though, of course, there is some difficulty about the question of allowances—that the salaries of these Services are placed among the non-votable expenditure, and therefore specially under the charge of the Secretary of State in Council. But, after all, I think it would be very much better that, if anything whatever can be done in this way, it should be done, not by what may be called an autocratic stroke of the pen by the Secretary of State in Council, but after a full, yet brief, investigation, which would bring, I hope, conviction to those people who are interested in this subject in India. There are many suggestions that might be made, but I do not think it would be wise or prudent to come to a hasty decision on these different points until they have been thoroughly investigated and advised upon by a competent Commission.
Because I know the great interest of the Services in this particular matter, I should like to say that the last thing I contemplate is that a great deal of time should elapse before the Commission reports. I see no reason why, with the material before it, this Commission should not report rapidly. It may quite well be that it will issue interim Reports. I say nothing on that, because it is a matter on which the Chairman should use his own discretion. But the last thing, certainly, that I intend, in making any suggestion for the Commission, is that there should be delay, or that these matters of the Civil Service should not be dealt with as rapidly as possible.
Finally, I do not want it to be suggested that this is merely a Commission 226 in the interests of the Services. It is a Commission in the interests of good administration in India, and I need hardly say that there are many questions connected with the Indian Civil Service, as well as with British representatives in the Services, which want careful investigation. I hope I have satisfied my noble friend that, in spite of his magnificent labours, there is still room for this small Commission, and that some, points have arisen since his time which need careful investigation and advice by a Royal Commission.
§ LORD ISLINGTON
My Lords, I am very much obliged to my noble friend for the ample reply which he has given. I am afraid I am not so sanguine as he is that he will find expedition and fullness to be compatible qualities in the investigations of this Commission. I doubt very much whether what he has said will bring any more conviction to the minds of those in India who are concerned than it has to me.