§ LORD AMPTHILL had given Notice to call attention to the case of those British officers in the public service of India to whom the Lee Commission Report has made no reference, although the Commission took their evidence both written and oral; and to ask His Majesty's Government whether the claims of the said officers are now being considered in connection with any legislative or administrative action that may be required in consequence of the Lee Commission Report; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion of which I have given Notice has stood upon the Order Paper of this House since last December, and I think I owe it to your Lordships to explain why there has been so much delay. It is not because the matter is of no consequence, or because it lacks urgency, and your Lordships will, I am sure, acquit me of any disrespect towards this House. The reason for the delay is that the Secretary of State asked me to postpone the Question from time to time until he had received from India information which he required in order to give me the answer for which I was asking. At the present time, this question is one of very real urgency and of 993 vital consequence, to a number of our British fellow-subjects who have been rendering loyal service during these critical times in India, service which is essential to the good government of India and for which, thus far, three officers have been indispensable. They have, moreover, been carefully training the Indians who are now to take their places, and your Lordships will see that there could be no better evidence of their good will than that they have taken the utmost pains to make the way smooth for the Indians who are to take their places.
§ The officers to whom I refer are British officers of non-Asiatic domicile who were relegated in 1921 to the Provincial Services in their altered form. They are all officers who entered the service of the Crown in India prior to the reforms, and they were appointed to Departments in which a proportion of Europeans was considered, in the accepted phrase, "indispensable to efficient administration." The question that has arisen is whether these officers are to be ignored in the measures now before Parliament for the relief of their fellows and left to finish their time in India—and it is only a very short time for many of them—not only with a bitter sense of grievance but also in circumstances of financial difficulty, of real hardship and, very probably, of humiliation.
§ Your Lordships may think that I must be mistaken and that such a thing as this cannot possibly be. We have had the Lee Commission to deal with the grievances of all British officers, to procure their contentment and to secure their lights. Did we not give a Second Reading only last week to a Bill with the very object of carrying out the recommendations of the Lee Commission? That is so, but the fact remains that the recommendations of the Lee Commission and the Government of India (Civil Services) Bill to which your Lordships gave a Second Reading last week did not touch the case of these officers. I will not say that they have been forgotten by the Lee Commission, for that cannot be, but they have certainly been ignored and omitted. Perhaps you may say that this was the fault of the officers themselves. Did they lay their case before the Commission? Did they ask to be heard? And were they heard? Yes, 994 they gave evidence, both oral and written, and what is more they asked particularly that this evidence might be given publicly and subsequently published—a request which was not acceded to. You may ask whether they were told that they had no claim. On the contrary, they were told quite definitely that it was hoped to include them in the recommendations. Your Lordships can see, therefore, that it was not the fault of the officers themselves.
§ What is there, then, to account for so unfortunate and palpable an omission? I cannot say. I could only offer your Lordships my own conjectures, and that is a course from which I prefer to desist. I want to confine myself to a plain statement of facts. There has been a misunderstanding somewhere and possibly the Secretary of State may see fit to explain what happened between his predecessor and the Government of India before he became responsible for Indian affairs. There are, however, two facts to which I desire to call attention and which I beg your Lordships to bear carefully in mind. The first of these facts is that the Joint Committee which so carefully examined the Act of 1919 before it was passed into law, undoubtedly intended that the British officers whose case I am submitting should be treated with the same consideration as, or at least with similar consideration to, that given to the officers of the Indian Civil Service. There is abundant evidence of that in their Report on Clause 36 of the Bill. The second point is that the Royal Commission recommended that officers of precisely similar status and indeed of the same origin—namely, British officers of the All-India and Central Services-should be reappointed by the Secretary of State so as to give them the protection and benefits recommended in the Report.
In connection with the first of these points, may I remind your Lordships that the Secretary of State for India told us last week that the Joint Committee—I give his own words—
was one of the most responsible and capable Joint Committees which the Houses of Parliament have ever appointed to deal with a matter of grave public moment.
As regards the second point, may I explain my statement that these officers are of similar status and the same origin as the officers of the All-India and Central
Services? Before the Government of India Act, 1919, came into operation all British officers in the public Services of India belonged either to the covenanted Service—that is to say, the Indian Civil Service—or to the uncovenanted Services. There were those two divisions. The Provincial Services at that time consisted of the lower grades of both the covenanted and uncovenanted Services and were manned by Indians and Europeans domiciled in India. In 1921, however, the Secretary of State reclassified the uncovenanted Services, and the result is that, even for those who have some familiarity with Indian administration, the new nomenclature makes the understanding of these questions very difficult.
§ What happened was this: The members of the uncovenanted Services, who were liable to be transferred from one Presidency to another, were styled the All-India Services, while those who performed duties peculiar to a Presidency were relegated to the inferior Provincial Service. Certain classes working under the Government of India were styled Central Services. Your Lordships will now see my point, which is that all these officers were, before 1921. in the same category—namely, that of the uncovenanted Services and that their present distribution does not alter their original status and ought not to affect their rights as individuals, the rights which were the essential conditions of their original contract of service. The recommendations of the Lee Commission, however, have been confined to those officers who have been posted to the All-India and Central Services.
§ The British officers whose cases have not been considered by the Commission, or rather concerning which the Commission made no recommendation, were all appointed by the Governors in Council to "maintain"—I am using the accepted phrase again—"the proportion of Europeans indispensable for efficient administration," and most of them went out from England to take up their positions. Prior to the reforms they formed part of the British administration, but they have now, without their consent, been transferred to an Indian administration, and, thus far, have been denied the protection of the Secretary of State and the privileges granted to other British 996 officers. Their pay is now votable by the Indian Legislative Councils and their services can be terminated at any time by the same authority, as the Government of India Act, 1919, protects only those officers who were directly appointed by the Secretary of State for India.
§ Now, the object of the Lee Commission, put in a nutshell, if I may so express it, was to procure contentment in the Services and thus to secure the supply of a sufficient number of recruits of the right sort. The recommendations of the Commission, however, are proved to be inadequate for either purpose. The proof, the undeniable, disconcerting and deplorable proof, is before our eyes. We cannot get away from the discontent in the Provincial Services—a discontent which must necessarily re-act upon every other branch of the administration in India—and if the Secretary of State consents to lay the Papers for which I ask, your Lordships will see quite clearly what form that discontent takes and how it is that it exists.
I think your Lordships will also recognise that there is nothing at all unreasonable in the present circumstances in the fears and apprehensions of the officers on whose behalf I am speaking. The Secretary of State told us only last week that the gravest anxiety he has now does not lie with the movements and tendencies in India, grave and menacing as some of them have been, but in the difficulty of persuading a sufficient number of Englishmen to enter the public Services of India. Let me recall the impressive words which, if I am not very much mistaken, will be quoted again and again, for a long time to come. What the Secretary of State said was this:—
I should be misleading your Lordships if I did not make it plain that at this moment the number of those who are offering themselves is not sufficient and that our problem, unless things improve, may not he to discuss whether there should he 50 per cent. of suitable natives of India, but to ensure that there shall he 50 per cent of suitable candidates from these Islands.
It is plain to everybody that the two things hang together. Give protection and contentment to British officers and you will get recruits. Deny it and you will have to whistle for your candidates. But you must give it to all alike.
§ The efforts of the public-spirited propagandists at the Universities about which we heard last week, charm they never so wisely, will be all in vain so long as it can be proclaimed in the market place that the British Government has abandoned any of its loyal servants in India. These Provincial officers are, many of them, men from the Universities, and the fact remains that they belong to the same classes and to the same social circles in which all these Indian traditions reside, and young men at the Universities who are thinking of their choice of a career are not going to be persuaded half so much by the eloquence of leading statesmen and distinguished administrators as they will be by the advice they get from their fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins who have been or are in the Services in India. That is only natural. Any man, whatever the profession he goes into, follows the advice of his friends and relations and not the advice of those who are so eminent in public life that they occupy positions to which he does not even dream of attaining.
We have every reason to wonder why nothing has yet been done. Can it be that the omission from the Report of the British Provincial officers was one of the concessions to secure unanimity? I recall again what the noble Earl the Secretary of State said on Wednesday last. He said:—
I must, therefore, make it perfectly plain that the recommendations are a deliberate compromise between the Indian point of view and Service opinion.
If it was thought to placate Indian opinion by sacrificing the British Provincial officers, it was, I submit, a misunderstanding of the Indian point of view which scarcely did justice to those of our Indian fellow-subjects who have a sense of fair play and are animated by good will towards us. To the best of my belief, the Indians who are not implacable sedition-mongers have no objection to the redress of the legitimate grievances of British officers. What they want, or at any rate feel obliged to demand—and politicians in India, like politicians in this country, often demand more than they want—is more rapid Indianisation. I base this opinion largely upon a report of what took place in the Legislative Council of the Presidency of Madras—my old
Presidency. I see that they debated the Report of the Lee Commission and, by a majority of thirty-nine to eleven, voted against the Report of the Commission, but one and all made it clear that they did not mean to deprive British officers of redress. That was not at all their object, and I think one can generalise from that debate in Madras.
§ What do the Provincial officers ask for? Simply for similar treatment to that which it is proposed to accord to their colleagues, and that is a competence in India and on retirement, security as regards pay, prospects, allowances and pension. I will not go into details. It is merely a matter of oversea allowances to take the place of exchange compensation, the right to remit that oversea allowance at two shillings to the rupee, and a limited number of free passages. How can that to given to them? The original proposal was that all those officers should be reappointed by the Secretary of State so that it would be in his competence to give them the benefit of the Lee Commission. That proposal has not been found possible and has been ruled out, and there remains a simple amendment of the Government of India Act very similar to the amendment included in the Bill which was before your Lordships last week. That is the way in which it could be done.
§ And what would it cost? I am not in any position to estimate exactly, but I can say this very positively, that it would be only a comparatively triflng addition to the crore of rupees which is to be provided for the relief of the Indian Civil Service and the Central and All-India Services. Fewer than two hundred men are affected throughout the whole length and breadth of India. Opinions differ. Some think the number is not more than a hundred, and others say it is rather under two hundred; but, anyhow, the numbers are steadily diminishing and, what is more, they cannot possibly be increased, because the officers I am referring to are only those who were appointed prior to 1920. Futher, anything that is spent on giving them relief will be productive expenditure, so far as recruiting is concerned—that recruiting about which the Secretary of State is so rightly anxious, and was speaking about last week. So you will be repaid ten times over.999
§ You cannot make a differentiation between the Superior Services and the Provincial Services, so far as British officers arc concerned. If you do not remove the grievances of all you will not in any way do away with that anxiety and distrust which are felt by all those who might be tempted to embrace an Indian career. I earnestly hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State will be able to tell us that, in consequence of his consultations with the Government of India and also with the Local Governments—because he was good enough to inform me that he been in direct communication with them—the uncovenanted officers who have been transferred, without their consent, to the Provincial Services are going to be treated in the same way as the other uncovenanted officers who have been posted to the All-India and Central Services. If the Secretary of State could give us some such assurance, i can promise him that it will relieve a great deal of painful anxiety and uncertainty, which exists among some of the best of our fellow-countrymen who are serving now in India.
§ Some years ago a remark was made to me that at that time sounded curious—namely, that the only unrest in India which was of any real consequence was the unrest among the British officers. Whoever made that remark was undoubtedly gifted with very wise prescience, for that is the situation which has arisen. That, indeed, was the whole burden of the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead, last Wednesday—that it was the unrest and discontent among the British officers which was causing him more anxiety than anything else. Anything that can be done to relieve that unrest will certainly help us in our difficult task in India at the present time.
I am going to move for Papers, and I should like to say that they are very definite Papers for which I am hoping. There are, first of all, the petitions of the Provincial officers concerned. I know that there were such petitions, and, in consequence of those petitions, there were communications from the present Secretary of State and his predecessors to the Local Governments and to the Government of India. I dare say there have also been other communications. Parliament has a right to see these documents and communications, and it is the duty of mem-
bers of both Houses to acquaint themselves with their purport. I make that statement with the support of a very high authority—that of no less a person than a former Secretary of State. I am relying on remarks that were made by the noble Viscount, Lord Peel, in July of last year. The noble Viscount, after pointing out the fallacies that had resulted from the misuse of the term "Superior Services" and from oblivion of the actual circumstances in which these British officers had recently been relegated, without their consent, to the inferior Provincial Service, said:
After all, the present position of these men was brought about by the direct action of Parliament in passing the Act of 1919. and Parliament cannot divest, itself of its responsibility.
I hope, therefore, that the Papers which explain that responsibility will be made available for the information of all members of your Lordships' House, and also of the House of Commons. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That an Humble Address be presented to His Majesty for the following Papers, namely: Correspondence between the Secretary of State for India and the Government of India and the Provincial Governments in regard to the complaints made by British officers of the Provincial Services on account of the omission of the Lee Commission to make any recommendation for the redress of their grievances.—(Lord Ampthill.)
§ LORD OLIVIER
My Lords, I had not intended, when I came into the House, to say anything upon this Motion, because it is one in which I considered that I had taken no responsible action whatever. But the noble Lord has asked that communications which have passed between the noble Earl's predecessors—I presume he meant myself—and the Government of India might be laid before your Lordships' House. I wish to say that, if any such communications did pass, I have not the slightest objection to their being laid. But my mind is entirely blank as regards any such communications having passed between myself and the Government of India. The question of the uncovenanted Services was outside the scope of this Commission. When Lord Lee came home he told me in conversation that the representatives of these Services had ap- 1001 proached him, and laid their case before him, and that he had expressed certain opinions of his own upon the subject in a sympathetic sense, and certain opinions were also expressed in a sympathetic sense by other members of the Commission. I do not think I am violating any confidence in saying that.
The matters which came officially before me for settlement while I was Secretary of State did not include the question of the uncovenanted Services. All that I as Secretary of State, with the assistance of the strong India Office Committee that I appointed, dealt with were matters directly arising out of the Report of the noble Viscount, Lord Lee. I remember that the claims of these officers were called attention to, either in this House or possibly in a letter to myself by the noble Viscount, Lord Peel.
§ LORD OLIVIER
I thought so, but no reply was given by me on that occasion, and no official decision was come to by my advisers or myself in that connection. I believe that no official communication or interchanges took place on the subject.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, I wish to support, as strongly as I can, the case which has been so ably and so emphatically presented to the House by my noble friend. The Services to which he referred, and which have been called the uncovenanted Services, may be thought to be of a subordinate character and of subordinate importance. That is not so. These Services touch the lives of the poorest people in India at every point, and these Services are an integral part of the great machine of government which our forefathers constructed, and which we used to tend and try to improve until the blight of the reforms fell upon India. On these Services the welfare, the comfort, and the happiness and contentment of the people depend in greater or less degree. And yet they seem to have been ignored when the Lee Commission undertook to make their recommendations. But if the British officers in these Services tend to dwindle away, then there will be widespread corruption in a very short time.
By the last mail I received a letter from an able, educated Indian who had 1002 had a curious personal experience, which he described. Speaking of a "key" Service, the Medical Service, he said—I have nothing to complain of against the I.M.S. officers whose conduct is admirable and true to the British salt; they are trying their level best to do their duty. Being hardly cognisant of the faults of the subordinate medical staff they cannot be expected to redress any grievance. On the other hand, there is a vast gulf of difference between the honesty of motive and straightforwardness of character of the typical British I.M.S. officer and the intriguing type of the Indian Medical men. Of course, every rule has an exception, but the black sheep form a majority in the Indian staff. In his eagerness to have his coffers filled he stoops to any level, unmindful of the real needs of the patient. It is only the man who is financially able to feed the greedy appetite of the Indian Assistant Surgeon that is attended to in the hospital, while many belonging to the poorer classes undergo innumerable sufferings from want of proper attention as regards diet or medicine.That shows what can happen if British superintendence is insufficient and, though that applies only to the Medical Services, it has a wide application throughout India. It is perfectly right that Indianisation should gradually proceed and that was happening even in my time before I left India, but I think we should remember that there must be far more than 300,000,000 Indians who have never asked for any Indianisation, who have never been consulted in the matter, and who are now beginning vaguely to understand what Indianisation on too great a scale means to their rights.
Then there, are some branches of administration which certainly do not suit the eastern genius. Again, and this is most important, the methods of selection for Government officers which might succeed in the West may fail and do fail entirely in the East. It is sad to think that the outstanding result of the reforms has been the death of more than 11,000 Indians, mostly quite harmless people if the agitators had not been allowed to incite them to violence, and many of them very nice people indeed. Most of these unfortunates would have been alive to-day had India been governed during the last few years. But the direct result of the reforms, as the noble and learned Earl feels, may be far more important to the future progress of India, and as he, I know, understands there is a danger that the great and the small Services 1003 alike may crumble away. The appointment of the Lee Commission was the recognition of the fact that there was this danger, and it exhibited a tardy effort to restore the Services before they had gone too far.
Unless British supervision and guidance, and guidance of the best kind, is amply maintained, India will rapidly fall back and tend towards chaos. The majority of the latest inquiring body in India has told us that the progress of the work which ameliorates the conditions of the people is being already hampered. If this backward movement goes further, what will happen? We shall certainly before long have to decide whether we are to clear out of India altogether or whether we are to govern. If the withering of the public Services goes on in small and great Services alike we shall certainly find that it will be impossible to govern and that the great machine that has been set up in India will no longer be able to work. Mr. Das, of whom perhaps we hear too much nowadays, has the merit of complete consistency. As I remember, he declared from the very first that he meant to turn us out of India and for that end he has been working ever since and will continue to work, and he has at the present time skilled assistance from Bolshevist emissaries in India.
I most humbly suggest to the noble and learned Earl that the time has come to consider only the welfare of the people of India, and no longer to make gestures or to give more concessions to a very small and irreconcilable minority. If the noble Earl will think first, last and always of the welfare of the masses of India for which we are wholly responsible, he can help to give back peace and progress to India before it is too late. If he does that, he will at least leave his mark on the lives of 315,000,000 people whose fate now lies in the hands of a Conservative Government.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOE INDIA (THE EARL OF BIRKENHEAD)
My Lords, my first duty must be to thank the noble Lord who moved for the courtesy and the patience with which, over a considerable period of time, he delayed asking the Question and making the Motion which he has asked and made to-day. He was considerate enough to 1004 recognise that in a matter of some complication it would not be reasonable to expect that, immediately after assuming the responsibilities of this office, I should be in a position to answer his Question. While neither making nor, indeed, feeling any grievance in regard to the fact that it is asked before the imminent visit of the Viceroy had rendered personal discussion of this and other matters practicable, I would add that it would have been more satisfactory to me had I been able to make this statement after such full discussions had taken place between us.
The noble Lord was careful to remember that this was a matter which I inherited from my predecessors. My immediate predecessor inherited it from my noble friend Lord Peel, and my noble friend reminds me, quite rightly, that he, in his turn, inherited the difficulty from the days of Mr. Montagu. I could see that the noble Lord who moved was a little astonished that the matter had not been placed before the Lee Commission. There were arguments upon which a decision to include this matter in those referred to the Commission could have been based; but there was one very powerful argument against it. Your Lordships have not forgotten the pressure that there was from all sides to receive an early Report from the Lee Commission. That Commission, after immense labours, only just succeeded in dealing with the more limited reference before the hot weather began, and if my noble friend who sits behind me had added to their labours by this very complicated subject, I very greatly doubt whether the whole matter, with unfortunate consequences, would not have been delayed for another year.
The question which has been raised in this Motion, or rather in the interrogation, is one of very great difficulty indeed, and I should be unwilling that any one of your Lordships should suppose that I do not recognise that there are here hard cases, some of which undoubtedly require considerate examination and every effort that can be effectively taken to provide a remedy. I must, I think, examine the position, not indeed at great length but a little, carefully because, as the noble Lord who moved quite justly said, there is some considerable misunderstanding as to the status of these people. First of all, I ought to say that the matter has 1005 received the close attention of the Local Governments, the Government of India and the Secretary of State in Council within the last few months. We have been, I will not say in constant, but in frequent communication with the Government of India and, if my memory serves me, the matter has been more than once considered by my Council at our weekly meetings.
The problem is the position of officers of European descent serving under Provincial Governments in India either in special posts or in the regular Provincial Services, but not in the so-called All-India Services. They do not ordinarily have the special rights which the members of the All-India Services enjoy in virtue of the fact that they were appointed by the Secretary of State in Council. Of these rights the most important are the protection of their salaries (and of all their emoluments if the Bill which is now before Parliament passes into law) from the vote of the Legislatures of India and the right of appeal to the Secretary of State, and the freedom from dismissal by any other authority than the Secretary of State.
The officers in question may for the present purpose be divided into three categories. First, a few holding special posts under Local Governments who were appointed and sent out from this country before 1919. These officers enjoy the special rights which I have just mentioned, in virtue of the fact that they were appointed by the Secretary of State in Council. Their position is, therefore, secure, and they need not be further considered. In the second place, a large number of men have been appointed in India who, at the time of their appointment, represented that they had an Indian domicile, which was in many cases necessary to make them eligible. These men, in so far as they obtained their appointments on the ground of Indian domicile, cannot afterwards very plausibly claim the advantages of European domicile, and they, too, as it seems to me, do not form the most difficult cases which require decision.
In the third place, there remains a comparatively small minority who, though appointed in India, were unquestionably of European domicile. Some of these are to be found in special Departments such as the Madras Survey and Bombay Salt 1006 Departments, but many are probably ex-warrant officers, and N.C.O.s who took up posts in India on retiring from the Army. As the noble Lord has well said, these are a very reliable and very meritorious class of men. If I understood him aright, it was about these men that the noble Lord most concerned himself. I have said that the problem is not easy, but if it can be limited—and perhaps it can—to those who were recruited before the effects of the reform scheme were known, it becomes easier to defend taking special measures which might possibly otherwise be criticised as inconsistent with some of the features of that scheme as being for a limited class and a limited period only.
It will have been observed that in the Civil Services Bill now before Parliament, protection of emoluments against the vote of the Indian Legislatures is afforded to any person appointed before April 1, 1924, by the Governor-General in Council or by the Local Government to Services or posts classified by Rules under the Act as Superior Services or posts. This obviously confers a very important right on any person in the service of the Local Government whose posts can be classified as superior, and Local Governments will be invited to review the position most carefully with a view to drawing up for my sanction suitable classification Rules, and I will consider taking the advice of the Joint Standing Committee of Parliament on them before they are actually made.
Another question of the first importance is the right of appeal to the Secretary of State. It may, I think, be taken for granted that this right will be conferred on, if it is not now enjoyed by, any person appointed before April 1, 1924, who holds a post which would be classified as superior, and, if necessary, consideration will have to be given to the question as to whether it is practicable to extend this right somewhat further. The right of appeal to the Secretary of State will derive an added importance from the clause in the Bill now before Parliament which withdraws from the vote of the Indian Legislatures any sum payable to a person under an order of the Secretary of State made on an appeal to him in pursuance of Rules under the Act.
1007 There will undoubtedly remain a number of persons of European descent serving under the Local Governments who will not hold posts which could conceivably be classed as superior, to whom it will not be practicable to grant the right of appeal to the Secretary of State. There would be no method of conferring this privilege upon them without assuming a degree of control from Whitehall of the Indian Services which has never been exercised in the history of our rule in India, or else giving special right to Europeans qua Europeans, although appointed in India, denied to Indians in the same Service, appointed by the same authority, and otherwise serving under precisely similar conditions. I am not prepared to adopt—and I am sure that Parliament would not approve if I did—a measure involving racial discrimination of this character. Such officers must look to the Governor, who is specially charged with the protection of the Services, and to the Public Service Acts which Local Governments are being invited to bring into force. I am not aware of any evidence that Local Governments will not properly discharge their responsibility in this sphere.
I have hitherto been dealing with the protection of salaries from the vote of the Legislatures and the right of appeal to the Secretary of State, which are perhaps the most important aspects of the problem, but there are two other points on which I must say a word, although I am not yet in a position to announce any final decision. The first is the question of granting financial relief more or less on the lines of that adopted for the officers covered by the Report of the Lee Commission, and the second is the grant of the right to retire on proportionate pension.
As regards financial relief, the Government of India consider that there is no general case for the grant of concessions of this character to the Indian recruited Services generally. There may, however, be special cases in which this would be justified; for example, the posts and Services that may be classed as superior might have a claim to enjoy some at any rate of the Lee Commission concessions, and a systematic examination to this end will be undertaken. The determination of the posts in question is under the Statutory Rules as they stand a matter 1008 for the Local Governments, which means, in the case of persons serving in Transferred Departments, the Governor acting with the Ministers. Except in the case of proved necessity there would be, in my view, no justification in now withdrawing this power to fix pay. It will, of course, remain the duty of the Secretary of State to keep in close touch with the measures adopted by the various Local Governments, but I have no doubt but that they will exercise their discretion wisely.
As regards proportionate pensions, no case has yet been made out to satisfy me that a general right to retire prematurely on special rates of pensions can properly be given to officers who have entered the service of Provincial Governments. The one obvious line of division is between Provincial officers appointed by the Secretary of State in Council and those not so appointed. It is essential to draw a line somewhere, because every servant of Government in India has a formal claim that his position was affected by the Act of 1919. In the case of officers appointed by the Secretary of State in Council, there will, I think, be a few individual cases of an exceptional character where a claim to proportionate pension can be justified. In the case of officers not so appointed there may possibly, also, be a few very special cases, and I have asked the Government of India to consider the matter further.
The noble Lord will, I hope, recognise that, even if the answer which I have made be not completely satisfactory to him, at least a very real effort has been made in the comparatively short time in which I have been at the India Office, first, to appreciate the character of this problem, and, in the second place, to see whether some alleviation, even if a partial alleviation, may not be made practicable. If it will in any way reassure him further, I most gladly tell him that he may treat my speech to-day as tentative in its character. I am very glad to give him the assurance that I will very carefully place the considerations which he so plainly and temperately pressed upon your Lordships before, and I will enter upon a detailed discussion of this matter with, the Viceroy. In fact, I may inform the noble Lord that recently I sent a telegram to the Viceroy informing him of the subjects which I specially desired to 1009 discuss with him and this matter occupied a very foremost place in the list of those subjects.
I do not know whether in those circumstances the noble Lord would wish to move, but I am not averse, so far as I understand the Papers for which he asks, from agreeing to the Motion. I notice that the noble Lord includes correspondence in regard to the complaints made by British officers of the Provincial Services on account of their omission from the Lee Commission Report. The noble Lord has enough Parliamentary experience to know that I am not binding myself without looking at the particular correspondence to publish the whole of it; some of it may be of a private and confidential character. But perhaps he will accept this assurance, that I will undertake that every Paper of the kind he asks for shall be published which in the public interest may properly be published?
Your Lordships will forgive me if I do not deal to-day with the very interesting, but much more general, observations made by Lord Sydenham. He brings a constant attention and industry to bear upon the consideration of Indian matters in this House. The subject matter over which he travelled, though briefly, was so commensurate with the whole area of Indian political difficulty at this moment that he will allow me to select some more convenient occasion to deal with topics of so wide an importance.
§ LORD AMPTHILL
My Lords, there is an old saying that "half a loaf is better than no bread," and that is the view I take of the statement which we have had from the Secretary of State. It is satisfoctory to me to hear that he is prepared to lay the correspondence, and I understand that that correspondence must be of the kind which is suitable for publication and which is ordinarily published in Parliamentary Papers. That will be something. It was a ray of hope to me to hear that the remarks he has made this evening are only tentative. I quite understand that he cannot give a definite decision in view of the impending visit of the Viceroy, and the necessity that he should not lose an opportunity of discussing a matter of so much importance with the Viceroy personally.
1010 I only want to make two more remarks. I confess quite frankly that I was unable to follow the whole of the statement made by the noble and learned Earl. What I did realise was that it travelled far beyond the small claim I made on behalf of a handful of British officers in India. And if I did not completely understand the statement of the Secretary of State, it is quite certain that he did not fully understand the drift of my contention. I make no complaint of that; it would be impossible for any one who has only had a few months in which to deal with the tremendous complications of Indian administration to grasp a detail of it which, as I admit, is becoming exceedingly confusing even to those who have some familiarity with Indian administrative work.
The misunderstanding I want to point out is this. The noble and learned Earl seemed to think that I was making a claim on behalf of officers who had their positions on the ground that they had Indian domicile. I made it clear that my claim was only made on behalf of British officers with a non-Asiatic domicile who had their appointments before the reforms. My claim was solely on behalf of that category. There is another misunderstanding about the Superior Services. The noble and learned Earl says that any one in the Superior Services had a right of appeal to him. My whole complaint was that some of these officers who ought to have been classified as Superior Service officials, as they belonged to the one uncovenanted Service from which the officers of the Central and All-India Services were taken, have not got that right of appeal. All this bother has arisen because the Lee Commission did not realise that the term "Superior Service" should, and did, actually cover all the uncovenanted Services prior to 1920. I express with great diffidence my hope that when the Secretary of State has been able to see my few remarks in print he will be able to take a view of this question which will be more hopeful to those on whose behalf I have been pleading. I am much obliged to him for his undertaking to lay Papers.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.