HL Deb 28 July 1926 vol 65 cc291-323

LORD OLIVIER had given Notice to ask the Secretary of State for India to give this House information on such aspects of Indian affairs as he may consider to be of general and immediate public interest., and in particular with regard to the apparent diminution in some quarters and recent exacerbation in others of turbulent or unconstitutional manifestations of popular feeling.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I placed this Notice upon the Paper some months ago for the simple purpose of enabling your Lordships to receive, as you are always anxious to receive, from the Secretary of State his account of the fortunes of that Dependency during the last twelve months, and I included in my Question some of the subjects in which I thought that your Lordships would be interested. In addition to those subjects I have privately given notice to the noble Earl of one or two other points upon which I shall be very glad if he will give us some information. I read the statement that was made in another place by the Under-Secretary of State for India and I did not see in that statement any reference to our relations with the Kingdom of Afghanistan or to the difficulties which are continually confronting us with regard to the frontier tribes between India and that country.

I shall be very glad if the noble Earl can tell us how our relations with the Amir are proceeding with regard to those difficult questions of the allegiance and employment of the frontier tribes about which we have had constant correspondence with him, desiring, as we do, to retain their loyalty to us whilst not interfering with their occasional employment in Afghanistan. The position of these tribes is well known to your Lordships. There is continual unrest among them and a continual disposition to seek employment and a means of livelihood outside their own country and, owing to that economic fact, difficulties arise both on our side and on the side of Afghanistan. In that connection I notice that this point is referred to in a Notice that has been given by the noble Earl, Lord Mayo, with regard to the establishment of our hold upon that part of the country by the building of roads. This is a point to which the noble Earl in another place did not refer, and upon which I think that your Lordships would be interested to have some information.

Another point which I gave the noble Earl private Notice of my intention to raise concerns the administration of Indian gaols. In August last I called his attention to that subject in connection with a case that had arisen in which a charge was made against the administration of Indian gaols and which became the subject of a judicial decision. The noble Earl, in replying to me upon that subject, said that the Government of the Punjab, on the publication of the article containing charges against the administration of Indian gaols, ordered an investigation by the Inspector-General of Prisons, and that inquiry reported that the allegations were without foundation and were false. The Government thereupon were advised that a suit should be brought, and the gaoler in the case brought a suit which was filed in the Court of the Sub-Judge claiming damages, and the Local Government bore the cost of the suit. On the whole, judgment was in favour of the defendant, and an appeal was entered, again at the cost of the Government, and the noble Earl could not give us further information as to the costs of the case at that time.

I urged that some general inquiry should be made by the Government of India into the administration of gaols and I have learned that since that time a much more searching inquiry has been made by a Commission appointed for the purpose. The Report has been published and I have seen a copy of it. No doubt the Secretary of State for India has also seen it, and I think he will agree with me that the facts with regard to the administration of gaols revealed in that Report, contrary to the impression conveyed by the Report of the Inspector-General, is exceedingly scandalous. I have no doubt it will receive the attention of the Government of India as well as of the Government of the Punjab. What I wish to know is whether that Report has been brought to the attention of the noble Earl, and if he can assure your Lordships that careful attention will be drawn, not only in the Punjab but in the rest of India, to the fact that scandals are proved to be prevailing in the Punjab precisely of the kind alleged in the Report—an organised system of corruption of the lower ranks of the prison administration whereby practically any prisoner whose relations would pay for him, would get anything he desired except, possibly, female society, while those persons who did not submit to blackmail were subjected to punishments. I have no doubt whatever that those matters will receive most careful attention, but I trust we shall have a further assurance that there will be a further general inquiry into the rest of the administration the gaols.

I have read a statement made by the noble Lord in another place with regard to the Akali disturbances. Two or three years ago the condition of things in the Punjab with regard to the Akali disturbances was most unsatisfactory, and as the late Leader of the House, Lord Curzon, observed, when I brought matters to his notice in this House:— …it is evident there must have been regrettable mismanagement somewhere to have brought about a state of affairs in which you have bodies of Sikh fanatics marching about the country and having to be shot down because they are resisting the legitimate decrees of Government. All of us who have taken an interest in Indian affairs note with great satisfaction that recently there appear to have been none of these unfortunate conflicts between the Akali Sikhs and the Government which we were accustomed to hear of nearly every month two or three years ago. Seeing that the previous state of affairs was credited to mismanagement, we ought to be satisfied that affairs in the Punjab are now being administered in an efficient manner, and we ought to be glad of that fact. The noble Earl said that the final condition of affairs was at present satisfactory but that the Sikhs were disputing among themselves with a certain amount of liveliness as to how their differences were to be settled. I hope he will be able to tell us that the liveliness is not at all likely to break out again in practical action, such as occurred in the Punjab previously, and has occurred in other parts of India, arising out of religious differences.

In connection with matters which have interested your Lordships in former debates I shall be glad if he can give us information with regard to the upshot of the operation of what is known as the Bengal Ordinance, where special powers are given to the Government to deal with the organisation of anarchic crime. We have not heard lately of any recrudescence of that crime, and I shall be glad if he will give us a statement as to how that Ordinance has worked—whether there has been recently any necessity to take further action under it, and whether, among those persons who were interned or imprisoned under it, it has been found possible to release any number on giving satisfactory assurances.

Then I come to the question of the disturbances about which we have heard a good deal lately in the Press—disturbances arising largely out of antagonism between the Moslem and Hindu communities. Those reports come to us in the Press in a manner which does not convey very much real information as to their significance and origin. We are told there was an organised band which attacked a Hindu procession, or that the Hindus organised a disturbance in front of a mosque. I wish the noble Earl would give us, if he is able to do so, some deeper diagnosis of what is really the origin of these disturbances. We had in this House yesterday an interesting little commentary on the question of riots in connection with the Criminal Justice (Increase of Penalties) Bill, and it was pointed out that a riot in English law is really analysable into three processes—unlawful assembly, then rout, and then riot. I want to go back to the origin and cause of the riot. Where is the unlawful assembly? Where are these things concerted, and by what instigation? There is some kind of understanding that a disturbance shall take place, which results in a body of persons with long staves appearing in the streets, prepared to beat any one belonging to an opposing faction. I wish to know if the noble Earl has any information as to the sources of the disturbances.

Are they religious and proselytising or are they political, aimed at destroying members of the electorate of the opposition? Or are they of a wider character? That is to say, are they really disturbances got up for the purpose of criminal disorder, for the purpose of creating disorder in which there can be robbery or old grudges can be paid off?—because I have seen some indications in the communications from India that the Government of India are taking the view that there is now in Calcutta a large body of rather turbulent, disorderly and criminal people, who flock in from the country, prepared for any kind of disorder and disturbance. Therefore it seems possible that those are the three sources of the instigation of these riots and I shall be glad if the noble Earl has been able to discern and diagnose in what respect those various causes contribute. I will say no more upon the question of disturbances. I have indicated the points on which I shall be very glad if we can have information.

Finally, the noble Earl will, I hope, be able to tell us something with regard to what I may call strictly the political situation. When the noble Earl last addressed your Lordships on the subject of India he made a very straightforward and in my opinion a very proper and liberal statement of his position with regard to the constitutional questions. I had urged that the Government should take into consideration at an early date, in view of the Report of the Muddiman Committee, the question whether the Constitution could not be made more workable, because it was obvious on the face of it that there were elements of that Constitution which really it was almost impossible to work for the purposes for which, and in the spirit in which, it was unquestionably designed. My colleagues in the late Government and myself, in all the public utterances and writings which we have given vent to on this subject, have invariably taken the view that although there might be unsatisfactory features in the. Montagu-Chelmsford Constitution the best policy for the Nationalist Party in India was to go in and make the best of them, that by doing so they would be able to use the existing Constitution for such purposes as it could be used for, and that bona fide co-operation in its working would be the best demonstration and the best test of those elements in which it was really defective and unworkable.

In response to that the noble Earl said that the question of the further consideration of this matter was entirely open, but that for his part he urged that there should be responsive co-operation and that the best service which Indian Nationalists could do to their country was to co-operate responsibly in working the present Constitution. That was a perfectly fair demand to make. I should be very glad if the noble Earl can tell us whether there has really been any material response to that and whether he sees in the present situation any signs of encouragement that the response will go on. That is the point upon which I should be glad if he can give us some information. I am not moving for Papers. I have raised this Question simply for the pur- pose of eliciting information for your Lordships, and possibly others of your Lordships will contribute further inquiry upon subjects on which they desire information.


My Lords, the noble Lord, following his usual very courteous and I think very convenient practice, acquainted me with the particular questions upon which he desired information. I am therefore, as a preliminary to the few general observations that I shall find it proper to make, able to deal so far as I can with the inter-rogations which the noble Lord has put to me. First in the order of his questions I will place that which he addressed to me with reference to the coercive action taken against the Bengali terrorists. I have never concealed my view that the whole country, and indeed the Empire, owes a considerable debt to the Labour Government at the moment, when the noble Lord discharged the responsibility which I undertake to-day for the courageous action which, acting in concert with the late Viceroy, Lord Reading, they undertook. I inherited that policy from the noble Lord as hereditas perhaps damnosa, but certainly necessary, and I have attempted in this particular matter to carry on the policy which the noble Lord bequeathed to me and in the wisdom of which I was, and am, entirely acquiescent.

I will now give the noble Lord the information on that point for which he asks. At the end of 1924 there had been made 46 arrests under the Regulation of 1818 and 65 under the Ordinance of 1924. Pram that date up to June 30, 1926, there have been 42 further arrests, of which one was under the Regulation and the rest were under the Ordinance or the Act which continued the Ordinance. Nineteen of these were made after October 1 last year. The noble Lord is naturally anxious to know how these 153 captives have been treated, and I will give that information. Of the 47 State prisoners under the Regulation, 31 have been transferred to detention under the Ordinance—a step which I know meets with the approval of the noble Lord, and which was taken so that they might be domiciled in villages instead of being confined in gaols. The remaining 16 are still in prison. I have, therefore, to account for 137 prisoners under the Ordinance and the Act of 1925, that is to say, 65 arrested in 1924, 41 arrested later, and 31 transferred from being State prisoners. Of these, only 59 are now in gaol; 54 are required to live in specified villages other than their own homes; 12 are obliged to live in their own homes; 9 have been released: one killed himself; and two have been convicted of ordinary offences under the law and are undergoing normal sentences. There were thus on June 30 of this year 125 persons remaining under control under the Act of 1925.

I may be told—though I doubt whether I shall be told from any responsible source—that nine releases are very few. But I have to remind the House that within the period covered by the brief survey I have attempted there have been many incidents which must make any Government cautious in its decisions. Some members of the conspiracy have been discovered in possession of a technically very complete apparatus for forging currency notes, others have been convicted of dealing in smuggled weapons with Chinamen—a purpose which seems remote from any legitimate aspirations; nine of them were convicted of conspiracy and the possession, for purposes of that conspiracy in or near Calcutta, of revolvers, cartridges, bombs, and chemicals; and a tenth, an associate of the nine, of being concerned in importing arms from overseas. These ten men after conviction, in the Alipur Gaol, murdered a police officer who had done special service in fighting this terror. As long as I discharge these responsibilities I am not, in the face of these facts, much moved by criticisms of my conduct in hesitating to release or advise the release of men belonging to such associations.

But the Government of India has throughout, in my judgment, exhibited in this matter every quality of reasonableness. It has shown itself ready to use clemency whore clemency is safe. It has, for instance, lately remitted the remainder of the sentence on five men convicted in the years 1913 and 1916 of offences committed under the direction of these same organisations, and the only condition attached to the remission was that the convicts should keep clear of the terrorist movement and report imme- diately to authority any attempt made to draw them into it. Moreover, I think I ought to add that seven of the nine releases have been made in the three months from February to April of this year and the process of transfer from gaols to villages is always in progress. It is, therefore, I think quite clear, and will be so to the noble Lord, that each case is under constant examination and that detention is not extended beyond the time and the degree required. I have only to add upon this particular matter that the present Viceroy is fully acquainted with my views in this matter and will, I am sure, take such action or make such inquiries or proposals as may seem to his Government to be desirable and not to be dangerous to the public.

I will deal next with the question which the noble Lord put to me with reference to the Sikh disturbances. The prolonged struggle over the management of Sikh gurdwaras, which had at one time the unfortunate effect of putting a large body in that community in open strife with the Government, has at last been terminated, we may hope, by the enactment of a law passed without any opposition for controlling Sikh endowments and religious property in the Punjab. So far as I can judge at this distance from the scene, only a few irreconcilables are still fighting against the will of their leaders, being bent on keeping the grievance open and preventing the peace which might be expected to follow the settlement and the release, upon promise of co-operation, of almost all the men who were under trial for their acts of lawlessness during the agitation. We may, therefore, I feel sure, safely congratulate the Governor of the Province on the success with which he and his officers have contributed to this happy ending, if I am not too sanguine in seeing in the restoration of order an end of the crisis which has occasioned great anxiety not only to the Government of India but to the Government of this country.

Now I approach a graver topic to which the noble Lord has specifically requested my attention. It is that of the outbreak of renewed communal disturbance in an embittered and violent form in so many different parts of India. It would indeed be true to say that this recrudescence has been the most marked circumstance to which I ought to draw attention now, twelve months almost to a week since I last addressed your Lordships upon the general topic of Indian affairs. When I made my first speech as Secretary of State there was no alarming situation so far as the bitterness of communal disturbance was concerned, and quite other topics engaged almost the whole of the speech to which I found it necessary to ask the attention of your Lordships. In the last twelve months undoubtedly there has been a renewal in the bitterest form of disturbances, violence and bloodshed, which must always occasion the deepest anxiety to those who are charged with the responsibility for order and good government in India.

The noble Lord invited me to a somewhat profound and difficult analysis of this topic. I will certainly not refuse as far as I can, though fully conscious of its difficulties, to afford to the noble Lord any assistance which it is in my power to give in the researches which he has recently made upon this subject. But, if I sought for hours by every ingenuity of speech of which I could make myself the master to explain what is fundamental in British policy upon this matter, I could not equal or in any way attempt to discharge my task so completely as by citing the famous passage from Queen Victoria's Proclamation on the assumption, in 1858, of the Government of India by the Crown—a great and memorable moment. If your Lordships will be so patient, the passage is not long and I will read it, because it is expressive of the spirit and the only spirit in which the government of India, in so far as it duties are undertaken in this country, is approached:— Firmly relying Ourselves on the truth of Christianity, and acknowledging with gratitude the solace of Religion, We disclaim alike the Right and the Desire to impose Our Convictions on any of Our Subjects. We declare it to be Our Royal Will and Pleasure that none be in any wise favoured, none molested or disquieted by Reason of their Religions Faith or Observances, but that all shall alike enjoy the equal and impartial protection of the Law: and We do strictly charge and enjoin all those who may be in authority under Us that they abstain from all interference with the Religious Belief or Worship of any of Our Subjects on pain of our highest Displeasure. That alone was, and is, the high purpose with which those who have responsibility in the Government of India and those who have responsibility in this country approached what surely has front time to time proved one of the most difficult problems which in the East have ever baffled and perplexed Western civilisation

An observation falls to be made upon the circumstance that it should have been found necessary to make these matters so plain seventy years ago. Its inclusion in the Proclamation reminds us that seventy years ago, no less than to-day, the possibility of antagonism based upon differences of religious view was one of the live and formidable issues which the Administration of that date had to face, for the disclaimer in the first sentence of the passage which I have road (though no doubt fears had been expressed of an official proselytising Christianity and, indeed, were in part the cause of the Mutiny) was not the main, and certainly not the most important, purpose of the announcement; but it was nevertheless thought prudent to explain what was the view taken by the British Government of that day on these matters.

Having regard to the fact that on the Continent of Europe even toleration is a plant of comparatively recent, and not even yet of too robust a growth, it would be astonishing if it were a well-established rule of life in India, where, moreover, it must constantly be remembered, the conflict lies, not as it has lain in Europe through the centuries between doctrinally separated sects of the followers of Christ, but between the adherents of two fundamentally different and in many respects opposite systems of religion, whose religious differences practically—and this is the gravity of the point—are conterminous with racial differences.

The superficial grounds for friction between the Hindu and the Moslem in the practice of their respective rites are obvious and well known. It is sufficient for us only to mention the duty enjoined at certain festivals to engage in animal sacrifices, with a particular preference for the sacrifice of oxen, and to contrast this with the Hindu's passionate conviction of the sanctity of that animal and the unutterable sacrilege involved in causing its violent death. Or you may take the Hindu's duty to worship idols and contrast it with the Moslem abhorrence of any action or practice savouring of idolatry. Or again, you may examine the boisterous rites which form so conspicuous an element in much of the Hindu worship with the solemnity of Moslem prayer. Nor, indeed, can the Moslem be expected to forget that the Raj—which the British Raj displaced not so very long ago in the immemorial memories of the East—was a Moslem Raj, and that with the collapse of the Mogul Empire the followers of his creed in India have fallen, for reasons it would take me too long to analyse here. They have fallen from a condition of political domination to that of a minority which is at a clear disadvantage in the competitive struggle for existence under modern conditions not merely in the matter of numbers, but also, and more markedly, of efficiency in the political field. In the old days of paternal administration, when the British Government was in fact as in name the father and the mother of its Indian subjects, this status of the backward child caused the Moslem no great concern. He was content to trust to parental impartiality to see that he received reasonable treatment the Hindu quickly realised that an happen to him when, if ever, the state of pupilage came to an end had not emerged in his mind into the field of practical polities.

In these conditions religious or communal antagonisms have always been one of the causes which have tended to lead to riots or to mob violence in India and, naturally, the tendency has been greatest on those occasions when the revolutions of the Moslem calendar have brought together into one season the chief feast and fast of the two creeds—a condition which happily only recurs at intervals of about thirty years—or, again, when Hindu marriage processions, with their attendant music, happen to collide with Moslem mourning processions or even disturb Moslem worshippers in their mosques; or, again, when the Hindus of a village have combined to endeavour to prevent the cow sacrifices of the Bakr-Id.

Although during the last forty years there have been several occasions on which Hindu-Moslem conflicts have been on a serious scale leading to a consider- able loss of life, it is on the whole true to say that until the last five years their occurrence has been sporadic and, with one exception, probably fortuitous. And when I say fortuitous in this connection, I mean not the result of organisation. The exception which I have in my mind was the serious cow-killing riots of 1893 in the eastern districts of the United Provinces and in Bihar, which seem to have been due, if you examine their intensity and scope, to propaganda of the curious native-Indian kind which has sometimes, though rarely, proved to be recurrent in Indian history. If I may make my summary of this period complete, I would say that the Pax Britannica and the watchful care of the police and magistracy were, in co-operation, adequate to keep in check the mob-violence which proceeded from this particular cause no less than that which proceeded from the other chief cause for organised violence in India—disputes about the ownership of land.

Such was the condition of affairs in this matter, as I read the history of the period, until the War; though even before the War signs had not been wanting that the Mahomedan had begun to realise, some years before 1914, that the political future of India was not static and that he could no longer afford to leave the political future of his own community to the care of chance and of a benevolent and unprejudiced Government Hitherto he had consistently declined to associate with the Congress, and indeed had held rather conspicuously aloof from political agitation of all kinds. But in 1906, with the Morley-Minto reforms looming into sight, he took the first steps towards forming his own Congress—the All-India Moslem League—and in October, 1906, a deputation of the principal men of the community, headed by the Aga Khan, obtained from Lord Minto an assurance that the Moslem community was entitled to separate representation on the Councils and, by reason of its political importance, to representation greater than mere numerical proportions could justify—a promise or admission, not to be disputed because it is indisputable, to which the community has grappled itself as to a sheet anchor ever since.

Two years of the War and of the Indian sacrifice of life and treasure involved were sufficient to produce in India, as they produced elsewhere, much ferment of ideas in men's minds, and when it was known that changes must be looked for in the system of government the Hindu quickly realised that an essential condition of successful political activity in this direction was that he should carry the Moslem with him in his demands. He realised, too, that this condition could not be secured unless the two communities could come to terms as to their respective claims to representation. Hence the much advertised "Lucknow Pact" of Christmas, 1916, which was an agreement between the All-India Congress Committee and the Committee of the All-India Moslem League to give Mahomedan minorities in certain Provinces enhanced representation in Legislatures and other elected bodies at the expense of the Mahomedan majorities in Bengal and the Punjab. Hence also the apparent agreement of advanced Hindu and Mahomedan opinion upon the Congress-League scheme of reform which was formulated as the demands of United India for political advance in almost the same month of the same year.

But the Lucknow Pact of 1916, like Mr. C. R. Das's more recent Bengal Pact, brought with it not peace but a sword. A few months sufficed to show that the Moslem League was not unanimous as to the soundness of the policy of furthering the agitation for Swaraj, and that the advanced section was far from representing general opinion in the League and still less general Moslem opinion outside it. The Pact was attacked from both sides—by Hindus as an unjustified surrender to Moslem obstinacy and by Moslems as a wholly inadequate recognition of their claims—while the attempts which the more advanced Moslem leaders had made to persuade their followers to abandon the sacrifice of cattle (surely, I should have thought, a hopeless crusade) produced no response. Mean-while the fall of Baghdad in March, 1917, and other events in the War were greatly exercising Moslem opinion and providing material which the more extreme leaders were able subsequently to organise into what became known as the Khilafat movement.

In this tense state of opinion serious Hindu-Moslem riots occurred in September, 1917, in Bihar and the United Provinces, and again in March. 1918, when the outbreaks, within your Lordships' recollection, at Khartarpur and Shahbad Were exceptionally violent. In September, 1918, again there were serious Hindu-Moslem disturbances in Calcutta, where fire-arms proved to be necessary in the hands of the police to restore order. With the termination of the War the Moslems found renewed cause of anxiety in the Peace terms for which at that period the Turkish nation was agitating, while the future of the Moslem Holy Places and the Khilafat continued equally to be agitated. Within six months from the date of the Armistice the feelings of both communities were lacerated by the measures taken to suppress the Punjab disturbances of April, 1919.

This was the situation—and I thought it worth while somewhat laboriously to read this to you—which gave Gandhi and the Ali brothers their opportunity. For the next three and a half years the non-co-operation campaign, though it was accompanied by widespread disorder and considerable bloodshed, united the two communities against the Government and diverted them from attacks upon each other, though even during this period there were communal disturbances at Agra and Pilibit and in Rangoon in the year 1920. Early in 1922 Gandhi, whose influence, as I read the history of those days, had been on the wane for some months, was incarcerated, and in September of that year the Mahomedans made violent assaults upon the Hindus in Multan. Since then hardly a month has passed without the occurrence somewhere—and quite often at several places simultaneously—of serious trouble, each out-break of which, not excluding, of course, the appalling Moplah rebellion, has left an increasing legacy of bitterness and, among the less responsible elements, a determination for reprisal.

It would be tedious, even if it were possible within any margin of time open to me, to enumerate the various platforms upon which during the last three years the leaders of both communities have expressed their abhorrence of these occurrences, and their recognition of what is, after all, a plain truism, that their occurrence is an insuperable bar to future political progress. Yet, at the same time that these admissions have been made, responsible persons in both communities have been either fostering, or at all events not discouraging, a kind of militant revivalism on the part of their co-religionists, the first result of which is effectively to prevent any return to tolerance and harmony and which inevitably means reaction in the outlook of both communities. It is, in consequence, impossible to deny that the present state of communal relations is—to some extent which I cannot precisely define; but I make the affirmation quite plainly—connived in by the leaders of the two communities, and this circumstance involves a distinction as novel as it is sinister between the out-breaks of to-day and the outbreaks of the early period.

It would, therefore, in my judgment, be untrue, for the reasons that I have given, to deny all connection between the reforms and the present state of tension between Hindu and Moslem. But at the same time it is a grossly inadequate explanation to attribute it either to the existence of the reforms or to their nature. The historical sketch that I have hurriedly attempted should be sufficient to dispose of that conception. So far as a tangible cause can be assigned—attempting the analysis to which the noble Lord invited me—it is to be found in the general unsettlement of ideas and of material conditions which followed in the wake of the War and which gave—for good or for ill; who knows?—its final quietus to the system of paternal government which the British Government had carried to high perfection during the preceding half century, and which thereby led the component elements of the Indian population, Hindu and Moslem, Brahmin and non-Brahmin, landlord and tenant, outcast and caste-man, to take stock of their new position in relation to their neighbours, and to insist with growing and particular vehemence on their own rights and claims.

It is, no doubt, true that the system of communal representation upon which the present—as was the last—Indian electoral system is based tends to stereotype this particular line of cleavage, but there is not the slightest ground for the assertion that, had Parliament insisted, in the teeth of the violent opposition which would have been aroused, in framing the reforms of 1919 without that feature, the relations between Hindu and Moslem would have become more amicable than of late they have been. The strong probability, almost the certainty, is that they would have become much more violently embittered. One result of the democratic ideals disseminated in India as elsewhere as the outcome of the War—that vague and devastating post-War sentiment to which we owe so much disaster—was the realisation that the principle of majority rule has now to be reckoned with, and that in politics, as in warfare, victory tends to lie with the big battalions. To this, I am sure, is due the proselytising tendencies which both communities have so markedly shown during the past three years.

I regretted a little that the noble Lord—whose language has been so moderate in the years in which I have held this trust and whose attitude in this House and elsewhere has invariably been so helpful—should have used an expression which, unless I misunderstood him, indicated the view that there had been in the past years some partiality or predilection, on behalf either of the Government of India or the Government here—


May I interrupt? Is the noble Earl referring to anything that I said in my speech?


No, I was referring to a letter that the noble Lord wrote, and if the noble Lord tells me that the construction that I place upon it is wrong I will not add another word on the topic, because I do not desire—why should I?—to pursue it. I will tell the noble Lord quite plainly what I have in my mind. I read an interesting letter which the noble Lord contributed to The Times, and I certainly placed upon it this construction—and he will tell me whether I was right or wrong—that the Government of India or the Government here had in the past few years shown some partiality to the Moslem in this long rivalry which I have attempted historically to reconstruct to-day. I do not often make mistakes on such points, and I should be surprised if the noble Lord disputed the estimate that I have formed of the impression which he desired to give. I would assure your Lordships and the noble Lord that it really is not true. The noble Lord would certainly not advance the claim that, while he was Secretary of State for India, he showed any preference for the Moslems as against the Hindus. The noble Lord, so far as my information extends—and I have access to many documents—was scrupulously impartial between both communities, as was his duty. Nor, indeed, do I think that the noble Lord will charge against me, in anything that I have said or anything that I have done, any deviation from the same exact standard of impartiality.

Of this I am certain, that the noble Lord would be the last man in the world to say this of those who have been Viceroys through that time, of Lord Reading, whom we welcome here to-day in this House, and who discharged so many important duties and confronted so many great anxieties during his Vice-royalty. No one, I am sure—certainly not the noble Lord—would say of him that any such partiality was ever exhibited. As for the present Viceroy, whose elevated speech on these topics, couched in high and noble language, has made, I believe, a profound impression in India and breathed in every sentence the highest conceptions of idealism, which have run like a golden thread through the whole of our historic associations with this peninsula—certainly the noble Lord will not accuse him of that partiality.

I affirm plainly two things. In the first place, there never has been a moment when the Government of India has addressed itself to these difficult questions in any spirit except that of holding the scales equally, justly and impartially between the disputants. And I affirm in the second place—and this is not less important—that Moslems and Hindus alike realise this truth, and it may interest your Lordships to know—I give you no precise figures, though I could do so if time served—that over and over again, when there has been the gravest alarm because of the recrudescence of these outbreaks, both parties have approached the British authorities and asked that they should send representatives to deal with the disturbances that have arisen. I could afford your Lordships many striking illustrations, some of them couched in very dramatic language, of this circumstance.

No, my Lords, there has been in our past no partiality. There will be no partiality, nor do I think it even worth while to make more than a passing observation upon an even baser charge which has been made. It is the charge that the Government of India, or we in this country, do not contemplate with disfavour the accession to our anxieties which these disturbances produce. Indeed, the expression has been quoted, as if it were part of our policy, Divide Little have they studied the history of our association with India if they think that it was in that spirit that we have discharged the responsibilities into which we almost accidentally drifted. Little indeed, upon a wider stage, have they appreciated the political genius of this nation, which has created and maintained that loose and amazing structure the British Empire,, if they think it was by petty and squalid maxims of this kind, by low and cunning tricks, that our forefathers established, and those who came after maintained, and we still discharge, our inherited duties.

Does any sensible or experienced person believe that we who are trustees of order in that sub-continent—does any one believe that it can reflect anything but discredit upon our fiduciary duties if we cannot even induce those who live with us there to maintain order and avoid violence and bloodshed? The power which is responsible in India has nothing but discredit to reap from the spread of these disorders, and if I have even thought it necessary to say a word upon this topic it is because it has been brought to our notice quite recently that these defamatory charges still continue to be made by those who ought to know, and in my suspicion do know better.


If the noble Earl has finished with that passage, I shall have to ask him at the conclusion of the debate to allow me to say a word in reply.


I should gladly have given way if the noble Lord had told me that I had misconceived the object of his observations, and I should not have pursued the topic.


To interrupt the noble Earl while he was in full career would have been a little difficult.


I shall be glad to listen, as I am sure your Lordships will, to any observations which the noble Lord wishes to make on the subject. He asked me to deal with another specific subject, and that was the Punjab Commission's Report on the gaols. He is correct in saying that on an earlier discussion I had not full information, and I do not think the noble Lord himself had. I ought, I think, frankly to deal with the matter. Attention was publicly drawn to the treatment of prisoners in Punjab gaols by some allegations made in the newspaper Bande Mataram in October, 1923, that prisoners in the Multan Gaol were subjected to indignities and cruelties, notably those of "Gidar Kut." It was alleged that there was indiscriminate beating by convict warders. A suit for defamation was brought against the newspaper by the gaoler, and the Court of the Sub-Judge awarded him nominal damages, but held the greater part of the libel to be true.

The case formed the subject of the Motion which the noble Lord made in the month of August, 1925. Thereafter, with my concurrence, a Committee was appointed by the Punjab Government in November last to inquire into the allegations of the practice of unauthorised punishments and indulgences in the Punjab gaols and generally into the state of discipline among the staff and inmates and the adequacy and effectiveness of the supervision over both and proposed remedies for defects and the means of stopping the malpractices. The Committee consisted of a member of the Indian Civil Service, Mr. Lumsden, an Indian Judge of the Lahore High Court, and an Indian barrister. The Committee reported in the early spring of this year, and some of its findings were, I confess, of a very disquieting character. The most important of its general conclusions was that unauthorised punishments were frequently awarded and that there was ample evidence of the existence of unauthorised indulgences. It stated that the discipline of the gaols visited was merely superficial, and while various causes of this were set out, the root cause was held to be that a prisoner could, by mere payment of money, provide himself with all sorts of luxuries. It was also stated that overcrowding was prevalent and that various improvements of the staff were needed, while the classification of prisoners was found to be defective.

It was naturally agreed between myself and the Viceroy that this was a Report which ought to be published. It was so published on May 28, the Resolution of the Punjab Government being published at the same time showing the action taken or contemplated upon the Report. While warning has been issued against unauthorised punishments and indulgences, the Punjab Government recognises that radical measures for the improvement of the supervising and executive agencies in the gaols are necessary. I imagine that the noble Lord has read that Report. Unless he has any doubt as to the completeness and the drastic character of the recommendations made I do not think it necessary to pursue the topic in detail, but the Viceroy is in complete agreement with the Secretary of State that almost all those recommendations must be carried out, and I am sure that the noble Lord will realise that those who have been responsible have realised how grave was the state of affairs disclosed and that every conceivable step that can be taken to set that particular house in order will be taken.

Now I approach the last topic but one with which I must shortly deal. The noble Lord asked me whether I have any observations to make on the subject of our relations with Afghanistan and the Amir. For many generations this topic has been one of delicacy and of difficulty, and I must deal with it as so important a topic in our foreign affairs must be dealt with by any Minister even though he be the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and with an infinitely greater degree of caution when he who addresses your Lordships has no such responsibility. In the first place, let me say that our relations with the Amir continue to be of the most friendly character and I take this opportunity of saying with as much formality as I can that the excellence of the relations which at this moment subsist between that Monarch and ourselves is in no small measure due to the tact and ability which have been shown by Sir Francis Humphrys, our representative in Afghanistan. He has indeed deserved well of this country. Many changes have taken place in Afghanistan and in the general character of the problems jointly founded upon Afghanistan which have from time to time engaged the attention of British Governments. But this at least I may make plain. The concern of Great Britain and India in Afghanistan is not less than it was in 1885. It is not less than it was in 1907, when it brought us to an agreement with Russia, or in 1921, when we made a Treaty of good neighbourliness with Afghanistan. If such interests as we have in Afghanistan were ever seriously threatened we should not, I believe, find ourselves without the means of safeguarding them.

Now I have only one subject upon which the noble Lord invited me to make some observations. He spoke in kindly terms of the observations I made a year ago upon the subject of the effect, as far as it was clearly discernible at that period, of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms. The noble Lord did me no more than justice when he said it was my purpose in speaking a year ago to exorcise, as far as any words of mine could do it, the spirit of distrust which had misguided and perverted so many intelligent men into an attempt to make the Constitution absolutely unworkable. That was a strange mood for a nation to pass through. It could, indeed, be made the subject of debatable argument either that the constitutional reforms went too far or that the constitutional reforms did not go far enough; but it surely was a strange policy for those who held that the reforms had not gone far enough to render, if they could, ridiculous and futile that which had been given in an experiment which was certainly one of the most novel and one of the boldest that any country, the centre of an Empire, had ever, in my reading of human history, attempted. But such was the strange fact to which we had to accommodate ourselves. There was no method of dealing with the difficulties which emerged except by reliance upon the precautionary measures which we had not omitted to introduce into the legislation which gave the Constitution. And so the attempt to destroy and render ridiculous the Constitution failed.

But when I spoke a year ago, I plainly indicated that, so far at least as I was concerned—and so far as I could read the minds of my colleagues, I believe it would have been true also of them—we were always open to conversion and to conviction if and when we saw among the men, able men, who take part in politics in India a genuine desire to make the best of the existing Constitution. We did not, indeed, ever desire, expect, or invite that they should say it was the Constitution which satisfied them. We never asked them to deprive themselves of any one of the legitimate rights of an ordinary Parliamentary opposition, if they chose in bitter invective to disparage the adequacy of that which we had given them. After all, bitter invective has been used in many Western Parliaments without doing any one any particular harm. But it was, indeed, futile to expect that we should treat a general scheme of non-co-operation, which carried in its womb the clear determination to wreck the Constitution which, with painful construction, had been formed in this country—that we should treat this as a claim for making prematurely, according to the terms of that Constitution itself, changes and developments in it. Well, if anybody expected that of an English Government he had indeed given inattentive study to the history of the British people.

What I said a year ago I say again to-day, subject only to one observation which I will presently make. I do believe that I discern to-day a realisation in many quarters in India not lacking in influence that this policy was ill-conceived, that it was predestined to failure, that it is failing, if it has not already failed, and I think that I see, though neither confidently nor dogmatically do I proclaim it, the growth of a realisation that the only sensible and patriotic course to follow at the moment, for a citizen of India who believes that there are potential qualities which will one day make the inhabitants of that country qualified to take in hand their own responsible destinies, is one of sympathetic co-operation with those in this country who have asked for sympathetic co-operation and for nothing else.

I said that the observations that I made upon this point must be read with a single caution. I have already spoken at considerable length upon the existence of communal disturbance in India. It is necessary to bring that topic into relation with the subject with which I am at this moment concerned. You cannot divorce one from the other. And, indeed, even those who are most enthusiastic in the belief that the date fixed in the constitutional instrument for the revision of that Constitution ought to be accelerated—they, I think, themselves cannot be blind to the relevance of that other topic to which I have adverted. It is plain that any impartial and competent tribunal that was set up in order to revise the Constitution, in order to advise Parliament as to whether the powers already conceded should be extended or not, must be most vitally affected by the question: What at the present moment is the relationship between these two great dominant sects? Is it of such a kind as to suggest that at this moment it would be wise in their own interest and in relation to their own desires to accelerate the moment at which a decision fraught with consequences so grave and perhaps so durable should be taken?

Therefore, on all these grounds, I am brought back to the topic which, indeed, has principally engaged me in the course of the observations for which I have asked your Lordships' indulgence. Not only for the credit of the Empire, but in the very interest which they most loudly profess, those who have an influence in both communities would be, indeed, well advised if they set their house in order by composing their bitter differences. If they enable those of us who would gladly restore better and kindlier feelings with all sections of Indian thought to put forward a case which would have some element of plausibility for that acceleration of the statutory date, they would do a great service to that cause in which they vehemently believe and they would at the same time render it easier for those of us who in this country and in India have responsibility, to restore a kindlier and friendlier basis to our mutual relations.


My Lords, I trust that it may not be thought inopportune that I should at the present moment, occupying a position of greater freedom and less responsibility with regard to India, make some observations, although they will necessarily be brief especially after the speech of my noble friend the Secretary of State and the very exhaustive examination that he has made into the causes, in particular, of the Hindu-Moslem disturbances. I should have troubled you but for a moment or two had it not been that I was deeply concerned at noting a disposition in a quarter from which I least expected it to attribute favouritism on the part of British officialism, as the phrase was.


My Lords, if the noble Marquess is going into that point I think, if your Lordships will allow me, I had better reply at once to the question raised by the noble Earl. I am in a position of some difficulty because the noble Earl referred to something which was written in The Times and I have not with me the extracts from The Times to which he referred. But the noble Earl stated, and I gather that the noble Marquess was also taking the same view, that I had imputed to the Government of India that it had exercised favouritism in its dealings as between Moslems and Hindus. I have made no such suggestion and I entirely disclaim any feeling or belief to that effect. I am perfectly confident that every official has set himself and every Government of India has deliberately and of set policy set itself to deal fairly as between those two communities. I make no such charge and it never entered my mind to make such a charge.

Having said that much, I am rather under the obligation of dealing, and I hope very slightly, with what I actually did say. May I say that I may perhaps have used words which, had I had an opportunity of revising the proof of my letter, I might have modified slightly. But what I did say—and it is based upon what I have heard from a great many Englishmen who have served in India and from a great many Indians who have a very good reputation in India—was that there is an official bias in favour of the Mahomedan community. I did not in the slightest degree mean that there was a bias which was exhibited in the action of the Government of the country. What I meant—and this is more or less an impression which I have received, as I say, from what Englishmen have told me and what Indians have told me—was that the British official classes, both civil and military, in India have a higher appreciation of the virtues of the Mahomedan section of the population than they generally feel about the Hindus. I wrote a further letter to The Times in which I hoped that I had made that clear. I think the grounds of sympathy are what I would call the martial and other virtues and many otter grounds of sympathy. I do think it is a fair statement to make that predominantly Englishmen who serve in India have a higher appreciation of the Moslem community and think them more capable of dominion than they think the Hindus and especially the Bengalis are. That is what I meant by official bias.

There is another thing to which I wish to refer. The noble Earl referred to the suggestion—I do not know whether he imputed it to me—that the Government of India had followed out the policy of Divide et impera. I did not make that suggestion at all; but the feeling which I had encountered and which I had underlined in my mind in that letter was something of which I will give you an example. When the Hindu-Moslem pact was made it was a pact which strengthened the probability of an advance towards Swaraj policy in India. A very large number of persons, officials and others in India, regard the advance towards the self-governing Swaraj policy as a movement deleterious to British interests in India, and I say confidently that when the Hindu-Moslem pact broke up there was a considerable amount of satisfaction felt, and was expressed in what I may call the anti-Swaraj Press in India that the pact had broken up. I do not think it went further than that. I will not now go into the question of these faction fights, but there was a distinct satisfaction on the part of those persons both in this country and in India who were opposed to the Nationalist movement that the pact had broken up and that there should be political dissensions among those affected. I will not carry it further than that.


I am sure your Lordships will have heard with pleasure and with some satisfaction the disclaimer on the part of the noble Lord of imputing anything in the nature of favouritism or of official bias for the Mahomedan interest or element in India. Whatever is said by the noble Lord as to his intention carries convic- tion beyond all question, and I do not pause for a moment to discuss what was in his mind inasmuch as he has told us and that disposes of the matter. I am now only concerned with what the noble Lord said, not what, he intended, and not for the purpose of striving to cast the faintest doubt upon the noble Lord's meaning as intended by him, but in order that I may refute a statement in writing which appeared in a letter in The Times subscribed by one who had held the position of Secretary of State for India and whose words, therefore, carry great weight in India notwith-standing that he is not now in office.

If your Lordships will permit me, I will read his words in order that I may offer to your Lordships a few observations which I think it necessary to make and which I hope may be transmitted to India as my own views. This is the noble Lord's statement:— But there are other causes of the increasing faction fighting. No one with any close acquaintance of Indian affairs will be prepared to deny that on the whole there is a predominant bias in British officialism in Italia in favour of the Moslem community, partly on the ground of closer sympathy, but more largely as a make-weight against Hindu nationalism. Now I cannot but think that the words, as used, although not so intended, will be of assistance to those extremists in India who are desirous of instilling into the minds of both Hindus and Moslems that there is undue favouritism, that there is official bias in the mind of the British official and that, consequently, a quality of administration upon which in my opinion we rightly pride ourselves, and especially in relation to India—that is, of justice and fairness to all irrespective of creed or race—has ceased to be practised. It becomes necessary that I should tell your Lordships that this is a charge—not in these words, of course, not so moderately framed or so carefully qualified as the noble Lord's observation in the letter to The Times—frequently made against the Government of India; consequently, also, against the Government of this country. My noble friend in a few observations dealt with the charge—and, as he rightly said, it merited but slight notice—that these communal disturbances were instigated very often by British officials or for British interests. Throughout the five years of my life in India I not only most carefully watched but sought every opportunity of ascertaining whether there was the slightest foundation for this charge, and I never found even the merest breath of evidence to support it.

I am not now criticising what the noble Lord intended to say. I am dealing with the spirit that underlies it and with the sense in which it will be understood until this disclaimer of the noble Lord is read. I hope it will be transmitted to India and understood by those who will not have lost time in taking advantage of an observation of this character.


I do not think there was anything in what I wrote which could have suggested—

NOBLE LORDS: Order, order.


May I give an explanation? I do not think there was anything in what I wrote that could have suggested that I had the idea that any British official had ever instigated any riot.


I did not mean to suggest that. I quite agree. I do not think the words convey that, but they go near it when it is said that on the whole there is a predominant bias in British officialism in India in favour of the Moslem community and when, at the same time, it is known that there is an extremist section in India very adept at reading meanings into language which we in England did not intend to convey. From this very language they will argue—I can almost see the articles penned upon it or hear the speeches which will be made in consequences of it—"This proves what we have said—namely, that there is an official bias." And, of course, it is not a very far step to instigating or conniving in some form or other at the Hindu-Moslem disturbances. Because of my life for five years, and because of my knowledge that every word used by any one in authority in this country is liable sometimes to innocent misconception or misinterpretation—unfortunately also sometimes, to deliberate misconception and misinterpretation—I have been anxious that it should be made quite plain in your Lordships' House what the noble Lord meant to convey by the language he used.

I also desired, speaking as one who was the head of the Government of India during five years, to give my testimony that I might refute any such suggestion or insinuation from any quarter and to assert—as I do beyond all possibility of doubt—that there is no truth in the suggestion. May I say, not in reference to the noble Lord, who has told us what he meant, but in reference to charges or suggestions in India—that I doubt very much whether you who are listening to this debate realise to the full how insidious these suggestions are. The mind of the Oriental is very subtle. He is not accustomed to put into plain, precise language exactly what he means and to mean nothing more. He is rather in the habit of finding meanings which may not have been intended, and would baffle perhaps any of us. Therefore I thought it desirable to make these observations upon a matter which might seriously affect British rule in India.

I do not intend to travel over the same ground as my noble and learned friend. I am glad that I shall have the opportunity of studying it hereafter and understanding the causes of the present Hindu-Moslem disturbances. If I were to add anything, it would merely be to say, what perhaps is already implied in some part of his observations on the later period, that the growth of Hindu societies and Mahomedan societies has tended to promote these disturbances and to intensify them. I recall a passage I read in some observations of my noble friend Lord Sinha, who speaks with special knowledge on this subject and who is himself inclined to attribute much of the present tension to the foundation of those societies. I will not go into detail with regard to them; it would take too long. Sufficient be it to say that there are leaders of political thought among Hindus who are leaders of the Hindu societies and there are leaders of Mahomedan political thought who are leaders of the Mahomedan societies. The result is societies formed with the avowed object of increasing the strength, influence and authority of a particular religion. The adherents of that religion become members of these societies for the very purpose of augmenting the power of their creed.

I do not wish to travel further into this subject, save that I would ask if any one, not here but in India, still thinks that British officialism or officials are interested in fostering Hindu-Moslem disturbances. I would ask, of what advantage it is to the British Government, or to the Government of India, or to the civil servant, or to the military officers who have perhaps to take part in these disturbances. I may deal with the civil servant in a word. His duty is to preserve peace. His objective is that he may have a clean sheet to hand to his Government. His main desire is to avoid trouble, and necessarily so. He is there for the purpose of preserving order and of doing all he can for peaceful administration. So far as he is concerned, if there is any trouble it means not only grave responsibility for him if the conditions become serious, but it means endless agitation and excitement and he may not be quite sure that he will emerge successfully from the difficulties—stupendous difficulties sometimes—he has had to encounter.

Of the military officer I suppose there is no greater truth than that he detests having to intervene in civil disturbances. He does it because it is his duty. He is called upon to perform it, he takes his part and he strives to do it as well as he can. The one indisputable feature that I have found in India was that the military officers exercised this very unpleasant duty when called upon with the greatest restraint, and only took steps by virtue of the position they occupied when there was no other course open if peace was to be preserved or a disturbance was to be set at rest. The military officer has an additional anxiety as to what is to happen if he has taken a step which may have involved loss of life. He has to trust, and rightly trust, to the authorities at the head of the Government to see that when he does his duty he is properly protected from all responsibility that may hereafter ensue.

I need not take up your Lordships' time as to the position of the Government of India. I speak there with knowledge, inasmuch as I was familiar with all that happened in the Government of India of any importance. I pass from the reference with the observation that never during the whole of the time I was entrusted with the responsibilities of India have I seen a charge that was even worth examining, in relation to officials of the Government of India or of the Provinces, of having done anything which was unfair, or of having shown a bias either to the one creed or the other, or of having taken any step which could by the greatest stretch of imagination be described, as conniving at or wilfully shutting their eyes to any disturbances about to be created. I hope your Lordships will forgive me for having taken up your time on this subject. It may be perhaps that I feel more strongly on it than you would understand, for the reason that I know how serious is an insinuation or suggestion of this kind when it travels about amongst ignorant people in India in the villages, in the mofussil as it is called, and in various districts where, there is need of spreading the light.

May I take the opportunity that presents itself to me of a reference to one of the most gallant men I have eves met in my life? Your Lordships are aware that unfortunately some months ago Commandant Handyside, of the North-West Frontier, lost his life in one of the many encounters he had with tribal raiders. It was not more than a few days before I left India that I went to Peshawar and the North-West Frontier for a last visit. On that occasion I met him again. I must not detain you with a recital of his various exploits; he was a marvellous man, whose courage, resourcefulness, magnanimity and highmindedness were loved and admired throughout the North-West Frontier and by the tribes against whom he had to act almost as much as by the tribes with whom he was for the time being associated.

I ventured to say to him, knowing his history, that it was time he gave up going out himself. He was then at the head of the Frontier Constabulary. I suggested that he should content himself with giving directions, and that he had run enough risks in his life. His answer was: "Well, I do not think I could ever refrain from going if the opportunity came." I regret to say it was not many days after that he met his death in one of these raids. I was glad to read the observations made by the Under-Secretary of State in another place, and I could not resist the opportunity of paying my own testimony to one for whom I, in conjunction with all those who came in contact with him on the North-West Frontier of India, had great admiration.

On the general situation it is not uninteresting to consider how the experiment—as it was called—made by Parliament in 1919, which began to take effect in 1921 when the reforms were first inaugurated in India, has stood the test of time. It is far too late to discuss this question at any length, but I desire to state to your Lordships that when I went, to India in 1921 I was not too sure that this new system of government would be capable of working. I was charged with the special mandate of setting it on its feet, of piloting it, so far as I could, and helping it on its way. That was part of my instructions.

I have had anxious times in connection with the reforms. I have had to use the emergency powers vested in me by Parliament as Viceroy and Governor-General. I took the view, from all I had read and from all I knew, that these powers were given, not for the purpose of being looked at, but in order that they might be used if the emergencies occurred; and, when these happened, I felt bound, in certain cases only, to resort to them. There were conflicts between the Assembly and myself, by virtue of the position that I occupied, but they were infrequent and I do not pause to discuss them further. Apart from those clashes of opinion the Central Legislature have done a considerable amount of very useful work. Looking back upon it and remembering statements made in the past by Secretaries of State of the different Parties who have addressed you upon affairs in India, there is every reason, so far as we can judge from the evidence at present before us and collected during these five years, for satisfaction with the momentous step taken to initiate a new era of relations between the Government and India.

It is too early to say more. Speaking from observation as the result of my own experience in India, I have returned with a greater faith in the value of those reforms and their prac- ticability than I had when I left for India. In the difficulties that have been encountered the cause has largely been suspicion and distrust of the ultimate intentions of the British Government and of the Government of India. I believe that the time is now fast approaching, if it has not already been reached, when India will recognise that there is every intention to carry out the promises in the spirit and in the letter; they will be generously interpreted, as they were in their inception generously conceived, and all that is asked in this country—and surely it is worth India's while to ponder it and give effect to it—is that there should be a response from India which will show that India has at last appreciated the value and the benefit of the reforms instituted under this Act. It is for her to take action and to manifest the spirit necessary to enable her to go further forward and realise her ultimate aim. I believe—I may perhaps be speaking a little rashly, but I am prepared to take the risk—that if India will only devote herself to showing good will, she will attain the position she desires, she will become a full partner in the British Empire, she will attain responsible Government and she will be able to work with the British Government and, I trust, with all the British Empire for the happiness and contentment of her people.