HL Deb 22 February 1928 vol 70 cc233-5

My Lords, I am grateful to Lord Clwyd for once again reminding me of the desirability of appointing a Standing Joint Committee on Indian Affairs, and also for acceding, on the ground of the convenience of the House, to my suggestion that it would be economical of your Lordships' time if he withdrew the Question which he had put on the Paper, in order to enable me to move this present Resolution. Your Lordships are aware of the work done by the Committee in previous years, and I need not, I think, employ any argument in favour of this Motion, the terms of which are identical with that of last Session. I hope that the labours of the Committee will be sufficient to occupy such leisure time as they are able to afford, while not too pressing in their incidence.

Moved, That it is desirable that a Standing Joint Committee on Indian Affairs of both Houses of Parliament be appointed to examine and report on any Bill or matter referred to them specifically by either House of Parliament, and to consider with a view to reporting, if necessary, thereon any matter relating to Indian Affairs brought to the notice of the Committee by the Secretary of State for India.—(The Earl of Birkenhead.)


My Lords, I rise only to express my satisfaction at the announcement which has been made by the Secretary of State for India. As he well knows, I do take a rather particular interest in this matter of setting up every Session a Standing Joint Committee on Indian Affairs. I feel, and I think he will agree with me, that whether any business be referred to the Committee or not it is important that every Session this Committee should be set up, so that machinery should be available for the purpose if necessity arises. I think it is possible that dining the present Session some business may have to be referred to it, but in any event I am glad that the Government, through the noble Earl, have again announced their decision to set up the Committee.


My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Earl for the Motion which he has moved, but may I hope that he will not exclude from his mind the possibility of calling this Committee together to receive from him, in the privacy of the Committee-room, information with regard to affairs in India? When Mr. Montagu and I made the suggestion of this Committee in our Report, we had not any idea of setting up any addition to the machinery which deals with India in this country, but we were impressed by the desirability of keeping Parliament informed with regard to the trend of affairs in India, and we regarded this Committee as a stage in the educative process. Even to those of us who have been in India the veil comes down when we leave that country, and I can imagine that the Secretary of State might find great usefulness in having a nucleus of members in each House who were abreast of the latest information with regard to India. It would not be fair to ask the Secretary of State, in a matter like this, which requires some consideration, to give an answer now, but I hope he will not exclude the possibility of considering some such course as I suggest.


I certainly will do so, and indeed I may add that if at any period during the last three and a half years it had been conveyed to me, on behalf of the Standing Joint Committee of the moment, that it would be of interest to them to hear the impression which at the particular moment I had formed of existing Indian affairs, I would most gladly have attended to give them such information. Even apart from my own initiative—because I may not be aware of the difficulties pressing upon the minds of the Committee—if they extended to me any such intimation they would undoubtedly find me at their service.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Ordered, That a Message be sent to the Commons to acquaint them therewith, and to desire their concurrence.