§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion of the Marquess of Lothian, That this House approves the Indian policy of His Majesty's Government as set out in Command Paper No. 3972; and on the Amendment moved by Lord Lloyd to the foregoing Motion, namely, to leave out all the words after "House" for the purpose of inserting the following words: "while appreciating the efforts made by His Majesty's Government during the Round 372 Table Conference to resolve the grave problems connected with the future government of India, considers that the moment has not yet arrived at which His Majesty's Government, mindful of their supreme responsibilities for the safety and welfare of the people of India, can pronounce a final judgment regarding the solution of the problem."
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
My Lords, I listened with attention, and with the respect which I always pay to his utterances, to the speech of the noble Lord who moved the Amendment in your Lordships' House yesterday afternoon. His speech was a powerful plea for caution in any advance which we may make in the direction of conferring responsible self-government upon India, and I should be the last to deny that great weight attaches to the point of view which the noble Lord submitted for your Lordships' consideration. But behind the innocent facade provided by the noble Lord's Amendment, so moderately and yet so skilfully drawn, will be gathered, under the umbrella which the noble Lord has set up, not only those who are impressed with the need for caution but all those who, with complete sincerity of conviction, rightly or wrongly believe that any policy of conferring responsible self-government upon India is a profound mistake, and on such a platform I find it impossible to take my stand.
The noble Lord, Lord Irwin, in the course of that speech which, if I may say so without incurring the charge of being impertinent, impressed so profoundly your Lordships, submitted to you a Latin proverb the purport of which was to emphasise the vital importance of seizing opportunity when it occurred. May I submit to you a Persian proverb, the moral of which it seems to me is not wholly inapplicable, I will not say to my noble friend Lord Banbury, but to some persons in this country outside your Lordships' House, a proverb the English translation of which is this: "Experience is a comb given by Providence to man after he has become bald." Truth to tell, the danger which threatens the policy of His Majesty's Government towards India does not come so much from such reactionary forces as may exist in this country—and let me hasten to 373 say that I do not include for a moment the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, amongst reactionaries—it does not come so much from those forces as from forces of a subversive character which exist in India itself.
The essence of the Government's policy is the co-operation between India and Great Britain, the collaboration of Indian public men with the statesmen of this country in the construction of the future Constitution of that land. There is in India to-day a movement guided, inspired, controlled by men who, far from desiring to co-operate with the people of this country, desire to see severed altogether the connection between Great Britain and India. The movement manifests itself in different guises, sometimes in the form, the innocent lamb's fleece, of passive resistance, sometimes in the form of active defiance of the law, sometimes in the wolf's clothing of unabashed terrorism. This movement is no new thing. It broke out in an anarchical form in Bengal in the year 1906, and between that year and the spring of 1917, when I reached Calcutta to take over the Governorship of that Presidency, 82 persons in Bengal, including 21 police officers, lost, their lives at the hands of the assassin. Attempts at assassination had been made upon the lives of many highly-placed officials, not excluding that of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Presidency himself; and it was at my request that the Committee, which afterwards came to be known as the Rowlatt Committee after the name of the distinguished Judge of the High Court of this country who presided over its deliberations, was appointed to enquire into the criminal conspiracies associated with the revolutionary movement in India. The Report of that Committee is a document of profound interest and it is one which is well worthy of perusal by any one who is interested in this aspect of the Indian problem.
Then we come to the year 1921, when Mr. Gandhi launched his first non-cooperation movement. We find once more an outbreak of anarchical crime in the same Province—an outbreak of which the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, would be able to give your Lordships first-hand information. Finally we come to the year 1930, 374 when the civil disobedience movement which was then launched by Mr. Gandhi assumed, as your Lordships will remember, such vast proportions as gravely to endanger all respect for law, and threatened to throw the whole country into a state of anarchy. And associated once more with that movement was the grave outbreak of anarchical crime with which the Presidency of Bengal is distracted at the present day. The State of Bengal to-day is deplorable. Assassination after assassination has taken place. The Inspector-General of Prisons in Bengal has been murdered. The Inspector-General of Police in the same Presidency has been murdered. One of His Majesty's Judges was brutally done to death in the broad light of day in open Court while performing his normal duties; and, if I may say so, the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, did not by any means overstate the case when he told your Lordships in a speech in this House a few days ago that there are districts in Bengal to-day where every officer of Government goes about his lawful duties in constant peril of his life.
That is a situation upon which all the courage and all the resources of Government; will have to be brought to bear. Terrorism must be fought, and it must be stamped out, for, if it is not, it will become a, permanent canker in the body politic, whatever Government is in power, whether it be British or whether it be Indian. And your Lordships' sympathy will, I know, go out in full measure to those devoted servants of India, both British and Indian, of the Indian Services upon whose shoulders falls the burden of fighting this movement. It is worth while pausing for a moment to ask ourselves what is the driving power behind this movement, for young men do not go forth on a campaign of deliberate and calculated murder on the grand scale without a powerful incentive. What then is the motive behind this movement? A very natural desire on the part of these people to govern themselves; a thing, you will remember, inculcated by our own teaching, enormously stimulated in recent years by the objects for which, as we proclaimed from the house tops, we ourselves embarked upon the Great War. Amongst them liberty and the right of self-determination.
375 But is that all? May it not be that there is some other influence, an influence of a more subtle kind, an influence at work deep down in the sub-conscious mind of the people? One of those forces which constitute the very springs of action, driving men not as the result of any reasoned process of thought, but instinctively to certain courses? I think there is. The deeper that 1 probed into the question of the revolutionary movement in Bengal the more certain did I become that there was at work a subtle influence, a revulsion of spirit against the excessive Westernisation of the country, and the consequent denationalisation of the people which had resulted from a too rigid application to an Oriental people of Western theory and practice, not only in the art of government and administration but in almost every activity of human life, notably, and this, of course, is crucial, in the sphere of education.
It has often been a charge against the English people by foreign observers that we are guilty of a characteristic which they describe as insularity. May I remind your Lordships of a few words written, now long ago, by a very friendly, indeed, an admiring critic of the English people, R. W. Emerson? He wrote:The Englishman sticks to his traditions and usages and, so help him God! will force his island by-laws down the throats of great countries like India, China, Canada, Australia.…and so on. That is what we have been doing in India ever since the day, nearly 100 years ago when, under the leadership of Lord Macaulay, the cause of the Anglicist triumphed over that of the Oriental. I think disastrous results have followed from that triumph.
May I give your Lordships one example to illustrate what I mean? There is in Calcutta a remarkable institution, the Calcutta University. Numerically it is the largest University in the world. When I was in Bengal it boasted some 27,000 students. Every year 16,000 Indian boys, and they were not more than boys for in that country they come up for their examinations at an earlier age than in this country, presented themselves for the matriculation examination of that University. What was the character of the education which was imparted to them when they succeeded in entering 376 its portals? It was what would be described in this country as the rudiments of a liberal education. It was almost exclusively literary in character; but the literature that was taught was not Indian literature but English literature. The history that was taught was not Indian history but English history. The philosophies that were taught, in spite of the fact that in that branch of human intellectual activity the Indians were ages in advance, were not the philosophies of the East but the philosophies of the West. More remarkable still, the medium of instruction by which it was sought to impart learning in all these subjects was not the boy's mother tongue but what was to him a foreign language—English.
What we have been doing is this. We have been dragging every year thousands of Indian boys from their own cultural soil, and can it be wondered at that there is some revulsion of feeling against a process which is bringing up every year thousands of Indian boys not, as it were, heirs of their own history, their own traditions, their own civilisation, and their own culture, but as imitation Europeans? Here is this great fact, this spirit of unrest centred deep down in the race instincts of the people, working sometimes consciously, more often, I think, subconsciously upon the very fibre of their being. That, is a force which you cannot destroy. Indeed, it would be monstrous to try to destroy it for it is essentially healthy. What you have to do is to endeavour not to destroy that spirit but to divert that spirit and the energy which it generates from destructive to constructive channels.
Whatever be the inspiration of this feeling, there is, meanwhile, this subversive movement, and the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we to be deterred by it from proceeding along the path which we have marked out? I can conceive of circumstances in which the whole energies of the Government might have to be devoted to dealing with unrest of this character; but I trust profoundly that no such circumstances will arise. Moreover, we must remember that the desire for self-government, a passionate desire, is not confined to those persons who express their feelings in violent and in revolutionary ways. It is shared by large numbers of loyal persons, men 377 who have co-operated loyally with us in the past, men who have played a difficult and a meritorious part in working the existing Constitution, men who have fought the civil disobedience movement in the past and who will fight it again provided that their position is not rendered untenable by too rigid an attitude en the part of Parliament in this country. The aspirations of such men must be taken into account and must be sympathetically considered.
What then are the aspirations of these men? It was in order to ascertain that that the Round Table Conference was summoned. Because on some important natters agreement was not reached at the Round Table Conference, there has been a disposition in some quarters to describe the Conference as a failure. That is not so. The Conference was never intended to be a constituent assembly brought together for the purpose of drafting a Constitution to be submitted hereafter to Parliament for its acceptance or for its rejection. The Conference was summoned for a very different purpose and I cannot do better than recall to your Lordships' minds, if the noble Lord, Lord Irwin, will permit me, the words in which he himself described to the Legislative Assembly in India the nature and the purpose of the Conference. His words were these:The Conference which His Majesty's Government will convene is not, indeed, a Conference that those have demanded who claimed that its duty should be to proceed by way of majority vote to the fashioning of an Indian Constitution which should hereafter be accepted unchanged by Parliament… But though the Conference cannot assume the duty which appertains to His Majesty's Government it will be convened for the purpose, hardly less important, of elucidating and harmonising opinion, and so affording; guidance to His Majesty's Government, on whom the responsibility must subsequently devolve of drafting proposals for the consideration of Parliament.It cannot be denied that the Conference has elucidated opinion, that in many respects it has harmonised opinion, and that it has provided guidance for His Majesty's Government. Amongst other achievements, even though this be an incidental one, I may point out that the Conference has demonstrated to the world at large, and to Indians in particular, the reality of the communal problem and the difficulty of finding a basis of agree- 378 ment between Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems. By so doing it has, I hope, disposed once and for all of the base calumny, widely prevalent not only in India, but in other countries, and particularly the Western hemisphere, that it has been the British Government that has fostered and maintained these grave differences in pursuance of a policy of divide and rule. The Conference has done more than that. It has shown beyond all question that no advance along the road to self-government in India will be acceptable in that country which does not include the transference of some measure of control over Indian affairs from Parliament in this country to an Executive responsible to a Legislature in India. I know I may be told that that may be contradicted by the attitude of the Moslem leaders at the Conference. It is true that the Moslem leaders at the Conference refused to discuss the transfer of power from Parliament to a Legislature in India, but they did so for one reason only, in order that they might secure such terms regarding their own representation in the future bodies, both provincial and central, as would be satisfactory to them and commensurate with their own historical importance and with the immense stake which the seventy or eighty millions of Moslems have in the country. We should be deceiving' ourselves if we were to infer from the attitude of the Moslem leaders at the Round Table Conference that, subject to an agreement on that point, the Moslems were not as anxious for a large step forward on the road to self-government as the Hindus themselves.
Last but not least, the attitude on this question of the representatives of English commerce was highly significant. The representatives of English commerce in India accept that change. May I quote the words of Sir Hubert Carr, the leader of their delegates:We should much prefer provincial autonomy instituted previously to any change at the centre. We realise, however, while deploring it, that there is not sufficient confidence existing between India and Britain to-day for India to be content with merely provincial autonomy and a declared intention of development at the centre. We are, therefore, united with our fellow delegates in demanding "—I must emphasise these words, which are the words of the representative of English commerce in India— 379in demanding that the whole frame-work of federation and provincial autonomy shall be determined at the same time.With such unanimity it seems to me that you have a strong argument in favour of conceding the change. I realise that this is the crucial feature of the policy of the Government. It is the feature around which controversy has raged most keenly. It is a tremendous change. I confess that, even though important matters like the control of the Army, defence, the conduct of foreign affairs and some aspects of Indian finance are not included in the category of matters that Parliament would be asked to entrust to an Indian Legislature, I hesitated for long before I satisfied myself that the time had come when that change ought to be made.
Nevertheless I am a convert to that view and, if your Lordships will bear with me for a few minutes, I would like to put before you the process of thought by which I have arrived at my conclusions. May I preface my observations on that head by saying that in a sense I. have been less trammelled in coming to a judgment on that issue than any other member of the British delegation at the Round Table Conference. It so happens that, of the twenty representatives of the different political Parties in this country who form the British delegation on the Round Table Conference, I am the only one who is not either a member of the present Government or an ex-member of one or other of the two Governments which immediately preceded it and which were concerned with the work of the Round Table Conference. My position therefore has been one of singular detachment, for the tendency which must always exist for a member of the Government to accept the Government view upon a great question of Government policy has not been operative in my case. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, shakes his head, but he was a member of the National Government before the General Election.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I made a statement of my views in January, 1931; I did not join the Government till August, 1931.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
We all know the noble Marquess has great knowledge of these questions and strong views, 380 and we know he expressed his views before he became a member of the Government, but I only wanted to make it clear that I arrived at my conclusion quite independently, drawing my conclusion from my own personal experience, such as it is, of administration in India; and the conclusion which I have arrived at, driven to it by the hard logic of events, is that the prospects of peace, of orderly administration, of stability, of good government in India will be much greater if this change is made than they can possibly be if the change is withheld. I have not seen much good government or much stability or much orderly administration during recent years under the existing system, and the reason is obvious. The existing system is one which could only have been expected to work in an atmosphere of complete good will and it is notorious that, whatever ingredients there may have been in the Indian situation in recent years, good will has not been one of them.
Your Lordships will follow my argument with greater ease if you consider what is the present position of the Government of India. The present position is that of a small bureaucratic body subjected to the powerful influence of a large and popularly-elected Assembly, but responsible not to the Assembly in whose eyes it has to justify its every action, but to the Parliament in this country. It is easy to see the sort of dilemma in which in those circumstances the Executive is constantly finding itself. Whenever a measure comes up on which the Executive and the Legislature are at variance there is one of three alternatives open to the Executive. It can ignore the Legislature; it can endeavour to compromise with them: or it may give way to them. No one of those three courses is ever likely to prove particularly satisfactory. If it ignores the Legislature it at once gives rise to a widespread and vehement agitation on the platform and in the Press in which it is depicted as a callous and tyrannical bureaucracy riding roughshod over the will of an expostulating but helpless people. If it compromises it is likely to please neither itself nor its critics; whereas if it gives way it is liable to be open to the taunt of being vacillating and of being weak. The weakness of the present system was apparent to the Statutory Commission, but if I may make 381 this one criticism of what undoubtedly is a great Parliamentary Paper, a great State document, it would be that the proposal they make for dealing with that situation is one which is little calculated to achieve the object they have, in view—namely, the creation of a strong, stable Government at the centre.
When the Commission, without conferring upon the Legislature in India any greater power or responsibility than they possess to-day, suggest increasing their numbers by something not far short of 100 per cent, it seems to me that they are only going to double the number of their critics without getting rid of any of the weaknesses and evils of the present system. Sir Malcolm Bailey, the distinguished Governor of the United Provinces, one of the most devoted and, it seems to me, one of the most brilliant servants whom the Indian Civil Service hits given to India, said of the proposal to which I have referred that the picture which he saw was thatof an Executive which must inevitably be in a. position of pathetic impotence within the Legislature and a Legislature which is bound to be in perpetual quest of means to reduce and if possible to nullify the authority of the Executive. So far from gaining strength or stability by the change proposed the Central Administration will occupy a position inferior to the markedly unfavourable, situation in which it stands at present.Well, my Lords, that is the situation. It is a well-known phenomenon which stares at us from the pages of all history that the wildest agitator, the most clamorous democrat, becomes an entirely different person when once he is invested with a little power and a little real responsibility. I venture to say that if your Lordships will examine the Front Bench in your own House it is conceivable that you might find an illustration of that universal truth.
For these reasons I have been driven to the conclusion that it is in the best interests of India and this country that, subject to the creation of the Federal Legislature at the centre, some measure of power should be devolved by Parliament in this country to that Legislature. Let me remind your Lordships that the Legislature will be a very different one in character from the existing Legislative Assembly. I do not want to go into the many respects in which it may differ. Let me only remind you that the Princes of India, with their 382 great stake in the country, with their interests indissolubly bound up with the maintenance of law and order and stable government, will have a share in it commensurate with the size and the numerical importance of their States. I do not underestimate the difficulties. I know they are great, but I do believe that the method of Conference which has so happily been inaugurated does in truth give us the best hope of solving our present difficulties in co-operation with the saner mind of India. I hope we shall grasp it. I have said it before, but with all the emphasis I can command I say it again, let us not—and when I say "us" I am not referring to the people of this country only, I am referring to the leaders of public opinion in India and my appeal is to them—let us not give to posterity cause to say that by lack of vision, or by lack of courage, or by lack of faith this generation has been responsible for one of the greatest calamities that can befall mankind, the permanent alienation of the peoples of the East from the peoples of the West.
§ VISCOUNT BRENTFORD
My Lords, the larger number of your Lordships' House who have addressed you on this question have been those who are connected, or have been connected, with the Government in some form or another of the whole or part of the great Indian Empire. I desire, if your Lordships will allow me for a few minutes, to approach the question this afternoon from the point of view of the responsibilities which we here in England have for the vote which we are going to give. If I may respectfully say to the noble Marquess who preceded me this afternoon, while I agree with a great deal of the speech which he made regarding Indian education, regarding the de-Anglicising of the great mass of the education and the training of the youth of India in their own great past, I could not help feeling, while he was speaking, that he was asking us to hand over all these vast multitudes of the growing youth of India, not to a Government founded upon their own old ideas of past centuries, but to a Government inevitably to be composed of the most Anglicised and Westernised section of the people of India. That, I think, is perfectly clear. Those who have followed the proceedings of the Round Table Conference, those who have read the speeches 383 and remarks of the representatives of the extreme section of opinion in India well know that section want to have control in any new Government set up in India and must realise they can have very little sympathy with the noble Marquess's views in regard to education on the religious side of the Indian character, and that they will seek to make their new Government as near as they can to the ideas of Western Europe.
There is one other question which was raised by my noble friend. That was in regard to the remark made by the British commercial delegates to the Conference. It is quite true. At the same time I would call the noble Marquess's attention, and the attention of your Lordships' House, to a very important statement which was made this morning. I have not got it with me on the Table. It is a statement by one of the greatest commercial magnates in this country having relations with India. It is a statement of Lord Inchcape, a member of your Lordships' House. He made a very anxious speech to the shareholders of his company in regard to the approaching or possible position in India in the very near future. I want, if I may, to ask your Lordships to consider the position of this House, and the position of this country in regard to the proposals of the Round Table Conference. It has often been said that there is an obligation upon us to go forward. I know no such obligation; at all events it is tempered, and it has been quite definitely tempered, in every pledge that has been made by leaving the time and place and manner of that forward step in India to the Parliament of this country.
Will your Lordships look at the Act of 1919? I was in Parliament in another place when it was passed. I did not vote against it. I thought it was something necessary to be faced in consequence of the statements which has been made previously. But I regarded that Act as embodying the pledge which we made to India at that time, and I submit to your Lordships that there is no other pledge subsequent to that date which Parliament has made and by which Parliament is bound. If your Lordships will look at the Preamble to that Act you will see that it lays it down perfectly clearly that it is the declared policy of Parliament to provide for the gradual 384 development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realisation of responsible government in India as an integral part of the Empire. I do not contest that. I have no quarrel with that statement. I am quite sure that my noble friend Lord Lloyd, who moved the Amendment, agrees fully with it. He and I and all those who are taking part in this debate accept to the full that statement of British policy by which quite obviously we are bound.
The Act goes on to say that this can only be achieved by successive stages, "and whereas"—I call your Lordships' very special attention to this—the time and manner of each advance can be determined only by Parliament, upon whom responsibility lies "—not on India, not merely on the House of Commons, upon your Lordships' House as well—for the welfare and advancement of the Indian peoples.The Act goes on:And whereas the action of Parliament in such matters must be guided by the cooperation received from those on whom new opportunities of service will be conferred, and by the extent to which it is found that confidence can be reposed in their sense of responsibility.I had intended to refer to the debate of last week, and to the speech made by the noble Marquess as to the condition of affairs in Bengal to-day, and the need which the Government has lately had to take more extreme measure to deal with it, but the noble Marquess who has just preceded me has made that unnecessary. He has given us a catalogue of evils, of murders, of crimes of one kind and another which, from his own knowledge, have taken place in Bengal since this Act of 1919 was passed. He confirms all that the Government has said in regard to the condition of affairs in Bengal, and if this Preamble to the Act of 1919 is really binding on your Lordships, I am entitled to ask you whether, in the face of all those facts, we can have confidence in the sense of responsibility to the extent of handing over to India responsible government not merely in the Provinces but in the centre as well.
Throughout that Act the responsibility of Parliament is maintained. The very section under which the Statutory Com- 385 mission was sent out to India lays it down, by an Act passed by your Lordships' House, that that Statutory Commission, acting on behalf of Parliament, is entitled to recommend not merely a forward movement but, if necessary, and if they think fit, a retrogressive movement. The noble Marquess opposite smiles, but after all that is the contract, that is the existing Parliamentary contract between India and England to-day. That is the Act of Parliament which was passed with the full approval of the then Indian Government in order to implement the concessions which were announced in what is called the Montagu-chelmsford scheme. I submit to your Lordships' House that we cannot get rid of our responsibility.
If your Lordships pass this Resolution this afternoon I quite agree that you are placing a further pledge upon Parliament in addition to or in extension of the pledge of 1919. I decline to accept any pledges or responsibility for any statement made by individuals. I think the noble Marquess opposite will entirely agree with me in that respect. I have been asked, my colleagues have been asked, not to make any speeches which would do harm in India. I need hardly say I do accept to the full a sense of responsibility for the effect which one's words might have in that great Dependency; at the same time I am not going to try to shirk the responsibility which Parliament has placed upon me as one of its members in the Act of 1919 for this further extension of powers, having regard to what has happened in India, which the noble Marquess so fully confirms, since 1919.
I am not going over that question. I ask your Lordships to reflect for a moment on the condition of affairs during the last ten years in India, on the state of law and order, the deterioration which I am afraid all those who have been connected with India are bound to admit has taken place in the administration of many of the Services in India, the great increase in the cost of Government, the very serious financial position arising not only from general world causes but to a great extent from that system of boycott against British trade which has taken place and is taking place to-day in India. I have had put into my hands this afternoon by a member of your Lordships' 386 House a paper which I have no time to deal with at length but which contains the demand of the Congress upon an English firm trading in India, a manufacturing firm in India, asking for their signature to a monstrous series of concessions or demands before the boycott of their mill, which has been going on for three months, is raised.
Here is a statement which this firm has got to sign before it is allowed to carry on business in India:That we have full sympathy with the national aspirations of the people. That not less than two-thirds of the directors shall be Indians. That no person connected with the management of the mill will engage himself in propaganda hostile to the national movement. As far as possible all our insurance, banking and shipping business shall be transferred to Indian companies. We will henceforth employ as far as possible Indians as our auditors, solicitors, shipping agents, buying or selling brokers "—and so forth. I may deal with that further on another occasion, but surely that is an indication that during the last ten or eleven years the trend of events in India should at least give your Lordships to pause before making this great extension of self-government to India. After all, the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Lloyd is only an Amendment asking for more consideration, asking in fact whether the time has come for your Lordships' House to make this solemn declaration that we accept the statement of the Prime Minister in the White Paper.
I am sorry the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, is not in his place at the moment because there were two speeches made yesterday to which I desire to refer. One was made by him, and the other, made by my noble friend Lord Irwin, has already been referred to. The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, paid a great and not undeserved tribute to our work in India. He spoke of the generations who gained not wealth but served the State. He spoke of the lives which had been given in many districts smitten with plague and in other districts smitten with famine. We had defended India, he said, against foreign aggression. We had done our best to maintain internal order. We gave them, he said, posts and telegraphs and railways. Then he referred to the extension of irrigation 387 and the vast areas of land that we have brought into cultivation. In all of this, said the noble and learned Lord, we have benefited the industrious poor of the people of India. I agree entirely with that, but that was British. The whole of the work to which the noble and learned Lord referred was British work, done by British men and by British brains. I ask your Lordships whether we ought not to pause for a moment before we destroy all that vast organisation which has conferred all these great benefits on the people of India. The noble and learned Lord went on to tell us that the standard of living was still very low. I agree, but there is nothing in these proposals to improve the standard of living. He went on to tell us again that taxation in India under British Government had been very low, that we have kept it as low as possible. There is nothing that I see in these proposals to decrease taxation in India. Any member of your Lordships' House who thinks for a moment will agree, I believe, that before these proposals have been in operation more than a few years the taxation of India will be bound to increase.
Forgive me, my Lords, if I refer to one other question. The statement was made by the noble and learned Lord that the honour of the Cabinet and the honour of the House of Commons was at stake in this matter, and he said that therefore we ought to refuse the Amendment and approve the White Paper. I submit that our honour is equally at stake, that we have the right, the duty and the responsibility to deal with this matter entirely apart from the honour of any other body in this country. We are co-equal with the other House of Parliament. We have the same right, duty and responsibility under the Act of 1919. It may be that your Lordships will say: "We agree with the White Paper, we agree with this vast extension." In that case I have nothing to say, but I do ask your Lordships not to allow the appeal made by the noble and learned Lord to you because of the honour of the Cabinet or the honour of another place. The right of judgment is inherent in your position here and the responsibility is upon your shoulders.
There was one other statement made by the noble and learned Lord which I 388 will not refer to in his absence, but if any noble Lord will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT he will find it in column 334. It was a statement reflecting very seriously—a statement not made by any other member of your Lordships' House in debate, and not made by the noble Lord who spoke on behalf of the Socialists in this House—upon the honour of those who were resisting the White Paper. You will see it in column 334 of the OFFICIAL REPORT. I said just now that I was not bound and did not intend to be bound by statements other than those of Parliament. I said I would endeavour not to make statements which would do harm, but I submit that statements have been made which have done harm in India. The Prime Minister in the Labour Election Programme of 1929—I do not think the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, was responsible, because he did not assume office until afterwards, but I think the noble Viscount who has just joined us was responsible—made a statement which, of course, went to India as the statement of the whole of the Labour Party. That statement was:The recognition of the right of the Indian people to self-government and the admission of India to the British Commonwealth of Nations on an equal footing with the self-governing Dominions.That appears to me a far more dangerous statement than any that has been made or is likely to be made by those of us who are objecting to the contents of the White Paper which is before your Lordships' House to-day.
We have been told that the Statute of Westminster does not apply. I agree that it does not, but if Dominion Home Rule is in the near future—or in the remote future, if your Lordships like—to be granted to India on an equal footing with the self-governing Dominions, then India is bound to say: "We are on an equal footing with those Dominions who have the benefit of the Statute of Westminster and we claim for ourselves the same benefit." Would Parliament be able to deny it? We were told last week that we could not deny it to the self-governing Dominions, and I think you will find you will not be able to deny it to any other country, whichever it might be, that was given Dominion status. That is not quite the proposal before us in the White Paper. If your Lordships 389 will look at the White Paper it would appear that the Prime Minister appears to have taken a statement of his at the end of the last Conference, at the beginning of 1931, and got assent to it from the present Government. But I venture to submit that those of us who were members of the Opposition in the last Parliament were clearly not bound.
The Lord Chancellor quoted a statement of Mr. Baldwin in January of this year, but in March of this year that statement was very fully explained by Mr. Baldwin, speaking as Leader of the Conservative Party, in a speech at Newton Abbot. He said:At present we have only sketched the framework of the problem. The details are not filled in, and many of them will present serious difficulties. Apart from the pledge of an honest attempt to confront these difficulties and thus to tarry on the work of the Conference, the Conservative Party is uncommitted.That was a statement by Mr. Baldwin in a very carefully prepared speech in March of this year. He says: "The Conservative Party is uncommitted." I, therefore, claim my right as a member of the Conservative Party to remain uncommitted until this House affirms, if it should do so, the White Paper. Then I admit that as a member of Parliament I should be committed.
May I consider the possibility of federation to which the noble Marquess referred just now? It is admitted in the White Paper that there are grave differences of opinion as to the composition and powers of the Federation. That is not settled. As to safeguarding of minorities, that is not settled; and as to the Federal Executive, that is not settled. It is not settled how, or where, or when the great Indian States will come in, and in what capacity they are to do so. Nor are their mutual relationships one to another settled. The Prime Minister asked your Lordships to approve something, whilst saying in that White Paper: "Our common purpose will not be advanced by ignoring these facts, nor by assuming that the difficulties they present will somehow solve themselves." My noble friend wants more time for consideration, and to see how these difficulties can be solved, and I think it would be much fairer that the Government should send out their Committees to India and continue their further in- 390 vestigations and negotiations, until they can get some agreement between the great bodies now at odds with one another, rather than ask us to assent to a scheme in embryo, when we know from the Prime Minister how very many-sided the difficulties are.
You have, in the first instance, to create a Federation in which one set of parties are democratic and founded upon local Parliaments and the other autocratic and not in any way so constituted. Every other Federation that I have known in the world, or that your Lordships have known, has been formed from homogeneous States—States of the same race, with the same language, with the same thoughts, the same ideas, and the same legal administration. There has been a common basis upon which they have built up a Federation. There is at present no common basis on which you can build up this Indian Federation. Then what are the safeguards? How is it possible that these safeguards, which are the negation of responsible government, can be dovetailed in with the responsibility which the Indian politicians are asking for at our hands to-day. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack intimated that there would have to be a Supreme Court to deal with matters between the new States of the Commonwealth and between them and this country. I do not know where this Court is to come from. The noble and learned Lord knows that there is no better Court than the Privy Council, but he also knows that at least one of the Commonwealth of Nations—I regret that I cannot use the term "British Empire"—has already intimated that they have no longer any desire to submit their cases to the Privy Council.
It is admitted that the cases from India will be many and difficult. To what body will the, Indian Government or Governments submit their cases? Mr. Gandhi has admitted once more that his claim is for independence. It was independence when he came. It was independence while he was here, and it was independence when he left, and the only possible suggestion of concession which he would make was that it should be a mutual partnership between the two parties, with a right in either party to determine it at will. I do not see much difference between that and independ- 391 ence. I should be glad if my noble friend, who I believe will follow me, will deal a little more clearly with the reservation of powers, because Lord Reading in a speech in March last made it clear that defence and foreign affairs, finance and currency were to be reserved. "There must be" (said the noble Marquess)power in the Viceroy to protect minorities and we specially laid stress on the Hindu-Moslem question, the position of the Sikhs, the depressed classes, and so forth.…that there should be no preferential legislation which would interfere with the business carried on by the British in India … The Viceroy was to have an over-riding power with regard to law and order, because he had to deal with the safety and tranquillity of the realm.How is that to be accomplished, with responsible Governments in the States and a responsible Government at the centre?
I submit that my noble friend Lord Lloyd has been amply and fully justified in his statement that the scheme which has been put before us is an ill-digested one, which really contains the seeds of trouble rather than of peace, and that in the White Paper, after the Prime Minister admitted failure in many respects, there is extraordinary contradiction. In paragraph 8 it is stated:We are all agreed that the Governors' Provinces of the future are to be responsibly governed units, enjoying the greatest possible measure of freedom from outside interference and dictation.That is responsibility, quite clearly. That is what the Indian politicians ask for; but in paragraph 9, referring to the new North-West Frontier Province, it is stated that in thisas in all other Governors' Provinces, the powers entrusted to the Governor to safeguard the safety and tranquillity of the Province shall be real and effective.The noble Marquess opposite says "Hear, hear." I want to be assured as to the reality and effectiveness of these powers. I want to be assured that if the Constitution goes through those powers will be maintained. How are they to be maintained? The police of the Provinces will be under the provincial Ministers and not under the Governor and the police of the centre will be under the central Ministers and not under the Viceroy. What power will the Governors of Provinces or the Viceroy have if their Ministers do not agree with them? The Viceroy recently certified a Finance Bill, 392 but when he has no Ministers to support him, when the Ministers of the Viceroy's Cabinet, with responsibility at the centre, decline to pass a Finance Bill, what power will there be to pass such a Bill, because this is one of the subjects reserved to the Viceroy?
This is the last time, this is, in fact, the only opportunity your Lordships have had, to consider these very great difficulties. Your Lordships are asked to accept this White Paper as a statement of policy approved by both Houses of Parliament. We are entitled to ask—my noble friend will perhaps give us the information, or at least some idea—how these things are to be carried out, how minorities are to be protected, how the depressed classes are to be protected—the depressed classes who, as one is bound to think, would not have much sympathy from the Hindus or Brahmin Ministers in some of the Provinces in India. I wish I could have agreed with the speech made by my noble friend, Lord Irwin, yesterday—and I desire to join to the full in the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Zetland about that speech. The noble Lord seemed to think that there were two obstacles to the progress of India, one being those of us who desire to return to the paternal system and to use the strong hand; and the other being the extreme Indian critics, who refuse to recognise the insurmountable difficulties at the present time. I venture quite respectfully to say that I, at least, do not come within either of those categories—quite obviously not within the second; nor do I ask that we should return to the paternal system. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has at least told you the advantages which accrue to the poorest people of India from the paternal system of India. Nor do I ask that we should use the strong hand.
What I am asking for is that your Lordships should delay before confronting India with the very serious dilemma which my noble friend fully recognised yesterday, the dilemma, the un-thought-out dilemma between responsibility and safeguards. I am asking, with my noble friend Lord Lloyd, that there should be delay in order that that dilemma should be resolved in some way or other. My noble friend Lord Irwin quite frankly admitted that he at least could not resolve it. I accept the 1919 position. The noble Lord spoke seriously of the policy 393 of repression, but may I ask him, again respectfully, is that anything more than we have in this country—the necessary means to enforce law and order? Why is the maintenance of law and order in, India always called repression, and not in this country? The law must be maintained if the police are called in during a riot. If the troops are called in at Cawnpore is that repression, or is it the maintenance of law and order? When law and order get slack the inevitable repercussion takes place. I think my noble friend opposite admitted that the state of affairs in Bengal was largely due to (may I say I) weakness in regard to the maintenance of law and order. I do not think that is an unfair gloss to put upon his speech.
Where there is weakness you must have repression, if you like to use the word, or, as I would prefer to call it, proper insistence on the maintenance of law and order. I submit to my noble friend Lord Irwin that in a great country like India, even if the fullest possible government based upon the lines of the White Paper exists in the course of the next few years, there must be power to maintain law and order. I am sure my noble friend cannot suggest that there will be no further trouble in India, that there will be no outbreaks between Moslem and Hindu, as there was in Cawnpore. That had nothing to do with British supremacy, it was a purely internecine outbreak between the two great religions. Such outbreaks have taken place before, and I submit they are bound to take place in the future.
If I followed my noble friend correctly, he tried to lead us, and my noble friend opposite (Lord Zetland) also tried to lead us this afternoon, to a declaration that the only method of governing India was by the consent of the governed. Does my noble friend Lord Irwin see where that leads to? He asks us to grant our assent to the policy of the White Paper because that would carry with it the consent of the people of India. How far is he going? If his argument is good that we are to do this because it will assure us of the consent of the people of India, are we, the moment there is a safeguard to which they object, to consent to its remission? First one, and then another, and then a third, and then the whole number—because my noble friend will possibly come again to your Lordships' 394 House and will say: "The only means of governing India is by consent of the governed; let us be fair to them, let us make friends with them, let us so mould our government as to carry them with us." If that is the doctrine of my noble friend, or of my noble friend opposite, we are going far, far beyond the White Paper. We are going far beyond anything that has been expressed except in very extreme circles at the Bound Table Conference.
And I do ask your Lordships, before giving your assent to this undigested scheme, to remember that portion of the speech of the noble and learned Lord in which he spoke of all that we have done for India in the past. We are asked to tear up those rights under which we have been trustees for the people of India—rights which would no longer be existent in the British Government. I ask your Lordships not to be influenced by the 1,000,000, 2,000,000, or, if you like, 10,000,000 politically-minded Indians; this House is the last defence of the 340,000,000 Indians, uneducated, unpolitically minded, whose sole desire—and I think the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will agree with this—is for material prosperity and for the good government which they have found under the British Raj. I ask your Lordships before passing this White Paper to think not once, nor twice, but three times, whether the proposal of my noble friend is not the right one—the proposal that we should give more consideration to the step we are proposing to take, consideration in the interests of the vast mass of the people of India, who look to us as they have done in the past, and as I hope they will do in the future.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD SANKEY)
My Lords, I desire to make a short personal explanation. I understand that the noble Viscount who spoke just now made some remarks upon my speech yesterday. Let me assure him that I had not the slightest intention of giving any pain or any offence to those who differ from me; in fact, I had not the members of this House in my mind when I made that statement. If your Lordships think I made that statement I unhesitatingly withdraw it and I regret it was made. But I can assure you that I did not mean it in the sense in which it has been taken.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I confess that in listening to my noble friend Lord Brentford I was rather astonished to find that I was going to follow him and argue the contrary of that which he had put before your Lordships. If the statements which he presented truly placed conditions as they are and as they will exist if your Lordships think fit to give effect to the White Paper, I should not be here supporting it but should be with him opposing it. When he talks of tearing up the rights of the British Government I really am at a loss to follow him. He began by saying that we were bound by the Preamble to the Act of 1919. There he was on absolutely unassailable ground. We are all agreed, and it is, indeed, with that in mind that we are proceeding and have proceeded for a considerable time to deal with this problem.
I also found it difficult to follow his argument about the consent of the governed, the lengths to which it would lead us and how impossible it was for this country to proceed with legislation upon that basis. May I ask, has the noble Viscount forgotten the Dominions—South Africa and Ireland 1 Has not our whole policy been, so far as we can and when we think the time has come and is ripe, to govern with the consent of the governed? I am entirely with him in this argument which, if he will permit me to say so, probably lay at the root of his observations—that you must be satisfied before you give effect to the desire of the governed that the steps you are proposing to take are safe, that they are prudent steps and that they will lead to better government in the future. There I fully agree. My difference with him is that I think, in the circumstances, all this has been most carefully considered, and I hope to show to your Lordships that in truth the results which are presented to you have only been reached after very great study and after a very considerable amount of discussion. I cannot but think that those who have suggested during this debate that it was a hurried step to ask your Lordships' House to accept this White Paper now must have failed to follow all that has happened.
When the noble Lord who moved the Amendment began his speech he stated that he moved his Amendment with no 396 hostility to the present Government. So far as I am concerned it was certainly quite unnecessary for him to say that. I should have assumed it without his saying it, and I am sure it is true of him as it is of all those who have spoken in favour of the Amendment. When I speak of Lord Lloyd I am particularly anxious that he shall not think that I have any such thoughts in regard to him. I know his public services. He was Governor of the Bombay Presidency during part of the time that I was in India. I know also of the position he has taken since in Egypt and generally of his public actions. Although I have differed, and do differ, from many of his views, I should not hesitate to say that I am confident that he is actuated by as sincere a desire to promote the public interest as I hope he would credit me with also.
In truth we are dealing with a very serious and grave subject and no one can approach its discussion without a very great sense of responsibility. I have sat throughout most of the discussions in your Lordships' House and at the Conference, and arrived at the conclusions which I placed before the Conference in January of this year, some time before the Prime Minister made his Declaration, after much thought and study. Like my noble friend Lord Zetland, I really became converted,, if that be the right expression—I will confess that I have approached the subject with some tendency, if I could, to seek a solution in this direction—to a large extent as I studied all the documents that were put before us and conversed with many of those who came from India, both Indians and Europeans, non-official and official, including Governors of Provinces and men of the highest responsibility in India.
May I at the outset recapitulate very briefly the steps that have been taken in order that I may brush aside the suggestions that these proposals made by the present Government are hasty and hurried? It was a most surprising statement to make. I gathered from those who have spoken, including my noble friend who has just sat down, that in truth what we were trying, what the Government was trying to accomplish in your Lordships' House was to get, without proper consideration, an endorsement of the policy which the Govern- 397 ment had been considering. May I, in order not to refer to it again, remind jour Lordships that what we are at present considering is not the policy of a Labour Government; it is not the Declaration of a Prime Minister at the head of a Socialist Government which was in a minority in another place? That is not the position. We are discussing today a Declaration which is made as the result of anxious thought and deliberation by the present Cabinet of the National Government as it is termed and as I believe it to be, a Government composed of all Parties, a Government of which I am a supporter as well as my noble friend. We are really discussing this White Paper which comes to your lordships' House as the result of all the thought and study devoted to it not only in the Conference, not only by the Parliamentary delegations of the three Parties, not only by the Prime Minister and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who has done such excellent service in presiding over the Federal Structure Committee—not only by them but by a Government which comprises the Leader of the Conservative Party, which has also a Conservative Secretary of State for India, which has a great majority in another place where there has been an overwhelming vote in favour of the policy which my noble friend has just condemned. That is a very different position.
I would remind him further that there his been a period from January last until now to consider this policy. Sometimes daring the course of the debate it has even been suggested that we were discussing this for the first time, not by my noble friend, who did refer to one of the debates. May I remind your Lordships of the steps which have occurred, not for the purpose of discussing them but merely taking them in rapid sequence to bring you to the present day? In 1921 the present system was inaugurated. From the time certainly that I was there until 1926, when I returned, it was a matter of frequent discussion in the Legislature and throughout India as to whether the time had not come for making certain changes. I shall not go into the various steps taken and the resolutions passed, but I proceed further on to the later date. During the period of Lord Irwin's Viceroyalty the announce- 398 ment was made, anticipating the period under the Statute of 1919, that the Statutory Commission would be established. That Commission was at work for some two years throughout India. After immense labours they reported and we had those most valuable volumes of the Simon Commission, to which reference has often been made during the Conference and in almost every debate that takes place in India.
There was a debate in your Lordships' House, which was occasioned by a speech made by my noble friend Lord Irwin when he was Viceroy. It led to debate here, as your Lordships will remember, and I did not happen at that time to take quite the same view. The difference of opinion was almost imperceptible and, indeed, after the argument and after Mr. Baldwin's letter to the Prime Minister at that date, to which I need not more specifically refer, the difference practically disappeared. We began then to discuss these questions. The principal criticism, which was directed in your Lordships' House and to which I certainly gave effect myself, was that that statement was before the Simon Commission had reported and that it should have waited at least, if it was going to be made at all, until after that event.
From that time we have had a series of discussions in your Lordships' House. I am only going to refer to two of them in this year. After that period and after the Statutory Commission had reported, your Lordships will remember the letter which was written and upon which the Round Table Conference was instituted. The Round Table Conference was then summoned; the Bound Table Conference met. There were many discussions, many trials of patience, sometimes things said that were very difficult to listen to with courtesy, perhaps also things said by us which Indians may have objected to very much. Nevertheless the proceedings of that Conference were—I do not hesitate to express my own view, having sat through it—a great success inasmuch as it brought us into close contact and showed us, as nothing else could have shown, the extraordinary complexities of the problems with which we had to deal. It made us understand, too, the points of view of Indians which hitherto had only been half understood. My colleagues on that Conference will agree that it most certainly 399 made Indians realise far better than they hitherto had what the views were of this country and what the responsibilities of the British people were in connection with India.
After that, when the Declaration of the Prime Minister was made, there were two notable debates in your Lordships' House when these questions were most carefully considered. Lord Brentford referred to some observations I made about safeguards, all of which only shows most clearly that every point which we are discussing now was then considered or at least referred to in your Lordships' House. Again the Conference met, for months it sat, and we have had discussion after discussion. Then there were the proceedings in the Cabinet. Parliamentary Committees met and continued to sit and to have their discussions when occasion demanded it. Eventually came the White Paper drafted by the Prime Minister or with the Prime Minister—I do not quite know by whom—and considered by the Cabinet. That is the document which your Lordships are asked to discuss. Whatever your views may be, I do ask you to come to the conclusion that, this is no hasty, hurried document which is cast before you and which you are asked to support, but is the result of most careful thought and study and represents the policy of all parties, not only those in the National Government but also the Party in Opposition to it, the present Labour Party. They wholeheartedly supported it and, as I understood hitherto, it received the wholehearted support of the Conservative Party and of the Liberal Party, of whatever wings they may consist, and also of what is called the National Labour Party.
One great benefit we have derived from these Conferences and from this Paper being presented is that in India the effect has been very great of showing Indians that in Parliament all Parties have united to support the views presented, that all Parties are agreeable to proceed on the lines laid down in the White Paper—because that is all that is asked of anybody who supports it—and that all Parties in the State are ready to confer a measure of self-government upon India, provided that conditions and reservations are properly incorporated, as of course they must be, in a Statute. That will dispose, I hope, of any sug- 400 gestion that we are merely dealing with something that is hurried.
Let me ask you to consider the White Paper and then proceed to the Amendment. Of course, in a matter of this character there must be divisions of opinion. There are many who have been in India and done most honourable service there who have left it perhaps many years ago or it may be only a few years ago. They may not agree; I do not know. There are certainly those, who have been there in recent times, so far as I am able to judge, and who understand, as I believe, better what is the true position, who have taken a very different view that, provided safeguards and reservations are properly incorporated into the Statute, the step forward should be made. There are others again who are always against change. My noble friend, who prides himself upon it, is not in the House and I lose the opportunity of seeing him raise his hat in reply to the compliment as he would take it. He would say "Anything which is a change in the direction of progress must be wrong." He may be right, we may be wrong.
Again, there are many who will take the view that we should pause at this moment—that I understand is in the main the argument presented to us—and not come to a conclusion now. It is to the latter argument that I propose to direct attention. May I just remind your Lordships of one further feature in connection with this matter? As I understood the argument of the noble Lord who moved the Amendment he does not object to the grant of provincial autonomy, nor, as I followed him, did the noble Viscount (Viscount Brentford). The objections were against conferring responsibility at the centre. I hope I have correctly understood the view in this respect.
§ LORD LLOYD
That is correct. My main object to-day is to procure more time—that we should not decide now. That is the main thing my Amendment was moved for.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I understood that. I am at any rate glad that I have not misunderstood my noble friend in this—that he is not attacking the suggestion of provincial autonomy but of conferring responsibility at the centre at this moment. That enables me 401 at any rate to proceed from one point—that all are agreed there should be provincial autonomy. Of course, that was die report of the Statutory Commission. My noble friend Viscount Burnham, who made his speech yesterday, was responsible himself for that recommendation. There is no manor of controversy about it. All are agreed, and I would ask those who then tell us that there should be provincial autonomy whether they suggest, whether they would assert, that you could have provincial autonomy without making changes in the government at the centre. I should be very surprised if my noble friend Lord Lloyd did, because he has worked a Constitution, he knows what it means, he knows what would inevitably have to happen in the government at the centre; and it must follow automatically that the moment you grant provincial autonomy you must change the Constitution at the centre.
I am not suggesting by that that consequently you must change it to the extent proposed in the White Paper, but you must make very definite changes because the Constitution otherwise could not work. I need not dilate at length upon that. Let me ask, then, if we are to have responsibility at the centre—and I suppose the object of that is to confer responsibility on Indian legislators, because all who have had experience of administration in India will agree that the grave defect in the system instituted in 1919, as shown by experience, is that there is no responsibility in the proper sense of the word conferred on those who are members of the Provincial Legislatures. The difficulty always is that there is not the responsibility and the object now of conferring provincial autonomy is to place on the shoulders of the provincial legislator the responsibility of actions. In other words, what we are trying to do is to trust him—of course, preserving sufficient powers in the case of need to put anything right which may otherwise be wrongly done.
Once that has been done we approach a new aspect. What has struck me throughout this discussion is that we lave not paid sufficient attention, although it has been mentioned, to what is the most important matter in connection with responsibility at the centre. When we first met here at the Conference you will remember that we were 402 anxious about what was to happen and we did not quite understand what the demands would be. When we met we realised that the Simon Report had made definite recommendations strongly in favour of a federation of all India. Really it was the strong point made by the Simon Report, although they did not deal at length with it because they thought it could not be reached for many years. Sir John Simon and his colleagues said: "Whatever you do remember we must aim at federation; federation is your objective; do nothing which will interfere with that." And he went so far, in the final recommendations, as to suggest that the new Legislature which was to be started in India should be called the Federal Legislature, although there would be no federation in existence. That was our position. "We all desired it, but saw no hope of it. The Government of India, with Lord Irwin at the head, in the very useful Report which they sent, which has assisted all of us so much, merely referred to federation, treating it as something out of the question. Then to our surprise, when we arrived at the Conference, the Princes themselves proposed federation.
May I say, speaking as one at the Conference who knows the views of all the members of Parliament then sitting, from the Prime Minister onwards, that that opened up a completely new vista? From the moment there was a proposal of federation in which the Princes would join it was seen that there was a possibility of our being able to do something, provided we could get the members of British India to accept safeguards and reservations which were thought to be essential to good government. The Princes took one other step and may I beg your Lordships to consider it? It has been referred to in passing during the debate, but it is a matter of supreme importance. Having thus pleased everybody who saw the possibility of a federated government the Maharaja of Bikaner, the chief spokesman for the Indian Princes said:The Princes have made it clear that they cannot federate with the present Government of India and we are not going to delegate) any of our sovereign powers unless and until we can share them honourably and fully with British India in the Federal Executive and Legislature.403 That was a repetition at the end of the Conference in January of a statement he made at the very beginning and showed quite clearly what the Princes' view was from beginning to end and is at this moment: "it is no use to talk to us of federation unless there is a measure of responsibility at the centre." But it must be understood that responsibility as accepted by them is a responsibility subject to the safeguards and reservations which have been indicated.
That being the case, let me ask this: What is the position, and what is it that you are asked to do in regard to India and what is called responsibility at the centre? Your Lordships are asked to affirm a policy, merely the principles upon which you are prepared to proceed. You are not asked to pass a final judgment. I join issue completely with my noble friend Lord Lloyd when he suggests, as he does by his Amendment, that this is a final judgment. How can it be? How is it possible that it should be a final judgment which all of us are prepared to pass? There cannot be a final judgment on the Constitution till the end is actually before you. What is asked in this matter is not that you should pass final judgment. In the very White Paper which your Lordships are asked to approve you are told that in the end there will be another meeting of the Conference in order to review the work of the various Committees to be sent out to India for the purpose of considering and recommending upon the subject entrusted to them. The whole matter in that respect has to come forward again. Indeed, as far as your Lordships are concerned, I suppose nothing will happen until a Bill is presented to you which will be the Constitution of India, and then there will be a Joint Committee appointed for the purpose of considering it in all its phases.
May I remind you in that respect that every one of your Lordships, whatever your view may be in this matter as regards the Bill whenever it comes, is uncommitted, and I hope I myself stand uncommitted. I should be sorry to express any view which would make it impossible for me to criticise the Bill or even to move an Amendment. I have myself every time I have spoken on the subject taken the precaution of saying that. It was adopted from the first by 404 the Prime Minister and minuted throughout the Conference, that of course everything depends upon the Bill being put in a proper shape and coming up as a workable Constitution. Therefore I marvel at the suggestion that this is a final judgment. Let me nevertheless not belittle the fact of the White Paper. It is not my desire in the slightest degree to minimise its value. Quite the opposite. I think it is most valuable, and I hope that in the result your Lordships will approve it, and that it will go out as a message to India from your Lordships as well as from the Commons, so that we may at last have some prospect of a better state of affairs in India than we have had during the last few years. All your Lordships are asked to do, as I understand, is to approve the principles which are laid down in the White Paper, principles which do not bind you to detail. It is stated, on the contrary, that no one would be bound to detail. It binds you to a Federal Government, and as far as I know there has been no objection to that. Certainly no one who has spoken in your Lordships' House has objected to it. Neither do I believe that any one could be found in the House now who would say that he would object to federation. The hope we have now is federation.
For myself, from the moment that I heard that it was possible to federate, I have seen the prospect of a contented India, and I have not hesitated to say so. I have said it in the Conference, and I will repeat it here, with a Conservative element in it composed of the Princes who would help to steady things. That is the reason why I have supported it and why I beg your Lordships to support it. If you get that Federal Government there are certain things upon which you can rely, whatever the exact proportions may be. I will not pause to consider the proportions. Debate is going on and has been for some time as to whether there should be in the Upper House—let us take that as an instance—40 per cent, representing the Princes and 60 per cent. British India, or whether it should be 50 per cent. Princes and 50 per cent. British India. For my purpose it is immaterial. I care not much. If you have that 40 per cent, of Princes you have a big element in India which will make for stability. It is for that reason 405 I support it and because I think the prospect of having a Legislature and the Government of all India of the 350,000,000 of people in India is so attractive, instead of, to put it roughly, having 250,000,000 or 260,000,000 representing British India. You would have that vast assembly of people with the State representing a third at least in area of the whole of India brought in with the other two-thirds, making one great India, with, as I have indicated, an element in it which above all others has definitely announced its desires and determination to retain connection with the British Crown and people. The Princes have never hesitated. They have asserted that again and again, and you will get that element into your Legislature. 1 can scarcely conceive, if that is the case. and we get a Legislature of that character, that there can be any of the dangers that have been suggested in responsibility at the centre.
I have been invited—but I shall refrain from falling into the temptation—to explain the safeguards, It can hardly be necessary. My noble friend Lord Brent-ford quoted from a speech of mine made in your Lordships' House in which those safeguards were referred to and enumerated, and I must not let myself be tempted into repeating them. I did on one occasion deal with them at some length because of many things put to me in the Conference on this subject, when I first put forward the safeguards and reservation at the Conference. If my noble friend is curious he will find them gone into and explained to the best of my ability, not only as to what they were, but also as to how they would function, what the effect would be, and what would be the method employed. I would only add one word with regard to that. I came to that conclusion in January of 1931. I have read a great deal, and discussed at great length, and talked very much about them since, and all I can say to your Lordships now, as I ventured to say at the Conference, is that I see no reason to change any view that I then expressed. I believed then that the safeguards and reservations which wore asked for were necessary at the present moment, and I believe so still, and I am very glad to find that the Government itself has come to that conclusion, and 406 that the Government adheres to the same view and desires these same safeguards.
All I wish to say in regard to them is this. Supposing your Lordships were asked: What are the dangers with which you have to deal I Suppose we were sitting together in a room, and you were to discuss with me the real anxiety as to the future, you might say: "If you give responsibility to the centre what is going to happen about the Army—not the British Army because that presumably, although in India, will still remain under the British Government, but the Indian Army?" The answer is that under this scheme that Army remains entirely under the charge of the Viceroy. You might ask: Does that mean with a responsibility to the British Parliament? The Viceroy is, as your Lordships know, under the superintendence, direction and control of the British Parliament in these matters, and therefore he is the one person who has control, and through him it comes back to your Lordships. That is as regards the Army. So that is safeguarded and absolutely retained.
Then your Lordships will ask me very naturally, How is the money to be found? That is provided for. I will not weary you with the details. There is power to deal with it. You may draw the money just the same as if there was a Consolidated Fund from which the money may be spent without the necessity of having it brought forward in Parliament. The Viceroy would have all that power. Equally with regard to foreign relations, the Viceroy would have control. Again any obligations that may have been entered into internationally would be under the control of the Viceroy. I might go through a number of matters, including finance, which, of course, is a very delicate subject to consider especially at this moment and upon which I do not want to say much to-day, except that it is made perfectly clear in the discussion that we had in the Conference and in the White Paper that every possible care has been taken to safeguard the position and to preserve the credit and stability of India. Whatever may be done and however your Act of Parliament may be framed, certainly if it is to receive my support it must have a charge in respect of the loans and all that pertain to the loans, the sinking fund, ser- 407 vice of interest and so forth. I do not think any question arises with regard to that.
I might enumerate a number of other questions, but I am anxious not to detain your Lordships too long and so I pass to what is really the true point of difference between us. Those of your Lordships who are supporting this Amendment think that we should proceed with caution in this matter. I am in entire agreement. I should be very sorry to be party to any act which would be one of imprudence in connection with India. I am most anxious that we should take every possible care and I would defy any one of those who oppose the White Paper policy to suggest any possible precaution which could be inserted which has not been taken. When that has been done we are met with an argument which is in the nature of a dilemma, but really if the noble Lord who used it will forgive me for saying so it is hardly worthy of serious argument. It is said that when you have got these safeguards—I remember the exact words used by the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford—they are a negation of responsibility at the centre. That is to say, first of all the argument against the White Paper is that you must not do this, that you must proceed with the greatest caution. Then when it is shown that the greatest caution has been used and that every possible care has been taken to insert devices to protect the future for the time being, the answer is that that is a negation of all responsibility. I confess that I find it very difficult to understand that as an argument to be addressed to your Lordships in this connection.
The conditions that we wish to attach are conditions which are thought necessary. After all, yon cannot—in my opinion at least and I have never hesitated to say so—make one great jump to full responsibility for India. I do not think it is possible, certainly at the present stage, and I think that what you have to do is to proceed, as the Preamble of the Act of Parliament of 1919 says, "by successive stages." Here is a very important stage and, I think myself, the most important stage perhaps in the history of India, certainly since the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. I ask your Lordships to come to the conclusion that the policy which has been put forward here is wise and I submit that it 408 should receive your Lordships' approval. It is not hasty or hurried for the reasons I have given. It has been subjected to the greatest criticism and analysis. It has been examined from every point of view. It was discussed in the House of Commons for two days. It received the support of the Chairman of the Statutory Commission, Sir John Simon himself, who in his Report advocated some measure—a very small measure—of advance in the centre but was largely in favour of retaining the position at the centre as it was. At that time, of course, he did not know and had not thought that federation would be possible. We now know what his view is from the utterances he has made quite recently.
May I ask your Lordships then to consider how the proposal stands at this moment? It has the support of the Princes of India. It has the support of a very large number of those who were present at the Conference, Indian representatives and Europeans ordinarily resident in India and carrying on business in India. I cannot say that it has Mr. Gandhi's support. I am not quite sure; what Mr. Gandhi's view upon it is at this moment. I think the most rev. Primate said that he was elusive. If I may say so from the experience of one who has known him for some years, I quite agree. It is difficult to know. It may be that perhaps Mr. Gandhi's position makes it difficult for him to state it at this moment. I gather that he is the representative of the Congress and that he has to consult with the Congress. At any rate we do not know. It may be said that he is not satisfied and is so far dissatisfied that he may wish to resume his campaign of civil disobedience in India. I do not know whether that is so or not, but I do not hesitate to say—and I ask your Lordships to believe from the experience of all those who have contact with India at the present moment—that the proposals have support from intellectual India, from distinguished men representative of India from all the Provinces who were taking part in the Conference, from the great constitutional lawyers of India who, in their speeches, have shown a knowledge of our Constitutional Law and the Constitutional Law of foreign countries which was very surprising and would do credit to great constitutional lawyers in this country. Every I one of those men is now pledged and will 409 be pledged to support this policy. They know perfectly well that it may take years.
So much was that argument pressed that there was a discussion as to whether or not it would be, possible to have provincial autonomy at once and to proceed also with federation, to have a Bill first for provincial government and to go on as quickly as could be done with federation. That was negatived, as your Lordships have heard, because Indian members—who I confess! I think did not quite understand what was intended—were against it and would not work it and it was essential to have something which would work. I ask you to believe that we shall have a large body of assent. When they go back to India they will be ready at least to help in getting India to wait, to assist in all the work that will be done, to join in the discussions that must take place in India on the various aspects that are still left unconsidered and, above all, to lend their support to the Government of India during this time, to be an effective force against civil disobedience.
And I would ask you to bear in mind, my Lords, what would happen if you in this House—let me assume it for the moment—by a majority passed the Amendment. You would then be destroying by your votes what has been Laboriously built up in India: the assent of those who have taken part in the Conference and who are now returning to India; the numberless persons in India who are looking to this country with hope; and the removal of the distrust and suspicion which unfortunately has existed for a considerable time. You will do everything, I say with all respect, so far as my judgment goes, to create trouble in India, to re-constitute the kind of agitation which we are hoping to get rid of. I am not pausing to deal with Bengal or terrorism. I have not a word to say about that, for the reason that I am in on tire accord with the statement made by Lord Lothian recently, that everything must be done to meet this terrorism, and I do not hesitate to say that I should be ready to take any measures that might be necessary to meet it. I am dealing with the rest of India, and with the problem as I see it, and with a desire to gut some consent and 410 support from Indian opinion instead of driving Indian political opinion into one camp against the British Government.
I ask your Lordships to remember what, perhaps, some of your Lordships who know India may not always recall—namely, that among this great population of 350,000,000 of people in India there are less than 200,000 Europeans, counting man, woman, and child and all the British soldiers in India. We have managed to govern that country with the greatest success, as I believe, and I am quite convinced that our rule in India has been of the greatest benefit to India, just as I believe that her connection with us has been of great benefit to Great Britain. I am most desirous of seeing that connection maintained, and of seeing India working conjointly, happily and contentedly with us. I am most anxious that we should not have to proceed to measures of repression otherwise than may be absolutely necessary. I am most desirous that we should be able to arrive at a conclusion where we can truthfully say that we have, with care and thought given to the subject, arrived at a Constitution for India which will enable it to work, for some time at least, in peace. Above all I ask your Lordships to remember that if this Government is constituted it must be a Federal Government. That is a condition. That is the plan you are asked to favour, and that is stated in the White Paper. You have not only safeguards in the Federation itself for the future government of India, but I believe, looking ahead 50 and 100 years even, it will be possible to sec that you have stability in India by reason of the Federation of All India.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I must apologise for not having been present throughout these debates. I can only say that I hope you will forgive me. It was only indisposition over which I had no control which prevented my being present yesterday afternoon. I would like to re-echo what almost every speaker has said, and certainly not least the noble Marquess who has just sat down, what a very grave and serious step we are called upon to take this evening. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the occasion, but I hope you will believe that I do not approach this subject from an extreme point of view. 411 I believe that I have in the past been called a diehard. I have never quite made out what it means, but I am certainly not a diehard so far as the question of India is concerned. I take the view, which everybody takes, that the old state of things has passed away. We cannot, even if we wanted to, go back to the state of things which existed before the War. We have entered upon a totally new chapter in the history of India. I agree with everything said under that head, and, moreover, I agree in very large measure with what His Majesty's Government have done. I speak not merely of the present Government but of the Government taken altogether in its successive forms.
I was a great supporter of the assembly of the Round Table Conference. I believe it to have been a first-rate move, and I go so far as to say that I think it has been justified by its own proceedings and the history of its work. I do not think it has achieved very many positive results. On the contrary, I understand that practically none of the important questions have been decided or nearly decided, but I think it is true, as the noble Marquess and others have said, that the bringing of various interested parties together has enabled those concerned to see how great are the difficulties which have to be solved. But that is not a reason for less caution. It is a reason for more caution that we have now realised what all the difficulties are. But one of my difficulties, and why I approach the subject with such hesitation, is that we are not in possession of all the information which ought to be at our disposal. When I read the speech of the Under-Secretary or of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, or listen to the speech of Lord Reading, I feel I am at a great disadvantage. They and the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, who made such an admirable speech this evening, have been present at the Round Table Conference. They know what is the position, and perhaps have read the Report of the Federal Structure Committee. Nobody else seems to have read it. Is it the fact that it was not circulated to the Conference? Is it meant to be said that nobody except the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack knows what was in the Report?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I was responsible for that Report, and it was circulated to the Round Table Conference. I not only read it, but I wrote it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble and learned Lord has very great advantage, I agree, but none of us outside the Conference appear to have seen this Report.
THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN)
These documents were published last February, and have been published in the Blue-books for nine or ten months.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I understood that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had written and presented a Report which had only recently been received by the Conference.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
First of all the Report was brought before the Federal Structure Committee. In fact there were seven Reports. The Federal Structure Committee passed those Reports, and when passed they were sent on to the Round Table Conference. The Round Table Conference considered the Reports and passed them, and I think they are now in a Blue-book. Personally I have not seen the Blue-books, but I have the originals.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The broad fact remains that I do not think there are five noble Lords present here who have read the Federal Structure Committee's Report. How can you expect us to approach this subject without hesitation in the absence of this vital document? I was saying just now that personally, so far as my opinion is worth anything, I entirely approve of the assembly of the Round Table Conference, and I approve also of those Committees which, under the policy of the Government, are going to be sent to India to work out the various difficulties. We shall be very much interested in the Reports which those Committees bring home. Of course, they have not even begun, and therefore that is also absent from our consideration. These things appear to be of great importance.
Now, I want to say, if I may be allowed, how greatly I admired a great number of the speeches which have been delivered in this debate. I wish I had 413 had the honour of hearing the speech of my noble friend Lord Irwin last night. It evidently was a first-rate speech. I have read every word of it, but it is not quite the same thing as hearing it. But may I say of that speech, and of most of the speeches, that they would have been more appropriate to the Second Reading of the Bill of 1919 than they are to the present juncture? Those speeches have been a great and eloquent plea in favour of a new departure in India, in favour of an advance in a democratic direction, in favour of an increase of responsibility. But, as to dealing with the actual details, even the details, so far as they go, in the White Paper, hardly a word has been said. I make an exception in respect of the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland. He, for a very brief period in his speech, actually dealt with the nature of the responsible government which it is proposed to give to India. But the Government have never dealt with that. Now, it really is vital. We must know what is the responsible government to be given to India for which we are going to be asked to vote this evening. Because my criticism is not necessarily that responsible government in India is wrong, but that it is impracticable if the conditions which the Government have laid down are also to be observed. I may be quite wrong. Noble Lords may rise in their places and prove to me that; the limitations and conditions which the Secretary of State for India and the Under-Secretary last night have laid down are consistent with responsible government.
Now what is the responsible government which is proposed? Here is what the Prime Minister said:Subject to defined conditions, His Majesty's late Government were prepared to recognise the principle of the responsibility of the Executive to the Legislature.That is to say, as I understand it, that what the Prime Minister stated, and what the Government ask us to-night to accept, is an Executive in India responsible to the Legislature. Well now, what does that mean? After all, we are not children in these things. We are probably the greatest body of experts in constitutional development and practice that the world contains. We know all about it. What is an Executive responsible to the Legislature. It means a 414 Government in India enjoying the confidence of the Legislature. That is what is meant. If I am over-stating it, my noble friends here will rise in their places and correct me; but I take it that what is meant by the Prime Minister's phrase of an Executive responsible to the Legislature is that the Government in India is to be the absolute creature of the Legislature. That is what we mean in England. That is apparently what the Viceroy means, because, although one does not read too much into a short telegraphic report, I see he says that he looks forward before the end of his tenure of office to having become a constitutional Sovereign. That is exactly the same thing. We know that a constitutional Sovereign has a Government for which the constitutional Sovereign is not in any way responsible, but which is the creature of the Legislature, and lives or dies at its pleasure.
I venture to state these things because I want the House, before it definitely comes to a conclusion, to realise what the vital importance is of the step which it is going to take. I know it is said that the Viceroy is to have reserved emergency powers, by which, if anything is done wrong, he is to put it right again. I know it is very rash to speak in the presence of so many experts in Indian government. I see them all around me. Secretaries of State, Governors-General and Governors. But I will go this length. I will say that to carry on a Government by the constant use of emergency powers is the most grotesque form of government you could conceive. I do not believe in it a bit. Unless the Viceroy can have some confidence in the wisdom of the Government of India, then the dislocation which must ensue will rapidly become fatal.
I pause to note that it is this form of government which was specifically rejected by Sir John Simon's Report. I do not want to dwell upon that too much, but if noble Lords will consult the Report they will find that he definitely considered whether an Executive responsible in the way which I have described would be good for India, and he and his colleagues came to the conclusion that it would be entirely premature and bad for India. That is an important consideration. And I hope your Lordships will not be too much led away by predictions 415 of smooth things. I have been so long in this House, and I have heard so many predictions made which have not come true. What about tranquil Government in Ireland after Home Rule? What about the absence of coercion there? What is the event? Why, I suppose there never was such an extreme form of coercion as has been imposed in Ireland quite recently. It occurs to me also—I hope your Lordships will not think this irrelevant, but I cannot help remembering it—that when we were discussing a certain provision of the Coal Mines Bill about the spread-over, so many noble Lords got up in their places and said: "Well, you can trust the trade unions. You are quite safe. This sort of thing can only be done by good will, and the trade unions are quite certain to act properly." We know what happened. No, let us by all means treat this subject with a due amount of confidence, but do not let us be misled by predictions of smooth things.
Let me for one moment try to apply one or two of the Secretary of State's safeguards to this proposed constitution of an All-India Executive responsible to an All-India Legislature. I do not know, of course, whether the noble Marquess who has just sat down and his colleagues discussed these things in detail in the Conference. He says they did. Your Lordships have not had that advantage. Let us consider some of those things. Take, for example, the condition that the relations with the Princes must be retained by the Crown. Your Lordships will remember that it is an All-India Executive and an All-India Legislature. I presume that this safeguard means that the All-India Legislature and Executive are not to interfere with the States; otherwise, what is the meaning of the statement that the relations with the Princes must be retained by the Crown? They are not to interfere in the domestic government of the States. How does that work? Are the representatives of the States in the Legislature and the Government not to interfere with British Indian domestic affairs? Are they to be for certain purposes in the Legislature and for other purposes out of it? Have not these things been thought of?
We are very old hands at this. I remember very well that, when Mr. Gladstone's second Home Rule Bill was 416 going through the House of Commons, he tried what was called the in-and-out plan. Your Lordships are familiar with it. He tried the plan that the Irish representatives were to be in the House of Commons for some purposes and out of the House of Commons for other purposes. The thing completely broke down and was abandoned by the Government as unworkable. Yet I cannot see if this safeguard of the relations between the Crown and the Princes is to be maintained, how you are to avoid some sort of in-and-out clause; otherwise you would have the absurd position that the representatives of the States were to have the right of voting about the domestic concerns of British India and perhaps of being the deciding voice in who was to be the Government of India, and yet the representatives of British India might have no say about what goes on in the States. That is only one example of how impossible it is to come to a conclusion by means of generalities—generalities which I admire so much and which we have heard in these debates, with all those appeals (the most rev. Primate made one) to trust in the Indian people. What is the good of all those things unless you can show that they can be done? That is the point.
I hope I am not wearying your Lordships, but let me take another case, that of commercial discrimination. One of the Secretary of State's limitations was that there must be no unfair economic or commercial discrimination against the British trader. Does he really think that this safeguard would have a long life in India? Supposing it were felt in India, rightly or wrongly, that they wished to protect against Great Britain: does the noble Marquess the Under-Secretary think that we have strength through the Viceroy to resist such a thing? Just consider what would happen. It would be shown in wonderfully eloquent speeches, of which the Conference was an example, that this particular form of discrimination was only justice to the Indian people, and a demand would be made upon the Viceroy that these limitations and restrictions should no longer continue. Do you think there is any power in modern British Governments to resist a demand of that kind? There again, the experience of a long life convinces me of the futility of that sort of safeguard.
417 I remember, your Lordships remember, that it was provided in the Irish Treaty that the Irish Government should bear a large part of the War Debt of this country. That was one of the conditions of it. How long did it last? Two years, and it was then swept away. There were very good reasons offered; all sorts of appeals were made to trust the Irish people and to do everything in our power to eliminate any cause of friction and everybody would be delighted and everything would be smooth ever afterwards, It was all very well, but we lost so many millions a year. Of course, it is not precisely parallel, I do not contend that for a moment, but there is an economic advantage retained by the Mother Country in both cases. The storm broke in the one case and it was swept away. I would venture a small sum of money that if this arrangement went through and that safeguard was put in, it would not last five years; I doubt whether it would last two years.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is the truth right through the difficulty. When once you are dealing with anything so powerful as a Legislature and a Government which is responsible to the Legislature it is very difficult any longer to resist. I noticed there was a reluctance, no doubt for a very good reason, in the speakers who are out and out in favour of the White Paper to discuss finance. I know there may be very good reasons for that and I do not want to drive the Government, or to try to drive them, into any detail about it. But is it not clear that the line of demarcation between the finance in the hands of the Government of India and the finance which had to be retained in the hands of the Viceroy would be an extremely difficult one; they must overlap at almost every corner. Your Lordships will observe that it is one of the subjects almost certain to come up early in the proceedings.
The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, speaking last night, told your Lordships that it was a common complaint amongst his Indian colleagues at the Round Table Conference that too much money was devoted to the Army and there was not enough money left for 418 social purposes. I do not enter into the merits of it at all It may, or may not, be true. But, of course, that will come up immediately when the new Government; of India is in power. There the Government will be supported by an Ali-India Legislature and they will say to the Viceroy: "Look here, we cannot spend so much money as you propose, we want it for social reform." Or it might happen the other way. It might be that owing to the exigencies of foreign policy there it was necessary to increase the Army and, therefore, there would have to be a demand for more money on behalf of the Reserved Service. The Legislature would resist. How is that to be resolved when the executive power is in the hands of one party to the controversy? You would have every engine of local government throughout the country employed in order to defeat the wishes of the Viceroy upon the assumption that I am making—I am not certain that, even if my noble friend Lord Irwin were still Viceroy, his wonderful influence would be sufficient to keep Legislature and Executive under proper control.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
One of the most charming features of my noble friend is his honesty. He knows and says at once that there would be no sufficient power in the Viceroy to resist an agitation no longer superficial but an agitation fanned and nourished by every class of local administration in India, which would be ex hypothesi, in so far as it was not under the Provinces themselves, under the complete control of the Indian Legislature and Executive. I cannot imagine that that is an extremely good form of government. My noble friend Lord Zetland pointed out that the present state of things was extremely difficult to work. I do not want to defend the present state of things; I think it wants to be altered. But do not let us alter it for the worse. What is the sense, if you have a division between the Viceroy and the Executive in India, of adding an All-India Executive and Legislature as well? Surely we ought to hesitate a little before we commit ourselves. That is why I feel the strength of my noble friend's Amendment. I do not agree with every part of its draft- 419 ing, but what does that matter? The real point is this. Are we willing to say here and now that this House is willing to have an All-India Executive responsible, in every sense of the word as it is understood here, to an All-India Legislature? it is because I hesitate here that I cannot quarrel very much with my noble friend's Amendment.
Do not think that in anything I have said I am reflecting upon the character of the Indian people. It is not that they have got a double dose of original sin, in Mr. Gladstone's own phrase. Nothing of the kind. The problem is intensely complex and difficult and, with all our great experience as a nation in constructing Constitutions and working them, we have never attempted anything of the kind before. There is this vast population cut into fragments by every kind of division—race, language and religion. Yet without any experience really—because the little experience they have had does not count—we are to be asked tonight to say that they are fit for an Executive responsible to the Legislature. I confess that I have the greatest hesitation. I know that the learned and noble Marquess who has just sat down said that your Lordships will not be committed and that there is always the final Government of India Bill, which will come before this House and which you can criticise. If he reflects on that for a moment, he will not adhere to that view.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I took special care to say that I did not suggest they would not be committed to the principles. I said they would not be committed to the details of any Bill; but the object of this is to commit them to principles.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If you ask people to commit themselves to principles, you ought at least to show that the principles are workable. There has been no attempt to show that. I have read the debates in the other place and no representative of the Government offered to show for a second that it was a workable plan. They took refuge in silence and did not deal with the point. The noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, is the only speaker in either House who has even touched upon the difficulties which lie in the road of an Executive 420 responsible to the Legislature. Are we to go on to vote for this? I know that there have been appeals to great fundamental principles underlying this, to democratic principles, and so forth, and we have been urged to lay aside our doubts and to plunge forward. Let us without fear use our judgment. Why should we be timid? Why should the British Government always have to feel that it has been shoved into something; Where is the old robust independence of the British character? I confess that I believe the conviction which is growing upon the whole world of the weakness of the British Government is the greatest danger to modern society that there is.
Do not think for a moment that I want extreme courses. I admit the immense difficulty of solving this problem of the government of India and I am perfectly willing, notwithstanding all I have said, to suspend my judgment because I know how ignorant I am of the details of Indian administration. Do not let us shrink from our responsibilities. All the world is saying now: "Just press the British Government. They always give way." That is what is being said all over the world. Indeed, when I look at the recent history of the British Government, I am not altogether surprised. Let us be firm in our conviction and, if we have real doubt as to whether an Executive responsible to a Legislature is going to work, let us say that we will have a little more time and make a more cautious approach to this very difficult issue. People say it will have a very bad effect in India: I do not believe it. I believe that what all the subjects of His Majesty like is the feeling that there is a firm hand somewhere. That is what they all want. The fact that your Lordships' House proceeds with caution would be welcomed by a large body of opinion in India and throughout the world.
I do not know what course the Government will want us to pursue this evening. I should hate to have to vote against them. All your Lordships share that view, because we believe in the National Government and want to support it. Surely they will not drive us to say that we must here and now pledge ourselves to an Executive responsible to a Legislature, with, everything that that entails? I should be very glad indeed if this 421 whole debate could be adjourned and we could leave the matter over till next Session and until we have had more time to consider it, and a little more information. We might even see this wonderful Federal Structure Committee's Report, and in the Christmas holidays we might read it; but with our present information surely it is very rash to go through with it. If I had the least encouragement from the Government I would move myself that the debate be now adjourned, so that we should not be forced to a Division, but I must leave myself in the hands of the Government and the House. Let us remember that this is not a case of Parliamentary tactics. We are dealing with some of the most vital interests of the British Empire and with the lives, properties and future prosperity of our Indian fellow-subjects. That this great Assembly should ask for a little time in which to appreciate all the information before coming to a conclusion does not seem to me an unreasonable request.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, if I am not one of the experts to whom the noble Marquess refers I speak with the responsibility of one who has had administrative experience in India, and I hope on that account Lord Snell will not convict me of having a frozen mind. I do not know why the noble Lord should think that all who have served in India got their minds frozen; they are more accustomed to be told that they become baked. I will begin by answering the question put to us yesterday by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sumner, who asked, what are we here for? We are here because the Government has recently made a statement on its Indian policy and wishes to know whether this Parliament in which it enjoys so large a measure of confidence supports it in this policy as in all others. The noble and learned Viscount seemed to suggest it was unnecessary that the matter should be raised in this House. What does it matter, he asked, what our opinions may be?—our support is not necessary to the Government. I do not share the view of the noble and learned Viscount, and if any responsible Minister had ventured to make such a statement in your Lordships' House, I can well imagine the indignant protests from all quarters, and no protest would have been more in- 422 dignant or more eloquent that that which would have come from the noble and learned Viscount. It is just as important to know what is the view of your House, containing as it does so many with experience of India, as it is to know the opinion of the House of Commons. The noble Marquess who has just spoken pleaded for delay on the ground that he had not made up his mind.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I beg pardon, I was not so egotistic as that. What I said was that the House of Lords had not had an opportunity to make up its mind.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
No one surely will contend, because some members of your Lordships' House may not have made up their minds, that that is any reason why the Government, which has made up its mind, should refrain from telling Parliament what its mind is. This Motion has been brought forward with that object and I propose, as briefly as I can, to state the reasons why I shall support the Motion of the noble Marquess on the Front Bench, although I do not agree with all that is contained in the White Paper, and why I cannot agree with the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Lloyd, although I do agree with many of the arguments he used in support of it.
All the speakers who have preceded me have referred to the fact that this is an intensely difficult subject and that risks are involved in any course which may be adopted. It. is quite right that we should be reminded, as we have been during this debate, of those difficulties and of those risks. But whatever they may be we must not lose sight of the essential conditions which govern our whole discussion of the problem. The essential condition was stated by the Prime Minister in another place when he said we have undertaken to lead India to a position where it can make itself responsible for its own government, and whatever phrases may be used from time to time by various speakers, that is the essential feature of the now acknowledged policy of this country towards India. Another essential condition is that that policy has received the assent of all Parties in the country. There is no such thing as a. Conservative policy for India and a Liberal or Socialist policy, 423 and therefore, when the White Paper informs us that the present Government fully accepts the Declaration of January, that does not mean that this Parliament is asked to accept a Socialist policy; what it does mean is that when that Declaration of January was made it was a Declaration which had at that time the support of all political Parties in this country, and therefore it is very proper that this Parliament, which contains representatives of all Parties, should be invited to ratify it.
Another important fact is that this goal to which we are proceeding, which is the ultimate object of the Government of India Act of 1919 and of this White Paper, is not a concession which has been extorted from a reluctant nation in difficulties which made it impossible to refuse it. On the contrary, this is the deliberate policy of a free agent, undertaken not because India insistently demanded it, but because we ourselves believed in it, because we ourselves regarded it as the ultimate object of all our work in India. It is most necessary to emphasise that point, because it affects necessarily our attitude towards each particular State. If the starting point and the finishing point of our policy is accepted, then every stage along the road is not a surrender but an achievement, something of which we can be proud, something about which we can express satisfaction rather than the despair which was expressed just now by the noble Marquess.
There is, indeed, a real difference between those who are glad and those who are sorry that we have started on this road. The noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, just now said he recognised no obligation to go forward. Of course there is no obligation if you do not wish to go forward, but I want to make it perfectly clear that so far as I am concerned I am a willing starter on this road, I am a cheerful traveller along it, and I am anxious to reach the goal as speedily as may be. Therefore, I welcome any stage which means real progress towards it. Having stated that, let me examine the stage which is put before us by this White Paper. The problem of evolving self-government in India involves three elements: first, the responsibility of the Government for the functions entrusted to it; secondly, the representative character of that Govern- 424 ment; and, thirdly, the safeguards which are necessary to maintain the essential conditions of the country subject to the Government. In the ultimate goal which we have set before us the responsibility of the Government and its representative character must be complete, and the safeguards must be effective, but the problem of each stage in the progress is the problem of the degree to which it is safe or wise to concede these three features.
We have already gone two stages along the road. The first was the stage of the Morley-Minto Reforms when we called into existence consultative bodies which were neither representative nor responsible. The second stage was that of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms in 1919 which established representative bodies but still withheld responsibility from them. Now, to-day, we are discussing the third stage in which it is proposed that we should make responsibility complete in the Provinces, and establish qualified responsibility at the centre. I think the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sumner, was perfectly right when he said yesterday that before we decide on the merits of this particular instalment we ought to examine and form an opinion of the merits of the two previous instalments that have gone before. If I may be allowed to express my own view for what it is worth—I can only say this of it that it is based upon actual experience—I think that we have given to India too good a training in irresponsible criticism and too little training in the exercise of responsibility.
My noble friend Lord Lloyd yesterday put before us a dilemma. He said if your responsibility is complete, what becomes of your safeguards; if your safeguards are adequate, what becomes of your responsibility? My noble friend Lord Irwin admitted that that dilemma was unanswerable. I do not agree with either of my noble friends. There is an answer to this dilemma, and it is this, that whatever power you transfer should be accompanied by full responsibility for the exercise of it, and that your safeguards should consist not in limitations of the responsibility, but either in the wise selection of those into whose hands you transfer power or in limiting the field in which the responsibility is to be exercised. I shall be told that this is 425 only theoretical and academic. That is so, but we are not, at this moment, discussing the clauses of a Bill; we are discussing the principles which are to be applied to the next Bill that will be introduced on this subject; and I believe that if the principles which I am advocating could have been applied in the past, if we Lad given to India, more responsibility for which the country was ripe and a smaller measure of representation for which it was not rips, our progress would Lave been more rapid and more successful.
I noticed that almost every speaker who has preceded me has admitted that the problem was so complicated, so novel, and so difficult, it is impossible not to make mistakes. That may very well be, but there is one mistake, which it is possible to avoid, one mistake which it is not permissible for statesmen to commit, and that is a mistake which has already been made. In navigating a ship, when you find an error in your compass it is not pardonable to go on using the same compass until you have corrected the error. We have had ten years' experience of this system of qualified responsibility in the Provinces. That experience we cannot ignore. We are bound to take it into account, and be guided by it, but I do not think that anyone who has tried to work it in India would claim that it had been a success. I think it was right for the Government to make both the attempts which were made, and at the time when they were made, but in so far as the methods were defective at the time, the safeguards set up did not prevent the mischief which followed.
Undoubtedly the authors of the Act of 1919 hoped that in 1930 we should have had experience which would have enabled us to go forward with greater confidence and with less anxiety. Unfortunately, that is not what has happened. Our hesitation is now greater, our anxiety is increased by all that has happened in those ten years. It is quite true that our purpose has not been abandoned but it has certainly not been strengthened. It is with that experience behind us that we have to examine the White Paper. There are four things which the White Paper asks us to approve. The first is to define more closely the goal of our policy, the end of the road along which we are travelling, and to define it as an All- 426 India Federation. That, my Lords, I accept. I believe it is the most valuable result both of the Simon Commission's Report and of the two sittings of the Bound Table Conference that the goal should have been so defined. Secondly, we are asked at once in the next Government of India Act to establish what is called full provincial autonomy. That also I accept because I see in that an attempt to correct the very mistake which was made in 1919. Incidentally I would point out to the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, that it is in the subjects that would be dealt with by these autonomous Provinces that the 340,000,000 people on behalf of whom he spoke would be chiefly interested.
Thirdly, the White Paper proposes if the communal issue cannot be settled by agreement that we should not on that account refuse to make any progress at all but should maintain for the time being the communal position already in existence. On that point my agreement is qualified. I would support that point only if it is to apply to the Provincial Governments. The last thing which the White Paper asks of us is that now, forthwith, in the next Government of India Act we should apply the principle of responsibility at the centre with safeguards, even though no agreement on the communal issue has been reached, even though no basis has been agreed for the Federal Government which is to be established. There I cannot agree. I cannot help thinking that it is fantastic to suppose that you can make this gigantic change in the whole character and structure of the Government of India without such agreement. I do not believe that even the most optimistic could hope that that would succeed. I do not mean that I am opposed to the principle of responsibility at the centre. On the contrary, I recognise that it is a necessary feature in the Constitution that will be ultimately established and I share all the views expressed by the noble Marquess. Lord Reading, as to the necessity of securing responsibility at the centre as soon as possible.
But in my opinion there are two conditions which are essential before responsibility at the centre can be granted. The first is that we should have some experience of the exercise of real responsibility in the Provinces, and the 427 second that we should know in whose hands this responsibility is going to be placed, and that we should have had an agreement between the confederate States that are going to form the new Federal Government, agreement as to the terms on which they will consent to come into this Government. I am quite certain that the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House and every one of His Majesty's Ministers, and indeed the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and all who have spoken in support of this White Paper policy, all share the anxiety which I feel about the grant of responsibility at the centre and the consequences of doing so. They all know the risks that are involved, but they console themselves by saying: "Does it matter, because we have effective safeguards?" I believe that they are under a complete illusion and I, for one, cannot share that illusion.
I agree entirely with the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sumner, who said that paper safeguards are a delusion. I am certain that safeguards without good will are absolutely delusive. Safeguards of course there must be, safeguards there will be in the Federal Constitution when it is finally established, but those safeguards must be effective and they must be permanent. The only way in which you can secure that is not by imposition but by agreement after consultation between free agents. The Moslem community in India, the European community in India, the Indian Princes themselves will all require safeguards—not transitional safeguards for a time, but permanent safeguards embodied in the Constitution—and the only way to secure that is to give them the opportunity in free discussion of stating the conditions on which they would be willing to come into this new Federal Government. The safeguards so secured as a result of this consultation and as the price of their consent would be effective and would be permanent.
I am sorry if in saying this I appear to be critical of a very important feature of the White Paper policy. I recognise the difficulty of the Government and I desire to help them and not to hinder them. I remember also, and remember with gratitude, the many friends I made in India and the loyal service I received while I was there. I sympathise fully 428 with the political aspirations of my Indian friends, and I am not the least afraid of progress in the matter of political reform, but I am convinced by experience in that country that nothing could be worse for India, nothing could be worse for Great Britain, than to attempt to mitigate evils by premature or unwise measures, by the imposition—not by agreement but imposition in the name of safeguards—of limitations that would be at the same time both irritating and ineffective.
§ VISCOUNT FITZALAN OF DERWENT
My Lords, it will be a consolation to your Lordships if I say at once that I am not going to speak for more than one minute, but I feel compelled to state my profound conviction that if we vote for this White Paper we shall make a grave mistake. It may be—it is, I admit—impertinent no doubt for me to say so, but I feel it so strongly that I cannot help rising in your Lordships' House to express that opinion. I will not develop the reasons why I think so, because it would be a waste of time after what has been stated by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. He has given reasons in the weighty and remarkable speech he made why we should not come to a definite decision at once on this grave question, full of the most appalling responsibility and the most tremendous problems. His speech to my mind has altered the whole situation of our debate here. I do not see my noble friend Lord Lloyd in his place, and I do not know what his view may be as regards his own Amendment after what has fallen from the noble Marquess. If Lord Lloyd goes to a Division I shall still support him, but I venture to suggest to him that we ought to reconsider the whole situation after the speech of the noble Marquess and the suggestion that the noble Marquess has made as to an adjournment, which I believe would be the best solution in existing circumstances.
My Lords, it may be rather rash for me to seize this opportunity of speaking in this House, particularly as the matter under discussion is a very difficult and complicated one, and the heights that have been attained by previous speakers make it a little difficult for a beginner to remain 429 in the same field. Your Lordships are accustomed to being addressed in debates on India by noble Lords who have held various high positions of "Excellency" in India, and by other noble Lords who have served with distinction at the base, as it wore, in the India Office. No one can deny that their contributions have been of enormous value and importance, but I believe that there are less than half a dozen of us who are members of this House who have served for years in the Services in India. I know that we are always disparaged nowadays, and are told that our views have been too closeup—that we have no proper perspective—and in short that, whatever our views may be, we are reactionary.
Perhaps there was some indication of that in the speech of Lord Snell, and I would like to reassure him and to tell him that I only served in the East for just under seventeen years, and that I do not pretend to perfection in any language, and so perhaps shall only half-misinform him. As he was so brave as to tell us the yarn of Lord Palmerston's, which almost approaches the genus chestnut, perhaps he would allow me to tell him a story. It is the story of the earnest desire of the highbrows of Balliol to enquire into the conditions of young life in Bermondsey. A little boy was questioned and he told Master, dons and fellows that it was difficult for him to answer their questions because they were "so ignorant." I am not so impertinent as to suggest that that is one's feeling when addressing your Lordships, but that story did occur to me when the noble Lord was speaking and made the remark about frozen brains, to which Lord Lytton referred.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian. I have listened to him on other occasions, elsewhere, on the same subject, and have been greatly impressed with the lucidity of his presentation of the case, but I rather agree with Lord Burnham when he said that the noble Marquess rather glossed over the conditions about education. When one has lived for years on terms of friendship and in close contact with Indian cultivators, great and small, who, after all, are about 90 per cent. of the population of India, and has tried to study their languages, their religions, their customs, traditions 430 and history, and their mentality, it is very difficult indeed to believe that this Constitution which has been formed for them will be of any use to them whatsoever. Personally, I cannot believe that it is anything more than a consignment of high explosive placed, no doubt with the best intentions, in the hands of people who are quite unqualified to handle it. I will change the metaphor. Those who have framed this Constitution are not unlike a firm of tailors who have been for many years constructing garments for a man whose tastes, and whose figure even, they have never studied. The victim will wear this suit of clothes with extreme discomfort and must eventually discard it.
An obvious retort is that Indians have helped to frame the Constitution. One is prepared for that, and could dilate upon it, but one must put a guard upon one's tongue and even if it weakens my case I would rather leave it unsaid. The whole principle was wrong from the starting point fourteen years ago. I am given to understand it is an axiom that when once our nation has set its hand to a definite line of action there is no going back, and that the furrow must be ploughed out to the end, right or wrong. If one holds the view that the principle was wrong in its inception, it is perhaps a waste of time to criticise those who have been most lately concerned with bringing matters to a logical conclusion. How can this Constitution be right when the one great factor upon which any form of government for any country should be based has never been understood or sanely considered? I mean the human factor. This is all-important. A faulty conception of the characteristics of the vast majority of Indians must inevitably make this travesty of Western democracy not only a futile and useless thing, but a highly dangerous one.
The best part of 25 years ago I was the guest of a most distinguished gentleman, a man justly famous for his wisdom in dealing with matters touching the political department of India. Our conversation turned upon incidents of long ago, concerning the shortcomings of a certain chieftain. In my innocence I asked him why, if a chief was a bad chief, he was not at once deposed and replaced by a more suitable man. He replied: "Any fool can sack men, but replacement (in the East at any rate) is always a difficult 431 problem. Unless a new ruler is acceptable to his subjects, and unless he is strong enough to stand on his own feet without support from outside, he can never rule successfully. It is always best to go to the utmost lengths of perseverance and try to make a wayward chief return to the middle of the road." He added: "In other words, never ask a man to bestride a spirited horse if he cannot ride."
We have violated that very simple rule of governing in the East in framing this Constitution. It is most difficult to believe that the pundits and lawyers who are going to operate this Constitution will be acceptable to the majority of the people of India. Mr. Gandhi's assertion that he and his Congress represent a majority of the Indian people is surely the most fantastic of all the sayings which he has made since he embarked upon his political career. For a time he and his eloquent friends may be able to rule, but only so long as British troops keep them in their places and indeed keep their heads on their shoulders. How long are we going to allow British troops to be used for such a purpose? I cannot help thinking that the noble Marquess on the Front Bench and his colleagues will before long weary of running beside a restive horse, holding an inferior horseman in the saddle. In due course that horse will play up or move too fast and will dislodge his rider, and the fall will be such that recovery will be impossible or extremely difficult.
We have ruled India successfully for two reasons. Firstly, because we have the good will of the people, and secondly, because we have been strong enough to maintain law and order; and we have been very much helped by our detachment, being neither Hindus nor Mussulmans. Everybody, I think, in full possession of his faculties knows that we must sooner or later hand over the reins of government in India to Indian hands, and one would be only too glad to see them have their lights, provided that the reins are placed in the right hands. In concocting this parody of Western democracy we have put the powers into the hands of those quite incapable of ruling. The form of government is absolutely unintelligible to 90 per cent, of the people, and of those capable of understanding it 99 per cent. would not say 432 "Thank you" for it. It is a tragedy that it is apparently beyond the genius of any British Government to hand over a system of government which is acceptable and indigenous, and which will receive full support.
I know full well that nothing that I can say will alter the situation, or will have any effect upon what happens. But I receive countless letters from a vast number of Indian friends asking me to take such opportunities as I may have of stating facts which are known to those who have served with them and enjoyed their friendship. I have had the proud privilege of leading Indian troops in very many actions, and I have stayed with them in their villages a great deal in peace time, and I have felt the amazing devotion that they accord to their leaders, and their trust. They fairly represent the cultivators, at any rate in the North of India, and they will suffer as much as, or more than, anyone in the chaos that is impending. We delivered India from tyranny and oppression and misery, and it seems that the only thing that we can hand her now is a certainty of a return to the chaotic conditions from which we delivered her. If I am wrong I am wrong in very excellent company, with hundreds of Englishmen who have known India well and love her. If we are all wrong then the result of many years' study of conditions in the East is that we have learnt nothing. If this is so, I for one will rejoice to admit our mistake when we see this Constitution working smoothly and well. But it is so very difficult to see that it can work well, and the only protest that one can make is to vote for the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, I am sure we ought to congratulate a new member on the very effective speech he has delivered. I rise only to draw attention to one point in connection with the proposed federal system. The Prime Minister has distinctly said that there is no difficulty about creating provincial autonomy; and in the White Paper he states that the Government desire "to re-affirm their belief in an All-India Federation as offering the only hopeful solution of India's constitutional problem." It has been pressed on the Government that the surest and speediest road to federation will be not to delay the assump- 433 tion of full responsibility any longer than if, necessary. That also is in the Simon Report. Sir John Simon, in the debate on the White Paper in the other House, re-affirmed the necessity of provincial autonomy as the first step; and Mr. Churchill in his criticism of the White Paper said:I would not vote against the Government at this stage on the difference between a whole-hearted measure of autonomy in the Provinces on the one hand, or some compromise between autonomy in the Provinces and central autonomy.My noble friend Lord Lloyd said yesterday that we should not build from the top, but begin building from the bottom, as all good builders do. And in yesterday's Times Dr. Shafa'at Ahmed Khan made a statement that he believed that provincial autonomy would be demanded by India very speedily with tremendous momentum. Again, in The Times I notice that a resolution is going to be proposed in the Madras Assembly for complete autonomy in that Province.
One would therefore think that, with all this consensus of opinion as to the necessity of immediate provincial autonomy, the Government would have set to work to introduce it; but the Prime Minister in the White Paper says the Government is going to undertake the far more delicate and difficult task of settling the minorities question. Why not undertake to set up provincial autonomy, which is absolutely essential for any form of federation? It is the first essential step, and I hope the Government will pay attention to this, because it will be a testing period for the proposals made for the future administration of India. Particularly after the very incisive speech which we have heard from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, we should realise the necessity, with the great dangers that loom before us, of having some experience as to what autonomy will mean in the Provinces. It is curious that any of the Indian delegates should demand that there should be no provincial autonomy till the whole structure of the Central Government is set up. I confess it looks as if they mistrusted the success of provincial autonomy. The difficulties will become more apparent after the experience gained in the Provinces. I fancy that is the real reason for their opposi- 434 tion to immediate provincial autonomy, particularly the Hindus.
As regards the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, I confess I had intended voting against it, but I think the noble Marquess's powerful speech has rather weakened my resolution. At the same time, I do think that the Amendment, if carried, would be misunderstood. It would not have any direct effect, and it would rather look as if we wished to prevent the realisation of the vision of wonderful benefits put before the Indian people. But I confess I realise the dangers of carrying out the proposals indicated in the White Paper. The only point is that it is not a Party document. It is the product of the best minds of the three great Parties in the State, collaborating together. On those grounds I still deprecate the Amendment. I think it is a pity it should be voted on at all, but, if it is voted on, I do not think, for the reasons I have given, that I shall be able to support it.
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned till tomorrow, the debate to have precedence over other business.
§ Moved, That this debate be now adjourned till to-morrow, the debate to have precedence over other business.—(The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.