§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion made by the Lord Chancellor on Tuesday, That this House do concur in the Resolution communicated by the Commons, namely: "That, before Parliament is asked to take a decision upon the proposals contained in Command Paper 4268, it is expedient that a Joint Select Committee of Lords and Commons, with power to call into consultation representatives of the Indian States and of British India, be appointed to consider the future government of India and, in particular, to examine and report upon the proposals in the said Command Paper."
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
My Lords, there are a great number of very highly qualified speakers to follow me and I do not propose to detain your Lordships longer than I need. I trust it will not be considered impertinent if, at this stage of the debate, I remark that its length has only been justified by the very high standard at which it has been maintained; for it is difficult to conceive of anyone in his senses opposing the Motion to which this debate is ostensibly directed—namely, that the outcome of more than four years of continuous deliberation is worthy of consideration by a Joint Select Committee. We are all agreed on that issue, and I think it may be worth while saying, although hardly necessary, that we are all agreed on another issue, and that is that we intend to retain the British connection with India. I actually noticed the other day that a Committee had been set up which proposed to oppose any abdication of British rule in India. I can only say that on those terms of reference every member of the House was fully entitled to be a member of the Committee and to endorse its recommendations.
381 But although we are all agreed on those issues and although there is no doubt as to the outcome of this debate, it is only natural that this White Paper should have been criticised very severely both as to its principles and as to its details. I propose very shortly to deal with some of those criticisms of principle, and I apply this test. I feel that the only relevant criticisms of principle of this White Paper are those which are backed up by constructive proposals. We all know that we have got to do something in the fairly near future. We all know that dyarchy has not been altogether successful in the past, and is likely to be less successful in the future. Therefore, a lot of general arguments fail when this test is applied: Do they lead us to any conclusion as to what we are going to do now?
The two cardinal points of principle on which there are definite alternative proposals seem to me to be these. In the first place, that we are going to transfer law and order in the Provinces to a responsible Minister; and secondly, that we are going to give some measure of responsibility, with safeguards, at the Centre at the same time as we are conferring provincial autonomy. I will deal with those two points of principle if I may. Let me deal with the Police first, because I feel very strongly that this is the weakest link in the chain of the White Paper, and it is the one to which we should devote our most earnest attention. It is in every sense the crux of the whole matter. We all know that there are great risks involved in handing over the Police to Indian control. I am not going into them here. They are known to all of your Lordships. We are always being asked to face up to the facts of the Indian situation. I suggest that there are other facts involved, and one of those which we have got to face, however unpalatable it may be, is that Indian opinion is going to fix on two key subjects which are going to determine its acceptance of these reforms. At the Centre it is going to fix on responsibility for finance, and in the Provinces on the handing over of law and order. It is of no use blinking at that fact, because it seems to me so vital and true that I earnestly believe that it will be far better, if we do not intend to transfer law and order in the Provinces, to abandon the whole scheme and see if we cannot find some alternative proposal.
382 I think it was Whyte Melville who said that it was pluck which got you into difficulties and nerve which got you out. It is pluck and past pledges which have got us into these difficulties, but one certain way in which we can transform those difficulties into disaster is by losing our nerve at the last moment, and trying to hedge ourselves round with unacceptable safeguards. If we are going to do this thing at all we have got to do it in the grand manner, and I feel very strongly that it is no use trying to back out now. If you do so I feel that you will isolate the Police and, so to speak, put them in the stocks. All the odium and will be concentrated upon them and you will impose an intolerable strain upon their loyalty. That is why feel that we have got in this matter to accept the finding of the Simon Commission. I believe that in the handing over of the Police in this matter the wiser course is also the holder course and, in my opinion, the safer course for us to pursue So much for the Provinces.
Now there comes the other great question of principle, as to whether we are going to give responsibility at the Centre at the same time as in the Provinces. At first sight it seems to me that the arguments of those who would set up eleven Provincial Governments and retain control at the Centre are paradoxical, because it seems to me that arguments which will apply against granting responsibility to a Legislature composed largely of Princes and Moslems, with a strong Second Chamber of equal powers to the Lower House, elected on a property franchise consisting of only 3 per cent. of the population—arguments which would apply to such a Legislature must apply a fortiori to a Provincial Legislature where few of these internal safeguards exists. The paradoxical is only saved by a misconception, it seems to me, because the answer of those who put forward this proposal is that at any rate you will have a strong Centre, uncontaminated, as it is put in another place, by Indian influence, which is able to exercise direction and control over the Provinces and rescue them from mistakes.
I think that that is based upon a misconception of what provincial autonomy means. It does not mean merely that Indian Ministers are going to be respon- 383 sible to the Indian Legislature, but it means that the Provinces are going to be really autonomous, and that over their sphere the Centre will not be able to exercise any control. If one thinks about it at all I think one has got to make up one's mind that with provincial autonomy, even if the Police are withheld, the whole of Central direction and control is gone for ever. If we pin our faith to that we are pinning our faith to something which will betray us, and I think we shall be betraying our trust to the millions of Indians who depend upon the Provincial Legislatures. I think that if we believe we can control these Legislatures by a strong English Centre, we shall be betraying our trust to those millions of Indians, and the Government has faced that fact very fairly. It has not relied upon a strong Centre. It has relied instead upon the Governor and through the Governor directly upon Parliament. It is this House and another place upon which the White Paper relies to rescue the Provinces from their mistakes, and it seems to me a far more certain method of doing it, and one which gives us far more control over the destinies of those millions, responsibility for whom we can never forget. Those are two points of principle, as it strikes me, on which there are alternative proposals.
There are, of course, also details which are criticised. We have been told that the franchise is too large. I have little to add to what the noble Marquess said about that, but I would like to remind your Lordships of the strong exhortation addressed to us by Lord Lloyd a little before we went to India. He said:May I suggest that you pause awhile in your present programme, and change the direction of your present march; that you stop building from the top, and begin building from the bottom like all good builders do. Extend your franchise, widen your basis, deepen your foundation. Then you will begin to find out what the great masses of the people in India really think. Then you will find out, by interpreting their needs, what the real masses of the people, not the minute and urban fraction, need.The noble Lord went on in the same strain but I will not detain your Lordships longer with that. It was a great consolation to us when sometimes we thought that our proposals might be criticised on the ground of liberality to know that Lord Lloyd would always be ready to 384 leap to our defence in the face of any such attack.
I do not think that it is my duty at this stage to offer any constructive suggestions for consideration by the Joint Select Committee. There are a number of points on which I think the White Paper naturally might be improved. I will mention just one, because it leads on to what I intend to say. I think it would be better if the seats of those Princes who have not joined the Federation through their own will or because the State is ruled by a Regent, were filled during the transition period by nomination. Of course, I am fully aware of the theoretical incompatibility between nomination and responsible government. But I think we delude ourselves if we think that responsible government, as we know it in England, is going to spring up in India in a night as the result of this White Paper. I think that for a long time you are going to have a very fluid sort of Constitution indeed. There is going to be a great deal of inexperience floating about, and I think that inexperience will be only too glad to take the advice of Viceroys and Governors, if they are good Viceroys and Governors, even though those Viceroys and Governors are not really responsible for the subjects on which the Minister takes advice.
I feel that it is a very good omen for the future that the other day in the Federal Assembly in Delhi members of every Party, members who for years have been shouting irresponsible criticisms at the Finance Member were unanimous in asking that his term of office should be extended in order to help them over the very difficult period of transition. I feel that that is a good omen of the sort of way that this Constitution is going to work in the future. But because the Constitution will not give immediate self-government or responsible government I am very glad that in it there are all the seeds of that responsible government. The noble Lord opposite referred to the safeguards as a cage. I think that is a fundamentally wrong way of looking at it. It is another way of putting the old dilemma that you cannot have both responsible government and safeguards. It seems to me that the whole virtue of this White Paper is that it answers that dilemma. In a sentence, what we have done is that we have made responsible 385 government a certainty and we have made the safeguards a contingency.
If your Lordships will excuse me I will put it in the form of a simile which seems to me far more apt than that of the noble Lord opposite. It seems to me that for years we have been promising that when India grew up we would teach her to fly, and for years now she has been sitting in the cockpit behind us screaming wild denunciations about our conduct of the machine. Now we are going to hand over the controls to her; but, because we have a great respect for our own life and for hers, we are going to put her into a dual-control machine. As long as she obeys the necessary laws of aviation so long will she be able to a very large extent to control both the pace and direction of her flight. But the moment she forgets or ignores those laws and danger looms ahead, our hands can grasp the controls once more and restore her to safety. I feel that that is how we ought to look at this Constitution and that if we look at it in that way we shall destroy the raison d'ôtre of the agitator and the extremist. His salvation will be in his own hands. The onus of proof is for the first time put upon the Indian. If he governs well there is no limit to what he can do. If he governs badly we are there to rescue him from chaos.
We lose all that, of course, if we take the alternative proposals of the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, and I feel also that fortune has very greatly favoured us at this vital juncture in Indian history at which we by some strange chance have to play so large a part. We have got a Parliament peculiarly well fitted, both by its talents and by its character, to deal with the situation. We have a Secretary of State and a Viceroy worthy of the high traditions of their offices. We have British India weary of struggle, longing only for peace, her politicians only anxious to get on with those great schemes of social reform which they feel, and I think rightly, that they alone are competent to perform. And we have the Indian Princes ready to take their part in what we are all agreed is to be the ultimate solution of the Indian problem—namely, Federation. That argument is not conclusive, but I feel very strongly that that fortunate conjuncture of circumstances may never come again, and we have to think twice before we deprive 386 Parliament of its opportunity, before we rebuff the Princes, and before we bitterly disappoint British India
This is a very grave matter, and it not only transcends the bounds of Party politics but it also goes far beyond the bounds of a generation. Others in time will succeed to these vast duties and responsibilities in this matter which your Lordships now possess. We are not only building for our own time. I would entreat your Lordships to consider very carefully which of the two sets of proposals before you—the proposals of the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, or the proposals incorporated in the White Paper—are not merely going to enable you to patch up a settlement which may serve your immediate purpose but will enable you to bequeath a heritage of which you will be able to be proud to those who will come after you. Another generation left the burden on your Lordships which even the talents that won the War were not able to withstand; and it is because I see in the alternative proposals before you the seeds of that same dissension and that same decay which blossomed so fruitfully in Ireland, and because I see in them something which is going to lay an intolerable burden on another generation that I accept the proposals of the White Paper, believing as I do that they rise above the exigencies of the moment, and offer a good chance of a lasting settlement between India and England.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
My Lords, I find myself very largely in agreement with the noble Marquess who has just sat down, and whom we are all so pleased to find taking what may be described as an hereditary interest in the problems of Indian government; that is to say, I find myself in agreement with the main principles upon which the scheme set forth in the White Paper is based. But let me also say that there are certain features of the scheme which appear to me to be objectionable; and, that being so, it necessarily follows that I applaud the procedure which is proposed—namely, the submission of this scheme to a Joint Select Committee, since it is obvious that a Committee of the kind contemplated will be the most convenient body to take into consideration and, if it is thought desirable, to suggest alternatives to, those aspects of the scheme which may be thought to be susceptible of improvement. I shall 387 hope to mention some features of the scheme which I dislike and to give my reasons for so disliking them. But before I do so, may I state briefly why it is that I support the scheme as a whole? In doing so, I do not propose to argue the case on this occasion on any moral grounds, though I think the moral grounds are very strong. I propose to argue the case on strictly practical grounds.
To begin with, then, I am satisfied that a Federation of the Provinces of British India and of the Native States is the only sound basis on which a self-governing Constitution for India can be built up, and, since the Princes have made it clear that they will not agree to federate unless some measure of responsibility is granted at the Centre, I naturally accept the proposal in the White Paper that the Federal Executive, with certain important reservations, should be responsible to the Federal Legislature. But that is by no means the only reason why I support this particular part of the scheme. I do so because I am convinced that by granting a measure of responsibility you will be far more likely to secure a reasonably strong and stable Government than you will be if you merely perpetuate the existing system. There seems to be an idea in some quarters, and, unless I have misunderstood noble Lords, it is an idea which is shared by the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury, and the noble Lord, Lord Hardinge, that the Government of India as at present constituted possesses the elements of strength and stability. That is not my opinion, and it is not the opinion of the Provincial Governments in India. After all, the Provincial Governments in India are in the best possible position to form a sound opinion upon that point, because the strength or weakness of the Central Government reacts directly upon them.
Let me then remind your Lordships of the views which are held by the Provincial Governments in India on that point at the present time. In their Despatch of August 13, 1930, the Government of Bombay wrote as follows:The last ten years have witnessed the anomaly of an irresponsible Executive faced by an elected Legislature armed with extensive powers, with the result that, though in theory the irresponsible Executive should have been strong in actual practice its 388 position has been very considerably weakened.And in the opinion of the Government of Bengal:Good administration has been hampered in recent years by weakness in the Central Executive vis-à-vis the Central Legislature.And then again, the official members of the Government of the United Provinces, Sir Malcolm Hailey and his colleagues, when commenting on the proposal of the Simon Commission to increase the size of the Central Legislature without conferring upon it any degree of responsibility, wrote:The picture which we see is that of an Executive which must inevitably be in a position of pathetic impotence within the Legislature, which is bound to be in perpetual quest of means to reduce and, if possible, nullify the authority of the Executive. So far from gaining in strength or stability by the change proposed"—that is to say, the change proposed by the Simon Commission—the Central Administration will occupy a position inferior to the markedly unfavourable position in which it stands at present.And finally the Government of the Central Provinces wrote:Unless it is recognised that responsibility to the Central Legislature in some form must be conceded, it seems idle to proceed with the Conference in London at all. Time demand for responsibility in some shape is so widespread among Indians of all classes that it will be hazardous in the extreme to hold a Conference at which it would be rejected.My Lords, these are weighty opinions, but if anyone doubts, or wishes to challenge, the correctness of the view expressed in them, may I invite him to study the proceedings in the Indian Legislative Assembly in connection with any important measure or controversy in recent years. If he rises from his study impressed either by the strength or the stability of the Central Government, I shall be very much surprised. Take, for example, the proceedings in connection with the Rupee Ratio Bill in 1927, or, still more significant, perhaps, the proceedings in connection with the Cotton Textiles Industries Protection Bill in the spring of 1930, a Bill devised to increase the Customs Duties on cotton goods imported into India, while at the same time giving a small preference to goods of British origin. Let me remind your Lordships of the circumstances in connection 389 with that Bill. A number of Indian members of the Legislative Assembly had withdrawn earlier in the Session, with the result that the Government, with the aid of their official members, were able to pass the Bill by a small majority. Now observe what followed. A further number of Indian members of the Assembly, with the Pundit Malaviya, at that time the Leader of the Nationalist Party in the Assembly, at their head, withdrew and at once threw themselves into the civil disobedience movement, an outstanding feature of which was a boycott of British trade.
And, if noble Lords will further study the statistics of British-Indian trade during the year 1930, they can only come to this conclusion, that the damage done to British trade by the boycott far outweighed any possible benefit which might have been expected to accrue to it as a result of the preference granted by the Cotton Textiles Industries Protection Act. Let me give your Lordships only one figure to illustrate that. The annual value of the imports of British goods into India during each of the five years preceding 1930 was £83,000,000 sterling. In 1930 that figure dropped to £53,000,000 sterling. I do not say for a moment that the whole of that calamitous fall in British trade was due to political causes; it was not There were economic causes at work as well, hut if you take all the relative factors into account you can come to no other conclusion than that the boycott of British trade was a substantial factor in that very disastrous fall.
It seems then that the Government of India as at present constituted is not capable of safeguarding the interests of British trade. What is the best safeguard for British trade? Surely, a contented India I can assure your Lordships that you will have anything but a contented India upon your hands if anything far short of the advance which is now proposed in the White Paper is all that you are prepared to concede to the people of that country. Does it not follow, does it not stand to reason that in India, as in other countries, public men are far more likely to show a sense of responsibility in their actions if you make it possible for them to accept responsibility than if you withhold that possibility from them? I could give your Lordships examples from my own per- 390 sonal experience illustrating that well known truth. I could give you, for example, the case of an outstanding Nationalist of Bengal, the late Surendra Nath Bannerjee, a man who throughout the greater part of his life was a vehement critic of British rule, a man who, because of his fiery leadership in the Indian Nationalist cause, was for long known as the uncrowned king of Bengal. With the responsibility for an important Department of Government which I was able to offer him, his whole political outlook underwent a remarkable change, and in the interests of good government he undertook, at the very outset of his career as a Minister, as disagreeable and unpopular a task as could well have fallen to his lot.
The revenues of Bengal were at the time unequal to the expenditure of the Province, and I was obliged to tell Surendra Nath Bannerjee that by far the greater part of the money which was available was required in the interests of good government for reserves—that is to say, the irresponsible part of the Government, the maintenance of the Police and so on. Now that man could easily, had he desired to do so, have courted and. acquired immense popularity by attacking the reserved half of the Government on the ground that they were starving the Transferred Departments. He did nothing of the sort. He went to the Legislature and, with great courage, boldly supported a proposal for increased taxation, and, more remarkable still, with the aid of his powerful advocacy the proposal was carried by the Legislature. That is a very good example of the great change which is brought about in the outlook of a man when once you put him in a position of real responsibility, and it is for that reason largely that I have gradually, not easily but gradually, and none the less with conviction, come to the conclusion that by far your safest course is to grant a measure of responsibility not only in the Provinces but at the Centre.
I must pass on, for I wish to say something upon those features of the scheme in the White Paper which, as at present drafted, seem to me to be open to objection. I dislike intensely the position in which it is proposed to place the Viceroy and Governor-General. My complaint against the authors of the 391 White Paper in this connection is the complaint which is often made against the Greek tragedian Euripides—namely, that he made an intemperate use of the Deus ex machine device by which a god was abruptly brought in at the end of a play to set right a confusion which was beyond human powers to control. That is precisely the part which the authors of the White Paper have designed for the unfortunate Governor-General and also for the Governors in the Provinces. Whenever anything goes wrong the Governor-General will be expected to step in and set it right. I think you are placing far too great a burden upon the shoulders of one man.
Let us take as an example what are described in the White Paper as the "special responsibilities" of the Governor-General and the Governors for safeguarding the interests of the minorities. The Prime Minister, in his final statement at the conclusion of the second session of the Round-Table Conference, laid great stress upon the necessity of including in the Constitution Act provisions for safeguarding minorities. Perhaps I had better read his own words. On December 1, 1931, the present Prime Minister said:A decision of the communal problem which provides only for representation of the communities in the Legislatures is not enough to secure what I may call natural right'.He went on to say:…the Constitution must therefore contain provisions which will give all creeds and classes a due sense of security that the principle of majority government is not to be employed to their moral or material disadvantage in the body politic.I have searched the White Paper for these provisions and I have found only one—namely, proposal No. 101 on page 64 of the White Paper, which lays it down that a three-quarters vote will be required in any Provincial Legislative Council before an existing grant-in-aid on account of the education of the Anglo-Indian or domiciled European community can be reduced. I do not under-estimate the value of that provision. I heartily applaud it, but I observe that the only other provision for safeguarding the interests of the minorities is the declaration that they constitute a "special responsibility" of the Governor-General at the Centre and the Governors in the Provinces.
392 I confess that I am a little curious to know why, if this is regarded as an adequate safeguard in every other conceivable case which may arise, it has been thought necessary to introduce this one very special provision in the case of the education of the Anglo-Indian and domiciled European community. But I would ask this question: Will the Governor-General and will the Governors be in a position to discharge their special responsibilities under the provisions of the White Paper as they at present stand? I confess that I have the gravest doubts. Let us put this matter to the test of a concrete ease. I will state a case which my past experience in Bengal leads me to suppose is almost certain to arise sooner or later under the proposals set forth in the White Paper. The Inspector-General of Police sends up through the Secretary in the Department to the Minister in control of it a request for an increase of pay for certain branches of the Police force. The Minister in charge turns down the request on the ground that funds are not available for such a purpose. What is the Secretary in the Department to do? Has he access to the Governor? To begin with, would that touch upon the special responsibility of the Governor to prevent a grave menace to the peace and tranquillity of his province? I do not know whether it would or not, but let us suppose that-the Secretary in the Department is of opinion that it would. As I have asked, what is he to do? Has he access to the Governor or has he not? I do not know, and unless it is specifically laid down in the Act he will not know.
I know quite well what will be the answer to this question. The noble Lord, Lord Irwin, if he touches upon this question in winding up the debate, will refer me most courteously to the proposal which says that the Governor shall have the right of drawing up rules and procedure for the conduct of business. Yes, my Lords, but he will draw up his rules only after consultation with the Minister, and the Minister will be vehemently opposed to any proposal which gives the permanent officials in the Department an independent status. I know that because I raised this very point in the Provincial Sub-Committee of the Round-Table Conference. I pointed out that if the Gov- 393 ernor was to be able to discharge his special responsibilities the Secretaries in the Departments under the Ministers mast have free access to him. That proposal was vehemently opposed by every Indian member of that Sub-Committee on the ground that it was a grave encroachment upon their responsibility and calculated to undermine their authority. So it seems to me that you must lay down in your Constitution Act, not only that every Secretary in every Department of Government has the right of access to the Governor-General or to the Governor as the case may be, but you must do more than that you must lay down in the Act that, in any case which in the opinion of the Secretary touches upon any of the special responsibilities of the Governor-General or the Governor, it shall be his bounden duty to submit the matter to him. I am satisfied that unless sonic provision of that kind is made these safeguards under the head of the special responsibilities of the Governor-General and the Governors will prove wholly illusory. Surely it would be better to have no safeguards at all than to have paper safeguards which will prove entirely illusory in practice.
I come for a moment to my other criticism of the position which is to be occupied by the Viceroy and by the Governors, my criticism as to the manner in which they are expected to discharge their special responsibilities and to exercise their special powers in the face of a disagreement with the Legislature. If noble Lords will read Paragraphs 35, 36 and 37 of the introductory part of the White Paper they will see that what the authors of the White Paper apparently contemplate with complete equanimity, if not with actual satisfaction, is a sort of gladiatorial combat between the Viceroy and the Legislature, heralded by a blast of trumpets to attract public notice to the entertainment, and staged in the full glare of the limelight. I think it is more than undesirable that in India the representative of His Majesty should be thrust ostentatiously into the arena of controversy, and that when he is there he should be expected to proclaim from the house tops that he is the man—he, and no other—who is riding rough-shod over the will of the duly elected representatives of the people. It seems to me that that is a most undesirable position in which to put the representative of His 394 Majesty the King, and I hope the Joint Select Committee will consider very carefully whether there may not be some less objectionable means by which the purpose in view may be attained.
There is only one other feature of the scheme which I think will be objectionable and to which I should like to refer—objectionable, because I believe it to be altogether impracticable. That is the proposal that the representatives of British India in the Federal Legislature should be chosen by a system of direct election. I cannot understand how the Committee under the Chairmanship of icy noble friend the Marquess of Lothian, ever succeeded in persuading themselves that it was a practicable proposition to lay down that in a country of the size of India the members of a small central body should be chosen by a system of direct popular vote. They admitted that considerations of practical wisdom and practical statesmanship required that they should limit severely the numbers of electors, but they seem to have overlooked the fact that while it is possible to limit the number of electors it is not possible to reduce the size of the country. Let us see where the considerations of practical wisdom and practical statesmanship to which they appeal have carried them. This is their own description of the effect of their proposals:The constituencies under our proposals, while varying greatly in size, will, in the country districts, average between 5,000 and 10,000 square miles in area and will contain between 25,000 and 35,000 electors.They go on—I was almost going to say a little superfluously:This will impose a heavy task upon the candidate and the Party organisation and we are satisfied that it is the course of practical wisdom and practical statesmanship to go no further at present.I would ask your Lordships particularly to notice the words "at present." We all know there are persons in India who believe that adult suffrage is a practical proposal and that the "at present" will not stay where it is.
But even the picture which the Committee itself paints and the result of its recommendations do not give the full facts as they actually will be. A large number of the constituencies will be very much larger than the average. Take the case of the Punjab. In the Punjab there are to be six general constituencies send- 395 ing representatives to the Federal Legislature. What will be the average size of the six constituencies in the Punjab? They will be on an average, and some may be larger, no less than 16,200 square miles. In other words, each constituency will be rather more than twice as large as the whole of Wales and Monmouthshire, which are represented in the House of Commons by thirty-five members. Unfortunate candidates who have to seek the suffrages of the general elector in the Punjab will have to canvass the electors who live in an area as large as that which would be represented in the House of Commons not by one, but by seventy members. Comment is almost superfluous, yet I feel constrained to add this—that whereas in Great Britain communications are highly developed, in India, Where the vast majority of the people live in small villages scattered over the incredibly large countryside, very few of the villages are served even by a metalled road, fewer still by a railway; and since the vast majority of those living in the villages are illiterate the unfortunate candidate will have to rely on the spoken rather than the written word when he sets out to woo them. It seems to me that if you wish to reduce the representative system to a farce it is almost the best way to create constituencies of a size impossible to work in practice.
There are alternative methods, but this is not the time to develop them. There is a system of indirect election which, in my view, would be far more suitable to the conditions of India. I will not elaborate that point, but there are other comments which I would like to have made on the scheme as a whole. I would like to have asked what is going to be the cost, the estimated cost, of the scheme. New Provinces are going to be created and new Legislatures are going to be established, and, of course, the cost is going to be very great. I have been quite unable to find from one end of the White Paper to the other the smallest indication of what the cost is likely to be, but I cannot but suppose that some sort of estimate must have been made by those responsible before they sat down to draft proposals. I have already detained your Lordships too long: let me in conclusion express to your Lordships my appreciation of the great courtesy with which you have been good enough to listen to the observations I have ventured to make.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I am sure from the rapt attention with which you have listened to the noble Marquess that what he has said has not greatly advanced the probable success of the White Paper in the tribunal to which it is now to be referred. Even if the ship is still afloat it has encountered very heavy weather in your Lordships' House. I should not venture to trouble your Lordships by attempting to follow the noble Marquess upon details regarding which he has such great knowledge, except that there are one or two points on which I would urgently ask for some reply from the Government before the debate ends. The noble Marquess made it quite clear that he regards a system of government of India by a succession of checks which must either be paper safeguards, or what he termed gladiatorial combats between the Viceroy and the Legislature, as exceedingly difficult; indeed I do not think he will contradict me if I say he regards it as unworkable. There are one or two points on which I think it may be unworkable and on which it would be well, before we send the proposal to a Committee, that we should hear from the Government that their minds are still open.
My noble friend, although speaking with such force on points which had come under his particular jurisdiction, said nothing or very little on the question of law and order. The problem of law and order under democratic Governments has led in the last few years to very considerable reactions. If you look East you see difficulties in two great democracies; if you look West to the United States of America you see, even in that highly-organised community, difficulty with regard to law and order in the cities which is certainly phenomenal and, to us, astonishing. What I ask His Majesty's Government to consider is this: You may put the check of the Viceroy on the Legislative Assembly or the Administrative Government in matters which are recoverable. The noble Lord, the Marquess of Zetland, spoke of trade. You may lose £40,000,000 of trade owing to bad government or bad administration, but if the matter is ultimately taken out of the hands or put beyond the discrimination of those which have brought it about that loss may be recovered. The point I ask your Lordships, and the Government especially, to consider is that 397 there are some losses which you can never recover. If you allow law and order or the Police to be thrown over—if you allow in any Province disorder to arise owing to lack of judgment or courage in administration, you may take that matter into your hands, but you will never restore the confidence you have lost. I do not see here any of the leading soldiers who have seats in your Lordships' House, but I would say that I do not believe there is a single man who has served His Majesty for long in the Army who would believe that you can carry out discipline by spasmodic efforts, and I put it to your Lordship's that it is quite impossible to carry out the policing of India by spasmodic effort—to take it out of the hands of the Assembly one day and to set it up afresh, when every Police officer knows that when he goes back to the Assembly, or to the Minister, his number will be up.
I promised not to engage your Lordships' attention for long or to stand between you and those who know more than I do, but I wish to ask the Government to give us an assurance that this particular question will be considered without prejudice. At this moment there is in existence a Federal Criminal Investigation Department. I ask the Government to assure us that the continuance of that Department will be considered. It is not vouched for in the White Paper. There is at this moment no headship to the Police to which the Provincial Police will be able to appeal. In the Army you have the Governor-General. This is not my opinion alone but it is put forward by those with far more experience—I venture to think that in every Province the Governor of the Province should also be head of the Police, and that he should have in close touch with him some official, included in the Ministry, to represent the interests of the Police. Unless some step of this kind is taken the growing fear that the White Paper may lead to a continual battle—to a gladiatorial exhibition—between the Governor and the Legislature will, I think, be increased.
There is one other. The Lord Chancellor, in a very careful and considered speech, in which he introduced this Motion, asked that your Lordships' opinions should be carefully given, and he gave us to believe that they would be carefully weighed. What I ask is this: that this Committee, if it is set up, will follow the precedent of the Committee 398 that sat under the Chairmanship of Lord Selborne on the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. If you care to look back you will find that that measure, which no doubt it may be argued had not been the subject of so many months and years of care and thought as the White Paper has had, went before the Joint Committee a very different measure from the measure which emerged from it. We ask that the Government, who will no doubt have a majority for the White Paper on the Committee, will go into that Committee with an open mind. I do not think that Lord Selborne, even in the services which he rendered to South Africa, did a greater service to the country than when he succeeded in carrying that measure through the Joint Committee and bringing it out with a practically unanimous verdict.
I only hope that the present Government may be as fortunate in respect of these proposals. But, my Lords, most undoubtedly if the whole of these grave questions are to be put in the same correlation as between the Assembly and the Governor, then I believe that those of us who most doubtingly have had to take a step forward at a moment when, as Lord Lothian—perhaps the most vehement of all those who have supported the White Paper—said, you have had 30,000 persons in prison under the present Government and 50,000 during the period of office of my noble friend below me—at a moment also when not one single member of this House is willing to get up and say that the White Paper, even if it went through this moment in the words in which it is presented to us, will give satisfaction to the people of India, will feel that you should not make sacrifices which you cannot go back upon. Law and order is one of them, and I hope that the Government will go into this Committee with an open mind.
§ LORD LLOYD
My Lords, I am at a disadvantage through having been unable, owing to indisposition, to listen to any of the speeches during the last two days, but I am already very much compensated for this loss by having been able to listen to the eloquent and instructive address which the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, has just made in this House. He has already sketched skilfully to you a few of the administrative dangers and difficulties of the 399 White Paper, and I make no doubt that as that highly complicated and amazing document is further studied this House and the House of Commons will realise that a policy founded on that White Paper is not likely to bring order or content to the people of India. I had the advantage, however, of hearing a very important though very despondent speech made by the Secretary of State for India in another place, and I should like to refer, if I may, to one important remark which he made in the course of that speech.
Many noble Lords and others, who have felt grave doubts about the policy pursued by the Government, have yet felt that they were hemmed in in all honour by a long series of inescapable pledges. My noble friend Lord Irwin, whom I am glad to see here to-day and to welcome after his bad accident, has himself in his speeches, I think, referred to the difficulty with which we are confronted by reason of past pledges. I, on the other hand, whilst not losing sight of the statements made by eminent people, have always contended that the only thing by which we were bound either in practice or honour was the Government of India Act of 1919; that that was the pledge to which we were fully committed, and only that. I was therefore glad to hear the Secretary of State for India, speaking with the full authority of his office, quite clearly telling us that mine was the correct view. It is quite true that while Sir Samuel Hoare counselled us to take into consideration the long continuous history and undeviating teaching of the last hundred years of British rule in India, yet he declared clearly that "the pledges of the past leave full liberty to Parliament in the choice of the time and manner of constitutional advance." This formal and considered declaration of the Secretary of State for India comes exactly at the right moment, when the Joint Select Committee is going to embark upon the consideration of these proposals. We are then, let us make no doubt about it, absolutely free in the light of the last ten years' experience to extend or restrict the Constitution's liberties, and, indeed, we are bound under the Preamble of the Act of 1919 to act in the light of our own knowledge of the co-operation given by Indians during the last ten years and of their 400 proven capacity or otherwise to have self-government.
The Secretary of State then, very rightly, if I may say so, invited us to look round and to put this picture of Indian constitutional reform into a world setting, to get our perspective right. He asked us to look on and see what was happening in other parts of Asia, but, wisely I think, he did not pursue that theme very much further! If he had lived in the Near East, as I have in the last few years, he would have seen the chaos and turmoil caused by the immature systems of Parliamentary government and the wreckage and ruin they have left to the unfortunate peoples. Take the case of Syria. The Constitution of Syria under the firm and able guidance of the French had not been going for many months—I will not pledge myself to the extent of time, but for a very brief time—when there was a collision between the elected representatives and the Governor-General, and the Parliament was disrupted and has never again, so far as I know, been able to function. In Palestine, where we are utterly pledged to give a system of representative government, we have never been able even to produce it because of the communal difficulties that confront us there.
Talk about pledges! There is an unredeemed pledge in Palestine, where we are confronted by the very same difficulties as we are in India. Who would think that we were told a little time ago by our leaders that nothing could happen till the communal question was settled in India? We seem to have heard nothing about that lately. It has not been settled, it is more acute than ever before, but we are gaily marching ahead. Take Turkey, Persia or Iraq. In each one of those countries, as in Egypt, there exists nothing but a travesty of Parliamentary government. Such Parliamentary institutions as exist are mere cloaks for autocracy. That is not what we want in India. Nothing could be worse than a sham democracy or a sham Parliamentary government in India. I was glad to hear the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, say that, because to me there is no greater crime than misleading the people of the East into thinking we are giving something which, in fact, we are not.
And may we not, if I may follow the Secretary of State's own thought, still 401 further consider the European picture, whether it be in Germany, Italy, Russia or elsewhere? In facing the great economic and political difficulties that confront them all, what has been their tendency? Not the diffusion of power, but the concentration and centralisation of power into fewer hands, the drawing closer together of Provinces and States under the cloak of a common authority. That has been the tendency in those countries. And yet the Secretary of State advised us to do nothing to weaken the Central Executive. What is he doing? Does he think for a moment, does anybody in either House or any member of the public think, that what we are contemplating doing can possibly strengthen the Central Executive? What is true of Parliaments or authorities within a country is surely equally true of units in a great commonwealth of peoples. Should we not, in face of our common difficulties, be drawing closer and closer together, especially to India, with its vast and overwhelming strategic importance to the whole Empire? My main criticism of the White Paper is that it does not strengthen but definitely weakens the connection between the Mother Country and India.
We are told that this scheme is a scheme of self-government with safeguards. I am afraid I am one of those who feel that there is no reality in democracy unless that democracy has in its hands the powers of law and order. It is dishonest to tell people they have got self-government if they have not got the Police or the Army under their control. The fact is there is no reality in self-government without the transference of law and order, and no security for anybody if you make it. There is the dilemma before you. If I may venture to refer to myself, I think I may say I have had perhaps almost more experience than any other member of your Lordships' House in dealing with the policy of "independence with safe-guards." Quite apart from the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms in India, in whose inauguration I assisted, for the last four years I have been wrestling with the policy of independence with safeguards in Egypt, and if any noble Lord in this House thinks that system is going to bring peace to troubled India I can tell him he will be gravely disillusioned. Nor does Sir Samuel Hoare's assurance that his scheme "is the most complicated 402 scheme that has ever been proposed in any country of the world" alter my view. On the contrary it confirms my fears. The Secretary of State tells us that "safeguards are necessary if stable government is to continue." Put conversely, it means—it can mean nothing else than—that if Indians at this stage are left to govern themselves government will become unstable.
Yet in the same paragraph the Secretary of State boasts that he is going to hand over without safeguards to an Indian Minister—and here I quote him—practically every single matter which affects the 230 millions of Indian villagers.Does it not matter that the Indian ryot should have no stable government? Safeguards for Imperial interests, safeguards here and safeguards there, but no safeguards for all that appertains to stable government for 230 millions of Indian villagers! What is to happen to the whole complex and well worked out famine organisation in India, which, I verily believe, will fall to bits without the assistance of highly expert and loyal officers? What is to become of our vital network of irrigation, of well and tank, catchment and reservoir and all the vital arts of the distribution of water to the people? There are to be no safeguards for these life-giving things; they are to be handed over without a single safeguard. And yet without safeguards, says the Secretary of State, there can be no stable government. I think that is a terrible indictment of our sense of responsibility for the 300 million ryots and helpless people up and down India.
What about the Princes? I feel gravely concerned at what is being done in regard to the Indian States. The Princes' treaties, as I read the White Paper, remain absolute in only two respects, firstly, in regard to the non-transferred powers—and we do not know what those are going to be, they apparently will differ in every State—and secondly, in respect of residuary powers, that is to say, new powers; but all transferred powers are to be subject to the Federal Courts. What does that mean? It means that the solemn treaties and sanads, under which the Princes have enjoyed complete security in their relations with the Crown and under which their treaties and rights have been safeguarded, are all to be given up for a lesser and a much more shadowy 403 security. We must suppose, of course, that their Highnesses are free to accede to Federation or not as they choose, and I earnestly trust that the Government are putting no pressure of any kind upon the Princes to join the Federation. That would indeed be disastrous. I say that, because I think we were all made a little anxious the other day when we saw that free speech even in their Highnesses' own Chamber through the mouth of their own Chancellor was not encouraged, but met with a stern rebuke from the Viceroy. His late Highness the Maharajah of Nawanagar was a Prince with whom I had direct official relations for several years, and I think there is no one in this House who remembers him who will not feel deep sorrow at the story of his last visit to, and departure from, the Imperial capital of Delhi.
Well, it is true, of course, that their Highnesses will have just the amount of security that the seats they occupy in the Upper House in the Federal Legislature will afford them, but I would like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Irwin, when he comes to reply later on, if he can assure us that this Constitution, if and when it passes, is going to be a Constitution of an absolutely permament character. I do not suppose he can. Professor Keith tells us that Parliament can even alter the Constitution of Ireland in spite of the Statute of Westminster. I do not see what is to prevent noble Lords opposite, if and when they enjoy power again, modifying the Federal Court. I do not see what is to prevent them from giving more seats to Hindu members or from taking some away from the Princes, altering thereby the complete balance of power possibly, and weakening the Princes' position. After all, this is a Socialist measure in origin. The Socialist Party certainly look upon it as only a step. I suppose the noble Lord who sits opposite will scarcely deny that. He would like to develop and expand it. What guarantee is there, therefore, for the Princes in entering this Chamber that they are going to exchange their treaties for any equivalent security? Absolutely none at all.
What is certain is that their subjects who have owed allegiance only to the Princes in the past are now going to have a divided allegiance. I do not know if you have read the Oath of Allegiance which is to be taken in the 404 White Paper by representatives of a State The representative of a State takes this Oath:I, A.B., having been appointed a member of this Council [or Assembly] do solemnly swear [or affirm] that, saving the faith and allegiance I owe to [my Prince] I will be faithful and bear true allegiance in my capacity as member of this Council [or Assembly] to His Majesty the King-Emperor of India.…I never heard of a more fantastic dualised Oath of Allegiance put before arty Assembly in the history of the world. In my view, State subjects and their Princes will have their positions gravely modified and their security definitely lessened, and, for that reason, I do entreat the Government that they will be careful of inviting the Princes to come into a Federation at this juncture before the autonomous units of the future British Indian States are settled and determined.
I do not want to delay your Lordships by going into all the questions of safeguards, but I think any one who reads Paragraphs 122 to 124 will consider that the commercial safeguards provide a most ineffective security for British trade. In Paragraph 124 you will notice it is actually provided that bounties may be given to Indian trade as against British; and Paragraphs 122 and 123, which discuss the question of discrimination, are highly complex, but give me and the lawyer I consulted no satisfaction at all. We are finally told that we are to rely upon the Army as a safeguard. Well, in Egypt, we had a large occupying Army, and we learned there what the value of the Army was as a safeguard in dealing with day-to-day erosion of a particular position. It is of course of very little value. You cannot march an Army up and down the streets every time some of your safeguards are attacked, for it is by erosion, by a series of minor attacks, no one of them in itself of sufficient importance to warrant the use of armed force, that your safeguards will be undermined.
All through the whole period of Egyptian reform we never found one Egyptian Minister who accepted a single safeguard which we offered when we gave them the policy of 1922. They took the independence, they refused the safeguards. I make a prophecy to-day that you will find in India exactly the same course pursued by the Nationalists 405 there. They will accept whatever they must accept, if they can get, no more, of independence. They will refuse, and always refuse, to accept any safeguard you provide. I do not want to a weary you with the long history from 1922 to 1927 of the way in which Lord Allenby and others as well as myself tried to operate the safeguards and the bitterness which was engendered in the minds of the Nationalists, and the hopeless impossibility of our task. Each time you engender vexation and humiliation, and you get practically nothing of your way. Your position is eroded. It is an impossible policy. "Independence with safeguards" has never operated successfully in any country of the world, and indeed all that happened in Egypt was a long and tragic history of murders and troubles.
May I read what is the reception today of your "independence-with-safeguards" policy by the Nationalists themselves in India? Here is one. Mr. Patel, the late Speaker—the noble Lord, Lord Irwin had intimate official relations with him—obviously a very extreme Nationalist, one of the most extreme, but still likely to be a leader again——
§ LORD LLOYD
Possibly. The noble Lord cannot prophesy with certainty any more than I can. We have both prophesied wrongly in our time. Mr. Patel is reported as saying:As soon as India got anything in the nature of the freedom that Ireland had got, the cards that de Valera had played there to-day would be played in India to-morrow.You say that is an extremist, but listen to your moderates. One of your most brilliant moderates in India is Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, and this is what he said in a speech at Allahabad on January 18:There may be men who may say that the Constitution is not worthy of our acceptance because it falls short of our expectations. To them I will hold up the example of men like de Valera in Ireland and Hitler in Germany. De Valera was not half the nuisance that he is to-day before he entered the Government. Hitler is dying to capture office. It is not only good law but ordinary common sense, I say with all respect, that possession is nine points of the law.?That is one of the leaders of the Moderate Party on whom you pin your faith. That is the reception which he gives to your policy of independence 406 with safeguards. I venture to prophesy with the certainty of conviction that you will never get that policy accepted by the political leaders in India.
May I ask, in conclusion, how it is we find ourselves where we are to-day? If it is really true that this system of Parliamentary government has brought misery and chaos to every country, if it is really equally true, as the Secretary of State has told us, that we are perfectly free to do what we think best at the present time, how is it at this critical juncture when almost every Treasury in India is depleted and the communal question is grave, that we are proceeding at this pace with so advanced a policy? We are told by the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, and Mr. Baldwin made it the main burden of his speech in the House of Commons, that the reason for pursuing this policy is that India has changed. It is a new India, they said, with which we have to deal. That was the only justification I could see put forward in Mr. Baldwin's speech. That is, of course, a matter of opinion. As a matter of fact, I believe that India has changed less in fundamentals than any other country in the East in the last ten years, but I may be wrong. But let us assume that Mr. Baldwin is right and I am wrong and that India has undergone very great change. Surely, it is not going to be said that this enormous and sudden change has taken place since the Simon Commission reported? No one contends that for a single moment. Here is the Report of the Simon Commission which was acclaimed on all sides as a document of unparalleled importance. Its findings on the facts were admitted by everybody to be absolutely impeccable. The recommendations which were based upon it commanded universal respect and a large measure of agreement.
Surely here was the path for a genuine Conservative leader to tread—the path of constitutional progress, carefully plotted and worked out by a Royal Commission representative of all Parties in the State. Yet this masterly and universally acclaimed Report was suddenly flung out without discussion or argument. Why? In deference to Indian political opinion. Moderate opinion in India refused absolutely to accept as a basis for discussion even, a Report which recommended an immense step forward and which based that recommendation upon 407 facts which were never disputed. One hoped that people would come back to the Simon Report, but now even the distinguished author of that Report has decided to discard some of his recommendations. Our leaders went on praising the Report however. We were told it was a mine of accurate and careful information. Its lucidity was such, it was said, that they could not think what they would have done without it. And they put it straight back into the waste-paper basket and asked us to consider proposals which run counter to every premiss the Report contains. I justify that statement by saying this, in case the noble Lord wishes to take that point up. I say it runs counter to every premiss of the Simon Commission Report because if the facts as stated in the Simon Commission Report as to the situation in India were true, then India is certainly not fit for self-government in the measure you are going to give it to-day.
So curious is this phenomenon that it is worth while to examine for a moment why the Government behaved in this extraordinary way. I believe we are going to hear the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, immediately I sit down. I remember that the noble Marquess himself based his change of attitude upon the same reason. Everything changed, he said, when the Princes suddenly decided to come into the Federation. I am not quoting his words but that is about what he said. Let us look at that for a moment, if I am not detaining your Lordships too long. Let us recall for a moment what has happened, and see what validity there is in this contention. The contention, of course, was that the situation was fundamentally altered by the decision of the Princes to enter the Federation. Let us recall what the Commission recommended. The Commission recommended a Federation of All-India as an ultimate goal and autonomous Provinces as the first step towards that goal. As to Federation, the Commission said it was outside their terms of reference, and they could not pronounce upon its possibilities but recommended that it should be investigated. When therefore the Princes accepted the principle of Federation, the logical and the practical conclusion that should have emerged was not to throw 408 over the Simon Commission's Report but to accept it more confidently than ever.
Surely, the one thing upon which the Commission could not pronounce with certainty was the ultimate goal of Indian development, but now that goal was made clear the distant horizon was obvious to everybody. The goal could be clearly envisaged. Autonomous units were to be created which could then agree among themselves and with the autonomous units of Indian States as to the degree of self-government which each. would surrender in order to achieve the strength and unity of Federation. Here was a policy in consonance with the best traditions of Conservatism: a policy of steady and ordered progress to a visible and practicable goal firmly based upon Parliamentary and authorised procedure. You would have thought that this was the ideal moment for a non-Fascist, non-Junker Conservative leader to come in and make everybody happy. But, unfortunately, that did not occur. The slogan of "Safety first" was taken down from the hoardings, and "Don't miss the 'bus" put up in its place. What was the reason for this strange behaviour? We were merely told that the Princes would not enter any Federation or any Government which was wholly in the hands of Whitehall, and this was advanced as an imperative reason for abdicating at once from the Central Government and setting up another Government in its place. Whoever thought for one single moment that the Princes were ever going to abandon their position in favour of a Government in Whitehall? Anybody who knew anything about it knew that it was an entirely irrelevant consideration.
What force could possibly be found in such a reason? Are we to understand that the Princes held a pistol at the heads of the British Government and said: "Federate now or we will never come in at all"? Of course, they never said anything of the kind. If they had the British Government would have had the right answer to it. But, of course, they never made it. When the Princes said "We will enter into Federation," it was implicit enough from the statement that federation would not be controlled entirely by Whitehall. There was no con- 409 ceivable reason, as far as I can see, why that statement should have had any bearing at all upon the existing situation. The whole case for the proposals in the White Paper is, in fact, built upon the foundation of such flimsy and indefensible statements. What we naturally should have suggested to the Princes was "That is splendid, you will now come in and join Federation. Let us now start and give autonomy to the Provinces. You will have the advantage then of coming it a little later when the autonomy in the Provinces is complete. You will see how it is working and then you will put on the splendid coping stone of your allegiance and adherence to the great venture." That is what we normally should have said to the Princes, and they would gladly have waited until the initial steps were taken.
We are now told that everybody is in favour of this new and strange alternative. We are told by the Secretary of State that the European commercial community are enthusiastically in favour of it, that all the Governors are in favour of it, that the Princes endorse it, and the Indian politicians as well. I might say a good deal about the Indian Civil Service view, but I do not want to discuss that As far as I can make out n a one, except quite possibily, some of the European business people, is in favour of it. I do not believe the Indian Princes in any large numbers are in favour, or are anxious for it. They are naturally frightened and they do not know whether to come in or stay out. But if the Government really have all this enormous support behind them why is the Secretary of State despondent? Why did he the other day say he often felt almost hopeless I Why does Mr. Baldwin consider the risks very great? The real explanation is that the Simon Commission Report is still the true Report and still holds the field, and the Government know they only jettisoned it in order to buy Indian political opinion. Indian political opinion wanted more and the Report must be thrown over in order that they might get it.
Those are the real facts, as we all know. Indeed, the Secretary of State said as much. He said there was no chance of political autonomy starting in a reasonable atmosphere of good will if we did not at the same time make proposals to 410 cover the Centre. Now you have made this huge concession what good will have you got? You have anxiety in regard to the Princes, you have definite hostility on the part of Congress. Not one of them will touch the scheme. The, whole Assembly turned it down. Your prestige is less and you are no further advanced on the path than you were before. Quite the contrary There is nothing in recent history or present evidence to warrant the hope that these White Paper proposals will secure that good will which they are designed to secure.
We remember that the sponsors of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms told us that if we passed those reforms we should secure the good will of the politically-minded people of India. We know now that in that respect they failed utterly. We were told the same story about Ireland by the same people. The Milner Mission in Egypt gave us exactly the same assurance with regard to their proposals. "Grave is the sacrifice," they said, "but make that sacrifice. Without good will nothing is worth anything. With good will any machinery will work. Give away your position and you will have the swelling gratitude of all the people that now oppose you. Make the sacrifice, and all will be well." Was all well in Egypt? What happened after the Milner Mission's Report? Never in any country have there been such outbursts of ill will, bitterness, murders, assassination, general decline of government, corruption and the like. Must we not take history into consideration when dealing with so vast a unit as India? Think of the collapse that there will be there. Think of a collapse on the scale of Egypt reproduced in India. Think not only of the effect on the peoples of India but think what would happen to the factories and the workpeople in this country, because the whole standard of civilisation in this country has been founded for 150 years on East-Indian trade. Take away that and where are you? Read your history books about the fall of the Venetian Republics and drop your tear—too late!
The real fact is that by the policy inaugurated by the last Socialist Government we have been lured into desperate straits. I do not say that on any Party considerations. I will say "the last Governments" if you like. It is too big for 411 Party considerations. We have been forced into a position when we must choose between two highly repugnant courses. On the one side there are these proposals for advance which many of us believe—sincerely and deeply believe—are fraught with the very gravest danger alike to the peoples of India and the people of this country. On the other side there is the alternative, equally repugnant, of a sudden change of course which will lay us open to the charge of bad faith and of disappointing the hopes that for four years have been raised in the minds of political India.
We are often told that we are only critics, that we have nothing constructive to offer. May I venture in a few words to try to meet that criticism? I think there is something to be done if only Government will have the courage to do it. There is no doubt in my mind whatever that the right course is to go back to the Simon Commission Report now, to examine it and base our policy on it. That is the constitutional course, that is the honest course, that is the only course likely to give us results. If we adopt that course we shall be doing what is proved right by the facts and by the test of common sense. Some will say that it is impossible. The Government will tell us it is impossible. I do not believe that if we do the right thing with a clear conscience and firm purpose we shall meet with any hostility that need cause us to hesitate or be afraid. But if we fear to face opposition then in heaven's name let us be honest with ourselves and admit the fact. Do not let us pretend any more that the facts are different from what they are, or that real responsibility does not always conflict with real safeguards. It always did, it always will, it always must. You cannot have real responsibility and effective safeguards. It would be better in my judgment to write finis now on the page of our history than to embark on a course which, as our recent history clearly shows, can only end in a series—an ignominious series—of rearguard actions ending in our ultimate surrender. I do believe that this is the honest course and that it is the course which, if followed, would approve itself to the vast majority of your Lordships' House. I believe it may be open to the Joint Select Committee—that it is open to the Committee 412 —to consider any course for the better government of India If I may venture to make a suggestion to those who may be privileged to serve on that Committee it is that the Simon Commission Report, prudently conceived, carefully worked out, and honestly put before the people of the country, is more likely to give us lasting results and the respect of the peoples whom we shall still have to govern and protect.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will be of opinion that we have had a most interesting and informative debate during these three days. One of the most interesting reflections upon reading the Report of the debate, especially when one knows the speakers who are to follow, is to realise the wealth of administrative experience and knowledge contained in your Lordships' House. It is particularly interesting to note the part taken in the debate by those who have devoted time and study to Indian affairs. I do not know whether it has struck any of your Lordships that allowing for the two speakers who are to follow me, including the noble Lord, Lord Irwin, who I am very glad to see back in his place, we shall have had twenty-four speakers in the debate. I know that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, Lord Ponsonby, will follow me and in what I am about to say I am allowing for that.
Amongst those twenty-four speakers, so far as I am aware, there are only three who have not taken an active part in Indian affairs. All the others are either past Governors or Viceroys—Lord Hardinge, Lord Irwin and myself—or those who have been members of Commissions and Committees. One of the three to whom I refer is my noble friend the Marquess of Salisbury I think that he, with Viscount Elibank and Lord Ponsonby, are those who have had no part in Indian administration and have taken no part in Commissions and Committees. I am not for a moment suggesting—I am sure your Lordships would never think that I would suggest—that for that reason we should not listen and weigh carefully what they say. What I do desire to impress upon your Lordships is that we have had during this debate a wealth of experience brought before us 413 and detailed to us by those who have taken part, which is of immense value and which, I would venture to say, shows the strength and capacity of this House for the purpose of debating questions of this character. What I desire to impress upon your Lordships is that that is of very great importance as an outstanding and noteworthy feature of this debate.
We are discussing now the most important problem of the future Constitution of India, and I agree with every word that fell from the noble Marquess in impressing upon us all the responsibility which is upon us, and perhaps not least upon some of us who have taken part in administration and also in the Round-Table Conference; but as I make that observation I would like to say that I thought the noble Marquess was not quite as fair as usual in his references to the speech of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. He seemed to infer that the Lord Chancellor had made light of the responsibility and had tried to make the House believe that it was dealing with a perfectly simple matter. If I remember rightly his comment was upon the "facile optimism" of my noble and learned friend. Curiously enough, having made that observation, he went on to point out that the Lord Chancellor wound up by telling us what a risk we were running and that we ought to be most careful because, he said, as the noble Marquess put it, "nothing venture, nothing have."
I cannot think that was quite doing justice to the speech of the Lord Chancellor. I thought that what the noble and learned Viscount had done was, in a very concise manner, to give to your Lordships the picture of the Constitution as it was to be set up by the White Paper within the limits of the period properly allowed for debate in this matter, and that he had not, as far as I could understand, glossed over anything; but I do know this—it is only for this reason that I have ventured to refer to this—that no one can exaggerate the amount of work, thought and devotion that the Lord Chancellor has given to this subject ever since it came up for discussion at the Round Table Conference. All who have been present at the Round-Table Conference have admired him. When the Lord Chancellor began he, like all of us probably at some stage, knew little about India, but he studied the subject and then he took 414 his place as a member of the Government and presided at most of our sittings. I venture to say to the noble Marquess—and I make the observation as one who was present with a number of others, including members of his own Party, throughout something like 150 sittings of the three Conferences—the Lord Chancellor's patience, courtesy and understanding from the beginning to the end contributed almost more than anything, except the agreement which we were able to reach on many points, to the better feeling and to the more cordial regard that Indians had for us and took away from this country to India.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I only rise to say that nothing I said, nothing I thought of saying, was an attack upon either the courtesy or the patience of the Lord Chancellor. Of course not Everybody knows that his courtesy is unmatched, and I am quite certain that his courtesy and patience were equally displayed in the Round-Table Conference; but that does not interfere with the burden of the criticism which I offered that he made much too light, as I thought, of the risks we ran and much too much of what I thought to be a grotesque parallel between what happened in the Constitution of England and what is going to happen in the Constitution of India.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I am obliged. I never meant to suggest that the noble Marquess had attacked the courtesy and patience of the Lord Chancellor, but I thought something was due to him after the observations that had been made and I thought also that some of your Lordships who had not been present at the Conferences ought to be made aware of the very great services the Lord Chancellor rendered.
May I come back to the problem we are discussing? I want, if your Lordships will permit me, to impress the fact upon you that throughout the whole of this debate from nobody who has spoken—from critics, from opponents, of course I leave out supporters for this purpose, or even from the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd has there come the suggestion for one moment that there should be any retrograde movement in regard to India. No one has suggested that there should be merely a policy of stand-still. I do ask your Lordships to bear that in mind.
415 It means that all of us in this House, all the members of this great Assembly, giving all their thought and attention to this question, are agreed that there must be a measure of advance in the government of India. I make that observation not so much because I desire to impress it upon your Lordships or upon the people of this country, but because I am most anxious that India should realise that that is the attitude of this House, which has been depicted as merely the seat of all retrograde movement.
I have shown your Lordships what we are agreed upon to start with—the agreement as to an advance. May I go a step further? We are all agreed—even the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd—that there should be provincial autonomy. Undoubtedly there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not provincial autonomy should include the control and maintenance of the Police, commonly discussed under the term law and order, and I will come back to that; but let me point out another matter of extreme importance on which there is complete agreement, not only in your Lordships' House, but everywhere outside and in India—that what we are anxious above all to bring about is the Federation of All-India; that you should get the whole of India in this one Parliament and bring about what many of us have discussed again and again and thought was merely a dream, making it effective in a practical proposal. Therefore I come to this—that the only questions at issue at this moment are questions of pace and degree; nothing else is involved in the matter we are now discussing.
I agree those questions are very important. I am not belittling them. I am not anxious to make light of them. Those who have had to bear the responsibility of administration in India will never make light of the difficulties. I do not make light of them. I know them well. I know how baffling and perplexing they sometimes are, and I know equally that with patience and determination on our part in the right policy—conciliation, as far as you can, but with firmness in regard to everything you think essential—we shall come through and shall succeed in India in the future as we have in the past.
Let me call attention, to this one fact, and I do not wish to delay your Lord- 416 ships in discussing historical matters. Why is it that we have arrived at this stage? How is it that at this moment, in spite of everything, we are all agreed in this House that there must be advance? It is idle for the noble Lord who last spoke to speak as if everything was in the melting pot, as if we must go back, as if all measures of reform which we are discussing, and particularly those which involve any responsibility of government, should be discarded. It is idle to discuss that. We have already a system of government in force in India under the 1919 Act which gives certain rights. The reason why we are now agreed that advance has to be made is partly the condition of India and all that we know has happened. I will not go back to history, but there are the contributions of India to the War, India sitting in the War Cabinet, India signing the Treaty of Peace and the Covenant of the League of Nations, India attending the Imperial Conferences, signing the Ottawa Treaty, taking her part and coming to arrangements like the rest of the Dominions; and then eventually we have to take into account that great work of the Simon Commission and the three Round-Table Conferences, and the Committees, the Commissions and inquiries that have been instituted. The result of all this is to bring us to this point, that we are all agreed there must be an advance.
Now I will proceed to discuss the two questions which are really the vital questions in, this matter. One is whether law and order, that is, the Police, should be transferred to the Provinces, and the other is whether there should be responsibility at the Centre. May I just draw attention to one fact which sometimes is forgotten in the discussion? The Simon Commission has reported upon the transfers, and has recommended that law and order should be transferred. As I understand it, with some few exceptions, there is general agreement on that subject. Almost the last words uttered by the last speaker was a recommendation to the Government that they should stand by the Simon Commission. I understand that to mean that we should adopt the Simon Commission's Report, especially in relation to provincial autonomy. Is that right?
§ LORD LLOYD
It is not quite right. What I intended to convey was that I should like to make the Simon Commission the main basis of the whole of our examination. I do not say that I accept every detail of the Simon Commission Report.
§ TEE MARQUESS OF READING
I do not think the noble Lord quite followed what I was saying, or perhaps I did not make myself quite clear. I am not suggesting for one moment that he said the whole of the Report should be accepted. What I was dealing with was provincial autonomy, and what I understood from the statement he made was that we should accept the Simon Report in regard to provincial autonomy. That means the transfer of all that is remaining of provincial subjects to the Provincial Governments. Your Lordships are aware that a great many of these subjects have already been transferred. The only really important one that remains to be transferred, to complete provincial autonomy, is what is usually termed law and order. Everything else, except land revenue, as to which no difficulty arises—everybody agrees it should be transferred—has been transferred, and the sole matter which remains open is law and order.
Lord Lloyd was Governor of one Province and Lord Lytton and Lord Zetland of others during my time. They were well aware of what was happening, and were well aware that there were these Transferred Subjects. All that will happen when you make over the rest of your subjects, assuming you make them all over to the Provinces and give them provincial autonomy, is in truth that you will be giving them law and order and land revenue. I understand that Lord Lloyd does not take the view of those with whom one generally associates him, in the matter of law and order, and I am glad of it—thought from his experience that he would not, and that is why I asked a question as to his ultimate view, and I understand from him quite clearly that he accepts the recommendations of the Simon Report with regard to provincial autonomy, which means the transfer of law and order. Lord Lloyd differs, as I have said, from others with whom one generally associates him in this matter, because they have objected altogether to the transfer of law and order. 418 I can quite understand that one who has had experience of administration will realise what it means if you have complete transfer to the Provincial Government and yet leave the Police segregated in a special corner of their own. They will be subject to bitterness and every reproach, and placed in an impossible position.
§ LORD LLOYD
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Marquess, but it is an important point, and I would like to make my position clear. He has stated my view perfectly correctly, provided that he will not forget the dilemma which I sketched to the House—namely, that I believed there was no reality unless you transferred, but I feared there would be no security if you did; and therefore, while I believe in the main that you have got to hand over law and order in the Provinces, it makes me doubly sure that the policy of devolution at the Centre at the same time is very dangerous.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I quite realise that the noble Lord meant to make exceptions to the Simon Report, but assuming you make your transfer under the Simon Commission's Report there were two conditions imposed. One was that there should be a European Minister appointed for the purpose. I do not believe a single supporter could be found for that proposition at the present moment. In saying that I was thinking of the opinion of the Indian Governors who have been requisitioned on the matter, and I understand that all have been against it. I am quite convinced that that would be an impossible situation, and that you could not speak of provincial autonomy and at the same time say that there was a European Minister appointed by the Government, in a responsible Legislature, who was to have the control of the Police and all that is involved in that matter. I pass from that. I think it was the noble Marquess who said that there was not so much importance to be attached to that proposition.
The other, which no doubt is more important, is this. The Simon Commission stated that whatever was done when this transfer was made it was subject to there being no substantial change in the responsibility at the Centre. The whole 419 question turns upon that. That was the position when the Simon Commission reported. Up to that moment everybody who had studied Indian government questions had been hoping that one day there would be an Indian Federal Legislature and a Federal Government. We had all played with the idea. None could give effect to it because none of us could, of course, force the Princes' hands. None of us could even raise it; it was entirely a matter for them. I will explain in a moment why. That was the situation. The noble Lord, Lord Irwin, in a Despatch of the Government of India, or some other document, carefully said, in discarding this as a matter for practical discussion, that it was a dream, it was not practical at that moment. Nobody thought that it was coming. Certainly I did not. The Simon Commission, however, composed of members of all Parties, were evidently very much impressed with the great importance of securing the Federation of All-India, and they devoted a certain amount of time to discussing the subject. It does not emerge so much in the Report because it was not included in the matters upon which they were asked to report. But they came to the conclusion that it was necessary to ask the Princes to attend the Round-Table Conference which was about to take place, in order that the Princes should have the opportunity of expressing their views on the various subjects that would come up for discussion. Then they wound up the Report by pointing out that in all that they were recommending they had their minds upon Federation, and that no steps that were taken to carry out their Report should interfere in any way with Federation, but that they should all be conditioned by Federation when it happened.
Then came the Round-Table Conference, and there were some hundreds of us, the majority Indians. The Indian Princes for the first time made the dramatic announcement that they were willing to enter into Federation—not binding themselves of course, because they did not know the conditions, but definitely proposing that there should be a Federal Government for All-India, in which they were ready to take their part. The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, seemed to think that we must have been perfectly crazy to be impressed with that. I bow to him. He may be a very much better 420 judge of what is being said by the Princes and what it all means. But those of us who were sitting in this room, some hundreds of us, and including the most distinguished politicians of India, who have very subtle brains—even, if the noble Lord will forgive me for saying so, perhaps as subtle as his own—were deeply impressed by it. I confess that my natural caution—perhaps my training as a lawyer, or it may be my experience as a Judge, or perhaps because I feared the gifts that the Greeks were bearing—made me refrain from observation at the moment, but it did not prevent a glow in my heart when I heard it. The Princes went on to say very quickly, having made that announcement, that they wished us definitely to understand—this was first said by the Maharajah of Bikaner and repeated within a day or two by the Maharajah of Patiala, who happened to be Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes and spoke officially at that moment, and repeated again by numbers of others throughout our Conference—that the one condition that they made and insisted upon was that there should be a change in the system of Government at the Centre, and that they would only consent to Federation if responsibility were granted at the Centre.
I admit that to me that was a very great surprise. I did not expect that the Princes would take that view. I was sitting near to the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, and I think we exchanged our expressions of astonishment at the time. It was a surprise to me that the Indian Princes, who were so determined to retain their allegiance to the Crown and to make it, if possible, more intimate than it had been, and were demanding that they should be put under the aegis of the Viceroy and not of the Governor-General in Council, should take up that attitude. I pondered it, and the conclusion I came to, which I believe was the true conclusion, was first that they were dissatisfied with the government of India as it was then being administered, that they thought there ought to be a change, but, above all, that they remembered that they were Indians and were asking that this responsibility should be transferred to Indians instead of its being entirely in the hands of the British, who were controlling it from some thousands of miles away.
421 I happened to be at that time the leader of the. Liberal Parliamentary delegation, and it took some time for us to think about it and discuss it, but eventually we came to a definite conclusion. It was discussed with all the leaders of our Party who were not members of the delegation to the Round-Table Conference, and as a consequence I announced a policy which we were ready to adopt, which was substantially that we were prepared, provided that there was Federation, to grant responsibility at the Centre, subject to safeguards, provided again that the safeguards were effective. Bearing in mind, as I do, that this matter has to go before a Joint Select Committee, anybody who is a member of that Committee must keep an open mind and hoar all arguments that may be adduced, either for or against, remembering also that the Bill when it is fashioned must come up before this House but having said that, nothing that has happened from beginning to end since that announcement was made has caused me to depart one hair's-breadth from what I said then. I thought then that it was right, and still cannot help saying that there is a policy—of course I am not suggesting a. policy explained by me, but a policy which is now in the White Paper, after much discussion and formulation by Governments, many inquiries, and most anxious consideration—there is a policy in the White Paper which is the basis of a new Constitution, and which in substance I am prepared to adopt.
Reserving any consideration or elaboration that may be necessary—details are net completely filled in; all sorts of questions will come up for discussion no doubt when the Bill comes before us—I do not propose to discuss to-day at any length the details of the various proposals which are made. All I desire is to ask your attention to one or two of the very important points that have been raised. It is said, and particularly by the noble Lord who last spoke, how ridiculous it is to have a Constitution with responsibility and safeguards included. Well, is it? I should really like to ask any constitutional lawyer or any student of constitutional history, or any one who has taken the trouble really to examine the development of Constitutions, whether he can point to a single Constitution which has been put, into a Statute which has not some safeguards. I do not know 422 of any. I have always understood they were necessary, that they were essential. It is not so much because you are distrusting those to whom you are granting responsibility that you include the safeguards. It is very often because you want to keep the confidence of the people who were parties with you in making over the responsibility.
Let me illustrate what I mean. Take, for example, the important question of sterling loans, made on the invitation of the Secretary of State, legally, of course, upon the responsibility of the finances of India. They are a trustee security, subscribed and taken up by all those who are investors in gilt-edged securities. These people have lent their money. Supposing you transfer finance to the new Government, the question would immediately arise in these people's minds, that is, the minds of the lenders: "Where do we stand"? I pass over the question of whether or not the Secretary of State could be made responsible. That has often been discussed, though I should have thought legally he is not responsible. The real point is that the lender who has parted with his money does not want finance transferred to India, because he thinks that his security is lessened inasmuch as those who are going to administer the finances of India will be able to deal with the revenues, dispose of them as they please, and the lenders may think perhaps some revolutionary Party will come into power which might even refuse to pay the interest. It is not remarkable they should think so in view of some wild observations which were made at one of the meetings of Congress. Is it not apparent that you must have a safeguard for that, and you must introduce some system by which it becomes clear that the service of the loans, that is the interest on the debt, the Sinking Fund payments and redemption at maturity, the taking up of a short-term debt, and the finding of all the sterling that may be required will be met and without difficulty, so that the obligation is upon the Government to draw this money and to pay it out? It has not to be voted. So you have this safeguard that it is entirely outside the control of the Indian Parliament, and if they choose to say: "We are not going to pay," they could not withhold payment. That of course is an essential safeguard, and I should have thought 423 it did not require discussion. I only quote that as an example of a safeguard, and I shall not refer to the others.
I want just to deal with the divisions there are in the powers. It is true the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, wrote a very important letter to The Times dealing with the powers of the Viceroy. The great point he made was that it was not possible for anyone to discharge all the functions which would fall upon the Viceroy under the conditions of this White Paper. I know the noble Marquess has had important duties to perform, but I can assure him that if he had had to perform the duties of Viceroy he certainly would not think that the duties would be any greater under the new system than they are under the present system. There are three ex-Viceroys in this Chamber, and I do not suppose any one of them will accept the view that the responsibilities now to be conferred on the Viceroy will be so great that he will not be able to undertake them. I read the letter of the noble Marquess with some surprise for that reason. He referred, among other things, to "gladiatorial combats"—a picturesque phrase which we are accustomed to get from one of his literary capacity; but "gladiatorial combats" was rather a strange expression to use with regard to what is to happen in the future. I could not help thinking it had never occurred to my noble friend that just these events which he describes in this picturesque phrase are events which have been occurring constantly during the last twelve years.
After all, I have been away from India now for seven years, and I am almost an old-stager, but even so I was the inaugurator of the new Constitution as introduced in 1921. My noble friend will remember we often had to discuss points that arose upon it, and these very difficulties did arise. I have had actually to "certify," as it was called, a Budget—indeed two out of the five that were passed in my time—these Budgets being the Finance Bills which were introduced into and thrown out by the Legislative Assembly, which refused to pass them. It is true the Council of State passed the Budget but the consequence was I was put into this position as Viceroy. I want to make it clear, because of a passage in the letter of the noble Marquess, that it is in no sense the 424 responsibility of the Viceroy's Council; it is the responsibility of the Viceroy, the Governor-General. He then recommends the Bills to be passed, and if a Bill is not passed, as it was not in two instances at any rate with me, the Governor-General certifies it, and from that moment it becomes the law of the land, the taxes are collected—and they were collected—just in the same way as if the Bill had been passed in the ordinary course by the two Chambers without any difficulty. Those are events which are taking place. I was not conscious in India at that time that I was taking part in a gladiatorial combat.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
If the noble Marquess will forgive my interrupting him, the Viceroy will not have the Executive Council behind him as he has at present. If the noble Marquess will study Paragraphs 35, 36, and 37 carefully he will see that the Viceroy will be very much more in the limelight in the future than in the past.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
May I point out in regard to the observation just made that the Viceroy will not have the Executive Council behind him, that he has not now, under the present system, the Executive Council behind him. It is quite a mistake to think that is so. I remember several occasions when I had to make use of the powers which are entrusted to the Viceroy. Whenever I had to consult my Council, and I agree I did at times, I told them definitely in terms: "You can give your advice or not as you please. Whatever you say will never be conveyed to anybody, but the responsibility is mine, and I shall act as I think right, whatever you may say, because the duty is imposed upon me, and not upon me as Governor-General in Council, which means that it is the personal responsibility of the Viceroy." My noble friend Lord Irwin has had to deal with matters in the same way and he will agree that that is his experience.
May I take another instance in passing, that of the Ordinance? An Ordinance issued by a Viceroy, may I say, almost staggered me when I first discovered I had the power to do it. I do not think I knew it when I went there, and when an occasion arose and I had to look for the Statute, with my bringing up as a Liberal it was a little startling to find that I had the power to issue an 425 edict, an Ordinance as it is called, under the Statute, which could override the law of the land and every Statute passed in the land, which had the force of a Statute and could not be discussed in the Assembly or in the Legislature unless I chose to allow it. It remained the law for six months. We know from what has happened during isle time since I left—but it never happened in my time—that after that six months had expired another Ordinance had to be issued. Of course, these are very exceptional powers, and they are only necessary in cases of great emergency. I remember the first time it happened to me to resort to them was on the occasion of the rebellion in Malabar. I had to declare Martial Law. But there have been other instances, in fact there have been a great many since. All I desire to point cut in dealing with the Ordinance is that that again is the responsibility of the Viceroy and Governor-General, or the Governor-General to use strict legal phraseology, but of course it is the same person.
One final instance I will give to point out what the duties are and what they have been, certainly ever since this Act of 1919 has been in force. Even though the majority of the Executive Council—the equivalent of the Cabinet of the Viceroy—is against him, if the Governor-General thinks it is essential either for the peace or tranquillity of India or in the interests of India, that he should override them all, not only is he entitled to do it, but, under the law, he is bound to do it, because the obligation is placed upon him of determining and doing what he thinks right in the circumstances. There again not only has he not the Executive Council behind hint, but he has a majority against him. I bring this to your Lordships' notice because I do want to stress this point. In the position which you are creating for the Governor-General under the new system there is no real difficulty. I agree that there is a tremendous responsibility, but as one who has held the office, may I say that its greatest attraction is that very burden of responsibility which is placed upon the Governor-General, and the power which is given to him to implement the decisions he chooses to take. It means nothing more than this, that when emergencies arise, when conditions exist in which it becomes necessary for him to take action, he has the power 426 to take it, and he ought to do so; indeed, he is bound to do so.
These proposals place no greater burden upon him than he has now. The only relief that I concede to him is that he will be relieved of a great many of the matters which are now brought to him in his daily ordinary occupation—matters brought to him for the purpose of getting his orders, as must happen in India before anything of importance takes place. He has to deal with all the affairs of Departments. Ministers and secretaries of Ministers are coming to him constantly for orders. He will be relieved of a very great deal of that. He will not have that to do as his daily work, because there will be a Cabinet there. I cannot myself see that he will be in a worse position than now, especially when you bear in mind that he is to have three counsellors, who are to be his counsellors responsible to him, unfettered in their responsibility to him. They will be there to advise him in the different Departments in which he has to take decisions, so that he is not left without counsel. He has special advisers of his own. He has also the assistance of a financial adviser. May I point out that he is not bound to take part in a Cabinet if he does not so choose? Certainly, as I understand the position, it would be the consequence of this White Paper becoming law that the Viceroy and Govornor-General will remain the head of the Executive in India. There can be no question that, as the head of the Executive, he is entitled to have the right, whenever he deems it possible, to preside at Cabinets, notwithstanding that the Cabinet is responsible to the Legislature and is no longer in the position of being merely responsible to him and to Parliament here.
That is the position. But in addition he has these various duties. It was asked among other things: How can he attend to the affairs of the Political Department or of the Foreign Department'? I would point out, to show how little is being added in this respect, that at present the Viceroy is the Minister of the Foreign Political Department. There is no Foreign Minister who sits in the Viceroy's Cabinet, commonly called the Executive Council. There is no Political Minister sitting in the Political Department. That is the Department which deals with the Police and the Princes and the affairs of 427 the ruling States, a very important Department. There is no Minister there, because the Viceroy himself acts as his own Minister for both foreign and political matters. It is right I should say, for the purposes of accuracy, that up to the present moment, although the Viceroy is Minister for the Political Department, the matters constitutionally are decided by the Governor-General in Council, that is by the Viceroy That is how it works in practice. I am sure I am not giving away any secrets, for I have said it over and over again in India, when I say that nearly all these matters are decided by the Viceroy himself and only upon any question that he thinks of great importance does he consult the Council. What is now desired by the Princes—and it will be done if the proposals in the White Paper take effect—is that that should be simplified. All these questions will be dealt with by the Viceroy. The Cabinet—that is, the Ministers responsible to the Legislature—will have nothing to do with the question. That is what the Princes have asked and what is conceded. It really adds nothing to the work of the Viceroy because he has been doing it for a number of years and is doing it at the present moment.
That being so, may I ask your Lordships to consider another point? It. has been said on various occasions—the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, said it to-day—that the communal trouble is worse now than ever. I wondered what the authority was for that statement. I do not mean for a moment to say that the communal trouble has disappeared—nobody has suggested that—but the Communal Award has been made by the Government and we know that that Award has been accepted. I will not say it has been accepted with pleasure, but it has been accepted and is being worked as far as I can gather. It is meant to be only a temporary Award. It was given by the Government with great reluctance, leaving it open to the parties whenever they choose to come to an agreement which would take the place of the temporary Award. I really do not understand what is the foundation for the statement made to your Lordships that the communal trouble never was worse or greater than it is at the present moment.
May I conclude on this part of the matter by asking you to remember that 428 Federation is essential to the whole matter we are discussing? I have myself always made it a condition of granting responsibility to the Centre that there should be Federation. Federation depends in the main, of course, upon the Princes. If the Princes do not choose to enter into this new scheme, of course we cannot force them. Your Lordships will appreciate the reason for that. The Princes are independent ruling sovereigns. That is their legal status. It is true there are limitations upon the sovereignty, but that nevertheless is their political position. They have treaties with the Crown and the result is that we cannot force them. In their position of Rulers they would have to be agreeable to any proposal and consequently would have to enter into Instruments of Accession. It is no use speculating upon what would be the result. All I will say is that it would be extremely regrettable if the Princes, after the pronouncements they have made and the work they have entailed upon this country and upon India, nevertheless do not agree to enter into Federation in sufficient numbers to enable us to start this scheme. No one will suggest that pressure should be brought to hear upon them. It is a matter for themselves. But it is not we, it is not the Government or the British people who initiated this idea. It is the Princes' who did it and the Princes who are responsible, and they will have to understand in consequence if Federation fails that failure is caused by them.
Now may I say in conclusion that throughout the whole of this discussion what has struck me very much is that it has been assumed that always in the future we are to have exactly the same kind of difficulties as have happened in the past If I understood the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, they assumed that we are going to have a constant conflict between the authorities who administer the safeguards and those who are entrusted with responsible government. I venture to say that that is really quite a wrong picture to present. If it happens, then I agree the whole thing is a failure. What I have assumed, and I think what the Indians who will have to world this scheme have realised, is that they cannot go on as things have been 429 going on. They feel now that something must be done and of course they want both responsibility in the Provinces and responsibility with safeguards at the Centre. If they once get that they know well that their attention will have to be concentrated upon carrying on their own domestic affairs.
At the end of my time in India, when I had leisure for a short while to reflect upon all that had taken place there during that very active And sometimes very acutely troublesome period full of anxieties, I remember well saying to myself again and again that if only we had not been so hampered by this constitutional question and agitations throughout the whole of the period we might have been able to do something to improve the conditions of the ryot, something to improve the social welfare of the poorer people in India, something to make these unfortunate poorer people more contented and happy. I confess that I have always regretted that it did not fall to my lot to have the opportunity of devoting time and attention to that subject. I am perfectly certain from what I know of my noble friend Lord Irwin, that he must have had exactly the same feeling at the end as I had. Now, if we succeed, if we carry through a measure of this kind, I do believe that we shall have an opportunity of directing attention more to the condition of the people of the country during a period in which the Indian population will cease to be agitating all the time for constitutional reform.
The picture as I see it is quite different from that depicted to you. I see this Cabinet getting to work, a Cabinet headed by someone from the Party which has the largest number of votes, entrusted with the formation of a Ministry. I see him getting his Ministry together and going to the Legislature to deal with the various questions which arise. During the greater part of the time there will be no question of safeguards. The question of safeguards will only arise if an attempt is made to break away from the constitutional position. Take, if you please, the question of the Army of which so much has been said. I cannot go into a detailed discussion of it now because there is not time. The money required for the Army does not have to be voted at all under the present 430 system. The Viceroy has the power to draw it. He has his Commander-in-Chief and his own Council with regard to it. What is contemplated, and what I hope will happen, is that there will be discussion with the Cabinet. That is to say, that the Viceroy's advisers, his Council, will not keep within a water-tight compartment and have nothing to do with the Cabinet that is appointed. They have different responsibilities, it is true, but they will try to get together to work together in the interest of India—those counsellors responsible to the Viceroy and those counsellors responsible to the Legislature—and if they do that these difficulties will, in the main, not emerge at all. Most of the safeguards put in are for the purpose of meeting emergencies in case they should arise. In most Constitutions where you have safeguards you hear little of them afterwards because, once there, they limit the powers of Parliament and consequently delimit the constitutional powers entrusted to Ministers.
I believe the system will work. I look forward to a much happier time than some who have addressed your Lordships. I believe that if we can carry out this Federation and get this new system of government adopted—I do not mean exactly as is suggested in the White Paper, but subject to the wisdom of Parliament when Parliament has had time and opportunity to examine the Report from the Joint Select Committee—we shall have taken a tremendous step in advance. I do not hesitate to call it that—a tremendous step which will give Indians the hope that they may be able to manage their domestic affairs, nevertheless remaining in partnership with the British Empire, and I believe they will come to take as much pride in that as we take in recalling, as I never fail to do during times of great anxiety, what we have achieved in India. I believe this vast Continent with its population of 353,000,000, which has been governed, administered, guided, into the paths of rectitude and incorruptibility, with justice administered according to British ideals, will take pride in the association just as we take pride in what we have done. I recall that in those 353,000,000 people there are less than 200,000 British, counting all officers, soldiers, civil servants, men, women and children, and that with these small 431 numbers we have managed through 170 years to govern India and to bring it to its present condition. I do venture to say to your Lordships that if you remember all that that means, the truth will be impressed upon you, as it always has been upon me, that it is not the armed force, which is and must always be the ultimate recourse in case of trouble, that really has given you your power in India, but the character of the British people who have been there—their reputation for honesty, for fair dealing, for justice properly administered, and for carrying out any promises which they may have given.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, I should certainly not have ventured to intervene in this debate if I had been left to my own inclinations and had it not been for the official position which I have the honour to hold in your Lordships' House. The noble Marquess who has just sat down, analysing the speakers in this very important debate, was able to discover only three who were not closely associated with Indian affairs. He labelled me as one of the three. Now I find myself sandwiched between two ex-Viceroys. It is a difficult position, but there is this to be said—that an ordinary member of your Lordships' House without special acquaintance of an intimate or expert nature with this problem has at the same time a great responsibility. So has the ordinary member of the House of Commons, and those of your Lordships who have served in another place, and there are many, know that that responsibility was difficult to discharge owing to the lack of interest which was so conspicuously shown in Indian affairs.
Members of the House of Commons know quite well that the debate on India, which only takes place once annually, is not a debate which is attended by any large number of members. Yet all the time we have had this great responsibility and in these days, of course, a very much larger number of members of our two Legislative Assemblies have been forced to take a very close interest in the problem as it now presents itself. I have sat through this debate and, while the noble Marquess has classified those who have spoken as those who have knowledge and experience of Indian affairs and those who have not, may I in passing make 432 another classification which is a comment upon the speeches of the three younger members of your Lordships' House—one on the Front Bench opposite and two on the Back Benches—because I think those speeches were as good contributions to the debate as any that were delivered?
As we look back upon the past we are able to see the mistakes that have been made. As far back as 1865 John Stuart Mill said:A free country which attempts to govern a distant Dependency inhabited by a dissimilar people by means of a branch of its own Executive will almost inevitably fail.Our consciousness of the possibility of failure has been shown by our attempts in the last fifty years to adjust matters in such a way as to give India a greater share in her own government.
The Party which I have the honour to represent in your Lordships' House has decided to serve on the Joint Select Committee mainly for three reasons. In the first place, it is obviously the duty of the Parliamentary Opposition to take its share in a Parliamentary stage, which this is, of the gradual evolution of a Bill brought before Parliament. Secondly, we feel that the presence of our members on the Joint Select Committee may be of assistance to the Government when they are being pulled very much towards the Right direction—I mean Right as distinguished from Left, not as distinguished from wrong, and that is important, because I notice that the Government are in far greater fear of the pull from the Right than they are of the pull from the Left.
That brings me to the third reason why we have determined to join in the Committee. Our presence there is of importance. It is of exactly equal importance to the presence of the Government itself, and it is of far greater importance than the presence of any group, either of the Right or the Left, and for this reason, that we represent, although it may seem strange to your Lordships for the moment, the future Government of this country. Nobody would laugh at that, because we know that a perpetual or eternal Government is something which has never happened. That being the case, we shall find ourselves confronted with this problem, because it is not going to be settled at the termination of the sittings of this Joint Select Committee. There is a long road to 433 travel yet. In the course of time a Labour Government will find itself with the burden of this great responsibility upon it, and it is only right that it should take its share in the deliberations which are taking place now. May I say in passing that I hope the Government will bear in mind that, considering what the responsibility of the Opposition is, they must have full and adequate representation on that Committee?
Of the speeches, to which I have listened with the greatest attention and the greatest care, and which have been of intense interest, even the most critical have not produced an alternative. The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, did say he was going to tell us his alternative at the end of his most effective speech, but really when it came to the alternative it amounted to nothing more than going bank to the Simon Commission Report I really cannot believe that that can he seriously put forward as an alternative to-day. There have been criticisms, and some damaging criticisms, but no one has pretended that he has a solution of this very crucial problem up his sleeve. It is baffling. We have had to write down a Constitution on paper. I should like to say a word with regard to Lord Salisbury's speech but he has just left the House. He made some remarks in his speech with regard to the folly of comparing this Constitution that we are discussing with the British Constitution, and with regard to the British Constitution he said: "It moves," that is to say Works. We all admit that, but put the British Constitution into a White Paper: it would not get a Second Beading in this House or the House of Commons
Constitution making is a very difficult business. You have got to construct a frame, a skeleton, you have then to clothe it with flesh and blood, and even then you have not done your task, because the best of all schemes, the most watertight of all Constitutions, the most carefully drafted in all its details of schemes, will not operate unless there is 1 spirit in it which gives the people to whom it is accorded a desire that it, should work. Our Constitution works because we desire that it should work, not because it is a good one. Take, for instance, the rules of procedure in this House, which I venture to think are extremely good and businesslike. I do not 434 think they are written down anywhere. They are accepted by consent, and we get through our business in that way, but attempt to write them down and you will find your difficulties and criticisms impossible. That is why I do not think it is entirely fair to think that you come to the end of your business when you write down your Constitution, and I do not think it is entirely fair to take out this or that clause and to say this or that will not work, and therefore this Constitution is of no use at all. You have got to look beyond that.
Some people have referred to the move as a leap in the dark. It may be the dark, but it certainly is not a leap. We never leap. That is one of the great characteristics of the British race. We do not leap. We go very quietly forward, step by step, and what we have to take care of in this connection is to see that the steps we do take are in the right direction. I really think that the criticism that we are going too fast, the criticism that our steps are too rapid, is really unfounded, when one thinks of the stages that have already been gone through and the stages which are in front of us, which must operate for at least two or three years.
Much has been said of our contacts with the Indians. The contacts of our administrators and of our soldiers are obvious enough; the contacts of finance, of commerce, economical contacts, are also often referred to; but what are not sufficiently often referred to are the intellectual contacts. We are talking as if the people in India, of their own initiative, were making certain demands. We have been teaching them to make those demands for a number of years. My old college at Oxford, Balliol, is responsible for turning out scores of Indians who are saturated with the idea of Western institutions. Are we going to turn to them now and say: "Oh, you must not have that, it is only for us," when they have been studying our text books and our constitutional histories, and pouring the knowledge of the West into themselves, and, with their cager intelligence, assimilating it, and have gone home to spread the news that Parliamentary and constitutional institutions are a good method of government for a country? Are we going to say to them: "Your time is 435 not yet; you are not up to it; it is only for us"? We must remember that we have taught them to make this demand, and now we cannot in all justice refuse them.
Then it is said that this is the wrong moment, when representative Parliamentary institutions are falling and dictatorships being set up. I have drawn attention to that fact more than once, but I really would also emphasise this fact, that these dictatorships that we see in the world to-day, whatever country we look upon—there are a good many of them—are in their very nature only episodes. However much we may look with anxiety at the operation of a dictatorship in one country or another, there is something which we regard with very much more anxiety, and that is the inevitable termination of that dictatorship, because it must end with the life of the dictator. Then comes the chaos, then comes the confusion, then comes the revolution and the strife. A dictatorship is not a form of government that can ever be durable. We may look with regret on what is going on in so many countries of Europe to-day, but we know in our own minds that it is only a matter of years when they will fall back once again on what seems now to be going through a severe trial—the representative institutions which will allow an intelligent people to bear its share in the government of its country.
A good deal has been said with regard to whether this scheme will work. Expectations, it is said, may be raised too high; will this very complicated machine work smoothly? We cannot tell. But the smooth working is not really the point. I think it was Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman who once said that "good government is no substitute for self-government," and I believe that is perfectly true. There is no doubt about it that Indians will have to work out their salvation for themselves, with ups and downs, and we cannot have people wringing their hands directly there is trouble and saying "We told you so," as I think the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said with regard to Ireland. Ireland is going through an episode. Ireland has to work out its salvation for itself. In our brief little span of life here when we see things going wrong in a country, surely we must keep our 436 sense of proportion and remember that the life of a country extends far into the future and that there is great hope of revival when we are in a depression.
No, do not let us say that smooth working or immediate success of this machine is to be expected, or very much to be desired. What we want is to see that the foundations are truly laid, and that not too much account is taken of the facade of the structure. We want to see the foundations well laid. And that is where I want to make one or two criticisms. I read this White Paper through directly it came out with the greatest possible attention. It is a very difficult document to absorb, because constitution making in itself requires a draftsman's knowledge, a constitutional lawyer's knowledge, and in this case a knowledge of India and its problems. But what occurred to me as I read it through was that the emphasis was wrong. The emphasis seemed to be all on the safeguards, and not sufficiently on the grant of self-government. We seem to be taking away with one hand whatever we give with the other, and I think that that has been noticed very much by Indian opinion. The noble Marquess, Lord Linlithgow, said in his interesting speech that bold advance was better than over-caution, and the noble Marquess, Lord Dufferin, in the admirable speech he made to-day, went so far as to say that if you are going to do it at all do it in the grand manner. I feel certain that he is right. This stiffening up of the Constitution in so many directions is due, I think, to fear of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, and those who follow them. I think the Government are genuinely frightened of them and want to placate them, and that note is noticeable in the proposals of the White Paper.
I want very quickly to go through and emphasise once more our attitude towards these proposals. The most important point is that we want to see the promise of Dominion status implemented. We want to see a culmination and a hope given that at a certain date and in certain contingencies Dominion status will be accorded to India. At present that is not mentioned. The date for the establishment of a Federal Government seems to be indefinitely postponed. I would draw your Lordships' attention to a phrase used by the Secre- 437 tary of State for India in the Conference on December 24 last when he was answering Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru:Let me also say to you [said Sir Samuel Hoare] we do not intend to inaugurate any kind of provincial autonomy under conditions which might leave Federation to follow on as a mere contingency in the future. We shall, as I say, between now and the passage of the Bill do everything in our power—here I am speaking, I think, not only for the British Government but for the British delegation as a whole—to remove any obstacle that may at present stand in the way of the Federation coming into being at as early a date as possible.That is not reflected actually in the White Paper, but that assurance of the Secretary of State is important. We consider that there is too much limitation of the powers of the Legislature, and the fact that a Bill can be stopped in its initiation seems to be going too far. But if that power is given it ought to be given for a limited period only. We believe that the safeguards are liable to nullify the responsibility. The whole of the machinery of safeguards ought to be used for adjusting differences, and not thwarting any progressive move.
The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, made a reference to the Government of Egypt, should not like to have made the remark I was going to make unless he had been here. He emphasised a good deal in his speech the analogy between What had taken place in Egypt and what might take place in India, hut may I very respectfully say to him that the unfortunate years through which Egypt passed have not been a proof of the failure of representative Parliamentary institutions, but they have been an instance of the wrong and maladroit operation of the safeguards? Therefore I think it is not in the institution that we shall find that there is very much to alter, but that in the safeguards we may find ourselves tripped, and we may find a. conflict which will produce friction between the Governor-General and the Legislatures of the Provinces.
Filially, I should like among those points I am emphasising to say how much I desire to support the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, in his plea that the woman's franchise question should be reconsidered. No words of mine can add to the force of his remarks. We know that the desire of the educated women in India to see their sex freed from the often disastrous bends of degradation to 438 which they are now subjected is one that should be listened to, and the recommendations which the noble Marquess made when he was on that Committee should, I think, be listened to. I think that above all this we desire to launch this policy with the best possible feeling. I would plead with the Government that they should consider once more in the course of these coming months, while this is being discussed, the question of the release of the political prisoners. I think that that is a very important point. You want to get the right atmosphere, and so long as we have men in prison, and especially young men, who are going to remember these years in future, you do not create the soil that is proper for the seed which you desire to sow.
I am going to be followed in this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Irwin, who is going to sum up for the Government. He has had a share in the development of this idea of Indian self-government unequalled, I think, by any of your Lordships, even those who have held such prominent positions in Indian administration. He played a very memorable part, and, if he will allow me to say so, a very noble part in the time that he acted as Viceroy. He had the great courage and wisdom to pursue the path of conciliation. It required very great courage, and I think that when he gave up his office at the end of his term there were many who very greatly regretted that he was not able to continue there in order to see the accomplishment of his ideals. When he left, and when the Labour Government fell, the policy of the "strong hand" was recommended and commended. My Lords, the "strong hand" is an absurd expression for the action of people who are frightened. It is merely an admission that you are possessed by fear. I am certain that the path of conciliation is the only one which is likely to offer happy results, and is the only one that can produce the spirit of co-operation without which no scheme in the world can work.
During these three last days we have had the most important debate in your Lordships' House for many a long day. I have attended the debate, and read the speeches that I have not been able to listen to, and I have read also every one of the speeches delivered in another place during the three days debate there. Having done that, as I have no doubt 439 many of your Lordships have done, one is enormously struck by the sense of responsibility that has been shown in every one of the speeches, and by the keen desire displayed in varying degrees that a form of government should be given to India which would allow the great Oriental peoples in that Continent to express themselves, to express their desires and their needs so that they may become willing and sympathetic partners in the great brotherhood which has been called the British Commonwealth of Nations. We shall make mistakes. In the nature of things we must make mistakes; but do not let us allow fear, suspicion, overcaution, and timidity to deter us from according the fundamental right of self-government to the expectant millions whose destiny is our most sacred charge.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (LORD IRWIN)
My Lords, I owe a word of apology, I think, to your Lordships' House for venturing to intervene in a debate of which I have only been able to hear one day, but your Lordships know my absence was due to circumstances over which I had no, or only very partial, control, and I have sought to redeem my deficiencies in that respect by reading all your Lordships' debate, and by endeavouring to inform myself as accurately as I might on what has passed. I have been fortunate indeed to-day to hear a succession of speeches like, I imagine, those which preceded them on the two earlier days, in all of which, as the noble Lord who spoke last reminded us, there has been evident a great spirit of restraint and of recognition of how important was the subject with which the debate dealt, and how widely the speeches made in this place echoed outside of it.
There has, of course, been no difference of opinion, or so I gather, with regard to the actual Motion on the Paper. It was not to be expected that there would be, inasmuch as the procedure there outlined has been generally accepted, I think, among all those who reflected on what the most appropriate procedure should be for some years past, and has on the whole commanded general approbation. I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Snell, made a special appeal to me to develop, if I could, somewhat further on behalf of the Government what would be the precise position 440 of the Indian representatives and what I thought would be the facilities enjoyed by British representatives who might sit on that Committee. I am afraid with regard to neither point am I able to carry this information further than I hoped I had carried it on an earlier occasion. He will remember that on that occasion it fell, to me, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, to say that the question of the procedure of the Select Committee both in regard to the collaboration of Indians and in regard to the other point which lie put, which I think was a new one, with regard to the admission of advisers and assistants to the British representatives, was and must be a matter for the discretion of the Committee. It was quite evident that it would not be possible for Indian representatives over here to vote on the Committee, or sign the Committee's Report, but subject to these limitations it was the hope of the Government that the Committee would be prepared to avail itself to the utmost of the freest possible consultation with Indian representatives, and to allow them, in what I think was the sense originally proclaimed by Lord Birkenhead, to voice their objections and give free expression to their criticisms in the Committee room.
So far as I have been able to judge I think that the opinions expressed in this debate have tended to fall into two main groups. Perhaps it would be more fair to say three main groups, because I must not overlook that body of opinion for which the noble Lord who spoke last speaks, which feels generally that the White Paper proposals do not go nearly far enough, and are unduly marked throughout by hesitancy and caution. But leaving that aside, I think I would say that the rest of the opinion, to put it perhaps not unfairly, is divided into two groups. I would put first of all those who, perhaps, like my noble friend the Marquess of Zetland, are prepared to accept in general the White Paper proposals, or, at least, are not disposed at this stage to differ from them in principle, but are yet apprehensive about this or that particular aspect of them, and who wish to have this or that aspect of them more particularly explored in the Committee. That is one view. The other, I think, might he not perhaps incorrectly represented by either my noble 441 friend Lord Salisbury or my noble friend Lord Lloyd. They, I think I do them no injustice when I say, are quite frankly disposed to range themselves on principle against the whole suggestion of making any advance at present in the direction of Central responsibility, and they also, in their turn, support that attitude by reference, with great force and great conviction, to their particular distrust of particular provisions. If I may I would deal for a moment or two with each of those broad positions.
May I deal with the second first, that which rejects on principle, or is disposed to reject on principle, any conception of moving towards responsibility at the Centre at the present time? I do not think that it is untrue to say that those who attack that view are really disposed to deny the reality of the problem of the settlement, and they are disposed to regard others like myself, or like the noble Marquess opposite, Lord Reading, who spoke to-day, or the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, who spoke a day or two ago—indeed, I think Lord Litton would not disagree with me here—they are, think, somewhat disposed to regard those of us who feel that there is a problem at the Centre, very much like children who are afraid of the dark and victims of a quite unreal and quite unsubstantial fear. I want, if I may, in a few sentences to tell your Lordships why I, for my part, am unable to take that view, and, if I may, I will tell it, I hope briefly, against a background of personal experience, following the example here of my noble friend Lord Linlithgow a day or two ago.
Before I went to India, and when, indeed, I first had the pleasure of sitting in the House of Commons, I sat there, I think I way claim, as an impeccable Conservative, a member of the Conservative Opposition. My principal concern in life was to employ my energies in resisting the movement for the granting of Home Rule to Ireland. I spent weary days and nights in resisting those claims to self-government. Moreover, when it fell to me to join the ranks of a Government at a later date, had the great advantage and the great privilege of serving my novitiate in Government under Mr. Churchill, and the value of that apprenticeship, I have no doubt, was in no way impaired by the 442 fact that it happened to overlap the period during which he was taking so prominent a part in the Irish Treaty, which seemed to me in those days a direct contradiction of everything I had at first been elected to oppose.
At all events I only tell your Lordships those few sentences of biography to show went to India at least with no predisposition in favour of either accepting or opposing Indian claims, but I found, as the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who spoke earlier, said, conditions in India that compelled me to reconsider in a new light the constitutional arrangements that I found in operation at the Centre of Government. What did one find there? A political intelligentsia, acute, subtle, highly-trained in political method, trained, as has been said over and over again in this debate, and said with profound truth just now—trained by ourselves in all the opinions that we pride ourselves on having given to the world. The story is familiar enough to your Lordships and do not repeat it. But all that is reinforced by the fact that in India, as I think—and I think noble Lords who have served in India will agree—education has vastly out-stripped the technical and industrial development of the country, with the consequence that everybody who conies out of the Universities and out of the educational process and cannot get a technical or a professional job, to-day drifts into politics and is a great reinforcement of the political class, supported as that class is by the often very unscrupulous and always very active and almost ubiquitous vernacular Press.
That is part of the problem. It is quite true that that political intelligentsia is a fractional minority of the whole, but it is not a minority in the sense that we often use the term—namely, a minority in contra-distinction to a majority, which is ex hypothesi opposed to it. That great majority in, I think, the judgment of many whose opinions would carry weight is far more capable of potential support if the right appeal ran be made to prejudices, race sympathies and the like. If I may I would like to quote some sentences on that matter from the Report of the Statutory Commission. Sir John Simon's Commission said, and I think it is worth remembering: 443The politically-minded in India are only a tiny minority, but they may be able to sway masses of men in the countryside.Then the Commission go on to say:While the experienced Indian member of the Services will admit the benefits of the British Raj and realise the difficulties in the way of complete self-government; while the member of a minority community, putting the safety of his community first, will stipulate for safeguards; and while the moderate may look askance at extremist methods which he will not openly denounce; all alike are in sympathy with the demand for equal status with the European and proclaim their belief in self-determination for India.I believe that to be true. It is true not merely of Congress, which I agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, is rather of an umbrella title. It is not merely Congress who are concerned with this idea, but a great many who are most loyal and firm-hearted friends and who are anxious to see India moving towards management of her own affairs.
Whilst of course it is true, as the noble Marquess, Lord Linlithgow, said yesterday, that there are analogous movements across Asia, what I have always thought about India is that this movement is going on in a country which, for good reasons or bad, you have chosen to equip with a regular Parliamentary outfit, by which they can focus the whole thing and bring the whole thing into practical politics—a Council, a Legislature, members and constituents and all the rest of it. It is very different from anything that is happening in other parts of Asia that may occur to our minds. At the Centre, of course, is the Legislature predominantly elected, with a Government divorced from it and in no way responsible to it, with the result—as I am sure the noble and learned Marquess, Lord Reading, would agree—that although the Legislature in India, has often behaved with great restraint (it has just passed, for instance, the Ottawa Agreement and passed Bills to supplement the civil power and so on) yet always there is recurring friction and frequent exhibitions of regrettable irresponsibility.
It is not because they have a dose of original sin greater than yours or mine, but because of the system—exactly the same system which impelled Lord Durham to write those words which many of us have so often read in relation to Canada. I confess that when I had been in India a short time I formed a definite view, 444 a view supported by all my reading of Imperial constitutional history, that when you have conditions such as I have described, once political consciousness is aroused, any structure based on this foundation is bound to lack political stability and could not for long be expected to rest upon a basis of consent. If India had not reached the stage where such a Constitution was unworkable we were within sight of it. That is why I was so pleased to hear the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, say what he did with regard to strong government. I am not going to repeat what he said, but with every word that he said on that point I profoundly agree.
When the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, says we should go right back and stand pretty well all square on the Simon Commission's Report, I feel bound to ask whether he is satisfied that the Centre proposed by the Simon Commission would be a strong Centre. I do not think so, and I will tell him why. What is the position to-day? You have 145 members at the present time in the Assembly of the Central Legislature. Of those 145 some 105, if I remember rightly, are elected. The other forty are partly officials and are partly nominated by the Governor-General. The Simon Commission recommended, if I recollect rightly, that the Assembly should consist of something like 250 members in which there should be six members of the Viceroy's Council and another twelve nominated members. That is eighteen out of 250. As against that the Governor-General has to-day some forty of what I may call reasonably probable Governor-General votes Noble Lords will observe at once that the position of difficulty in which, as the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, rightly said, the Governor-General may frequently find himself today, would be indefinitely aggravated if he were asked to work a system of that sort with the sure support of only eighteen out of 250 members. Therefore do not let us have any illusion of a strong Centre being secured by the Report of the Statutory Commission. The Report has great merits, and reading and rereading it I am struck with admiration of it, but it has not the merit of providing a strong Centre.
It, is not on account of pledges—and I do not suppose that I should interpret pledges differently from the noble Lord, 445 Lord Lloyd—but it is because of hard facts that I think that going back is not going to get you on. It is because of hard facts that I am driven to the conclusion that going on is the only safe way of meeting the situation. I say going back, because when you look into the question there are two alternatives and two only. One is to go back and create a subservient creature by way of Legislature or abolish it altogether. The other is to go forward towards a measure of responsibility. I think that logic and facts drive you forward towards responsibility, and that not only on account—as was said, I think, earlier in the debate—of the attitude of the Princes, which they took, as has been said, greatly to everybody's astonishment at the First Round Table Conference, but because going forward to responsibility the only way by which you can fit the facts and meet the situation that has developed. It is no answer to all this to say that the reforms associated with the names of Mr. Montagu and Viscount Chelmsford—whose loss we so greatly deplore—have worked unutterably badly and have failed. In the first place what is meant by failure? It is quite true, I think, that the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms have led to increased communal difficulties. It was quite natural that when people saw power passing from one set of hands to another they began to ask into whose hands it was going to pass. It is quite true, I think, that in seine places and in some directions there has been a certain loss of efficiency, but that might happen wherever there is transfer to popular management of any efficiently run bureaucratic institution in any part of the world. It is also true that it was more expensive. But the point is that the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms were always recognised to be transitional. I think that on the whole, as I believe the Commission found—Viscount Burnham will correct me if I am wrong—it is surprising that they worked as well as they did.
I venture to think when discussing their pros and cons, and whether they have done well or ill, there is a great deal to be put on the other side. They have brought new classes into politics, developed the civic sense, trained people in public spirit and so on, and in the Provinces of Madras and the Punjab they 446 have definitely brought new Parties into existence which have been able to challenge Congress on their own ground and defeat them. That, I think, is a very definite contribution that the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms have made. Therefore the broad conclusion I draw from all this, and I apologise for inflicting it upon your Lordships, is that although I am sure any one who has had the honour of serving the Crown in India would be always willing to admit mistakes in their conduct of affairs, although not always perhaps the mistakes with which they are most commonly reproached, it is really quite unhistorical to attribute present difficulties in India to the fault of this, that or the other man, instead of seeing in those difficulties the broad result of what has followed from bringing India within the constitutional governing ambit of British India.
If I may tell a personal anecdote, I remember meeting, at the Gersoppa Falls, the most lovely falls in India, a collector of twenty-five years' standing. It was in 1929 when great attention was being paid to Indian affairs in England. I asked him, after luncheon, when we were smoking a cigar, whether in his judgment we had all made a great mistake in regard to what had been happening recently, and he said: "If there has been a mistake it was made long ago." I said: "You mean Mr. Montagu and Lord Chelmsford?" He said: "No, further back than that." I said: "You mean Mr. Morley and Lord Minto?" "No," he said, "if we had had prescience, we should have seen that to tie up India with a developing democratic country over the whole field, as was done when we took over from the Company, would have the inevitable result of forcing democracy upon India that was unsuitable to India; we should, after the Mutiny, have recreated and extended the Indian States, preserved standards of administration by our Residents, and ourselves run things like railways, harbours and so on—if we had done that it would have been a possible policy and would have avoided probably the extreme difficulties into which we have fallen later." But you cannot do that now and therefore it is, I suppose, that you have drifted, not through the fault of individuals particularly, but through the pressure of events, into the situation where you now find yourselves.
447 The recent history of the stages by which the matter has been treated are sufficiently familiar and I will not repeat them—the action of the Princes, the Round-Table Conferences, the conviction implicit throughout the Simon Report that the only real way of dealing with the thing is by Federation, and the bringing of the question of Federation more prominently forward during the last two years. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, made a complaint, as I read it, that the Joint Select Committee would be invited to approach the matter blindfold.
§ LORD IRWIN
They would not know, he said, how many Princes would come in, or upon what terms they would come in. The noble Marquess may think it right or wrong, but surely he cannot say that the Government have not given him a perfectly clear answer on the first point because, in the White Paper, it is proposed that a minimum of 50 per cent., I think, of the greater Princes enjoying seats in the Princes' Chamber should be a minimum for bringing Federation into existence; and with regard to the terms on which the Princes should accede he will remember that in the White Paper—I believe it to be in the introduction—it is stated that, of course, His Majesty's Government or the Viceroy would exercise their own discretion as to whether any State sought to impose conditions that were destructive of the conception of Federation and, therefore, it will be, I should suppose, one of the most natural subjects that the Joint Select Committee will explore—namely, what should be the conditions of acceptance and should they be varied from those of the Government proposal.
A point in that connection was made by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, that seemed to me astonishing. He found great fault with the form of Oath, which he described as the most fantastic Oath that he, with his knowledge of Oaths, had ever come across. Surely it will not have escaped his memory that the subjects of the Indian States are not British subjects and, therefore, if they are for certain purposes to take an allegiance to the King-Emperor as the head of the constitutional machinery, it is not un- 448 reasonable that they should be permitted to save the allegiance they owe to their territorial ruler.
§ LORD LLOYD
It was precisely my point that there was always a danger in a divided allegiance. Previously the subjects of Native States had only one allegiance.
§ LORD IRWIN
I do not want to enter into an argument. Any constitutional lawyer would be able to resolve our difference in a moment. But the fact does remain that to-day no subject of an Indian State is technically a British subject. He owes allegiance, or whatever is the right phrase, to his own Maharajah and, through the Maharajah, is in relations with the Crown and the King-Emperor That I believe to be the correct Statement. I would therefore claim on the whole that the policy of Federation, on the basis of defined responsibility, and supported and buttressed by provisions through which Great Britain may still continue to lend her assistance to India in those matters where India needs it, fits the facts better than anything else and is complementary to rather than alien from the Simon Commission. Indeed I think it is very hard to say, if that sort of scheme were discarded, what other scheme you could find to fit the facts more satisfactorily. As has been repeatedly said, it will be the duty of the Joint Select Committee to examine every one of these proposals with the utmost liberty and full discretion, and if they can improve on them no one will be more glad of it, no doubt, than the authors of the proposals themselves.
But I would not have you think that the fact that the Government have reached these conclusions embodied in the White Paper means that they are bland to the difficulties involved in the execution of the policy outlined. It does not mean, for example, that they have overlooked what the noble Marquess directed attention to last night—that India still has communal difficulties and is unable wholly to defend herself. All those matters are in mind But the conclusion we 'would draw from them would differ from that drawn by the noble Marquess. He would find in these things an argument for doing nothing or being ultra-cautious. I would draw the conclusion that I was the more bound to try to assist 449 India to overcome these difficulties and, by overcoming them by joint effort to assist her to realise her aspirations for a greater measure of self-government. If the noble Marquess were to pursue the logic of his argument he would be driven to say that until India had ceased to be communal or until the whole Army had been Indianised, he could not regard India as fit for any Central responsibility, I think he would be reluctant to commit himself so far as that.
I do not wish to fill up your time unduly, and I want to go on to one or two points that have been more particularly taken in debate. The noble Earl, Lord Lytton, made a speech which must have impressed, I think, very strongly all who heard it. He made the point that it was an unprecedented approach to a peat federal problem to try and start your Federal Centre simultaneously with the establishment of the federating units. We have often been told from the other side what an incongruous business it is to try to create a federation of on the one side autocratic States, and on the other side self-governing autonomous Provinces; but not many people seem to have observed what a greater incongruity it would be to attempt to have a. bureaucratic Federal Centre as the apex of self-governing Provinces, and as an apex not detached and removed from the Provinces, but bound to use provincial machinery for all its federal purposes. I cannot believe that that would work for a day.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I did not suggest the establishment of a bureaucratic Federal Government at the Centre. I suggested the creation in the first instance of autonomous Governments in the Provinces of British India and a subsequent agreement between such Governments and the autonomous Governments of the Indian States as to the conditions for the establishment of democratic Federal Government for the whole of India.
§ LORD IRWIN
The noble Earl is talking of what he has ultimately in view, but I am speaking of what would be the Position during the transitional state, until they have come together. It would be a Central Government for All-India purposes and having to rely for those purposes on machinery in the autonomous Provinces. The Central Government 450 would continue to send orders to the autonomous Provinces and the bureaucratic Centre would be likely for the transitional time to have real difficulties. That is one of the difficulties in the whole matter which I have always felt.
§ LORD IRWIN
With great respect may I he allowed to say this I cannot help thinking that a good many people who distrust the federal proposal see the creation of the Indian. Federation rather in the terms in which in history we read of the creation of the American Federation by Alexander Hamilton, who was creating something out of nothing. Here in India there is a Centre, and our problem is to make arrangements for distributing power from this Centre into the Provinces. I think it is an entirely different problem, and it makes the argument from the other side a little unreal.
It is entirely true that the history of India and the British connection has had the result of creating something which is perfectly unique, and for which no sealed pattern treatment is possible, and it is of course on the special features of this Constitution, and the much discussed safeguards, that discussion tends to concentrate. The British criticism is that the safeguards are worthless, that they will not work, and that all power will drift into the hands of the Indian Ministers. The Indian criticism is that the safeguards are destructive of self-government and that the power will drift into the hands of the Governor-General and Governors. They cannot both be right, and as usual I imagine that the truth will lie between them. Incidentally, Lord Lloyd, I think, did an injustice to the proposals of the Government when he said that there were no safeguards whatever proposed to secure stable government for the 300,000,000 humble dwellers in India. I think if he had read the White Paper he must have known that he was falling into error. The truth, as I have said, lies between the British and Indian criticisms, and I agree with Lord Reading. I do not believe that the Governor-General will often find himself compelled to exercise his powers. A Constitution is not only an instrument of government but it is a document which shapes human 451 relationships between individuals, and I cannot imagine that the Governor-General, who will be entrusted with these powers, will often find himself compelled to use them. He will be working with his Ministers, and they will be anxious to work with him. He will be guiding them, and they will not want to go out of their way to lose their jobs and to pick quarrels with one who I hope will he their best adviser and friend.
I do not for one moment believe that the Indians will desire to invade any of the special purposes for which the Governor-General is given special responsibility. I do not believe that Indians at the Centre will want to see Indian credit damaged, or India inadequately defended, or minorities disturbed, and the like. If any noble Lord differs from me in that estimate of probability, let him remember, as the Secretary of State reminded us in another place that the composition of the Central Legislature is such as to ensure that all these stable elements in India can make their voices very effectively heard. The safeguards will be there, and the knowledge that they are there will, I am prepared to believe, be a powerful factor against their being used, and even if the Ministers resign, in the case put by the noble Marquess yesterday, and the Governor-General cannot get another Ministry and the minority cannot carry on, it is then in the power of the Governor-General to take over the Government and appoint irresponsible Ministers, as he has power to do to-day. Unless we are going to contemplate a general strike of the Civil Service, which is as unlikely in India as it is in this country, I have not the smallest fear of these safeguards being found inoperative or unable to be worked.
I have, I am bound to say, given much more anxious thought to the point developed by Lord Zetland, with regard to whether you are putting too great a. burden on to the Governor-General in all these matters. As Lord Reading said, of course it is true, admittedly, that he has a very heavy burden to-day, and therefore the point is whether it is going to be heavier or lighter than it is to-day. I do not want to travel over the ground that Lord Reading travelled over I agree with everything he said. In addition to what are constitutionally 452 his personal powers I think the Governor-General gets the credit, or blame, for whatever happens in any part of India. If anybody drops a brick anywhere in India it is on the Governor-General's toes that it falls. And therefore his personal responsibilities are not in the least measured only by what appears in the Statute as being his personal powers, and I think it is no exaggeration to say that there is no part of Indian administration from which the Governor-General can disinterest himself to-day.
My noble friend said that the Viceroy now has a Council and in future he will be a lonely figure. But the trouble, as my noble friend knows, is that the Council does not always give the Viceroy unanimous advice. I think most of us know cases in which there have been acute difficulties between the Commander in-Chief and the Finance Member, and the Governor-General has ultimately to make up his mind and decide it. And it will happen in the future, as to-day, with only this difference, I think, that when the Governor-General does decide and has to act against his responsible Ministers, he will at least be acting with the knowledge of the responsible Ministers, and not solely in the face of a totally irresponsible Legislature, as he is to-day. And therefore I do not think that he will find it unduly arduous as compared with the present day.
I want to say a word or two to Indian critics of the general proposals, if my words may be so fortunate as to reach them. It has been said that the assertion of the principle of responsible Government in this White Paper occupies only a clause or two whereas the assertion of the safeguards occupies pages. The noble Lord opposite, I think, complained that these were unduly prominent. Well, it is legitimate to remind our Indian critics that the one plea that they have been putting forward, as far as I know, for the last twelve months is: "Let us see exactly these safeguards on paper, let us see exactly what you want." As far as I know, there is nothing now in the safeguards which has not been discussed, if not accepted, but they have been reduced to something like drafting form. I do not think that I ever expected an enthusiastic reception fur the White Paper. That is not, I think, the way in 453 which things generally happen in India, but the criticism to which it has been subjected in no way shakes my conviction that, if and when a scheme on these lines were passed, plenty of responsible Indians would come forward to work that scheme.
I say that for these reasons. First of all, every one of these safeguards in the White Paper is demonstrably in the interests of India. I say that without any hesitation at all. Minorities, law and order, Indian credit, during the transition period, whatever that be, the help of British Services—all these are demonstrably in India's interest; and, as I remember saying quite plainly to Mr. Gandhi when in India, it is equally demonstrably in India's interest that there should be no commercial discrimination. There you have a country crying out for capital to develop it, and what worse advertisement could there he to attract foreign capital than commercial discrimination Therefore, every one of these things flows from what we are trying to do—namely, to construct a practical and balanced partnership between the two countries. And I am not the least impressed by the statement that the fact that the Governor-General has these special powers need in any way impair the real responsibility of Indian Ministers any more than it did in any British Dominion which has progressed through limited to complete responsibility.
Either the safeguards will not be required, in which ease responsibility is not limited, or they will be required, in which case all reasonable opinion, both here and in India, will think it was right to have them, and that they should be exercised. Do let us get away from the conception of safeguards as a kind of bunker, round which or over which careful and skilful players have to make their way. That is not the idea of safeguards. Still less, if the noble Lord, Lord Snell, had been here, would I have commended his simile of the safeguard as a birdcage. That really is not the idea of what a safeguard is. It may be compared to the fence on the side of a dangerous roadway, by which fie unwary or inexperienced traveller may be protected from what may possibly he a false and fatal step, but, as long as he goes straight on, there is no restriction of his liberty, and he can go at whatever pace and as far as he likes.
454 India criticises the financial safeguards. She would, in my judgment, be profoundly ill-advised to criticise the presence of a financial adviser who is likely to be of the greatest possible assistance to the Government of India when they take over these responsibilities. She would also, in my judgment, be ill-informed to criticise the financial arrangements on the ground, as I have seen it stated, that so large a percentage, up to 80 per cent. of Indian revenues are mortgaged to fixed charges, debts, and so on. The answer that I would suggest would be that they should analyse the Budget of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer as I have done, and see how much of his money is really free for him to do what he likes with without prior and compulsory obligations to meet.
The only other subject on which I want to say a word is provincial law and order. After reading the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I reread the Report of the Statutory Commission, and I found that the noble Marquess had taken the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack somewhat to task for having been in danger of misleading the House on the actual recommendations of the Simon Commission. I think that he himself unwittingly fell into error by suggesting that what the Simon Commission had said was that they recommended the transfer of law and order, subject to the fact that there would be a strong Centre (which I do not argue about for the moment) and subject to the fact that there would be a European officer to take the portfolio of law and order in the Provinces.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am afraid I must interrupt my noble friend. I was not referring to the Simon Commission Report, I was referring to the speech of the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons on March 28, and in that speech my right honourable friend said that the Simon Commission only recommended law and order being transferred in the Provinces subject to two qualifications, he then mentioned the two qualifications. The important one was that there should remain responsibility at the Centre, and, having said that, he himself said that it might alter the views of any of us—himself included—having regard to the fact that these 455 qualifications no longer obtain. I was quoting from his speech.
§ LORD IRWIN
I apologise if I have misinterpreted my noble friend, but I do not honestly think I have. I perhaps used the wrong phrase, but what I had in mind was this sentence in his speech yesterday:In the first place there was the qualification that in its Report the Simon Commission contemplated that there should be a special European Minister in each Provincial Government to look after this particular side of the question.It is that sentence which I challenge as not having been the recommendation of the Statutory Commission. My noble friend Lord Burnham is here, and will no doubt bear me out that the Statutory Commission said, if my memory serves me correctly, that there should be an official Minister in Provincial Governments.
§ VISCOUNT BURNHAM
The Commission said it should be open to the Governor of any Province to hand the portfolio of Official Minister outside the Legislative Council.
§ LORD IRWIN
Quite; but that was at the discretion of the Governor, and the Statutory Commission expressly said they hoped it would be done in two or three Provinces, but they made it perfectly plain it was by no means certain he would be a European; he might be an Indian. That is why I ventured to correct the noble Marquess, for after all, it is a point of some substance, when he quoted the Simon Commission as saying there should always be a European Minister in every Province.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I must Apologise to my noble friend if said that the Official Minister must be a European. He is perfectly right. He is an Official Minister, but not necessarily a European. But I also want to remind him that I did not dwell upon that side of it. The real point was that there must be no responsibility at the Centre; that is the important point. The White Paper says you must hand law and order over to the Provinces and you must have responsibility at the Centre. The Foreign Secretary says in his Report you must hand over law and order to the Provinces without any responsibility at the Centre, and the Foreign Secretary went on to say, now that he is a col- 456 league of my noble friend, in the House of Commons the other day, that the fact that that does not appear in the White Paper makes a tremendous difference, a difference which not only affects the minds of everybody but his own mind as well.
§ LORD IRWIN
I do not, of course, challenge what my noble friend has said with regard to the change that has been made. It is a change that. I think is justifiable on its merits. He would hold a different view, but it is a change that will be properly examined by the Joint Select Committee. With regard to the other matter, I very gratefully acknowledge that he accents my correction on the minor point, and for the rest I have no wish to fall into any controversy with him on the matter. May I say a word on the general question? Let there be co misunderstanding about this. With or without change of Central Government, if the attempt were made to withhold law and order from the Provinces, I would agree with my noble friend who spoke first, and regard it as perfectly useless to proceed with the reforms at all because all we should have done would have been to transfer land revenue and finance, and you would have made that great change for nothing. In the next place, let there be no doubt that the Moslem community would be as bitterly opposed to the refusal to transfer so-called law and order in the Punjab as the Hindu community would be anywhere else. Lastly, I cannot believe that the plan of reservation, making the Police a concentrated target for irresponsible criticism, can possibly be considered by anybody as a secure means of protecting them from maladministration. On the other hand it is, of course, perfectly evident that if you lay on the Governor the special responsibility of preserving tranquillity in his Province, if you tell him, as he will be told, in the Instrument of Instructions that he is to be alive to the connection between maintaining the tranquillity of his Province and the internal administration and discipline of the Police, you must also see that he has the means of 'adequate information as to what is going on to enable him to act.
My noble friend began earlier in the debate by asking me the question whether 457 or not this was adequately secured, and I would only say to him that if he or anybody else on the Joint Select Committee is able to show that in that direction the Governor has not sufficient powers, then that would be an evident flaw in the White Paper that would have to be made good. But, on the general question, I think I may be permitted to observe, with regard to the opinion of the Home Member which the noble Marquess quoted yesterday, that as far as I am aware the Government of India does not take the noble Marquess's view and that no Provincial Government, not even Bengal, which might be expected to be as alive to these difficulties as any Provincial Government, associates itself with it, even in the changed conditions to which the noble Marquess referred. AU these matters are of course proper matters for the Joint Select Committee, which I hope will be fully representative of all important sections of opinion, and I hope will discuss these matters calmly and with due deliberation.
One of the major tragedies of all this business has been the extent to which protagonists here and in India, so it seems to me, constantly play into one another's hands, creating new misunderstandings, and constantly digging deeper the foundations of old suspicions, thus immensely aggravating the task of moderate men, of middle opinion, in both countries. For my own part, I have never doubted that with a reasonable amount of good will on both sides it would be quite possible to reach a solution through which the Indians would find the reality of constitutional freedom, and we on our side would find British anxieties resolved and allayed, and I would therefore hope that in the next stages of this business we may all, here and those who come from India, approach it not in the spirit of men engaged in a grim struggle whether to acquire or retain power, but rather as partners in o great, most difficult, but most honourable enterprise, through the solution of which each country, Great Britain and India, may be able to do much for the assistance and strength of the other, and both much for that great society of which I hope each will always be proud to call itself a partner.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Ordered, That a Message be sent to the Commons to acquaint them therewith.