§ Message from the Commons to acquaint this House that they have appointed sixteen members to join with a Committee of this House, with power to call into consultation representatives of Indian States and British India, to consider the future government of India and, in particular, to examine and report upon the proposals contained in Command Paper 4268; and to request their Lordships to appoint an equal number of Lords to be joined with members of the Commons in that Committee.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAMrose to move, That a Committee of Sixteen Lords be appointed to join with the Committee of the Commons, as mentioned in the said Message, and that the Lords following be named of the Committee:
- Lord Archbishop of Canterbury,
- Lord Chancellor,
- Marquess of Salisbury,
- Marquess of Zetland,
- Marquess of Linlithgow,
- Marquess of Reading,
- Earl of Derby,
- Earl of Lytton,
- Earl Peel,
- Viscount Burnham,
- Lord Ker (M. Lothian),
- Lord Hardinge of Penshurst,
- Lord Irwin,
- Lord Snell,
- Lord Rankeillour,
- Lord Hutchison of Montrose
§ The noble Viscount said: I have now to move the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper. It is not an easy matter to make an appropriate selection for the membership of a Committee such as that with which we are now dealing. Quite obviously the ordinary methods of appointing a Committee to choose names to be submitted would hardly be appropriate in a case in which such tremendous political and constitutional issues are involved, and in which it is of the very first importance that every point of view and every section of public opinion should as far as possible be represented. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for India devoted to my knowledge 473 a very great deal of time and thought and care to the endeavour to find such a constitution for the Committee in both the other place and in this House as would achieve that result. I am not concerned this afternoon with the membership which has been agreed to in the House of Commons, but the names which I have put down after consultation with my right honourable friend, and I may add, after consultation with some other people as well, will, I hope, commend themselves to the great body of opinion in your Lordships' House as being the names of persons eminently qualified to help in these deliberations and as being representative in the sense which I have indicated of all sides of opinion in your Lordships' House.
§ I do not want to go into all the names in detail. Of the sixteen, four only did not take part in the debate which led to the setting up of the Committee. Those four were the most rev. Primate, Lord: Derby, Lord Rankeillour and Lord Peel. Of those four, Lord Rankeillour comes as an ex-Chairman of Committees in another place, and his name has been put forward at the special request of that section of opinion which is most hostile to the proposals of the Government. Of the other three I can honestly say that I have not any idea what view they take about the proposals in the White Paper, but they are Peers who from their public service and position seem to me beyond doubt the sort of persons that we are fortunate to obtain to consider and to advise upon questions of this kind. There is, first of all, the most rev. Primate, who will bring a point of view which he is peculiarly qualified to express, and which will be of the greatest value considering some of the problems at arty rate which will have to be dealt with. There is an elder statesman, Lord Derby, who has served in high office as Ambassador and as a Secretary of State, and there is my noble friend Lord Peel who was himself once Secretary of State for India.
§ Of the twelve who spoke during the debate, one is put forward as representing the official Opposition and is the person whom they selected for the post. Two come from the Liberal Benches opposite and, if they will permit me to say so, they almost choose themselves in a Committee of this kind. A fourth represents that branch of the Liberal Party which I believe is associated with the name of my 474 right honourable friend Sir John Simon and I believe incidentally that Lord Hutchison is the only representative of that branch of Liberal opinion except Sir John Simon himself. Of the other eight, who are members of the National Government or its Conservative supporters two are Cabinet Ministers, one the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, who also is peculiarly qualified as having acted as Chairman throughout the series of Round-Table Conferences which have led up to the present Committee, and the other my noble friend Lord Irwin who in any event would be a necessary member, I should think, of a Committee such as this, forming the third of that great triumvirate of Viceroys whom we are fortunate to be able to contribute to the deliberations.
§ Of the other six, three definitely expressed themselves as hostile to the Government proposals. Two were, I think, inclined to favour the Government proposals in principle but objected to them a good deal in detail, and the third was a supporter of the Government. I think at any rate it may fairly be said that an effort, and a successful effort, has been made to represent all different standards and every point of view, and when I remind your Lordships of all the qualifications which are included in this Committee—three ex-Viceroys, three ex-Governors, one ex-Secretary of State, one Lord Chancellor, one Archbishop and I think four or five members who have taken part in important Commissions to India within the last few years—I think that to be able to put forward a list of names such as these is in itself a great tribute to the quality and position of this House. My only trouble is that perforce there have to be omissions of names which we should very much like to have included. I do not like to be so invidious as to mention many of them, but your Lordships will remember that during the debate we had contributions, and very valuable contributions, from such speakers as my noble friend Lord Strathcona, my noble friend Lord Hastings and my noble friend Lord Dufferin—I could go on and make quite a long list of people who have qualified themselves to deal with this problem. My noble friend Lord Ampthill is another who also brings the qualification of an ex-Governor of great experience. There 475 are a number of noble Lords whom we should have been very glad to see included in this Committee, but the number is already as large as is at all practicable, and it was impossible therefore to give place to all those who might well have claims to be considered for inclusion.
§ My Lords, it is no light task which we are laying upon these noble Lords whom we are asking to represent us. I know that it may be said that you can count how many are in favour of this proposal, and how many are in favour of that, and you should try to see whether you cannot reach a balance under which the Committee would be exactly evenly divided and never agree on anything. I do not think that would be a practicable thing to do, and I do not believe it is in that spirit that the Committee are going to approach their deliberations. I do not believe the method by which they are going to bring their labours to a successful conclusion is by conducting their debates on purely Party or sectional lines. I hope, and believe, that in contributing men of this rank and calibre and experience to the deliberations of the Committee we are ensuring that its debates will be carried on in the spirit we should wish, with an earnest desire to do the best for this country and for India, and I claim that in the names I have put forward we have made a real effort which is likely to succeed in achieving that result. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That a Committee of sixteen Lords be appointed to join with the Committee of the Commons, as mentioned in the said Message, and that the Lords following be named of the Committee
- Lord Archbishop of Canterbury,
- Lord Chancellor,
- Marquess of Salisbury,
- Marquess of Zetland,
- Marquess of Linlithgow,
- Marquess of Reading,
- Earl of Derby,
- Earl of Lytton,
- Earl Peel,
- Viscount Burnham,
- Lord Ker (M. Lothian),
- Lord Hardinge of Penshurst,
- Lord Irwin,
- Lord Snell,
- Lord Rankeillour,
- Lord Hutchison of Montrose. (Viscount Hailsham.)
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY had given Notice of an Amendment, That the Lords following be named a Select Committee to propose to the House the names of the Lords to join with the Committee appointed by the Commons, namely: Lord Chancellor, Marquess of Salisbury, Marquess of Reading, Viscount Hailsham, and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I rise to move an Amendment to the Motion that has been put forward, and I am going to claim your Lordships' leave to alter the particular Amendment that I have on the Paper. I put it down after rather hasty consideration as the best Amendment I could move to raise this question without doing it in any invidious manner. But I did that before I had an opportunity of seeing the names which have been put down. I should desire, with your Lordships' permission, to move my Amendment in a different form, and this is the form I have put it in after consideration by those who are, I have no doubt, very much better qualified in drafting than I am. My Amendment will now be this, to reduce the number of Lords to be appointed to the Committee from sixteen to twelve. It is to omit all the words after "That," and insert "a Committee of twelve Lords be appointed to join with the Committee appointed by the Commons." With your Lordships' approval, that is the Amendment I desire to move.
§ When I saw the way that things had been left, if I may quote a phrase from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack when he was speaking on this subject, I was filled with some apprehension, and when I saw the list I was filled with more apprehension, and I felt this was a matter that should be reconsidered. In the extraordinary and, if I may say so, wonderful speech that we had from the Woolsack on this subject, we were told really the whole history of the goverment of India from an early date, and when I say an "early date" I mean from 1857 down to the present time. But there was one thing that was omitted, and that was how the White Paper came into existence. The White Paper was brought before another place with the general idea that it was going to be accepted, but it was found apparently that the acceptation of the White Paper was not going to be quite so 477 popular as was thought, and the result Ns as that after a short interval of discussion the next thing that came along was this: "Oh, please don't misunderstand us under any circumstances whatever. We are not trying to get you to criticise the baby: we are merely going to ask you to choose the nurse." That was the second attitude adopted in another place, and they chose a nurse, and we are asked to choose a nurse to-day. Let us see whether the nurse is going to be a proper person to do the work. I do not think it is at the present moment.
§ The noble and learned Viscount who leads the House to my astonishment suggested that the Committee which had been suggested now was the very best for the purpose. I think it is the very worst. What are you doing? You are not asking a Committee to come in from outside to consider this matter, you are asking people who have spoken, given their opinions publicly in this House and in another place and before the public as to what they are pledged to do. And what is the answer? "Oh, well, we have more or less got them divided fairly evenly, although we have seen quite carefully that there is going to be a majority on the Government side, as there is bound to be." What is the meaning of that? Have the Government no courage? Cannot they say whether they want this White Paper or not, without hiding themselves behind the petticoats of a packed Committee that they put in in both Houses? Are they going to the country to say: "We have got the courage to do this." Not a bit of it. If the thing goes right they will say: "Look what we have done." If it goes wrong, they will say: "Oh, it was the Committee." But they make the Committee.
§ It is a wrong principle from beginning to end to have no courage for what you mean. The Government should not appoint a Committee behind whom they can shelter themselves. You have only to look down the list suggested here. I am not criticising any one of the names. I have no doubt they are perfectly admirable people, but they have all told you what they think. Why are you wasting time? They have given you their report already. They have nothing else to report on. Why waste time by appointing these people here? It is perfectly ridiculous, and I hope the country 478 will express itself very strongly on what they consider is a waste of time in asking these people to repeat their speeches. But it goes further. What is going to happen when the Committee come back? We shall have before us every speech that we had before, but we shall be told by the Government: "Oh, no, that is not the noble Lord speaking in the ordinary sense; he has spoken as one of the Committee, and therefore we are bound by what he said, and you must accept this." My Lords, it is a trick, an absolute trick, from beginning to end, and I say, without hesitation, it is meant to be a trick. It is a beautiful trick, if it is allowed to go through.
§ I ask you to say, by reducing the Committee, that your Lordships mean to have more say in the matter as to who ought to go on this Committee. Why should people go on who have already expressed their views and said they will not be altered in any way? Why should they be put forward for the very admirable work they have done for the nation and the Empire? Nobody suggested they had riot; but because of that they are to go on this Committee and: "We are now going to be the people to criticise what we ourselves have suggested." Sometimes in the Courts we find that a case reaches a point where it is a very excellent thing, and a very advisable thing, to refer some points, or the whole case, to a referee, or a court of referees. Who, before this Government, ever thought of appointing the counsel on each side who have been arguing the case to be the referees and to report on the case If you have an equal number of advocates on each side, of course you get, as the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House suggested, a dog-fight. If you do not, what you will get will be a. foregone conclusion. You have only to look at the list and at what the people on this list have said publicly in this House and elsewhere, to know perfectly well that you have a definite and absolute foregone conclusion of what this Committee is going to report.
§ For that reason, moving it in this particular way, I ask that this question might be discussed by your Lordships' House with some hope that we might get a different form of Committee. It would be a lamentable thing, considering that 479 your Lordships' House consists of, I think, some 700 members, if it were quite impossible that the Government could find from them at least fourteen people who have the ability to understand questions of this kind when they are properly put before them, and who are people whose vote would not be an absolutely foregone conclusion before they have really gone into the question. For those reasons I beg to move the Amendment.
Leave out all words after ("That") and insert ("a Committee of twelve Lords be appointed to join with the Committee appointed by the Commons.")—(The Earl of Halsbury.)
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
My Lords, after considerable experience in another place as to the method of appointing Committees I hope your Lordships will allow me to say a few words upon this very important question. If we lose India we shall find ourselves reduced to the position of Spain and Holland, who, when they lost their foreign possessions, became small nations on the Continent of Europe, and we shall become a small island in the North Sea. The loss of India will be far more important than the loss of the Southern part of Ireland, and it is the same people who, when the Irish Treaty was before this House and the House of Commons, told us that the result of the Treaty would be a union of hearts. Mr. Lloyd George—I heard his last words and I have never forgotten them—said:By this Treaty we win to our side a nation of deep, abiding and even passionate loyalty. In the future our successes will be their joy and our misfortunes will be their sorrow.Sir Samuel Hoare, who was sitting by me, cheered that. I took the opposite view.
It is the very people who thought that by the Treaty with Ireland they were going to win a union of hearts who now say that by this White Paper we are going to satisfy something like 300,000,000 of people, the vast majority of whom are so ignorant that they are obliged to have coloured boxes in which to put their votes, an idea, I believe, of the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian. A very clever idea no doubt, but it shows what his opinion is of the people to whom he proposes to trust the government of a 480 great country like India. What is this White Paper? We are not asked to set up a Committee to consider the future government of India. We are asked to set up a Committee to deal with a Constitution which has already been set out, and the Committee is set up in the way in which all these Committees are set up. I do not for a moment say that there has been anything different in the way in which this Committee has been set up. I must say I do not quite see what the position of the most rev. Primate is on a civil Committee, especially, as I understand, the religious question is one of the reserved subjects in the White Paper.
But the Committee is being set up. How are Committees set up? In another place they are set up in this way. There is the Opposition—well, we must give a certain number to the Opposition. As a rule it is based upon the number of the Opposition. In this case the Opposition are all in favour of the White Paper, except those who think it does not go far enough. Therefore it is perfectly clear that those members of the Opposition who will become members of the Committee are already committed to the White Paper, and in this case I see, because they are so few in number, a larger proportion than would be given in the ordinary way is given to them. It is rather like Mr. Gladstone who said that Wales, being such a long way from Westminster, ought to have a larger representation, the real reason being, as they were all Liberal, he wanted more Liberals in the House. Now we come to the question of the method in which the Conservatives have been placed upon the Committee. Those of us who have been behind the scenes, as I was in the House of Commons, know perfectly well what happens. I do not say Sir Samuel Hoare, or anybody else said: "Now we must put on so-and-so because he is in our favour," but I noticed in the thirty years I was in the House of Commons that whenever a thing of this kind happened the Government always got a majority on their own side whichever Government was in power.
That being so, what is the position in which we are? We have been told by my noble and learned friend below me—and I am quite certain that he will carry out what he says—that when this Committee has reported we shall be perfectly free No doubt he will say: 481 "Your Lordships are perfectly free to do as you like, but you have not heard the evidence; the Committee have heard the evidence; and how can you go against a Committee which has devoted many weeks of labour to the matter? Moreover, do not forget that the Indians will have seen and read the deliberations of the Committee, and if you go against the Committee you will stir up in India a feeling against this country. Therefore the only possible course for you to pursue is to support the Committee." It is as certain as I am standing here that, if not those words, something similar will be said.
Do not let us forget this. The world is composed of wicked people and the idea that if you surrender to a certain person or certain persons and give them something which they are asking for you will earn their eternal gratitude is a mistake. There cannot be a greater mistake. The only result of surrendering is that the people to whom you surrender ask for more. That has always been the case ever since, I. might almost say, the world began. Therefore, my Lords, holding those views, arid believing as I do that unless we are very careful we shall either lose India or have a revolution in India which with our small Army we cannot tackle—it will be very different from the Mutiny; the Indian Army is, I think, larger and has better weapons—I earnestly beseech you to remember that whatever the Committee who have been appointed for a special purpose report, you must hold yourselves free to do what you think right when the Report is before you.
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, I would like to say one word on this matter because in another place I have been concerned with the appointment of many Committees over a number of years. My experience has been that the Whips on both sides, after consulting their leaders, have not nominated ignorant men who were incompetent to judge the situation, but have nominated men who were competent and had some knowledge of the subject that was to be considered by the Committee. I myself have never been in India and I never thought I could form any opinion in regard to what ought to be the future Constitution of India. I have never expressed an opinion myself, and I believe a great number of 482 other members of your Lordships' House, like myself, would not desire to serve on a Committee of the kind we are appointing to-day because we have no knowledge of India which is sufficiently adequate to enable us to form an opinion by sitting on a Committee. What I feel is that the individuals who have been named by the Leader of the House and suggested to your Lordships for appointment are individuals who have knowledge of India and understand India better than anybody else that we could appoint. Your Lordships have accepted the principle of the White Paper and it is now for them, in consultation with any people that they desire to call into consultation, to examine and report on the principles contained in the White Paper. I do not think we could appoint better individuals than those named by the noble and learned Viscount, and I have great pleasure in supporting his Motion.
§ THE EARL OF GLASGOW
My Lords, perhaps some of your Lordships will think it almost an impertinence that I should get up and address the House on this subject. Many here have great experience of India and Indian affairs. I, having served as a sailor, have hardly any such experience. But surely the setting up of such an important Committee as this is a question which concerns us all. I think it is the aim of the Government—at least they have said so—to set up as far as possible an impartial Committee. It is a very difficult thing to do. Certainly last night in another place an honourable member was able to satisfy that place—judging from the cheers one heard—that lie could produce only one impartial person amongst the whole of those suggested. To-day you have before you the names of those members of your Lordships' House who have been proposed to take part in the deliberations of this Committee. They are all distinguished members of your Lordships' House who have rendered valuable service to the Crown in various capacities in many parts of the world. Therefore in their individual positions no one could take exception to their being included as members of the Committee, but I venture to suggest that some of them have already committed themselves deeply on the main principles of the White Paper, and by their past acts and utterances are bound hand and foot to the proposals of the White Paper and are evidently pre- 483 pared to see them carried out practically in their entirety. For that reason I welcome the Amendment of the noble Earl in the hope that some of the noble Lords who have so committed themselves will perhaps be precluded from taking part in the work of the Committee which, to my mind, should be, as far as possible, an impartial Committee, so constituted that members of opposing views may be equally distributed. I therefore support the noble Earl.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, it was at my suggestion that the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House gave three days to the Indian debate. I think now that he ought to have made it four days because there seem to have been some undelivered speeches suitable for that debate which we have heard this afternoon. The noble Earl who moved the Amendment and the noble Lord, Lord Banbury, seemed to be making speeches against the White Paper and against the setting up of a Committee. I thought that the question of setting up a Committee had been settled and that we had already agreed to that. I only desire to make two comments on the list. I appreciate the extraordinary difficulty the Secretary of State and the Leader of the House have had in making up this list. It is perfectly impossible to please everybody and it is the people you leave out who always make the trouble. There are two points to which I should like to draw attention.
The noble Lord, Lord Banbury, said that the Labour Party were committed to this White Paper. They are not committed at all to this White Paper. The abandonment of the idea of proportional representation on this Committee was, I think, quite right. If there had been proportional representation so far as this House is concerned we should not have had one member. We should have had a very low decimal part of a member. It was perfectly right that that idea should be abandoned. But I do think that the point which I emphasised the other day ought to have been taken further into account. As time passes it is a Labour Government that is going to have the responsibility perhaps of passing the Bill, anyhow of trying to see that this great scheme works. For that reason it seems to me that greater representation should have been given to the Opposition, 484 especially in your Lordships' House where we have only one member on the Committee. It seems rather hard that he should be isolated in that way. The other passing comment I would make on the list is that I think if your Lordships look through the list you will see that the age average is very high. Considering the importance of the question and considering that it is likely to be with us for many years to come, I think we might have had a younger member on that Committee, especially as one of the members of your Lordships' House, the noble Marquess, Lord Dufferin, has proved himself so very well versed in the subject But I certainly shall not support the Amendment before your Lordships now.
My Lords, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Banbury, I have never been behind the scenes and I never expect to be there, but I would like to make one comment from the point of view of a member of your Lordships' House who is anxious to he instructed, and did not know very much about India to start with. It seems to me that the advocates of the White Paper made an unexpectedly powerful case during the three days' debate. That being so, I should have thought it would have been the intention that that case should stand on its own merits, to be examined by a Committee which would have been composed—I do not say entirely of non-experts, but certainly with a larger proportion of persons who had not already committed themselves to the principles of the White Paper. If the case is so good, as it certainly sounded to me, why should it not be examined by a more impartial body—you cannot get a wholly impartial body—and if such an examination were granted, and I think we were all led to suppose such an examination was to be granted, would not the nation, as a whole, be more satisfied with the result?
§ LORD LLOYD
My Lords, before I make any observations on the Amendment I should like to take this opportunity, if I may, to say a few words in explanation of the reasons why I was unable to accept the invitation given to me by His Majesty's Government to join the Select Committee. I need not say I looked upon that invitation as a very great honour and I did not make the 485 decision I did make without the gravest heart searching and the most careful consideration and consultation. My main reason was that I consider, rightly or wrongly, the whole procedure adopted by the Government to be highly improper and wrong. The position surely is perfectly plain. We all of us—every one in this House, I think—accepted the Act of 1919. We are all of us acting under it and guided by it, and our procedure should flow from the terms of that Act and nothing else. Your Lordships will remember that under the Act we were bound to send out a Parliamentary Commission to report upon what, if any, progress was made after a decennial period in the grant of self-governing institutions to India. It seems to me to follow, as night follows day, that the Report we should be considering to-day, and the Joint Select Committee should be considering to-day, is that Report of the Royal Commission sent out under the Act of 1919 and no other Report at all.
We have never had the smallest valid explanation from His Majesty's Government as to why that Report was jettisoned. The only reason given was that it was not palatable to Indian political opinion. But if that reason were valid for the rejection of so weighty a document us the Simon Commission Report, is it not valid as regards the White Paper which has been rejected by all public opinion in India to-day? Yet we are pursuing this unprecedented procedure and I, in however humble a capacity, thought we were bound to protest in some manner or other against this gross departure from all constitutional practice. Strongly though I feel on the impropriety of the Government's conduct and deplore its results, which I think very grave, if I had had any reason to suppose that my presence on the Committee could have served to deflect the Government from the pursuit of their main principles of policy my whole desire was to join that Committee, composed of so many with such great knowledge, and it is naturally a grievous disappointment from a personal point of view to have had to make the decision I did. It is improper to discuss private conversations, but I may say that I did the best I could to ascertain from those qualified to inform me whether there was any hope that the main prin- 486 ciples of Government policy could really be altered. It was obvious they could not. His Majesty's Government are pledged completely to the main principle, to which I took grave objection, of the simultaneous grant of responsibility at the Centre and in the Provinces. They are pledged to Indians and the public and they are bound to go ahead.
I am not going to use any hard words about "packed Committees." Everybody must realise the extraordinarily difficult task of the Secretary of State in setting up a Committee of this kind and everybody must recognise also that by long tradition the Government have every right to have a majority on such a. Committee. But I would echo the words of my noble friend who has just sat down. A strong case, if it be strong—I. do not think this is—is gravely weakened by setting up a Committee so overweighted—not with prejudiced people; we do not complain; we do not call them impartial in any rude sense, but they are people who agree with the main principle of the Government's policy; and to have so many, and such an overwhelming majority, of noble Lords and of those in another place who are, to that extent, pledged to the policy of the Government, is, I think, a grave misfortune for the policy itself and diminishes very much the weight and authority of the Committee.
It was seen in another place yesterday how strong is the feeling on this question. I do not want to make too much of the combination of majorities that walk through Lobbies, but it is a fact that no less than two-thirds of the Conservative Party either refrained from voting or voted against the personnel of this Committee. I think it is a very bad start for the Committee. I feel we really have some complaint about the attitude of the Secretary of State in the last few months. Those of us who have a sincere and profound objection to the policy of the Government have been cajoled and told, from this Conference to that, that nothing we agreed to now would bind us in the future. The noble and learned Viscount who leads the House—and here I should like to refer to Lord Gainford's remark, which I think must have been a slip, that your Lordships had agreed to the White Paper policy, for I do not remember this House ever having agreed to it—in a debate 487 which lasted three days last December besought the House in general terms to pass his Motion because we were to be absolutely free to decide on policy in the future, because all we were doing was giving our sanction to further exploration in this matter.
We have been led on and, as my noble friend Lord Banbury said, we can see absolutely for certain what is coming in a few months. I make no doubt that with the great expert knowledge of this Committee there will be dangers that will be averted and modifications made of great value; but do you believe for a moment that the main principles which are laid down in the White Paper will not be defended by the Government, and that then they will not come round to us and say: "Here are we pledged to this policy, here is a majority Report of your expert Committee, and here we are with Indians present as assessors to whom virtual pledges have been made"? I can imagine no greater danger, and no greater harm to the confidence reposed in your Lordships' House, if you are going to take the responsibility of going back on the decision made by the Joint Committee. Where is this to stop? I shall never, I suppose, have the satisfaction of knowing whether my decision is right or wrong—I can only do the best I can on each occasion—but I honestly believe that we are being led step by step, by these easy phrases and assurances, to the brink of a very grave and dangerous calamity. Again, I do not want to use hard words, and I will only ask for your Lordships' indulgence while I say that I did not refuse membership in any light-hearted manner, but because I thought, as one who had always opposed this policy on principle, that if I was sure my presence could not alter that principle I had better stay away, rather than join the Committee and he involved in its deliberations.
On the question of the Amendment itself I know it will be argued that if such an Amendment were carried in this House the numbers from this House would be inferior to those from another place. I think that would be regrettable —most things about this policy are regrettable—but my noble friend has, I believe, moved this Amendment in the hope that at the last moment, at any rate, three or four of those who are most pledged to complete support of the Gov- 488 ernment's policy might retire, and that therefore the total members of the Joint Select Committee would give a little less weightage to the supporters of the Government and a little greater opportunity for free criticism in this Select Committee. It does not very much matter whether the members are Peers or Commoners, as regards our deliberations, but the point is the combined feeling and activities of the Committee. I do not know whether my noble friend is likely to go to a Division, but as a matter of protest, and for the reasons that I have given, I shall support him if he thinks it necessary to do so.
My Lords, your Lordships have listened with your accustomed patience to a variety of speeches which have had but little to do with the Amendment before the House. It is quite plain that notwithstanding the fact that the debate upon this White Paper flowed in full volume through three days debate in this House, it has yet dribbled and overflowed into to-day. The noble Lord who has just sat clown spoke of personal matters, upon which we are only too glad to hear him, but his speech, so far as it related to the Motion, was confined to a few sentences, and those few were not a little startling. It was to this effect, that in order to secure fairness upon this Committee you should require certain people, who hold strong views about the White Paper, to offer their retirement and not to appear. That surely is the strangest method of obtaining fair and independent investigation of this matter.
If there be anyone who can suggest that there are other and better names than those which are before us I shall be glad to hear those names, but up to this moment there has been no one who has suggested that there was anything wrong in the names before us, excepting only this, that they were of men who by their long experience knew more about the matter than anybody else. Is that to be a reason why they should be excluded from a Committee which by its very nature and essence must he a Committee that knows what it is dealing with, and the nature and character, by personal contact, of the people for whom they are legislating? No one has suggested that any name should be added or struck out, and I cannot help thinking that it is a 489 matter greatly to be regretted that noble Lords are unable to accept the defeat of their own personal opinions on the Motion to refer the White Paper to a Joint Committee, and should attempt to revive again a question on which a decision was come to without a Division.
§ LORD AMPTHILL
My Lords, I am not acting with the mover of the Amendment, nor have I had any conversation with him, but I feel obliged to associate myself with him in order to show that I cannot approve of the Committee that has been proposed, and that I do not wish to be held in any way committed to voting for the policy which they may ultimately recommend. I do beg to advise your Lordships who wish to reserve judgment on this vitally important question of the future government of India, to take the same step, in order to show that you do not wish to be committed in any way until the real Bill is before you. We are being led, stage, by stage, to a position in which we shall ultimately be told that we are committed to anything which the Joint Select Committee may propose. We shall be told, in effect, that we have submitted the matter to arbitration, that we have agreed to that, and that therefore we are bound to submit to that arbitration. That is what I think is unfair, and I am grateful to the noble Earl for having done something to enable some of us to show that we do not intend to be committed in that way.
I fully agree as to the eminent and high qualifications of those nominated by the Government. I admit that if you wish to choose sixteen of the most eminent and brilliantly qualified members of this House you could not make a better selection. They are the best members that we have got, and are men of fine achievement and reputation. They are also, I agree, experts, but you do not want experts for a Committee of this kind. You are making these experts judges in their own cause. That is what you should always avoid. The way to use experts in every walk of life is to call them into consultation and weigh the opinion of one expert against that of another, for which purpose you want men of ordinary common sense and sound judgment. I think that this. Committee is unduly weighted in favour of the Government, and that is not what we were led to expect by any previous statement on the part of 490 Ministers. I shall therefore certainly associate myself with the noble Earl, and if he goes to a Division I shall vote for his Amendment in order to make it perfectly clear that I do not feel that I am committed in any way to the decisions which this Joint Committee may ultimately place before us.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I cannot help thinking from the discussions we have had that there are one or two points on which we are not quite clear. The assumption is made that the Government will go into the Committee on the White Paper, if your Lordships approve of the Committee as it stands, pledged to support the White Paper and to drive it through, whatever the opinions of other members of the Committee may be. Surely, that is not the position at all. If your Lordships held that they objected to the White Paper we ought all to have gone into the Lobby against the White Paper. What I understand is the decision of this House I understand also to be the position of the Government. You have had Commission after Commission and Committee after Committee, and as the result of all those deliberations the White Paper at this moment holds the field.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I beg pardon. The noble Earl contradicts me, but the fact remains that as the result of the deliberations of these Committees the White Paper is put forward and holds the field as representing the deliberations of these Committees, but, as I understand, it is to be honestly put before this new and very strong Committee, not with the intention of arriving at a mass vote for the Government on every aspect of the provisions, but as a general guidance to what in their view the Committee should aim at.
There is one other consideration which has not been mentioned. There has been much forceful argument against the inclusion of those who, nobody denies, have got the longest and, in the case of those who have sat on previous Committees, the most recent experience of this question. I do not believe you will ever get Committees to sit again or eminent men to sit on them for weeks and months together if the result of a conclusion arrived at by one Committee is that those 491 who have arrived at it are to be excluded from further participation. In the case of this House that would be the snore remarkable because nearly all those who have been put on who may be supposed to support the White Paper, are men of long experience of India, who have themselves criticised the White Paper in this debate. I would appeal to the Government to make it quite clear before we go to a Division that they are not going into this Committee with the intention of driving through the White Paper as it stands now, but that they should keep an open mind to the arguments of a very large body of experience which they will have beside them. I earnestly hope that my noble friend who leads the House will leave us in no doubt as to the attitude of the Government in that respect.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
My Lords, may I recall to your Lordships' recollection what the Amendment is on which you are going to vote? It is that the number of members of the House who are to sit on the Joint Committee shall be reduced from sixteen to twelve. I do not think it desirable at all that your Lordships' representation on the Joint Committee should be twelve whereas that of the House of Commons is sixteen. No one in the debate has criticised any name put forward by the Government. Every speaker has borne testimony to the long service and ability of those sixteen members. It seems to me absurd and wrong for us to put forward twelve members whereas the House of Commons has sixteen, and that we should have the invidious task of eliminating four members of your Lordships' House from the sixteen names put before you.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, as has been pointed out more than once in the course of this discussion a great deal of the argument which has been brought forward has been wholly irrelevant to the subject matter of the Amendment. The subject matter of the Amendment is whether or not we shall contribute sixteen members to join with the sixteen members of the House of Commons who have already been appointed, or whether we should content ourselves with twelve. The only answer that has been given to that somewhat startling disparity is that suggested by my noble friend Lord Lloyd, who said that perhaps some of the people in another place would resign 492 their membership of the Committee if they saw that we have only twelve—I think a somewhat fantastic hope if he will forgave me for saying so.
For the rest, the greater part of the attack has been made by people who are avowedly hostile to the whole policy of the Government, and their attack has been based upon the assumption that we are now debating whether or not a Committee shall be set up. That was decided last week, and they did not then even challenge a Division—even those who have criticisms to offer on the proposals of the Government. None of them suggested that we should not join in the Committee, and indeed I think I am right in saying that they all urged that we ought to join the Committee and that that was obviously and manifestly our duty. I remember that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, expressly said that we should join the Committee. Therefore, it having been decided by this House that we should join the Committee, we are now asked to decide that we should only have twelve out of twenty-eight members because some members of your Lordships' House do not like the proposals of the White Paper. It does seem to me the height of illogicality.
My noble friend Lord Midleton asked a question which I am grateful to him for putting. He asked me whether or not it was the fact, as the noble Lords, Lord Halsbury and Lord Banbury, assume, that the Government were going to drive the proposals of the White Paper through regardless of what is said in Committee and regardless of the advice and arguments put forward. It has been stated quite explicitly before, and I beg to reiterate now, that the Government do not propose to drive the proposals through because they happen to be in the White Paper. The reason why we have invited representatives of every section in this House and in the country to take part in these deliberations is that we want to get the best possible advice and the best possible opinion from every point of view. We want to get each of these proposals discussed, criticised and examined from every point of view, and we hope that when we have got that examination completed we may be able to reach a scheme which is workable, fair and beneficial both to India and to this country.
493 It is no good my saying that to Lord Halsbury Lord Halsbury is good enough to tell me that we are trying to shelter behind the petticoats of a packed Committee. If your Lordships look at the sixteen names, shat is what Lord Halsbury calls a packed Committee. I regard that as an insult to these men whose names appear there. But he did not rest content with that. He said the Motion to set up the Committee was a trick and was meant to be a trick. I have only to say that that observation is offensive and is meant to be offensive. I am not in the habit of being accused of trying to trick either the House of Lords or any other assembly with which I have had to do. If anyone believes that I am capable of that kind of conduct let him by all means vote against the Motion. We do not want his vote. If you believe that we are tricksters trying to trick this House, and that I as the Leader of this House have come down here trying to trick this House, you will vote against the Motion. We ought not to occupy our position for a moment if that were so. But I do not believe that that offensive observation and attitude of the noble Earl are accepted even by those who agree with him in disliking the policy of the Government. I do not believe that that view of the Government or the Government's policy is held by anybody else except the noble Earl, who seems to have brought his recollections of stories of low-class attorneys into the atmosphere of the House of Lords.
I do not desire to deal with the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, any further. I only desire to say with regard to others that Lord Ampthill expressed his opinion in no uncertain language in the original debate. He dislikes the proposals of the White Paper and he believes they are wrong. That is a point of view which I can understand and respect. I am glad that some of those who share his doubts are accepting membership of the Committee and will be able to express those doubts and discuss them thoroughly. But I do hope and believe that the Committee are going to discuss all these proposals, with an earnest desire on the part of the members frankly arid completely to state their own point of view, to discuss and to hear what is said on the other side, and, if possible, to reach an agreed solution of these difficulties, or, if not an 494 agreed solution, at any rate to reach such measure of agreement as may be possible in order that the best possible Constitution may be set up.
I desire only to say one word in answer to Lord Phillimore. He asked: Why not put on the Committee people who are impartial? Well, apart altogether from the fact that the general practice with Committees of this character has been to put people on who take both sides and are able to express both points of view, there is this outstanding difficulty in the present case, that you are dealing here with vital matters affecting our great Dependency, the Empire of India. If we are going to get people to form a just judgment about the proposals, I think it is essential that they should mainly consist of people who have had practical experience of India, Indian conditions and Indian life, and have made a study of it, and if you are going to get people who know anything about India it is almost impossible to get people who have no opinion as to the provisions of the White Paper.
As to the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, he has given his own explanation of why he did not wish to serve. I do not agree with him as to the reasons why there was a change in regard to the Simon Report. They are not the reasons stated by Sir John Simon or by the Government. As Lord Lloyd has told your Lordships, arid as he has written to the Press, we invited him to serve. We profoundly regret his decision not to serve, but, although he has refused to serve, I am sure the considerations he urges and holds with such conviction will have the careful and honest consideration of His Majesty's Government.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, in rising to reply on the Amendment, on which I certainly propose to go to a Division, I have two observations to make. I think one may answer both criticisms which have been made by the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House and also by the noble and learned Viscount who sits opposite. It is suggested first of all that I have said nothing in criticism of any particular member of the Committee suggested, nor have I suggested any member who might be put on in place of another. It was never my intention to do either of these things. The first I should have thought was ex- 495 tremely invidious, and the second I am perfectly certain I should not be in a position to do. If your Lordships would condescend to look at the original Amendment I put down, and which after consultation I have altered, you will see that the last thing I was suggesting was anything to do with the appointment of any member of the Committee. My objection to it was not from any individual point of view but, as the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House knows perfectly well, was to the fact that the majority of these people have spoken publicly in favour of the White Paper.
He has said that the Government never meant to drive through the White Paper. Of course they did not, but from the very moment it was received as it was in another place they had to go to a Committee. They knew they had to go to Committee, and the next thing to do was to appoint a Committee which would have a majority that would carry their views. I am not withdrawing one single word of what I said. The noble and learned Viscount may make any sneer he chooses about "low attorneys" or anything he likes. The country may possibly judge that these practices have been adopted not by me but by the Government. That will be for the country to decide. I am withdrawing not one word of what I said. What has happened here is what I said before. The Government brought in this White Paper into the House of Commons, and it was not well received from the first. What did they do? They said: "Oh we will send it to a Committee." Now, look at the names of the Committee, and put that
§ against the names of the people who have definitely said that they were pledged to the White Paper, and see how many you have got. See what majority the Government know they must get.
§ They may get one or two little odds and ends altered, but the general principle of the White Paper, which is what the noble and learned Viscount has talked about, is the principle which the Government brought forward and which they are putting through in this way. I say it is a matter that your Lordships ought to consider whether or not, in accepting a Committee of this kind, you should accept this great majority of your Lordships' House who have spoken publicly for what the Government desire. I have only one other thing to say. The noble and learned Viscount who leads the House was good enough to say: "Oh, well, it was agreed we should go to a Committee on this White Paper. Why was not anything said then?" I will tell your Lordships why. For one reason, we thought we should have a better Committee than this appointed, and, when it comes to the question of whether we accepted the general question of the White Paper, I say we did not, because the Government did not dare to put it before us. It is for that reason that I ask your Lordships to say that the present constitution of the Committee ought to be revised.
§ On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Motion?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 65; Not-Contents, 13.497
|Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)|
|Wellington, D.||Brentford, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.]|
|Bridgeman, V.||Gainford, L.|
|Bath, M.||Buckmaster, V.||Greville, L.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M.||Cecil of Chelwood, V.||Hardinge of Penshurst, L.|
|Reading, M.||Esher, V.||Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.)|
|Zetland, M.||Hailsham, V.||Howard of Penrith, L.|
|Ullswater, V.||Hutchison of Montrose, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Irwin, L.|
|Iddesleigh, E.||Rochester, L. Bp.||Jessel, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)|
|Lytton, E.||Askwith, L.||Marks, L.|
|Midleton, E.||Bayford, L.||Marley, L.|
|Munster, E.||Chesham, L.||Melchett, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. ClanWilliam.)||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Plymouth, E.||Mount Temple, L.|
|Rothes, E.||Clwyd, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Conway of Allington, L.||Passfield, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Danesfort, L.||Phillimore, L.|
|Strafford, E.||Darling, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Rathcreedan, L.||Sinclair, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Rhayader, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Rochester, L.||Wharton, L.|
|Argyll, D.||Ampthill, L.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.|
|Banbury of Southam, L. [Teller.]||Lloyd, L.|
|Halsbury, E. [Teller.]||Monkswell, L.|
|Morton, E.||Berwick, L.||Redsdale, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Sempill, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V.|
On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I did not quite understand the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. He did not put the main question, did he?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I believe my noble friend Lord Rankeillour has something to say on the Motion.
§ LORD RANKEILLOUR
My Lords, I was waiting to see whether any other noble Lord wished to speak on the names or any other subject connected with this Motion. The point that I think it may be convenient to raise now is one of importance, though it is not controversial. If noble Lords will turn to the first page of the White Paper they will see it is there announced—or rather those who read it are warned that the language of the White Paper is not the language that will be found in any Statute that may finally be passed as a result of the White Paper, and it is pointed out that many things may have to appear in the Bill if and when it is brought in which do not appear in the White Paper. I cannot help submitting that that is a fact which brings with it very great disadvantages. In the first place it is quite obvious that there are many gaps and omissions in the White Paper that will have to be filled, but, even apart from that, the very fact of its being couched in different language from that of a Statute may lead to great difficulties even where the intention and object is perfectly clear. It is only when you attempt to draft a measure that you find all the difficulties that emerge, and all the reactions that are caused by your proposals. The effects are very often in 498 terms you were never acquainted with before.
I remember very well a Bill of first importance being introduced in another place, and it was my duty as Chairman to see to its passage through Committee. The first and pivotal clause was perfectly hopeless, and when representatives of the Government came to ask me how long it would be before it could get through it was my duty to tell them that it could not get through at all unless they recast it from top to bottom. A little later it was revealed to me that this was the fifth, if not the sixth, draft of the Bill, that all the others had been rejected by the Committee that was preparing the Bill, and that they had put in the sixth or the seventh sample because time pressed and they had to put in something. Therefore it was only at the sixth or seventh attempt that we were able to get anything workable. Yet their intention was perfectly clear, and if their intention had been set forth in a White Paper everyone who agreed with the general policy would have accepted it.
I quote this as showing what the difficulties are between intention and effect. And if this is true of any Bill it is particularly true, I should say, of a Bill that may be founded on the White Paper. In other Bills very often a great part of previous legislation is incorporated in a block, but in this case you have to build from the very foundations, and it is essential that what you are proposing should be absolutely clear and defined. What I fear may happen is this. The Committee may or may not come to some measure of agreement. If they come to some measure of agreement it will have to be put into statutory form, but when it appears in statutory form it may very likely happen that those who thought they were agreed will find that they were not agreed at all. If 499 that is so, there will be recriminations and charges of breach of faith, and so on. What I venture to suggest to the Government is that they should from the first attach one of the panel of Parliamentary Counsel to the Treasury. It seems to me that the object in view cannot be attained otherwise. It is quite impossible to expect the ordinary staff of a Select Committee to do drafting work, but if the Committee have a Government draftsman from the first who will, if they wish, put some or all of the Government proposals into proper form and also put into proper form any amendment of the Government proposals that may be suggested in the Committee, then it will be possible for the Committee to know exactly where they stand. Otherwise I foresee grave difficulties. It is not a matter that is inseparable from the Motion, but I hope the Government will give attention to it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My. Lords, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a few words following the observations of my noble friend who has just sat down. I do not wish to deal with the same point, although I have every reason to believe what he said was well founded and I hope the Government may consider it favourably. The point I want to call attention to is the clause in the Question put from the Woolsack which prescribes that the Joint Committee shall have power to join to themselves a certain body of Indian representatives who shall sit with them.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There is power to call into consultation, is there not? Perhaps I have misquoted. I had better read the exact words.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
You are referring to the words of the Message. They are not the words of the Motion.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am obliged to my noble and learned friend, but at any rate what is suggested is that there should be power for this Committee to add Indian representatives in some form or other. That I believe is a wholly new precedent, and although that does not mean that it is necessarily bad yet it does mean that we ought to be very careful about the conditions which are 500 attached to the precedent. I am a little afraid that a certain misconception may arise both perhaps in this country and in India unless the matter is made a little more clear than it is at present. These gentlemen will come here in pursuance of a promise which I think was made by my noble friend to-night—or at any rate it was said in another place—and in pursuance of a promise made years ago by the noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead, at an earlier stage of these discussions. I recognise that that is so and I am not here in any way to oppose the appointment of these gentlemen. Although, as I have said, this seems to be a new precedent and new precedents contain certain dangers, yet it is highly probable that these gentlemen may be very useful to the Joint Committee in giving advice upon technical matters of which they are masters and also upon the state of Indian opinion or sections of Indian opinion which no doubt will be represented amongst them.
But in what capacity will they sit? They will not be members of the Committee—obviously not. They will have no responsibility. The responsibility of the discussions and the conclusions will rest upon the members of the Committee—members, that is to say, of either the House of Commons or your Lordships' House. No responsibility will rest upon these gentlemen. That being so, the question is: Where will they come in? They will, I suppose, sit with the Committee at the beginning and give the Committee the best advice they can, but when we want to decide anything in the course of our deliberations—I say our deliberations because your Lordships have been good enough to propose me a member of the Committee—what part are these gentlemen expected to play in that part of our duties? The ordinary practice of Select Committees is that that part of their duty is done in private. Evidence is not always but generally taken in public; but the deliberations of the Committee are usually in private. Who will be present then? I can conceive that it might be very inconvenient to have these Indian gentlemen present. Let me say at once that my observations are riot intended to be in the least disrespectful to these Indian gentlemen. I should say exactly the same thing in reference to 501 Englishmen who were not members of the Committee: It would be very inconvenient for them to be present—for people not responsible to hear all the discussions, which must, to some extent, and indeed ought to a great extent, to be free. Do not let anyone say that I have spoken without proper regard to the feelings of our Indian fellow subjects. That is not the point. The point is that to have strangers present as of right would lead to a very difficult position. I should like to hear from the Government, as they have a very large majority on the Committee, what their view is as to the position in that respect of the Indian representatives.
Then comes the question of evidence. Here, I admit, I am upon very difficult ground, but it is necessary just to touch upon it. When we hear evidence we shall want to hear the truth. How shall we most certainly get the truth? It is not always very easy to get the truth in evidence. I speak in the presence of many noble and learned Lords who have spent their lives in trying to get the truth in evidence. It is not easy, and I think I may say that in the case of Orientals it is more difficult than in the case of Westerners. It depends upon traditions and up-bringing and environment into which I need not go now. But so it is. It may be necessary therefore for the evidence, if it is to be anything like the truth, to be heard in private—in camera I believe is the proper phrase. I should like to receive from the Government an assurance that if it be necessary —it may not be necessary, and I do not want to anticipate any decision; but if it be necessary, in the opinion of a substantial body of the Committee that evidence should be heard in private, the Government will not set themselves against it. After all, the Government must be anxious to get the truth as far as it can be got. They also, I am sure, will desire to carry with them as far as they can all their colleagues on the Committee. I am quite certain no one would say that more readily than my noble and learned friend who leads the House. In those circumstances I suggest that if a substantial body of opinion in the Committee desires to hear evidence in camera, the Government will consider that suggestion. I put this forward because it is really necessary that there should be an 502 understanding beforehand. We do not want charges of breach of faith made in England or in India. Let us have nothing of that kind. Therefore I very humbly suggest to His Majesty's Government at this, the earliest moment at which I could properly mention it, that they give favourable consideration to this matter.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, in view of what has fallen from the noble Marquess, may I suggest that surely it is not for the Government to tell us what is going to happen on the Committee? Why should the Government policy be asked for on this question?
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I do not know exactly what the noble Marquess means by that. For example, I do not know whether he would consider that I belong to the Government majority. I may agree with much that has been said, and I have expressed my views very frankly to the House, but it does not follow that I should agree with the Government. I think the difficulties put by the noble Marquess are real. They are matters we shall have to consider, but surely it is not suggested that the Government, either now or at any time, are going to lay down to us the policy that we as a Committee are to adopt. No doubt they will give us a lead in Committee, but I should strongly object to sitting on a Committee where I am intending to give the best of my judgment and intelligence to the consideration of all matters that come before it, if the Government are to tell me beforehand that I am to agree to some particular plan. As I understand there would be no shadow of doubt about this. Lord Birkenhead, when Secretary of State, announced definitely that this was to happen, and it has always been said—not the other clay, but always—that when this matter had been discussed at the Round-Table Conference it would come before a Joint Select Committee and that the Joint Select Committee would have to determine it. The only observation that I make with regard to it is to ask the Government, after what the noble Marquess has said, whether it is intended that this Committee is in any way to be bound by 503 any view the Government put except as an indication of opinion on which the Committee will be entirely free to choose its own course after hearing everything there is to be said?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Rankeillour, who said it was desirable that a draftsman should be attached to the Committee, I do not quite know at what stage it would be useful to have a draftsman or whether, inasmuch as they are not apparently going to produce a Bill but to make a Report, a draftsman would be desirable. But I am sure that if the Committee reached the conclusion that the assistance of a draftsman was desirable, there would be every readiness in the Government to concur in that view and to assist the Committee in any way in its power—which is its only object and purpose.
With regard to the questions of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the reason I ventured to demur a little to his description of the terms of the Resolution is that the question as to the calling into consultation of Indians does not arise on this Motion at all, 'nut forms part of the Motion carried last week. That Motion was: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…and so on. What the noble Marquess was quoting was the Resolution which both Houses have adopted. All we are trying to do to-day is to name the Lords who a-re to form the Committee.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Perhaps it is going rather too far to be rigid about order in your Lordships' House, but may I suggest that as the words in question form part of the Notice my observation would be strictly relevant?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I have no objection to answering any question and I only wish to indicate that the matter of calling in Indian representatives was disposed of last week. My noble friend now puts a series of questions as to the exact part the Indians are expected to play. He asked whether they would vote. Obviously nobody can vote on the Com- 504 mittee except the members of the Committee and therefore I think I can definitely say that the Indians cannot vote because it would be contrary to the Parliamentary doctrine that nobody should vote on a Joint Committee except the appointed members of the Committee. Then he put a series of questions—I may say very important questions—as to what part they would take in the deliberations—whether they would be present during the discussion of the Report, whether they would be present throughout the taking of evidence, and matters of that kind; and he pressed me to say that if there was a substantial feeling in the Committee in favour of one procedure the Government would do their best to facilitate it.
Those matters really are matters which the Committee will have to decide for themselves. The Government do not wish to impose on the Committee an obligation to have a greater amount of assistance and collaboration from the Indians the Committee invite than the Committee desire, and the Government would be very sorry to do anything which would hamper the deliberations or check the evidence before the Committee. Whther or not the difficulties my noble friend foresees will actually arise depends, I think, a good deal on the nature of the evidence which is called and the line the Committee determine to take. All I desire to say, so far as the Government are concerned, is that we do not want to compel the Committee or drive the Committee into doing anything, but only that the Committee shall decide for themselves these matters, taking into account such statements as have been made in past years, so that the Committee on the one hand shall do nothing to disappoint any expectations which have been legitimately raised and on the other hand certainly do nothing to hamper their own labours in arriving at the best solutions.
I do not think I can usefully say more. If I were to say more on behalf of the Government, and indeed without any authority from the Secretary of State who cannot communicate with me just at this moment, I should be, I think, rather hampering than helping the Committee in reaching a decision because when it meets to-morrow, as I understand it will, or as soon after as it gets 505 to effective work, I am sure the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, will raise the questions he has raised to-day and the Committee will consider how far it is desirable to make up its mind at once or to wait a little to see how the matter develops. The Committee will, after considering all the pros and cons, reach its own conclusion and I am sure will desire to avail itself of the Indians it invites, assuming it does invite them, as much as it can, and will not on the other hand want to do anything which will prevent it from reaching the real facts or making the most useful Report to Parliament. I do not think I can usefully say more, not because I do not want to help the noble Marquess, but because I do not want to incur any risk of allegation of breaches of faith or misunderstandings which would be unfortunate if they arose hereafter in any quarter of the House.
§ Ordered, That such Committee have Power to agree with the Committee of the Commons in the appointment of a Chairman: Then a Message was ordered to be sent to the Commons to inform them of the appointment of the said Committee by this House and to propose that the Joint Committee do meet in Committee Room A, to-morrow at three o'clock.