HL Deb 18 July 1935 vol 98 cc628-33

Representatives of British India.

The Council of State.

3. Of the one hundred and, fifty-six seats in the Council of State to be filled by representatives of British India one hundred and fifty seats shall be allocated to the Governors' Provinces, the Chief Commissioners' Provinces and the Anglo-Indian, European and Indian Christian communities in the manner shown in division (i) of the relevant Table of Seats appended to this Part of this Schedule, and six seats shall be filled by persons chosen by the Governor-General in his discretion.

THE EARL OF LISTOWEL moved, in paragraph 3 of Part I, to leave out "fifty" and insert "forty-six". The noble Earl said: My Lords, this Amendment is one that lies very near the hearts of those of us who sit on these Benches, and is of the very utmost importance to the Party that we have the honour to represent in your Lordships' House. We are not satisfied that there is any positive guarantee at the moment that Labour will have a single representative on the Council of State. That causes us very considerable anxiety. A statement was made by the Under-Secretary of State in another place that. a recommendation would be given to the Governor-General that among the seats in his appointment certain seats should be allotted to Labour, but that is only a recommendation, and if the Governor-General should think fit to refuse to act on the advice of the Home Government, in that case there would be no single representative of the working class on the Council of State. That is why we are asking for something more than a. mere recommendation. We are anxious to have a statutory obligation, and that is the point of this Amendment.

If your Lordships were to consider accepting this Amendment, there would be four seats in the Council of State reserved for the representatives of the working class, and the Governor-General, in making his appointments, would take into consideration the views of the labouring population as expressed through bodies, such as trade unions, organised to represent them. I hope that the noble Marquess will not answer that the existing proposal is a perfectly fair arrangement because there are no reserved seats for business men, for the middle class element, in the population. That of course is so, but I do not imagine any one has the least fear that the voice of the middle class will not be raised and that their opinion on matters affecting their interests will not be heard in a very adequate manner. That will happen automatically under the present arrangement for the reservation of seats.

In another place a very important concession was made in order to obtain representation for one section of the community—namely, women. The Government have allowed a reservation of five seats, I think it is, for women—that is to say, they have accepted the principle of which we are asking acceptance, the principle that every important section of public opinion in British India should be able to express itself adequately on any measure that may arise which affects its interests. Therefore I very much hope that the noble Marquess may be able to accept this Amendment, and, if not, that he may make some constructive proposal on his own account whereby we shall be absolutely certain that Labour will have representatives in the Council of State, and that the Governor-General in choosing these representatives will at least consult those bodies which are considered to be the accredited representatives of working-class opinion.

Amendment moved— Page 300, line 4, leave out ("fifty") and insert ("forty-six").—(The Earl of Listowel.)


My Lords, I certainly have some sympathy with the object which the noble Earl has in view. I can quite understand his thinking it of real importance that Labour should at least have a voice in the proceedings of the Council of State. The noble Earl said he hoped I would not put forward as an objection to the acceptance of his Amendment the fact, for it is a fact, that special interests are not represented in the Council of State—special interests, that is to say, such as commerce and industry. I am afraid I must put that forward as one of the reasons why I am unable to accept the actual Amendment tabled by the noble Earl. But I am very well aware, as the noble Earl has reminded us, that my predecessor in another place did agree that some steps should be taken to ensure Labour having a voice in the Council of State.

I am of course prepared to honour the promise made by my predecessor, and to insert a paragraph in the Instrument, of Instructions to the effect that the Governor-General, when considering the six appointments which will be his under the provisions of the plan, shall pay especial attention to the needs of Labour. I would be prepared to go rather further than that and to accede to what I understood to be the noble Earl's suggestion, that when considering the representation of Labour that he should appoint he should enter into consultation with recognised organisations who would be in a position to advise him as to a suitable representative of Labour in the Council of State. I am certainly prepared to do that. Might I just add, though it is quite true that Labour, as such, will not be represented in the Council of State, except in the way that I have agreed, the Scheduled Castes will be represented in the Council of State, and it is likely, I should imagine, that the Scheduled Castes representatives would probably to a large extent represent Labour, but I hope the noble Earl may be satisfied with the promise which I have made.


My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Marquess for his answer, and I think, if I am not mistaken, that it goes a little further than the statement made by the right honourable gentleman in another place. If I understood him rightly, the noble Marquess said that in the Instrument of Instructions it would be recommended that the Governor-General should seek the opinion of bodies representative of Labour if he desired to make these appointments.




I am grateful to the noble Marquess for what I think is a concession, although it does not entirely meet our point, and in view of that I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND moved to insert: 7. Nothing in the two last preceding paragraphs shall apply in relation to British Baluchistan and a person to fill the seat in the Council of State allotted to that Province shall be chosen in such manner as may be prescribed.

The noble Marquess said: My Lords, this and subsequent Amendments in my name on this Schedule are required to cover a small point that has, I am afraid, been overlooked. It has always been known that the method of choosing the single representative for Baluchistan would, in the peculiar circumstances of that particular Province, present very considerable difficulties. No solution actually has yet been found, but it has been recognised from the start that there might be an alternative to nomination. This was made plain, I think, in the White Paper. Both the Joint Select Committee's Report and the First Schedule of the Bill, until the Amendments were made to it, left the method of selection of the representatives of all the Chief Commissioner's Provinces except where there is actually a Legislature to be prescribed, since there was no obvious method of fitting the selection of a Chief Commissioner's Province representatives into a scheme where, for all other Provinces, election was by members of the Provincial Legislature. Accordingly in the Bill until recently altered we had a free hand for all the Chief Commissioners' Provinces, except Coorg, including Baluchistan. Under the system of direct election now substituted no difficulty arises in any of the other Chief Commissioners' Provinces except Baluchistan, direct election in territorial constituencies being practicable everywhere else, but it is necessary to keep a free hand for Baluchistan, and that is the purpose of these Amendments.

Amendment moved— Page 301, line 11, at end insert the said paragraph.—(The Marquess of Zetland.)


My Lords, the next Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 301, line 39, at end insert ("or, in the case of a seat allotted to British Baluchistan, possesses such qualifications as may be prescribed,").—(The Marquess of Zetland.)


My Lords, the next two Amendments are drafting Amendments to meet a point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, who objected to legislation by reference. I have accepted his view and these Amendments are to carry out his wishes.

Amendments moved— Page 306, line 2, leave out ("as defined in Section six of the Government of India Act, 1870") Page 306, lines 6 and 7, leave out ("as defined in the said Section six").—(The Marquess of Zetland.)


My Lords, the next Amendment is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 306, leave out lines 23 to 25 and insert: (2) In this paragraph the expression native of India' has the same meaning as it had for the purposes of Section six of the Government of India Act, 1870, and accordingly it includes any person born and domiciled within the Dominions of His Majesty in India or Burma of parents habitually resident in India or Burma and not established there for temporary purposes only."—(The Marquess of Zetland.)

Sixth Schedule: