HL Deb 03 December 1936 vol 103 cc632-4

My Lords, I have now to ask your Lordships to approve the similar Instrument of Instructions to the Governor of Burma, and there is little that I need say in connection with these Instructions because, for the most part, they cover the same ground as the Instrument of Instructions to the Governors in India. But, since Burma will be a separate entity, the Governor of Burma will discharge certain functions which are not discharged by the Governors of the Indian Provinces and which will correspond more to the functions discharged by the Governor-General of India. I would, therefore, briefly call your Lordships' attention to the special passages which are peculiar to the Governor of Burma.

The first paragraph that differs from the corresponding paragraph in the Instructions to the Governors of India is paragraph VII. The reason for that is that there is not the same need in Burma for minority representation as there is in India because, happily, in Burma there are not the same communal difficulties. Therefore paragraph VII differs somewhat from the corresponding paragraph. Then paragraph IX finds no place in the Instrument of Instructions to the Governors of the Indian Provinces because it deals with the financial stability and credit of the country, the governor of Burma being charged with a special responsibility for the financial stability and credit of Burma. Paragraph X provides, as in the case of the Indian Instructions, for the representation of minorities in the Services, but it is drafted differently from the Indian paragraph because the problem in Burma is a somewhat different one. It actually in one ease provides for the adequate representation of the majority of the people—namely, for the representation of the Burmans themselves in the subordinate medical services. Then paragraph XIII is peculiar to the Governor of Burma because it deals with tariffs and instructs him how he is to act with a view to preventing discrimination against the nationals of this country. Paragraph XVI deals with defence and corresponds to what will be a similar paragraph in due course in the Instrument of Instructions to the Governor-General of India. Paragraph XVII also deals with the finance of the Defence Portfolio and, therefore, is peculiar to Burma.

Finally there is one word I must say with regard to paragraph XX which deals with the question of the immigration of Indians into Burma. I am well aware that some at least of your Lordships have received rather voluminous cables from Indians who seen to be disturbed at the arrangements which are made for restricting immigration into Burma. I think their fears must be based on a misunderstanding. Under the Act the Burmese Legislature will be entitled to deal with the question of immigration from India, and necessarily so, since the question of the immigration of unskilled labour from India into Burma is one which has sometimes created a difficult, problem and in the future may very likely create a difficult problem. Far from this paragraph of the Instructions making it easier for the Burmese Legislature to restrict Indian immigration it makes it much more difficult for them. What we have done is this. We have said that any measure introduced in the Burmese Legislature affecting immigration from India requires the prior sanction of the Governor of Burma. That is in the Act. In this paragraph we say that before he gives his sanction he must consult the Government of India, and since the Government of India will necessarily have the interests of the Indian people very much at heart it is obvious that this is a safeguard for the Indian people.

The real difficulty, of course, with the whole of this question of Indian immigration into Burma arises from the fact that you cannot in an Act of Parliament define exactly what is meant by unskilled labour. It was because of that difficulty that the Burmese Legislature had to be given the right to legislate in regard to immigration generally. I should like to assure my absent Indian friends and correspondents—for I, too, have received telegrams as well as other members of your Lordships' House—that really the object of this paragraph in the Instructions is to give them greater protection from injury by largely restrictive legislation in the matter of immigration into that country. With these observations, my Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty in pursuance of the provisions of Section 9 of the Government of Burma Act, 1935, praying that His Majesty may be pleased to issue Instructions to the Governor of Burma in the form of the draft laid before Parliament.—(The Marquess of Zetland.)

On Question, Motion agreed to: the said Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.