HL Deb 02 July 1936 vol 101 cc408-12

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Plymouth.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

VISCOUNT ELIBANK moved to insert the following new clause after Clause 1:

Amendment of s. 12 of principal Act.

". Subsection (1) of Section twelve of the principal Act shall have effect as if in the definition of ' Governor,' the words ' and of British India ' were omitted."

The noble Viscount said: The Amendment which stands in my name follows upon a few observations which I ventured to make on the Second Reading of this Bill. In the course of those remarks I advocated that Indian Governors—and I refer particularly to those of political origin—should come under the provisions of the Bill, and that these Indian Governors should be dealt with in the same way as, for instance, are Governors of the Australian States. The point that I particularly wished to make was that supposing a Governor of an Australian State served for five years in that State, say the State of Victoria, and subsequently went to India and became Governor of Bombay where he served for another five years, making ten in all, he should be just as eligible to receive a pension as a Governor who had served for five years in Victoria to begin with and subsequently five years in South Australia making ten years in all. Or, conversely, if a Governor of political origin served in Bombay for five years and then subsequently was considered to have such qualifications that it was desirable that he should serve for another five years in India, say in the Province of Madras, he should be eligible to receive a pension just as Governors are eligible to receive pensions if they have served in two Australian States.

I believe that that is a perfectly fair and equitable proposition, and whilst I recognise that in the past Indian Governors have not received pensions and that such pensions have always been regarded as being part of the Indian Government Service, I see no reason why a Governor who is sent to India after public service in this country should not be regarded on the same plane as is the similar type of individual who is sent to an Australian State. For that reason I have put down this Amendment to the principal Act to enable Indian Governors of the class that I have described to receive Governors' pensions in future. It is true that my Amendment may go a little too far in its drafting, but it was very difficult for me to find the exact wording that was required in order to achieve what I desired to do. I can only put forward this Amendment in the hope that the Government may receive it sympathetically, and if it can be worded in some way to meet the position which I have outlined I shall be very grateful. I am sure that many others who are interested in this subject will also be grateful.

Amendment moved— After Clause 1 insert the said new clause.—(Viscount Elibank.)


As I promised on the Second Reading, I have gone very carefully into the point that the noble Viscount has raised. Nobody can be unsympathetic to the case he has put forward. May I explain the position? As the law stands at the present moment any one who serves as a Governor in any part of His Majesty's Dominions, exclusive of the British Islands and British India, for a period of not less than ten years becomes eligible for a pension. The object, or the effect at any rate, of the noble Viscount's Amendment is to revoke the exclusion of British India from this provision. The actual effect of the Amendment would be to make all persons holding Governorships in India Governors for all purposes of the Pensions (Governors of Dominions, etc.) Acts—the various Acts which deal with that particular subject. In other words, it would render them eligible for pensions from the United Kingdom Exchequer upon the same terms as Governors of Colonies. This means that any one who has served as a Governor-General, Governor of a Presidency, or Governor of a Province, in India, and who has completed ten years as such, would be eligible for a pension from the United Kingdom Exchequer.

I ought to explain further, what perhaps is not quite fully realised, that if this Amendment is accepted Indian Provincial Governors, who are almost invariably promoted from the Indian Civil Service and consequently draw pensions by virtue of that Service, would be further eligible—that is, in addition to those pensions—for a pension from the United Kingdom Exchequer. I feel quite certain that that is not what the noble Viscount intended.


That is not what is intended. I tried to explain in my speech that I do not wish to include members of the Indian Civil Service who become Governors. I was referring particularly to those who come from here owing to public service, political service or otherwise, and I believe that as my Amendment is drafted it may not meet that point of view. I wish we could get an Amendment, perhaps on the Report stage or Third Reading, that would meet that point of view.


I quite appreciate what the noble Viscount says, but I am merely pointing out what the actual effect of his Amendment would be. As a matter of fact, what the noble Viscount terms a political, that is to say a non-Service Presidency Governor in India, would only very rarely be affected by this Amendment, because it is only on very rare occasions that such a Governor actually completes ten years of service. But that is merely a detail. However that may be, I am not really quite clear as to whether it is the desire of the noble Viscount that Indian Governors, such as those to whom we have been referring—namely, the political Governors—should become eligible for pensions actually from the United Kingdom Exchequer.


May I say that is my view? I believe in this case that there would be very few of them, and it would be worth while.


If that is so I cannot see how, in view of the past history of this question—that is, the pensions of Indian Governors—the Government could accept this additional burden upon the United Kingdom Exchequer. It would be a radical deviation from the policy which has obtained up till now in the treatment of Indian Governors, because I think I am right in saying that up till now no pension has ever been paid from the United Kingdom Exchequer to Governors who have been Governors of Indian Presidencies or Provinces. The noble Viscount told me that it was his desire that these pensions should be paid from the United Kingdom Exchequer. Therefore there is no object in my going into detail on the other alternative, which is that these pensions should be paid from Indian revenue. As I have pointed out, in the past the pay of Indian Governors has been fixed at a rate which is considered adequate and on the understanding that no pensions should [...] as the result of their service. I think it only right to remind the Committee that this is a matter which perhaps could have been more properly dealt with when we were discussing the Government of India Bill last year, because it was in that Bill that detailed provisions were made for the salaries and allowances of the Governors-General and Governors of India. I must further point out that that Act makes no provision, as your Lordships know, for Governors' pensions. As I understand it this was done deliberately for the reasons I have already pointed out—namely, that there was never any intention of making these posts pensionable. Therefore, the matter was not raised during the course of the debates on that measure.

There is just one other consideration I want to mention. I do not wish to over-stress it, but it is one that cannot be entirely ignored purely for practical reasons. It is that this Amendment would have the effect of placing upon the Exchequer a new burden quite outside the original scope of the Bill. This Bill really was meant to deal with certain inequalities and injustices in the methods of fixing the pensions of Colonial Governors, and there was no intention of bringing within its scope the Governors of Indian Presidencies or Provinces. I therefore feel it would not be practical politics to return this Bill to another place with an Amendment such as the one which the noble Viscount has proposed. The point that the noble Viscount has raised is one which should be considered on its merits, I entirely agree, but I do not think—and I hope your Lordships will agree with me—that it is one which can very well be dealt with in the measure we are discussing to-day. I hope that after that full explanation the noble Viscount will not press his Amendment.


I am glad to note the sympathetic tone of the last remark made by my noble friend but, having regard to the substance of his speech, I have very little hope that that sympathetic tone will be translated into something practical. However, in view of what the noble Earl has said, I do not propose to press this Amendment. I would only reiterate that I hope the Government may see their way to take this matter into consideration with the Government of India and see whether something can be done to remedy it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.