§ MR. MONTAGU'S STATEMENT.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I intimated to you, Mr. Whitley, that I desired to raise a point of Order. You know, Sir, there are on the Paper several Motions for the reduction of the salary of the Secretary of State for India. The first one, I think, emanates above the Gangway, and others are in the names of my own Friends below the Gangway here. I desire to ask whether it would be in order to take two successive Motions, and to have two successive Divisions, say, at half past ten and a quarter to eleven, so that those who represent one side, say the extreme left view, and the other the extreme right view, could each express their views in the Division Lobby?
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is quite possible to have two Motions for a reduction divided upon in Committee of Supply, and that is the proper method in which hon. Members can register their views in the Division Lobby. I understand it will be agreeable if I take the Motion first standing on the Paper in the first instance, the Committee to take the 1706 Division on that not later than half past ten, so that a second reduction can be moved. Of course, the general flow of the Debate can go on without interruption in the meantime, all points of view being placed before the Committee.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)
The Motion that you have just read from the Chair is historic. For the first time in its history the Committee have an opportunity of voting or of paying the salary of the Secretary of State for India, and I notice that it is signalised by a very large desire for a reduction. I gather that the intention is to confine the Debate to the disturbances which took place in India last year. That being so, after most careful consideration, not only of the circumstances in this House, but of the situation in India, I have come to the conclusion that I shall best discharge my Imperial duty by saying very little indeed. The situation in India is very serious, owing to the events of last year, and owing to the controversy which has arisen upon them. I am in the position of having stated my views and the views of His Majesty's Government, of which I am the spokesman. The dispatch, which has been published and criticised, was drawn up by a Cabinet Committee and approved by the whole Cabinet. I have no desire to withdraw from, or to add to, that dispatch. Every single body, civil and military, which has been charged with the discussion of this lamentable affair has, generally speaking, come to the same conclusion. The question before the Committee this afternoon is whether they will endorse the position of His Majesty's Government, of the Hunter Committee, of the Commander-in-Chief in India, of the Government of India, and of the Army Council, or whether they will desire to censure them. I hope the Debate will not take the shape of a criticism of the personnel of any of them. It is so easy to quarrel with the judge when you do not agree with his judgment.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The Hunter Committee, which was chosen after the most careful consideration, with one single desire and motive, to get an impartial tribunal to discharge the most thankless 1707 duty to the best of their ability was, I maintain, such a body. I resent very much the insolent criticisms that have been passed either on the European Members, civil and military, or upon the distinguished Indian members, each of whom has a record of loyal and patriotic public service. The real issue can be stated in one sentence, and I will content myself by asking the House one question. If an officer justifies his conduct, no matter how gallant his record is—and everybody knows how gallant General Dyer's record is—by saying that there was no question of undue severity, that if his means had been greater the casualties would have been greater, and that the motive was to teach a moral lesson to the whole of the Punjab, I say without hesitation, and I would ask the Committee to contradict me if I am wrong, because the whole matter turns upon this, that it is the doctrine of terrorism.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
If you agree to that, you justify everything that General Dyer did. Once you are entitled to have regard neither to the intentions nor to the conduct of a particular gathering, and to shoot and to go on shooting, with all the horrors that were here involved, in order to teach somebody else a lesson, you are embarking upon terrorism, to which there is no end. I say, further, that when you pass an order that all Indians, whoever they may be, must crawl past a particular place, when you pass an order to say that all Indians, whoever they may be, must forcibly or voluntarily salaam any officer of His Majesty the King, you are enforcing racial humiliation. I say, thirdly, that when you take selected schoolboys from a school, guilty or innocent, and whip them publicly, when you put up a triangle, where an outrage which we all deplore and which all India deplores has taken place, and whip people who have not been convicted, when you flog a wedding party, you are indulging in frightfulness, and there is no other adequate word which could describe it. If the Committee follows me on these three assertions, this is the choice and this is the question which the Committee has put to it to-day before coming to an 1708 answer. Dismiss from your mind, I beg of you, all personal questions. I have been pursued for the last three months I have been pursued throughout my association by some people and by some journals with personal attack. I do not propose to answer them to-day. Are you going to keep your hold upon India by terrorism, racial humiliation and subordination, and frightfulness, or are you going to rest it upon the goodwill, and the growing goodwill, of the people of your Indian Empire?
I believe that to be the whole question at issue. If you decide in favour of the latter course, well, then you have got to enforce it. It is no use one Session passing a great Act of Parliament, which, whatever its merits or demerits, proceeded on the principle of partnership for India in the British Commonwealth, and then allowing your administration to depend upon terrorism. You have got to act in every Department, civil and military, unintermittently upon a desire to recognise India as a partner in your Commonwealth. You have got to safeguard your administration on the principles of that Order passed by the British Parliament. You have got to revise any obsolete ordinance or law which infringes the principles of liberty which you have inculcated into the educated classes in India. That is your one chance—to adhere to the decision that you put into your legislation when you are criticising administration. There is the other choice—to hold India by the sword, to recognise terrorism as part of your weapon, as part of your armament, to guard British honour and British life with callousness about Indian honour and Indian life. India is on your side in enforcing order. Are you on India's side in ensuring that order is enforced in accordance with the canons of modern love of liberty in the British democracy? There has been no criticism of any officer, however drastic his action was, in any province outside the Punjab. There were thirty-seven instances of firing during the terribly dangerous disturbances of last year. The Government of India and His Majesty's Government have approved thirty-six cases and only censured one. They censured one because, however good the motive, they believe that it infringed the principle which has always animated the British Army 1709 and infringed the principles upon which our Indian Empire has been built.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The great objection to terrorism, the great objection to the rule of force, is that you pursue it without regard to the people who suffer from it, and that having once tried it you must go on. Every time an incident happens you are confronted with the increasing animosity of the people who suffer, and there is no end to it until the people in whose name we are governing India, the people of this country, and the national pride and sentiment of the Indian people rise together in protest and terminate your rule in India as being impossible on modern ideas of what an Empire means. There is an alternative policy which I assumed office to commend to this House and which this House has supported until to-day. It is to put the coping stone on the glorious work which England has accomplished in India by leading India to a complete free partnership in the British Commonwealth, to say to India: "We hold British lives sacred, but we hold Indian lives sacred, too. We want to safeguard British honour by protecting and safeguarding Indian honour, too. Our institutions shall be gradually perfected whilst protection is afforded to you and ourselves against revolution and anarchy in order that they may commend themselves to you."
There is a theory abroad on the part of those who have criticised His Majesty's Government upon this issue that an Indian is a person who is tolerable so long as he will obey your orders, but if once he joins the educated classes, if once he thinks for himself, if once he takes advantage of the educational facilities which you have provided for him, if once he imbibes the ideas of individual liberty which are dear to the British people, why then you class him as an educated Indian and as an agitator. What a terrible and cynical verdict on the whole!
§ Mr. MONTAGU
As you grind your machinery and turn your graduate out of the University you are going to dub 1710 him as belonging, at any rate, to the class from which your opponents come. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
§ Colonel ASHLEY
On a point of Order. Mr. Whitley, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say against whom is he making his accusation?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is not a point of Order. We are here to hear different points of view, and all points of view.
§ Brigadier-General COCKERILL
On that point of Order, Mr. Chairman, Are we not here to discuss the case of General Dyer, and what is the relevancy of these remarks to that?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The whole point of my observations is directed to this one question: that there is one theory upon which I think General Dyer acted, the theory of terrorism, and the theory of subordination. There is another theory, that of partnership, and I am trying to justify the theory endorsed by this House last year. I am suggesting to this Committee that the Act of Parliament is useless unless you enforce it both in the keeping of order and in administration. I am trying to avoid any discussion of details which do not, to my mind, affect that broad issue. I am going to submit to this House this question, on which I would suggest with all respect they should vote: Is your theory of domination or rule in India the ascendancy of one race over another, of domination and subordination—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—or is your theory that of partnership? If you are applying domination as your theory, then it follows that you must use the sword with increasing severity—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—until you are driven out of the country by the united opinion of the civilised world. [Interruption.] [An HON. MEMBER: "Bolshevism!"] If your theory is justice and partnership, then you will condemn a soldier, however gallant—
§ Mr. MONTAGU
—who says that there was no question of undue severity, and 1711 that he was teaching a moral lesson to the whole Punjab. That condemnation, as I said at the beginning, has been meted out by everybody, civil and military, who has considered this question. Nobody ever suggested, no Indian has suggested, as far as I know, no reputable Indian has suggested, any punishment, any vindictiveness, or anything more than the repudiation of the principles upon which General Dyer acted. I invite this House to choose, and I believe that the choice they make is fundamental to a continuance of the British Empire, and vital to the continuation, permanent as I believe it can be, to the connection between this country and India.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I think upon reflection that my right hon. Friend who has just addressed the House will see that the kind of speech he has made is not one that is likely in any sense to settle this unfortunate question. My right hon. Friend, with great deference to him, cannot settle artificially the issue which we have to try. He has told us here that the only issue is as to whether we are in favour of a policy of terrorism and insults towards our Indian fellow subjects, or whether we are in favour of a partnership with them in the Empire. What on earth is that to do with it?
§ Sir E. CARSON
I never interrupt hon. Members opposite. I should have thought that the matter we are discussing here to-day was so grave, both to this country and to our policy in India, that we might, at all events, expect a Minister of the Crown to approach it in a much calmer spirit than he has done.
§ The CHAIRMAN
All round the Committee there seems to be a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the occasion. Let me remind the Committee that this is the first occasion on which we have had these Indian Estimates, that is to say, the salary of the Secretary of State, by deliberate act of the House, and for public reasons, put on the British Estimates. We ought, I think, to recognise 1712 that occasion, and avoid these unnecessary interruptions.
§ Sir E. CARSON
If I thought the real issue was that which was stated by my right hon. Friend, I would not take part in this Debate. There will be no dissension in this House from the proposition that he has laid down. But it does not follow, because you lay down a general proposition of that kind, that you have brought those men on whom you are relying in extremely grave and difficult circumstances as your officers in India within the category that you yourself are pleased to lay down. As to whether they do come within those categories is the real question. My right hon. Friend begs the question. After all, let us, even in the House of Commons, try to be fair, some way or the other, to a gallant officer of 34 years' service—
§ Sir E. CARSON
—without a blemish upon his record. Whatever you may say—and, mind you, this will have a great effect on the conduct of officers in the future as to whether or not they will bear the terrible responsibility for which they have not asked, but which you have put upon them—we may at least try to be fair, and to recognise the real position in which this officer is placed. As far as I am concerned, I would like to say this at the outset of the very few remarks I shall make, that I do not believe for a moment it is possible in this House, nor would it be right, to try this officer. To try this officer who puts forward his defence—I saw it for the first time an hour ago—would be a matter which would take many days in this House. Therefore you cannot do it. But we have a right to ask: Has he ever had a fair trial? We have the right to put this further question before you break him, and send him into disgrace: Is he going to have a fair trial?
You talk of the great principles of liberty which you have laid down. General Dyer has a right to be brought within those principles of liberty. He has no right to be broken on the ipse dixit of any Commission or Committee, however great, unless he has been fairly tried—and he has not been tried. Do look upon the position in which you have put an officer of this kind. You send him 1713 to India, to a district seething with rebellion and anarchy. You send him there without any assistance whatever from the civil government, because the Commission have found that the condition of affairs was such in this district that the civil government was in abeyance, and even the magistrate, as representing the civil power, who might have been there to direct this officer, had gone away on another duty. I cannot put the matter better than it was put before the Legislative Council of India, on 19th September last, by the Adjutant-General of India:My Lord, my object in recounting to this Council in some detail the measures taken by the military authorities to reconstitute civil order out of chaos produced by a state of rebellion, is to show there is another side to the picture which is perhaps more apparent to the soldier than to the civilian critic.Now mark this—No more distasteful or responsible duty falls to the lot of the soldier than that which he is sometimes required to discharge in aid of the civil power. If his measures are too mild he fails in his duty. If they are deemed to be excessive he is liable to be attacked as a cold-blooded murderer. His position is one demanding the highest degree of sympathy from all reasonable and right-minded citizens. He is frequently called upon to act on the spur of the moment in grave situations in which he intervenes because all the other resources of civilisation have failed. His actions are liable to be judged by ex post facto standards, and by persons who are in complete ignorance of the realities which he had to face. His good faith is liable to be impugned by the very persons connected with the organisation of the disorders which his action has foiled. There are those who will admit that a measure of force may have been necessary, but who cannot agree with the extent of the force employed. How can they be in a better position to judge of that than the officer on the spot? It must be remembered that when a rebellion has been started against the Government, it is tantamount to a declaration of war. War cannot be conducted in accordance with standards of humanity to which we are accustomed in peace. Should not officers and men, who through no choice of their own, are called upon to discharge these distasteful duties, be in all fairness accorded that support which has been promised to them?That is the statement of the position of this officer. He went to this place on the 10th April, as I understand it. He found the place all round and all the great towns in the immediate neighbourhood in a state of rebellion. On the 11th and the 12th murders of officials and bank managers were rife. The civil power had 1714 to abandon their entire functions, and what did you ask this officer to do? To make up his mind as best he could how to deal with the situation, and now you break him because you say he made up his mind wrongly. Yes, Sir, the armchair politician in Downing Street—
§ Sir E. CARSON
I am not a Bolshevist, anyhow. The armchair politician in Downing Street has no doubt a very difficult task to perform. I am not contending that in no case should they overrule what an officer has done on the spot, but I think they ought to try and put themselves in the position of the man whom they asked to go and deal with these difficult circumstances. Look what he had to decide. He had to decide as to whether this was a riot, an insurrection, a rebellion, a revolution, or part of a revolution. If one was to go into it, but that is not possible now, I think there is a great deal to show, even on the face of the Report itself, from the information they had that it was at all events the precursor to a revolution. The different rules you laid down were applicable to each of these different matters. What was their error of judgment? It was this:We admit that you acted in perfect good faith; we admit that you acted under the most difficult circumstances with great courage and great decision, but our fault with you is that whilst you thought the circumstances necessitated that you should teach a lesson to the country all round, we think you ought to have dealt with it solely as a local matter.That is the whole difference, and for that you are going to smash and break an officer who has done his best. In reference to the very action which you are going to break him for, or have broken him for, after his thirty-four years of honourable service, you have to admit it may have been that which saved the most bloody outrage in that country, which might have deluged the place with the loss of thousands of lives, and may have saved the country from a mutiny to which the old mutiny in India would have appeared small. Admit if you like in your armchair that he did commit an error of judgment, but was it such that alone he ought to bear the consequences? That is the way I prefer to put the matter, because I do not believe you can retry the case here. I am sure I shall have the assent of any man who has had to do with government 1715 and thinks the matter out, when I say that if you are going to lay down here to-day this doctrine for your officers who are put into these situations "before you act, no matter what state of affairs surrounds or confronts you, take care and sit down and ask yourself what will Downing Street think, what will the House of Commons say to us when they have been stirred up six months afterwards." If that is to be the position of your officers and you make a scapegoat of them because there is an ex post facto statement of the events, you will never get an officer to carry out his duties towards his country.
I remember when I was First Lord of the Admiralty, I recalled a commander-in-chief because I thought he had, of two courses, taken one which was very harmful to the duty he had in hand. He came and saw me afterwards and asked me for an explanation. I said, "You are perfectly entitled," and I handed him his own report and I said to him, "Let us not talk, I as First Lord, or you as an Admiral, but read your own report and tell me did you do the best thing under the circumstances for the Admiralty and for your country?" He said, "No, sir. The reason I took the course I did was because I did not know whether I would be supported by the Admiralty." I said to him, "Your observation goes to show me that I was right in recalling you, because if you would not take the consequences, and act in the way you thought right, you are not fit to be a commander." Yes, sir, but you have to deal with human nature in the men you put into all these difficult places. Do not let them suppose that if they do their best, unless on some very grave consideration of dereliction of duty, that they will be made scapegoats of and be thrown to the wolves to satisfy an agitation such as that which arose after this incident.
You must back your men, and it is not such a distinction, as I have already shown, that is the origin of this matter as to this error of judgment, that will ever give confidence to those faithful and patriotic citizens who have been the men who have won for you and kept your great Empire beyond the seas. The most extraordinary part of this case is as to what happened immediately after this incident occurred, and I beg the House to pay attention to this part of the matter. We all know perfectly well how differently everybody views the situation when the 1716 whole atmosphere is different, and when the whole danger has passed away. What happened immediately afterwards? My right hon. Friend said that nobody in authority, as I understood him, approved of General Dyer's action. I will tell you who approved it. Brigadier - General Dyer, in his statement, says: "On 14th April, 1919, I reported the firing in the Bagh to Divisional Headquarters in the Report B. 21.
On the next day, or the day following, my Divisional Commander, Major-General Beynon, conveyed to me his approval.
The Lieutenant-Governor about the same time agreed with the Divisional Commander."
May I state here that I am very proud of him as an Irishman, and I am very glad at all events that it is not an Irishman who has thrown over his subordinate? What followed?
"On the 21st April, with the concurrence of the authorities, I went on a special mission to the Sikhs.
On 8th May, 1919, I was sent on active service in command of my Brigade to the frontier.
On about the 28th May, 1919, I was detailed to organise a force for the relief of Thal, then invested by the Afghan Army. On this occasion I had an interview with General Sir Arthur Barrett, commanding at Peshawur. I had by then become aware that the influences which had inspired the rebellion were starting an agitation against those who had suppressed it.
Sir A. Barrett told me he wanted me to take command of the relief force. I told him that I wished, if possible, to be free from any anxiety about my action at Amritsar, which so far had been approved. He said: 'That's all right, you would have heard about it long before this, if your action had not been approved.' I give his precise words as nearly as I can.
About the end of July, 1919, I saw the Commander-in-Chief. He congratulated me on the relief of Thal. He said no word to me of censure about Amritsar, but merely ordered me to write a report on it, which I did. This report is dated the 25th August, 1919.
On 5th September, 1919, Major-General Beynon in his report on the rebellion made to Army Headquarters repeated his previous approval of my action, and added a testimony to my other services in connection with the rebellion."
And so this officer went on, put day after day into more difficult positions. After he had carried out this work at Amritsar, I believe he was promoted to a higher command. He had not only that, but, as I gather from the evidence, he received the thanks of the native community 1717 for having saved the situation, the thanks of some of those, at all events, who, when the danger was over, and everything was peaceful, turned upon him and said he ought to be punished. Yes, when that agitation began, everything took a different turn, and the extraordinary part of it all was—and I am not going into details of what has been going on by way of question and answer in this House for the past three or four weeks—that all through these months my right hon. Friend never even knew the truth of the affair. That is really a most extraordinary matter. He had at the India Office during these months Sir Michael O'Dwyer, the ex-Governor of the Punjab, meeting him day by day and getting his reports day by day from India, and he never took a single step until this agitation broke out in India—an agitation which only broke out after the situation had been practically saved. That is a most unfortunate matter. If there was anything to be investigated, if there was punishment to be meted out, it ought to have been an immediate matter, not only in justice to General Dyer, but in justice to the Indian people. What is the good, six or seven months afterwards, of trying to placate these people by going back, after all these months, on everything that was done by the Lieut.-Governor, by the Commander-in-Chief, and by the immediate Divisional Commander, and telling them that they were wrong? What do you get by it?
Was there ever a more extraordinary case than that of a man who can come forward and tell you: "I won the approval of my Divisional Commander, I won the approval of the Lieut.-Governor of the Province—the man best acquainted with the situation—I was given promotion, I was sent to do more and more difficult jobs from day to day, and eight months after you tell me that I shall never again be employed, and that I have disgraced myself by inhumanity and by an error of judgment." I suppose he will have to bear his punishment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] The Secretary for War and the Army Council have said it. Let me say this. Whatever be the realities of the case, however you may approve of the doctrines laid down by my right hon. Friend—and I do approve of them—however you may approve of the Hunter Commission—and I find it difficult myself, having read the Report of that 1718 Commission, to agree with some of the conclusions that they came to, for instance, I find it difficult to agree with their conclusion that there was no conspiracy to overthrow the British Raj—
§ Sir E. CARSON
The hon. Member opposite may be sure he is so beneath contempt that—[Interruption]—I wonder how many Members of this House and of His Majesty's Government are really following out the conspiracy to drive the British out of India and out of Egypt? It is all one conspiracy, it is all engineered in the same way, it all has the same object—to destroy our sea power and drive us out of Asia. I hold in my hand a document which was sent to me by someone in America a few days ago. It goes through the whole of this case in its own peculiar way—this case of the disturbance of the 13th April, in which you are going to punish General Dyer because you were not satisfied that there was a conspiracy to overthrow British power, for that is the finding of the Commission, although I notice that even on that question on which General Dyer had to make up his mind, they are themselves a little uneasy, because they say:Apart from the existence of any deeply-laid scheme to overthrow the British, a movement which had started in rioting and become a rebellion might have rapidly developed into a revolution.Because General Dyer thought he ought to prevent it developing into revolution you have now broken him. I have read the article, and I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the document entitled "Invincible England," and see what it says:There is no idea of putting England out of India, but Asia is waking up. Its participation in the Great War, the grossly immoral tactics used by the great European Powers, and the conquest of Asian territory, the realisation that the revolutionary elements of India, Ireland, Egypt, and other nations have shaken the supposed invulnerability of England, is already morally loosening the hold of Europe on Asia. England still retains her territory. She has also, grabbed Turkey, but her expulsion from Asia looms largely on the horizon. Russia has relinquished her sphere of influence in Persia, and has assured India that the present Russia is not like the ambitious nation of the past, and has no expansionist ideas. She has abandoned all the privileges improperly acquired from China by the late Government.1719 And then it goes on:Uncertainty, as concerns India, is in the air. Its influence on the situation is unmistakable. Arms are lacking, it is true, but India has the will and determination to expel England.If that is a true statement of fact—I am not now arguing the causes of it or the policy of my right hon. Friend in trying to alleviate the situation there by the Act that was passed last year through this House—all these matters are outside the domain of the soldier. But for Heaven's sake, when you put a soldier into this difficult position, do not visit punishment upon him for attempting to the best of his ability to deal with a situation for which he is not in the slightest degree responsible. Although he may make an error of judgment, if you have the full idea that he is bonâ fide—and you can see it was impossible for him under the circumstances calmly to make up his mind in the way you would do—then censure him if you like, but do not punish him, do not break him. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend if men are to be punished for errors of judgment such as occurred in this case how many right hon. Gentlemen sitting on that Bench would escape? So far as I am concerned, I am not going further into this matter; I hope we may not get off on a false issue. I am speaking here with reference to a soldier whom I believe I saw once, whom I otherwise do not know at all. I am speaking of a man who in his long service has increased the confidence he had gained of those under whom he was serving, who had won the approval of the Lieut. Governor of the Province—who was acquainted with the whole facts—and who had got the approval of his Divisional Commander and of the Commander-in-Chief. I say to break a man under the circumstances of this case is un-English.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Churchill)
I think it may make for the convenience of the Debate if I speak at this early period in the afternoon, in order to put the Committee in possession of the views taken by the War Office, and to offer a full explanation of the course they have adopted. I shall certainly endeavour to follow very carefully the advice which my right hon. Friend who has just spoken has given, that we should approach this subject in a calm spirit, 1720 avoiding passion and avoiding attempts to excite prejudice—that we should address ourselves to the subject with a desire to do to-day what is most in accordance with the long view of the general interests of the British Empire. There has not been, I suppose, for many years a case of this kind, which has raised so many grave and wide issues, or in regard to which a right and wise decision is so necessary in the general interest. There is the intensity of racial feeling which has been aroused on both sides in India. Every word we speak ought to have regard to that. There are the difficulties of military officers who, in these turbulent times, have been or are likely to be called upon to handle their troops in the suppression of civil disturbance. There are the requirements of justice, and fair play towards an individual. There are the moral and humanitarian conceptions which are involved. All these, combined, make the task of the Government and of the Committee one of exceptional seriousness, delicacy, and responsibility.
I will deal first with the action of the Army Council, for which I accept full responsibility. The conduct of a military officer may be dealt with in three perfectly distinct spheres. First of all, he may be removed from his employment or his appointment, relegated to half pay, and told that he has no prospects of being employed again. This may be done to him by a simple administrative act. It is sufficient for the competent superior authority to decide that the interests of the public service would be better served if someone else were appointed in his stead, to justify and complete the taking of such a step. The officer in question has no redress. He has no claim to a court of inquiry or a court martial. He has no protection of any kind against being deprived of his appointment, and being informed that he has no further prospects of getting another. This procedure may seem somewhat harsh, but a little reflection will show that it is inevitable. There is no excuse for superior authority not choosing the most suitable agents for particular duties, and not removing unsuitable agents from particular duties. During the War, as every Member of the Committee knows, hundreds, and probably thousands, of officers have been so dealt with by their superiors; and since the War, the tremendous contraction of the Army has 1721 imposed similar hardships on hundreds, and possibly thousands, of officers against whom not one word of reproach could be uttered, and whose careers in many cases have been careers of real distinction and of invariable good service. This applies to all appointments in the Army, and, I have no doubt, in the Navy, too, and it applies with increasing severity in proportion as the appointments are high ones. From the humble lance-corporal, who reverts to private by a stroke of the pen, from the regimental adjutant, if the colonel thinks he would prefer some other subaltern, up to the highest General or Field-Marshal, all officers are amenable to this procedure in regard to the appointments which they hold.
The procedure is well understood. It is hardly ever challenged. It is not challenged by General Dyer in his statement. It is accepted with soldierly fortitude, because it is believed, on the whole, that the administration of these great responsibilities is carried out in a fair and honest spirit. Indeed, when one thinks of the hundreds of officers of high rank who, in the last year, have had their professional careers brought abruptly and finally to a close, and the patience, good temper and dignity with which this great personal misfortune has been borne, one cannot help feeling a great admiration for the profession of arms to which those officers belong. That is the first method by which military officers may be dealt with. Under it, the officer reverts automatically to half pay, and, in a very large proportion of cases, having reverted to half pay, he applies to be placed on retired pay, because, especially in the case of senior officers, retired pay is often appreciably higher than half pay.
I now come to the second method. The second method is of a more serious character, and it affects, not the employment of an officer, but his status and his rank. Here it is not a question of choosing the right man for a particular job, but of retiring an officer compulsorily from the Service, or imposing on him some reduction or forfeiture in his pension or retired pay. In this case the officer is protected, under Article 527 of the Royal Warrant, by the fact that it is necessary for three members of the Army Council to approve the proceeding, and by certain rights of laying his case before them. All the same, the Secretary of State for 1722 the time being, by virtue of his office, has the power to make a submission direct to the Crown, and advise that an officer be retired compulsorily, or simply that his name be removed from the list, His Majesty having no further use for his services.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
What has all this to do with General Dyer—I mean with the specific case we are dealing with?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have great respect for the Committee, and I do not believe it will refuse to allow a Minister or a Government to unfold a reasoned and solid argument to its attention; and I am surprised that my hon. Friend, who himself takes a not undistinguished part in Debates, should not appreciate that fact, and should not be willing to facilitate my doing so.
I was saying that that is the second method, in which the personal reputation, of an officer is undoubtedly affected The third method is of a definitely penal character. Honour, liberty, life, are affected. Cashiering, imprisonment, or the death penalty may be involved, and for this third category, of course, the whole resources and protection which judicial procedure, lawful tribunals, and British justice accord to an accused person are brought into play. Those are the three different levels of procedure in regard to the treatment of the conduct of officers. Although my hon. Friend has not seen the relevance of it, I think it right, at the outset, to unfold these distinctions very carefully to the Committee, and to ask the Committee to bear them attentively in mind.
Coming to the case of General Dyer, it will be seen that he was removed from his appointment by the Commander-in-Chief in India; that he was passed over by the Selection Board in India for promotion; that he was informed, as hundreds of officers are being and have been informed, that there was no prospect of further employment for him under the Government of India; and that, in consequence, he reverted automatically to half-pay. These proceedings were brought formally to the notice of the Army Council by a letter from the India Office, which recommended, further, that he should be retired from the Army, and by a telegram from the Commander-in-Chief in India, which similarly recom- 1723 mended that he should be ordered to retire.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
That was about a month ago. At a later stage it was brought publicly to the notice of the Army Council by the published despatch of the Secretary of State for India, which stated that the circumstances of the case had been referred to the army Council. The first step taken by the Army Council was to direct General Dyer—we had an application from him that he desired to take this course—to submit a statement of his case for their consideration. That statement is, I think, in the possession of the Committee at the present time. We asked him to make that statement, and we accepted his request that he should be allowed to make it, because we felt that, if any action was to be taken against General Dyer, apart from removing him from his appointments and employment in India—which is a matter of selection—if any action under the second of the three methods I have described was to be taken against him, it was essential that he should furnish a statement in his own behalf, and should be judged upon that, and not upon evidence which he had given as a witness in an inquiry before which he had been summoned without having any reason to believe that he was cited as an incriminated party. The conclusions of the Hunter Committee might furnish the fullest justification for removing him from his appointment—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am expressing my opinion. When my hon. and gallant Friend is called, he will express his opinion. That is the process which we call Debate. But if any question of retiring General Dyer from the Army was to be examined under Article 527, a direct statement from him in his own defence was indispensable. I read yesterday to the House the conclusion which was reached by the Army Council. It was a conclusion which was reached unanimously, and it speaks for itself. It must be remembered, however, that the Army Council must deal with these matters primarily, and, indeed, mainly, from a military point of view. They 1724 have to consider the rights and interests of officers of the Army, and they have to consider the effect of any decision which they may come to upon the confidence with which officers will do their duty in the kind of extremely difficult and tragical circumstances in which General Dyer and, I am sorry to say, a good many other officers of the Army have in recent times been placed. The Army Council have to express an opinion of General Dyer's conduct from what is primarily a service standpoint. Their function is one of great responsibility, but at the same time it is one of a limited and special responsibility
Nothing could be more unjust than to represent the Army Council as seeking to raise a constitutional issue, or as setting themselves up against the paramount authority of the Government of the country. I very much regret to have seen that that suggestion has been made. It is quite unmerited and uncalled for. Asked to express their opinion, they were bound to give it sincerely and plainly from their special standpoint. Their conclusion in no way affected the final freedom of action of the Cabinet. The Cabinet has many interests to consider far outside and beyond the scope and authority of a body like the Army Council, which is an administrative body, a subordinate body, and which is not at the same time a judicial tribunal. If the Cabinet, with their superior authority and more general outlook, took the view that further action was required against General Dyer beyond the loss of employment, beyond the censure pronounced by the Hunter Commission, by the Government of India, and by the Secretary of State's despatch, which was a Cabinet document bearing the considered opinion of the Government—if it was thought further action of a disciplinary character was required, the Cabinet were perfectly free to take it without any conflict of powers arising between the subordinate, administrative Army Council and the Supreme Executive Council of State. I made it perfectly clear to my colleagues on the Army Council that, in assenting to the conclusion to which we came as an Army Council, I held myself perfectly free if I thought right, and if the Cabinet so decided, to make a further submission to the Crown for the retirement of General Dyer from the Army.
§ Lieut.-Colonel CROFT
And the converse may be true, also. The Cabinet may upset the whole decision also in the other direction?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Certainly. The Cabinet can certainly alter the employment of any officer. I now come to explain and to justify the decision of the Cabinet. This is the question I have been asking myself, and which I think the House should consider. Were we right in accepting, as we have done, the conclusion of the Army Council as terminating the matter so far as General Dyer was concerned, or ought we to have taken further action of a disciplinary or quasi-disciplinary character against him? Here, for the first time, I shall permit myself to enter, to some extent, upon certain aspects of the merits of the case.
However we may dwell upon the difficulties of General Dyer during the Amritsar riots, upon the anxious and critical situation in the Punjab, upon the danger to Europeans throughout that province, upon the long delays which have taken place in reaching a decision about this officer, upon the procedure that was at this point or at that point adopted, however we may dwell upon all this, one tremendous fact stands out—I mean the slaughter of nearly 400 persons and the wounding of probably three or four times as many, at the Jallian Wallah Bagh on 13th April. That is an episode which appears to me to be without precedent or parallel in the modern history of the British Empire. It is an event of an entirely different order from any of those tragical occurrences which take place when troops are brought into collision with the civil population. It is an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation.
Collisions between troops and native populations have been painfully frequent in the melancholy aftermath of the Great War. My right hon. Friend has reminded the House that in this particular series of disturbances there were 36 or 37 cases of firing upon the crowd in India at this particular time, and there have been numerous cases in Egypt. In all these cases the officer in command is placed in a most painful and difficult position. I agree absolutely with what my right hon.
1726 Friend has said, and the opinions he has quoted of the Adjutant-General in India, of the distasteful, painful, embarrassing, torturing situation, mental and moral, in which the British officer in command of troops is placed when he is called upon to decide whether or not he opens fire, not upon the enemies of his country, but on those who are his countrymen, or who are citizens of our common Empire. No words can be employed which would exaggerate those difficulties. But there are certain broad lines by which, I think, an officer in such cases should be guided. First of all, I think he may ask himself, Is the crowd attacking anything or anybody? Surely that is the first question. Are they trying to force their way forward to the attack of some building, or some cordon of troops or police, or are they attempting to attack some band of persons or some individual who has excited their hostility? Is the crowd attacking? That is the first question which would naturally arise. The second question is this: Is the crown armed? That is surely another great simple fundamental question. By armed I mean armed with lethal weapons.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Men who take up arms against the State must expect at any moment to be fired upon. Men who take up arms unlawfully cannot expect that the troops will wait until they are quite ready to begin the conflict—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I agree, and it is in regard to Ireland that I am specially making this remark—or until they have actually begun fighting. Armed men are in a category absolutely different from unarmed men. An unarmed crowd stands in a totally different position from an armed crowd. At Amritsar the crowd was neither armed nor attacking. [Interruption.] I carefully said that when I used the word "armed" I meant armed with lethal weapons, or with firearms. There is no dispute between us on that point. "I was confronted," says General Dyer, "by a revolutionary army." What is the chief characteristic of an army? Surely it is that it is armed. This crowd was unarmed. These are simple tests which it is not too much to expect officers in these difficult situations to apply.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My hon. Friend is as closely acquainted with the case as I am. I have read all the papers on the subject. When he rises to continue the Debate he can perfectly well bring that forward. But there is another test which is not quite so simple, but which nevertheless has often served as a good guide. I mean the doctrine that no more force should be used than is necessary to secure compliance with the law. There is also a fourth consideration by which an officer should be guided. He should confine himself to a limited and definite objective, that is to say to preventing a crowd doing something which they ought not to do, or to compelling them to do something which they ought to do. All these are good guides for officers placed in the difficult and painful situation in which General Dyer stood.
My right hon. Friend (Sir E Carson) will say it is easy enough to talk like this, and to lay down these principles here in safe and comfortable England, in the calm atmosphere of the House of Commons or in your armchairs in Downing Street or Whitehall, but it is quite a different business on the spot, in a great emergency, confronted with a howling mob, with a great city or a whole province quivering all around with excitement. I quite agree. Still these are good guides and sound, simple tests, and I believe it is not too much to ask of our officers to observe and to consider them. After all, they are accustomed to accomplish more difficult tasks than that. Over and over again we have seen British officers and soldiers storm entrenchments under the heaviest fire, with half their number shot down before they entered the position of the enemy, the certainty of a long, bloody day before them, a tremendous bombardment crashing all around—we have seen them in these circumstances taking out their maps and watches, and adjusting their calculations with the most minute detail, and we have seen them show, not merely mercy, but kindness, to prisoners, observing restraint in the treatment of them, punishing those who deserved to be punished by the hard laws of war, and sparing those who might claim to be admitted to the clemency of the conqueror. We have seen them exerting themselves to show pity and to help, even at their own peril, the 1728 wounded. They have done it thousands of times, and in requiring them, in moments of crisis, dealing with civil riots, when the danger is incomparably less, to consider these broad, simple guides, really I do not think we are taxing them beyond their proved strength.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am bound to say I do not see to what part of my argument that remark applies. I say I do not think it is too much to ask a British officer in this painful, agonising position, to pause and consider these broad, simple guides—I do not even call them rules—before he decides upon his course of conduct. Under circumstances, in my opinion, infinitely more trying, they have shown themselves capable of arriving at right decisions. If we offer these broad guides to our officers in these anxious and dangerous times, if there are guides of a positive character, there is surely one guide which we can offer them of a negative character. There is surely one general prohibition which we can make. I mean a prohibition against what is called "frightfulness." What I mean by frightfulness is the inflicting of great slaughter or massacre upon a particular crowd of people, with the intention of terrorising not merely the rest of the crowd, but the whole district or the whole country.
§ Lieut.-General CROFT
Was not the frightfulness started three days before? Was not the frightfulness on the other side?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
Hon. Members will have an opportunity of catching my eye, and I would ask them to wait, and not try to deliver their speeches in fragments.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
We cannot admit this doctrine in any form. Frightfulness is not a remedy known to the British pharmacopœia. I yield to no one in my detestation of Bolshevism, and of the revolutionary violence which precedes it. I share with my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson) many of his sentiments as to the world-wide character of the seditious and revolutionary movement with which we are confronted. But my hatred of Bolshevism and Bolsheviks is 1729 not founded on their silly system of economics, or their absurd doctrine of an impossible equality. It arises from the bloody and devastating terrorism which they practice in every land into which they have broken, and by which alone their criminal regime can be maintained. I have heard the hon. Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) speak on this subject. His doctrine and his policy is to support and palliate every form of terrorism as long as it is the terrorism of revolutionaries against the forces of law, loyalty and order. Governments who have seized upon power by violence and by usurpation have often resorted to terrorism in their desperate efforts to keep what they have stolen, but the august and venerable structure of the British Empire, where lawful authority descends from hand to hand and generation after generation, does not need such aid. Such ideas are absolutely foreign to the British way of doing things.
These observations are mainly of a general character, but their relevance to the case under discussion can be well understood, and they lead me to the specific circumstances of the fusillade at the Jallianwallah Bagh. Let me marshal the facts. The crowd was unarmed, except with bludgeons. It was not attacking anybody or anything. It was holding a seditious meeting. When fire had been opened upon it to disperse it, it tried to run away. Pinned up in a narrow place considerably smaller than Trafalgar Square, with hardly any exits, and packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies, the people ran madly this way and the other. When the fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed upon the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for 8 or 10 minutes, and it stopped only when the ammunition had reached the point of exhaustion.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It stopped only when it was on the point of exhaustion, enough ammunition being retained to provide for the safety of the force on its return journey. If more troops had been available, says this officer, the casualties would have been greater in proportion.
1730 If the road had not been so narrow, the machine guns and the armoured cars would have joined in. Finally, when the ammunition had reached the point that only enough remained to allow for the safe return of the troops, and after 379 persons, which is about the number gathered together in this Chamber to-day, had been killed, and when most certainly 1,200 or more had been wounded, the troops, at whom not even a stone had been thrown, swung round and marched away. I deeply regret to find myself in a difference of opinion from many of those with whom, on the general drift of the world's affairs at the present time, I feel myself in the strongest sympathy; but I do not think it is in the interests of the British Empire or of the British Army, for us to take a load of that sort for all time upon our backs. We have to make it absolutely clear, some way or other, that this is not the British way of doing business.
I shall be told that it "saved India." I do not believe it for a moment. The British power in India does not stand on such foundations. It stands on much stronger foundations. I am going to refer to the material foundations of our power very bluntly. Take the Mutiny as the datum line. In those days, there were normally 40,000 British troops in the country, and the ratio of British troops to native troops was one to five. The native Indian Army had a powerful artillery, of which they made tremendous use. There were no railways, no modern appliances, and yet the Mutiny was effectively suppressed by the use of a military power far inferior to that which we now possess in India. Since then the British troops have been raised to 70,000 and upwards, and the ratio of British to native troops is one to two. There is no native artillery of any kind. The power and the importance of the artillery has increased in the meantime 10 and perhaps 20-fold. Since then a whole series of wonderful and powerful war inventions have come into being, and the whole apparatus of scientific war is at the disposal of the British Government in India—machine guns, the magazine rifle, cordite ammunition, which cannot be manufactured as gunpowder was manufactured except by a scientific power, and which is all stored in the magazines under the control of the white troops. Then there have been the great develop- 1731 ments which have followed the conquest of the air and the evolution of the aeroplane. Even if the railways and the telegraphs were cut or rendered useless by a strike, motor lorries and wireless telegraphy would give increasingly the means of concentrating troops, and taking them about the country with an extraordinary and almost undreamed-of facility. When one contemplates these solid, material facts, there is no need for foolish panic, or talk of its being necessary to produce a situation like that at Jallianwallah Bagh in order to save India. On the contrary, as we contemplate the great physical forces and the power at the disposal of the British Government in their relations with the native population of India, we ought to remember the words of Macaulay—and then was seen what we believe to be the most frightful of all spectacles, the strength of civilisation without its mercy.Our reign in India or anywhere else has never stood on the basis of physical force alone, and it would be fatal to the British Empire if we were to try to base ourselves only upon it. The British way of doing things, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India, who feels intensely upon this subject, has pointed out, has always meant and implied close and effectual co-operation with the people of the country. In every part of the British Empire that has been our aim, and in no part have we arrived at such success as in India, whose princes spent their treasure in our cause, whose brave soldiers fought side by side with our own men, whose intelligent and gifted people are co-operating at the present moment with us in every sphere of government and of industry. It is quite true that in Egypt last year there was a complete breakdown of the relations between the British and the Egyptian people. Every class and every profession seemed united against us. What are we doing? We are trying to rebuild that relationship. For months, Lord Milner has been in Egypt, and now we are endeavouring laboriously and patiently to rebuild from the bottom that relation between the British administration and the people of Egypt which we have always enjoyed in the past, and which it was so painful for us to feel had been so suddenly ruptured. It is not a question of force. We had plenty of force, if force were all that was needed.
1732 What we want is co-operation and goodwill, and I beseech hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to look at the whole of this vast question, and not merely at one part of it. If the disastrous breakdown which has occurred in a comparatively small country like Egypt, if this absolute rupture between the British administration and the people of the country had taken place throughout the mighty regions of our Indian Empire, it would have constituted one of the most melancholy events in the history of the world. That it has not taken place up to the present is, I think, largely due to the constructive policy of His Majesty's Government, to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India has made so great a personal contribution. I was astonished by my right hon. Friend's sense of detachment when, in the supreme crisis of the War, he calmly journeyed to India, and remained for many months absorbed and buried in Indian affairs. It was not until I saw what happened in Egypt, and, if you like, what is going on in Ireland to-day, that I appreciated the enormous utility of such service, from the point of view of the national interests of the British Empire, in helping to keep alive that spirit of comradeship, that sense of unity and of progress in co-operation, which must ever ally and bind together the British and Indian peoples.
I do not conceal from the House my sincere personal opinion that General Dyer's conduct deserved not only the loss of employment from which so many officers are suffering at the present time, not only the measure of censure which the Government have pronounced, but also that it should have been marked by a distinct disciplinary act, namely, his being placed compulsorily upon the retired list. But we have only to turn to page 20 of the statement of General Dyer, we have only to cast our mind back to the most powerful passage in the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson) to see that such a course was barred.
It is quite true that General Dyer's conduct has been approved by a succession of superiors above him who pronounced his defence, and that at different stages events have taken place which, it may well be argued, amount to virtual condonation so far as a penal or disciplinary action is concerned. General Dyer may have done wrong, but at any rate he has his rights, and I do 1733 not see how in face of such virtual condonation as is set out on page 20 of this able document, it would have been possible, or could have been considered right, to take disciplinary action against him. For these reasons the Cabinet found themselves in agreement with the conclusions of the Army Council, and to those moderate and considered conclusions we confidently invite the assent of the House.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I have heard this afternoon so much sound and excellent doctrine from the Treasury Bench, notwithstanding an occasional deviation in one or two of his intercalary perorations from my right hon. Friend (Mr. Churchill) who has just sat down, that I shall content myself with two or three observations. The issue, as far as the Debate has gone, is reduced to a very narrow point. I assume that we have heard, as we always do here from such a consumate advocate as my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson), the full strength of the case that can be made against the Government decision. To what does that case amount? My right hon. and learned Friend has not attempted to justify General Dyer's action on the merits. He made no attempt of any sort or kind to meet the points which have been submitted to the Committee by the Secretary of State for War. He had two suggestions, and two only, to support his general allegation of hardship and grievance. The first was an extraordinary one—that General Dyer had not had a trial General Dyer's case has been considered on his own evidence before the Hunter Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] By what I think was an unfortunate decision, many of the witnesses who were available were not called and examined.
His case was considered on his own evidence before the Hunter Committee. Both the majority and the minority agree in their condemnation, and their judgment is supported and endorsed by the Government of India. It is confirmed not only by the Secretary of State, but by the full Cabinet here. Then he represents his case, as he has done in the last few weeks, in an ex parte statement of his own, to the Army Council. The Army Council reconsider the case, and come to the same decision which had been arrived at by the other authorities. To say in these circumstances that he has not had 1734 a fair hearing, and ought to have another opportunity of saying whatever he can say in defence of his conduct, seems to me to be an abuse of language. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that General Dyer was commended at the time by his superior officer, the Divisional General, and by the Lieutenant-Governor. Undoubtedly, that is the case. Whether they were then in full possession of the facts, I do not know. Whether they were impartial judges in the circumstances, I do not know. There was much excitement, feverish hectic excitement, in the atmosphere. They had very little opportunity of making dispassionate inquiry. They may very well, with the best intentions and, as far as they could, with the soundest judgment in the world, have come to a conclusion which subsequent reflection and further investigation could not have justified. But on the merits, what is to be said? I was anxious to hear, and I have not heard from the right hon. and learned Member, anything which could in any way impugn the correctness and force of the decision concurrently arrived at by so many authorities.
The case is as simple a case as has ever been presented in this House. Undoubtedly on the 10th April—I do not go into the larger question whether there was or was not evidence of a conspiracy in the Punjab—very serious riot occurred which involved both arson and murder. That was put down. During the three days which elapsed from the 10th to the 13th of April there had been no outbreak. My right hon. Friend spoke of those days as very dark and rife with murder. I do not know from what evidence he was speaking. I know of no such evidence of any sort. On the contrary, the riots were put down on the 10th. The 11th and 12th passed in perfect tranquillity, or, at any rate, there was no further offensive.
Here I must offer a word of criticism on a point which has not so far been referred to at all in the course of the discussion. I feel that it is deeply to be deplored and reprehended that the civil authority abdicated their function, and handed over something very much in the nature of a carte blanche to the general in command. I do not know who they were. I have no knowledge of that. But it is the worst example, and in India particularly it is a very bad example. When a situation of that kind 1735 arises, the civil authority, according to our law, which is the law of India, should remain ultimately responsible for the maintenance of law and the preservation of order. They were guilty of a gross dereliction of duty in divesting themselves, or trying to divest themselves, of their function, and handing the whole thing over to the discretion of the military authorities. I cannot help thinking—I am obliged to say it—that if the civil officers at Amritsar had, at the beginning of the transaction, taken a proper sense of the duty their office had imposed upon them, and had controlled and directed, at any rate supervised, subsequent military operations, it is quite possible that this terrible incident of the 13th might never have occurred. It is only fair, and a matter of justice, to General Dyer to say this, that in what I conceive to be terrible error of judgment and even worse, he had not in this very critical and responsible situation the advantage, which he was entitled to have, which the Executive ought to have given him, of the assistance and advice of the civil authority, familiar with all the local circumstances, and ultimately responsible for the maintenance of order. But, that criticism having been made, two days passed in tranquility, at any rate without further outrage. The General saw fit to prohibit the holding of a public meeting, and he went round the town with an escort and with drums for the purpose of communicating that prohibition to the population. The meeting, nevertheless, was held. As my right hon. Friend has just pointed out, it was a meeting of unarmed persons. I think that I am right in saying that there were women and children there as well as men. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
§ Mr. ASQUITH
Be it so. I believe that there were boys, but be it so. It was an unarmed crowd, in a closed space, from which the exits were few and narrow. There is no evidence, nor could there be, that the bulk of the people were aware of the proclamation which had been issued earlier in the day. General Dyer with his troops, giving no warning of any sort or kind, fires indiscriminately into this mass of people until he has prac- 1736 tically exhausted the whole of his available ammunition. There has never been such an incident in the whole annals of Anglo-Indian history, nor, I believe, in the history of our Empire, from its very inception down to the present day. To ask the House of Commons—that is what is being done to-day—to reverse the considered decision, given after hearing everything that General Dyer had to say or put forward to all these responsible authorities, to reverse that decision upon no new facts—take General Dyer's statement: judge him on that—is not only to fly in the face of the presumptions of evidence and the rules of commonsense and the practice of all civil and judicial tribunals, but is something much worse than that. It is for the House of Commons to take upon itself, on behalf of the British Empire as a whole, the responsibility of condoning and adopting one of the worst outrages in the whole of our history. I do not go into any of the other features of the case. That is the simple issue which is before us here, and, for my part, as far as I can command any authority or confidence among others in this House of Commons, it is an occasion on which I ask my friends to give their hearty support to the Government in the course which they have taken.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SPOOR
I beg to move that Item A [Salaries, £6,500] be reduced by £100.
I had hoped that when the Secretary of State for India addressed the Committee he would have dealt at greater length with the grave situation in India at this moment as a result of the happenings of last year. I would like to say how very much I appreciate, and all the members of the Labour Party appreciate, the very definite declaration of the Secretary of State for India with regard to the question of the rule of force. I will only add this, that if the spirit that infused his speech infuses and directs the policy of the Government in Indian affairs in the months ahead, there is some chance of peaceful relations being re-established between that country and our own. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman reminded the House how extremely grave the situation is there. I wondered, as I heard 1737 some of the rather unseemly interruptions of him, whether those who took part in the interruptions realised what was happening in India at this moment, whether the interruptors knew that there was a wave of unrest that was full of dangerous possibilities, whether they realised that the reforms that were passed through this House and became an Act last year, and which it was hoped would shortly come into operation in India, were seriously prejudiced by the attitude of the Indian people as a direct result of the policy that led up to Amritsar. In this Debate I hope that the Committee will not lose sight of the attitude of the Indian people themselves. I am quite sure that the sentiment of which we have had abundant evidence this afternoon, the sentiment of sympathy with some officers to whom very direct reference has been made, is a sentiment not shared by many people outside this House. I would like to suggest to any Indian who may be present in the Chamber—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am sorry that for the moment I was not paying attention to the hon. Gentleman's remarks. If he will proceed, I will listen carefully.
§ Mr. SPOOR
I am extremely sorry if I have said anything not in accordance with ordinary procedure in our Debates. If what I have said was not in order, I withdraw it. I will put the matter this way: I would be extremely sorry if I thought that people outside the House of Commons, whether British or Indians, thought that the sentiment of which we have had evidence here to-day represented in any real degree the feeling of the people of this country. Only a fortnight ago there was held the largest conference of the Labour party that has ever been held in the history of the British Labour movement. At that conference delegates representing millions of organised workers met. A resolution dealing with this question of Amritsar was submitted to the conference. It was a resolution that, I suppose, would be described by some Members here as somewhat extreme in character. It was a resolution which asked for the recall of the Viceroy, for the impeachment of Sir 1738 Michael O'Dwyer, for the trial before the Courts of Justice of all those officers against whom allegations have been made, and it asked for the immediate repeal of all that repressive and coercive legislation which more than anything else has contributed to the present unhappy state of affairs in India. That resolution expressed the considered opinion of the Labour party outside the House of Commons. It was a resolution framed by men not unfamiliar with the Indian situation, and it commanded the unanimous support of the whole conference. In all seriousness, I submit that that resolution and the sentiment that was in evidence at the conference much more correctly express what I believe to be the general feeling of the public in this country than the exhibition we have had here this afternoon.
The right hon. and learned Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) said, "Let us be fair to a distinguished soldier." I want to be fair to the hundreds of Indians who have lost their lives. I want to be fair to the children who were bombed by British officers from aeroplanes. I am quite sure that no reasonable being could attempt for a single moment the defence of many of the horrible acts that took place, and when we ask for justice for our own generals and officers—and I hope justice will be done to them—let us also insist upon equal justice for the people of India themselves. I would like to refer to the broad facts of the Indian situation as it existed in the time immediately preceding these events. Those of us who took any part in the Indian Debates last year had abundant evidence of the extraordinary outburst of political opinion, the extraordinary awakening of political consciousness, to which reference has been made already to-day. During the War promises were made to the Indian people and in a measure an attempt was made in the Act of last year to give effect to those promises. Yet at the same time that we were promising the people of India that we would apply the principle of self-determination to the country and give them Home Rule, those activities were countered by repressive legislation throughout India and more particularly in the Punjab; they were countered not only by repressive legislation, but by acts that have been rightly described here as acts of unrestrained Prussianism. The inevitable happened. The Secretary of State for India in his 1739 despatch has condemned General Dyer very severely. He speaks of him as having on one occasion violated every canon of civilised government. Even the Government of India seems to regret the inhumanity of this British officer.
§ Mr. SPOOR
If the hon. Member will wait a moment, I will answer his query. I am going to suggest that the Government of India share a great measure of responsibility for this tragedy. The Government of India were behind the policy that led up to these unfortunate events. But even the Government of India regretted the inhumanity of General Dyer. I want to suggest that Amritsar is not an isolated event any more than General Dyer is an isolated officer. These are not things that can be judged apart, if they resulted from a certain policy that some men have pursued, from a certain mentality that some men seem to possess in India in a most extraordinary degree. Talking about the curious mentality of some Anglo-Indians, may I be permitted to quote one short paragraph from the evidence of the Brigadier-General commanding the Delhi Brigade. It is taken from volume one, page 172 of the evidence:Composed, as the crowd was, of the scum of Delhi, I am of opinion that if they had got a bit more firing given them it would have done them a world of good, and their attitude would be much more amenable and respectful, as force is the only thing that an Asiatic has any respect for.I put it that if that is a typical example of a British officer in India—
§ Mr. SPOOR
If it is not a typical example, I would ask, is that British officer still in India? Is he still in a position of authority or has he been called upon to resign? I said that the happenings in India resulted from a certain policy, on the one hand, and a curious mentality on the other. As far as the Punjab was concerned, the policy was obviously that of Sir Michael O'Dwyer. On page 92 of the Hunter Commission Report the Minority point out that his speech in the Legislative Council, in September, 1917, was regarded as an attack on the educated classes, that he prohibited during his administration certain political leaders 1740 from entering the Punjab, and that he put the Press Act more rigorously into operation in the Punjab than elsewhere. In a word, his administration was tyrannical. He revealed no qualities of statesmanship.
§ Mr. SPOOR
Yes. He revealed no qualities of statesmanship; he showed always a blunt reliance on force. It was Sir Michael O'Dwyer who was primarily responsible for the use of aeroplanes at Gujranwala. In connection with that raid, I believe, bombs were actually dropped into the playground of a school. According to the Congress report, all disorder that had occurred in Gujranwala had actually ceased before the aeroplanes arrived and began their bombardment. I submit that Sir Michael O'Dwyer and those like him typify that kind of Anglo-Indian who is the greatest menace to the security of the Empire and the greatest barrier to the progressive realisation of responsible government in India. Behind Sir Michael O'Dwyer we have the Viceroy, and he cannot by any manner of means evade his responsibility in this crisis.
§ Earl WINTERTON
On a point of Order. It is not in Order to criticise the action of the Viceroy of Ireland, save on a Substantive Motion. I submit that by the rulings of successive Speakers it is equally out of order to criticise the doings of the Viceroy of India in his executive capacity without putting down a Substantive Motion.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The Noble Lord is quite right. It is not in order to discuss the conduct of the Viceroy except upon a Motion put down for that purpose.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
When the Mesopotamia Report was discussed in this House the conduct of the Viceroy was attacked then, and no ruling was made that such an attack was not to be allowed. I think we ought to protest at once against the idea that we are not to be allowed to criticise the actions of the Viceroy and Executive of India in this Debate.
§ Mr. SPOOR
I was speaking of the Viceroy as the President and representative of the Indian Government. The 1741 Indian Government, as the overruling authority, cannot possibly evade their responsibilities in this matter. I am one of those—and I am sure there are many others in the House—who do not like the idea of General Dyer being made a scapegoat of in connection with these matters. The truly responsible persons must be discovered, and, without vindictiveness, they must be punished, in justice to the people of India. Therefore, when I use the name of the Viceroy, I referred to him in his capacity as President and Governing Head of the Indian Government. I do submit respectfully one is not only entitled, but almost compelled, to make references to the Ruling Head of India in a Debate of this character, if we are to allocate responsibility in the fairest possible way. What I was going to say with regard to Lord Chelmsford I will leave unsaid, in deference to your ruling.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not discuss the actions of the Viceroy. He is entitled to refer to the actions of the Government of India.
§ Mr. SPOOR
I think it is quite clear that what one is criticising is the policy for which the Government have to be responsible, and a policy which, we argue, has contributed far more than has yet been admitted in this House to the serious situation that at present exists in this country. We therefore ask that the Head of the Indian Government and Sir Michael O'Dwyer should be dealt with in some way that would secure justice to the Indian people. I referred just now to the curious mentality of some Anglo-Indians. There may be some climatic explanation—one cannot tell—but the fact is there of the most extraordinary mentality which seems to possess some of those in positions of authority out in that country. India may be governed by consent; India will never again be governed by force. Any attempt to do so is to act contrary to the often declared principle that has governed the policy of His Majesty's Government, not only in India, but in all parts of the Empire. Every contributory cause to that extraordinary mentality must be removed.
In the present situation there are three courses open to the Government. The first one is the course that would be advocated by those who believe in General Dyer and his colleagues in India. The first course 1742 is a frank approval of the Head of the India Government, Sir Michael O'Dwyer, General Dyer, and all the other officers who have been implicated in these matters, for you cannot discriminate between one and the other. The second course is the one that has apparently been followed up to now by the Secretary of State for India, and that is approval of the Indian Government and approval of Sir Michael O'Dwyer, but condemnation of General Dyer, who, after all, is the instrument of their will. The third course, and the only logical course, if we are to expect consistency at all, is to be found in the pursuance of the liberal spirit which is supposed to inspire the reforms of last year, and which we were told this afternoon aims at leading the people of India into liberty. If this last course is followed, it obviously involves the condemnation of all those who have been responsible for this reactionary policy. We of the Labour party, and I speak for all my colleagues, stand for the last course as the only one which is consistent with our national honour and obligation. It involves the recall of the Head of the Indian Government, the trial of Sir Michael O'Dwyer, General Dyer and the others implicated, a trial in His Majesty's Courts of Justice. I may, in passing, submit that they will probably have a more judicial hearing and receive a more impartial trial there than they are likely to secure from the colums of the "Morning Post" or the columns of the "Times."
Last of all, and to me it is really more important, our Government should take action in this matter and immediately repeal all that repressive and coercive and totally unnecessary legislation which has defaced the Statute Book in India, and which has had no other effect than to promote continual irritation and dissatisfaction. Unless that legislation is immediately repealed and the people of India are made to realise that they are in the Empire on equal terms, so far as their ordinary rights are concerned, with every British citizen, there is not the slightest hope of peace in that country. If the Government do not do this, then it is impossible to say what the consequences will be, and the situation in India will not improve. I have referred to the feeling of bitter indignation that swept and is still sweeping over India, and you are not going to remove that feeling by 1743 calling on the British general who happened to lose his head to resign. You have got to go a great deal further. You will only do it by showing, unmistakably, that the policy of governing India by a military policy has been abandoned, and by getting rid of the pre-historic mental outlook which possesses individuals out there, and is the foundation of unrest in India. I wonder how familiar Members are with the movement that has recently been initiated in India, and which is calling upon the Indian people to refuse to co-operate in the working of the Act that was passed last year. It is a movement which has spread with great rapidity, and it is a movement which has the support, not only of the extremists, but also of moderate men, and it is a movement which, if it is persisted in and developed, will most certainly make the working of reforms altogether impossible. I am one of those who want to see the people of India really free. I hope to God they are not going to wade through blood to get that freedom, but if we want to destroy this non-co-operation movement, and to remove the justification for it, we can only do so in so far as we are prepared to do justice to the people of India in regard to the tragedies of last year. Some of us hope much from the reforms which were passed. Some of us believed we were present at the birth of a new understanding between East and West. Those hopes will never be realised, unless the Government is prepared to act with courage and decision, and unless the Government is prepared to repudiate in the most emphatic manner possible those men whose policy, if continued, will surely wreck all possibilities of co-operation between an awakened India and ourselves.
Lieut.-General Sir AYLMER HUNTERWESTON
Speaking as one who has had the privilege of serving for some years with native troops in India, and who, during those years, had the opportunity of getting into close friendship with men of many different races, castes and religions, I venture to appeal to the House to speak on the subject of the regrettable occurrences in India with moderation, with a full feeling of responsibility, and with a knowledge of the great harm that may be done by an intemperate speech either on one side or the other. There is a great danger of acerbating feeling 1744 between the British section of the population of India, and that great agglomeration of different races, of different religions, and indeed of different civilisations that we are apt to class as one under the name of the Indian people. The truth is, that the races in that great subcontinent, which is as big as all Europe outside Russia, differ from each other more than some of them do from us, and far more than the various races of Europe do from each other. There is undoubtedly at present a certain strain in the relationship between some of the British population in India and some sections of the native races, and to increase this feeling by any words said here to-day would be to do a grievous disservice to our country. To cause bad feeling is easy, to allay bad feeling once roused is difficult. Wounds caused by a knife or by the tongue are often much easier to make than to heal, and this must be my excuse for venturing to appeal for moderation in a matter in which feeling on both sides runs very high.
Others will speak of the Hunter Commission as a whole. I confine myself only to the case of General Dyer. Colonel (temporary Brigadier-General) Reginald Dyer, of the Indian Army, has spent most of his life in India, and has done good service both on the Staff and in command of troops in war. He did especially good service in command of the Brigade which, in May, 1919, dispersed the Afghans who were besieging Thall, at the foot of the Kuram Valley, on the Afghan frontier. General Dyer, by his actions in 1918 and 1919 at Jullundur and Phillour, and again after the Jallianwala Bagh incident, in his action in conjunction with the Sikh authorities, has proved that he is not a man who desires to use force for the sake of force. He is an officer who has been successful on more than one occasion in dealing with threatening situations without the use of force.
In considering this case there are two important points that should be kept constantly in mind by all speaking on this subject. The first point is that the Report and Proceedings of Lord Hunter's "Disorders Enquiries Committee," is not evidence that could be accepted against any man in either a Civil or Military Court. Dyer is a soldier, a man of action, unused to subtleties of speech. He had no lawyer to assist him, while 1745 he had against him clever Indian lawyers, than whose brains none are more acute or subtle. What a man is reported to say under such conditions conveys a very misleading impression of his real opinions. As the Report of the Hunter Committee could not be used either for or against him in a court of law, it should not be used as a basis of any attack or defence of him, either here in Parliament or outside.
The second point is that we ought to know what the law is as regards the action of the military when called upon to act in aid of the civil power. That law is in principle the same in India as in England, but in India it is codified and clearly laid down in the Indian Civil Code of Criminal Procedure. The Indian Army Regulations, in laying down the course to be adopted in dispersing unlawful assemblies, merely quotes the relevant Sections of the Indian Civil Code of Criminal Procedure, and orders soldiers to be guided by it, thus affirming the great principle of British law that all citizens, whether soldiers or civilians, are equally bound to use all means in their power to uphold law and order. Owing to our having here in Great Britain powerful and well-organised police forces, we have most of us forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that it is the duty of each of us to assist in maintaining law and order, and that a magistrate, or policeman, or other officer of the peace, can call upon any of us to assist in the repression of disorder or crime, and that it is a misdemeanour if we do not do all in our power to help. The fact that a man wears uniform in no way alters his duty in this respect in the eyes of the law. His individual responsibility as a citizen persists, although as a soldier he is collectively employed. In fact, the action of the military in aid of the civil power is essentially individual responsibility collectively employed.
The law on the subject may be summarised very shortly. Once the civil authorities have called on a military commander to restore order, that commander has to deal with the situation committed to his charge to the best of his ability, with the means, and on the information, then available to him, being guided by these general principles: (1) that he must use the minimum force which he considers necessary to restore order; (2) 1746 that he is to do as little damage to life and property as is consistent with the restoration of order; (3) that even when he is put in charge he is not to use force if he does not think it necessary, but that once he has determined that force must necessarily be used, he must act immediately and without hesitation, remembering that, though to use too much force is reprehensible, it is even more reprehensible to use less than the necessary minimum, for to do so would endanger the safety not only of his own troops, but also of that portion of the populace of whose security and interests he has been made the temporary guardian. The learned civil judge, Baron Alderson, laid down many years ago that:The law would fall far short of what is needed for the preservation of society if it did not allow all necessary means to be taken for dispersing or otherwise putting an end to unlawful assemblies or insurrections. The law therefore declares that an unlawful assembly may be dispersed although it has committed no acts of violence, for it is better that individuals should be stopped before they proceed to violence or outrage.These are the principles which are clearly laid down for our guidance, and are continually drummed into all Army officers from their earliest days. To allow anything in the nature of Prussian "frightfulness" is entirely abhorrent to the British nation, and, therefore, to the British Army, for, as I said in this House before, when I had the honour of addressing it for the first time, in the dark days of War, the Army and the nation are one. Soldiers of all ranks are ordinary British citizens temporarily carrying out certain necessary duties. They come from, and return into, every corner of our land and every class of our people. It is of the first importance to the Army, and, therefore, to the nation, that it should be clearly understood that no responsible British commander of high rank, and no British Government, would or could permit any contravention of the above principles, which have governed our actions from time immemorial, and which are the same for all citizens, whether soldiers or civilians. It is essential for the well-being of the State that the Army should be looked upon as a national institution, which has the confidence and approbation of all right-thinking citizens, and that it should never be looked upon as a menace to well-ordered civil liberty.
1747 These are the principles which will have guided the Military Commander-in-Chief in India when he had to decide on the case of General Dyer, and these same principles are those which will have guided the Army Council, whose unpleasant duty it has been to adjudicate on this case. If these two authorities, entirely separate the one from the other, and the latter far removed in time, in space, and in sentiment, from the occurrences in India, have both decided that General Dyer should be relieved of his command, we may be sure that he has been fairly treated, and that no good, either to him, or to the Army, or to the country at large, can be done by assailing a judgment come to by responsible soldiers, who have the full confidence of the Army and the nation, who have the facts fully before them, and have the best legal advice at their disposal. We here and now in the House of Commons are not in that position, and it would be contrary to all our best British traditions that we should, in our privileged position here, assail a judgment so carefully and fairly formed. I would therefere appeal to those who rightly desire to defend a fine soldier, who did what he felt to be his terrible duty, not to attack those other eminent soldiers whose painful duty it has been to adjudicate on this case. Especially would I appeal to them not to say anything that can be quoted in the difficult days that lie ahead of us, as showing that men in the high and responsible position of Members of Parliament approved of anything being said or done which could give colour to the assertion of the ill-disposed, that the British Army might be used as an instrument of oppression.
I wish to make it quite clear that I entirely approve of the action taken by the Commander-in-Chief in India and by the Army Council.
Turning now to those whose generous feelings of sympathy with the relatives of those who lost their lives at the Jullianwala Bagh prompt them to condemn General Dyer utterly, and to call upon the Government to punish him still further, I would again urge moderation in the expression of opinions in this House, remembering the great harm that our words may do, both in embittering feeling in India, and in adding still further to the difficulties of those who in 1748 the future have to carry out the first duty of a citizen, which is to uphold law and order. The strong men, the men of character, of whom we have so many in this great nation, will not be deterred from doing their duty whatever may be the cost of their actions to themselves. Throughout the last few years men have been risking life and reputation in their resolve to do their bit for their country, and both now and in the future the best of our race will willingly sacrifice all, including, if necessary, their honour, to carry out what they consider to be their duty. But all men are not cast in this mould, and a hasty word to-day may well lay on the back of one of the weaker brethren a burden heavier than he can bear, with consequent disaster, not only to himself, but to the State and many law-abiding citizens.
Before we, in this peaceful and beautiful homeland of ours—and surely anyone who has survived the perils of these years of war must realise, as never before, the wonderful beauty and peace of our land, and the spirit of hope, constancy, and determination that it breathes into us now, as it has into our ancestors in the past—I say, before we in the peace of Great Britain and in the security of this House venture to express an opinion on actions taken in a clime, in a place, and in circumstances so very different from our own, we should try to picture to ourselves the situation on that hot April day in the dusty sun-baked streets of the City of Amritsar. We here have practically forgotten the horrors of the mutiny in India in 1857, and so had most folk in India, but, alas, the recent occurrences have brought them back all too forcibly to the minds and recollections of the small band of British men and women scattered over that great land. Every civil and military authority could not but remember that it was the natural reluctance to take the immediate and drastic action necessary to check the Mutiny in its inception, that led to the terrible sufferings and the heroic deaths of British women and children, of British civilians, and of soldiers, both British and Indian, who fell, not in hundreds, but in hundreds of thousands, during those terrible months.
General Dyer had to deal at Amritsar with no mere ordinary case of temporary assistance to the Civil Power in face of 1749 a local riot, but with a situation which had been in existence for some time, and which before General Dyer's arrival had led to the murder of Europeans, to an assault on an Englishwoman, to loss of life among natives, and to much damage to property. It was a situation which, in the opinion of the Civil Authority, had become so dangerous as to be beyond the competence of the Civil Power. Let me read to you the terms, of the written order given by the Civil Authority to General Dyer on his arrival on the night of the 11th April, 1919:The troops have orders to restore order in Amritsar and to use all force necessary. No gatherings of persons nor processions of any sort will be allowed. All gatherings will be fired on.This same notice is endorsed by the Civil Authorities as having been given out to several of the citizens on the 11th April, two days before the incident at Jullianwala Bagh.
In order to understand a man's action in any past occurrence, it is essential to realise the situation as it presented itself to that man at that time. Let us therefore try to visualise General Dyer's position as he approached the Jullianwala Bagh on the 13th April. At 4 o'clock on that hot afternoon, General Dyer receives notice from the Superintendent of Police that a crowd is assembling in the Jullianwala Bagh, a little park in Amritsar City, an assembly which, in such an atmosphere, cannot but be a great potential danger to law-abiding citizens, both British and Native. With the mere handful of men at his disposal, he marches to the scene to disperse, as is his duty, this grave menace to law and order. To get there, he has to march far, and to pass through the curious narrow streets, that all who have been to Amritsar, as I have, will well remember. Long before he arrives, his approach is heralded. News travels fast in such circumstances.
On arriving at the entrance to the park, he finds himself in face of a huge assembly of many thousand people. They appear to him to be in a dangerous mood, and he knows that it is possible that they are armed with lathis—long bamboo clubs, often ringed with iron, dangerous weapons in hand to hand fighting. The nearest men are within a few yards of him, and a determined rush may easily overwhelm his little force of fifty native soldiers 1750 armed with rifles, and forty armed only with kukris, the Gurkha knives. He and his men are isolated in a big city; narrow streets are behind them; both flanks and rear are open to attack; no reinforcements are within reach; and if this little band of guardians of law and order are overwhelmed, there is nothing to hold in check the instigators of crime and insurrection; there is nothing to prevent a continuation of the murder, looting and arson, that had occurred three days before. Indeed, it might well be that any hesitation on his part, any failure to use, and to use at once, the necessary force, might be the spark which would set alight the conflagration of another mutiny.
Let us close our eyes and imagine that scene, and then pray that if ever such a terrible responsibility were to be put upon us, we might have the strength of character, the courage, and determination to decide rightly and to act immediately. For a commander in the field to order an attack, however carefully prepared, and however great the chances of success, is a heavy responsibility, and a most distasteful duty, because, however valuable to his country may be the results of the attack, he knows that the price must be the death of many of his friends and comrades, and possibly of himself. But much more terrible is the responsibility, and much more trying the situation, of a commander in circumstances such as those which confronted General Dyer. I appeal for moderation. Let him only who has faced a similar situation venture to condemn him.
§ 7.0 P.M
§ Lieut.-Colonel JAMES
It is with some diffidence that I venture to address the Committee for the first time. I would also mention that I have no direct acquaintance with India. Therefore, my diffidence is twofold in speaking on an Indian subject. At the same time, I would submit that this question is not so much one affecting the Indian Empire as affecting justice, as I imagine it. Great play, I understand, was made, during my absence for a short time from the Committee, by two hon. Members, who suggested that General Dyer and others connected with these distressing occurrences in the Punjab should be impeached and punished. It is an old principle of English justice, as I understand, that no man should twice stand in peril for the same offence, and those who wish to put General 1751 Dyer up against the wall and shoot him out of hand had much better do so without further trial, but not talk of justice. I fully second the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Member who preceded me. I am all for moderation, but I am equally all for justice. In the past, committees and courts of inquiry on this, that, and the other subject have been called together. If you consider them, you will very often find, alas! that they have either been to find a scapegoat or to whitewash somebody in authority. I must confess that I was not a little interested when the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) addressed this Committee, because, though perhaps the Statute of Limitations bars the remark, I seem to recollect something about an incident at Featherstone some years ago, which produced recriminations not unlike those we are experiencing to-day.
Before I turn to these courts of inquiry, I should like to carry my mind back a little. The other day in this House, the Government of Ireland Bill was being debated, and, in the course of the Debate, glowing references were made to the loyal conduct of the Royal Irish Constabulary when faced by circumstances of very great difficulty and danger. All Members of the House practically united in saying that the conduct of the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary had been beyond reproach. Further, to the best of my recollection, the First Lord of the Admiralty said, in the course of his speech, that not always had these men received the support of the Government. I have been abroad—not in India—and I have noticed there that, thanks to the blue water which is between some of those foreign countries and this House, very often an English official has not received that support from the Home Government to which, I will not say he was entitled, but which he had every reason to expect. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War mentioned Egypt in the course of his remarks this afternoon. He said that in Egypt we were faced with a similar situation of anarchy. It has been my honour and my privilege to serve a good many years in Egypt, and I contend that the reason for that situation at the present moment is that a great number of our superior officials have not been supported as they had every right to expect. It is not in place to mention names, and I cannot do 1752 so, but believe me that is the situation. Lord Cromer is dead. Beyond that, I will say no more, but he has been succeeded by others, and I would not like to affirm that sometimes those who have succeeded him have not been supported owing to factitious agitation in this country, which has not been in the good interests of the Egyptian population any more than in the good interests of the English public services.
With regard to committees and courts of inquiry, to which I alluded, they are nominally judicial, but when you come to think of it, there are no rules of procedure which govern their deliberations. The persons who are examined before these committees are not, as a rule, represented by legal advice, and, in the case of a soldier, a man who has spent his whole life, not in the courts, but on the parade ground, it is impossible to expect him to vie with the skilful advocates whom he is likely to meet on the other side. I will go further. These committess have their proceedings transcribed. As I have said, the laws governing the ordinary conduct of a legal tribunal are not necessarily observed. Incriminating answers may be demanded of a witness. It is true he need not answer them, but if he is not a skilled witness, how is he to know whether the answer is incriminating or otherwise? The proceedings of these committees and courts of inquiry are sent in manuscript to the Army Council. It is incredible that any body of men can give a fair and reasoned judgment on any case—unless it be a Chancery case, which deals with simple matters of fact—on any case involving the freedom and liberty of the subject, on manuscript alone. It is the difference, to my mind, between reading a play and seeing a play. If you go to a theatre, you see a play, and it. is all visualised for you. But the moment you take the visualised evidence, the chances are that you will go very wrong, very often even on points of fact. When General Dyer put in his statement to the Army Council, one would have thought that the natural thing to have done would have been to send for General Dyer and to send for the President of the Court, if available, and ask for oral explanation. I understand that that procedure is never followed in the War Office, and I think that that alone vitiates the virtue of an appeal, because, 1753 unless you can have a man—the President of a tribunal—face to face, and ask what was the general demeanour of this witness or that witness, and whether his evidence was given in a satisfactory manner, I contend that you cannot form a proper judgment on a case.
One point which has been insisted upon time after time is that the crowd in Jallianwala Bagh were unarmed. As the hon. and gallant Member who preceded me stated, they were armed, not with rifles or pistols, but with lethal weapons of considerable strength, and they were opposed by a mere handful of fifty men. The Secretary of State for War suggested that conciliation should have been the right method, and that a dish of cream should have been placed before the angry cat in order that he might purr. The force used was deplorable, and nobody regrets it more than I do. Innocent lives were lost—because they were lost—sacrificed, thanks to the agitator sitting in his safe and comfortable office who incited these miserable dupes into the slaughter house. But that is not the question. They say that it was brutal and horrible to kill so many people. There are three ideas which occur to me. You cannot put out a fire in a warehouse, which has caught well alight, with a teacup. Equally, as has been said, if your house catches fire, it is no use telling the fireman, after he has put your fire out, that he has used too much water to do it. You cannot kill a tiger gently; I defy you to do it. Lastly, supposing a burglar came into your house, and you had a life-preserver, and hit him on the head with the intention of stunning him, it is impossible to say what force you would use. The only judge of the amount of force which could, and should, be used at that moment was General Dyer. He was faced with an unparelleled situation. There are certain speakers on one side who do not believe that a general mutiny was in the hatching. To those gentlemen I would merely refer the map which is in the official publication, showing the various places all over India where more or less synchronised attacks took place, or were threatened. To say that there was no general conspiracy on the strength of the fact that the Commission stated: "On the evidence before us we do not find there was a general conspiracy," is just as absurd as if you 1754 were to set up a court of inquiry in Ireland at the present time and say: "From the evidence before us we find that no constable has been killed "—for the very simple reason that we have called none. On these grounds I ask our friends to stand up for the cause of justice and fair play; above all, for moderation and goodwill towards the great mass of our loyal Indian peoples, who are the first to suffer if we do not stand by our own people.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I came down to the House very fully intentioned to make a very moderate statement, and to deal in my remarks with the wider question of the future of our government in India, rather than to speak on the actual case of General Dyer. I should like to congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just disappeared so rapidly after making his maiden speech; the whole House, I should say, will like to hear him again. I should like to refer for one moment to the hon. and gallant Member for Northampton, and the very fine speech in which he put the case of General Dyer admirably. He described the Amritsar events of that awful afternoon of 13th April. Yet I do not know whether everyone in the Committee heard the beginning of the speech. He appealed to hon. Members, as Members of this House, to support the decision of the Army Council because the Army Council had come to a decision. Really, the second part of the speech of my hon. Friend was a complete justification for anyone who votes against the decision of the Army Council. I want to say at once that as a Member of this House I am not prepared to abdicate not merely my rights but my duty of taking part in this Debate, and of supporting my convictions by my vote, and, if necessary, voting against the decision of the Army Council, which has been put forward for justification on the ground that it is a decision of the Army Council. What is the House of Commons for? What is this Debate for? I am glad to see that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State acknowledges the correctness of what I say as to what is the right and the duty of the House of Commons. We are here to debate questions, and to say what we believe to be right, not merely to confirm the views of some other body.
After all, we are, as I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley 1755 (Mr. Asquith) once described the House of Commons to be: "The great inquest of the nation." We are the last court to which General Dyer, or any other person aggrieved by the action of any Government Department, can come. General Dyer has appealed to the Commander-in-Chief. He has appealed to the Secretary of State. He has appealed to the Army Council. In the last resource he appeals to us. We have to decide the case. We have to decide one way or the other. My hon. and gallant Friend made a powerful appeal for moderation in regard to this matter. I do not intend to attack the Secretary of State. But I think I must say that a more disastrous speechply —and I say that with a sense of responsibility and the hope that my words may be believed has never been made on the Amritsar affair.
I have just returned from a visit to India and to Amritsar itself. Probably I am the last Member of this House who has been in Amritsar. I do not profess to have any opinion of my own. I do not think it would be right on the part of a Member, after a three months' tour in India, to express his own opinion; but I do say I have devoted my life to finding out the opinions of others. The opinions I am expressing in regard to Amritsar are held by at least 80 per cent. of the Indian civil servants throughout India and by 90 per cent. of the Europeans. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—I am telling him openly, as I told him before privately—has for some time past entirely lost the confidence of the Indian civil service throughout India. It is a very serious matter that that should be the case, but I say it advisedly and openly. The speech which he has made this afternoon will have utterly destroyed any little shred of confidence which was left to him, not merely in the minds of the Indian civil servants, but in the minds of the British Army in India. It is difficult for us to make a moderate speech in face of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, I admit, was willing to argue and was willing in his speech to discuss with us the question of whether General Dyer was right or wrong. The speech of the Secretary of State for India was merely one long vituperation of General Dyer and his 1756 action in India, and one long appeal to racial passion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley asked for a defence of General Dyer. He asked whether there was anybody in this House prepared to say that General Dyer did right. I am! I am prepared to say so. I am backed up in that opinion, as I say, by 80 per cent. of the Indian civilians and by 90 per cent. of the European population.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
In India. I devoted my time in India to seeing and speaking to everyone I could, both agitators as well as the governing classes. I did my best to form an accurate opinion. There is one person whose opinion I think may carry weight with this House. Hon. Members have heard of the lady missionary who was nearly killed in Amritsar on 10th April. I refer to Miss Sherwood. She has told the whole of the facts of the case, how she has lived for 15 years amongst the Indian population, how she was torn from her bicycle while riding to or from her work, how she was battered from head to feet, how she was left for dead, and how subsequently she was carried into a house, and after being there a little while had to be carried to another.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
By Indians, who were themselves attacked for having so carried her into the house. Miss Sherwood after her return to England, I think I am correct in saying, went to see the Secretary of State for India, and declined to accept any money compensation. She would not take blood-money from this country. I have seen her. I have seen General Dyer and Sir Michael O'Dwyer. Miss Sherwood has asked me to read to the House of Commons a letter which she has written, and I crave the indulgence of the Committee while I read it. It is a letter from an Englishwoman on the spot who, even after her ill-treatment, still hopes and intends to go back to the Punjab. She says:I have lived in the Amritsar neighbourhood for nearly fifteen years, and my work in connection with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society has brought me into close contact with the homes of the Punjab, both in village and city. Moreover, I was superintendent and manager of the City Mis- 1757 sion Schools for over 600 girls, Hindu and Mohammedan, at the time of the riots. As is known to you, I was almost killed on the 10th of April, and was, in fact, left for dead in the streets of Amritsar. I was picked up and carried into the Fort, where I lay for nineteen days before I could be removed to England. During that time I heard all about the further riots and the shooting on the 13th from people who were in touch with what was happening. In March people in the Amritsar bazaars were talking of striking. The prospect of the police even joining in was discussed.I want the Committee to realise the position of affairs in Amritsar and the whole of the Punjab.'Never mind if they don't, we ourselves will fight,' is a translation of the actual words used. On the day I was wounded I saw men tearing down poles from shop awnings and seizing hold of anything likely to serve for a weapon, and rushing out of the city to a given rendezvous.To teach the people that a wrong was done them (as seditionmongers are doing, backed by English people) is a cruel and wicked thing, and, far from mending matters, will make them infinitely worse. No Indian in writing or conversation with me has referred to the repression measures as other than meet and right under the circumstances. I should like to say that, loving the people as I do, having worked amongst them for years, and still hoping to go back to India, I am convinced that there was a real rebellion in the Punjab, and that General Dyer saved India and us from a repetition of the miseries and cruelties of 1857.I have letters from five other English missionary ladies who were in Amritsar at the time, and who went though this terrible time. All asked me to implore the House of Commons not to do this great wrong to General Dyer. One account says:The children had no milk, but only bully beef, and there were no sanitary conveniences in the Fort. We had a terrible time, recalling the days of the Mutiny, which was a very, very bad time for the English women and children.Another account:I was sixteen days in the Amritsar Fort in April, 1919, in consequence of the deplorable riots which took place, and I wish to do my part in strongly protesting against the injustice being done to General Dyer, who, I believe, did his duty and saved us from unspeakable horrors. I have lived in India longer even than Miss Sherwood, and love India's people very dearly, but in such crises only those on the spot can judge as to what action to take, and they, according to British tradition, should be justly treated.What was the condition of affairs before General Dyer struck his blow—this 1758 inevitable and necessary blow on 13th April? One would imagine, from all that is being said, that General Dyer, a bloodthirsty English officer, found this gathering perfectly peaceful on the Jullianwala Bagh, and had said, "We must destroy this crowd, we must fire merely for the love of firing." The whole of Northern India was in what amounted to revolt and rebellion in the early part of April, 1919. From Calcutta to Peshawar and from Lahore to Bombay there were sporadic revolts and riots all over the country.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am not now going into the causes. What we have got to face are the facts with which General Dyer had to deal, the knowledge that was within General Dyer's brain when he was called upon by the civil authorities to take a hand in this dispersal. I know there are political causes. I know there are political troubles in India, and there will be far worse political troubles in India in the near future.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am trying merely to give to the Committee what I believe to be the facts of the case. I want hon. Members to realise that General Dyer knew that he had charge of this whole district. In Lahore, the capital, there had been riots. I want to refer to those, because I notice in the "Times" newspaper this morning a leading article urging moderation and insisting on moderation. Why was it possible to stop the riots in Lahore by killing only, I think, eight people? Why was it not possible to do the same thing in Amritsar? If the leader writer in the "Times" had read the evidence of the Hunter Commission he would have seen that Lieut.-Colonel Johnston, who was in charge at Lahore, gave evidence before the Commission in which he said that the quieting of Lahore was due, as to 60 per cent., to the action of General Dyer at Amritsar. The action of General Dyer at Amritsar spread all through the Punjab and particularly quieted the town of Lahore. In Amritsar itself when these riots broke out they were directly anti-British and anti-Christian. The crowd attacked one of the English banks and murdered the 1759 English manager, and the English assistant they beat to death. They piled up the furniture and set fire to the whole place. Then they went to the Alliance Bank and murdered the manager. Afterwards they visited both the Town Hall and the Post Office and set fire to them. I brought back photographs of these places given to me by the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, and they showed these burned buildings where the bank managers were murdered, and building after building occupied by English residents and Christians were burnt.
The telegraph system was attacked and the railways, and wherever they could get hold of an English guard on the railway he was beaten to death. The station superintendent was nearly beaten to death, and an English sergeant was beaten to death. They went to an Army Hospital to get hold of another lady missionary, and she only escaped through the kindness and the loyalty of her Indian friends. They went to the Indian Christian Church and burned that. The Religious Tract Society's depot was burned, and they tried to get hold of the Church Missionary Society Girls' School. The state of things there on the 10th and the 11th of April did amount to a rebellion. The difference between myself and the Secretary of State for War is, whether there was a rebellion or not? If there was no rebellion but merely a local riot, then General Dyer could be rightly convicted of inhumanity and cruelty, but if there was a real rebellion, as I submit there was, and as the Commissioners found there was, then General Dyer's action was justified. It was a rebellion which might have led to almost anything; in fact, it was open rebellion.
It is not a question in these circumstances as to how far General Dyer should have gone, because he was at war with a section of the people of India, and a section of the people of India were at war with General Dyer. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) said that nothing happened between the 10th and the 13th of April. At that time the whole city was in the hands of the military. Soldiers had to be poured in, and the reason why General Dyer had only a few troops was because the troops were guarding every available place, protecting the European 1760 population. The whole city was picketed during the 11th and 12th of April. It was all one continuous operation, and not merely incidental firing on the part of General Dyer's force. The native populace had every possible warning. During the riot the military had to shoot in Amritsar, and some men were killed, and at their funeral on the 10th the following notice was issued:The troops have orders to restore order in Amritsar and to use all force necessary. No gatherings of persons nor processions of any sort will be allowed. All gatherings will be fired on. Any persons leaving the city in groups of more than four will be fired on. Respectable persons should keep indoors.On the night of the 11th of April General Dyer arrived, and on the 12th he marched round the city with as large a show of force as possible. As he marched the inhabitants were insolent and spat on the ground as the troops passed, but amid all this provocation General Dyer did nothing to them, and the most extreme opponent of General Dyer could not find fault with him up to this point. He did his best not to take the extreme measures on the 12th which he was forced to take on the 13th. One or two extracts from the Report of the Committee which investigated the disturbances in the Punjab will show exactly what took place on the 13th when the following Proclamation was issued:The inhabitants of Amritsar are hereby warned that if they will cause damage to any property or will commit any acts of violence in the environs of Amritsar, it will be taken for granted that such acts are due to incitement in Amritsar City, and offenders will be punished according to Military Law. All meetings and gatherings are hereby prohibited, and will be dispersed at once under Military Law.On the 12th instant my right hon. Friend said that nothing happened, but a force had to be sent out to bring in two ladies, and during the day the telegraph wires were cut between Chheharta and Amritsar, between Khasa and Gurusar, and between Khasa and Chheharta In spite of all that happened on the 10th, in spite of the firing that then took place, the rebels were quietly taking means to isolate Amritsar and prepare themselves for anything that might take place on the following day. On the 13th General Dyer went round Amritsar, and at 19 places he called a halt, and by sounding a drum he summoned the people, and at those 19 places he read out another Proclamation which was drawn up in 1761 English and in the vernacular as follows:It is hereby proclaimed to all whom it may concern that no persons residing in the city is permitted or allowed to leave the city in his own or hired conveyance or on foot without a pass. No person residing in the Amritsar City is permitted to leave his house after 8. Any persons found in the streets after 8 are liable to be shot. No procession of any kind is permitted to parade the streets in the city or any part of the city, or outside of it, at any time. Any such processions or any gathering of four men will be looked upon and treated as an unlawful assembly and dispersed by force of arms, if necessary.It is idle to say that these proclamations were not known to the whole of the population. I have spoken with men on the spot who were in the police force at the time, both native and English, and not only these, but the Indian officials as well in Amritsar, supported General Dyer to the utmost in the action he was taking, and none of them will dispute that the inhabitants of that city knew of these proclamations, and knew of the danger they would be subject to. In spite of those proclamations word was brought to the General that this crowd was assembling in Jallianwala Bagh. It is true that it was impossible for more than a few troops to get through the narrow opening into this place at the same time, but the right hon. Gentleman is not correct when he said the crowd could not get out at the other end, because they could get out through the gardens and over the walls. There was only the one entrance for the troops, and General Dyer and his troops came in at this narrow entrance. He knew that the telegraph wires had been cut and that Amritsar was isolated. He knew that there was a crowd being addressed by an agitator, the same agitator who was condemned for his connection with the murders on the 10th, but who, I regret to say, was pardoned by the Indian Government. He was haranguing the mob and doing his best to excite them. General Dyer had only 50 men armed with rifles, and about 40 with cutlasses or knives. What would this House have said if he had waited and allowed the crowd to charge him? The mere force of numbers and the mere impact of the crowd would have swept General Dyer and his force absolutely out of existence if they had attacked him. The Europeans were behind General Dyer, and I am sure hon. members would have condemned him, and 1762 rightly condemned him, if he had allowed himself to be overwhelmed by that mob.
It is not for me to say what some of my hon. Friends would have done, but it is not for hon. Members who do not know the facts to say that they would have acted differently. I do not know any man who would say that with such responsibility upon his shoulders, and with the knowledge that General Dyer had, would have dared to have abstained from firing in the way he did. It is said that General Dyer's force fired without any cessation, but if you look at the report of the Brigade-Major of this force, who has since died, it will be seen that he says:We began to fire upon the crowd, which broke into two bodies. Things were getting very serious indeed, and it looked as if they were going to rush. Fire was ordered first on one lump of crowd which looked the most menacing and then on the other.Those are the words of this officer, who was merely making his formal report, and he says that the crowd looked as if they were going to rush them. What has happened since? Was General Dyer assailed by the people of the Punjab for the action he took? Certainly not. They afterwards came to him in their thousands and thanked him for what he had done. They thanked him for the action he had taken. He was made a Sikh—one of the highest honours given to men. He was employed by the Government to march round the whole district and pacify it—this bloodthirsty man who is said to have wantonly shot down so many of their fellow-countrymen, was the man who was selected to do his best in friendly conversation with them. I assert that General Dyer was and is to-day beloved of the Sikh nation. I should like to say one word with regard to the speech of the Secretary for War. He made great play with the statement that the crowd were not armed with lethal weapons. Anyone acquainted with conditions in India would have known it was impossible under the Arms Acts for them to be armed with guns. Nevertheless they imported into Amritsar hundreds of thousands of ironshod bamboo canes which they proposed to use. It was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman that if the object of General Dyer was to disperse the crowd his action was uncalled for and unnecessary. I say, on the other hand, if it was to stop or to 1763 put an end to rebellion, then he was entitled to judge of what was necessary to be done in military fashion.
The right hon. Gentleman said that nobody with any reputation in India had suggested the punishment of General Dyer or other officials concerned. Has he seen the report of a meeting which took place in the Kingsway Hall, London, on the 3rd June? It was attended by gentlemen who are supporting my right hon. Friend to-day. It was addressed by an hon. Member of the Legislative Council—the Hon. Mr. Patel. May I here uttter a word of warning to the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) in this connection. I happened to be in the Legislative Council at Delhi when the Hon. Mr. Patel was making a speech, not quite so bad perhaps, but one in which he quoted a speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and then turned round and said, "These are the noble words of a noble man." After that I went out. This is what Mr. Patel said at the meeting in London the other day:When the Indian people are informed that the Government have the fullest confidence in Lord Chelmsford and a high appreciation of Sir Michael O'Dwyer's energy, do you suppose they will be impressed by Mr. Montagu's platonic condemnation of some of the excesses under Martial Law? No; they will judge you by your deeds, not by your words, and if you have confidence in Lord Chelmsford, they will have no confidence in you. Lord Chelmsford must go. It is a fresh insult and outrage to Indian sentiment that the Government should express their confidence in such a Viceroy.There was another speech made by a Mr. Horniman, who was expelled or deported from India, and it was almost equally as bad. I will refer to only one further speech, and that was delivered by an Indian lady, Mrs. Naidu, who gave a description of alleged action of our troops at Amritsar. If hon. Members really believe in the increasing goodwill of certain sections of the people of India, I want them to realise what this woman said and said in the presence of two English Members of Parliament—the hon. Member for Newcastle (Major Barnes) and the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Neil Maclean) on the 3rd June, 1920, at the Kingsway Hall. Mrs. Naidu said:Women, whose faces had never been touched by the curious sun or the moon, were dragged into the market place. My 1764 sisters were stripped naked; they were flogged; they were outraged; and yet you dare to talk of the auction of souls.Neither of the two hon. Members bounded up in his seat as I should have expected any English Member of Parliament would have done. One of them in fact, the hon. Member for Newcastle, said:We have just listened to a very, very wonderful speech which had that greatest power a speech can ever have, to get past the head to the heart, and that is where it arrived.Immediately I got that Report, I wrote to General Dyer and to Sir Michael O'Dwyer, and I am authorised by those two gentlemen to say in this House of Commons that that statement, as far as their knowledge goes, and I think their knowledge is conclusive in the matter, is absolutely and totally untrue. Let English Members realise that that is the kind of incitement to hostility to our ruler in India which is indulged in by extreme sections of the Indian community. This was going on last year and it is going on to-day. When I was at Peshawur there was a placard posted up in that city, which itself is too liable to disorder and crime, calling upon the Indians to rise and destroy the British forces. It said:Your hearts will soon be soothed by the entire annihilation of British imperialism and the complete destruction of these enemies of humanity.This placard was posted up in Peshawur in March, 1920, and it goes on:Active resistance will crush the viper's head. Burn their offices, mutilate their railways and telegraphs, induce the police and Army to work with you and slay these dogs of Britain everywhere you find them.I want to make an appeal to this Committee on behalf of the Englishmen and Englishwomen in the Civil Service, and in the Army, who are upholding our flag there under very great difficulties. We hear a great deal of the responsibilities of Empire, but what is too often referred to is the responsibility to the native races on the part of the Government. There is, however, a responsibility also to the Europeans. You send these men out, you allow their women and children to go out there to live in scattered areas, spread all over the country—often miles and miles from any help, and they are only enabled to live and to rule by the knowledge of the fact that there is in India a British Army on which they can rely in the last resort. I appeal to this Committee, not merely on 1765 behalf of them, but on behalf also of the soldiers in India, who feel strongly with regard to the action which the Army Council has taken in the case of General Dyer. They feel that when the next riot takes place they may be called upon in somewhat similar circumstances to come to a somewhat similar decision. Are you going to tell them that this House of Commons has supported the action of the Army Council in the case of General Dyer, and are you going to tell them also that in the future in any action they may take they will not have the support of Great Britain? We must trust the men on the spot. We send out our best men to the Indian Civil Service and to the Army, and we have to trust them not once or twice, but at all times.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BENNETT
A meeting took place in this city not many weeks ago attended mainly by Englishmen whose lives have been spent largely in India. As reported to me, the speech of the Chairman of that meeting may be summarised in these words: "We English have got to live with the natives, and the best we can do is to get on good terms with them, and say as little as we can about these disturbances." With part of that sentiment I cordially agree. We have to pursue a policy of moderation. There are obstacles in the way of that policy and in the way of a good understanding between the two races. Some of them are raised by hon. Members opposite, some by hon. Members around me. So far as hon. Members opposite are concerned, I deprecate the agitation—premature and purely fictitious —on this question which they have carried on. The meetings that have been held have been artificial in character. I have a letter from Mr. Horniman, who has been referred to to-day, a journalist, who was expelled, and, in my opinion, properly expelled, from Bombay. In that letter he writes to a newspaper in Bombay to the effect that he isworking the Press in this country for all that it is worth.He goes on further to sayYou may trust me to keep the Press of England up to the mark.That discounts a great deal of what we read in the English papers. On the other hand, we have got a mischievous Press in England poisoning the wells against the Secretary for India. I think we have seen some co-operation in that unworthy pur- 1766 pose in some of the questions which have been put in this House during the last few days. The great obstacles to a friendly understanding, which is profoundly to be desired, therefore come from two sides. Two eminent members of the legal profession, one representing the higher and the other the less high branch of the profession, have shown what I may call forensic astuteness in concentrating the discussion to-day upon the case of General Dyer. They made an appeal to our fair-mindedness, they put before us the case of an honourable officer, who has served his country for 34 years, and who, they think, has not had justice. I have read fully the statement which General Dyer laid before the Army Council, and have given it my best consideration, and I am satisfied that there is every warrant for the decision which has been come to in regard to him. I notice one thing that was not known to me before—namely, that General Dyer was for some years on the Staff as instructor in military law. That rather disturbs me. I want to know how many officers of the Indian Army have received the benefit of his teaching in military law, and how many of them have imbibed the peculiar principles to which he has given expression. For instance, is it generally believed, amongst the officers of the Indian Army, that, in cases of trouble, it matters little whether there is to be excess of shooting or not? He says excess does not concern him. "I was not concerned with excess," I think he says, "because I had in view the effect which it was necessary to produce upon public feeling in the Punjab."
I am not going further into the question of General Dyer. I want to take the discussion away from General Dyer altogether for the time being, and to call the attention of the Committee to the exercise of martial law in the Punjab at this time, the conditions under which martial law was exercised, and the lessons to be derived from it. We shall waste our time if we simply stand here condemning or exonerating particular individuals. We want to find what happened, and to guard in the future against the consequences of the errors that have been made. I will ask hon. Members to study carefully the evidence given by a number of the officers who were appointed as area military officers to 1767 carry out martial law, after the control had been handed over by the civil authority. The Committee recognised, of course, the serious dangers which follow from the institution of martial law. The ordinary rules of evidence are suspended; but what is worst of all is that a number of men are put in positions of judicial authority who necessarily have had no experience of exercising such authority and are utterly incapable of doing so properly. Martial law may be a matter of military necessity. Owing to pressure of circumstances it may be inevitable, but it is a thing to be avoided so far as it possibly can be. I want the Committee to endeavour to get some grasp of the conditions under which martial law was carried out, and of the kind of men who were occupied in carrying it out. I wish to make no personal attacks upon them, and I shall as far as possible avoid naming any of these officers, but the errors of their administration and their want of judgment and, at times, even of commonsense, must be made known. There was one young officer—I fancy he must have been a very young soldier indeed—who invented a number of minor punishments. Those punishments have been called "freak punishments," and I think that is a term which sufficiently does justice to them. He invented skipping as a means of minor punishment—very minor, I think we must say. In another case, finding that a culprit before him was given to poetry, he ordered him to write an ode in his honour. He also ordered that one after another of he persons who came before him should touch the ground with their foreheads. He justified himself for that by saying that it was a common thing, and he believed that it was done all over Sind. If that is so, I hope the Government of India have had their attention directed to it, and we should like to have an assurance that no longer are men humiliated by being made to touch the ground with their foreheads.
We get more serious things than this. A military officer exercising authority under martial law had to deal with a case in which martial law notices had been stripped from the wall of a school. He had no evidence as to who was guilty of this irregularity, but he thought he could find out, or, at any rate, that he could administer justice, by ordering 1768 that the whole of the bigger boys in the school should be picked out and whipped. His own admission before the Committee was, "They were not necessarily guilty, but it was their misfortune." Then he was asked, "Were warnings against defacement of notices written or oral?" "I do not remember," he said, "but what does it matter? "Questions of life or death may come before these tribunals, and some importance must be attached to the regularity of the procedure; and when an officer gives an answer indicating that he does not care whether an order is written or oral, it is a clear indication of the general prevalence of slipshod procedure in these courts. Again, and I think this is still more serious, we read that at Lahore a whipping triangle was set up before the accused persons were tried. That seems to be an anticipation of events scarcely consistent with a judicial attitude of mind. Worse still, also at Lahore, a gallows was erected before the court opened. There again, is a sinister anticipation of the issue which, I think, is discreditable to all who are associated with it. If we want a historic parallel to that, we should find it in the case of the Due d'Enghien, whom Napoleon had tried at Vincennes, and for whom a grave was dug before the trial began. I put this case of the erection of a gallows before the opening of the court on a par with that sinister episode in the procedure of Napoleon. In another case, a Deputy Commissioner in Gujranwala caused the leaders, or those who were believed to be the leaders of the popular party, to be handcuffed and chained, marched through the streets to the station, and sent to Lahore in a goods truck. The same official arrested Govar Singh, aged 60, as a hostage, because his three sons were missing. An order was passed confiscating his property, and a warning was issued that anyone attempting to reap his crops would be shot.
These are matters to which hon. Members here attach no importance. They concentrate the whole of their thought and care upon vindicating General Dyer, and proving that he has been very badly treated. I think they would spend their time a little more usefully, and would be more fully performing their duties in regard to India, if they would inquire into the methods by which martial law was administered at that time. I think we 1769 ought, in following these proceedings, to note the mentality of the men who were engaged in them. What can you say of the mentality of a man who, over and over again, will tell you that the people of the Punjab like martial law? We have heard of eels getting used to being skinned, but when it is said that the people of a province like martial law, it only shows what extraordinary persons were put in charge of the administration of martial law at that time. "People liked my administration." "People liked martial law, especially the masses." Another officer who had not been salaamed by some children—the pupils at a school—gave orders that the whole of the boys in that school should for a week be made to come and salute him at his office, and should, in addition, salute the Union Jack. If that officer had set himself to devise means by which the children of that town could be made, as long as they lived, to hate the Union Jack and the people who ruled under it, he could not have adopted a more efficacious procedure. Because the pupils in one group of colleges were suspected of tearing down a martial law notice, the whole of the students—a thousand all told—were made for a whole week to march 16 miles a day to the military headquarters. That is the rising generation in India. Those are the students, the class of people who in Italy, for instance, took a prominent part in the risorgimento. What gaucherie, what stupidity there must be amongst this school of officers in the Punjab, who will take these men and make them hate England and English officers! We have heard a great deal about General Dyer, and the dangers that would have arisen if he had not been as stern as he was, but no one in this Committee, so far, has seemed to contemplate the danger to British rule that follows proceedings of this kind. I maintain that those who uphold this procedure, or who ignore it, and concentrate their attention in a wrong fashion on the problem, are doing every harm to British rule. The proceedings I am describing do not stand alone. There is a whole group of blunders and oppressions and hardships of this kind which seem to me to provide material for a hymn of hate against England, and nothing short of it. I ask hon. Members to study that aspect of the question, and not to con- 1770 centrate upon General Dyer. I will give another instance. We have heard—reference was made to it in the speech of the Secretary of State—of a particular officer who arrested a wedding party and had them flogged because they were in excess of the number allowed to pass in the streets. The officer said this whipping of the wedding party was the only regrettable incident that occurred in his jurisdiction under martial law. He must have had a dense mind and a strange perception, because it was this officer who had been responsible for this marching backwards and forward of students and for a number of other acts of oppression which were only too characteristic of the reign of martial law in that part of the country.
We have had in the Report of the Commission an exoneration of the Government of Sir Michael O Dwyer from the charge that he had exercised undue pressure in recruiting and in the Loan campaign. As to recruiting, it is fair to Sir Michael 'O'Dwyer to recognise that there was a quota which the various administrations were expected to work up to in their recruiting operations, and though I cannot acquit the administration of Sir Michael O'Dwyer of a great deal of oppression in his recruiting operations, it is fair to say that when these were brought to notice measures were taken to prevent their repetition, and it is also fair to say that one witness before the Commission said that those who were guilty of exercising pressure in recruiting were native officials of some standing. As to the Loan operations, I do not accept the finding of the Commission in regard to that, because I have here a circular which was issued by the Punjab administration giving instructions as to the way in which encouragement was to be given to the Loan, and this passage occurs:Deputy Commissioners will find much assistance in estimating the contributions that they ought to get from various places by going to the Income Tax office and getting the Income Tax returns, which will furnish a fairly reliable index to the financial conditions of individuals who are expected to help the loan.In India, as I understand, Income Tax operations are as confidential as they are in this country, and we can realise the possibilities at all events of a somewhat oppressive officialism if we contemplate the officers of the Government in charge of Loan operations going to the Income 1771 Tax officer, and asking him to give a return of the incomes of this, that, and the other person. I cannot, in view of that circular, join in the acquittal of the Punjab Government of the charge of having exercised undue pressure in some, at all events, of their operations.
We have had a good deal said to-day as to the Punjab having been saved by the operations of General Dyer. What evidence have we of that? What inductive process based upon known facts have we which leads legitimately to the conclusion that a great rising, equal to that of the Mutiny of 1857, was imminent, and that these severe measures had to be taken to prevent it? The Punjab knows something of conspiracy, just as Bengal knows a good deal of conspiracy. We had a conspiracy seven or eight years ago and another of the same kind occurred a little later There was organised dacoit carried out with the object of seizing arms and the money with which to buy arms. It was accompanied by attempts to corrupt the native army, by attacks upon the regimental armouries, and attempts to get arms from them, and by the manufacture of bombs, and I believe classes were opened to teach what may be called political chemistry—the manufacture of bombs. But there is absolutely no indication of the existence of any preparations of that kind during the troubles in the Punjab. We have evidence, too, which will not be questioned, as to the condition of the villages and of many towns even after these troubles had taken place. We have the statement by General Benyon that he had gone through all the villages in the neighbourhood and that he found the villagers were quiet and willing to co-operate with him in watching the railway lines. On page after page there is evidence that in the rural districts the people were as a whole quiet, and orderly and well-behaved. Not only so, but I have every reason to believe that the Government of the Punjab, even at the worst time, had confidence in two things. They trusted the Army, and their trust was fully justified. The Army was absolutely loyal during the whole of the proceedings. They also trusted the village populations. On the whole, they were quiet and orderly, and there were no signs, in large areas of the rural part of the Punjab, of any tendency towards insurrection. Therefore, I hold that this 1772 purely hypothetical danger to which General Dyer points as his excuse for an act of gross and excessive severity did not exist. I have as much reason to say there was no danger as hon. Members opposite have to say that there was, and in any case the finding of the Committee is with me. The Committee had much fuller opportunities for inquiring into the facts. The Committee came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of a widespread conspiracy. We had confirmation of that in Delhi. Immediately after the Afghan invasion a meeting of 40,000 people was held in Delhi at which the conduct of the Amir was condemned, and the Deputy-Commissioner of Delhi states his opinion that that meeting was sincere. That is a fact which discourages belief in anything like a widespread movement towards conspiracy.
We have heard a great deal about General Dyer, but I have not heard one word from those who defended him as to the 300,000,000 of people who live in India, and what they think. The most remarkable thing to me has been that hon. Members have taken up the interests of one individual, and have concentrated all their thoughts on one individual, but have turned an absolutely blind eye to what the people of India think. That is not a reasonable way of dealing with a great question of this kind. We have to live with these people, and we have to be on closer terms with them than we have been before, and they will have some reason to complain if they read this Debate and do not find one word as to what the people of India think of these happenings. It is no sign of a real interest in India when a number of hon. Members become excited, as they did this afternoon, over the interests of an individual, and are so absolutely indifferent to the bearings of our discussion upon the people of India. We have been told that India was conquered by the sword and is being held by the sword. That doctrine is absolutely repudiated by every historical authority of any importance. We began as a trading nation. We did not go as a military nation, and we should have accomplished nothing in India but for the co-operation of Indian agents. Why should we flaunt this doctrine of holding by the sword in the face of a people whom we want to make a free people, and whose liberties we are enlarging? During the inquiry we 1773 had the commandant of a regiment stating that we can influence the Asiatic only by force. That is a view which is at the back of all these happenings and the operation of martial law. There has been an idea that the native of India is an inferior person who has to be held in restraint by coercion. The Secretary of State for India seems to have aroused the anger of certain hon. Members by a speech which I regard as a dignified and noble vindication of the liberal policy which has been pursued in India. What hon. Members have seen to justify them in speaking of it as an appeal to racial prejudice I do not know. The appeal to racial prejudice has come from their side. There is no warrant for the condemnation which has been passed upon a speech which is worthy of the subject and worthy of the occasion. Recently we have had an opportunity of refreshing our memories on some of the achievements and speeches of the Earl of Beaconsfield. I came across a passage in which he reminded the people of this country that we were proud of our Empire, and the chief reason for being proud of it was that it had been based on sympathy as well as on force. Let us never forget that. Unless we get the sympathy and goodwill of the people of India our task is ended or will be ended in a short time. We cannot contemplate a future in which the normal condition of things in India is one of antagonism between the people and the Government. If we are to continue the Dyer policy, the results must necessarily be no progress in India and no improvement in the relations between the people of India and the Government. The other day I had a letter from India, in which the writer—an Englishman who had lived the better part of his life there, and in whose judgment I place the most absolute confidence—said: "Dyer is the greatest asset that the extremists in India have got." No truer word has been contributed to this discussion. Dyerism will be an enormous help to those who are trying to oust the British Government from its place in India, and hon. Members who have been censuring the Secretary of State for India for the generous and sympathetic words in which he spoke of the people of India ought to realise that we have reached a point at which most critical issues have to be decided. We have to ask ourselves 1774 whether we are to be on terms of friendship with the people of India or whether we are to go on dealing with them in a way in which so many officers have dealt with them. Those who have looked too lightly and with approval, in too many cases, upon the action of General Dyer have a scale of values of their own of human life, in which they place the Indian below the European. This is not a political question, but a question of human values, and until we get rid of that idea and recognise the sacredness of Indian life as on a par with the sacredness of European life, we shall be suspected by the people of India, our actions will be unfavourably coloured, and our policy in that country will be a failure.
I appeal to those hon. Members on the other side of the House who have put themselves in antagonism to the policy of the Government to realise that it is they and not those who are supporting the Secretary of State who will be responsible if in the time to come we should ever lose India. God grant that the connection between this country and India may long continue, that it may never cease, that India, being a self-governing country, will at the same time remain an integral part of the British Commonwealth. But at the same time we have to make it worth the while of the people of India to retain their place in that Commonwealth, and if they are to be treated as serfs, to be treated as too many of them were treated in those troublous times, the day of our rule will come to an end. I hope that hon. Members on that side who concentrate so much on the individual aspect of this case will realise its political importance and will realise that one at all events of the lessons which we have derived from this experience is that we must never again allow the military authorities to get out of touch with the civil authorities. Let hon. Members if they want to see how things should be done turn from Amritsar to Ahmedabad in the Bombay Presidency and see the success of an entirely different method. There the civil authority never lost touch with the military authority. The result was that within forty-eight hours the military authority was enabled to withdraw its orders suspending assemblages, and the abnormal conditions of things was brought to an end. The real lessons which the Govern- 1775 ment have to learn is to follow the example of Ahmedabad and never again allow the military authorities to get into such entire detachment from the civil authority as it was allowed to do at Amritsar, with consequences of the most deplorable kind.
§ Brigadier - General SURTEES
The Debate to which we have listened has shown that certain conditions existed in India at the time of this occurrence. The first is, that there existed, not only in Amritsar, but in the whole of the provinces, seething rebellion, and it is made amply clear by the Hunter Committee that a trifle might have been the cause of an outburst which would have resulted in the general massacre of Europeans. Another feature that we have is, that General Dyer, an experienced officer, long resident in India, with wide experience of Indian character, against whom no complaint has ever been made, was placed in a position of great responsibility. General Dyer, I think, realised and gauged accurately the temper with which he was confronted. He heard the noisy defiance of British authority. The civil administration had failed, and he felt that it was up to him to act. I have not the honour of knowing General Dyer, and I hold no brief for him. Therefore I am not swayed by any personal feelings, but I will ask hon. Members to consider carefully the effect of this Debate, not only in India, but among the civilised and uncivilised peoples among whom we rule. There are vast areas in Africa and the Pacific, where the sole British representative is the one white man. It is up to him to keep the native race more or less in order, to look after administration, to see to justice, and, as far as possible, to stamp out violence and vice. In the most favourable circumstances this official is allowed a small armed native guard, but in the case of any serious upheaval, he and his police would be scattered like chaff, but for one thing. That one thing is British prestige. Once you destroy that British prestige, then the Empire will collapse like a house of cards, and with it all that trade which feeds, clothes, and gives employment to our people.
It is all very well to carp at and denounce an experienced official, and if the effect could be confined to these islands no great harm could be done; but the 1776 speeches and decisions of this House are followed more closely by natives than most of us realise. An indiscreet speech or a careless vote may cause a fatal explosion. This House, unlike the Hunter Commission, cannot confine itself to local issues, but must concern itself with the probable effect of its speeches on the multitude of races which are swayed by various influences. The terms of reference prevented the Hunter Commission from inquiring from Bombay, Delhi, and Peshawar, but it is right to ask the Government whether they were not aware that an active conspiracy was in progress in the previous months of April and May in Peshawar, the object of the conspiracy being to open the gaols, attack the cantonments, destroy the wireless telegraphy, and seize the city. The Government must have known of the unrest and disaffection which extended over a great part of India, and also that military measures were being taken in order to nip in the bud any possible rebellion. It is abundantly clear that Amritsar was the centre of this conspiracy. Naturally, General Dyer was aware of this fact, and, as the military representative on the spot, could not fail to realise that strong measures would be necessary to prevent the conflagration from spreading.
Happily, there are few occasions on which our representatives have to act with such stern promptitude as is regarded by some of us as cruel and unjustifiable. Many Members of this House, if they do not remember, as I do, are still cognisant of the facts of the Jamaica Rebellion in 1865, which rebellion was put down properly and most strongly by Governor Eyre. Governor Eyre was persecuted by John Bright and John Stuart Mills in the same way as General Dyer is being persecuted by certain individuals, and on that occasion Sir John Pakington, speaking in Debate in this House, said:He acted in full pursuance of the belief that the handful of Europeans who inhabited that island was not safe from attack by the 400,000 half - civilised and infuriated negroes.I think something similar to that was in General Dyer's mind. In the case of Jamaica, the general consensus of opinion was that Governor Eyre's energy and courage saved the European inhabitants from massacre, and the European inhabitants of Jamaica subscribed £1,500 for the defence of Governor Eyre. It is quite obvious that the inhabitants on the 1777 spot are the best judges of the situation. How do the British residents in India regard the situation? I think there is only one answer. Do they condemn or endorse this action? Certainly they endorse it.
We cannot, even if we wish, surrender India. We are irrevocably committed to it. Is there a Member of this House who believes that we govern India with the approval of those governed by us? It is an undisputed fact, and one which has some bearing on the Amritsar incident, that if a plebiscite were taken to-morrow as to who should govern India the result would be against us. If we do not hold India by moral suasion then we must hold it by force—possibly thinly veiled, but still by force. This has an undoubted bearing on the case of General Dyer. Whenever the people of India show signs of unrest or of conspiracy or of revolution there rises before the minds of Anglo-Europeans the spectre of the Indian Mutiny and the horrors of Cawnpore, and they are constrained to ask themseves whether the disturbances are only the precursors of a similar revolution. So a greater force is used in quelling disturbances than would be used in other places where British rule is more firmly established. Like every other State, we are suffering from the aftermath of war. Discontent and unrest are universal. The horizon of the people is becoming extended. It is only natural that enlightened India should ask for that self-determination which is one of the basic principles of the League of Nations, but we cannot apply that to India until that country can use it properly. In cases of unrest it is inevitable that a strong hand is needed. I am one of those who believe that General Dyer applied that strong hand firmly, courageously, and promptly, because he had reasons to anticipate a great and terrible disaster in India, and so he saved this Empire from serious danger. That is why I claim for him fair play and justice, which is the right of every subject of the Crown.
I think we are to be congratulated that during this dinner hour someone of more sober thoughts has addressed himself to this tremendous question. Everyone will feel that they are face to face with a crisis, as far as India is concerned. I imagine there is not a man in this House who does not realise that we hold in trust a great and mighty population in India, and that it 1778 is our duty to treat them with generosity and with justice. This Debate has revealed, as all the documents in the case have revealed, that, while the vast body of the population of India are loyal subjects of the Crown, there is in India, as in other parts of the world, a vast organisation determined to bring down the strength and might of the British Empire. It was this distinguished general who was called upon at a moment of great emergency to settle for himself how he should deal with a crisis. No one who has read the evidence can fail to realise that throughout the Punjab and other parts of India there was a concerted attempt at revolution. General Beynon can be quoted in favour of General Dyer—The strong measures taken by General Dyer at Amritsar had a far-reaching effect and prevented any further trouble in the Lower Division Area.We have had to-day a most deplorable speech from the Secretary of State for India, a speech which, I think, will go out to India as an encouragement to disloyalists and those forces of disorder which every sane and patriotic Englishman is anxious to see laid at rest. We know that during the War India provided some of the most gallant of our troops. It is not fair to suggest that there are people here who believe that the great and loyal Indian population are only to be kept down and repressed, and that we will not treat them as citizens of the Empire. One thing that has impressed me very much was this—that while General Dyer, able to visualise what was happening, realising the atmosphere in which he was moving, did his duty, severely, yes, but for the sake of the British Empire and for the sake of the people of India, a right hon. Gentleman, sitting in Oriental aloofness in Whitehall, a year after, and 6,000 miles away, is pleased to measure the less or more of the severity applied by that gallant soldier. They actually passed strictures on other gallant officers who did not exercise sufficient severity in the circumstances in which they were placed. On the one side you have the right hon. Gentleman in this House, far away from the scene, smug and safe here, censuring this gallant officer for the extra severity which, in his patriotic judgment, he thought it right to display, and we have on the other side actually criticism, if not censure, of other gallant officers because they were not sufficiently severe in 1779 putting down sporadic risings. Let me quote, in one case with regard to Delhi—Firing continued no longer than was necessary to achieve the legitimate object of restoring order and preventing a disastrous outbreak of violence.That is a commendatory statement. Here is another one in regard to Ahmedabad—The force used against the rioters was certainly not excessive. If greater force could have been applied at an early stage the commission of an atrocious murder and much destruction of property might have been prevented.Here is another in regard to Gujran-wala—In failing to order the police to fire upon and so disperse these mobs around the burning post office, the Acting Deputy Commissioner appears to us to have committed an error. If effective measures had then been taken to disperse the mob and restore order the later incidents of the day might have been avoided.It passes one's comprehension to understand the position. If a gallant officer in the exercise of his discretion use a little more or less severity according to the measure of the Secretary of State for India, he is broken on the wheel—no trial, no possibility of defending himself, and even his statement to the Army Council is carefully put out after we have had an announcement here that he is condemned. That announcement went out last night to the world, and I came here at 8 o'clock this morning to get hold of General Dyer's statement. A more manly and splendidly frank and open statement I have never read. Here we have the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, sitting in his Oriental aloofness in Whitehall, denouncing General Dyer for what he did, and we have in the Hunter Commission Report criticisms of other officers for failing to take effective measures immediately to put down disturbances. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India made a deplorable speech. It will go out to India, to seething masses there, who are ready for trouble and revolution, that there are large masses of opinion in this country who think that the Indian is to be down-trodden. That is not so. The right hon. Gentleman has done a great thing for India in the great measure of freedom and reform that he has brought about. That measure of freedom was passed by 1780 the House of Commons and by the very men whose opinions he has denounced to-day. Instead of coming down to this House to-day with a statesmanlike and reasonable speech he fed the flames of antagonism in a manner which I feel sure in his more reserved moments he will sincerely regret. An hon. Member said just now that no regard had been given to Indian opinion and yet we know that a vast mass of sober patriotic Indian opinion was with General Dyer and applauded him for the splendid severity of his action before the right hon. Gentleman and the Government gave way to the clamour of revolution, and six months after these events set up a Committee. I have had some letters from people in India who were concerned in these tremendous and troublesome days. An hon. Gentleman referred in terms of praise to what happened in Ahmedabad. I have a letter here from a lady in which she says:I was in Ahmedabad at the time of the Amritsar riots, when we experienced riots of a similar nature, and I have not the least hesitation in saying that the prompt action of General Dyer in the Punjab saved our lives. The British police-sergeant, who was the very first victim in Ahmedabad, had his hands cut off, and he was then hacked to pieces. At a small station, a loyal native, who gave the order to fire on the mob, was tied to a chair with the official records piled around him, and they then poured kerosene oil on him, thus burning him alive. I expect you know that they burned down most of the other Government buildings, but although the guard on the Bombay Bank fired on them the building was left untouched owing to the fact that the securities of the natives were in the bank. We people are powerless to help the man who, by a great decision made in a few minutes, saved us all from a fate too horrible to think of.That is the testimony of a woman who was in India at the time. I have had many other letters from those who were with General Dyer. One man writes:I have had the pleasure of serving under this General, and a better or kinder-hearted man you could not wish to meet. I went all through the Amritsar and Lahore riots with the motor transport section, and consequently saw a lot of the events that happened; and only those that were in those riots could realise fully the danger it meant to the Empire. This General had only one alternative, and that was to deal with a firm hand. If he did not give the orders he gave, there would not be many of the garrison alive to-day to tell the truth.There are many other people I could quote. General Dyer saved India. In my opinion, for what it is worth, there 1781 was an incipient revolution which might have grown into immense and mighty proportion and greater proportion even than the great Indian Mutiny. Every evidence shows that that was so. I think it is rather a commentary on the turn of the wheel that it should be the business of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who is responsible for more errors of judgment than any man sitting on the Treasury Bench, and responsible for the loss of more lives than any man sitting in this House, to get up and denounce this gallant man who, in my opinion, saved India from grave trouble and saved the women from grave outrage and saved India for the Empire. Some hon. Gentlemen, who may not have given a deep study to all the documents, including the report of the National Council, which was well worth reading, do not, I think, realise what was happening there. Not only was Amritsar the centre of this thing, but throughout the whole of the Punjab there was a deep and concerted movement to overthrow the British Raj. Here is one case which is worth mentioning. In a city of the Punjab frightened women had taken refuge in one of the rallying points, as they were called, waiting eagerly for the arrival of the troops, and whilst there notices were issued by the natives stating that there were 80 women and children waiting to be ravaged. In fact, no girls' school was sacred. Then there was the remarkable letter written by the Archbishop of Simla, who is, not a politician, and not a man who is seeking to make dialectical points in this House to break a gallant officer for the sake of saving their own position. He is a right reverend prelate of the Church who has the respect and affection of thousands of the natives of India. No man in this House who has any sense of responsibility can fail to appreciate what he wrote. I ask hon. Gentlemen who as a rule associate themselves with the Government to pause before they go into the Lobby to support the right hon. Gentleman tonight. This is a matter which cannot easily be settled by mere argument in this House. It goes much deeper—it goes down to the very bed-rock of our great Empire. I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman said, and with much of his speech I agree, but the whole tone and temper of that speech inflamed the Committee more than I have seen it in- 1782 flamed in 35 years' experience. We are sincere in this matter, and I grant that he is. We feel that General Dyer has been sentenced without trial. Cannot the Government see some way by which justice can be meted out to this honourable and gallant officer by which we can yet have an inquiry where he can put his case and defend it, as he has never yet had a real opportunity of doing? If that suggestion, which I throw out, could be accepted by the Government, many of us who feel very deeply on this matter would have our feelings somewhat alleviated. I ask hon. Members to forget coupons and to remember the British Empire, and to realise throughout the vast spaces of the world we ask our gallant soldiers to uphold the British Flag, and if a man goes a little beyond what we consider to be just and fair do not break him on the wheel without trial, but give him a fair chance of being heard. Reprimand him if you will, and say to him he exceeded the legitimate needs of the case, and that in the circumstances in which he was placed he may have overdone the severity, but let us realise that we shall not hold our Empire together if, whenever we get clamour from revolutionaries, a gallant soldier who has done his duty is to be broken at the dictate of the Treasury Bench.
§ 9.0 P.M.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG
I have observed as a curious fact of natural history that in the course of this Debate those hon. Members who are acquainted with the emotions and the circumstances of the field of action have spoken without any note of passion or emotion, while those Members who, on the other hand, are possibly not so closely acquainted with the circumstances of the field of action, have introduced into the Debate a strong note of emotion and even of passion. I believe that is to be regretted. It is well known by so many Members of this House that to attain a right decision on the field of action nothing is more fatal than to allow the entry of the emotional state, and what is true of the field itself is true, I think, also of those occasions when we come to criticise the field, and when criticising the men of action we should try and put ourselves in the same frame of mind as they are in, and to avoid all unnecessary emotion and passion. So only can we lead ourselves towards a sound decision. If the course that we had to follow in 1783 the Debate could lead us in the direction only of either the hon. Baronet the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. JoynsonHicks) or the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Spoor), I should indeed feel that our choice was unfortunate. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland made a speech which seemed to me to present a typical example of a frame of mind which is not wholly attractive. He seemed to welcome the discovery of something done amiss in India, in order that it might enable him to say, "I told you so; I was right; the Government of India is all wrong, and always wrong."
Now, it is for a reason absolutely different, and, indeed, the very converse of that, that I at any rate, and possibly some others, must support the action taken by the Government of India and the Secretary of State. It is precisely not because we think that this action of General Dyer was in any way typical, or an example of the methods of a Government and of an Army of which we are proud, but because we think it so different, so absolutely untypical of their ordinary methods, that we feel it essential that we should not take upon ourselves, as the Commons of the country, the burden of responsibility. Let me turn for a moment to the observations of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Twickenham, whose absence from the Committee I regret. I agree with him most thoroughly as to the sinall value that can be placed upon such impressions as may be gained from a short visit to India. I value them even more lightly than he does. I value them so lightly that, if he had not given his, I would not have thought of giving mine. As a matter of fact, I was in India at the same time as he was. I passed through Amritsar after he had passed through. I had opportunities, not, I think, inferior to his, for judging the state of responsible opinion, both of the Indian Civil Service, of the British community, and of the responsible Indian community. I did not receive the impression which he received. I cannot evaluate as nicely as he did the exact percentage of the opinion that he thinks agrees with him. I could only say that the impression I received very strongly was, in the first place—I give it for what it is worth, to set against another opinion for what it may be worth—that all the opinions which I heard almost unanimously supported the actions of the 1784 Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab and the Government of the Punjab. There is a very large body of opinion—I will not attempt to evaluate it—which is not prepared to support the action of General Dyer at Jallianwala Bagh; but what everybody was unanimous about—and on this, I think, there are no two opinions—was that when these matters came to be discussed in this House and in this country, they should be discussed as briefly and as responsibly as possible, and with the admission of as little as possible of the note of pasion and of racial division.
I wish to stand back completely from the emotional controversies that have been introduced and to say that if I do support, as I do heartily and unreservedly, the action taken by the Government of India and the Secretary of State, it is for these reasons. I believe we are dealing here simply with a question of the exercise of professional discretion, a question as to whether a soldier's authority, discretion, and responsibility has been rightly exercised or not. I would fain dismiss every minor consideration that has been brought in in prejudice against General Dyer. I would fain, being indeed most anxious to do so for the sake of the gallant officer placed in a difficult situation, take every point in his favour right up to the critical moment of the firing. I would assume even the last point of all in his favour, that he was right in opening fire without notice, and I would say that what I have to say applies only and entirely to the question of the continuance of firing after the crowd had begun to disperse. What, as I see it, is the true issue upon which we have to vote there? There is an old and well-recognised principle which underlies the use of force by the authorities. In suppressing violence on the part of a civilian population, the military or the police are justified in meeting force with force. They are justified in using only so much force as is necessary to suppress the actual violence in progress. That is the rule which has been expressed, and to which I may refer as the minimum force. If I were free to weary the Committee by so doing, I. could support that as a recognised rule governing these matters in our constitutional practice by a hundred references to eminent authorities on constitutional law and great judges who 1785 have decided cases. Now, the shooting at Jallianwala Bagh was more than necessary to disperse the crowd. That is common ground. It is admitted in General Dyer's own evidence. It was carried on for the sake of another object—that of intimidation. In order to justify his action then, General Dyer has to interpret that principle which I venture to define in the following way, that is to say, that the minimum force which an officer is justified in using is not only so much force as may be necessary to suppress and prevent the violence actually in progress, but so much also as may be necessary so to affect the minds of evilly-disposed persons that they will be prevented from following the example of those committing outrages. It is perfectly clear that in his defence to the Army Council, General Dyer does not understand or appreciate that the interpretation he has put upon the recognised principle is an enormous extension of it. It, is an extension in these two particulars. In the first place, it extends the area of judgment, if I may so express it, of the officer in charge from the situation immediately before him to the situation in its widest possible aspect. As we know, General Dyer's mind was wandering away to the consideration of the situation in Afghanistan, and so on. According to the right hon. and learned Member for the Duncairn Division (Sir E. Carson), it also wandered further to the situation in Ireland and in Russia. It extends the recognised principle in another direction. It says that force may be used, and should be used, not only for the actual prevention of the violence in progress, but for intimidation.
What are the characteristics of the principle that has hitherto been recognised? They are, I take it, these. They provide the officer, who is faced with a grave situation, with a simple, definite rule on which to form his judgment, namely, the rule to stop the violence that is going on. It puts no call on the officer to consider matters, which may very likely not be within his knowledge, of the general situation, and of which, at any rate, in the crisis of the moment, he is not likely to be a calm judge. Otherwise, it would throw upon an officer a burden of responsibility which, I venture to say, he would in nine cases out of ten be absolutely unable to fulfil. It is, then, for the sake of officers themselves that I 1786 say it is of essential importance to maintain the integrity of the rule which enables an officer, in the grave crisis of the moment, to consider only the actual situation with which he is faced, and does not impose upon him the impossible burden of considering the general political situation over wide areas, with which he may have no acquaintance.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG
The hon. and gallant Member, with his experience of the field of action, will know that when a man is confronted with a serious crisis, all that he can be trusted to deal with is the actual situation under his eye.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG
And that it is impossible to expect him to deal with a wider situation. That is, I think, the point of view of the officer. But there is a further point of view, and that is the civilian point of view. The principle of the minimum force applied to immediate circumstances is the charter of protection of the lives, liberty, and safety of the civilian population from unduly violent action. So long as force is applied to meeting force which is actually doing wrong, the innocent civilian population is safe. Once remove that, and the authorities are set at liberty to take what action they please for intimidation, and it must be the characteristic that action for intimidation will be indiscriminate. Punishment is then set free in its relation to crime. It is used for another purpose, that of intimidation, not of punishment. Intimidation is as well served by action against the innocent as the guilty. What appears to me as the last and strongest argument against an extension of the rule is this, that for this purpose, and under those circumstances, intimidation must be, and always is, ineffective. The only way to prevent the would-be wrongdoers from committing crime is to convince them clearly and positively that crime, and crime only, is immediately followed by punishment. Inflict your punishment indiscriminately, and let it be seen that it is borne in upon the innocent as well as the guilty, and you simply encourage the evilly-disposed to hope that if they do wrong they may escape punishment, 1787 and, as before, punishment will fall upon the innocent and not on them. What are the terrible consequences? That you alienate the innocent.
The argument has been used here tonight that General Dyer's action, whatever else may be said of it, can, at any rate, be said to have been successful. Was it successful? Supposing you were to agree that it was that act, and that act alone, at Amritsar that suppressed the immediate rebellion, is it not now only too terribly clear that you have attained that at the cost of lighting a suppressed fire, a fire of discontent and indignation and revolt that is burning underneath? We hope and believe that the evil consequences of that have been averted by other great steps taken in the Indian Empire. We hope and believe that the bad consequences, the irruption of bitter feelings of hatred, may yet be prevented. Still it is clear that they, these consequences, have come, and I do not think that anybody doubts that they have come largely as the result of this action. That is a typical consequence, I would argue, of allowing a soldier, confronted with an actual limited situation, to take into account widespread political considerations covering a very large field. He cannot judge the consequences of his action. That is the reason of the condemnation, such as it is, or rather the disapproval of General Dyer's action, and that is why he made a grave error. He exercised an authority in a way which, if it is ever justified, could only be justified under the orders of a central authority acquainted with the meaning of the whole situation.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I know I am regarded as an anti-patriot in this House of Commons—as one opposed to the interests of his own country. Of course, old Members of this House know that that is not so. If ever there was a time in which it behoved those who love England to speak out it is to-day. Hon. Members have discussed this question of General Dyer as if it concerned only him; but General Dyer was only an incident. What we are discussing, or ought to be discussing, is whether India is to have a chance to remain part of the British Empire. That is the question that I do beg hon. Members to take into account. Do we desire to see the British Empire preserved? If we do, we must remember 1788 that it can only be preserved by the cooperation of the Indians, and not by any other means. Some are carried away by the idea that the safety of English men and women comes first. It does not come first. Every man who went out to France to fight in the War knew perfectly well that his safety and the safety of his relatives and friends was of no importance whatever. They knew that the honour of their country came first. And there is a profound antagonism between honour and safety. General Dyer no doubt acted as if the safety of English men and women should come first. I think that was the wrong thing to do. It is more important to save the national honour than to save any particular item in the nation. I would rather, for the interests of our country, that English men and women had been shot down at Jallian wala by Indians than that Indians had been shot down by Englishmen. After all, lives vanish, but this country and the honour of the country remain for all time. The principal charge I make against Dyer is not that he shot down Indians, but that he placed on English history the gravest blot since in days gone by we burned Joan of Arc at the stake.
I am not speaking from an Indian point of view, but solely from an English point of view. Where a question of national honour is concerned we must look at it with English eyes and I beg hon. Members to realise that by doing this action General Dyer has injured our honour, and that is his crime. The safety of life is of no importance, the safety of women and children, even, is of no importance compared with the honour of England, and every Member knows that that is so. The complaint is not that General Dyer committed this crime. It is not just a question of punishing General Dyer. I agree with Mr. Gandhi, the great Indian, representing, I think, all that is finest in India, when he said, "We do not want to punish General Dyer; we have no desire for revenge; we want to change the system that produces General Dyers." That is what we must do. It seems to me that it is hopeless now, after this Debate. I could hope in the old days that the Indians would listen to what I said and would take it as coming from a friend. Now they will have faith no longer—because I am an Englishman. But this I would urge upon 1789 the Indians—to remember that revenge is the aim of fools. What really matters is to change the system that produces crime. That is why I welcomed the tone and speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. After all, we do not care whether General Dyer is punished or not. What we want to do, what we want to put before the minds of the Indians is that with the help of Indian co-operation and their control of their own destinies, they will be in charge in future of law and order in India and will be able to prevent these things happening. That is the only hope in the present situation. I do not believe that hon. Members understand what the feeling is in India at the present day. When we were passing the Bill for India, I had the brightest hopes of the future of India as a self-governing dominion within the British Empire, but since that time the situation day by day has got worse. The worst thing of all is that 80 per cent. of the Anglo-Indian opinion backed General Dyer, and were against the Secretary of State. That is what perpetually, and day by day is making the Indians enraged, antagonistic, anti-English and Sinn Fein. If they decide that they will take no part in the new constitution, that they will boycott it, then it is all up with the British Empire in India. I will read this telegram, which I have received among other messages. It is from a mass meeting in Bombay—Hunter Report and dispatches rudely shaken deepest faith in British justice, unless Parliament vindicates character British rule by condemnation and repudiation Punjab official miscreants.I know that is strong language—Britain's moral prestige, of greater consequence than military strength, will be irretrievably lost and peoples' hearts alienated from British rule.That message is sent by Jamnadas Dwarkadar who is a "moderate." That is the feeling of the moderates there about the course adopted by the extremists in India and England. It is an illustration of what I have said, that hon. Members do not understand what is the feeling in India. They do not understand how near we are to Sinn Fein in India, and that it will become more and more difficult to secure a settlement. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) put the finishing touch upon the whole affair. He spoke 1790 with a certain authority, for though the voice was the voice of the hon. Member, the words were the words of Sir Michael O'Dwyer. He spoke as though the future relationship of the Indians and the English was worth nothing, as though what was important alone was our caste rule in India. Rule by force, by a class must now come to an end all over the world. No one need fear a military uprising in India. A military uprising is absolutely impossible in these days of aeroplanes, armoured cars, roads and railways, and wireless telegraphy. Such an uprising would be absolutely impracticable. What we are face to face with there not is a military uprising, but simply passive resistance. Once you get people refusing to take part in government, you may carry on for a few years, but in the end you will find yourselves where the Irish Government is to-day—and without an Ulster!
You have got this situation before you in India. What are you going to do? Is the only message that the English Parliament has to send to India this, that the only day on which we discussed Indian affairs was taken up with discussing the right and wrongs of a British General? That is no message for India. It may be good enough for thoughtless people who want simply to create a little sensation for the moment. The speeches that have been made will attract attention. Every word that is said here to-day will be read in India. We cannot help it even if we would. To my mind every speech ought to be delivered to appeal to Indians, to show them that the people in England condemn this affair at Amritsar, condemn the horrors of the martial law, that we are one. I speak here to-day for thousands of Liberals as well as Labour Members, in saying that we are against the Jallianwala Bagh murder, against, the way in which martial law was carried on in the Punjab, against Sir Michael O'Dwyer and against the whole administration of the Punjab. We send that as a word to help those men, like Mr. Lagan, who is now trying to bring the Punjab back to sanity, and Sir George Lloyd, who managed to carry Bombay through these stirring times without any martial law. Cannot we send to them a message of help, try to assist them in the work they are doing, instead of perpetually making 1791 their work of reconciliation more impossible by the insane speeches made from these benches.
Will not hon. Members understand that unless we now take a broad view of the future of the British Empire, unless we now turn down for ever the idea that the British Empire is a replica of the Roman Empire, it will be an evil day for us? Hon. Members will remember how Macaulay's "Lays" end—
Shall be great fear
On all who hear
The mighty name of Rome.
That was most attractive when we were younger. It may have been so in the British Empire in the old days. It will not work now. Where we are now we must decide to throw over the Roman Empire idea of fear and force! Here we are at the end of a great victorious war. We are far the strongest Power in the world. The old Great Powers have come to an end. We dominate the old world as the United States dominates the new. There are no other Great Powers. How are we to deal with the future? The other nations are looking to us, the small nations the Magyars, the Austrians, the Poles, the Czecho-Slovaks-all look towards England as being the greatest Power in the world; the people that can help them; of whom they are afraid. How are you going to use this great power and influence? If you are going to utilise that power in the way suggested by some, you may go on for some years, but in the end you smash.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I should like to refer the hon. Member in this matter to a greater historian even than the hon. Gentleman—to Mr. H. G. Wells and his "Outline of History."
§ Sir C. OMAN
If that is where the hon. and gallant Gentleman gets his history, then I do not wonder at his views about India.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Perhaps the hon. Member would prefer in this connection Gibbon's "Decline and Fall." But the real point is this: Are we to try to carry on the great position we have to-day by the terrorism of subject races? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The only alternative that I can see is to in- 1792 vite them to come into the British Empire on equal terms, so that Indians should be British citizens, and have the same rights as Englishmen or Australians. If you give those rights, you offer a certain attraction to people to belong to the British Empire. If you persist in treating Indians, not only in India, but, be it observed, in our Colonies, East Africa, South Africa, and elsewhere, as though they were an inferior people, not equal to you and me, so long as there is this social feeling against them, so long as they are legally inferior, you are ruining the British Empire and the future cause of our country. I want to see England embracing all these people, not only Indians, but as they come along in the scale of civilisation, the black men of Africa, as well as the Jews of Palestine and the Egyptians of Egypt. I want to see them all as proud of being British citizens as the men in the Roman days were proud of being Roman citizens. There is nothing finer in the records of Lord Palmerston than the way he stood up for that Gibraltar Jew, Don Pacifico. Lord Palmerston made it a casus belli because that man had lost some of his property. If that is the way you are going to make people proud of being British citizens, well and good. But so long as you go on treating Indians as though they were a subject race, as if those who have had the wit, intelligence, and energy to educate themselves were all wicked agitators and people to be contemned, as they were contemned by Sir Michael O'Dwyer in his speech, so long as the only decent Indian is the Indian who is tamed and who is content to be your servant, so long as that is the feeling of Englishmen, you are injuring the prospects and the true development of the British Empire.
If we get a Division to-night, in which a large number of Members go into the Lobby against the Secretary of State, that will be an indication to India that, bad as is the Secretary of State, whom they condemn, there are people worse than the Secretary of State, worse than General Dyer, the people who support Prussian terrorism as the essence of British Rule. If that is going to be the message to India it can have nothing but a disastrous result. The Secretary of State will have proved to the full that what he has done is all that 1793 England would let him. He has not done enough. I believe that in the blessing he has given in his dispatch to Sir Michael O'Dwyer and Lord Chelmsford, he has done more to undermine his reforms than anything he has ever done before. We on these Benches are not prepared to say that he is correct in blessing Sir Michael O'Dwyer and Lord Chelmsford. We know that the right hon. Gentleman has undone some of his best work. We wish that he had put no such words on paper.
My last message to the right hon. Gentleman is this, that unless something is done, and done quickly, to put into the hands of Indians not only the legislative power but the administrative power to deal with these questions of law and order, questions which have been so mishandled by the military, unless you give the people power to repeal the Seditious Meetings Act and restore to them that Magna Carta and freedom which we enjoy in this country, unless this is done, all the right hon. Gentleman's great reforms, from which we all hoped so much, fall into the fire of racial hate, which will destroy not only India's chances of freedom but the whole future of the British race.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has suggested that this is really a controversy between Indians and Europeans, but I venture to say that it is nothing of the kind. There are in India a great majority of citizens who are loyal and patriotic, but there are also a minority who are disloyal and unpatriotic, which is the same as in this country. It is, I think, unfortunate to suggest that because some of us feel that General Dyer has not received justice that we should be stamped as taking the part of the Anglo-Indians against the Indians. There are a great many Anglo-Indians and Indians who are fully alive to the fact that although General Dyer had to perform a very unpleasant duty, he really did save an appalling situation, and I think everyone, whether Indian or European, must, on reflection, feel that General Dyer has not had, even after this discussion to-day, justice in any sense of the word as we know it here.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) says that General Dyer had full justice, but how 1794 can he say that when he knows that he has never been definitely accused, and that he has been judged and condemned on evidence which he gave before a Commission which was not enquiring into his case in particular, coupled with a statement which he was allowed to send to the Army Council. May I say here that I think it is extremely unfortunate that that communication, which most of us feel carries great weight, was not issued to the House until this morning, and the vast majority of hon. Members have not had an opportunity of informing themselves properly in regard to General Dyer's case. The Secretary of State for India, in his despatch, stated that General Dyer's evidence was afterwards available for the public as an authorised version, but it was admitted that it was not an authorised version as the evidence had not been submitted to him.
The right hon. Gentleman said it was unfortunate that General Dyer had to return to the front and therefore he was inaccessible. Let me inform the Secretary of State for India that General Dyer, after having given his evidence before the Commission, returned to his duties some 200 or 300 miles away, while other members who were examined before the Commission went a thousand miles away, but they were sent their evidence while General Dyer was not. It may be a coincidence but it is an unfortunate coincidence, and it was a lack of justice which it was the Secretary of State's duty to see should be meted out to this officer. The right hon. Gentleman devoted the greater part of his speech to condemning in a wholesale manner General Dyer, and he was followed by the Secretary of State for War. I am bound to say that when I heard the Secretary of State for War condemning in wholesale language General Dyer's action, which after all the Hunter Committee found was only an error of judgment, I felt reminded of the man in the parable who, having been excused the payment of a hundred talents by his master, went and cast his fellow servant into prison because he would not pay him a hundred pence.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War committed an error of judgment when he was in a high office before, and risked the lives not of hundreds but of thousands of men in 1795 Gallipolli, as he thought, with the object of saving a great number of lives. His error of judgment ended in disaster and was unsuccessful. He gave up one great post, but he is now at another. General Dyer committed an error of judgment, according to the Hunter Report. He was, at any rate, successful, but there is no pity for him, no sympathy for him, on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, who condemns him wholesale for having taken the lives of two or three hundred people, as he thought, to save the lives of thousands of others. As regards the Secretary of State for India, I think, at the present time, that whatever effect he may think General Dyer's conduct had in India, the right hon. Gentleman's administration of affairs in India is a very much greater danger to that country. During the last few weeks I have tried to elicit certain information from the right hon. Gentleman in this House, and I regret to say that he has misinformed this House. He has said and repeated on more than one occasion things which I think I can prove are not true, and if that is so anyone occupying the great position which the right hon. Gentleman does is not fit to be Secretary of State for India if he misleads, and continues to mislead, this House on matters of importance.
There are other reasons why I think the right hon. Gentleman is not a suitable person to fill that high office. I think it is conclusive that his sympathies have been with those who are opposed to law and order in India, whilst he has been prejudiced against those who have been trying to maintain it. There has not been one word said in the Debate about the people who are responsible for these riots, and the whole condemnation has been in regard to those who have tried to put them down. I hope to show that the right hon. Gentleman, by his action throughout last year, has proved that he is really the friend of that small disloyal minority, that he has encouraged them and discouraged the officials and those whom he ought to be the first to protect who are working under his administration. As regards my first charge, that the right hon. Gentleman has misled this House, I may say that on the 16th December last the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) asked the Secretary of State when he had become acquainted with the details of the occur- 1796 rence at Amritsar, and the right hon. Gentleman replied that he had not received any detailed account, nor did he expect to do so. Then he was asked by the right hon. Member for Peebles when did he become aware of the occurrences, and what reason had he for not informing the House of Commons, and he replied:I thought I said I knew no details of the circumstances until a saw a report in the newspapers. It is not an official communication yet."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1919; col. 241. Vol. 123.]On the 23rd June I asked the right hon. Gentleman questions arising out of that. I asked him why it was that he did not know in December the details of the occurrences at Amritsar, and he repliedWhat I said in December and what I say now is that I had no information as to the details, shooting without warning and shooting to the exhaustion of ammunition, and the principles on which General Dyer acted, and so forth. These things came to me as a shock when I read them in the newspapers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1920; cols. 2153–4; Vol. 130.]If the right hon. Gentleman in December had felt it was not in the public interest to state in this House various matters connected with the Amritsar affair and had said so, I do not suppose we should have pressed him. But he did not say so. He said he had no information, and he led the House to believe he was in perfect ignorance. Time went on. During the last two or three weeks I have pressed him in this matter and he has continued to insist that he knew nothing of the details in regard to the shooting by General Dyer at Jallianwalla Bagh. I say it is perfectly clear that the right hon. Gentleman did know and he was deliberately misleading the House when he said that he did not. Let me substantiate that case. It is very difficult to suggest reasons which may be apparent in the minds of someone else, but it is a fair inference to say, looking back on events, that the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to keep back from this House and from the country the real state of affairs in India during that time, until he had got his Government of India Bill through.
Let me run through the dates and see what was the course of events. The Amritsar affair took place on the 13th April, and after that there were communiques sent to the Press. These went 1797 on during April: four or five of them were issued about the riots in India, and then the matter dropped. On the 12th May the right hon. Gentleman was asked by the hon. Member for Melton if it was true that first-class priority tickets on the steamers were given to certain representatives of the agitators in India to let them come over here and give evidence while officers and women and children anxious to get home could not obtain berths. The Secretary of State replied that what he had in mind was that the passage of the Indian constitutional reforms through this House was urgently vital. On 22nd May, the right hon. Gentleman during the discussion on the Indian Budget, made certain statements in regard to the riots, and then again the matter was dropped. On 29th May the First reading of the Government of India Bill took place in this House. On 5th June the Second reading took place, and no mention was made of the disturbances in India On 30th June, the right hon. Gentleman saw for the first time Sir Michael O'Dwyer who had come home from India. He is then informed, presumably, of what is going on in India. In August, General Dyer is required to send in a Report of what took place at Jallianwalla Bagh. That is received by the Government of India. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman inform himself then when he saw the full Report—the Report on which he now condemns General Dyer?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that I saw the Report in August? If he does, I say it is not true.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I did not deal with this subject. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. I thought I had already informed him that I had called for no Report from the Government of India, because in May, immediately after the occurrence had happened, we decided to appoint a Committee. I thought then that the best thing to do was to await the findings of that Committee. I thought if a Report was sent to me from the Government of India I should have to publish it, and, if I published it, action would be demanded upon it. If I had found that the Report the Government of India furnished was inconsistent 1798 with the findings of the Committee, there would be confusion, and it was better to get an authoritative Report. I assure the hon. Member—I am sorry to say he does not believe what I say—that I received no Report from the Government of India, except in telegrams which were published, until I received the Report containing the details in October, I think, from the Punjab district. Then, on the 18th December, I received a Report and immediately published a White Paper, and was thereupon accused of having published a partisan Report in advance of the Committee's Report.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
Sir Michael O'Dwyer states positively that he told the right hon. Gentleman. He says he is willing to go into a Court of Law and swear on oath that he told the right hon. Gentleman details of the affairs at Amritsar. I would ask him this. He told me the other day, in answer to a question, that he received in November the Report of the Legislative Council meeting at Simla. I suppose I am right in assuming that the right hon. Gentleman informed himself of what the Indian Government were doing out there. If he received that Report, he must have received full details of what had taken place at Amritsar. In that Report full details were given, but the right hon. Gentleman told me the other day they were merely statements made by certain aggrieved persons. I say, at that discussion at Simla, certain statements were made by aggrieved persons, but the answer to them was given by Government of India officials. Let me ask the right hon. Gentleman, how did he know that of the aggrieved persons, if he had not taken the trouble to read the Report? When this discussion took place at Simla, one Government member after another was put up to answer it, and this Report was issued, which the right hon. Gentleman admits he got in November. Here we find speeches from Sir William Vincent, Sir George Lowndes, Mr. Hailey, General Hudson and others, all representing the Government of India. What was the attitude of the Government of India at that time? They took the attitude, every one of them, that General Dyer was justified in what he had done, and that he would have been guilty of negligence if he had not done what he did do. Here is the Government of India's own Report, from the soldier's point of view, which the right hon. Gentle- 1799 man had in November. Sir Havelock Hudson, representing the Government of India and, I take it, equivalent to the Secretary of State for War here, says:My Lord, my only reason for intervening in this Debate is to clear up one or two remarks which have been made by my hon. Friend as regards the action of certain officers connected with the suppression of rebellion at Amritsar…. The first event to which I shall refer is the Jallianwala Bagh.He goes on to give the whole details of that. I am not going to read the whole of it, but apparently the right hon Gentleman was not aware of it. I want, however, not to repeat what has been already said to-day as to the details in regard to Amritsar, but to show that the Government of India had then considered the case of General Dyer and come to a decision, and that that decision was strongly to support General Dyer in the action he had taken. This is what the official spokesman of the Government of India said at Simla:It was clearly the duty of the officer in command to dispose this unlawful assembly, realising the danger to his small force unless he took immediate action, and being well aware of the inadequacy of the measures taken to restore order on the 10th April, he ordered fire to be opened.The right hon. Gentleman said he was shocked when he heard that there was firing—The crowd was dispersed and the force was withdrawn. I have given the Council this narrative to show how the situation would be viewed by the soldier, and will content myself with saying that from a military point of view, the sequence of events justified the exercise of military force and that the object of its exercise was fully attained. Also, from a purely military point of view, the officer in command would have been gravely at fault"——mark those words—had he permitted the elements of disorder to continue unchecked for one moment longer.The right hon. Gentleman turns round now and is shocked to learn of the shooting without further warning. If there was time, I would read the whole Report, which goes into every detail. The right hon. Gentleman was also shocked when he heard of the principles on which General Dyer acted. What does Sir Havelock Hudson say? He says:Something was required to strike the imagination and impress on all the determination of the military authorities to 1800 protect European women. … There are those who will admit that a measure of force may have been necessary, but who cannot agree with the extent of the force employed. How can they be in a better position to judge of that than the officer on the spot? It must be remembered that when a rebellion has been started against the Government it is tantamount to a declaration of war. War cannot be conducted in accordance with standards of humanity to which we are accustomed in peace. Should not officers and men who, through no choice of their own, are called upon to discharge these distasteful duties be in all fairness accorded that support which has been promised to them?That was the soldier's point of view. What did the civilian representative of the Government of India say? He took this line:How can any member of this Council expect military officers of Government to do their duty unless they receive reasonable support? A military officer is in a position of peculiar difficulty. If he does not suppress disorders he is liable to censure, blame and punishment at the hands of his superior officers. If he does not take adequate measures, he may be removed from his office. … Let each Member visualise to himself what his position would be, faced with these difficulties, often with insufficient forces at his disposal to cope with disorders, doing what he thinks to be his duty, … and then being penalised and held liable to prosecution and persecution for no reason whatsoever.This is what was said by Sir William Vincent, who is the Home Secretary. Does the right hon. Gentleman repudiate him? He said:If officers acting on that assumption, and acting bonâ fide and perfectly reasonably, are not to be protected by Government, then the future prospects of Government officers are very serious. How can any member of this Council expect an officer to act confidently, firmly and decisively, if he knows that this Legislative Council and the Government will repudiate his action at the first opportunity? … In a resolution published by this Government some time ago. I think during the period of the disturbances, we solemnly promised all those charged with this onerous duty of restoring order our full countenance and support, and it is in fulfilment of that promise that I now come to this Council and ask hon. members to ratify what we then promised.Did the right hon. Gentleman know that that meant support for General Dyer? If so, he is certainly not in a position now to say that he is justified in continuing his office. He does not even know what his own Government in India were doing. He has placed the Legislative Council and the Government of India in a hopeless position, saying one thing one 1801 day, and then, when he is pressed, presumably, by his agitator friends, reversing the whole position.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
It is most amazing if the right hon. Gentleman did not. No wonder, with this strange method of carrying on Government, that there is discontent.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The charge has been made in my absence that I put pressure on the Government. The Committee came to their decision and reported it to me. The hon. Member has made many foul charges against me which are not supported by the facts.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
They are foul charges when made against a civilian, but not when they are made against a soldier. General Dyer has been disgraced, after 34 years' service, without a trial, and yet one cannot criticise the right hon Gentleman in this House without being told that one is making a foul accusation against him. He, at any rate, is not losing his office; I only wish he were. I say the right hon. Gentleman must have known in December these details, because he admits having received that Report in November. If he says that that Report does not contain evidence that General Dyer shot without further warning, and that he had certain motives in shooting, then, I say, I leave the Committee to judge whether he is telling the truth. I said a short time ago that the right hon. Gentleman, to my mind, had shown during his last year of office that his sympathies were with those who were in favour of disorder in India, rather than with those who were trying to keep the Government of India going. Look at the right hon. Gentleman's speech in this House on the 22nd May, 1919, that is to say, just after the disturbances at Amritsar. No one knew or ought to have known better than the right hon. Gentleman that the man who was more responsible for these disturbances than anyone else in India was Mr. Gandhi. We in this House had been kept in ignorance of the 1802 fact—details had not been given us—but the right hon. Gentleman must have known the feeling in India. He knew, and it has been proved by the Hunter Commission's Report, that Mr. Ghandi had started on foot this passive resistance movement which led to the riots and disturbance. Let me read what was said about Mr. Ghandi at the Legislative Assembly at Simla by one of the representatives of the Government:I maintain that no one with any feeling for the security of the Province could have safely allowed Mr. Ghandi to have arrived in the Punjab at this juncture.What does Mrs. Besant say?People who committed arson and assaulted women did so with the name of Mr. Gandhi upon their lips.What does one of the posters say which was issued by these seditious people?Conquer the English monkeys with bravery. God will grant victory. Leave off dealings with the Englishmen. Close offices and workshops. Fight on. This is the command of Mahatma Gandhi. Get ready soon for the war and God will grant victory to India very soon. Fight with enthusiasm and enlist yourselves in the Panda Army.While that was going on, what does the right hon. Gentleman say in this House?I cannot do better in describing this body of men than quote the words of a very great and distinguished Indian, Mr. Gandhi. There is no man who offers such perplexity to a Government as Mr. Gandhi, a man of the highest motives and of the finest character, a man whom his worst enemy, if he has any enemies, would agree, is of the most disinterested ambitions that it is possible to conceive, a man who has deserved well of his country by the services he has rendered, both in India and outside it, and yet a man who his friends, and I will count myself as one of them, would wish would exercise his great powers with a greater sense of responsibility and would realise in time that there are forces beyond his control and outside his influence. who use the opportunities afforded by his name and reputation.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
It is not without significance that at the present time Mr. Gandhi is at large, free to go about India still further trying to spread pernicious doctrines, and the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that at the very time he was making his speech it was telegraphed to India, and what effect can it have had? That was in May, when, as 1803 he told me yesterday, the fire had not yet been put out. The right hon. Gentleman gave that amazing character to the man who, rightly or wrongly, started these insurrections, which proved a danger to this country, and if he is Mr. Gandhi's friend, he has no right to be Secretary of State for India. What is Mr. Gandhi doing now? He started another organisation. He is now at large in this country, and has even passed resolutions saying that his Excellency the Viceroy shall be approached and given notice of one month to see that the Turkish peace terms are revised in accordance with Moslem sentiment and, in case it is not done, to start the movement of non-co-operation. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Wedgwood) said this movement of non-co-operation was hopeless in India, and that it meant trouble. Here is Mr. Gandhi spreading it. He is at the head of the Movement to bring about non-co-operation, a fresh system of passive resistance, and that is the man whom the right hon. Gentleman is supporting. Let us turn round and see who is supporting those who are trying to carry out the law. If the right hon. Gentleman continues, we are going on the right road to lose India The most graceful thing he could do now would be to resign. I would even prefer that the usual method of the Government should be proceeded with and that he be given, if necessary, a more important appointment rather than he should be allowed to ruin India. [An HON. MEMBER: "Are you out for the job?"] No, Sir, I want no job at present in this Coalition Government, if we are to be classed with colleagues of that kind. I would much rather remain an unimportant, unofficial Member with freedom to criticise if I like. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend who is to reply will suggest some very good reasons for refuting the accusations I have made. It is not pleasant for me to have to get up and attack the party which I have come here to support, but I do so because I feel strongly that those men who are under the right hon. Gentleman, and who are depending upon him for justice and for representation in this House, have not been looked after as they have a right to be. I would remind him that when he was asked last year whether he would 1804 have representatives from the various Governors and Lieut.-Governors to come over and give evidence as to the reforms in India, he said that the only representative in this country of the Governors and Lieut.-Governors and others in India was himself, as Secretary of State. If that is the case, if the Governors and Lieut.-Governors and those who are carrying out the laws in India are solely dependent upon him, then their position is indeed an unhappy one, because not only are they flouted, but the enemies of this country are encouraged, and I think I have proved that to be the case by my speech.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I rise, not to attempt to argue the case, but to state to the Committee the course which hon. Members with whom I act feel obliged to take with regard to the Divisions which may hereafter follow. We are mindful of the embarrassments of soldiers and officers of the Army who are faced with the discharge of their duties in these unhappy civil commotions, but we are convinced from the weight of evidence marshalled in the speech of the Secretary of State for War this afternoon that the conduct of General Dyer cannot be justified, and that a great wrong in this instance has been done to the people of India It is a horrible event that has to be considered, an event which will do more to stimulate disorder and revolution in India than anything which has so far happened, an event which will live in the minds of people in India for many generations to come. We feel that, whilst the Government, so far as it has gone, has gone the right way, and whilst we wish to express especially our appreciation of the terms and spirit of the speech of the Secretary of State for India to-day, the minimum of reparation which the people of India are entitled to demand has not been made. Therefore, we shall go into the Lobby, not for the purpose of reducing the salary of the Secretary of State for India, but as a protest against the action of the Government in taking no steps to remove those conditions of repression which provoked these instances of disorder and commotion and led to the unhappy Amritsar affair.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) in his speech this afternoon condemned the conduct of General Dyer as one of the greatest outrages in our annals. If the issue to be 1805 decided in the lobby to-night is the murder of these hundreds of Indians and the injury to a thousand of them in conditions which sent them to their doom like cattle, then I feel that we ought to carry into the division lobby with us a very large number of Members who do not belong to the Labour party. Should the hon. Baronet the Member for Brentford (Sir W. JoynsonHicks) take any steps to cause a division we shall be compelled, if this division is to be in the spirit of his speech, to vote against him, so that the Labour party proposes by its action in the Lobby to signify its desire greatly to enlarge the freedom of the people of India, to associate them more and more with the conduct and determination of their own affairs, and at the same time to express in the most emphatic form our protest at the Government not having signalised the reparation that we should make to the people of India in a more effective manner than we have so far done.
§ Major-General Sir J. DAVIDSON
Considerable play has been made in this Debate with the Report of the Army Council, but I think that there is nothing in it. There are two main points: First, General Dyer was guilty of an error of judgment. Perhaps he was, but who of us in a similar position would not be guilty of an error of judgment? It was a difficult and a most objectionable position to be in. One has some idea when one has been on strike duty as I have been in connection with the railway strike which is a most detestable duty for a soldier. There was liability to error of judgment during the whole operations in India, and he would be more than human if he were not guilty of an error of judgment in the whole of that period. The second point is the statement that he would not be employed at home. I do not know General Dyer, but I think that he did not expect to be employed at home. An officer of 56 would not expect to be employed at home. What is important is the action of the Government of India. For ten months after the 13th of April, when the Amritsar incident occurred, General Dyer was given one appointment after another. He was praised up to the skies and congratulated and then he was turned down as a scapegoat. This is most reprehensible and reflects very badly on the Secretary of State for India. I would ask the Mover of the Amendment 1806 what good is it going to a division? I am not frightened of going to a division, and I shall vote in the Lobby against the Government on the ground of the abominable action of the Government of India in the matter, including that of the Secretary of State for India. But what is the use of going to a division? I see no object in the least, and I appeal to the hon. Baronet not to press his Amendment.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
I was sorry to listen to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne). I think my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India is in a false position, for this reason, that, as he said himself, he thought the general subject we were discussing to-day was too large to make it right for him to answer a personal charge, and that it is not possible for him to answer now except at the expense of my not taking part in the Debate. I have suggested to him that I am quite willing to give place to him, but he says that in his opinion that would not be wise. I think the House of Commons is always fair, but I doubt whether it has been fair to my right hon. Friend. The idea that my right hon. Friend is specially responsible, without the conjunction of the Cabinet, for the policy in India is entirely wrong. The first step in regard to what is called the new policy in India was taken before he became Secretary of State, and, as regards every step in connection with General Dyer, not only has his action not been purely his own, but the despatch was the work of a Committee of the Cabinet, which drafted and advised it, and we are all responsible for it. I confess that, apart from this incident, this has been a painful Debate to me. This is one of the most difficult subjects with which either the House of Commons or individuals can ever attempt to deal. It raises issues of precisely the same kind as those raised, for instance, in regard to Governor Eyre very long ago. It happened when I was a very small boy, and, apart from having read about it, I have still a vague recollection of the extent to which the whole Empire was divided from top to bottom on the issue then raised. Then, as now, it was not, I think, a question of argument so much as of temperament, and criticisms arose according to the different 1807 points of view from which these things are regarded.
As I listened to the Debate to-day, I felt that nothing could be easier than to make an effective advocate's speech from either point of view. If on the one hand you look simply at what happened at Jallianwala Bagh, without a proper regard to the circumstances under which it happened, it would be perfectly easy, on the ground of humanity, to raise an amount of passion which, in my opinion, would not represent the actual facts of the case. On the other hand, if you disregard altogether what happened, and look at it simply from the point of view of supporting our officers who were doing their duty in difficult circumstances, it would be equally easy to make a case which would carry conviction almost to anyone who was not determined to get to the bottom of it for himself. My duty is more difficult. It is more difficult to make a speech when you are not on one side or the other, and when you are trying to judge fairly all the circumstances of the case.
But apart altogether from speeches, which after all are very unimportant, what the Government did was to look at this position not as an advocate on one side or the other, but to judge as fairly as they could in all the circumstances, and to come to the decision which they thought just and in the best interests of the Empire as a whole. That is what we have done, and I shall try briefly to put the facts before the House exactly as we saw them. First of all, consider what happened. When I first heard of the occurrences at Jallianwalla Bagh, I had the same feeling of indignation which has been expressed by so many who take one view on this subject. As it became necessary for the Government here to take a decision, I had to examine, as all my colleagues had, the evidence available. I say, frankly, while on the main issue my opinion is not changed, the result of that examination has been to make me more sympathetic, because I understand much better the difficulties of the position in which General Dyer was placed. Consider what that position was. Disturbances had taken place in Amritsar. They were not ordinary riots. It is not very important whether or not there was a conspiracy, as General Dyer thought, of which all this was a part, but the 1808 Hunter Committee itself declared that what was taking place there was not a riot, but a rebellion. That was a very serious thing. General Dyer was called to Amritsar after the atrocity of the 10th April.
I listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and agreed with his conclusion, but I do not think he at all did justice to the difficulties of General Dyer. It was not as if, as he seemed to think, after the occurrences of the 10th April everything had quieted down, and that there was no further danger. Quite the reverse. It is quite true that the riots and murders had ceased, but it is true also that the party which had been guilty of those were in command, and it is true that every appearance justified General Dyer, in my opinion, in thinking that the same outrages which occurred before might occur at any moment. That makes a very great difference. In addition, there is this point. My right hon. Friend spoke of it as if this meeting at Jallianwalla Bagh was merely a seditious meeting. It was not that. General Dyer had made his proclamation throughout Amritsar, and what I thought in reading the evidence one of the most striking things was that almost simultaneously with this proclamation, the rebels, to call them that, were following him with a proclamation urging the people to go to this place in spite of the proclamation. That makes a great difference. It makes this difference, that when General Dyer came to that place, and found the meeting there, he had a right not to consider that everyone there was guilty of open rebellion, but he had the right to consider that a large number of them had come there for the express purpose of flouting the Government, and showing that the Government could not maintain its power in that city.
All that has got to be taken into account. We have discussed this over and over again in the Cabinet, and the views which I am expressing are, I am sure, the views of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India and my colleagues. What further followed? General Dyer knew that the British in that city were very few; he knew that his military force was very small; he knew that there was great danger. Everyone admits that, and he had to take all that into account. He came to this place; the shooting began; 1809 it continued. I have spoken, I hope, fairly of my view of General Dyer's action, but it has not in the least altered the opinion with which I began—not in the least—that that action was wrong, entirely wrong, and that the Government responsible for the government of this country and of India is bound to declare that, in its opinion, it was wrong. The Hunter Report has, I am sure, been read by all Members of this House who are interested in this question. I think it is a very fair Report. I think it does justice to General Dyer's difficulties, and I would remind the Committee of this also, that in the dispatch sent by the Secretary of State for India those difficulties are pointed out, and are emphasised.
The majority of the Hunter Committee came to this decision, that, in their view, General Dyer was open to serious criticism on two grounds. The first was, that he had not given notice before he began to fire. [Laughter.] I see that my right hon. Friend and, no doubt, many others think there is no justification for that criticism. I do not agree. General Dyer himself admitted that, though he felt sure the bulk of the people there did know what they were doing, and were there to flout the Government, there might have been some—indeed, I think he said there might have been many—who were not aware of what they were doing. Surely, seeing it was the universal custom in India, as it is here, to give notice before beginning to fire, it would have been right to give warning first!
§ Mr. A. PARKINSON
Did not General Dyer give six hours' notice for them to disperse out of the Square before he fired?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The Hunter Committee express the opinion that the firing without notice would have been justified had General Dyer thought he was in danger of being attacked by the people. [HON. MEMBERS: "He was!"] Oh, no. In his evidence General Dyer says that was not so, but that he was determined before he came there to shoot right away. He himself said it. Now let us consider what General Dyer says on that in the report sent to the Army Council, which is a very able defence, although it does not, I think, give any new facts. What he said was this. "If I had been thinking 1810 of myself, of my own protection, then I would have given notice." That, I think, in itself is a proof that notice ought to have been given. When a soldier is in the position of representing the Government, as, of course, a soldier exercising martial law is, if it would have been right for him, from the point of view of his own protection, to have given notice first, it was his duty also to think of the moral position of the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: Oh!" and" Hear, hear!"] Surely if you are looking at the thing in a broad way, as General Dyer said he was—if you are looking at it, not merely from the point of view of the effect on the crowd itself, but the wider issue—then you have to look at all the wider issues, and surely it is right to think, not only of the merely military effect, but the effect on India as a whole, of the action, and make sure that there is no ground for saying that notice was not given before the firing began
The next ground on which the Hunter Committee criticised General Dyer was that he continued firing long after he ought to have stopped. With every desire to put myself, as far as I can, in General Dyer's place, I agree with that criticism, and I think there is no possible justification that I can see for the continued shooting. Just consider what it means. Here were these people almost like sheep in a pen. It is quite true that probably the mass of them were there in rebellion. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) in that respect, that if they had had the courage, in spite of being only armed with iron sticks, they might have rushed a small force, but again General Dyer said distinctly that that was not an element which weighed with him. His defence was quite different, and it is really that defence—and I am going to put this solemnly to the Committee—which above everything else makes it necessary that this Government, or any Government—that this country, if it is to retain the reputation it always has had, must repudiate the action. I am not going at this moment to read the exact words he said, but I will look at his defence. He admits it is an elementary rule that, in the exercise of martial law, you should not use more force than is necessary for the purpose. Then, when it was pointed out by the Hunter Committee, as also by the Secretary of State 1811 in his despatch, that this was far more force than was necessary for the purpose, General Dyer gives a defence which is quite right. He said he must take, to some extent, the circumstances into account. Nobody questions that, that is to say, as General Dyer puts it. If you are dealing with a riot in a city which is otherwise tranquil, you ought to be less severe than you are bound to be if you are dealing with a riot where a whole city is endangered, and something else may happen. I admit it is very difficult to draw the line, but I should say myself that, probably, the right line to draw in a case of that kind is to use whatever force is necessary to prevent the body with which you are dealing from giving trouble. I think that is as good a distinction as I can make, but consider what General Dyer's own view was. He said:I fired, and continued to fire, until the crowd dispersed. — If more troops had been at hand, the casualties would have been greater in proportion. It was no longer a question of merely dispersing the crowd, but one of producing a sufficient moral effect from a military point of view not only on those who were present, but more especially throughout the Punjab.Consider what that means? If you once accept the principle that, in inflicting punishment on any set of men, you are to consider not merely that of which they are guilty, and that which they should receive, but also the effect of their punishment upon other people, then there is no end to it. I say for myself—and on this I feel as strongly as any Member of the House—that is a principle which ought to be repudiated, not only by the "arm-chair politician" of whom my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson) spoke, and of whose peaceful and tranquil life he has had some experience—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Quite right, and I hope that I never do. It is a principle opposed to the whole of the British Empire and, in my opinion, can never be justified. General Dyer's whole record was a good one, and no one accused him—at least I do not—of anything except a grave misconception as to what was his duty. The very fact that that view was expressed by a man of that kind makes it all the more necessary that it should be repudiated by the Government of this country.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
Would the right hon. Gentleman say why the Legislative Council have changed their minds?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I cannot answer that question, but I should hope that the answer of the Government of India would be that they changed their minds on the evidence before the Hunter Committee. Let us consider the position further. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Duncairn Division said that General Dyer had not had a fair trial. I do not see how that statement can be justified. We all know that throughout the War scores of Generals were subjected to the same penalty as General Dyer, on no other authority than that of their superior officers. I am dealing now with the position after the Hunter Report. This General was liable to nothing more than that to which every Governor or anyone in the same circumstances would be liable. He had no right whatever to a court-martial. It has never been accorded to anyone else. The Government of India took the view that this action must be repudiated. The Commander-in-Chief who, I should have thought, would not be unmindful of the difficulties of the soldier, took the same view. It was submitted to the Army Council here. I have seen suggestions that the Army Council in coming to their decision were cowardly. No charge could be more unjust. In my view, theirs is the proper position for the soldier. The same view was expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for one of the Divisions of Ayrshire (Lieut.-General Sir Aylmer Hunter Weston), who has served in the Army, and understands the Army point of view. I myself have discussed this with a good many soldiers. Nearly all of them share the view that no action ought to have been taken against General Dyer. But there is not one to whom I have spoken who has not taken the view that General Dyer was wrong. That is a fact.
Suppose the Army Council took the view that General Dyer was wrong, and at the same time felt all these difficulties, felt the necessity, as far as possible, of supporting the officers who were placed in that kind of position, but thought that no action should have been taken. I can imagine nothing which would be worse, not only for the country, but for the Army. Are you really going to take the view—for that is what it amounts to— 1813 that if a soldier make a mistake in any portion of his life or activities—on the battlefield for instance—he has to pay for it, but if he make a mistake when dealing with civilians, whatever that mistake may be, then the Army must back him up? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is what I think it comes to! Take, in conclusion, the case presented by my right hon. and learned friend (Sir E. Carson). I do not see in what respect in his speech the Government were to blame! He said: "By all means censure him, but do not punish him. What is punishment? My hon. Friend who spoke last (Mr. Gwynne) explained. But it is not more punishment than happened to many generals in the War.
§ Sir E. CARSON
The right hon. Gentleman says it is nothing more than happened to many generals in the War. Does he then admit that the state of India and the Punjab at that time was to be compared to war?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I think I have dealt with that. My right hon. and learned Friend says: "You are right in censuring him." Does he mean that if we have the right to censure General Dyer, we have the right to continue him in employment? [MR. CHARLES PALIMER: "You re-employed Churchill!"] My right hon. Friend went a step further. He said you must back those who are doing their best in support of your authority. I agree, but how far? I can conceive of nothing worse than that the Government should make a scapegoat of a man of that kind. I am sure my right hon Friend will not say that we have got to
§ support them however wrong they are; but he would say perhaps that if an officer is doing his best, then we have to support him whatever he does. I cannot accept that doctrine. Personally, I am very sorry that this question has been treated with so much heat. I can say honestly that the Government have tried to deal with it fairly and justly.
§ Mr. BANAR LAW
We have tried to deal with the question fairly and justly, and I think what we have done is fair and just. We have, however, to consider something more. We have to think not only of public opinion here, but in India as well. We have to think not only of the opinion of Anglo-Indians, but of the opinion. of Indians themselves; and when my hon. Friend, the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. JoynsonHicks) tells us of the outrageous speeches of those who are against British rule, we know that there are deadly enemies to British rule in India. I am not afraid when they make charges such as those which the hon. Member referred to—which every honest man in this country and in India knows are false—but I am afraid if we do anything that gives them the right to say that we are treating Indians less fairly than we treat other British subjects.
§ Question put, "That Item A be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 37; Noes, 247.1815
|Division No. 195.]||AYES.||[10.49 p.m.|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Irving, Dan||Spoor, B. G.|
|Bromfield, William||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Swan, J. E.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Kenyon, Barnet||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Waterson, A. E.|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lawson, John J.||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Mills, John Edmund||Wignall, James|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Myers, Thomas||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||O'Grady, Captain James||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hayday, Arthur||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Mr. Neil Maclean and Mr. Frederick Hall.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Barrand, A. R.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Barton, Sir William (Oldham)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City of Lon.)||Beauchamp, Sir Edward|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.|
|Armitage, Robert||Barnston, Major Harry||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Hall, Captain Sir Douglas Bernard||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pratt, John William|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Haslam, Lewis||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hills, Major John Waller||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Briant, Frank||Hinds, John||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Reid, D. D.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Remer, J. R.|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hood, Joseph||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Howard, Major S. G.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Casey, T. W.||Hudson, R. M.||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm.,W.)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Hunter-Weston, Lieut-Gen. Sir A. G.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Seager, Sir William|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Jephcott, A. R.||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Jesson, C.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Johnstone, Joseph||Simm, M. T.|
|Coote, Colin Rejth (Isle of Ely)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cope, Major Wm.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Stevens, Marshall|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Kiley, James D.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Taylor, J.|
|Dawes, Commander||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Lloyd, George Butler||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Edge, Captain William||Lorden, John William||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Elveden, Viscount||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Waddington, R.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Mallalieu, F. W.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mitchell, William Lane||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Foreman, Henry||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Forrest, Walter||Morris, Richard||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Morrison, Hugh||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mosley, Oswald||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mount, William Arthur||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Neal, Arthur||Wintringham, T.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Gould, James C.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Grant, James A.||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Parker, James||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Younger, Sir George|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Greer, Harry||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gregory, Holman||Perkins, Walter Frank||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Perring, William George|
|Griften, W. G. Howard||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 129; Noes, 230.1817
|Division No. 196.]||AYES.||[10. 59 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Glyn, Major Ralph||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Gould, James C.||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Grant, James A.||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Greer, Harry||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gretton, Colonel John||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bottomley, Horatio W.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'pl,W.D'by)||Remer, J. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Haslam, Lewis||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen}|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel A. H.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Hopkinson, Dr. E. (M'chest'r,C1'yton)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South),|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hudson, R. M.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley}|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jephcott, A. R.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Vickers, Douglas|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lloyd, George Butler||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lort-Williams, J.||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Lowther, Lt.-Col. Claude (Lancaster)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurine||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Elveden, Viscount||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Mitchell, William Lane||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fildes, Henry||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Morrison, Hugh||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Murchison, C. K.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sir W. Joynson-Hicks and Brigadier-General Cockerill.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. Birm., W.)||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Glanville, Harold James|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Armitage, Robert||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Green, Albert (Derby)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Gregory, Holman|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City of Lon.)||Cope, Major Wm.||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Barrand, A. R.||Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hall, Captain Douglas Bernard|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Dawes, Commander||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Doyle, N. Grattan||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Duncannon, Viscount||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Edgar, Clifford B.||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Edge, Captain William||Hinds, John|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Holmes, J. Stanley|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)|
|Briant, Frank||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Foreman, Henry||Hunter-Weston, Lieut-Gen. Sir A. G.|
|Bromfield, William||Forestier-Walker, L.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Forrest, Walter||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Galbraith, Samuel||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Gange, E. Stanley||Irving, Dan|
|Casey, T. W.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Jesson, C.|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||O'Grady, Captain James||Sugden, W. H.|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Palmer, Major Godfrey||Mark Swan, J. E.|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Parker, James||Taylor, J.|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Maryhill)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Perring, William George||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Kiley, James D.||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Waddington, R.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Lawson, John J.||Pratt, John William||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Prescott, Major W. H.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Waterson, A. E.|
|Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Purchase, H. G.||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Lorden, John William||Randles, Sir John S.||Wignall, James|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Rankin, Captain James S.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Mallalleu, F. W.||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Royce, William Stapleton||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Mills, John Edmund||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Wintringham, T.|
|Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Seager, Sir William||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Seddon, J. A.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Morris, Richard||Sexton, James||Wood, Major S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Mosley, Oswald||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Mount, William Arthur||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Murray, Lieut.-Colonel A. (Aberdeen)||Simm, M. T.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness and Ross)||Sitch, Charles H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Myers, Thomas||Spoor, B. G.||Younger, Sir George|
|Neal, Arthur||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Sturrock, J. Leng|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.