§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I beg to move, in page 103, line 8, to leave out from the beginning to the second "the" in line 10.
May I ask whether it would be convenient to take this Amendment along with two others which stand in the name of some of my hon. Friends on this Clause?
§ The CHAIRMAN
As a matter of fact, I was not proposing to call those Amendments, for the reason that I think the point of the Amendments could be discussed sufficiently on this one. If it should turn out, as the result of this discussion, that they should be put, and if necessary, divided upon, that can be done, but the point can be discussed on this Amendment.
§ Mr. JONES
In Clause 175 we have stated what shall be the executive 44 authority to deal with the construction, maintenance and operation of railways in India. Now we come to the question of the composition of the railway authority. I know that in this matter we shall be in violent disagreement with hon. and right hon. Members on the other side concerning the method by which this railway authority is to be constituted. There are to be, if I remember rightly, seven persons, of whom three are to be nominated by the Governor-General in his discretion, and, in addition, he will be entitled, in his discretion, to nominate the president. We take the opposite view. In our judgment, these people who are to be called upon to exercise the functions of membership of the Federal Railway Authority should be nominated by the Indian Government, although formally they may be appointed by the Governor-General. I quite appreciate what is at the back of the minds of hon. Members opposite. They want to make sure that this statutory authority will be entirely outside party politics, as they call it. I confess that I am not over-impressed by arguments of that sort, for wherever I see authorities in this country, I discern numbers of people whose politics are fairly well known, to put it mildly. If you want people in this case whose politics are not well known, it ought to be possible for the Indian Government to select a number of people of that sort who will be, so to speak, above the political battle.
But the important point is that, the railways being mostly State railways at this moment, the Indian Government should have the right to nominate and to determine who shall be the appropriate people appointed to this authority. If I may say so, the addition which the right hon. Gentleman moved this afternoon, and is now accepted by the Committee, is an additional reason for my Amendment, for the Federal authority is still to be responsible, to a certain degree in the direction of the Amendment, for securing the safety of the railways. Therefore, it seems to us that, since they are responsible for the safety, since they are themselves now the owners of the railways, they ought to have some share—and a determining share—in selecting the appropriate people for exercising those functions. I hope that the Committee will forgive me if I say this: I 45 dislike very much this repeated effort to keep out of the purview of the Indian Government important functions such as those that are to be exercised by the Federal Railway Authority. I know, of course, that the question of defence is involved, but I do not quite see why the federal authority should be any the less likely to discharge its duties adequately and properly than any other statutory body. In any case, my Amendment will not make them in the slightest degree, once they are appointed, more amenable to the Indian Government than they would be under the proposals of the Bill. All that we ask is that the Indian Government should have the right—I will not call it the privilege—of nominating these people, leaving it, of course, to the Governor-Genera/ in the end formally to appoint them. Therefore, the question is a simple one, namely, the representative character of this authority. Its job is to administer the railways in a way that seems best, most convenient and most profitable under the Indian Federation, and I cannot conceive that the Indian Government would be so foolish as to appoint people who would be, on personal grounds, unfitted for the discharge of such a power.
The second point is this. I suppose it will be suggested that you want people with special business acumen for this task. So far as my observations lead me to any conclusion in the matter, Indians are just as capable as Europeans of exercising directive power within the realm of business, and I do not at all see why it should be impossible to appoint seven people—Indian people or European people—appointed by the Indian Government who will do just as efficiently as seven people appointed in the way set down in the Clause. For that reason, I beg to move the Amendment.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
There are two points of view taken about the railway board. One point of view, no doubt supported by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, is that the railways should be managed just like any other Government Department in India. The other point of view, represented by my hon. Friends over here, is that the railways should be managed as a business undertaking, 46 and should be kept as free as possible from political interference. Those two points of view are exemplified in the attitude from which the two sides of the Committee approach the question of the board of directors. Hon. Members opposite, holding the view that they do, not unnaturally demand that appointments to the board should be made on the recommendation of the Federal Ministry. We, on the other hand, say that although the Federal Ministry should be able to recommend certain directors, some of them ought to be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in his discretion. There was a prolonged inquiry into the whole of this question about 18 months ago. On that inquiry there were represented a number of distinguished members of the Indian Legislative Assembly, and one of two of the most prominent of the ministers of the Princes; and there was also represented upon it the point of view held, say, by the European Association in India, Mr. Joshi representing some part of the Labour Movement in India, and a number of experts from Great Britain. For instance, there was the General Manager of the Great Western Railway, Sir James Milne, and General Hammond, one of the greatest railway experts in Africa. After this very long inquiry, there emerged the proposal that we have put in the Bill, namely, that four of the seven members of the board should be appointed upon the advice of the Federal Ministry, and three, including the chairman, should be appointed in the discretion of the Governor-General.
I do not say that all the gentlemen, Indian and British, who took part in this investigation were unanimous in that recommendation. They were not. Some of them wished all the directors to be nominated on the advice of the Federal Ministry; others wished the whole board to be nominated in the discretion of the Governor-General. The Government and the Joint Select Committee adopted the view supported by the greatest measure of agreement, namely, the view expressed in the Bill, that four should be nominated on the advice of the Ministry, and three in the discretion of the Governor-General, the Governor-General having the right to appoint the chairman and the chief commissioner, the most important of the officials. I suggest to the Com- 47 mittee that this is probably the wisest and most practicable proposal for us to make, and it would be a mistake to accept the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. M. Jones), if for no other reason than that it is really the outward and visible sign of the different conception of railway administration from that which was taken by the majority of the Joint Select Committee, and, I believe, by the great majority of this House.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I think that I ought to point out to the Committee that those who take the view—which the Secretary of State has just explained—as I do myself that this board should be kept as free as possible from politics and be all appointed by the Governor-General in his own discretion, are rather in some difficulty over this Amendment. The Amendment, as moved, with the subsequent Amendments which you, Sir Dennis, may or may not call, would have the effect of placing in the power of the Governor-General in his discretion the appointment of the entire board. I should be very glad to vote for such a proposal. I am, however, more modest in my Amendment which is on the Paper, to leave out three-sevenths and insert four-sevenths to be nominated by the Governor-General. Personally, in the circumstances, I do not feel inclined to support the Amendment, as I otherwise should, but I will defer any further remarks on the question until we come to the next Amendment, and I am hoping that this one will be cleared out of the way. I do not ask that the whole of the board should be nominated by political people, or should be nominated with, a view to avoiding political appointments. I should be satisfied if we had a clear majority of non-political persons to manage the railways of India. I think that that is absolutely essential.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. WILMOT
This Amendment seems to me to be of far-reaching importance. It asks that the appointment of this important business board should be made by the Governor-General on the advice of his Ministers, and I suggest that the form in which the Amendment would have this done is the form which we are used to in similar circumstances in this country. The whole of this far-reaching 48 experiment in Indian government will succeed or fail according to how far it is possible to build up in India the same traditions of government as we have in this country. The whole purpose, I take it, of the Bill, and the conception of government which lies behind it, is to develop in India a system of responsible democratic government. If that be so, I think that nothing could be more fatal to the success of the experiment than that the Bill should be charged with distrust of the very machinery which the Government are setting up in India. Either the Government which will be in office when this Bill becomes law is to be composed of responsible, straightforward, independent persons, or the whole scheme is going to fail, and it seems to me to be very dangerous indeed to go on with this Measure, conferring these great powers upon and making these great innovations in India unless those who are responsible for these changes have faith in the success of the experiment and in the capability, uprightness, and disinterestedness of the people in India who will be called upon to administer it.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the question of the composition of this board had been the subject of a committee of inquiry and that that committee was divided as to the advice which it gave. Some felt that the whole of the members should be appointed by the Governor-General, and some felt that the whole of the members should be appointed in some other way or that there should be no suggestion of any political question forming part of the reasons why certain appointments were made. There is a case to be made for either of those two methods, but there is very little case to be made for a mixture of the two. To go so far as to say that the ministers in India may nominate a certain number of these members, and then to say that under no circumstances may they nominate a sufficient number to give them a majority on the board or to give them effective business control of the board is the worst possible suggestion which could have been made.
What is the reason for this reservation? It can only be that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the Ministers of the Federal Government will be incapable of exercising the same disinterested motives in choosing the members as the Government of this country exercises when 49 it is appointing persons to sit on similar boards here. The British Broadcasting Corporation is an example. I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not suggest for a moment that any political motives are operating when appointments are made to the board of the British Boardcasting Corporation, and the same is true, of course, of the other boards to which appointments are made on the advice of British Ministers. It can only be that the right hon. Gentleman feels that it is not safe to leave to Indian ministers the exercise of functions which he is satisfied British Ministers are capable of performing. If that be true—and it can be the only reason for this reservation—then he ought to see to it that none of these appointments is so made, but, if he takes that view, it seems to me that it cuts away the basis of the whole of this democratic machinery. If, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman believes, as we believe, that the chances of the success of constitutional democratic government in India are sufficiently strong to warrant this experiment being made, then we ought to have the courage to vest that government with full responsibilities, especially in a matter of this kind.
If one desires to lay down sets of regulations which would involve the maximum of political interference, this is the way to do it. To reserve a certain number of seats and to give the rest for appointment on the advice of ministers is to invite that a section of the board shall represent interests or shades of opinion and that the Governor-General's representatives shall be persons who are impartial. Surely nothing could be more destructive of good business management than that a board should be thus divided as between the nominees of the Governor-General, who presumably will be business, non-political experts, and the nominees of the ministers, who, because of this reservation, will tend to become political nominees. I would urge the right hon. Gentleman to look at this question again and see whether, in the light of further consideration, it would not be wiser to place in the hands of the Indian ministers the responsibility of appointing to this board people of capacity, experience, and responsibility who can be trusted with the administration of this great function, without restricting them 50 in a manner which throws the gravest reflection upon their responsibility as appointees.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS
The hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) was not, I think, a Member of this House when we were discussing the London Passenger Transport Bill, because he was saying that we ought, so far as India is concerned, to do the same as we have clone in this country. The last time in this country when he had a Bill before Parliament considering the appointment of people to run, among other things, a railway undertaking, we did not do that. The London Passenger Transport Board is appointed by a body which, frivolously, we used to call, when the Debates were on, the Commissioners in Lunacy, but which actually are known as the appointing trustees. Those appointing trustees consist, I think, as follows: One is the Chairman of the London County Council, one is some other popularly elected person, one is the President of the Law Society, one is President of the Bankers' Clearing House, and one is President of the Chartered Accountants. We in this House two and a-half years ago deliberately decided to take out of politics the control of that great railway undertaking, the London Passenger Transport Board, and having regard to the fact that we took that decision and, I think, took it with unanimity—I was one of those who did not like the whole conception of making London's passenger transport a monopoly and voted on a number of occasions against that Bill; nevertheless there was a general unanimity that that was the right way—and having regard to the fact that we did that for the United Kingdom, where we have a long history of responsible, representative government, we are not insulting the people of India very much if we suggest that they should be restricted to three-sevenths of the extent to which we have restricted our selves.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN
Everyone who has been in India knows that the real reason for making these appointments in this way is that these railways are mainly strategic railways. They were mainly made originally to enable us to get up to the frontiers to protect India against 51 raids across the frontiers. They were made to protect the people of India against any fighting which might occur and to bring British troops up to the front. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary on a board of this kind to be sure that you have not only politicians and people who represent the railways concerned, but men who are able to understand the necessity for rolling-stock, permanent way, and other matters connected with the railways being ready and in proper condition should they be required for strategical purposes. That is the real reason, in ray opinion, for controlling these appointments, and I think it is absolutely essential for the Government and the people of India that these railways should have a board on which the Governor-General is able to nominate people who will be able to take into consideration those military circumstances which are so necessary.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
Will the Princes be allowed to appoint, by any chance, any of these representatives on the board? I was wondering if possibly some compromise might not be arrived at in that way. It seems to me that that might be a way out of the difficulty, and that you might get one of the seven persons appointed in that way and thus be able to compromise between the two very different points of view that have been put before us
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Undoubtedly, the Indian States will be fully represented upon this board. The Indian States will form part of the Federal Government, and it is inconceivable that the Federal Ministry will fail to advise the Governor-General to appoint a representative or representatives of the Indian States. Further than that, there are the appointments to be made by the Governor-General in his discretion. We certainly contemplate that the Governor-General will take into account the general balance of the board in any appointments of that kind. That is one of the answers to the hon. Member for East
§ Fulham (Mr. Wilmot). It is as impossible to generalise for India as for anywhere else in the world. The variety of conditions is so great that you want exceptional steps taken for dealing with them, and we have passed over and over again, not only at this point but at many other points in the Bill, and there is a general agreement among Indians, that the Governor-General should have in the last resort a discretion for redressing balances and seeing that one community does not, either in the matter of appointments or in any other way, dominate other communities. That, in addition to the reason given by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Enfield (Lieut.-Colonel Applin), is one of the two main reasons why it is essential that the Governor-General should have in his discretion a certain number of these appointments.
Am I right in assuming that the Governor-General, in appointing the President, may choose any of the seven members and not necessarily one of the three whom he has appointed in his discretion?
§ Sir S. HOARE
I think it is assumed that he will appoint one of the three. My hon. and gallant Friend will see that if he appointed one of the others it might be held to give him an unfair weightage, but I will consider my hon. and gallant Friend's question.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
The phrase in the Clause isthe Governor-General shall in his discretion appoint a member of the Authority.Once the seven members are gathered together they then constitute the authority, and the Governor-General may choose one of the seven and not necessarily one of the three.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to 'three-sevenths,' in line 8, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 224; Noes, 24.53
|Division No.130.]||AYES.||[4.34 p.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P.G.||Balley, Eric Alfred George||Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C.M.S.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V.K.||Balniel, Lord||Beit, Sir Alfred L.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel|
|Blindell, James||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Petherick, M.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Bernstaple)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Harris, Sir Percy||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart||Hartington, Marquess of||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Hartiand, George A.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Romer, John R.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcoim||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Rickards, George William|
|Burnett John George||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Ker, J. Campbell||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Knox, Sir Alfred||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Clarke, Frank||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Sandys, Duncan|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Lewis, Oswald||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Liddall, Walter S.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Copeland, Ida||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K' dine, C.)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Cross, R. H.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Stones, James|
|Denville, Alfred||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Storey, Samuel|
|Donner, P. W.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||McKie, John Hamilton||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Edmondson, Major Sir James||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n.S.)|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Mallallew, Edward Lancelot||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Martin, Thomas B.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Meller, Sir Richard James||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Watt, Major George Steven H.|
|Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Moreing, Adrian C.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Cot. A. Hamilton||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morrison, William Shephard||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halls||Munro, Patrick||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Goldle, Noel B.||Nunn, William||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Granville, Edgar||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Patrick, Colin M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grimston, R. V.||Penny, Sir George||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Percy, Lord Eustace||Sir Walter Womersley.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Banfield, John William||Grundy, Thomas W.||Thorne, William James|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cleary, J. J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||West, F. R.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I beg to move, in page 103, line 8, to leave out "three-sevenths," and to insert "four-sevenths."
This Clause, which relates to the composition of the railway authority, provides that not less than three-sevenths of the members shall be persons appointed by the Governor-General. We are anxious that there should be a clear majority of the authority on whose regard the Governor-General can rely. The Joint Select Committee in their recommendations said that the railway authority ought to be so composed and have such powers as to ensure that it shall be in a position to perform its functions upon business principles without being subjected to political interference. It is unnecessary to stress the great importance of the railways now arid in the future from the point of view of strategy, famine relief, and many other things, and those of us who are supporting the Amendment believe that it would be a far better thing if four-sevenths were substituted for three-sevenths and if the Governor-General were in a position to command a majority which would look at this matter not from the point of view of political prejudice, but from a strictly business point of view.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I cannot help feeling that, if the Government were really to stand by their declared policy as expressed in paragraph 74 of the White Paper, they would support this Amendment. I was rather surprised to hear my right hon. Friend, in speaking on the last Amendment, describe the policy of wishing the railways to be run on business principles free from political interference as a policy advocated by those of us on these benches who are critical of the proposals.
§ Sir S HOARE indicated dissent.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am glad I misunderstood my right hon. Friend, because he could not have forgotten that this was the principle which he advocated. Therefore, if we agree on this side of the House in wishing the railways to be run free from political interference, the question only remains whether what the Government propose will really ensure that. Now I ask the House to face up to realities, however inconvenient it may 56 sometimes be to do so. The Joint Select Committee did have evidence of the fact that ministers might be subject to a great deal of pressure to make appointments not on merit, but on grounds of community or caste, or even personal relationship, and, indeed, my right hon. Friend admitted, in a speech on a previous Amendment, that appointments might have to be made on communal grounds. He seemed to think it natural that the Governor-General might be obliged to step in and make appointments in order to satisfy the aspirations of some community.
If we recall what has been said as to the effect of appointments made on such grounds on the efficiency of the various Departments already transferred, we must realise the possibility that appointments made by Ministers under pressure may not always be at all suitable, and in that case the efficiency of the railway administration and of the railways themselves must necessarily suffer. In a country the size of India railways must be almost of more importance to the welfare of the people than they are in this country. Not only are they important from the point of view of military strategy, but in times of famine the railways play an important part in getting personnel and food to the stricken areas. Therefore, we have to face the possibility, and, indeed, the probability, that some of these ministerial appointments, if made on the grounds indicated by my right hon. Friend himself, may not conduce to the efficiency of the railways. Further, members of the railway authority appointed by the minister may come to look to him for further promotion. Their appointment as members of the railway authority may not be the end of their hopes from the minister. That is the more likely as, I understand, the composition of the authority will allow members of the Legislative Assembly to be appointed to it. Nothing seems more natural than that members of the Legislative Assembly appointed by the minister to this authority may wish for further office at his hands, and therefore we cannot deny that such persons would be influenced, or might be influenced, by political considerations.
We have also to bear in mind the possibility of great political pressure being put on the staff of the railways, 57 such as was exercised during the Civil Disobedience Movement upon the police and subordinate officers of the revenue staff. They were subjected to pressure to give up their appointments under penalty of medical or food supplies being withheld, bridegrooms being refused for their daughters and brides for their sons. That pressure was very severe in several parts of India. The police withstood it magnificently, and so, I believe, did the revenue service, but could we count on a scattered staff such as the railway staff, not disciplined like the police force, being able to withstand pressure of that kind, and would a railway authority the majority of which consisted of men either not of the most suitable type or else looking to the minister for promotion be an authority which would effectually protect members of the staff from such interference? It seems to me we cannot be certain of really strict upholding of morale and independence of political pressure when we have an authority on which the majority are appointed by the minister; and the wording of the Clause seems clearly to indicate that the minister will appoint the majority. Seeing that the Clause does not seem to bear out the expressed intention of the Government that the authority should not be under political influence, I support the Amendment.
§ 4.50 p.m.
I would like to add a word to the able presentation of the case made by the two hon. Members who have preceded me. I wish to bring out a point which, it seemed to me, was partly made by an hon. Member opposite. There may be a great deal to be said for a railway authority appointed by ministers, and possibly of a political complexion, or a great deal to be said for an authority being appointed in an entirely different way by the Governor-General, but an authority appointed partly by the one and partly by the other is the worst possible type of authority. The point I wish to make is not quite as wide as that, but I really think a method by which the Governor-General appoints a minority of the Board is really the way to ensure a conflict without securing control. The Secretary of State has chosen the worst possible proportions in giving to the Governor-General the right to appoint three-sevenths, leaving the 58 Ministry to appoint four-sevenths. Whether the President, who can be selected from the whole authority, happens to be a member of the four-sevenths or the three-sevenths does not very much matter if our fears are justified and the members appointed by the Ministry are of a different character from the three-sevenths of the authority. I would respectfully call the attention of this Committee to the implication of Clause 177, Sub-section (4), and point out how vitally important it is that the authority should be a body which is likely to be in general agreement with the Governor-General's policy in discharging his responsibilities. That Sub-section (4) states:The Governor-General may issue to the authority such directions as he may deem necessary as regards any matter which appears to him to involve any of his responsibilities.It would be the worst possible thing if there were the probability of conflict between this authority and the Governor-General. He has to give absolute orders on any question impinging upon his Federal responsibilities, and in view of our desire to ensure the safety of India under this new form of government it is vital, wherever the special responsibilities of the Governor-General are involved, that he should be able to feel quite certain that the authority will carry out his orders in, it may be, very critical circumstances. If we have an authority with only three-sevenths of the members appointed by the Governor-General, and with a president with a casting vote, we shall constantly have that authority divided three and three. In a body of seven members a full quorum cannot always be ensured, and we may have two voting one way and two another and the President frequently called upon to assume the burden and responsibility of giving a casting vote. We want a body which we may feel fairly sure will, on important questions of administration, and particularly in circumstances to which I have specially referred, be of one opinion with what I may term the Government of India as distinct from these new Legislatures which are being set up. I beg my right hon. Friend seriously to consider this Amendment, and I hope that he will accept it and that we shall not be forced to divide, because in the appointment of this authority I think it 59 is right that four-sevenths of the members should be nominated by the Governor-General.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM WAYLAND
One of the things which has been revealed by this discussion is the evils that are attendant upon the State ownership of railways. If the Indian railways had been privately owned we should not be discussing this question. I would rather place my faith in the election of directors by the business community of India than by the Governor-General or, certainly, politicians.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
I will obey your instructions, Mr. Chairman. I support the Amendment, and I would add that I should have supported any Amendment which had proposed to place the election of this authority in the hands of the business community and to give the Governor-General the power to appoint the president. I certainly think there will be great danger in leaving the Clause as it is.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
There is an Amendment in my name which, I understand, is not to be called, but I can conveniently raise the point with which it deals upon this Amendment. Before I do that may I point out to the Noble Lady that she has, for once, made a slight slip, I think. She said that possibly members of this authority might be appointed from the Legislatures?
Duchess of ATHOLL
What I said was that I understood that members of the Legislatures could be appointed as members of the authority.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
If the Noble Lady will look at the Eighth Schedule she will see it stated that any person who is or has been within the preceding 12 months a member of the Federal or any Provincial Legislature is debarred from appointment. I do not know to what extent we can refer to what appears in that Schedule in discussing this Amendment.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
It seems to raise rather important issues, because, as far as I can see, there will be nobody left to be appointed other than what I call the nabobs, the people who have made a lot of money in business in India.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The question is whether the members of this Authority are to look to the Governor-General as their chief, or to look to the ministers. That is the vital issue. As the Bill stands, three-sevenths will look to the Governor-General. The other four-sevenths will have been appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of his ministers, an advice which he cannot refuse. My Amendment was to propose that the four-sevenths should be appointed by the Governor-General in the exercise of his judgment, that is to say that he would receive the advice of his ministers, who would be able to suggest names, but that if he wished he could refuse their advice. I think that would have been a better solution, because while they would have been able to suggest suitable people, the members of the Authority, once they were appointed, would have realised that the Governor-General was their effective master. It is true that up to a point he remains their master, because he has the power of dismissal, and that is very important. A man does not consider only who has given him his job, but who can sack him. I admit that I have always paid very marked attention to anybody who could dismiss me. That is why we are all so tender towards our constituents. We are not so much grateful to them because they voted for us as fearful lest they should not vote for us again. Therefore, I admit the power of dismissal does somewhat strengthen the position. On the other hand, dismissal is a very extreme step to take in the case of persons of responsibility of this kind. They would not be dismissed unless for first-class incapacity or some very grievous offence, and normally the four persons who are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the ministers will very clearly look on the ministers as their masters.
61 Here we are, undertaking this very great experiment—if it were not a great experiment there would not be any safeguards at all. The mere existence of a great many safeguards is a frank admission by all of us. Although those opposite are inclined to vote against the safeguards, they would not eliminate all of them if they were in charge of a Bill for the good government of India. As long as we contemplate having safeguards, the Governor-General if he has to exercise his special responsibilities wants to be certain that the means of transport will be at his disposal. I have never visited India, but I have tried, by reading and by discussion with a great many people of all sorts and conditions who are familiar with India, to acquire some knowledge of the subject. Everyone who has any sense of responsibility for the defence of India, and in particular the preservation of internal law and order, always emphasises the vital necessity of the Governor-General being able effectively to control the means of communication. If the majority of the board has been appointed on the advice of ministers the employés of the railway administration will look to these people as their real masters, and therefore their real loyalty—you cannot blame them—will be directed to the four members of the board who have been appointed by the ministers.
We have to contemplate that, if there is a breakdown and the Governor-General has to exercise his special responsibilities, he will exercise them against his ministers. That is the whole question—that it is a breach between him and his ministers. The ministers are doing things which he thinks are wrong; there is a grave threat, and he has to intervene and in effect supersede his ministers. Then he will have a situation that a majority of the railway board, will in effect, or may in effect, be supporters of the ministers in this great constitutional conflict, and the Viceroy may find himself deprived of what is vital if he has to give effect to his special responsibilities. All the study I have been able to make of this, all the grave and anxious words I have heard and read by people who are familiar with India—grave and anxious words not merely of people who have criticised all these proposals, but people who are sympathetic, generally speaking, to the proposals of this Bill—have emphasised that one of the essential 62 things is that the military authorities when necessary should have effective control over the railways.
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I ask the hon. Member just to explain his Amendment to me, because, if he looks back to Clause 9 of the Bill, Sub-section (1), of which I am quite sure he is well aware, he will find that the Governor-General, when he acts in his discretion, does not act in consultation with his ministers.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Yes, Sir Dennis. He appoints three in his discretion, that is, without any reference to his ministers at all, but the board is to consist of seven and the other four he appoints—
§ The CHAIRMAN
Apparently, the hon. Member does not mean what he has down in his Amendment, because his Amendment refers to line 10. I think I am right about that.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
If I may explain—the three are appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion, chat is to say, if he consults at all, he consults with his Secretary of State. With regard to the others, as the Clause stands, he has to take the advice of his ministers. As I wish to amend it, he would have to receive the advice of his ministers, but he could ignore it if he wished, and appoint them in one sense in his discretion after he had heard what his ministers had to say. There are four possibilities open to us. One is that the whole board should he appointed by the Viceroy in his discretion, without reference to anybody but the Secretary of State. The second is that the board should be appointed entirely on the advice of the ministers, the purely democratic way, so to speak. The third is the proposal in the Bill, part one thing and part the other, but we can argue as to the fraction. The other possibility is the one I have hinted at in my Amendment, namely, that some should be appointed by the Governor-General absolutely in his own discretion and the remainder by him but after he had consulted with his ministers. That seemed to me an alternative worth while considering, because there the minister would have a real opportunity of suggesting suitable people, but nevertheless, if the Governor-General thought that names were being put forward for improper reasons, he would be in a position 63 to be able to reject those recommendations. In any event, I hope the Committee will give very serious consideration to the Amendment immediately before us, and, if by any chance you, Sir Dennis, should think fit to give the Committee an opportunity of considering my alternative proposal, I hope that the Committee will give most earnest consideration to that, because we are now facing one of the principal and vital issues if the doctrine of safeguards is to have any significance whatsoever.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I have only one or two words to add to the discussion put so effectively before the Committee. I make no apology for reminding the Committee once more that there is a country called Great Britain as well as the Indian Empire. It is extraordinary how in our great endeavour all the way through to consider the interests of the Indian people we are inclined to forget the fact that the whole of this great structure has been built up by British wealth, credit and industry. Therefore, I want to remind the Committee of the fact that it is imperative, from the point of view of this country, that we shall see that the railway administration of India shall not fall under political or communal or caste influence.
§ Sir H. CROFT
The right hon. Gentleman, I am glad to learn by his sympathetic cheers, is on my side—it does not often happen I would remind him because I know he is always ready to secure British interests of the fact that in the statutory commission's Report they point out that in 1847 there were no railways at all in India, and, will he mark these words, there was no capital in India of any description. In consequence, the whole of the money for the building up of these railways had to be found by the joint stock banks in this country. That is laid down in the Statutory Commission's Report in that very interesting short survey. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that this is really a point that the Committee must consider. This great and vital system has been built up very largely by British investors. Although I have no money myself in Indian railways, I happen to be 64 trustee for many, and I am very anxious, although hon. Gentlemen tried to infer the opposite the other day, to do everything in our power to maintain the credit of the Indian Empire in days to come.
For that reason, if for no other, I ask the Secretary of State whether it would not be wise, at any rate for a period of years, to see that the Governor-General shall have the appointment of four-sevenths instead of three-sevenths. May I remind the Committee that this is a tremendous system we are now considering. The whole of this wonderful system of railways, 40,000 miles or more, was built up at a cost of something like £600,000,000 sterling, all very largely supplied by British investors in this country. Latterly, as the wealth of India has progressed, built up under the guidance of Great Britain, more and more Indians have invested in these railways. Therefore, from the point of view of the investing public who hold this immense amount of stock in Indian railways, I urge that it is wise that we should take every precaution to see that confidence is maintained.
You are bound to have a great clash of influences in the days to come. That has already been admitted in debate. You will have great influence from one direction or another, and it was pointed out by you, Sir Dennis, to my hon. Friend that the Governor-General has the power in case of great national emergency to take over the whole railway system. It must be obvious to everybody who has given any study to these kinds of movement that it would be very valuable—I will not put it higher—for the Governor-General to be able to take very early steps to prevent any such advances as are suggested by that other Clause as a possibility. For that reason, it is desirable that he should be able very strongly to influence this authority at the earliest possible moment. The point has not been raised up to now, and I hope the Committee will in voting on this question—although I hope the Secretary of State will excuse us the necessity of voting by meeting our point—realise that we, as members of this great Imperial Parliament, have a duty to that vast number of British people whose interests are so locked up in the great railway managements in India, and to those Indians who have themselves in- 65 vested in them and desire their investments to be free from any kind of political influence.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I hope the Secretary of State will give us his views on the effect he considers the present composition of the board will have on the subordinate staff. That is a matter of very great importance.
§ Mr. RAIKES
In all humility, I submit that it does arise in so far as we are considering the proportion of members to be appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion on the one hand, and by the ministers of the Federation; and the very fact that that means that the composition of the railway board must have either a useful or bad effect on the moral of the staff who are employed under the board. I submit that one of the chief matters with which this Amendment deals is to consider whether a larger proportion of members of the board appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion would have the effect of greater efficiency, and greater efficiency means more loyal staff work on behalf of the staff who are working under the board, or whether it would not. The trouble, as I see it, in the present figures is that you have a bare minority appointed to the board by the Governor-General in his own discretion. The fact that it is a bare minority will arouse the determination in the hearts of the ministers themselves to make sure that the other four-sevenths are men who are likely to stand by them as against the Governor-General in the event of there being any real trouble breaking out. If, on the other hand, the majority was actually in the hands of the Governor-General, at most it would be a bare minority, however good party men, appointed by the ministers, and there would not be the same determination to make sure of getting every single vote in case of a breakdown taking place.
That brings me to the other point in regard to the subordinate staff. It is possible for the railway board to act, on occasions, completely outside the views of the Legislature. If there is a divided board, a considerable number of members, in time of emergency, will oppose 66 the Governor-General, and that is bound to have an extremely bad effect upon the discipline of those who are working the railways. It has been said in the course of the Debate that the mobility of the Army depends upon the efficiency and loyalty of the railway service. In 1919, when trouble broke out, the railways were particularly apt to be attacked, and in many instances there was not very great loyalty on the part of the railway staffs. It is absolutely vital that if the railways in India are to be loyal in times of future emergency, the railway board should be of such a character that they can hold the staffs together firmly in the interests of discipline. Difficulties may still arise. After 1919, a great many men had to be sacked from the railways in the Punjab and elsewhere. We do not want a repetition of that. We want a board which has the confidence of its workers. I submit that you can only have that condition of things if the Governor-General appoints the majority at his discretion, and has not to fight with a bare minority against a political majority.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I agree as to the great importance of the railway system in India. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir A. Croft) said, that system was mainly built up with British capital. It is one of the three great railway systems in the world, and from every point of view, that of British and Indian investors, of the defence of India, and of the economic future of India, it is essential that we should set up the most efficient and independent railway board that it is in our power to initiate. I was under the impression that we were setting up a very effective railway board for all those purposes. These recommendations are the result of a long period of most expert investigation in which, as I said just now, railway experts from British, Indian and Empire railways took part, and, in the view of those experts, the proposals that we are making are safe from the point of view that we all have in mind. If the percentage appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion were four-sevenths instead of three-sevenths, no great change would come over the future of the administration. It is assumed by hon. Members that within 67 the railway board, as they assume also in the Federal Government, there will be the most extreme form of dyarchy. The Governor-General and his representatives on the one hand, and the representatives appointed on the advice of the Federal Minister on the other, are always to be walking into opposite lobbies.
I do not think that that will be so. I do not think that the man who has been appointed at the discretion of the Governor-General will behave differently on the railway board from the man appointed on the advice of a Federal minister. In each case he will have security of tenure and will be bound down by a number of provisions in this part of the Bill, which sets out the way in which railways are to be managed. Over and above that safety, there is this really important feature in the problem which so far every hon. Member who has spoken has ignored. There is to be a Chief Commissioner of railways who is to be the executive officer of the Federal railways. That man will hold much the most important position in the railway administration. He will be the general manager of the Indian Federal railway system. This key man of the railway administration is to be appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion. That fact seems to dispose of many of the suspicions voiced in the course of the Debate, that the railway system will so run down that when the Governor-General has to intervene, acting in the field of his special responsibilities on Indian defence, he may find the problem much more difficult than it would have been if the Federal Railway Board had not been started. There will be a chief commissioner of railways as the executive officer of the railways, appointed in the Governor-General's discretion, watching the situation from day to day.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
Surely the Governor-General does not appoint him but only confirms the appointment made by the railway authority.
§ Sir S. HOARE
No. I was not drawing the constitutional distinction between discretion and individual judgment. For our purposes this afternoon, there is no difference between the two. It is just a question of who takes the initiative; the 68 ultimate appointment rests with the Governor-General.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
He cannot appoint anybody against the wishes of the authority; he must take from the list of those whom the authority submit.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The initiative rests with the Governor-General, but do we understand that the Governor-General can take any man he desires and not only from among those submitted by the authority?
§ Sir S. HOARE
The Governor-General can select any man he desires even though the name has not been proposed to him by the railway authority.
Duchess of ATHOLL
May I remind the Secretary of State of the wording of the Eighth Schedule which is that the personshall be appointed by the authority subject to confirmation of the Governor-General exercising his individual judgment.Surely that means that the Governor-General can merely confirm a name.
§ Sir S. HOARE
My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) thinks that he is infallible in these matters. Perhaps I may be thinking that I am also infallible. Perhaps neither of us is.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Read paragraph 10 of the Eighth Schedule:At the head of the executive staff of the authority there shall be a chief railway commissioner, being a person with experience in railway administration, who shall be appointed by the authority, subject to confirmation by the Governor-General, exercising his individual judgment.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Perhaps my hon. Friend will believe me when I say that the Governor-General need not approve of the proposal made by the Railway Authority. Anyhow, there is the fact. A Chief Commissioner and executive officer is appointed in this way and not on the advice of the Federal Government. That in itself seems a most effective safeguard against the kind of danger suggested during the Debate. As to the 69 question about the staff raised by the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes), perhaps he will raise that point when we come to the appropriate Chapter. Let me assure him that the broad policy will be laid down and will only be alterable after the Governor-General has approved.
In regard to the chief railway commissioner, is he not entirely in the ordering of the board; can he go against their orders?
§ Sir S. HOARE
Certainly. Suppose that the Governor-General thought that his special responsibility for the defence of India were being compromised by the action of the board. The Governor-General could give his directions to the railway board and insist upon the directions being given to the chief commissioner that action should be taken to prevent his responsibility being compromised.
The right hon. Gentleman made the point that it was a great safeguard to have this chief railway commissioner, but from what the right hon. Gentleman has just said it is the Governor-General who will give his orders to the board and to the commissioner. The mere fact that the commissioner is appointed in the way he has described is no safeguard in itself.
§ Sir S. HOARE
The hon. and gallant Member must take up that point with other hon. Members, because he seems to be making a point against their contention that it was no safeguard that the Governor-General should make the appointment against the advice of the authority. It seems to be a considerable safeguard that the commissioner should be appointed in that manner.
Let me come back to the one issue before the Committee, which is should three-sevenths or four-sevenths of the railway board be appointed on the advice of the Ministry or should it not? My own very strong view is that the position has been made fully safe by the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee and of the experts. In view of the fact that, first of all, the Governor-General can give whatever directions he thinks fit to the railway board in the interests of his special responsibility or in connection with his reserved powers; secondly, that he appoints three-sevenths of the board in his discretion including 70 the chairman and, thirdly, that in his individual judgment he appoints a chief commissioner, I say that the position is absolutely safe, and that there is no reason to alter the provisions of the Bill.
§ 5.27 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
We quite understand that the chief commissioner would act under the instructions of the Governor-General if desired, in the interest of defence, but surely for anything except the special responsibilities of the Governor-General he would be under the orders of the authority. I thought I heard my right hon. Friend say that the members of the authority would have security of tenure. Paragraph (3) of the Eighth Schedule says:Subject as aforesaid, a member of the authority shall be appointed for five years and shall at the expiration of his original term of office be eligible for re-appointment for a further term not exceeding five years.That hardly seems to be security of tenure.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS rose—
§ Sir S. HOARE
I thought that the Noble Lady was merely making a statement which was not in the form of a question.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I will repeat the question. We quite understand that the Governor-General has the right to give orders to the chief commissioner, but is it not the case that the commissioner, in anything other than the Governor-General's special responsibilities, would have to act under the orders of the railway authority?
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The Secretary of State implied that the chief railway commissioner was to be appointed by the Governor-General. It is perfectly clear from paragraph 10 of the Eighth Schedule that the Governor-General cannot appoint, in the sense of initiating the appointment. There is no provision of 71 any kind for what the Secretary of State has said. Not only that, but the Governor-General cannot dismiss the chief railway commissioner. Paragraph 12 says:The chief railway commissioner shall not be removed from office except by the Authority,and, although the Governor-General has to approve, again the initiative in regard to dismissal lies with the Authority. In these circumstances the Governor-General neither appoints nor dismisses, and to suggest that the fact that the chief railway commissioner is in existence solves all our problems is, I think, something of a misunderstanding—I am certain it is not intentional—on the part of the Secretary of State.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. WISE
I think the right hon. Gentleman has misled the Committee to some considerable degree in his reply to the points put forward by various hon. Members who have spoken in favour of the Amendment. First of all, he said that this chief commissioner is appointed, I think I am right in saying, by the Governor-General. That is definitely not the case. That, quite clearly, is not in the Secretary of State's own Bill, and no denial that he offers at the moment will alter the phraseology of the Bill. Then the chief commissioner's appointment can only be confirmed by the Governor-General. It is definitely laid down, in the Schedule which governs this matter, that the appointment is to be made by the board, and that that appointment is to be confirmed by the Governor-General. There is no indication anywhere in the Bill that the Governor-General has any right whatever to put forward a name.
My hon. Friend is really splitting hairs. "Individual judgment" means that the initiative either comes from the Minister or the Railway Board, but if no initiative comes that does not mean that no appointment is made. If the names suggested to the Governor-General are names of which he does not approve, he can then act and put in a name of his own.
§ Mr. WISE
The Secretary of State is calling a three-inch hawser a hair. I do not want to enter into any controversy but paragraph 10 of the Eighth Schedule 72 definitely says that the chief railway commissionershall be appointed by the Authority, subject to confirmation by the Governor-General exercising his individual judgment.If the English language means anything, his individual judgment would be applied to the confirmation. It can mean nothing else. If the right hon. Gentleman really does mean that the Governor-General is to have the power of suggesting names. I hope he will give the assurance now that he will alter this paragraph of the Schedule at the proper time, and will reassure us by saying that, in the event of the Board not appointing a chief com missioner the Governor-General will have the right arbitrarily to appoint some nominee of his own. At the moment that is not in the Bill, and, until we have an assurance that it is in the Bill, we must persist in demanding that the composition of this Railway Board shall be such as will give us some confidence.
The railways in India are, after all, almost the lifeblood of the entire Dominion; and, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman recognises that there is considerable danger in maladministration of the Indian railways. He recognises that there is a definite chance that a railway hoard appointed purely by Ministers elected by democratic election might betray the purpose for which they are appointed. If he did not recognise that danger, he would not have suggested that three-sevenths of them—an intelligent minority, at least—should be appointed by someone else. But either you want a majority of nominated appointments to this board or, alternatively, you do not want any. If you are prepared sufficiently to trust your Ministers—and quite clearly the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to trust the elected Ministers in this respect—if you are prepared to trust them, you need no reservation as to appointment by the Governor-General. But if you do have any, quite clearly you need a majority. It is preposterous for the right hon. Gentleman to get up as he does in this House and, without replying to the arguments, simply say, "Experts all over the country have told us that this is all right." The House of Commons does not want the Bill justified by experts, but by the Minister in charge of it, and that is just what we are not getting.
73 There is this further point. The Governor-General is going to have the right now to nominate three out of seven members of this board. It is absolutely certain that those three nominated members are going to be in conflict sooner or later with the other four. [HON. MEMBERS "Why?"] Hon. Members ask "Why?" All countries have some corruption in them, and Asiatic countries much more than others. Railways are a magnificent source of corruption, as many countries know. The railways of the United States have even gone to the extent of keeping a complete staff of very expensive private detectives to check the graft on their own lines, and the graft on the Indian lines will not be less, but more, than in the United States. The opportunities are greater; the people to be fleeced are more ignorant; and if this board is influenced, as it will be influenced under this system, entirely by the whim of elected ministers, and elected ministers in whom most of the House has very little confidence, there is going to he a greater exploitation of the public than there has ever been before.
I was hoping that possibly this afternoon, on this Amendment, I should hear some other supporters of the Bill than the right hon. Gentleman. He has lived with this Bill for three years, and has eventually, I think, deluded himself into believing in it. I was hoping that some other supporters of the Bill might rise to defend it. But supporters of the Government are as notorious on this Clause as on any other, not only by their absence, but by their silence. They find it better to say nothing. I hope, however, that it is not too late even now for the right hon. Gentleman to repent. He has hitherto made no concession on the Bill, not even the most reasonable one, and in this particular case, where all the safeguards of which he is so proud—the Army, the Revenue, and everything else that he has reserved to the Governor-General—practically depend on efficient control of the railway system, I hope he will realise that he is invalidating his own safeguards by handing over the whole of this magnificent system to a board the majority of which will be exposed to all the evils from which the safeguards are supposed to defend us. It is handing over also a railway staff which it is true in some cases has not been as good as 74 it might have been, but the members of which have on the whole been loyal servants of the Government, and have shown stout-hearted courage in many most difficult situations. We all know of the famous occasion on which a telegraph message came through from the babu in charge of a station:Party of dacoits approaching station, estimated 40 in number. Please send one rifle and 40 cartridges.That staff is going to be handed over, and if they fail to support the will of this elected Government, which may be in conflict with the Governor-General, they will in fact be victimised.
The Amendment is a very simple one. It asks that the railways should be taken out of politics and given into the charge of official heads. In India, taking the railways out of politics is a very different matter from what my hon. Friends opposite are suggesting. It is a very different matter from taking unemployment relief out of politics in this country. England is a democratic country; India is not, and, if this Bill goes through, it will never have a chance of being so. I hope my hon. Friends opposite will remember that what they are supporting will mean the end of democracy for India. I ask the Government to be good enough to consider this point again. I realise that it would not be possible, consistent with the dignity of government, for them to give way to pressure at the moment, but they might be able to consider the matter before the Report stage and see where their definite refusal to recognise facts is likely to lead them. They have based their case to-day even on denying Clauses of their own, and I hope that, before it is too late, they may repent of their action and let us have what we want in this small Amendment.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
The Debate on this question of the appointment of the chief railway commissioner is very similar to the Debate which took place with regard to the power of the Federal Legislature to alter the constitution. We were then told that it was perfectly clear from the words of the Bill that the Federal Legislature had no such power; but, after the Committee had discussed the matter for a very considerable time, the Attorney- 75 General agreed to put in words to make the matter clearer, although it was already clear to the Government. I suggest to the Government that, if this matter is clear to them, it is not clear to a great many of their weaker brethren in the House—assuming us to be weaker; and therefore I would suggest that, without any admission that the Clauses are not sufficient, it would be perfectly simple to add at the end of paragraph 10 of the Eighth Schedule, which says that the chief railway commissioner shall be appointed by the Authority subject to the confirmation of the Governor-General exercising his individual judgment, some such words as these:but, in default of an approved nomination, he may himself make the appointment.I ventured to say to the Attorney-General the other day that, even in the courts of law in this country, there is very often great difference of opinion among distinguished judges as to the precise meaning of a Statute—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is now discussing the Eighth Schedule, and suggesting Amendments to it. That is a long way off.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I am asking in this connection for some assurance from the Government, and I was only suggesting a form of words to make it clear that, in default of a satisfactory nomination, the Governor-General will have the power to make the appointment.
§ 5.45. p.m.
§ Mr. C WILLIAMS
It has been pointed out by my hon. Friend opposite that no supporter of the Government has spoken so far on this particular Amendment except the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. I do not wish in any way to seem to be discourteous to my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) or to my Noble Friend the Member for Kinross and Western Perth (Duchess of Atholl), but possibly if they did not have quite so many twin speeches some of us might make a few remarks from time to time. As a supporter of the Government, I feel that the Government have really got the very worst of both worlds. I can understand 76 the Government saying that our main object in supporting this railway committee should be to avoid friction. We do not want to have a committee in which we are liable to have friction. Most of us who support the Government hope that all their proposals will go well; we do not look upon the safeguards as the main part of the Bill, but as unfortunate things which we hope will never have to be used. At all events, I hope that they will be used as little as possible because we want to see this thing succeed.
If you are to set up a committee of seven, what can be more useless than, first of all, having a minority nominated by the Governor-General? Directly any friction appears, as was pointed out by every speaker who spoke before the right hon. Gentleman, you will have the chairman of the committee in the unfortunate position of having the majority of the members against him. Could anything be more unfortunate than to set up a committee on that basis? It would be much better to do one of two things, namely, to give the Governor-General two representatives on the committee to keep him in touch with the work and enable him, in case of emergency, to have a permanent line of thought through those members, or else to say to the Indian people, "You had better have five, and we will appoint only two." You must either have a clear majority on the committee, or have the balance absolutely the other way, with a sufficient number to hold a watching brief. I cannot understand why it should be desired to put on three members, and thus so nearly balance the committee that the least thing may turn it one way or the other. If my right hon. Friend could accept four members, it would, at any rate, please a large number of members in this Committee who cannot see why he should stick so closely to the three-sevenths. He has not been able to make out any particular merit in the scheme, and he seemed to get rather confused as to the precise position in regard to the appointment of the chief railway officer. I understand that these people will make an appointment, and it will have to be confirmed. I wish the Government, in laying down the number of the commitee, would do it in such a way that they would really provide for the balance to be in favour of one side or the other. 77 We want to see the strongest safeguards in the Bill, but not narrowly balanced committees of this sort.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
It must be clear now as a result of the discussion that, in fact, the commissioners are not appointed by the Governor-General. I think it must also be clear that the chief commissioner has to obey the decisions of the authority, and therefore I think that the whole question should have deserved reconsideration. The Secretary of State took us to task for suggesting that there might always be the difficulty between the Governor-General and the elected representatives. I do not think that any of us suggested that there would always be difficulties. We are legislating perhaps for all time. [An HON. MEMBER: "All time?"] We have to contemplate possibilities for a very long time. I see the point now. My hon. Friend means that the whole Act will break down if it ever comes into operation, and I think that he is quite right. All along, the right hon. Gentleman and his friends in India and in the Round Table Conferences and in the Select Committee have been too hopeful in this connection. He is hopeful that Congress in its present state of mind will not control the political machine. When before the Select Committee on another great issue the Lancashire representatives were asked if they would be satisfied if they were assured that Congress would not control the political machine, they replied that ire those circumstances they would say, "Yes". But within three months the electorate had been swept by Congress. It is the same with regard to this Clause. We have to contemplate the possibility of extremists controlling India, and, if so, the extremists will control the four members of this committee, and for that reason I regret that
§ the Secretary of State has not been able to meet my hon. Friends.
§ 5.52 p.m
§ Sir S. HOARE
I do not want to reopen any of the controversy to which we have listened at such length this afternoon. All I say is that I do not accept either of the two assumptions made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). I take the view that the Governor-General, exercising his individual judgment, has the last word in the appointment of the Chief Commissioner. Secondly, I take the view—and nobody can controvert this claim—that the Chief Commissioner, and indeed the whole Federal Railway Board, have to carry out the instructions of the Governor-General as being the only valid instructions when the Governor-General is acting either in his own capacity or with his Federal responsibility.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, if none of the names submitted by the authority for the confirmation of the Governor-General are, in the opinion of the Governor-General, suitable, the Governor-General is entitled to nominate a person whose name has never been considered by the authority let alone approved by it?
§ Question put, "That 'three-sevenths' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 245; Noes, 40.79
|Division No.131.]||AYES.||[5.55 p.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Blindell, James||Cadogan, Hon. Edward|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Bossom, A. C.||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Boulton, W. W.||Caporn, Arthur Cecil|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brass, Captain Sir William||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)|
|Banfield, John William||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric|
|Batey, Joseph||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Clayton, Sir Christopher|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Cleary, J. J.|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Butler, Richard Austen||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Iveagh, Countess of||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Copeland, Ida||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||John, William||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Cross, R. H.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Daggar, George||Ker, J. Campbell||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Robinson, John Roland|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Denville, Alfred||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Dickle, John P.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lawson, John James||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Eales, John Frederick||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Edmondson, Major Sir James||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Leonard, William||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Lewis, Oswald||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Elmley, Viscount||Liddall, Walter S.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe||Sandys, Duncan|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Selley, Harry R.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Logan, David Gilbert||Shaw, Captain William T. (Fortar)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Lunn, William||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Soper, Richard|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||McEntee, Valentine L.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Spens, William Patrick|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Goff, Sir Park||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Stones, James|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Mainwaring, William Henry||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Granville, Edgar||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Thorne, William James|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Meller, Sir Richard James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mills. Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Hamilton. Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moreing, Adrian C.||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Morrison. William Shephard||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Mulrhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Munro, Patrick||Watt, Major George Steven H.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||O'Connor, Terence James||West, F. R.|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hn. William G. A.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Paling, Wilfred||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Patrick, Colin M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Sir George Penny and Sir Walter|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Petherick, M||Womersley.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Remer, John R.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Everard, W. Lindsay||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Hartington, Marquess of||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hepworth, Joseph||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Burnett, John George||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Knox, Sir Alfred||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Craddock Sir Reginald Henry||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Donner, P. W.||Nunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Mr. Raikes and Mr. Wise.|
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES BROWN
I beg to move, in page 103, line 19, to leave out from "tax," to the end of the Clause.
The Secretary of State, in dealing with the previous Amendment, has accused us of wanting to democratise the proposals in this Clause, and, on the other hand, he has accused hon. Members below the Gangway opposite of wanting to make these proposals more autocratic. He has taken up the position that the point of view that he holds between those opposites is by far the best. The Amendment that I am, moving is designed to make the Federal Railway Authority a much more flexible body than it will be if the proviso which I seek to leave out remains in the Bill. There are such things as Governors-General being people who may have very static minds—persons not likely to adapt themselves to changing conditions. The Secretary of State has told us that India is unique in many respects and, because it is unique, because it is a land of such contrasts, he justifies many of the proposals which are embodied in the Bill.
I think the proposals in regard to the Federal Railway Authority are such as to make that authority a very rigid body. Our wish in seeking to remove the proviso and give the Federal Legislature more control in regard to the members of the railway authority is that we want to make it more flexible. We want to make it a body which will adapt itself more readily to the changing conditions which must ensue in India in the future. We do not think that the Federal Legislature should be treated in the drastic manner suggested in the proviso. We want to give it more liberty than the Secretary of State proposes, and I hope the Committee will give support to our suggestion that the proviso be removed. I have been very interested in listening to the preceding discussion, because I heard the opponents of the proposals in this Clause seeking to make the Clause more autocratic, and in doing so they advanced many strange arguments. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H Croft) could not talk about anything except British capital invested in Indian railways. An hon. Member opposite was mainly concerned about the strategic function of the Indian railway. Do hon. Members who made those criticisms ever think that the railways generally are 82 used for the normal civilised purposes of carrying goods and passengers from place to place? Is not that their normal function, and must it not in the development of India in the future be more and more the function of railways in India? Therefore, any body which is to be set up, such as the Federal Railway Authority, should be a body flexible in its nature and readily able to adapt itself to changing conditions. We object to the placing of all these powers in the hands of the Governor-General, who may be a most reactionary individual, as many Governors-General are. They are not progressive people. They do not adapt themselves to changing circumstances. Therefore, in moving the Amendment I hope that the Committee will agree to the removal of the proviso from the Clause.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I must not get into controversy with the hon. Member about Governors-General. I can only say, in answer to his rather comprehensive strictures upon Governors-General, that some of the most progressive administrators in India for more than a century have been Governors-General. Let me come to the Amendment. The Committee will see that we have put into the body of the Bill the basic conditions respecting the railway board, the chief provision being that the railway board shall be managed on business lines. Those basic conditions are a part of the Act, and can only be altered by an amending Act of Parliament. We then have the Eighth Schedule, and we include in it a number of conditions which are very important, but which are not so basic as the various Clauses in Part XVIII of the Bill. In this secondary category we allow the Indian Federal Legislature to introduce amending legislation, providing that that legislation receives the Governor-General's previous assent. In view of the very grave issues at stake, and in view particularly of the fact that as long as defence is a reserved department, the Governor-General has a very direct and very important interest in the management of the railways, it is essential that even for this secondary category of conditions there should be no change without the Governor-General's previous assent. I fear, therefore, that I cannot accept the Amendment. I regard 83 the provisions as they are now as quite essential to the independent and effective working of the board in future.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has made out a case for the proviso. He is overworking this device of previous assent. There are already wide powers, which we have already passed, where if it is necessary for the discharge of a special responsibility, the Governor-General can prevent the discussion of subjects, the introduction of Bills or the introduction of amendments. At every point we seem to he hedging about the actual passing of legislation, the introduction of legislation, the introduction of amending legislation and discussion in any tangible form of provisions, with the condition that there must be the Governor-General's previous assent. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman merely saying in a vague way that the railways are vital to strategy, and so forth. We all know that. The point is, what is the evil that is aimed at in this proviso? Why is it wrong that these matters should be discussed? There is power for the Governor-General to reject legislation. If some one—it may be a Labour representative or a business man—has some matter to bring up and thinks that certain things require alteration, and he wants to amend or it may be to supplement some-
§ thing, why on earth should it be necessary to have the Governor-General's prior assent? If the right hon. Gentleman will think a moment, he will realise that the more we make such a requisition a matter of habit, the less important it becomes. The whole idea of the provisions for requiring the Governor-General's prior assent is to separate certain matters and to say: "These matters are to some extent taken away from the general rights of members because they are so important that there must be the Governor-General's prior assent in regard to them." When you apply that almost to everything, and make it a mere matter of regulation of the railway board, you actually reduce the Governor-General's prior assent to a nullity. If you do that, it will come down eventually to being that sort of consent that we see given here on the introduction of Bills, when a Minister merely gets up and nods. I suggest that universalising or generalising the requirement of the Governor-General's prior assent has the effect of nullifying it altogether. There is no reason why prior assent should be necessary merely to introduce some provision altering the Schedule.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divide: Ayes, 257; Noes, 31.85
|Division No. 132.]||AYES.||[6.15p.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Burghley, Lord||Davison, Sir William Henry|
|Albery, Irving James||Burnett, John George||Denville, Alfred|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Butler, Richard Austen||Dickle, John P.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Duckworth, George A. V.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Eales, John Frederick|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Edmondson, Major Sir James|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Bailey, Erie Alfred George||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Eimley, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh. S.)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Clarke. Frank||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Clarry, Reginald George||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Fermoy, Lord|
|Blindell, James||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Boulton, W. W.||Conant, R. J. E.||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Cooke, Douglas||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cooper, A. Duff||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Copeland, Ida||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cross, R. H.||Ganzoni. Sir John|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Brown. Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Goff, Sir Park||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Goldie, Noel B.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Granville, Edgar||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Invernoss)||Sandys, Duncan|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||McKie, John Hamilton||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Grimston, R. V.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Hamilton. Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Hartington, Marquees of||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Soper, Richard|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Meller, Sir Richard James||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Moison, A. Hugh Elsdale||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Stones, James|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Morrison, William Shephard||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Munro, Patrick||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Orr Ewing, I. L.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Palmer, Francis Noel||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Patrick, Colin M.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Pearson, William G.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Penny, Sir George||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Percy, Lord Eustace||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Petherick, M.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Peto, Sir Basil E.(Devon, B'nstaple)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Watt, Major George Steven H.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Lewis, Oswald||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Remer, John R.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Robinson, John Roland||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Ropner, Colonel L.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Loder, Captain J. de. Vere||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Sir Walter Womersley and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Banfield, John William||Grundy, Thomas W.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||John, William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lawson, John James||Thorne, William James|
|Daggar, George||Leonard, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lunn, William||West, F. R.|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Groves and Mr. Paling.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
May I say one word in regard to the point of the appointment of the chief commissioner of railways? The Secretary of State made 86 certain statements on the matter which were questioned. I have come to the conclusion that the Secretary of State was perfectly right, but it took me three-quarters of an hour to find out why he was right. The answer is that paragraph 10 of the Schedule, taken together will Sub-section (4) of Clause 177, does 87 have the effect which the Secretary of State indicated. The point I want to put is that it is obviously undesirable that an important point like this should be left so uncertain, and has to be worked out by a comparison of widely separated provisions of the Bill. I should like to ask the Government whether they will not, before we come to the Schedule, consider re-drafting the appropriate provisions in the Schedule?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)
I am obliged to the right hon. Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) for his support. Obviously it would be absurd to say that a thing which took him three-quarters of an hour to discover was abundantly plain. We think that the position is clear, but if it is necessary we will take the requisite steps to consider whether words can be introduced into the Schedule to obtain the results desired by the Noble Lord.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I am glad to hear what the Solicitor-General has said. I still do not agree with the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). I think the Noble Lord has misinterpreted the Bill. If he will refer to Clause 12 he will find that nothing which comes under what we contemplate in regard to the appointment of the chief commissioner is a special responsibility.