§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, after "Manual," to insert:after consultation with the Committee of His Majesty's Privy Council established by this Act and styled the India Advisory Committee.In order to make clear what this Amendment means, I will ask the attention of the Committee to a. proposed new Clause which appears later on the Order Paper in the name of my Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) and myself, which defines the 198 India Advisory Committee which we contemplate. It is as follows:
Put shortly, the Amendment I am moving will provide that the appointment of the Governor-General of India under this Bill and His Majesty's Representative in India shall take place only after consultation with living ex-Viceroys who happen to be members of the Privy Council. That would, in fact, include all the living ex-Viceroys. There is a precedent for the proposal which I am making, for under the Government of India Act, 1919, Section 3, it is provided that the Governors of the Provinces in India, except the three major Provinces, shall be appointed after consultation with the Governor-General. The Amendment which I am putting forward, accordingly, only extends that precedent to the case of the appointment in future of the Governor-General. It is worth while for the Committee to consider what is the nature of the office to which the Governor-General is to be appointed and what is the kind of man who will be required to discharge the functions of that office.
- "(1) There shall be a Committee of His Majesty's Privy Council styled the India Advisory Committee.
- (2) The India Advisory Committee shall consist of the First Lord of the Treasury, or other person who is the Prime Minister for the time being, the Secretary of State for India, and all persons being members of His Majesty's Privy Council who shall have held the office of Governor-General of India before or after the passing of this Act, or shall have held after the passing of this Act the office of His Majesty's Representative for the exercise of the functions of the Crown in its relations with Indian States.
- (3) It shall be the duty of the India Advisory Committee to advise His Majesty as to the appointment of persons to the offices of Governor-General of India, His Majesty's Representative for the exercise of the functions of the Crown in its relations with Indian States, and Governor of any Province, and as to the removal of such persons from such offices."
I have not addressed the House or any Committee of the House upon the subject of India since the day on which the Select Committee was set up. On that occasion I set forth the views which I held as to the dangers which have to be encountered and the difficulties against which we have to guard ourselves. Never after the Select Committee was set up did I express any opinion whatever on this very important matter, nor did I 199 address the House in the Debates on the Report of the Select Committee or on the Second Reading of this Bill. I voted in support of the recommendations in the Select Committee's Report, and I also voted in the Lobby in favour of the Second Reading of the Bill. I am sure that there is nobody who gave a vote in favour of this proposal for a new Constitution for India who did not feel that he was taking upon himself a very grave responsibility. Never since I became a Member of this House have I given a vote after such serious deliberation, or with as grave anxiety as I felt about the judgment which I had to form in connection with the policy which we are to adopt for India.
None of us, I am sure, can forget that we are proposing to impose a system of democratic responsible government upon people whose whole traditions are alien to the fundamental theory upon which democratic government rests. We are giving it to 350,000,000 people, a population nearly three times as large as the whole populations which are assembled within the orbit of the United States of America, a people, or rather, I should say, many peoples, divided by a war of tongues, by deep cleavages of race, by bitter antagonisms of creed, by all the con-tempts and hatreds involved in caste. And one thing we have to keep in mind which we are apt to forget is that these people have never been a nation. They really have no unity which has not been created for them by the advent of the British people in India who have given to these immense hordes a common law which has operated through this gregarious tumult confined within borders, which, after all, are only a geographical expression.
That is the problem with which we are dealing, and we must not imagine that it is an easy one. There are a certain number of people who, I gather, are able to take the complacent view—and after they have announced it think that no further argument is required—that bad self-government is better even than good government by somebody else. But even if you admit that idea as a good foundation for your policy, it is obvious that it acts only within very restricted limits. As soon as you find people uncomfortable enough, or irritated enough, or 200 depressed enough, look how readily they depart from this idea of democratic government, and rush to other forms for help. We have seen it take place within our own time in different countries of Europe, but nothing in my view has been so remarkable in all history as the way in which vast numbers of the citizens of America, who have hitherto been given up to a, theory of extreme individualism, have rushed with one accord to place their burdens and troubles in the hands of one individual who they hope will be able to save them from their difficulties. Accordingly, we are challenged with the clear fact that what we are doing here is to embark upon the most colossal experiment that has ever been attempted in human history. If it breaks down we shall be responsible for one of the greatest catastrophes that has ever been known. It is, above all, our duty to see that it does not break down, and that it cannot break down, and, as I take it, while we are considering the various Clauses of the Bill, it must be with the strict intention of adopting every precaution by which we can save this great experiment from failure.
We have put into this Bill many safeguards, but all of those safeguards revolve round a single individual, and that is the Viceroy. He is the linch-pin of the whole system. He is the keystone of all this mighty fabric. If the Viceroy fails, nothing can save the system you have set up. You may say that the Viceroy always has behind him the India Office, but in nearly all cases in which he has to act, he has to do so by his own discretion. On occasions he will not have time to consult anybody, and the decision will depend upon his foresight and his insight, his tact, his judgment and discretion; and even when he does consult the India Office on most of these problems the foundation of the reply of the India Office must be the impression which the Viceroy himself has formed. That is the information upon which alone they can form an opinion. Accordingly, I cannot imagine any office in the world in which the appointment is more important than that with which we are dealing in the case of the Viceroy of India.
What are the main functions which the Viceroy has to perform? I have had taken out for me a list of the things he 201 has got to do, and I am sure that every hon. Member would be as staggered as I was if he saw the list I have in my hand on eight closely type-written sheets. Many of the matters dealt with are undoubtedly routine matters, but a very large majority of them are matters to which the Viceroy would require to give his own personal attention and careful deliberation. I need not worry the Committee by going through all these matters, but let me remind them of one or two of the things which stand out on the face of the Bill. The Viceroy is to be the head of the Executive. He has to preside over the Ministers. He has got to take part in all deliberations. He has got to form the rules for the transaction of business. He has got to arrange what is done in the case of the vacation of seats. And, in addition to all the ordinary duties of presiding over the deliberations of Ministers, he himself is charged with three separate departments of his own. He has got to look after ecclesiastical matters. He has go to deal with finance; and he has got to deal with defence. You may say with regard to finance that he has to appoint a financial adviser. It is perfectly true, but there is a vast number of questions arising out of finance upon which he, personally, will have to decide, because it will be impossible for him to defend his actions, as he is bound to do, unless he applies his mind to the reasons for the actions he has taken.
Those are not matters such as one is familiar with in Government Departments in this country where a Minister can readily accept the judgment of a subordinate upon a matter which he knows will be defended by the Department in due course. The Viceroy has to defend his own actions, and he has to show in a large number of instances the reasons why he differs from the advice given to him by his Ministers—a totally different situation from anything we know in this country, or in any democratic system of which I have ever heard. On these questions of finance, it is obvious there will be many quarrels between the Provinces and the Federal Government. There will be the question of income tax, for example, and there are many questions between the Provinces and the Federal Government on finance which the Viceroy personally will have to decide. When it comes to the ques- 202 tion of defence, the Viceroy cannot simply leave that to his skilled advisers and pronounce a, judgment. I do not know whether hon. Members have taken the trouble to look at the Instructions which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India has issued to the Governor-General and Governors in connection with this Bill. Those Instructions consist of a remarkable series of powers and checks upon powers to be exercised by this one individual who is charged with these colossal duties. One paragraph alone which I might read to the Committee gives some idea of the amazing discretion and tact which the Viceroy will be compelled to display in dealing with this situation.
What has he got to do in the exercise of his judgment in connection with defence? He has not merely to decide himself what is to be required, but he has to take his Ministers into consultation. I do not for a moment question the necessity of these Instructions. I think they are admirable for the purpose. They exhibit exactly what is expected of the Viceroy, but if you look at Instruction XVII, for example, it says:Our Governor-General shall encourage the practice of joint consultation between himself, his Counsellors and his Ministers. And seeing that the Defence of India must to an increasing extent be the concern of the Indian people it is Our will in especial that Our Governor-General should have regard to this instruction in his administration of the Department of Defence.That is to say, that although the Governor-General has the last voice upon this question of defence, he has got to bring his Ministers together into consultation, and to try to get their co-operation and to try to come to a common view. Instruction XIX says:And We desire that, although the financial control of Defence administration must be exercised by the Governor-General at his discretion, nevertheless the Federal Departmnt of Finance shall be kept in close touch with this control by such arrangement as may prove feasible, and that the Federal Ministry and in particular, the Finance Minister shall be brought into consultation before estimates of proposed expenditure for the service of Defence are settled and laid before the Federal Legislature.Anybody who knows what has happened in the government of India, especially in the struggle between the civil department and the military department with regard to expenditure upon defence, knows that 203 this will require the very utmost limit of the time and the patience, the perseverence and the forbearance of the Viceroy in endeavouring to arrive at this co-operation which the Instruction quite properly sets out. What I have said shows that the Viceroy will have a full 24 hours each day; but things do not by any means stop even there. He has to keep in close touch with everything that is going on, because of the duties imposed upon him in watching to see that none of the things which Parliament seeks to have safeguarded shall be in any way infringed. In particular, the Viceroy is given special responsibilities with regard to minorities, safeguarding the interests of public servants, and discrimination in trade. Just imagine what that means. Things which might injure the public servants of India might be subtly or insidiously introduced into acts of administration which it would be very difficult to detect, but the Viceroy is enjoined to keep a constant watch upon those things and to deal with them if they occur. When it comes to minorities, the Instructions provide that he has a special responsibility for the safeguarding:Of the legitimate interests of minorities as requiring him to secure, in general, that those racial or religious communities for the members of which special representation is accorded in the Federal Legislature, and those classes who, whether on account of the smallness of their number or their lack of educational or material advantages, or from any other cause, cannot as yet fully rely for their welfare on joint political action in the Federal Legislature.That is another very exacting duty, because nothing has been more trying in India in the past than endeavouring to resolve the difficulties which occur between religious communities. Then, subtly, the draftsman has added this to the Viceroy's difficulties:But he shall not regard as entitled to his protection any body of persons by reason only that they share a view on a particular question which has not yet found favour with the majority.I imagine the draftsman must have heaved a sigh of relief when he succeeded in getting that sentence off. As to discrimination in matters of trade, there is a difficulty which taxes the skill of the most subtle administration. The instructions recognise that there are many ways of indirect discrimination which might not 204 be obvious at first sight, and with regard to that matter the instructions require and charge him to regarddiscriminatory or penal treatment covered by this special responsibility as including both direct discrimination (whether by mans of differential tariff rates or by means of differential restrictions on imports) and indirect discrimination by means of differential treatment of various types of products.I do not know what kind of staff the Viceroy is to be supplied with in order to perform all these duties, but whatever the extent of the staff direct responsibility is placed upon the Viceroy for the action which he is to take in any single case, and it is the most exacting duty I have ever known put upon any single individual in the history of our legislation. But what I have said touches only the fringe of the matter, because the Viceroy is at the same time to deal with all matters connected with the Indian States which are not confided to the Federal Government. He has still to exercise the right of the Paramount Power, and that involves many most delicate transactions and will take up a great deal of the Viceroy's time.
I myself have had the privilege of being in the company of a Viceroy for many days, and seeing him at his work under the old conditions. That Viceroy was one of the most skilled administrators this country has ever possessed, a man of outstanding ability, as recognised by everybody, and with immense capacity both for work and for the rapid survey of papers; and in my experience, except for the hour when he rode in the morning, he was chained to his chair for the whole day. Further, the Viceroy has to appoint the Commissioners of the Commissioners' States. He has to concern himself with Baluchistan; he has to deal with railway matters; he has to appoint three-sevenths of the members on the Railway Federal Board; and as an anti-climax he has to see that the broadcasting system of India is fair and equitable. In addition to all these things he has to play a part which is even more important in the East than here, he has to play the part of the representative of the King, and never fail in keeping up those great ceremonial duties which appeal so much to the mind of the Indian populace.
I am not quite sure whether the right hon. Gentleman is 205 keeping in mind the effect of his Amendment. The effect of this Amendment, if I refer to the proposed new Clause on page 252 which he mentioned, is to establish a committee to advise as to the appointment of the Governor-General. I can understand the relevance of a great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman has said as to the importance of the post, and that that indicates the importance of choosing the right man, but I have ventured to interrupt because his Amendment, so far as I can see, is confined entirely to the appointment of a committee not to advise or assist the Viceroy in his work but merely to deal with his appointment.
§ Sir R. HORNE
apologise if I have gone beyond the bounds of fair exposition of the point I was making, and I apologise particularly to the Committee for taking up time, but I did think it important, in connection with the question of the appointment, that we should realise what kind of man we require for this post. I shall not pursue the matter any further, and will only add that it must be obvious from what I have said of the duties pertaining to the great office of Viceroy that India will require of our very best, and that there is no one in the whole world who exercises a responsibility and discharges duties of anything like the magnitude that are to be placed upon this single individual.
I ask, therefore, whether we can leave the appointment of a man to such an office to the mere play of political chance. Can we feel sure of the Prime Minister or the Secretary of State for India, of any party in a partisan Government, always being willing and free to choose the appropriate man for the office? I have a great belief in Prime Ministers, and I have a childish faith in Secretaries of State for India, but I cannot trust the judgment of even the most distinguished of them to so great a degree in this matter. We cannot afford to make a mistake, for, believe me, if the Viceroy fails the system is immediately brought to disaster. He is the key to the whole position, and I cannot imagine that a Prime Minister or a Secretary of State would feel himself embarrassed by consulting with the ex-Viceroys available and obtaining their judgment; and, on the other hand, I can quite well imagine a situation in which a Prime Minister would be glad to be able to answer to his party 206 that he was bound to take other people's views into account in making the appointment. It is for these reasons—and again I apologise for expressing them at so great length—[HON. MEMBERS "No!"]—that I ask the, Committee to consider this Amendment very seriously, and to take action by which we can really feel more assured in our minds that the appointment to the office of Viceroy will be entirely safe in the hands of those who have the duty to recommend him.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I am torn between two desires. On the one hand, I should like to follow my right hon. Friend over the very wide field he has traversed, and on the other hand I am very anxious, in the first speech which I deliver in this long Committee stage, to follow both in the letter and the spirit the advice just given from the Chair, that the Government speeches should be few and short. On the whole, with all due deference to my right hon. Friend, I am going to try to follow the very wise advice given by you, Sir Dennis Herbert, this afternoon. I hope, therefore, that no one in the Committee will think I am perfunctory or that I am not dealing adequately with the arguments on any particular Amendment.
Let me begin by saying that I have great sympathy with the object which I think is in the mind of my right hon. Friend, namely, to get the appointment of the Viceroy on to the broad ground of a national rather than a partisan appointment, and that we should take every step to ensure that we do get for this post a man who will not only command the support of a particular section of the community here, that may be in power only for a limited period of time, but will really represent the nation rather than any particular section of the nation. Secondly, I agree with my right hon. Friend in a great deal of what he-has said about the importance of the Viceroy's post. Obviously, it is an important post, and a very delicate one. Let me say in passing, however, that great as its difficulties are I think my right hon. Friend seemed in his argument rather to assume that the Viceroy is going to be a lone, isolated individual standing by himself. That is not the ease. The Viceroy will have his advisers and behind 207 his advisers will have whatever staff he needs for dealing with the kind of questions to which my right hon. Friend has just referred. Behind his own staff there will be the whole body of the Services, stretched over India from one end to the other, upon whose loyal advice and constant help I am certain that he will always be able to depend.
Let not my right hon. Friend imagine that the Viceroy will be acting almost in the dark, and that the kind of situations which he has just described will be constantly coming upon the Viceroy unawares. I do not think that that is likely to happen. The Joint Select Committee rightly attached a great deal of importance to the need for the Viceroy to be. constantly kept informed, not in any haphazard way but regularly and methodically through the official channels, of the kind of situations which I think was in the mind of my right hon. Friend. Moreover, there were, on the Joint Select Committee, three living ex-Viceroys, and they all agreed quite definitely that with those means of information at his disposal, with a staff at hand—after all, he is to be the judge of the numbers of his staff and of the expenditure which is to fall upon the Votes—with those services and this machine at his disposal, the Viceroy ought to be able to carry out his duties, complicated even though they are.
Having said, I hope, enough to show my right hon. Friend that I agree with him, first of all in his desire to ensure the best possible appointment for the Viceroyship and, secondly, in his evident desire to give the Viceroy every possible help in carrying out his difficult duties, let me now turn to the actual proposals which my right hon. Friend makes. He proposes, in the case of the Viceroy, that a special committee of the Privy Council composed of those ex-Viceroys who are members of it, should be a consultative committee, and that the Prime Minister should consult them before submitting a name to the Crown. I have summed up what my right hon. Friend means when he talks of this consultative committee, but even after his speech I am still left in doubt, for this reason: In his speech he spoke of this body as a purely consultative one, whereas in the New Clause which he has put down for discussion at 208 a later stage, he talks of the committee as an advisory committee whose duty it is to advise the Crown. My right hon. Friend who, I know, is an expert in these constitutional questions, will at once see that these two conceptions are quite different. A consultative committee is one thing and an advisory body, whose statutory duty it is to advise the Crown, is quite a different thing.
An advisory committee whose statutory duty it is to advise the Crown would really take the responsibility away from the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. It would introduce into our Constitution a totally new kind of procedure in which it might well be that the majority of the committee composed of the ex-Viceroys might advise the Crown—"advising the Crown" is, as my right hon. Friend knows, a technical expression—to make an appointment that is not approved by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State. The effect of that would be to withdraw from this House and from the Cabinet any responsibility for the appointment. While I am most anxious to keep this appointment as far as possible out of the ordinary ruck of party politics, and I think every other hon. Member is anxious to do that, I see grave objections to introducing a new procedure into our Constitution and taking this appointment out of the control of Parliament. I hope that at some later stage of this discussion my right hon. Friend and those who are working with him will make it quite clear whether, when they speak of an advisory committee in the proposed new Clause later, that is what they mean.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I can make that perfectly clear to my right hon. Friend now. The effective words of the Amendment are "after consultation." That is the only point that really matters, and the fact that the body which the Prime Minister has to consult is described as an advisory committee does not affect the duty of the Prime Minister in regard to it, or the duty of consultation which is imposed by the Amendment. I have no particular predilection for the word "advisory"; call it any other kind of committee you like.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Does not Subsection (3) of the right hon. Gentleman's proposed new Clause carry the matter a 209 great deal farther than he has just said? It states:It shall be the duty of the India Advisory Committee to advise His Majesty…
§ Sir R. HORNE
The effective Amendment which I am moving at present is that consultation be had with a body which is to be set up. The particular character of this body is a different matter, and I am prepared to alter the words of the proposed new Clause which we have not yet come to, in order that the body shall perform the duties of consultation alone.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I take it that the right hon. Gentleman does not stand by the words of Sub-section (3) of his proposed new Clause.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I know perfectly well that a body to advise the Crown in this respect would be an invasion of the Royal Prerogative. I do not propose that at all.
§ Sir S. HOARE
That being so, and having cleared that difficulty out of the way, let me now address myself to the proposal in the sense which my right hon. Friend has just described, namely, a consultative committee. I put my difficulty to the Committee without reserve, and I hope that hon. Members will face it. I am, first of all, nervous of the existence of a committee of this kind bringing the appointment of the Viceroy into public discussion. I think there is a great deal to be said for the Prime Minister of the day consulting individually the ex-Viceroys, and I can conceive that that usually happens, but as soon as you set up a committee by statute you run the risk of bringing the question of the appointment into discussion in the House. Questions may then be asked whether such and such a member of the committee agreed with the recommendation, which might become the subject of party controversy. I would very much like, if possible, to avoid that kind of risk.
Whether it be possible to reach the result that my right hon. Friend desires by some other means I am not sure. I am not sure, for instance, what it is that he and those who are supporting this 210 Amendment really desire. Do they desire to keep the appointment out of the field of purely partisan appointments If that be the case, I would be inclined to think that the right way to achieve that would be a convention between the Prime Minister and ex-Prime Ministers namely, before a name is submitted to the Monarch the Prime Minister would consult the ex-Prime Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition on the subject. The effect of such a convention would, I think, avoid the risk of a future Prime Minister repudiating an appointment made by one of his predecessors. If, on the other hand, what is desired is to bring to bear upon a recommendation of this kind the expert opinion of those who have had first-hand experience in the highest post in India, I think you ought to consult the reigning Viceroy as well as the former Viceroys. I still think, however, that it is better to consult them individually rather than to set up in the body of the Bill a statutory committee that will be liable to the kind of risks that I have just described.
I hope that my hon. Friends will address themselves to these difficulties. We all want to get the best possible man and we all want his merits to be considered but not from any party or sectional angle. I am inclined to think that the setting up by statute of a committee of this kind would either be of no avail in the event of a Prime Minister's ignoring the recommendation of the ex-Viceroys, or it might be embarrassing, in the event of a discussion arising in this House as to why a- particular individual was or was not recommended. The position of the Government is, in a sentence or two, to be described as follows: We see grave danger in blurring Ministerial responsibility. We feel that whatever consultation there may be and with whomsoever that consultation may take effect, the responsibility of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet ought to be clear and distinct; we feel, secondly, that if there is to be consultation it would probably be much more effective if it went on by convention rather than by provision of this kind in a Bill, a provision which, as I say, either will be of no avail or may be very embarrassing to the individual who is eventually appointed. Speaking generally, the Government could not, I think,, accept the Amendment in this form, but I should 211 welcome an opportunity of hearing the views of hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House on the subject.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Like the right hon. Gentleman, I do not wish unduly to detain the Committee, but I would like, on behalf of my hon. Friends on this side, to say at once and without any qualification what our attitude is with respect to this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), if he will allow me to say so respectfully, scarcely advanced an argument in favour of the change implied in the Amendment. I heartily agree with him that the responsibilities of the Governor-General under the new regime, as, indeed, they have been under the old, will be very heavy and exceedingly difficult to discharge, but I did not quite gather what the drift of his argument was—whether it was that the responsibilities were so onerous that no single individual could be expected to discharge them, and that, therefore, they should be discharged by some representative body in India. That, at any rate, seemed to me to be a logical deduction from the right hon. Gentleman's argument. I think, however, he succeeded none the less in disclosing his real purpose. If I understood him aright, he is really rather concerned as to what might happen as regards the future appointment of Viceroys in the event of the entry into office of Governments to whom he is politically opposed.
We can test the value of the operation of this proposal if we project our minds into a time when there is an alternative Government differing in complexion from the present one. Suppose that a Labour Government comes into office, and this scheme is in practice. The Advisory Committee which the right hon. Gentleman visualises is to include the Prime Minister, who would naturally be a Labour man, and the Secretary of State, who also will be a Labour man; but will there be any other Labour representative on this Committee of the Privy Council? Every other member of the committee will be politically opposed to the Government, if we may take our experience hitherto as a reasonable guide, because I cannot recall any Viceroy of India who on his return has associated himself with the Labour 212 movement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Lord Chelmsford."] Lord Chelmsford specifically declared, when he joined the Labour Government, that he did not accept the ordinary party beliefs and policies of Labour. Therefore, I am strictly correct in what I have just said. How does that work out in practice I How could anyone expect a Labour Government to be prepared to relegate the responsibility of determining who is an appropriate person to exercise the function of Viceroy or Governor-General of India to a committee of honourable people I dare say, but of people none the less who are politically opposed to themselves?
Serious political issues may arise from time to time between the new India and the Government in this country, Labour or Conservative as the case may be, and it is fair that the Labour party should anticipate that the person whom it would appoint to exercise this very important function should be a person in strict accord with its outlook in relation to Indian affairs. Why not? Would right hon. Gentlemen opposite appoint a Socialist? The Tory party's great complaint at the moment is that the Government have become so Socialist, and if it is proper for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to complain of our influencing Tory policy, we are entitled to complain of Tories influencing our policy. Therefore, we shall vigorously object to this attempt to preserve high appointments in India in the future to the Tory party. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends may as well get rid of the impression that they are to exercise a. permanent control over the policy of this country in relation to India. We are entitled to express our view about it, and, if we are the Government, we are entitled to determine what shall be the policy of the country.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of his desire not to make an appointment of this sort too strictly partisan in character. He wants it national and representative. The way to arrive most nearly at representative opinion in this country is to determine who are the people who have been elected by the people of this country to be the Government for the time being. If it happens to be a Conservative Government, it is presumed to be representative of the people of the country; If it happens to be a Labour Govern 213 ment, it is presumed to be representative of the people of the country. I do not want to be more partisan in this matter than the occasion demands, but I say emphatically that we are not going to allow ourselves to be drawn into any sort of scheme whereby an additional safeguard in relation to future appointments in India is introduced so as to give the Tory party a permanent lien on the offices held in that country.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I wish that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) had had a bigger House to listen to his speech. I do not think that the Secretary of State ought to be afraid of making new constitutional precedents. He has here a constitution which is neither a democracy nor a dictatorship, neither a Parliamentary Government nor an autocracy, which is neither monarchy nor dyarchy. It is something that he is doing quite afresh. Therefore, we have to make our precedents, and I am certain that, if we can convince him that we have to make our precedents, he will be prepared to do it. I would ask him and the hon. Member for Caerphilly to consider, not the dignity of politicians in the House of Commons, but the way in which the people in India will look at this matter. This Constitution is being set up in which admittedly the Viceroy is, as my right hon. Friend calls him, the linch-pin or the keystone. Everything depends on getting the very best man, a man who possesses an extraordinary range of powers and experience, to fill this post. We are all agreed that it is all-important to find the right man. It may be very difficult for a Prime Minister, in face of his own political supporters, to appoint the right man. He may learn that the right man is not a follower of his own party, and it would be a great assistance and support to the Prime Minister to be able to turn to his party and say, "I am enjoined by the Government of India Act to consult a committee of the Privy Council. After such consultation we came unanimously to the opinion that So-and-so was the best man, and we have considered the interests of India and the interests of India alone." Have not the people of India the right to ask that of us? Have not they a right to demand that we English politicians should put aside our party prejudices and passions in appointing their Viceroy, and 214 appoint him solely and entirely on account of his fitness for this extremely difficult and complicated task? I would ask the Committee also to consider the position of the Viceroy himself after he has been appointed. When he has to use these very invidious and delicate powers, will it not be a great support to him if everybody, not only in England but also in India, knows that he has been appointed after consultation with the greatest experts that the Empire holds on this subject?
Who are the people who, according to our suggestion, should be consulted? The men who have themselves borne that particular burden, and who know as nobody else can know the ramifications and difficulties involved. The hon. Member for Caerphilly talked of keeping the office of Viceroy as a Tory preserve, or something of that sort. That is not the character of the present ex-Viceroys. They are not people of a political complexion with which I personally sympathise, but I am perfectly certain that they and their successors would never recommend anybody with regard to what his English politics were, but would only recommend people whom they believed to possess the qualifications necessary for dealing with Indian problems. Surely, it is going to help enormously the whole working of this scheme if the people in India know that the man sent out to them as Viceroy has been appointed absolutely free of any party considerations here, that he has been appointed after consultation with men whom they know, Viceroys under whom they have lived, men who know their conditions. Will not that assure the new Viceroy of a welcome which he could not possibly get under the present system?
The Secretary of State sems to think that this might drag such appointments into party politics, but the object is exactly the contrary. I would ask him to recall his own experience during the past few months. How did he set about getting his Indian reform proposals through? He got a Joint Select Committee appointed, on which he put as many ex-Viceroys as he could find, and other people who could speak with authority to the people of England. The report of that committee, backed by those men, has enormously facilitated the task of the right hon. Gentleman; and so it will be in the future with regard to any 215 Viceregal appointments if the public in this country, in India, and in the whole Empire know that the appointment has been made after consultation with people who, in their capacity as ex-Viceroys, stand above party and irrespective of party. If it is known that the appointment has been made in that manner, there will be far less disposition to question such appointments than there has been in the past.
The committee that we suggest is intended to be a purely consultative committee. If "advisory" is the wrong word to use, that can easily be altered. The object is that these experts should be consulted, and that the whole question of the appointment of Viceroy should be lifted above party politics. If the Labour party fear that, they show a strange lack of faith in the ability contained within their own ranks. I am certain that a panel of the kind suggested would not consider the question from a party point of view, but would supply what the whole working of the Constitution very much needs, and what India needs. I hope it is not out of order to say that this committee is intended also to advise in regard to the appointment of Provincial Governors. We cannot discuss that question in detail at the present moment, but I would like to say this, that the appointment of Provincial Governors in the past, and, indeed, in the last 10 years, has not been above the reproach of being affected by party considerations in this country; and if we passed an Amendment of this sort we should be doing a very great deal to give Indians an assurance that appointments of that kind would not occur again, and I believe they would be profoundly grateful to us for it.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The Amendment has already undergone a, change since it was introduced. The right hon. Gentleman who moved it will recognise that it would be very different if the words that appear in Sub-section (3) of the new Clause which appears on page 252 of the Order Paper were adopted. That fact invalidates a great deal that was said in the course of his speech. The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) has asked us to 216 assume the general acceptance in India of an appointment which had behind it the unanimous recommendation of this Advisory Committee. Why should he assume that such an Advisory Committee would be unanimous? What provision is there if there should be a division of opinion on the Advisory Committee? I suppose that there would be five members of the suggested committee. There would be the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, and I believe there are three past Viceroys who are spared to take part in our counsels. Assume a position where there is a, division, that the three in exercising the duty with which they have been entrusted by Parliament came to the conclusion that there should be one appointment, and that the Prime Minister of the day and the Secretary of State thought that the appointment should be of another kind.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I ask the bon. Gentleman whether, with his knowledge of public affairs, he thinks that that is likely. Does he not think that men of experience and responsibility, meeting together, would in nine cases out of ten come to a unanimous agreement?
§ Mr. FOOT
I do not know why they should. Suppose that there is a question of policy. Suppose that there were those three members holding views upon the Indian question like those of the Noble Lord himself, and holding those views very sincerely and very vehemently. They would probably disagree with the expressed outlook of the present Secretary of State and Prime Minister. That division would be bound to manifest itself amongst five people of very wide experience. Probably they would reconcile their differences before the end, but the very fact that there were these differences between five men of very high experience would almost certainly leak out; and if the Viceroy so appointed carried out policy which was considered a failure whom could we criticise in later years f The Noble Lord just now expressed an opinion about the recent appointment of Governors. It may be an advantage that he can express his criticism. If it is a criticism he can bring it to bear on the Secretary of State in such measure as is allowed.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am not suggesting that the Noble Lord is doing so. He said that some of these appointments are open to question, but if he has that objection he can express it now to the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister of the day. To whom would he express his objection under the operation of this Amendment? It is quite possible that the Secretary of State of the day would take refuge behind the Amendment and say that the appointment wk's not his, and that he must not accept sole responsibility. It is a most dangerous Amendment. Divided responsibility in a matter of this kind means very often that there is not the same sense of responsibility as is felt when the appointment is in the hands of one man. I do not think that 'an appointment by such an Advisory Committee would be more welcomed in India than appointments as they are made today. I am rather astonished that this grave constitutional innovation should be suggested from the other side of the Committee. We are very anxious to deal with the more outstanding controversies raised by the Bill, and those who sit on the Liberal benches wish to state that if there is a Division on this Amendment they will support the Government.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I should not have intervened but for the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer). I should not like it to go out from this House to the public that the appointments of Governors made from this House had been failures. I believe that the entire population of India prefers a Governor who has come from this House or the other House to a promoted civil servant. I served myself under the Noble Lord's father, who was an admirable Governor. I should hope that the noble Lord himself will in due course be a Governor in India. I should have much more confidence in him than in any promoted civil servant. We must not depreciate the importance of this House in the training of people for the job of carrying on as Governors in India. I like this House. I like all Houses of Commons. I think we are the training ground—
§ Viscount WOLMER
I never suggested for a moment that people with Par 218 liamentary experience should not hold this office.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am sure that if the selection was made by ex-Viceroys and people of that sort no Member of Parliament would be chosen. I would sooner trust myself to the tender mercies of the Secretary of State. Not that I am a candidate, mind you.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. AMERY
It is rather important that we should be clear as to what proposals we are discussing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) made it quite clear just now, in answer to the Secretary of State, that what he contemplates and what he wishes the Government to consider is a consultative committee, consultative to the Prime Minister. Unfortunately that is not the actual Amendment before us. If we read the words of the Bill with the Amendment it is clear that the Governor-General in India is to be "appointed by His Majesty after consultation with the Committee of His Majesty's Privy Council," and so on. That means consultation by His Majesty. Later on, on page 252 of the Amendment Paper, it is stated in a new Clause that the India Advisory Committee is to "advise His Majesty." It seems obvious, in view of the explanation of my right hon. Friend, that he is not going to press the Amendment in the form in which he has moved it.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I ask my right hon. Friend to realise that the effective words are "after consultation."
§ Mr. AMERY
But as the Amendment stands it is to be "His Majesty, after consultation" with a committee of which the Prime Minister is only one member. If the wording were "His Majesty after the Prime Minister has consulted" such and such people, that would more truly express my right hon. Friend's view. I want to lay stress on that, because if the Amendment falls in its present form it disposes of some of the objections of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. M. Jones). The objections of the hon. Member for Caerphilly would have validity if there were a question of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State being outvoted by ex-Viceroys in such an advisory committee. However, as I now 219 understand the proposal, all that the Prime Minister has to do is to consult the ex-Viceroys, and, having consulted them, to come to his own conclusion independently and on his own responsibility.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Does the right hon. Gentleman not forget the point that under the operation of Sub-section (3) of the new Clause on page 252, the main proposal, not only is the person to be appointed after consultation, but in point of fact he cannot be removed without reference to this Advisory Committee?
§ Mr. AMERY
That, I understand, is a separate Amendment. At any rate, I think it is clear that the Amendment in its present form cannot stand, and it is not really being pressed. Therefore, to that extent the objection falls. The idea is that the Prime Minister is expressly to consult ex-Viceroys before coming to a decision on his own responsibility. No one can doubt the immense importance of the functions of the Viceroy or the immensity of his task. It always has been an immense task, and under this Bill his responsibility is, if anything, to be enhanced. Whatever the burden of work may prove to be, it is vital that the very best man should be chosen. It is, however, rather doubtful whether actually defining and circumscribing the area of consultation upon which the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have to come to a decision is altogether desirable.
I admit that the authority of the ex-Viceroys is very high indeed. The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) spoke of them as "the greatest experts, as men who know what no one else can know". But they are not the only persons whose advice might have to be taken. We are apparently asked to believe that they are pygmies in considering what is good from the point of view of India, but giants when it comes to selecting a Viceroy. In any case, they are not the only people whose advice it may be desirable to select. The present Viceroy is not included in this proposal. At any rate, there is a grave objection to specifying a particular list of people who are to be consulted. At once the question arises, "Not only were they consulted, but what were their views?" Will it help the situa 220 tion in India if a doubt should arise that the views of, say, two of the ex-Viceroys were overruled by the Government?
I really doubt whether in practice it is desirable to make semi-public this question of consultation. More than that, we are really up against something which is fundamental to our Constitution. We heard a great deal in the earlier Debates on India of the vital importance of responsibility in Indian politics. I think it is no less important to strengthen the element of responsibility for British politicians. I think it would be a danger to the whole conception of our Constitution if we assumed that the Prime Minister is a mere party man who is to be guided by mere party motives in the selection of high officials, whether it be Viceroys, Ambassadors or anything else on whom the future of the Empire may depend, and that he must be specifically instructed to do what should be his obvious duty, that of consulting anyone who can help him in coming to his own responsible decision. Surely the whole essence of our government is that those who hold office under the Crown are responsible not merely to their party for carrying out a party policy, but to the Crown as embodying the permanent welfare of the nation and the permanent unity of the Empire, in the selection of the best men they can get for high Imperial posts. Certainly, while I sympathise entirely with the motive underlying the Amendment, what I hope is that this office above all will be one that every Prime Minister and every Secretary of State will think it his highest duty to select from the point of view of India's welfare and of Imperial strength and unity and not from the point of view of party. I think we shall do well to leave things in that hope and that faith rather than attempt to put a narrow, circumscribed, and I believe ineffective fetter upon the responsibility of the Prime Minister.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I rise with great hesitation but also with a tremendous temptation to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) in delivering on the Committee stage a speech that I was precluded from delivering on the Second Reading, but for a different reason from his. I was a member of a meeting upstairs which came to an honourable understanding to do the 221 whole of this job in 30 days, and I have been watching the time very anxiously on this very minor and to me unreal Amendment. The whole discussion has gone on the assumption that new Viceroys are going to have more responsibilities to shoulder when India has self-government than when India was ruled from here. That seems to me to be a fantastic conception. If this even confers a measure of self-government—I understand that right hon. Gentlemen who are responsible /for the Amendment are of that group who believe that we are giving India too much self-government—the responsibilities of the Viceroy are bound to be diminished and not increased, because more is being shouldered by the Indian people themselves. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head and, therefore, I must assume that, when he talks of the Bill going too far, he does not really think it.
The discussion is unreal because, if one looks at the experience of the other places where self-government has been conferred, whether Ireland, Australia or anywhere else, what happens is not that the particular nation concerned ask us to set up advisory committees to appoint their Governors-General but that they themselves set up advisory councils and insist that we accept the Governor-General and Viceroy that they nominate. That is the next stage, and the right and proper stage. Just as Ireland insisted on nominating its Governor-General, and Australia is insisting on it, not merely for the Commonwealth but for the various Colonies, so India will demand the same, and rightly so, and any advisory committee that you set up to assist in the appointment of a Viceroy or Governor-General should be a committee of Indians and not a committee of the British House of Commons or of ex-Viceroys or anything else. I hope, now that all sections of the House have expressed their views on the matter, it may be possible to dispose of it and get on to important matters.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I only rise to put a question to the Secretary of State which possibly may shorten the Debate. I think there are many people in all parts of the Committee who realise that the Amendemnt raises a point with which we are not very anxious to deal. There is always a danger in a democratic country of partisan appointments. There 222 is always the danger of the spoils system, and, if that should come about in this case, our future in India would be hopeless. On the other hand, we in this country and, above all, the Tory party have always been very careful about putting the prerogative of the Crown into commission, and, although my hon. Friends who have moved the Amendment have been careful to say that this is only consultative, the whole argument of my Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) was that India would know that this Committee has recommended a particular appointment, but of course they would not know that it was merely consultative, and no one would know what passed. The appointment would be an appointment made by His Majesty for which the Prime Minister and the Government had accepted responsibility.
One of the dangers of putting the prerogative into commission in this way is that you cannot circumscribe the personnel of the committee. If you had a committee like this set up you could not resist the claim of the Indian members of His Majesty's Privy Council to sit upon it. That is the sort of danger. Cannot this matter be dealt with in another way? This House and another place are going to be called upon in due course to present an Address to His Majesty praying him to issue a Proclamation to bring the Federation into being. It seems to me that it would be perfectly proper for this House in presenting such an Address to express their strong feeling as to the spirit in which and the principles upon which the Government of the day should advise His Majesty in regard to the appointment of the Governor-General of the Federation. I would ask the Secretary of State whether he would be prepared to consider that method of dealing with it, which would put formally on record the strong feeling of the House of Commons and would not tie His Majesty within the bounds of some statutory definition in the exercise of his discretion for which the Government of the day is responsible but which is, nevertheless, in a very real sense, in the opinion of the people of the country, his discretion in the exercise of the Royal Prerogative.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.223
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in page 2, line 10, to leave out from "Majesty" to "as" in line 13.
If these words remain in the Bill, it will be a Federation of all India. If they are left out it can be only a Federation of British India. The object of the Amendment is to get a Debate, and if possible a vote, on the supreme issue of whether we are to have a Federation of the Indian States plus British India or whether we are to make it, as the Indians themselves wish, a Federation of British India alone. The chief argument in favour of a Federation of all India is that thereby we bring the Princes in as a safeguard that the conduct of the Central Government—
§ Sir S. HOARE
On a point of Order. Does the Amendment in its present form open this wide question of a Federation of all India or of British India? My own view is that it raises a much narrower point, a point in connection with paramountcy.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am perfectly prepared not to move it on this occasion but to raise it on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." I think you, Sir, will agree that we can have a Debate either there or on that Question.
It is a little difficult sometimes to understand exactly what is the intention of an Amendment or what the particular point is which the hon. Member proposes to discuss, and I have had some difficulty over this Amendment. It is not a very satisfactory place in the Bill for raising this point, and, if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is prepared to discuss it either on a later Amendment or on the Question "That the Clause stand part," I think that will be better.
I can help the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on that. My intention is certainly, in the circum- 224 stances, to call Amendments on which this question could be raised on Clause 5, which deals definitely with the inclusion of States in the Federation.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I beg to move, in page 2, line 22, at the end, to insert:(3) The person appointed to fill either of the said offices shall hold that office for the period specified in the Commission under the Royal Sign Manual by which he is appointed to that office, subject to a power of removal by His Majesty on an address presented to His Majesty by both Houses of Parliament.Provided that the person for the time being holding either of the said offices may by leave of His Majesty resign that office by writing signed by him.This raises a quite different point from that which we discussed just now but one of equal importance. It is that the Viceroy should have some security of tenure in his office. The more I think about this Bill and this Constitution the more important it seems to me that he should have security of tenure. It is a great mistake to think that the Viceroy's actions are not going to be criticised on all sides. We recognise, of course, that he will incur violent criticism in India whatever he does. He will also be liable to criticism in this country which will be of a particularly difficult and dangerous type to him, because he will be unable to reply to criticisms in this country. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) speaking just now said that it seemed that the Viceroy was going to have more power under the new Constitution than he has under the old. While in a sense that is true, he will certainly have a great many more difficulties. Therefore, we have to see what conditions we can provide to make his path as easy as possible, and one of the conditions that I want to give him, which it seems to me and my hon. Friends most important that we should give him, is some sort of security of tenure.
The principle of security of tenure is fully recognised in our Constitution. It is a position enjoyed by every judge in the country. Why have judges been given that position? They did not always hold it. There was a time when the judges 225 of this country were removable by the Crown. Why was that altered? It was altered because it was found highly undesirable in the interests of the State that the Government of the day should interfere in the administration of justice. Therefore, His Majesty's judges have been put into this position by an Act of Parliament under which they are irremovable except on a petition being presented by both Houses of Parliament to the Throne. Parliament has felt that it was necessary to give judges that security to enable them to carry out their duties efficiently, but will not the duties of the Viceroy of India be much more difficult and far more important, affecting personal, private and political interests just as much as the decision of any judge in this country. If it be right that the judges of England should be given this security of tenure and be irremovable except by an Address of both Houses of Parliament, then, surely, it is far more necessary that the Viceroy of India, who may have to do things far more uncongenial to certain politicians, should be placed in the same position.
You may say that in contemplating the Viceroy being removed from his office by the Government of the day, I am contemplating something which never has occurred and never will occur. That is not the fact. We have had in quite recent history cases where two pro-consuls have been forced to resign by the Government of the day. You may say that forcing a pro-consul to resign does not come within the ambit of this Amendment, but I think it does. If a Viceroy knew that he could not be dismissed without an Address by both Houses of Parliament, he would not be likely to resign unless he thought that an Address would be forthcoming. But we have the cases of Lord Lytton, who was forced to resign by Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Lloyd, who was forced to resign by the late Labour Government, to show that there is no security of tenure enjoyed by pro-consuls at the present moment.
I ask the Committee to conceive the position in which the Viceroy may find himself. He may have to make decisions at very short notice indeed. He has to play a most difficult hand all through. One day he has to be a parliamentarian, he can go down to either Chamber and address them, he can try all the known parliamentary arts behind the scenes, 226 and the next moment he may find himself in the position of a Mussolini having to close down the Chambers, to make ordinances and to defy the popular opinion of the moment. He may have to do things which are very difficult for the English public to understand, not knowing the circumstances of the case. Above all things, he must feel that he is given a chance of playing his hand boldly, and playing it through. If at the time when he is facing Congress, when he is facing some grave civil crisis in India or some threat to the Indian frontier, with immense issues hanging in the balance, if he feels that he may be overruled from Downing Street at any moment, it will not facilitate his task and improve the way in which he plays his hand. We have to face the fact that if there is one thing about which the people in India are unanimous, it is that they want to get as far away as they can from Downing Street. You will find great unanimity of opinion among Indians on that subject, and also among the British in India. By the Constitution you are creating, you are turning the Viceroy into a sort of patriot king, the old theory of George III, to work with a Parliament. But he has all these powers in reserve by which he can function without Parliament if he wants to do so.
You have to lean more and more on your Viceroy, and you cannot do it successfully if he is liable to be interfered with by Downing Street at every turn. Frankly, I want to put the Viceroy into a position where he cannot be tripped up by political intrigues in this country. I want to give him the same security of tenure and the same dignity as is possessed by His Majesty's judges at home. It has been shown to be of enormous benefit to the administration of justice that judges should be put into that position, and I believe that it will be found equally to the benefit of the whole position of the Viceroy and the way he carries out his duties, that he should feel that he can play his hand, take the action which he thinks right, and carry out the powers that Parliament has conferred upon him, without being tripped up by some miserable little Secretary of State acting from party motives. Therefore, I hope very much that the Government, in making all these new con- 227 stitutional experiments, will give a favourable consideration to the proposal which I have advanced.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I speak with some diffidence as one of the pigmies and miserable little Secretaries of State, but please do not let my Noble Friend think that I am not as anxious as he is to keep the position of the Viceroy as independent as possible, and as free and unsusceptible to partisan attacks in this House or in another place as it is possible to do. Unfortunately the position is not quite as simple as my Noble Friend seems to make out. For instance, I do not think that the analogy of the judges of which he made a great deal is at all as close as he seems to think. The judges are not executive officers. They have nothing to do with policy. They are appointed for life, and for many generations past it has been the general feeling in this country that that being so, and in view of the fact that judges might give decisions hostile to the Government of the day, a special procedure should be adopted in connection with their tenure of office. The judges, therefore, unlike the Viceroy, are appointed for life, and not for any short period of time. And their action cannot be criticised in this House except in the formal manner of an Address.
The position of the Viceroy is quite different. The Viceroy it an executive officer carrying out from day to day executive policy, and, further than that, under the proposals of this Bill, carrying out a policy over a large field of his activities that is of very direct interest to public opinion generally in this country, and, as a result of that, to this House. For instance, can it be conceived that this or any other party will wish to withdraw from the possibilities of any Parliamentary discussion the great field of the Viceroy's reserved departments, and his special responsibilities? While I hope that we shall maintain the tradition that has been in existence for many years past in this House, namely, that this House does not attempt to administer in detail Indian affairs, I cannot conceive of Parliament divesting itself of the opportunity to discuss, and, if necessary, to criticise actions that are so constantly in the minds of every hon. Member of the House. If we adopted the 228 suggestion of my Noble Friend it would be impossible to ask questions upon Indian subjects?
§ Sir S. HOARE
On the analogy of the judges. I am assuming that my Noble Friend intends that the sole object of his Amendment is to withdraw this kind of subject from discussion.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am afraid that my right hon. Friend has misunderstood me. My analogy of the judges was in regard to the importance of their work. I did not suggest that their work was the same as that of the Viceroy. I merely said that the work of the Viceroy was far more important than that of the judges, and quite as unsuitable for Parliamentary interference. That does not in the least prevent Parliament from asking questions and getting the same information as it does to-day.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I may be stupid, but I really fail to see any distinction. If the object is not to cut off the Viceroy from Parliamentary criticism, then I do not see the object of the Amendment.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I should have thought that the proposal was double-edged, and that the Opposition of the day—not this particular Opposition—if they knew that they could not make the kind of criticism that is made to-day of the administration, that is, by criticising the Secretary of State, for he is the right person to be criticised, they would be very much tempted to put down a Motion for the Viceroy's recall. I could not imagine anything worse from the point of view of India or from the point of view of the Governor-General himself. The fact that a Motion of want of confidence was discussed in this House, even though it were defeated, would have the worst possible effect upon opinion in India, and upon the future position of the Viceroy. My own very definite view, therefore, is that the procedure outlined in the Amendment not only would be a serious innovation, but a great mistake. I think that it would be much wiser to strengthen the Convention as far as we can in every possible way by cooperation between one section of the House and another, and 229 that we do not attempt to impede the Viceroy's action in matters of detail, but that we should act better by strengthening the Convention than by attempting to accept a proposal of the kind outlined in the Amendment, which I think would have disastrous results.
§ 5.47 p.m
Duchess of ATHOLL
I do not think that my right hon. Friend has, made quite clear what are the legal implications of the proposal. Until I am told definitely that our proposal would make it impossible for the House to discuss policy in India, I should like to emphasise what I feel to be the reason of my Noble Friend in putting forward the Amendment. The object is to strengthen the hand of the Viceroy in India, not to protect him from legitimate criticism here on major points of policy. The reason for that is obvious. Quite apart from the great variety of his work, so much of his work and his responsibilities will depend on the action of others, upon Indian Ministers whose action he cannot control, indeed by whose advice he is bound to be guided, except where his special responsibilities are concerned, it seems to me, therefore, that there will be great and constant danger of friction between the Governor-General and the Ministers controlling various departments that interlock, so to speak, with the Viceroy's special responsibilities. It is because of that fear of friction that it seems to us to be necessary to put the Viceroy in an unassailable position vis-a-vis the public in India.
Take the greatest of the Viceroy's reserved Departments—Defence. The Government of India's Despatch of September, 1930, pointed out how Army administration interlocks with railways, roads, posts, telegraphs, finance, etc. Yet, so far as I can see, the Bill gives the Viceroy no definitely stated power in regard to posts, telegraphs or roads, the administration of which may vitally affect the efficiency of defence, for which he is responsible. Take the telegraph department. In the rebellion of 1919 in the Punjab and Bombay a very large number of telegraph clerks had to be got rid of on account of sedition. If the Viceroy suspects that such influences are at work in Departments upon which the efficiency of the Defence Department so largely depends, it may be extremely difficult for 230 him to ascertain what the position is in regard to sedition in the Telegraphs Department. Take, again, the question of roads. These are in the charge of Provincial Ministers.
I fail to see how this argument affects the question of the Viceroy being appointed to his office for a fixed period, without there being the power of removal by Parliament.
Duchess of ATHOLL
It is because I think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has rather misinterpreted the purpose of the Amendment, that I was endeavouring to show what I believe to be the real purpose underlying it, namely, to strengthen the position of the Viceroy's office vis-a-vis Indian Ministers in Departments upon the working of which the efficiency of defence, for which he is responsible, greatly depends.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I will only briefly outline the fact that roads are in the hands of Provincial Ministers, and that at the present time Provincial Governors get instructions from the Viceroy as to exactly how they are to keep up roads of military importance. We have not heard that the Viceroy will have any such power under the Bill, and it seems to me that if he attempts to exercise supervision and guidance in regard to roads of strategic importance, he may find himself in very grave conflict with Ministers in one Province or another. It is because I believe that there will be risk of serious friction in regard to the exercise of the Viceroy's responsibility for defence, the finance of the Army and so on, that I feel there is a great deal more in the Amendment of my Noble Friend than my right hon. Friend has realised. Therefore, I am glad to support it.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. BAILEY
I do not wish to pursue this matter for more than three or four minutes, but we regard the Amendment as fundamental, and as transcending any mere question of detail. I have listened with the utmost interest to the short observations of the Secretary of State. He said that we ought not to pass the Amendment because we ought not to 231 take away the right from the House of Commons to criticise the Viceroy. H we thought that any such right would be taken away, where legitimate criticism was justified, we should not propose the Amendment. It is exactly because we think that there should not be criticism of the Viceroy on partisan grounds, where it is not justified in the public interest, that we would take that right of criticism away. We hear talk about the convention. Is it not a convention that we do not criticise His Majesty's judges here, unless there are very grave grounds for so doing? I consider that we might get a very good convention if we placed the Viceroy's office above the arena of partisan discussion and debate. We might get a convention that he was not to be brought into the politics of the day unless there were some absolutely supreme reason for so doing.
I should like to ask the Secretary of State a question about this convention. I have always understood that a convention demanded more than one party, and I have been very interested in noting that no hon. or right hon. Member opposite has defined his attitude in regard to the convention. We have heard not once but many times right hon. and hon. Members opposite say that they reject the whole policy of safeguards, upon which the Government base the whole of this Constitution and upon which they seek to persuade us that it is harmless. The party opposite reject the policy of safeguards outright. I respect their point of view, but I do not agree with it. If the Viceroy in the future came to the conclusion that it was essential to exercise his safeguards, what would be the attitude of the party opposite? Holding the views that they do about safeguards, what would be their attitude if the Viceroy sought to exercise his safeguards? They would say: "You may exercise your safeguards, although we have stated publicly that we condemn them root and branch, and if you do so you must resign and we will send another Viceroy who will not exercise the safeguards." That is the reason why we regard the Amendment as fundamental.
The right hon. Gentleman is seeking to cloud the issue by words, as he has done throughout. If you can only make a subject dull, you generally carry your policy. The Minister has deceived us, I 232 do not say deliberately, because he has managed to deceive himself before he has deceived us. I should like to put this question to him, without the least desire to be acrimonious. We might as well get down to brass tacks. He is pretending that there is agreement on the part of parties here to keep this matter out of politics, whereas we know that there is no such agreement, and that the first opportunity on which hon. Members opposite can bring it into politics they will do so. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that if the Viceroy is to be in a position to carry out his duties he should know that he will not be dismissed for so doing. What will be the position of the Viceroy otherwise? Faced with a position in India which he knows demands the exercising of a strong hand and the exercising of the safeguards, he may know that there is a Government at home which is committed to the abolition of the safeguards and that even if the Government were inclined to be reasonable, it is pledged to its supporters. Will not the Viceroy in those circumstances be hampered in his attitude, in advance, because he will not know whether or not he will get support at home?
On the other hand, if the Viceroy knows that a Constitution has been set up, the handiwork of all sections in the House, that it stands immutable so far as any individual Government is concerned, that under that Constitution he will be able to exercise his prerogatives and power and he knows that if he exercises his safeguards he cannot be dismissed except by an Act of Parliament, will not his hands be greatly strengthened? The right hon. Gentleman said that we were wanting to take this matter from Parliament, but I would remind him that the House of Lords is as much Parliament as the House of Commons. If the Governor-General can be dismissed in exercising his prerogative and doing his duty, there ought to be a vote of both Houses of Parliament. Only so will that unfortunate official, whoever he may be, be able to carry out fearlessly the duty which we are devolving upon his shoulders through this Constitution. Only so will he be able to exercise the safeguards without fear, if it becomes necessary in the interests of the people of India to do so. For the reasons that I have given, we regard the Amendment 233 as absolutely vital, and we hope that the Government will for once act in a spirit of reasonableness, and accept it.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I do not care to give a vote for this Amendment without offering in a few sentences my explanation to the Committee. I admit, quite frankly, that there are disadvantages in this proposal, as there were disadvantages in the previous proposal we discussed this afternoon. Anyone can see how we trespass, or seem to trespass, upon the plenary responsibilities of the Government of the day, and to some extent on the liberty of discussion in this House. But the defects are but the shadow of the far greater defects inherent in the structure of the Bill. I agree that these kinds of remedies would not be proposed were the disease which we are resisting and endeavouring to check as far as we can, not so grave and desperate. A public functionary is being created under the Bill unique in character. Nothing like it has ever been conceived, or ever will be conceived after an experience which future years will no doubt bring. This is not the time to enlarge upon the functions of the Viceroy, but to suggest that they will not be functions exciting the fiercest controversy and almost continuous friction is to miss the whole point.
Hon. Members opposite seem to suppose that now that responsible self-government is being given to India, the Viceroy will have nothing to do. It is not merely the vast range of subjects with which he will have to deal, but also their highly controversial nature. At any moment he may be called upon to resume autocratic government of a Province, to sweep away a Constitution. At any moment he may be called upon to dismiss Ministers, to dissolve Parliaments and veto legislation. Now that the Government by their Measure have dragged India into party politics, and have raised issues which will not slumber during a whole generation, the position and actions of the Viceroy will be the subject of continuous criticism in this House, whichever party occupies the seat of power or opposition. There will be criticism. The Viceroy will be expected to act in regard to the reserved powers to maintain security of defence, and great anxiety will be caused as to whether he is, in fact, discharging that duty. You may see that movement from this side of the House. 234 On the other hand, in India you may have great resentment of his exercise of safeguards, and pressure being put upon him by his Ministers, complaints of the autocratic temper of the Viceroy, Ministers in conflict with the Viceroy, and with the Houses of Parliament over here, and the Ministry of the day in conflict with them. Is it to be wondered at that in these circumstances, when you have this official lifted up so entirely out of the common run of all political devices and arrangements, around whom these storms are going to beat—is it strange that we should in the best way we can, and by the best amendments we can propose, seek, in the first place, to free his appointment as much as possible from partisanship, to ensure continuity in the appointment of any such functionary and to secure him a certain reasonable stability once he has undertaken these duties?
Those are the objects of the Amendment. It may be that the actual wording of the proposal shows defects—many of us can see them—but, nevertheless, the object is of the most serious character. The speeches which have been made from the Government Bench, and the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), have indicated the serious character of the difficulties we are endeavouring to meet. The Government have brushed them away and leave the Viceroy, confronted not merely with the difficulties I have mentioned, but with crises of a most extraordinary character, to be dismissed from his office in the ordinary manner as if he were no more than a simple official placed in this extraordinary position. It seems to many of us that his dismissal ought to be affected in the broad, open light of day, and by the full act of Parliament. It should not be a matter which should rest exclusively with the executive. It is true that the executive, if it wished to dismiss the Viceroy, would presumably command a. majority of the House, and I cannot myself conceive that in these matters the present House of Lords would use its veto on Indian questions, which I observe are not subject to the Parliament Act.
It seems to me that when you are placing the Viceroy in this position, charged with these peculiar functions, he is going to be the storm centre for many years, and the least you can do is to 235 fortify his position in some way, not relieve him from the criticism of Parliament, but make sure that his dismissal, if it is decided upon, shall operate only through the most formal, ceremonious and grave methods in which such an act can take place. It is too much to expect that the Government will accept the Amendment in its present form any more than they did the pertinent Amendment by which the right hon. Member for Hill head (Sir R. Horne) sought to mitigate the defects of the Bill; but while pointing the moral of the danger in which we stand we may still express a hope, a faint hope, and, therefore, a hope which requires to be cherished all the more, that as our discussions continue the Government will take steps to reassure the sincere and urgent fears which are held not only in this House, but with increasing force throughout large parts of the country.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. AMERY
It is interesting to see exactly where the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) stands. We have listened to him upholding the rights of Parliament against the encroachments of Indian self-government. The whole issue between him and the supporters of the Government so far has been that he wishes to maintain the effective control of Parliament over the centre in India, even if he is prepared to resign it with regard to the Provinces. Now, in support of this Amendment, if it really could have any effect, he would set up in India an autocratic form of government under an English-born Viceroy. The Amendment, if it really was effective, would enable the Viceroy to snap his fingers at any British Government and govern entirely in consonance with his own views—views which may be more coloured by Indian environment and interests than by Imperial interests here. Is there, however, really any possibility that the Amendment would achieve the end we all desire, namely, the elimination of the Viceroy's functions as far as possible from party controversy? The Noble Lord the right hon. Member for Aldershot ([...] or Wolmer) quoted the case of [...] I was one who had the [...] tion for the administration of [...] in Egypt. The Government of which it was a Member had complete [...] 236 in him, but the fact remains that the next Government took a different view of his policy. Would the situation here in Parliament, or in Egypt, have been better if Lord Lloyd had been able to defy, the Secretary of State and could have said, "Turn me out on a Motion of Censure in both Houses of Parliament if you can."
Suppose such a Motion had been carried by the Government in this House and not carried in the House of Lords, you would have had a complete and hopeless deadlock making the Government of Egypt the very focus of party controversy. Sorely the one thing which helps to keep our representatives in foreign countries, and indeed in the Empire, out of party politics, is that the primary duty of the Secretary of State is to protect them in this House, to state their case and defend them, as long as there is any reasonable chance of agreement. Even when there is a good deal of difference of opinion behind the scenes, I have known cases where the Secretary of State has regarded it as his first duty to defend his representatives abroad, whether Viceroys or Governors, and when things come really to a deadlock, when the possibility of resignation arises, it arises in a form which prevents a lot of party controversy and does less injury to the public interest than a raging, tearing controversy in Parliament culminating in a Vote of Censure or a demand for resignation. In this matter we must trust to the sense of public responsibility on the part of the Government, and we should be wise to leave it there, retaining as far as necessary the general control of this House over those branches of Indian policy which are still reserved, at the same time exercising a wise self-restraint in our interference with India.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
I merely want to comment on what the right hon. Member for Spark-brook (Mr.Amery) has said. It seems to me that the usefulness of his speech has been completely minimised by the dramatic statement we had from the Front Opposition Bench, when the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), speaking officially for the Opposition, said that there was going to be no nonsense about it: every Viceroy in future was going to be a Socialist.
§ Sir H. CROFT
At any rate, that every Viceroy under a Socialist Government was going to be a Socialist.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I think the hon. Member said something stronger than that, and I think he will find that is so if he will read the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow. He made it perfectly clear that when the Socialist party are in power they are going to insist on the right to have a Socialist Viceroy. His whole point was that they were going to do this because the Conservative party had previously taken such steps, and they were determined that the Conservative party was not going to have a lien on the appointment of the Viceroy in the future, regardless of the fact that only one Viceroy since the War has been a Conservative, and he is hardly one who would be welcome in the right wing of Conservatism at the present moment. The hon. Gentleman having spoken thus for the Opposition, and the leader of the party having endorsed what he said just now, it seems imperative that we ought to do all in our power to see that these political considerations shall not come into these matters. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook mentioned the fact that the moment a Socialist Government came into office, Lord Lloyd's brilliant regime in Egypt was brought to an end, simply on account of the change of Government. Can we conceive, with the vital change which we are making in India, that any such position as that is going to be satisfactory? Anything that we can do to stabilise the position and take the Viceroy out of politics must be in the interests of the people of India and of the whole Indian government, in connection with the administration from the House of Commons, and I hope that my noble Friend will press the Amendment.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I do not want to delay a decision on this matter, but I hate to see quarrels arising between people who ought to be good friends. Why should there be any suspicion on the part of the Conservative party about Socialist or Labour 238 nominees for important posts. If the Conservative party can accept their Prime Ministers from the Labour party, why worry about Viceroys? If my hon. Friends propose to go into the Lobby on this Amendment, I shall be glad to support them. I take it that this Measure, as drafted by the Government, puts the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief beyond criticism in the House of Commons, that it puts them in a position similar to that of His Majesty himself. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, it does not matter with reference to the point which I am making. The attempt of the Amendment is to extend the power of criticism of the Viceroy in the House of Commons—[HON. MEMBERS: "To diminish it"]—and to give to me, as an individual Member, the right to put down a Motion in the House of Commons for the removal of the Viceroy.
If I went to the Table to-day with 'a Motion for the removal of the Viceroy of India it would be refused, but Once this Amendment is carried, as I hope it will be, the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and I, on finding any particular Viceroy in India objectionable to us, can put down on the Order Paper a Resolution for his removal. Whether that Resolution would ever be called or not would be a matter for the Government of the day, but the Resolution would be framed in such terms as to achieve practically all the purposes that a wide discussion would provide. Because of that fact I am ready to support the Amendment. If it be asserted that the Amendment really limits the powers of the House of Commons over the Viceroy, I say that it certainly defines them. I have never known, during the years that I have been a Member of Parliament, any opportunity which the House of Commons had for free criticism of the Viceroy. I see such an opportunity pro-vided in this Amendment, and I am prepared to support it for that reason.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. GEORGE BALFOUR
I trust that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, even at this late stage of the discussion, will give some indication that he sympathises with the object of the Amendment. I was rather surprised at the way in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) expressed himself. He seemed to be labour 239 ing under some confusion of thought. This Amendment has nothing to do with the resignation, but only with the dismissal of the Governor-General, and the object of the Amendment, however poorly expressed it may be, is to prevent just that peculiar kind of circumstance which might arise if the hon. Gentleman who spoke earlier from the Front Opposition Bench really gave effect to the views which he expressed. I am sure that when he reads his statement tomorrow he will find not only that he said that Labour would have its own way—and we could be under no apprehension as to what he meant—but that for the first time in the House of Commons we had a declaration that in these matters party politics were to predominate. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I am within the recollection of am Committee when I say that his declaration could only mean one thing. It meant in effect "When Labour rules, Labour will make all these appointments at the beck and call of political agitators on the Labour side."
If we have arrived at that position, surely it is not too much to ask that these great servants of the State, labouring under grave disabilities and with all these heavy burdens upon them, at least 'when they are discharging the duty which has been imposed upon them by Parliament of representing the authority of His Majesty in India, shall not be liable to be dismissed ignominiously without first having an opportunity of testing the views of both Houses of Parliament. It has been said that the Secretary of State would put up a defence for them in the House of Commons, and it is right and proper that that should be so but on such occasions we would require more than that. We want to be sure that by no sudden change of Government, whatever the colour or complexion of the new Government may be, shall policy be suddenly changed, and resignations demanded and dismissals effected. Some sort of machinery in this Measure for that end is desperately and urgently required.
In the discussion on the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) the Secretary of State suggested that these matters were too delicate to be woven into the Bill and that we must leave 240 them there. We have 450 Clauses which are apparently to be inflexible, and the vital things for our protection in reference to these Clauses are, we are told, too delicate and subtle to be framed in Amendments to the Bill. This Bill in order to succeed ought to have consisted of a long Preamble and five or six wide and sweeping Clauses capable of wide interpretation. However, if I pursued that line of thought I should exceed the limits of a discussion on this Amendment, but I trust that, even now, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will give some indication to relieve the serious apprehensions which exist in the minds of a small body of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in the Committee who feel very deeply on this question.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) has made an extraordinary speech. This suggestion that the Conservative party have never dealt with these subjects, such as the appointment of judges and other matters, by party methods is complete nonsense. The system of party government in this country has been adopted in order that the party which is in power may control the policy of this country in all its aspects. That is the function of party government, and the reason why the right hon. Gentleman opposite quite properly controls the Viceroy as to the policy which he considers the Viceroy ought to follow, is because that is the principle of democracy in this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and his friends are really mistaken. They ought to have put down an Amendment by which the Secretary of State would always be appointed by the Conservative party. Then they would get the safeguards which they really desire.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Instead of that they are putting forward a lot of ingenious arguments which are designed to do nothing really except to make out a case that when there is a change of Government, the new Government is to have no power to impose its policy upon India. But such a Government has as much right to impose its policy on India as any other Government, and as much right to 241 appoint a person in India who will carry out that policy as any other Government, and I devoutly hope that if a Labour Government comes into power in this country, it will see that all officials in other countries carrying out the Government's policy are people who carry out that policy loyally, and, if necessary, who sympathise with that policy.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The noble Lord opposite spoke of judges. May I point out that the greatest scandals in this country in the appointment of judges have been in connection with appointments by the Conservative party? It is perfectly well known to many lawyers that in the past there have been some most scandalous appointments made on the political basis by the Conservative party in this country.
§ Viscount WOLMER
If the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks so, why did he not support the Amendment which I proposed earlier to take these appointments out of the hands of the politicians?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Because I believe that in this country politicians to-day do not do the things which they used to do in the not very distant past. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I agree that hon. Members opposite know better than I do, because they are in touch with the Conservative office, and they know whether any pressure has recently been brought to bear as regards the appointment of judges in this country—matters of which I have no knowledge whatever.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
On a point of Order. I would draw your attention, Sir Dennis, to the fact that the hon. and learned Gentleman has suggested in a very pointed manner that there has been some disreputable transaction in regard to recent appointments of His Majesty's judges, and I would ask you whether, in the event of his having such a matter to bring forward, he ought not to bring it forward at another time by putting a Motion on the Paper, so that the matter can be considered, with the gravity which is proper to it?
I was just on the point of intervening to point out to the hon. and learned Gentleman that he was getting beyond the Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman when he makes a direct accusation with regard 242 to the recent appointment of a judge, is, I think, going somewhere very near raising the question of discussion in regard to a judge at present on the bench, and that, I am sure, he does not wish to do.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I specifically stated that in my view there was no longer, among politicians, a desire to make appointments of that sort. I pointed out that it was something which admittedly took place. [HON. MEMBERS: "Recently?''] If hon. Gentlemen will be a little less warm I will explain exactly what I meant. Many hon. Members opposite jeered when I stated that it was no longer the practice, and I naturally retaliated and, I think, rightly retaliated, by saying that they know better than I do what the practice is to-day. I am not connected with the party that is in power to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "What party?"] I said that they know better what has happened as regards recent appointments than I do—and so they do.
Am I right in understanding that the hon. and learned Member wishes the Committee to understand that he had no intention of suggesting that there had been any misbehaviour recently with regard to the appointment of judges?
Then I consider that that explanation disposes of that matter sufficiently, and there is no reason to continue that discussion.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On a point of Order. The issue, as I see it, is that the Amendment before us is with regard to the appointment of a Viceroy, and the implication is that certain party politicians could use it for party purposes. The broader issue concerning His Majesty's judges has been raised, and is it not, therefore, in order now to make the general statement that judges are now appointed on a party basis, without regard either to capacity or ability?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
As I understood the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot 243 (Viscount Wolmer), his argument was that the Viceroy should be put in the same position as regards criticism in this House as a judge.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I understood the Noble Lord to say that as he was to be given the same right of tenure as a judge, he was only to be removed by the exceptional procedure which is applied to a judge. And there is some question as to whether or not that now applies to the head of the Unemployment Assistance Board. Therefore, that would signify—and I think the Secretary of State took this view—that this House, in dealing with him, must deal with him as with other people who are dealt with by that special procedure; that is to say, it would put him into the category of those who could only be dealt with by special Resolution in this House.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
And therefore he would be in the category of people who could only be criticised by a Resolution brought forward in both Houses especially for that purpose. Certainly that is how I should have thought it would have been interpreted in the procedure of this House, and I do not know why the Noble Lord and his friends have suddenly awakened to the idea that party politics are likely to be introduced into the question of dealing with India. I imagine that the reason is that they see the likelihood of the party to which they belong being shortly defeated in the country, and they are therefore hoping to get the appointment of the next Viceroy, when this Bill comes into operation, and to be able to keep him there while the Labour Government is in power, and they hope to find him there if they ever get back to power again afterwards, which, of course, is extremely problematical. If one believes in democracy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Do you?"] Certainly, I profoundly believe in democracy, and I always thought the right hon. Member for Epping believed in democracy. Surely it is clear and certain that if you rely on the party system, then each party, when it is in power, has a right to control policy and 244 to have officers who are prepared to carry out that policy.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I feel that the supporters of the Amendment are doing the Labour party a serious injustice in this matter. Those who have criticised the Government say that the appointment of a Viceroy is one of the most important things you can do and that therefore Parliament ought to have the right to say that, before the Viceroy can be removed, both Houses of Parliament should be consulted and an affirmative vote take place. Hitherto the practice has been that if a Viceroy did not do what the Executive of the day thought fit, that Executive has had the power to dismiss him. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said that would not have been bad in the past, because he accepted all that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) had said, but that it was not right now, because it has been announced that in the future the Labour party will only appoint people of somewhat similar views to their own. Therefore, he says that what was right before, what was fine before, what was grand before, is no longer grand, because in the future the Conservatives might not always be in a majority. Therefore, the people of this country have not now to exercise majority rule.
What was good enough in the past is to be changed, but if democracy means anything, it means not merely altering unemployment benefit, but altering a wide range of policies. Therefore, the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth says, "Oh, this has to be stopped, because the Labour party may make appointments in the future." What is the case against the Labour party? Nobody can say that one of their appointments has ever been a bad appointment, whether in the field of Viceroys or elsewhere. Indeed, the real criticism against the Labour party, if there be one, has been that they have packed these appointments with folk who took an antagonistic view to their own.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Surely I am entitled to say this, because the Labour party is impugned and is told that it cannot make good appointments.
In dealing with that, the hon. Member is coming to an issue which must not be discussed on this Amendment.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The Labour party has made certain appointments, and nobody has ever impugned those appointments. I say further that I welcome the very proper statement that there is a tendency to assume something which is not true. I must take sides with my Labour colleagues in this, because it is fundamental to my principles that the working people are in no way inferior to the Conservative party.
§ Viscount WOLMER
This Amendment has nothing to do with the question of appointment, but only with the question of dismissal.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
But it was stated clearly by the hon. and gallant Member here that he accepted the sentiments of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook in full, but the statement of the Labour party that they were going to make their appointments in their own way altered the position fundamentally, and the need for the Amendment was not the need for an Amendment by the Conservative party if they remained in office, but only a need if the Government altered. If they think that the Labour party or the working people are inferior and cannot send to be Viceroy a person who comes from the working class, that he cannot be trusted with the duties of that high office, while I would normally have accepted the idea of safeguarding the rights of Parliament in these matters, I cannot on this occasion accept it, for this reason, that it would mean the acceptance of an inferiority complex on the part of the working people.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) is obviously under an entire misapprehension. Assuming that a satisfactory Viceroy was appointed by the Labour party, he, I presume, would desire that that gentleman should be kept in office and should not be turned out by a following Tory Government. The whole object of the Amendment is that the person who holds this admittedly vastly important office should not be removed except by an Address from both Houses of Parliament. We in this House have made that require- 246 ment with regard to our judges, because we consider that their office is a matter of vital importance to the country and that it should be independent of the ebb and flow of party politics. If the dismissal of a single judge is a matter of vital importance to this country, surely the dismissal of a Viceroy, holding all the judicial power that the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) indicated earlier in the Debate, is of importance in a far greater degree.
This Amendment is no reflection on the Labour party or on any other party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Of course it is not. That only shows that hon. Members opposite have an inferiority complex, and people who have an inferiority complex are beyond argument. Their argument has so far gone to show, what many of us rather feared, that this is going to be in their view a political office, only to be used for furthering Socialist principles and ideas. We were told on the Joint Select Committee that this was to be the end of constitutional reform in India except for the long time during which they would look forward to Dominion Status, but we hear to-day that every Labour Government that comes in will appoint a Viceroy and any other person whom it can control in order to enunciate and put forward Socialist principles. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—Now the House and the country know. The Socialist party cheer that statement, that in the future this Measure will be worked in order to enunciate Socialist principles in India. There can be no doubt in the future as to how this Bill will be worked. It is going to be a pawn in party politics in this country and used for the advancement of Socialism, with all the evils connected with it, in India. It was necessary for me to point that out, but is it not plain to everyone how essential it is for the person holding the high and important office of Viceroy not to be subjected to the ebb and flow of party politics, and only to be dismissed, as in the case of our own Judges, on a Resolution approved by both Houses of Parliament?
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. WISE
I wish to bring the Committee back from the efforts of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) and the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) to the Amend 247 ment before us, which is that the. Viceroy should not under this Bill be removed from office save by a vote of both Houses of Parliament. The hon. and learned Member who rallied to the support of the Government—I should imagine to their extreme discomfort—used every form of forensic skill to justify the rejection of the Amendment, even to the extent of making a venomous misrepresentation of party appointments in the past. We feel that there is a distinct danger that if a Government of which the hon. and learned Member is a shining light comes into power, the office of Viceroy will be subject to the real ebb and flow of party politics. It has been laid down in a book to which the hon. and learned Member wrote the preface, called "The First Workers' Government"—an admirable, if rather heavy tome—that appointments were to be made by Socialist Governments to various offices, irrespective of ability, but with the one essential that the holder of the office should be a good Socialist. It is probable that a Viceroy who did his duty under the Government of India Bill—and, goodness knows, it will be a very arduous duty—might well find that he failed to fulfil the qualification that he was a good Socialist. In fact, I think it would be almost impossible to find a good Socialist who was competent to be a good Viceroy. It would, indeed, be impossible to find a good Socialist who would be a good deputy collector.
Under this Bill the position of Viceroy will be one of peculiar difficulty. He will, in fact, be the ultimate safeguard, other than the armoured car, the tank and the machine gun, which the Federal Government of India will have. The only safeguard which it will, have is the strength, integrity and fearlessness of the Viceroy. If the Viceroy who is delegated to carry out that important post is constantly to be subject to the fear of recall to Great Britain, the situation will be almost impossibly difficult for him. He will probably be faced with considerable opposition in India, and even those who support the Bill do not anticipate that everything will be plain sailing. It is possible that he will be faced with a hostile Federal Assembly, the composition of which, it is already admitted, he cannot change, even if he wishes, because, although he may dissolve 248 it, the same proportion of parties will be re-elected. The only power he has for the preservation of good order and good government is the final drastic power of suspending the Constitution and taking it over himself. It is almost impossible to believe that any man subject to constant recall to this country from a Government which was possibly out of sympathy with the ideals of good government and good administration and upheld Socialist government and Administration—two very different things—would be able to function unless he had the security of tenure which would be established by this Amendment. We are not asking anything unreasonable. We have endeavoured to make our judges immune from the flow of party feeling or of personal advantage by establishing them in their position so that they cannot be removed except by a Vote of both Houses. Our object is that the Viceroy of India, a more important office than that of any judge, should be put in the same position.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I have sat through the whole of this Debate, and perhaps the Committee will allow me to say two or three sentences. I am not going to continue the controversy which has been carried on during the last half-hour, but I want to bring the Committee back to the central point of this Amendment, which goes to the very foundation of Parliament. The situation contemplated in the Amendment is the position in office of a Viceroy who has lost the confidence of His Majesty's Government. The Amendment proposes that, although he has lost that confidence, he shall continue in office. I cannot understand how anybody who is familiar with the history of this House and the desirability of strengthening its foundations can contemplate a situation in which a high officer of State like the Viceroy should continue in office when he has lost the confidence of His Majesty's Government. This is an Amendment which, in the interests of Parliament itself, should not be supported. What sort of confidence is the Amendment going to give to the people of India who are to be brought within this system if they are to contemplate the continuance in office of a Viceroy who has lost the confidence of 249 the Government, and yet remains in office and can only be removed by an Address to the Crown from both Houses?
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
If the Viceroy has lost the confidence of the Government, he will have lost the confidence of Parliament.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I am afraid the hon. Member is a little confused about the meaning of the Amendment. It is contrary to public policy that the principle
§ in this Amendment should be embodied in the law. I look at it from the point of view of the people of India, and I ask what confidence will it give to them when then are brought into this system to have a Viceroy who has lost the confidence of His Majesty's Government and yet remains in office?
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 49; Noes, 324.251
|Division No. 50.]||AYES.||[6.55 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut-Colonel||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Alexander, Sir William||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Everard, W. Lindsay||Remer, John R.|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Greene, William P. C.||Taylor,Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Bracken, Brendan||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Brown, Brig,-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Burnett, John George||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Kimball, Lawrence||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Knox, Sir Alfred||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Levy, Thomas||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Croft, Brigadler-General Sir H.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petertf'ld)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Nunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Dawson, Sir Phillp||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Mr. Ralkes and Mr. Donner.|
|Dixey, Arthur C. N.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Edwards, Charles|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Eillot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Alnsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Cazalat, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Emrys-Evans, P V.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clars|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Unlv.)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Cleary, J. J.||Fialden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cocke, Frederick Seymour||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Colfox, Major William Philip||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)|
|Apsley, Lord||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godtrey||Fox, Sir Glfford|
|Atke, Sir Robert William||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Fuller, Captain A. G|
|Assheton, Ralph||Conant, R. J. E.||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cook, Thomas A.||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Cooke, Douglas||Gardner, Benjamin Walter|
|Banfield, John William||Cooper, A. Dull||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Copeland, Ida||Gibson, Charles Granville|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B.(Portsm'th,C.)||Cranborne, Viscount||Gledhill, Gilbert|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Crooks, J. Smedley||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.|
|Bernays, Robert||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'rc)||Gon, Sir Park|
|Blindell, James||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Goldle, Noel B.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cross, R. H.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Crossley, A. C.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Curry, A. C.||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Daggar, George||Griffith, F. Kingtley (Middlesbro', W.)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Dalkeith, Earl of||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Grigg, Sir Edward|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Buchan, John||Danville, Alfred||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dickle, John P.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Doran, Edward||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Burghley, Lord||Drewe, Cedric||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Duckworth, George A. V.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Dunglass, Lord||Hamilton, Sir R. w.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Eady, George H.||Hammersley, Samuel S.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Harris, Sir Percy||McLean, Major. Sir Alan||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kennlngt'n)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'dt'wth, Putney).|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradenton)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Magnay, Thomas||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mainwaring, William Henry||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Makins, Brigadler-General Ernest||Shute, Colonel Sir John|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Slmmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Martin, Thomas B.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hornby, Frank||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Meller, Sir Richard James||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Soper, Richard|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Miner, Major James||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tl'd & Chisw'k)||Spears, Brigadler-General Edward L.|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Spens, William Patrick|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morTand)|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Morgan, Robert H.||Stevenson, James|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Stones, James|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Morrison, William Shepherd||Storey, Samuel|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Munro, Patrick||Strauss, Edward A.|
|John, William||Nathan, Major H. L.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir High||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Orr Ewing, I, L.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Paling, Wilfred||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Knight, Holford||Patrick, Colin M.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Pearson, William G.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Peat, Charles U.||Thorne, William James|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Penny, Sir George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Percy, Lord Eustace||Train, John|
|Lawson, John James||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Tree, Ronald|
|Leckie, J. A.||Petherick, M.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W' varh' pt' n, Bllst'n)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Lees-Jones, John||Potter, John||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Leonard, William||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Radford, E. A.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hall)|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Lieweilln, Major John J.||Ratcliffe, Arthur||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Rathbone, Eleanor||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Locker-Lampion. Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. G'n)||Roa, Walter Russell||White, Henry Graham|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Whiteside, Borras Neal H.|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vers||Reld, William Allan (Derby)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Loftus, Pierce C.||Rickards, George William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Robinson, John Roland||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wilmot, John|
|Lunn, William||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Wilton, Clyde T. (West Texteth)|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)||Rots Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|MacAndrew, Capt.' J. O. (Ayr)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Young, R. Hon. Sir Hilton (S 'v' noaks)|
|Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp' l)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of w.)||Salmon, Sir Isldore|
|McEntes, Valentine L.||Salt, Edward W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Major George Davies and Dr.|
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 23, to leave out Sub-section (3).
This Amendment is largely covered by one which stands in the name of the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), but I am so impressed with the complexity of the duties imposed on the Governor-General that I feel I must take this opportunity of impressing on the 252 Committee the necessity for affording the Governor-'General every possible assistance in carrying out these duties. The staff provided for the Viceroy seems to me to be very inadequate. The right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) put very clearly before the Committee the enormous range of duties and the responsibility of the Governor-General. May I remind the Committee what will be the duties of the Viceroy as representative of the King-Emperor and 253 through his paramountcy. His duty as representative of the King-Emperor is likely to result in his being very much in demand in the future. Probably representatives of British India in the Central Legislature will also bring as much pressure to bear as possible on the Governor to exercise through his paramountcy his authority to make the Princes accept the wishes of British India. It is very significant that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) in his speech a few. days ago showed that there was a good deal of jealousy of the power of the Princes. That speech also showed that Congress, with help coming from the Socialist party, may probably bring pressure on the Governor-General to exercise his paramountcy in accordance with their wishes. There are 297 Clauses in this Bill that refer to India. Of these 297 Clauses, 116 lay upon the Governor-General heavy and specific duties. I would ask hon. Members to read Clauses 11, 12 and 45. In Clause 12 eight specific large duties are laid upon the Governor-General. He is enjoined in that Clause to exercise his individual judgment. In addition, he has at the Centre to exercise a dyarchy which is to be the cure for the failure of dyarchy in the Provinces. Anyone who realises the large part that religion and defence play in the life of India, especially in the North-West, will realise the greatness of the responsibility of the Governor-General in these matters, and he has only three counsellors to assist him on such questions.
§ As Viceroy he has to deal with between 500 and 600 Princes who control one-third of India, involving journeys to various parts of India for social and military functions, durbars and other events, and including his keeping in touch with all the States. That is in itself work for one man. Meanwhile, he is subject to continual pressure from the Central Legislature. That pressure will almost certainly he exerted in the matter of Army expenditure, and it will be difficult for him to resist it. We have in this Bill three matters of legislation—Federal subjects, Provincial subjects and Concurrent subjects. Concurrent subjects in my view will undoubtedly lead to continual friction between the Federal and Provincial Governments. One of the most awkward duties of the Governor-General will be 254 to act as mediator between the Federal and Provincial Governments, especially in such matters as criminal law, trade unions, and marriage and divorce matters. It will be seen how important these matters are. When I think of the Secretary of State discussing with a prospective Viceroy his various duties, I recall a little story of the employer engaging a house boy and telling him that his hours would be from six o'clock to six o'clock. The boy asked, "Is that all?" and the, employer replied "Yes." The boy then asked "Well, do you think you can let me have some bricks and mortar." The employer said, "What for?" and the boy replied, "I should like to build you a house in my spare time." To imagine that the Governor-General can carry out all the duties placed upon him by this Bill is like asking him to build a new Taj Mahal. I only add that it is absolutely necessary to strengthen the hands of the man appointed to this post. The omission of this Sub-section would, I think, clear the way towards meeting the difficulty.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA. (Mr. Butler)
I sympathise with the motive of the hon. Member in moving this Amendment, but I should like to give the House a few reasons why the Government think it impossible to accept it. May I repeat that whenever I take part in the Debates I hope to be as commendably brief as the hon. Member was. The difficulty in accepting this Amendment is that we think that it would in fact make the duties of the Governor-General much more onerous in the future. He would not be asking for bricks and mortar to build a house: he would spend most of his time writing letters to the opposite number, the Crown Representative for the States, and his duties would become all the more complicated. We feel it would be inadvisable to change the present arrangement. There is at present one man who fulfils the two duties suggested to be filled by the Governor-General and the Representative for relations with Indian States. We feel it would be very much more desirable to continue the present arrangement. I would remind the Committee that all three ex-Viceroys and Governors-General who were on the Joint Select Committee agreed that the present system should continue, and no such 255 suggestion as that made by my hon. Friend was put forward. For these reasons we think it would be advisable to continue on the basis of the present system and on the lines suggested by the present Bill.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I apologise for interrupting, but a phrase used by the hon. Gentleman emboldens me to ask a question which we have not been able to raise before because an Amendment dealing with it was not called. Why do they refer to the Viceroy as "the representative?" Why is he not called "the Viceroy?"
§ Mr. BUTLER
It is very difficult to get exactly the right phrase. I was attempting to define what, in fact, will be the functions which the Viceroy will perform when dealing with the realm of paramountcy outside the federal sphere, and I think the phrase "Representative of the Crown" in relation to the Indian States is a suitable phrase in which to refer to the Viceroy.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I think the Bill is attempting to make clear the very difficult issues raised by this point. Those who read the Bill will see that while representing His Majesty his functions in relation to the States are best described in the words I have used, "Representative of the Crown."
§ Lieut.-Commander AGNEW
Are we to understand that the term "King's Representative" will be the official description of the Viceroy in his dealings with the States?
§ Mr. BUTLER
No, I do not think my hon. Friend need draw any general conclusion from this statement, because I am dealing with a specific Amendment, and I do not think he should take any words of mine as indicating any alteration of the title. If I were to pursue further the difficulties likely to arise from having two gentlemen to perform these functions the Committee would see how delicate the situation might be. For instance, the Representative of the Crown in relation to the States might desire, if disorder arose in a particular State, that the Army might come to his assistance. On the proposal that there should be two gentlemen fulfilling these functions, the 256 Army would be under the control of the Governor-General, and there would, therefore, have to be a certain interaction between those two officials and an exchange of messages which would deprive the Army of the advantage of that lightning rapidity of action to which my right hon. Friends who have criticised us attach so much importance. It would be possible for me to develop the subject further, but when I tell the Committee that we consider this proposal would lead to great confusion, I think I have done enough to show that we prefer the arrangement which is in the Bill.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The question having been raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Camborne (Lieut.-Commander Agnew) and the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer), can some guidance be given to us on this point of the title of the Viceroy? Upon page 89 of the Joint Select Committee's Report we find the words:We assume that the two offices will continue to be held by the same person, and this being so we think that the title of 'Viceroy' should attach to him in his governing capacity.It would be of some help to us if we could understand whether the term "Viceroy" is no longer to appear in our Statutes and legal documents, and if a term which is fully understood by the people of this country and which has gathered round itself very honourable associations is to be discontinued.
§ 7.20 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I can understand that the Government would not wish to make any hasty departure from what has been the practice, namely, that the Governor-General and the Viceroy should be one person, but before we pass to the next Amendment it is important that the Committee should try to visualise not only the immense range of the Governor-General's functions, which have been so admirably described by the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), but some of the probable causes of friction referred to already, and the unceasing anxieties which are most likely to beset the Governor-General in the reserved departments and in the discharge of his special responsibilities. What could be greater than the anxiety of a Viceroy responsible for the defence of that vast 257 Empire, with its very vulnerable frontier, and very warlike populations on the other side of the frontier, and with its vast problem of internal order while he is controlling an army whose means of communication are out of his hands and in a country where there are influences at work which have great and exceptional opportunities of demoralising, at any rate, the lower ranks of the Government service. I wonder whether the Government realise some of the influences which were brought to bear on the police and revenue officers during the civil disobedience movement.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I have very great difficulty in connecting the arguments of the Noble Lady with the Amendment.
Duchess of ATHOLL
Surely a Governor-General weighed down with great anxieties would have extraordinary difficulty in knowing all that is happening in the communication departments, on which the efficiency of the army must depend, and that must add greatly to the responsibilities of his office. He is made responsible for the internal order and security of India and does not control all the means necessary for handling the situation. He has no means of assuring himself of conditions in the departments of communications, which are so vital to defence, yet which he does not control. He has no means of ascertaining what is the morale—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Will the Noble Lady explain how there would be any better means of ascertaining that information supposing there were two officers instead of one?
Duchess of ATHOLL
He would have more time in which to refresh himself for carrying these very heavy anxieties, if he had not the dual responsibility of maintaining relations with the 500 States and of discharging his special responsibilities in British India. I think, therefore, the Committee may well agree that it is necessary to separate the two offices. I quite understand that there may be no desire to do this hastily, but the day may come when it may be necessary to separate these two functions, or to separate the social functions of the Viceroy, which play so large a part in his life, from the actual discharge of his duties to the Federation and to the 258 Indian States, and we have moved this Amendment in an endeavour to focus the attention of the Committee for a little longer on a point which seems to us of tremendous importance.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I think this discussion is very useful. There is the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), which I am sorry the Parliamentary Secretary did not answer there and then, because it is a point we ought to clear up at an early stage.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I am ready to give the answer at once. "Viceroy" is a term which has never been used in a Statute or in the Warrant of Appointment; it is a term of courtesy and not of law, but it is intended, following the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee, that it shall continue.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am very glad the hon. Gentleman has made that admission, because the expression in the Bill is a very clumsy one, though no doubt the appropriate one. I am glad to know that it is not intended to make any alteration in the title. From that point of view, this discussion has been useful. My Noble Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) is perfectly right. We ought to pause on the threshold of this great Measure to realise the enormous and appalling burden which we are putting on the shoulders of one man. For that reason I am particularly sorry that the Government were unable to meet us on earlier Amendments moved this afternoon. When we are putting a burden on the shoulders of one man which is, as the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) pointed out, greater than any Viceroy has previously borne, being, in fact, the greatest and most responsible of any position in the British Empire, do not let us delude ourselves with the idea that because we put it in an Act of Parliament therefore one individual can necessarily carry it out. I believe the truth to be that we are giving the Viceroy of India a humanly impossible task, a task which no man, even though he had the knowledge and experience, could have the physique to carry out. To start with, he has to be an individual of the most extraordinary authority and 259 experience. He has to be a trained parliamentarian, a man who knows how to handle legislative assemblies, a man who knows all the ways round the division lobby, if I may put it that way, a man who knows what effect an argument or statement will produce in debate; and at the same time has to be a man of action. That is a very rare combination. He has to be an administrator and, above all things, a man whose nerves will not fail him in a crisis.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Will the Noble Lord indicate what added burden is now contemplated which has not been borne before?
§ Viscount WOLMER
The added difficulty can, I think, best be described in this way. In the first place, there will be a state of great friction in every Province, a state of very great friction which may at any time boil up into a state of danger. Secondly, there is the impossible condition of dyarchy brought about in the Federated Assembly. We shall be putting the Viceroy in the position in which Provincial Governors have been in the past of having all the disadvantages of parliamentary government without any of its advantage; but that is a point which we can discuss better on a subsequent Amendment. I am surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin raised this point, because I thought it was the view of the Joint Select Committee that the position of the Viceroy would be more difficult under the new Constitution. Certainly it is the view of a great many members of the Joint Select Committee. I recall a famous letter which Lord Zetland wrote to the "Times" when the Committee were appointed in which he detailed the almost superhuman task the Viceroy would be called upon to fulfil. The amendments to the scheme made by the Joint Select Committee which have placed so many more safeguards and weapons in the hands of the Viceroy have not tended to lighten his burden. Not only has he the duties of his immense dual capacity to discharge within British India, but he has also the supervision of all the Provincial Governors and, as well, all the dealings with the Indian States, all the frontier problems, and Baluchistan. Therefore, it is a burden which is immensely greater 260 than anything we have previously known. It is a burden that all previous Viceroys of India have had to bear, and added to that he will have to face discontent in a dozen Provinces and an impossible Parliamentary situation at the Centre.
That is the burden which the Govern. ment are putting upon the shoulders of one man who at one moment will have to be a Parliamentary leader and the next moment an autocrat. We shall have to find somebody who will be a mixture of Charles I and Horatio Bottomley to carry it through successfully. That is one of the reasons why I believe that the whole of this scheme will end in a terrific and tragic disaster, although I hope not, from the bottom of my heart. It is putting so much on the Viceroy that no ordinary human being could possibly fulfil it. The situation is well described in Gilbert's description of the heavy dragoon:
That is what the Viceroy of India is to be in future. Let us realise that such individuals are extremely rare.
- "The pluck of Lord Nelson on board of the Victory,
- Genius of Bismarck devising a plan,
- The humour of Fielding (which sounds contrad ictory),
- Coolness of Paget about to trepan,
- The science of Jullien, the eminent musico,
- Wit of Macaulay, who wrote of Queen Anne,
- The pathos of Paddy, as rendered by Boucicault,
- Style of the Bishop of Sodor and Man,
- The dash of a D'Orsay, divested of quackery,
- Narrative powers of Dickens and Thackeray,
- Victor Emmanuel—peak-haunting Peveril,
- Thomas Aquinas, and Doctor Sacheverell,
- Tupper and Tennyson—Daniel Defoe,
- Anthony Trollope and Mr. Guizot!"
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I hope that my hon. Friends will not press this Amendment to a Division. I do not think it will help the Government of India to have two parallel Viceroys instead of one. It seems to be almost universally agreed that under the new Constitution the Viceroy will have more work than under the old, but as he will have the Assembly, his councillors and such an infinity of patronage to keep everything sweet I contemplate that his life will be perfectly even.
§ Amendment negatived.261
§ Clause 4 (The Commander-in-Chief in India), ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ CLAUSES 5 (Proclamation, of Federation of India) AND 6 (Accession of Indian States).
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I should like to move, "That the consideration of Clause 5 be postponed." If that be assented to, I shall also move, "That the consideration of Clause 6 be postponed."
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if the right hon. Gentleman moved that both Clauses be postponed.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I beg to move, "That the consideration of Clauses 5 and 6 be postponed."
I am very much obliged to you Sir, for bringing to my knowledge the fact that it is in order for me to do so.
I ask the Secretary of State if he will agree to their postponement, because it would be a very right and proper thing to do, and it would not in any way delay our proceedings. Part II is one of the most important features of the Bill, because it raises the great issue of the Federal system and the conditions under which the States will accede to it. I always understood that this matter would not be raised this week. There are a great many reasons why it should not be raised. To begin with the text of the Bill has only just gone out to India—about a fortnight ago—and the Princes and others will be studying it in detail. They will have very little time in which to take decisions which are so important and to decide what Amendments, if any, are required. I understand that the view of the India Office is that any Amendments of that kind can be inserted on the Report stage, but the consideration of this matter on Report will be very much abbreviated, and there will be very little time to do anything. It seems most undesirable that we should have to decide Clauses 5 and 6 before the discussions which are taking place among the Princes in India have reached a conclusion. I understand that a meeting is to be held on the 27th, and, if this Bill had taken the course which I was led to expect, 262 namely, that it would not be brought on until next week, we should not have to debate these very important Clauses without knowing what the main view of the Princes in India was going to be.
If the Princes decide not to come in at this stage, it will not be necessary to move various Amendments to a Clause to which I will presently refer. If, on the other hand, they are coming in, and we are faced with the question of the institution of the federal system, it is absolutely necessary that Amendments should be moved to make that system a reality; for instance, the question of the anomalies of Princes voting in and out on Income Tax, and so forth, must be settled, as must the various questions, which one would not wish to press until they are necessary, as to their becoming naturalised British subjects if they accede to the Federation. All sorts of questions arise as to what kind of Instrument of Accession and terms of accession the Crown will accept. Suppose that a Prince accedes with such limitations as to make him a partner and a participator in the Assembly and yet, at the same time, withhold any very large derogation from his own internal powers. Those matters will all have to be looked into and studied, and will have to be the subject of Debate and Amendment in this House, and the House will decide upon them as it sees fit.
It is, in my opinion, very improper to bring on the Committee stage of the Bill so close to the Second Reading, to hustle the House and other people who are concerned, and to force them to the gravest decisions and discussion of the gravest matters in the Bill within such a very short time of the Second Reading being disposed of. The Bill, which is of enormous complexity, has been printed under a month, and the task of putting down Amendments and relating one set of Amendments to another is one of very great difficulty to a person not possessing the organisation of the great Departments of State. These two Clauses would far better be discussed at a later stage when we shall know much more of the position in India, and when still more mature consideration can be given to the various aspects of the Bill, and to the Amendments which are appropriate to it. I hope that the Secretary of State will agree to this postponement.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Ah, I suppose you have arranged it. There is too much of that. That is one of the things which have been commented on outdoors, the way in which the Socialists on the Front Opposition Bench and the Socialists on the Government Bench are doing their deals behind the backs of the Conservative party. I did not expect to hear this subterranean process so nakedly exposed by the hon. Gentleman, who already knows beforehand exactly what the Secretary of State will do. I expect it is all pretty well laid out and drawn up from start to finish. I dare say the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), who has re-entered, is to be put up to make one of those firework speeches to give a sort of sham opposition to the Bill to cover his eager scuttling into the Government Lobby.
I regret very much that this interruption from the Front Opposition Bench led me from the more calm and temperate manner in which I had hoped to couch my appeal. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consent to these Clauses being postponed. He will, by so doing, enable a better discussion to take place, and will not be taking an unfair advantage of the House, and he will clear himself altogether of any desire to force a decision from the House on these Clauses before the Princes' decision in regard to their coming in or not has taken place. I will not say any more at the moment because, as we are in Committee, I can easily return to the topic. I will merely content myself by asking the right hon. Gentleman whether he will agree to the Motion I make.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Let me first call attention to the curious way in which the right hon. Gentleman makes an appeal of this nature. He indirectly accuses me of wishing to take an unfair advantage of the House, and of conspiracy with hon. Gentlemen opposite. There is no reason for postponing these Clauses, first of all because everybody has been in possession of the substance of them ever since the Joint Select Committee reported. The two Clauses follow almost exactly the Recommendations of the Joint Select Committee, and they do not come as new proposals to the House about which hon. 264 Members have only heard in the last few weeks. Every hon. Member who has followed the details of the discussion has known all about them since last November; so also has everybody in India. The Clauses follow the Recommendations of the Joint Select Committee's Report, which has been in the possession of everybody, here and in India, who is interested in the question, since last November.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Is it not a fact that the most important part of the discussion now taking place among the Princes in India is upon the differences which exist in the text of the Bill from what is to be found either in the White Paper or in the report of the Joint Select Committee, and that upon those differences important decisions turn? How can it be said that all those matters have been known all that time? It is those very differences which will determine the Princes' decision.
§ Sir S. HOARE
There is no substantial difference in these Clauses. The only difference is in small details which undoubtedly make the present proposals more desirable than the proposals in the report.
§ Mr. DONNER
If I may interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, I should like to point out that on this question I have on the Paper an Amendment to Clause 6, which shows a very substantial difference to exist between the Bill and the Majority Report as it affects the Princes.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I am afraid I cannot now discuss a future Amendment, but, if any change has been made in the drafting of the Clause as compared with the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee, that change is likely to make the proposal more, and not less, agreeable to the Princes. My right hon. Friend, so far as I know, is under a (misapprehension as to what is likely to happen at the meeting of the Princes which I believe is to be held in a week's time. The information that I have goes to show that the Princes are interested in details of drafting, and it is most unlikely that any new issue will be raised on the bigger questions of this Chapter. If it is only a matter of drafting, we can certainly adjust the drafting at some future stage of the Bill, and that seems to me to be no reason whatever for holding up the discussion of these two Clauses. More 265 over, let me remind my right hon. Friend that, at the meeting of the various groups which was held upstairs, one or both of his hon. Friends put the question as to when the discussion of the Bill was going to start. There was no secret about it at all. I think it was I who said that there would be two days this week, namely, Tuesday and Wednesday, and subsequent discussion proceeded on the lines that Chapter I would undoubtedly be the Chapter to be discussed. No suggestion of any kind was made as to postponement.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
In my opinion, it would have been entirely out of order in such a committee if any suggestion had been made about postponement. Such power as that informal committee had was entirely in regard to the general allocation of time. The fixing of the date on which particular subjects should be raised was not a matter for the committee, but for the Government. The Government are not obliged to have any agreement on that matter, but we are perfectly free to criticise the action of the Government in fixing the date. Nor has the right hon. Gentleman the slightest right to shelter himself behind a committee which dealt with matters to which the question of the date on which subjects should be discussed was wholly irrelevant.
§ Sir S. HOARE
My right hon. Friend totally misunderstands my argument. I am not suggesting that the committee had the power to settle the time-table or to impose its will upon the House. I am meeting my right hon. Friend's charge that I was taking an unfair advantage of the Committee in pressing these two Clauses. I can only tell him that he was represented, as I understood, by two of his hon. Friends at this committee meeting upstairs, and I am speaking within the memory of several hon. Members who were present when I say that there was no question whatever about the Bill being taken on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Really, my right hon. Friend is misrepresenting what I am trying to say. I am meeting his charge that I am taking an unfair advantage of this Committee. I am doing nothing of the kind. It was well understood in the committee upstairs that the discussion would take place this week, and the whole basis of our subsequent discussion upstairs was on the lines that Chapter I was going to be discussed. In view of these facts, I urge the Committee to decide against any postponement. If the Princes or any other section in India have points of detail to urge, either on this part or on any later part of the Bill, we shall have an opportunity of dealing with those Amendments when the time comes, but nothing that my right hon. Friend has said in any way shakes my view that it is altogether unnecessary to postpone these two Clauses.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
On a, point of Order. May I ask you, Captain Bourne, whether this discussion is in order? I am not aware that there is any Motion before the Committee—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] If there is a Motion before the Committee, it does not appear on the Order Paper, and I desire to ask you whether in these circumstances a Motion to postpone the discussion of Clauses is in order?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
A Motion to postpone a Clause can be made by any Member at any time before an Amendment has been proposed to that Clause, and does not require notice; but discussion upon it must be strictly limited to the advisibility of postponing the Clause, and must not go into the question of merits.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I hope there will not be a long debate on this question, because I think it would be very undesirable. I do not wish to accuse the Government of doing anything unfair, but I am very sorry that they have not made a better response to the appeal of my right hon. Friend. I think there would be a great gain if this discussion were taken after the Princes had met, but, since the right hon. Gentleman is unable to meet us, I am afraid the only thing we can do is to divide against him on the subject, and I hope we shall do so as quickly as possible.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I think the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) fails in one particular. He argues that these Clauses ought to be postponed because, he says, there is a prospect of a meeting of the Princes some week or so hence. But surely he knew that last night, and, if so, why did he not put down a Motion to postpone these Clauses, so that we should have known exactly what was happening? He could have done that last night, or even last week. He has suggested that we are conducting a sham fight, but it seems to me that he is laying himself open to a charge of deliberate obstruction.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I only want to deal with the question which has been raised as to what was done upstairs. The arrangement come to upstairs was undoubtedly that the first six days should be given to Part I and Part II of the Bill. It was set out in typewriting for us before we came to the meeting, and I had the advantage, with the Noble Lord, of considering the typed suggestion. Ultimately, after it had been adjusted, it was agreed that the first six days should be devoted to Parts I and II of the Bill. The question was then raised as to when the Bill would come before the House, and we were told that Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week would be proposed. To postpone any part of the Bill now would be to eat up time that is needed for very important matters. Let it not be thought that the subjects which have been before the House to-day are the. really important matters. There are other and vital questions which will arise in the discussions on the Bill, and the opponents of the Government must realise that those who want these other matters raised must have their fair share of the time as well, particularly when we come to deal later on with the Schedules, where there are matters which vitally affect the day-to-day conditions of the people in India.
I do not want to continue the Debate, but simply to suggest that it may be an advantage rather than a disadvantage to have this Debate now, before the Princes meet. In India they still attach some importance to what is said in the House of Commons. It is not as if the right hon. 268 Gentleman and his friends had been deprived of the opportunity of putting down their Amendments; they are on the Paper; and, if they can be discussed and the opinion of the House on them ascertained, I should have thought that, instead of hindering things in India, that expression of opinion would help things in India, and might induce the Princes to come to some conclusion, knowing what the House of Commons bad done in Committee. It would not bind them, because there will still be the Report stage and the Third Reading. If the Princes should take some unexpected action, undoubtedly our course on Report and Third Reading would be influenced accordingly, but there is an advantage, surely, in Parts I and II being fully discussed now, so that the Princes may know what is the position and the outlook of the British House of Commons.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
This is not a question of what was done in a Committee, or of the bonâfides of the Government, but simply a question of common sense. We as a House of Commons have to decide, in dealing with this matter, whether it is common sense to deal with it before the people concerned have made up their own minds. If it were any ordinary business matter coming before a board of directors, they would say it was farcical to discuss what certain people were going to do if they became 'members of the board, before it was known whether they were going on to the board or not. Similarly, it is farcical in the case of this Bill to have for the first time in history a Federation before the constituent parts have been formed. There is a still greater anomaly when it is proposed to deal with the coming in of the Indian Princes, and the whole matter is to be discussed on these two Clauses before they have signified whether they are coming in or not. This is no Committee point, but a question of common sense, and I submit that the suggestion that these two Clauses should be post-poned is a very reasonable one. We shall have 30 days in which to deal with this matter. Why should we not postpone these Clauses until we know where we are? Considering the House of Commons as, I hope, a. body of commonsense people, I should think it would be agreed that this is a proper proposal, and 269 that we should delay consideration of these Clauses until we know what the Princes are going to do.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
As I have been subjected to severe criticism from the Front Opposition Bench, I think it right to point out to the Committee how very reasonable is the proposal which I am making. If normal constitutional practice and the reasonable orderly custom of Parliament had been followed, and at least a fortnight had been allowed to intervene between the Second Reading and the Committee stage of a Bill of this magnitude, the difficulty would not have arisen. That is the course which I understood was to have been taken. Then the Government decided to bring the matter forward a week earlier, and get these two very decisive Clauses dealt with at this stage, which happens to be before the discussions which are proceeding in India will mature. That is a limitation of proper and regular constitutional procedure and custom, and, in addition, it is an alteration of the original course which we were led to believe would be taken. I make no charge of any kind against the Government in this matter. I have been assured that the ante-dating of the Committee stage to this week had no ulterior motive, and I accept that assurance completely, but nevertheless the inconvenience remains, even if the purpose does not exist, and, if the proper normal course had been taken, that inconvenience would not have existed at all. The inconvenience is patent to every one. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would like, naturally, as it were, to force the Princes' hand by getting a decision in this House beforehand, but I think it is a very great pity that the Princes cannot be allowed to decide this matter before we have been subjected to the necessity of taking our decision. I certainly shall press my Motion to a Division.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
We know now that, if the Princes do not come in, Part II of the Bill, at any rate, will fall to the ground. If that happens, we shall have wasted our time and placed ourselves in a most undignified position. I wish to protest against the possibility of our being placed in such a position.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
May I add one word on behalf of common sense? As a great deal may depend on what the Princes in India decide a week hence, and as we have been told that the quite slight difference between the Select Committee's Report and the terms of the Bill may weigh, is it not just as well that the Princes should know to what decision this House has come, and whether there is to be a Federation or a Council of Greater India, before they have their meeting?
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I cannot understand the course of reasoning which induced my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) to make the statement that he has just made. I rise to protest against the charge made by the Opposition Front Bench that my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) is guilty of obstruction in this matter. I should have thought that, whatever our views on this Measure may be, as we belong to the same party as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, he would at least have risen in his place to protect us from such an accusation. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State clearly realises that there is no intention or desire to adopt any obstructive tactics by a small body of his fellow Conservative Members in this Committee. I felt it only fair to say that for my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping, who perhaps had some diffidence, when expressing his strong feeling on this matter, in making a protest. Should another accusation of a similar kind be levelled against my right hon. Friend, I hope that the Secretary of State will take the opportunity of supporting his fellow Members on this side of the Committee.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I do not intend to join in this discussion except to say that the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) is not really so thin-skinned as to be upset because someone says a kind word to him in a back-handed way, Reproofs are continually hurled against us, and we are told that we are acting subterraneously with the Government, and so on. Why should the right hon. Gentleman be hurt if someone suggests that he has done something merely for 271 obstruction? It is not worthy of him, and I hope he will not do it again.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. BRACKEN
I would make an appeal to the Secretary of State. He has had a lot of support from the Front Opposition Bench, and he has been supported in a long speech by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot). Does not my right hon. Friend realise how dangerous it is to get his support from every side of the House except the Conservative side? It is true that he had some support, for what was called the common-sense point of view, from the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland). But is it a wise thing for him to depend on the Radical party and on the Socialist party, and not to make a concession of any sort to his friends? There could have been nothing more reasonable in this House than the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). We are very anxious indeed to conduct this Debate with fairness, and the suggestion my right hon. Friend made was a perfectly fair one. Suppose that the Princes decide to turn down the Secretary of State. Would the House of Commons, which the Prime Minister says is a business House of Commons, then spend a long time in discussing something which is quite academic?
The Secretary of State really ought to be more reasonable. Is it not much
§ wiser for him to meet us on this very small point? I doubt whether at any time in these Debates we shall again put forward such a request. I hope that the stony heart of my right hon. Friend will relent. We have to read this immense Bill. We did not draw it up. The Secretary of State drew it up, and we want a little more time to study it. We shall make ourselves absolutely fantastic in the eyes of the public if we now discuss something which next week may 'be blown to particles. I would appeal to the manly and robust common sense of the learned Attorney-General. I beg him to plead with the Secretary of State, and to recognise that if in the course of the next few years the 'Socialist party once more return to power, aided very largely by some of those who now support this Bill, we and the Secretary of State will have to work together to turn the Socialists out. Why then refuse to give way to a most modest request? There is nothing obstructive in it. It is what the right hon. Member for Tamworth calls real common sense. I know that the 'Secretary of State is tired and requires a little refreshment, and I ask him to make this first evening of our Debates pleasant by granting a little concession to his friends.
§ Question put, "That the consideration of Clauses 5 and 6 be postponed."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 41; Noes, 290.273
|Division No. 51.]||AYES.||[8.8 p.m.|
|Alexander, Sir William||Greene, William P. C.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Atholl, Duchess ol||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Templeton, William P.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Kimball, Lawrence||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wickon-T.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Knox, Sir Alfred||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Levy. Thomas||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H||Hacquisten, Frederick Alexander||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Nunn, William||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Rawson, Sir Cooper||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Remer, John R.||Mr, Donner and Mr. Bailey.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Brass, Captain Sir William|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Banfield, John William||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Barclay-Harvey, C. M,||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Batsy, Joseph||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonal Charles||Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Aibery, Irving James||Benn, sir Arthur Shirley||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Burghley, Lord|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold O. M. S.||Blindell, James||Butler, Richard Austen|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Bottom, A. C.||Butt. Mr Alfred|
|Apsley, Lord||Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Cadogan, Hon. Edward|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)|
|Assheton, Ralph||Boyce, H. Leslie||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Caporn, Arthur Cecil|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Paling, Wilfred|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chatter, City)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Palmer. Francis Noel|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtimth, S.)||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Peake, Osbert|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Peat, Charles U.|
|Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Petherick, M.|
|Cleary, J. J.||Iveagh, Countess of||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Cocke, Frederick Seymour||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Potter, John|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Conant, R, J, S.||Janner, Barnett||Radford, E. A.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Jenkins, Sir William||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Jasson, Major Thomas E.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Islet)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||John, William||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galntb'ro)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Crossley, A. C.||Ker, J, Campbell||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Cruddae, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Curry, A. C.||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Rickards, George William|
|Oaggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Law, Sir Alfred||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Leckie, J. A.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Danville, Alfred||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Dickie, John P.||Lees-Jones, John||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Doran, Edward||Liddall, Walter S.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Salt, Edward W.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lister, Rt. Hon. sir Phillip Cunliffe.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwes)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Little, Graham-, sir Ernest||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'dt'wth, Putney).|
|Eady, George H.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Savory, Samuel Servington|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shute, Colonel Sir John|
|Elmley, Viscount||Loder, Captain J. de Vara||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Loftus, Pierce C.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Logan, David Gilbert||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Mabane, William||Soper, Richard|
|Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)||Sotheron-Eatcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Ganzonl, sir John||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McCorquodale, M. S.||Spene, William Patrick|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Gibson, Charles Granville||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stones, James|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||McEntee, Valentine L.||Storey, Samuel|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||MeEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||McKie, John Hamilton||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton|
|Golf, Sir Park||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradestan)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Magnay, Thomas||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mainwaring, William Henry||Tate, Mavie Constance|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Makine, Brigadier-General Ernest||Thomas, James P. L. (Herelord)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Thorne, William James|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Martin, Thomas B.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Titchfield, Major the Marquees of|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Maxton, James||Train, John|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Meller, Sir Richard James||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commandar R. L.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Milner, Major James||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornby)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd a Chisw'k)||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hall)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Mitcheson, G. G.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Morgan, Robert H.||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||White, Henry Graham|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Morrison, William Shepherd||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Munro. Patrick||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Hatlam, Sir John (Bolton)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Cot. Cuthbert M.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Normand, Rt. Hon, Wilfrid||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||O'Donovan. Dr. William James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Sir George Penny and Major|
|Hornby, Frank||Orr Ewing, I. L.||George Davies.|
Resolution agreed to.