§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
I beg to move, in page 32, line 33, after "ministers," to insert "one of whom shall be prime minister."
There is no need to go into the history of the Provinces of India or to raise any complicated matter, because the Amendment is quite clear. We cannot conceive a council of ministers such as is being set up in this part of the Bill unless the prime minister became a member of that council of ministers. We think that the Secretary of State must inadvertently have left out of this Clause any mention of the prime minister. There may be differences between the Governor and the prime minister, but if differences arise it will be very much better that they should be dealt with in the council of ministers instead of being dealt with outside.
§ Sir S. HOARE
This is almost identical with an Amendment that was moved in the federal chapter of the Bill. This Clause is in the usual form in which it is found in all the British Empire constitutions. No mention is made of a prime minister in any of them. In fact the prime minister does not exist on paper in this country—that is in fact, but not in theory. Secondly, I am sure it would be a mistake to make this reference, by name, in the Bill. As I said in the debates on the federal chapter, the position of prime minister and collective responsibility are features of the Constitution that are going to grow up. Our intention is to encourage collective responsibility, and certainly not to discourage the appointment of a prime minister. But they are essentially features of a constitution that grow up rather than are created by Statute. We make our position clear in paragraph 8 of the Instrument of Instructions. We make it quite clear that the objective we have in mind is collective responsibility. But we do not think it would be appropriate to make the appointment in a Bill, as it is never mentioned in any other constitution, and particularly because in India the development may be somewhat different from the development in Great Britain and other parts of the Empire.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Of course we are acquainted with the fact that technically there is no such person as a Prime Minister in this country. The same thing applies elsewhere. But the Dominions have had a certain amount of experience, and experience has justified some individual person being selected as Prime Minister. This Amendment moved at this point is really related to another Amendment at the top of page 833. In that case the Governor in his discretion may preside at the council of ministers. We wish to put the point that the leading person should be formally regarded as the Prime Minister, and ipso facto, therefore, he might become the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and preside at the Council without the necessity for the Governor interfering in the day-today work of what we might then regard as the formally constituted Cabinet. I am sorry if the right hon. Gentleman does not find it possible to accept the Amendment. We attach a little importance to it, because he has already said that the Indian people are inclined to think literally in terms of our institutions here, and they would attach some importance to the formal institution of a Cabinet much on the lines that we have in this country. And to give expression to that desire we feel desirous of carrying this to a division.
§ 10.6 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
There is no such person constitutionally in this country as a Prime Minister, and the hon. Gentleman who tabled this Amendment knew that there was not, because he spelt it with a small "p" and a small "m." The nominal office would not have had any existence at all, but that George I, I understand, was not able to speak English very well, and he asked the Lord of the Treasury to preside at meetings of the Cabinet, over which previously the Sovereign used to preside. It is true that the Prime Minister here takes precedence after the Archbishop of York, but I am not sure after whom the Prime Minister of India would take precedence.
§ 10.7. p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
We want by this Amendment to give the Indian Government a clear start. We would like them to have a prime minister with a party Government. 512 We do not want to see someone picking a Socialist here, a Conservative there, a Liberal somewhere else, and combining them altogether, and calling them a National Government. That is the kind of thing that would embarrass the Indians from the start. We want to feel that the great precedents of the past in this House—not the one that started in 1931—are being followed. Therefore we think that it would be a very good thing if they had a prime minister with a majority behind him, all agreeing on a particular basis, and an opposition opposing them; and not a system, such as we have had in the last four years, where you have a number of people picked out of a bag, holding all sorts of views, shaken together, and made into a national Cabinet. We think that that would be a bad start for India, and therefore we propose that a prime minister should be provided.
§ 10.9 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Conservative party have been cajoled into making enormous surrenders of the control of Parliament over India on the basis that all this power is to be placed potentially and under reserve in the hands of the Viceroy, so that if a serious situation arises he can, as it were, resume the power indirectly which Parliament now exercises. This proposal seeks to reduce' the Viceroy, into whose hands these great powers have been placed. It is going beyond what is desirable.
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that this is not a question of the Viceroy? We have got on to the Provinces.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
But the principle is exactly the same. Having entrusted the whole of these powers to the Governors of the Provinces, you are now to reduce the Governor to the position of a constitutional sovereign who only acts on the receipt of minutes from his Ministers and remains isolated and remote until some very rare constitutional crisis arises. That is a position which is even more destructive of any attempt to give guidance to the Indian Provinces than anything we have heard of in this Bill.
§ 10.11 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that I cannot allow the right hon. Gentleman to 513 develop that. This Clause is an exact repetition of the one regarding the Federal Legislature, and I was only moved to select this one particular Amendment at the special request of the Members of the Opposition who explained to me the particular reason for which they wanted to move it. But nothing connected with this Amendment has any effect on what is provided by the rest of the Clause, which has already been decided. It is merely a question, as I see it, whether one of these ministers shall be described as prime minister or not, which is a very narrow point.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
With very great respect, Sir, the formal appointment of a provincial prime minister is really not a technical point, and the avowed intention of those who moved this Amendment—and I suppose I am in order in discussing the Amendment—was to create a prime minister and to push the Governor out of the discussions of the Provincial Cabinet, a very grave proposal. It is the kind of proposal which shows how we shall develop in this matter. No doubt the same process will be applied at the centre.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that if that is the meaning of the Amendment I must rule it definitely out of order.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
On a point of Order. I hope that you will take the meaning of the Amendment from its Movers and not from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid I must ask the rest of the Committee to discuss it as it was interpreted by the Mover. It was accepted by the Chair on that basis.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am a little puzzled how you can discuss the question of the appointment of a prime minister without in any way trespassing on the significance of such an event. It seems to me that we are invited to discuss this question in vacuo. What is the point of calling him prime minister if it is not to convey any constitutional change? Hon. Gentlemen, terrorised by your mild authority, for fear their Amendment should be declared out of order, now profess that all that they mean is to call some particular member by the title of "prime minister," but that it is not going to make the slightest difference. 514 Are we going to take up our limited time in Committee in endeavouring to bestow mere honorific titles. If it be merely a question of calling some minister "prime minister" and it is clearly understood that it will have no effect on the functions, status and significance of the body, I agree that we need not waste our time in speaking to the Amendment. But if there be any question of embarking upon the idea that there is to be erected from these ministers a personage, a potentate who will replace the Governer in council then obviously that is a point upon which we must take a Division.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The point here is that already in India you have a minister who is called the first minister. In the Province of Madras, where, I think most people will agree, the political system under the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms has been worked probably rather better than elsewhere and in a manner approximating more closely to our usage, they have this first minister. As I understand, it is not contemplated in the Bill that the Governor will necessarily always preside at the council of ministers. Therefore, we think it is well to provide for a prime minister. We could not discuss this point on the Clause concerning the Central Legislature because at the Centre we are to have a system of dyarchy and a legislature composed partly of elected persons and partly of representatives of the States. We could not discuss this question therefore until we came to the Provinces.
My point is that we are trying to develop, at all events in some of the Provinces, a Parliamentary system something like our own. Whether it is possible or not is arguable but the attempt is being made and for that purpose one does not want to have small collections of ministers presided over by a Governor and dependent in many Provinces upon conflicting groups who will only support their own minister. What we want to do, in order to approximate to our own system is to develop a body of ministers with joint responsibility and a regular body of supporters and for that purpose someone is required in the position of prime minister. I dare say I shall be told as we have been told by one learned historian this 515 evening, the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), that the term "prime minister" is unconstitutional. I do not think anyone will suggest that we would get very far with this Bill if we followed constitutional precedent. The Measure is full of all kinds of novel suggestions and therefore I am not precluded from supporting the Amendment by the fact that this provision has not been included in some other Constitution—I am not even precluded by the fact that we have not a George I in India at the moment. I do not think that really affects the matter. The point is how best to get the Constitution to work. Everybody knows that if there is one thing on which practically all Indian politicians are united, it is the desire to follow as closely as possible the model of Westminster and it is for that reason that we move the Amendment.
§ 10.19 p.m.
§ Sir C. OMAN
I want to point out that this term with a small "p" and a small "m" has no meaning at all, for prime minster in England is a vague and meaningless term which was applied, for example, to the Duke of Buckingham under Charles I. when the pamphleteers were abusing him. It was applied also to Lord Shaftesbury under Charles II. But it had no technical meaning. It was sometimes applied as an abusive term. I take it that in any group of Ministers there is generally one who has more influence than others and it is extremely likely that in the course of time in these provincial governments, sometimes one person will be prime minister, that is to say the most influential member of the Cabinet and sometimes another. The position of prime minister will be very largely a psychological matter depending on the relative amount of power which individuals in the cabinet exercise. It therefore seems to me that with a small "p" and a small "m" it has no meaning whatever. If you had a big "P" and a big "M," then the whole question raised by the right hon. Gentleman would have come into consideration. In our English literature a prime minister must be taken to be the most important person among the King's advisers—at one moment one person, and at another moment another person, it may be.
§ 10.21 p.m.
§ Mr. AMERY
I think the object of the hon. Members opposite is entirely met by paragraph VIII in the Instructions to the Governor, which says that in selecting his ministers he shall do itin consultation with the person who, in his judgment, is most likely to command a stable majority in the Legislature.Obviously he selects a particular person as the most important and authoritative minister, and he will naturally to that extent be prime minister.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I do not think we ought to treat this matter in too frivolous a way, because it is true, as the hon. Member opposite said, that Indians attach a great deal of importance to terms. I am not going to get out of order by attempting to pursue the line pursued by my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), though I was strongly tempted to follow him in what he said. He said that if this official is to be a person who really functions, he will object to the Amendment. I believe that in our rough island history there have been instances of Prime Ministers here who did not properly function. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] I am talking historically of those cases where some member of the Government has been more powerful than the Prime Minister. I am not talking of the present day or the present generation, but there have been such cases in the past.
It is true to say that under this proposal, as has been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), not only under this Clause but under a subsequent Clause, it is clear that that Indian statesman who has the most influence over his particular party and over his particular province would be chosen by the Governor as spokesman for the rest. There is nothing in the Clause to prevent a development such as the hon. Members opposite wish to see, nor is there anything in the Clause which would have the calamitous results which my right hon. Friend foresaw but which he was not able fully to expound to the Committee owing to the ruling of the Chair. Therefore, I think it is unnecessary to put in these words. If we do, let us spell them with a capital "P" and a capital "M," but let us not 517 use a phrase which in this country is hardly constitutional. In the old days we talked of "the First Lord of the Treasury," though I am sorry to say that in recent years there has grown up the habit of referring to him as "the Prime Minister." If we are going to use a phrase of this kind, let us use a term which is more common in the country in which it will be used, such as Vizier or
§ Diwan, not an English phrase which in this country is only a cognomen and is not really an official term.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 256; Noes, 39.519
|Division No. 100.]||AYES.||[10.28 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||McConnell, Sir Joseph|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Albery, Irving James||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||McKeag, William|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Fuller, Captain A. G.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Ganzoni, Sir John||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Apsley, Lord||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Glossop, C. W. H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Balniel, Lord||Goff, Sir Park||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Gower, Sir Robert||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Graves, Marjorie||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Milne, Charles|
|Bernays, Robert||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)|
|Blindell, James||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hartington, Marquess of||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Munro, Patrick|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Buchan, John||Holdsworth, Herbert||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hornby, Frank||Peake, Osbert|
|Burgin. Dr. Edward Leslie||Horsbrugh, Florence||Pearson, William G.|
|Burnett, John George||Howard, Tom Forrest||Peat, Charles U.|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Penny, Sir George|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Petherick, M.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Potter, John|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Janner, Barnett||Pybus, Sir John|
|Christle, James Archibald||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rankin, Robert|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Ker, J. Campbell||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cooke, Douglas||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Kimball, Lawrence||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Remer, John R.|
|Curry, A. C.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rickards, George William|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Lewis, Oswald||Robinson, John Roland|
|Denman, Hon. R D.||Liddall, Walter S.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Denville, Alfred||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Donner, P. W.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Liewellin, Major John J.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Loftus, Pierce C.||Russell. R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Mabane, William||Salmon, Sir Isldore|
|Salt, Edward W.||Stones, James||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney).||Storey, Samuel||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Stourton, Hon. John J.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Selley, Harry R.||Strauss, Edward A.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Watt, Major George Steven H.|
|Shute, Colonel Sir John||Sutcliffe, Harold||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Tate, Mavis Constance||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.|
|Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron||Templeton, William P.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Somerset, Thomas||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Somervell, Sir Donald||Thompson, Sir Luke||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Spens, William Patrick||Tree, Ronald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward and|
|Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Turton, Robert Hugh||Major George Davies.|
|Stevenson, James||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Banfield, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, Sir William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Thorne, William James|
|Buchanan, George||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cape, Thomas||Leonard, William||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lunn, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McGovern, John||Wilmot, John|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Milner, Major James||Mr. Paling and Mr. Groves.|
§ Clause 51 ordered to stand part of the Bill.