§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 175, line 4, to leave out from "the," to "would," in line 5, and to insert:proposed amendment and, in particular, as to the effect which it.?This Amendment, and others which are in the name of my right hon. Friend, operate upon this Clause, which gives, in certain circumstances, the power of sending messages to the Secretary of State with a view to the possible modification of certain aspects of the Constitution, and I will refer to them together. The first Amendment requires the Governor-General and the Governor to for ward his opinion not merely, as the Bill stands, on the effect any proposed Amendment may have on the interests of any minority, but his opinion generally, and in particular, on its effect on any minority. The Amendment seems to us desirable, and we consider it right that the Governor-General should be required to state his opinion upon the effect a proposal would be likely to have on any of the special responsibilities, and not merely on the special responsibilites, but on its effect on minorities.
The second Amendment is of a drafting nature and makes clear that the opinion required from the Governor-General or the Governor should he his own personal opinion and not necessarily an opinion forwarded on the advice of his Minister. That means that the Governor-General should have thought over this matter himself, and in fact it should be framed in his discretion. The third Amendment is of a very small character and really gives power to amend in small details such questions as may arise out of the very complicated franchise Schedule, for example, which before it is put into operation will certainly need to be looked into in order to ensure that its complicated provisions are, as we think at present, correct before they are put into operation. Therefore, these Amendments are slight modifica- 1054 tions, and, we think, improvements inserted for the purposes we have in mind, and I hope that the House will agree to them.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I should like to know from the Under-Secretary how this will work. It seems to modify to some extent the whole working of Clause 299.In this Clause the first step is that motions are proposed in each Chamber by the Minister, and the Minister does not do it in any personal capacity, but on behalf of the council of ministers, and the council of ministers is something over which the Governor or Governor-General may preside in his discretion. Therefore, in one sense a- motion put forward in the Chamber on behalf of the council of ministers is something in which the Governor-General or the Governor has already possibly played some part. I wonder whether it is the intention or whether this is something which the council of ministers will do. It is not an executive Act or a matter where the Governor-General has to act on their behalf. The actual thing is done by the ministers in the Chamber, but is it presumed that before they take that action the first thing is that they consult the Governor-General or the Governor and then, when the Chambers have done what is necessary, he, in sending his opinion forward, uses his own discretion. I am glad that these words are to be put in because it is very sound indeed that the Government here should have the opinion not of the ministers who proposed it, but of the Governor or Governor-General officially. It is a great advantage, but it seems to be a somewhat unusual procedure that the Governor-General should have two functions. In one he consents to what is done because he has no option, and later on he expresses an opinion about something of which he is in doubt.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
My hon. Friend has put his finger on an interesting point, but the Clause has in fact been drafted to meet the position. If one had not these rather unusual words:on behalf of the Council of MinistersIt might have been said that this was an executive act with which the Governor or Governor-General would have had to associate himself or from which he would 1055 have had to dissociate himself at the initial stage. Therefore, it has been put in this form so that the Council of Ministers can proceed as far as the technical and constitutional position is concerned on their own responsibility, be cause it is assumed under the Clause that the Governor should be there to express his opinion in his discretion on what they propose, and what a fortiori has been approved by the Legislative Assembly
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In page 175, line 7, at end, insert:
In formulating any such statement of opinion the Governor-General or the Governor, as the case may be, shall act in his discretion.?
§ In line 12, after "choosing," insert "or the qualifications of."
§ In line 26, after "choosing," insert "or the qualifications of."—[Sir S. Hoare.]
§ >8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I beg to move, in page 175, line 38, at the end, to insert:Provided that if the Amendment under Sub-section (2) (a) of this Section shall re late to the substitution of the direct vote in territorial constituencies for the method of electing the Federal Legislature, established under this Act, action may be taken under Sub-section (1) of this Section, whether or not the period of ten years from the establishment of the Federation has expired.?The question raised by this Amendment is the subject of direct and indirect election. I realise now that we are at this stage of the Bill, that it is not open for us to go into the general merits of the question, which was decided by the House early in the Committee stage. It will be understood, of course, that we do not recede in the slightest from the position that we then took up. We think that whatever has happened since has fortified what we said on that occasion. In the message that came from the "Times" correspondent, published in the "Times" on the 18th of this month, there was a very interesting review of the opinion in India upon the Bill. In the course of that article the following words appeared:The moderates do not understand why Parliament has accepted the principle of in direct election at the Centre. They claim that moderate opinion in this country"—speaking of India—will be handicapped at the Centre, which will naturally be affected by the composition of the Provincial Legislatures.1056 We shall have an opportunity on the Third Reading of expressing an opinion upon that part of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that for the most part we have supported the Bill right through, but also from the beginning we have stated as strongly as we could our objection to what we think is the most lamentable change that was made after the White Paper was placed before the House.
We ask that Clause 299 should be amended in this particular. Hon. Members will be aware that the Clause gives power to bring about certain alterations by Order in Council. It gives power to bring about certain alterations if the request is made either by a Provincial Parliament in India or by the Central Parliament in India. Some of those alterations can be made presumably with the least possible delay but in respect of other alterations an interval of ten years must elapse. I am well aware that the Joint Select Committee in making their recommendations suggested that before certain constitutional alterations were carried out an interval of ten years should expire. I think, however, that in relation to this question of the vote for the Lower Chamber at the Centre it would be a very serious thing to say that, whatever may be Indian opinion, that change shall not be made for a period of ten years after the establishment of the Federation.
There is no answer to the contention that if Indian opinion should be so strongly in favour of this change, that if Indian opinion as expressed in the Central Legislature should be as strong as we believe it to be to day throughout that great sub continent, it would be a very wanton action on the part of this House to say to the Indian people, "Whatever may be your desires, how ever strongly you may express them, whatever constitutional appeal may be made under the terms of this Measure by the people of India, we refuse to con cede it for a period of ten years." There is no virtue in ten years, and if the demand be made it should be the business of this Parliament to meet a demand when legitimately and constitutionally expressed. There is no doubt that the Joint Select Committee decided on the indirect vote, but they gave this House, the country, India and the world 1057 in their report quite clearly to under stand that the proposal might be temporary. They said that it might not last for ever, and suggested that a change might be brought about.
When the matter was discussed in this House not long ago the right hon. Gentleman said that whilst we regarded it as a matter of principle he only looked on it as a matter of machinery, but he went on to say that it was an experiment. He emphasised that more than once, and said that it was a temporary arrangement. If it is to be a temporary arrangement why cannot it be made temporary to this extent that if under the Constitution of these Central Parliaments in India there is the requisite majority, knowing India, knowing its needs a great deal better than we can do and a great deal better than the Joint Select Committee could do, and that majority on their own responsibility deliberately make their request, on what grounds can that request be refused? It seems to me that, especially on a matter where opinion is so divided, it cannot well be refused. The right hon. Gentleman him self said that at the beginning he had been vehemently opposed to the direct vote but that he had been brought to support it because he saw the difficulties of the indirect franchise. But he said that he had again changed his opinion as a result of the many arguments that were used in the Committee. He gave us clearly to understand that his mind was not definitely made up.
No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman the difficulties of either course. We think that the difficulties are greater with the indirect vote than with the direct vote. Seeing that he himself took one side and then the other on account of the arguments used during the last three or four years, seeing that opinion was so divided in the Joint Select Committee and that opinion has generally been divided in the discussions which have taken place, surely where there is a very uncertain position a decision that is made by the Indian people, if it is a decision by a substantial majority arid made by those who are the only ones in a constitutional position to express the mind of India, on what grounds are we, at the same time that we are seeking to give the Indian people control over their own affairs, entitled to say: "You shall 1058 not come to the Bar of this House. You shall not, however constitutionally you make this request affecting your lives, conditions and circumstances, have your desires granted."
If what we desire cannot be done here and now, if the right hon. Gentleman will give us an assurance that while the Bill is under discussion in another place this proposal will be taken into consideration he will go a long way towards allaying the difficulty that we have in our minds and the disappointment that we have felt consequent upon this very substantial change. 1cannot believe that in this matter any difficulty would be occasioned by accepting our Amendment, but I would ask the House to consider the difficulties of refusing it. If it is refused we say that for 10 years the change that we desire cannot be made, whatever happens. In the course of 10 years vested interests become established and it will be very difficult to induce a House to abolish itself. In the course of those 10 years these members will be vested with power and the authority and standing that comes from being members of a central legislature. They will be depending upon a tiny electorate, elected in the backrooms it may be of the Provinces, possessed of almost incalculable power, dealing with the political fortunes of one-fifth of the people inhabiting this planet and elected by little companies of people over whom there cannot be anything like the control of the people whose interests are affected. During those 10 years vested interests will grow up, and it maybe difficult to get rid of many matters which can easily be dealt with in the first years or so of the experience of Indian self-government.
We approach this matter as supporters of the Bill. It does not represent our mind in many parts, but it was not in tended to represent the mind of any one party in the State, but the greatest common measure of agreement. This, however, is a subject upon which we feel deeply. To deny to the Indian people a right which they have enjoyed for 14 years, and to make that denial in contradiction of expressed Indian opinion and the strongly expressed opinion of the Government of India itself, is a responsibility which I suggest the House should not undertake. If we are driven to pass the Bill in its present form, surely the Secretary of State can meet us to this 1059 extent, that he will not withhold from the people of India the right to decide on a point affecting their own lives and conditions. Apart from any speech of mine, the Amendment commends itself. In a House which has been built up in an atmosphere of democracy and self-control and after the discussions on a Bill which is intended to give to the people of India the management of their own affairs, all one need do is to read the Amendment to accept it at once.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
We all appreciate the earnest attention which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) has given to this subject and his motives in moving the Amendment. The question is one to which the Government have given the most close attention, particularly in view of the importance which is attached to it by Indian opinion. The Joint Select Committee made a definite recommendation on the question of indirect or direct election, and decided that election to the Federal Legislature should be by indirect election. The Amendment is largely answered by the view which the Joint Select Committee took on the subject. They recommended that indirect election should be substituted for direct election, and added some observations on their decision in a paragraph, the sub-head of which is:Indirect election to be regarded as being open to future review.?In this paragraph they make some interesting observations upon the decision they have taken, and the Government share their view that the matter should be regarded as being open to future review.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The Under-Secretary will remember that the addition was made there because of an Amendment brought forward by us in the name of Lord Lothian.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I do not think that that alters the argument. I was about to pay a tribute to the hon. Member and his friends. I was about to refer to the past history of the matter and the observations which the Joint Select Committee made when they came to their decision, but the hon. Member has taken the credit, and I will not deny him the credit of a most estimable paragraph in the report. Let 1060 us examine the paragraph which the hon. Gentleman has acknowledged was inserted owing largely to his own initiative. In the paragraph in which he takes such pride the Joint Select Committee say that the question of indirect or direct election should come under review, but that this should not be done until the political forces in India have had time to settle down and until we have been able to see how the new Constitution works. They say:do not propose that there should be any formal examination of the problem by a Statutory Commission after any specific date, for we think that experience has shown that there are strong objections to automatic provisions of this kind.We have it, therefore, that the Joint Select Committee did not consider that the change should be made until the Constitution has settled down and then that it should not be reviewed by a Statutory Commission. What did they recommend? If the hon. Member will read on, he will see these words:We consider that Parliament should recognise that, after sufficient time has elapsed to enable clear judgments to be formed of the way in which the constitution works and of the new political forces it has brought into being, it may be necessary to make amendments in the method of composing the Central Legislature, and we hope that if Indian opinion thinks modification is required the Federal Legislature will lay its own proposals before Parliament in the form recommended else wherein this report.?In that they are referring us to paragraphs 380 and 381, which set out the form of machinery, which is the form suggested in the Bill. Therefore, the Joint Select Committee were not content with deciding once and for all upon the question of direct or indirect elections but., largely on the advice of the hon. Member and Lord Lothian, decided that the matter was susceptible of possible future re vision; but they considered that this should not be done in the early years after the new Constitution had come into force or by means of a Statutory Commission, but that it should be submitted to the machinery which we have included in Clause 299. If the hon. Member will refer to paragraphs 380 and 381 he will see set out what is come to be known as the Jayakar procedure; it represents a suggestion made by Mr. Jayakar that in certain circumstances and after 10 years Indian Legislatures should 1061 have an opportunity of making a sub mission to Parliament. We therefore have given this matter the most sympathetic consideration. We have found that the Joint Select Committee have given it also the most serious and sympathetic consideration. Quite apart from the merits of the position of direct versus indirect election, we have decided that a period of time had better elapse before the matter is reviewed. I have based my case upon the decision of the Joint Select Committee, upon the gist of an Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin. I think we are wiser to remain upon the decision given by the Joint Select Committee, for the reasons given by that Committee, than to change at this stage to the Amendment that is now before the House.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
I feel much regret that the Government have come to the conclusion which the Under-Secretary has just announced. As he has said, we here have supported this Bill throughout on all important matters of principle, and indeed in almost every point of detail. The only point of substance to which we attached importance, both in the Committee stage and now on the Report stage, is the one that is before the House. We feel most strongly that a very grave mistake has been made in destroying the present system of direct election to the central Legislature, which has existed in India for 14 years, by substituting the most amazing form of indirect election that has ever found its way into any Constitution in any country.
I do not propose to argue the merits of direct and indirect election. I had an opportunity of stating my views during the Committee stage. I think every one will agree that the form of indirect election embodied in the Bill cannot be regarded as satisfactory. A system which allows groups of six, seven, eight or nine persons, meeting together, to select individual members for the central Parliament of India is liable to give rise to the gravest abuses. There fore we suggested in the Committee stage that direct election should be restored to the Bill, and that was the original proposal of the Government and of the 1062 Government of India. That, however, has not been done. We now suggest that this matter should be left for the Indian Legislature itself to devise its own scheme of election, that when it has done so this House should approve or disapprove it by a vote upon an Order in Council to be presented to it, instead of it requiring completely new legislation to be carried through in the form of a Bill, and that this should be done at any time, not merely after the expiration of 10 years.
The Government have refused to accept that suggestion, and by so doing they are running counter to all forms of Indian opinion. All the information which reaches us is to the effect that all schools of Indian thought are against this indirect system of election and in favour of direct election. No one has denied that. The Indian Government takes the same view. In Indian opinion I would include European Indian opinion. The Europeans in India, by an overwhelming majority if not unanimously, favour direct as against indirect election. Yet the Government are brushing aside all these expressions of opinion because in the Joint Select Committee the majority, without advice from the Indians who were consulted in the earlier stages of the proceedings, decided in favour of indirect election.
When the Under-Secretary said that a paragraph was inserted in the Report of the Joint Select Committee which was originally suggested by Lord Lothian and by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) and their colleagues in that Committee, and that it supports the view which he has now expressed to the House, I am informed that, although it is true that the paragraph itself has attached to it other paragraphs which embodied the period of 10 years and declined to permit this procedure to be adopted before a whole decade elapsed, that proposal was not supported or proposed by my hon. Friends. That proposal was attached to the paragraph and by no means represented their view. So we are wholly free from any previous commitment in proposing the Amendment now before the House, and we must think it our duty to record our votes in the Lobby in dissent from the view expressed from the Treasury Bench.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
Perhaps I may say a few words on this subject, because we are not now discussing the system of direct versus indirect election, but the question whether a particular proposal made on the recommendation of the Legislature in India should be considered by this House before the lapse of 10 years. Our decision on that subject must be mainly controlled by our judgment as to whether this House will in fact be prepared to take action on such a recommendation in the next 10 years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said by a slip of the tongue that he was claiming for India the right to have a resolution by this House on a scheme of that kind. But neither this Clause nor the Amendment will give him that. He is giving India the right to present a resolution, and surely the worse thing in the world we can do is to give a Legislature in India a solemn right to approach this House if we think that as a matter of fact this House will not be prepared to take any action, when India does appeal, as the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) said, at the Bar of this House.
Let us base our decision on a consideration whether this House will in fact take any action on such a recommendation within such a short period, and therefore whether the right which we are pre tending to give to an Indian Legislature is a nugatory one or a real one. Surely it is a nugatory one because of the very terms of this Amendment. I cannot understand how my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin reconcile the terms of this Amendment with the terms of the paragraph for which he has claimed credit in the report of the Joint Select Committee. What is he asking in this Amendment? He is asking that if an Indian Legislature shall present are solution relating tothe substitution of the direct vote in territorial constituencies for the method of electing the Federal Legislature … action may be taken …whether or not the period of ten years from the establishment of the Federation has expired.?But what did he say in the paragraph of the Joint Select Committee's report for which he has claimed credit:We feel that the ultimate solution may well he found in some variant, either of the 1064 system whereby groups of primary voters elect secondary electors who vote directly for members of the Federal Assembly, or of the system whereby those already elected to local bodies, such as village panchayats, are the voters who vote directly or members of that Assembly.?That is not direct voting; that is another form of indirect election. But, he said, and we all said on the Joint Select Committee, that we felt that the ultimate solution may be in that direction. My hon. Friend does not propose to give the Indian Legislatures any right to approach this House and get a decision from this House. His Amendment is confined to the direct vote, and, although he and I believe in the pure direct election, as we have it in. Western Europe, it will not be the probable solution to this question. Therefore, why give an express invitation to the Indian Legislature to present a proposal before 10 years have elapsed, when none of us believe, whatever views we hold about direct or indirect election, that the probable solution lies in that direction.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The Noble Lord has put emphasis on the last words of that passage. Before the Amendment was proposed we had supported a Clause asking for the direct vote in territorial constituencies and had been defeated upon that vote. Is not the hon. Member aware that from the beginning we did ask for the direct vote in territorial constituencies?
§ Lord E. PERCY
I agree. I think my hon. Friend and his associates in the Committee had been somewhat shaken, in the course of the discussion, in their belief that that was really the probable solution. Let me, finally, put an argument that I do not think has been presented in this House before in discussions on this Bill. The difficulty about direct election to the Federal Legislature is this: the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) stated that our system of indirect election was unprecedented. I presume that direct election, proposed in the original White Paper and supported—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
I do not think we can go into the merits of direct or indirect election on this Amendment. The question is solely whether the matter shall be considered within 10 years, or after 10 years.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I have already argued that the system of direct election is, of all possible alternatives, the least desirable to consider, and that there are many other alternatives which may be much more worth considering. I thought I was within the Rules of Order in explaining why I took that view, but I bow to your Ruling, and I will not go into that further. It does remain the fact that any system of direct election you may propose is a system which proposes to impose a higher franchise for the Central Assembly than the Provincial Assembly, and I should be glad to know if anyone can find a precedent for that in the constitutional history of the world. I think this Amendment is another, I will hardly say attempt, but tendency to lead Indian opinion down a blind alley and ignore, and by implication discourage, those alternatives to the present proposal in which the Joint Select Committee, with the assent at least of the hon. Member for Bodmin, has said the ultimate solution probably lies.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Mr. Deputy-Speaker a few minutes ago ruled that it was not possible for us to discuss the merits of direct and indirect election tonight. While I accept that Ruling, I can only say that I am extremely sorry that we are prohibited from entering on a discussion of the matter; but that being so, I will bow to the Ruling. We are, however, called upon to determine the merits of the Amendment as moved by my hon. Friend below the Gangway. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he was prepared, if necessary, to carry this matter to a Division. I am quite sure they will carry with them in this matter not only the assent of my hon. Friends on this side but the assent of Indian opinion. The Noble Lord opposite said he was under the impression that my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) was responding, in making his second suggestion to the Joint Select Committee, to the weight of argument Adduced inside the Committee room. The only person I saw bending under the weight of appeal —I will not say argument—was the Secretary of State himself, and I am not pre pared to concede it was argument that weighed with him in that matter. Perhaps there was some measure of convenience, too. Let us for a minute take 1066 the merits of the argument of my hon. Friends who are moving this Amendment. There is no doubt about the proposition the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) laid down. I am certain that there is no sort of organised Indian opinion that was even in favour of the Government's procedure in this matter. Indian opinion of all shades is in favour of the principle of direct election.
§ Mr. JONES
Yes, including even the Indian Government, as the Noble Lord knows. I was told I must not disclose too much of what I heard in side the Joint Select Committee room, but if I am provoked too much I may say more than I' ought. The Government have taken a step we believe to be contrary to Indian opinion. The question is how long a time should elapse before Indian opinion has an opportunity of ex pressing itself. It seems not an unfair proposition that if an Indian Legislature, either Provincial or Central, arrives at a conclusion that the time has come when It might properly approach this Parliament, it ought to be allowed to do so. I am satisfied, in my own judgment, that the sooner this blunder, as I regard it, is remedied, the better it will be for all concerned, for there is not the faintest doubt that the step which the Government took in regard to this question of direct and indirect election was a blunder, and will tend to alienate Indian opinion unnesessarily. If, therefore, opportunity is given to an Indian Legislature, either Central or Provincial, to petition Parliament to alter this method of election, we ought not to stand in its way and prevent it from so doing. I do not know that the Noble Lord is entitled to assume that some other form of in direct election than this is an inevitable development at some future date.
§ Mr. JONES
I am saying that I do not think the Noble Lord is entitled to claim that that is inevitably the truth. So far Indian experience in the past 14 years has been an experience of direct election, and I see no reason whatsoever why we should not give the Indian people the opportunity, if a Central or Provincial Legislature petitions this House in that sense, to return to the position they have 1067 known for the past 14 years. I do not know what amuses the Noble Lord so much in that proposition.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I will tell my hon. Friend. What amused me was to hear him say that the only thing that any Indian Legislature was allowed to do was to return to what they had been doing—an extremely unprogressive remark from those benches
§ Mr. JONES
And if I had said it it would have been an unprogressive remark. I did not say that. I have never said from this place that that was the only thing they might do. Far from it. I simply say that in the present circumstances—which I deplore—the Indian legislatures should be allowed to approach this Parliament in an appropriate way, with a view to remedying what I regard as an exceedingly bad step in the constitutional development of India. For my part, and I think I can speak for my hon. Friends, we deplore that step. In our judgment the Amendment is the best way of trying to remedy a grotesque blunder.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
Why does the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy)suggest that this is an attempt to lead Indian opinion down a blind alley? Why a blind alley
§ Lord E. PERCY
I was referring to the argument of the Joint Select Committee, that direct election might possibly work within a restricted franchise, but that with any considerable extension of the franchise it would not work.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I understood from the Noble Lord's general argument that he considered that it would be useless for Indians to come to this House at the present time to get such a change, because the House would refuse it, and that it was not right to lead Indian opinion to think that this House would adopt a different method from that proposed in the Bill. But what will be the position at the end of 10 years? Does he consider that in 10 years this would still be a blind alley and that no change whatever could be made. I admit that the words "direct election by territorial constituencies" are in this Amendment but the Noble Lord's argument was that no 1068 change whatever would be made which would bring us any nearer to direct election than the system at present in the Bill. Does the Noble Lord stand by his argument that India is following a blind alley if she thinks that she can come to this House to get a change in the system of election which is proposed in the Bill?
§ Lord E. PERCY
The words "blind alley" were not used by me in connection with the approach of the Indian legislatures to this Parliament. I used them in the same connection as that in which the Joint Select Committee used them, namely, in relation to the fact that purely direct election was in itself in the nature of a blind alley because it would be impossible to continue it under an extended franchise.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
We are not now discussing the merits of direct and indirect election. What we have to consider is the right of India to come to this House and ask for a change in the system. According to the Noble Lord's argument in no circumstances can she do so for 10 years, and he suggests that even after 10 years it would still be just as well that she should not do so.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
We on this side are inclined to think that if the Bill is to be made the real living thing which we hope to see, we must hold out to the Indians this opportunity of making improvements.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
If the Indians find, when the system comes to be worked, that there are defects in it which call for improvement, surely they ought to have the right to come to this House, without having to wait a decade. That is the gist of the Amendment.
§ Lord E. PERCY
You would only allow the Indians to come to this House if they presented a particular kind of proposal for reform.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
Suppose the Amendment were made wider in the direction suggested by the Noble Lord, would he then support it?
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
In that event the Government might be inclined to take the same view. The Noble Lord has kindly stood at the elbow of the Secretary of State from time to time in the course of these debates, and when he takes the view which he has just expressed it may influence the Secretary of State to, modify the view expressed by the Under-Secretary. There is only one other point to which I would refer. Throughout these debates it has been asserted, I fear with a considerable amount of truth, that little goodwill towards this Measure has been expressed in India. The Secretary of State should consider that an Amendment in these terms would secure for the Bill a considerable measure of that good will in India which is now wanting.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. BERNAYS
I rise to indicate that there is at any rate one Member usually a supporter of the Government who disagrees with the line taken by my right hon. Friend on this Amendment. It is clear that the great majority of Indians are behind the proposal of direct election. When the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) complained that we were leading Indian opinion in a certain direction, namely towards direct election, he forgot that Indian opinion is already there. We are not leading the many where and we have had no argument yet as to why this overwhelming Indian opinion should be flouted. I ask the Government what is to happen if the sys tem of indirect election breaks down, as it may easily do? It may prove within two or three years to be unworkable and if this Amendment is refused it will be impossible to alter the system for 10 years. That is a serious position. I can not understand why the opponents of the Bill are not supporting the Amendment, because if this indirect election becomes part of the Bill it will not strengthen the hands of the Viceroy—it will weaken them. When, in certain circumstances, he has to appeal from the Central legislature to the constituencies he will be appealing to the same narrow electorate as that which has sent the Central legislature there to legislate. It seems to me that we have here a serious flouting of Indian opinion for which no adequate excuse has 1070 been offered by the Government and I shall certainly vote with my hon. Friend opposite on this Amendment
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
The hon. Member for North Bristol (Mr. Bernays) is under a misapprehension. He seems to think that if this Amendment be not accepted it will be impossible for the Imperial Parliament to make a change for 10 years. That is not so. The power of Parliament is not limited by this Clause, and Sub section (4) specifically states that Parliament can take such action as it thinks fit. All that the Clause does is to provide that the formal procedure under which resolutions come to this country and under which they have formal recognition by Parliament, is only to come into operation after a period of 10 years. There is nothing in this Bill that would prevent Parliament passing either an amending Order in Council or an amending Act, if the system of election had manifestly broken down, to provide that the necessary change could be made.
§ Mr. BERNAYS
But the Indian Legislatures would have no power to petition Parliament and explain what changes they wanted.
§ Sir S. HOARE
My hon. Friend's argument was much narrower than that. It was that we were tying our hands for a period of 10 years. That is not the case. The question—and it is a narrow question—is whether or not it is wise to shorten the period during which this form of procedure should prevail. It is nothing more than that. My own view is, and I do not want to dogmatise on this question at all—I never have dogmatised on it, and I have always admitted that there was a strong feeling in India against this legislation—that the House having taken the view in favour of indirect election, after a very full consideration, it would be very unwise for the House now to risk having the worst of both worlds; and I am genuinely afraid that the effect of this procedure, under which the formal act of the Indian Legislatures would come into operation in the period before the 10 years had ended, would be a direct stimulation to the Assemblies, both Federal and Provincial, in India to start demanding a change at once and not to give a chance for indirect election to work successfully.
1071 I would say to the House, therefore, whatever their views may be about direct or indirect election, Do not let us have the worst of both worlds, and do not let us start upon the line of indirect election but so introduce indirect election as to make it almost certain to fail by stimulating a demand in India from the very outset for a change. Again, without attempting to dictate to the House, I should have said that this was not a good Amendment, that if indirect election manifestly works badly in India, the hands of Parliament are not tied; we can make a change before the end of the 10 years' period. If, on the other hand, it is working not badly, let us give it a chance and do not let us encourage opposition by bringing within the provisions of this Clause the possibility of the formal procedure coming into operation before the end of the 10 years and encouraging the Indian Legislatures to demand a change before they would otherwise demand it. For these reasons, and while fully admitting the case on both sides, I think on the whole the House would be wise to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
If Parliament moved of its own volition within the 10 years, would not an Act of Parliament be needed, whereas if it acted in response to an appeal contained in the Bill, could it not be done by Order in Council
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Mr. BAILEY
I think the whole House has welcomed the contribution which has come from the Liberal benches on this matter, because it has shown us one subject upon which there is a strong opinion in India on something that we might do. If there is a strong opinion in India in favour of something that might be put into this Bill, that would seem to me to be a very weighty reason indeed for acceding to that opinion. I have found it very difficult to find anything in the Bill of importance on which anyone seemed to agree in India, or even in this country, for that matter, except in a negative way. Therefore if there is a 1072 strong opinion about this in India, surely we, who are seeking to give India a type of self-government that she wants, if we are honest in our own convictions, ought to accede to that strong opinion. I do not believe in self-government for India, but the Government apparently do, and it seems to me that those who believe in self-government ought not to try to force the medicine down the patient's throat, but ought to try to give the patient something more acceptable. You should either rule firmly or give the people of India the kind of constitution they want. To do something in between, and to say that to give them the opportunity of asking for something that they want is encouraging them not to work the existing Measure, is to me quite wrong
I take the view that they are not fit for the powers you are giving them, but if you think they are fit to have the destiny of a fifth of the population of the world in their hands, to a large extent, you have no right to assume that they will be so factious as to make use of the privileges which you propose to give them in order to wreck the whole Act. It is purely an internal matter for the Indians themselves whether elections should be direct or indirect, and surely the very people who ought to he in a position to give you advice on that subject, if you have any confidence in them at all, are the Indian Legislature Assemblies them selves. It is casting a grave reflection on them, I submit, not to give them the opportunity to tender such advice now but to suggest that after 10 years they will be fit to tender it.
If the right hon. Gentleman really has any confidence in them at all, he ought not to suggest that they would be capable of such unworthy practices that they would wreck this heaven-sent Measure. It is most wrong to suggest that the Indian Legislatures would be guilty of such conduct. Either they are fit for responsibility or they are not, but to burden them with all these restrictions, to pretend to give them self-government, to give them the semblance of self-Government but in reality to keep the reins in your own hands, will never work. You must give a free and generous gift or keep the whole thing in your own hands. The doom of Laodicea is on the whole of this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the doom of Laodicea?"] One hon. Member asks what the doom of Laodicea 1073 is. It is the doom of being neither hot nor cold, but of being lukewarm. The Apostle Peter, it will be remembered, spewed them out of his mouth.
§ Mr. BAILEY
The Bill on this subject is neither hot nor cold. It pretends to give self-government, but it does not trust the Indians with sufficient powers to make self-government a success. You cannot have it both ways. The refusal of the Government to yield to this very reasonable Liberal Amendment—it is so seldom that a Liberal Amendment is reasonable—shows a lack of the spirit of compromise on their part. Who are more fitted to decide on what form of Government they should have than are the Indians themselves, if you think they should have self-government at all? I
§ therefore very much hope, even at this late hour, that the Government will find it possible to make this concession to the Liberals. After all, they have been very faithful to the Government in these discussions. I do not know what the Government would have done but for the support they have had from Socialist and Liberal votes. It is rewarding these faithful hirelings of this policy very ill to give them such scant consideration when they ask for some concession. It is very unkind of the Government not to give way to them when they have been faithful so long. Considerations of delicacy should have impelled the Government to accept this Amendment, for which I propose to vote.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 61; Noes, 200.1075
|Division No. 221.].||AYES.||[9.58 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke.||Graham, O. M. (Lanark, Hamilton).||Mailalleu, Edward Lancelot|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maxton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard.||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan).||Milner, Major James|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro?, W.).||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Batey, Joseph.||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Bernays, Robert||Groves, Thomas E.||Paling, Wilfred|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield).||Grundy, Thomas W.||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Cape, Thomas.||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil).||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cleary, J. J.||Harris, Sir Percy.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour.||Holdsworth, Herbert.||Remer, John H.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford.||Jenkins, Sir William.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Curry, A. C.||John, William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James||White, Henry Graham|
|Cobble, William||Lees-Jones, John||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Edwards, Charles||Leonard, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Sir Robert Hamilton and Mr. Walter Rea.|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert w.||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Duncan, James A.L.(Kensington, N.)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Burghley, Lord||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Burnett, John George||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Albery, Irving James||Butler, Richard Austen||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)|
|Allan, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Fleming, Edward Lascelles|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Carver, Major William H.||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Assheton, Ralph||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A, Hamilton|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gibson, Charles Granville|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colfox, Major William Philip.||Gledhill, Gilbert|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cook, Thomas A.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)||Copeland, Ida||Goff, Sir Park|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Cranborne, Viscount||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Bilndell, James||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Graves, Marjorle|
|Bossom, A. C.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Greene, William P. C.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Grimston, R. V.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Brandbent, Colonel John||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Dickie, John P.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Doran, Edward||Hales, Harold K.|
|Bruwn, Ernest (Leith)||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hammersley, Samuel S.|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Milne, Charles||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Harberd, Arthur||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Morgan, Robert H.||Shute, Colonel Sir John|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Smith, Sir J. Walker (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Heneage, Lieut, Colonel Arthur P.||Morrison, William Shephard||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine,C.)|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Moss, Captain H. J.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Nail, Sir Joseph||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)||Orr Ewing, I. L.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Patrick, Colin M.||Stones, James|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Peake, Osbert||Storey, Samuel|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Pearson, William G.||Stourton, Hon. Jonn J.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Peat, Charles U.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Percy, Lord Eustace||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Petherick, M.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Radford, E. A.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Levy, Thomas||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Lewis, Oswald||Rankin, Robert||Wells, Sidney Richard|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Rickards, George William||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Loftus, Pierce C.||Robinson, John Roland||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Rots Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|MacAndrew, Major J. O. (Ayr)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Magnay, Thomas||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Sir Victor Warrender and Major|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l).||George Davies,|
|Mavhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Salt, Edward W.|
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, in page 175, line 38, at the end, to insert:Provided that so far as regards any amendment of the provisions relating to the number of Chambers in a Provincial Legislature if, on a motion proposed in the Legislative Assembly of a Province by a minister on behalf of the council of Ministers, such Legislative Assembly pass in two successive sessions a resolution recommending the abolition of the Legislative Council, the provisions of Sub-section (1) of this Section except the provision requiring a resolution to be passed in each Chamber, shall apply.I think the House will recognise that this is a very reasonable Amendment. If I could remember them all, I should repeat the eloquent words used by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) on the previous Amendment. He pointed out how difficult it is to get a Legislative Chamber to commit suicide. He pointed out that you might have a Chamber elected by a very small number of persons in a hole-and-corner manner. That is what you have in regard to second Chambers. They are elected by 1076 small number of people, and you are going to have vested interests set up. Equally, as he pointed out, it will be against the will of the Provinces concerned—except for the very few Provinces which are not to have second Chambers. I am not going to argue the case for and against second Chambers on this Amendment. But it is clear that if you want to give a reasonable chance of change from bi-cameral to uni-cameral constitutions in the Provinces it is not much good making a rule that the resolution must be passed by both Houses, because it is very unlikely that you will get a second House to agree to its own abolition The whole point of this Clause—we call it the Jayakar Clause—is to give Indian Legislatures an opportunity of coming to this House and expressing their wishes. If some Provinces make decisions to abolish the second Chamber they will not be able to come to this House because of the provision in Sub section (1) that the motion must be carried in both Chambers—and the object of this Amendment is to exempt from 1077 that provision an Amendment designed to deal with second Chambers.
I think the House will agree that if we do not put this in we are most unlikely ever to get the opinion of the Assemblies expressed on this question. They will be held up every time by the second Chambers. Here is a subject on which there is very great division of opinion. On the Indian Statutory Commission opinion was divided and in India itself opinion is divided. Even at the present time we are not providing second Chambers in every Province. When first the White Paper came out there were only a few Provinces with second Chambers; then some more have been added; and even on this Report stage other Provinces have been given this incubus of a second Chamber. Others may call it a blessing—but the broad principle is that the Indian people should decide whether they should have it or not. We should give them an opportunity to decide that. I move this Amendment because this is the only way in which we can get the possibility of the lower Houses expressing theiropinion—and the electorate through the
§ lower Houses expressing their opinion—in favour of uni-cameral Legislatures.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I take a, view differing from that just expressed by the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee). I regard second Chambers as an integral part of the Provincial Constitution, and I see no reason why they should be excluded from voting upon an important issue of this kind. Otherwise, the second Chamber is put into the hands of the first Chamber. The first Chamber can destroy it if it so desires, or at least it can send forward a resolution to this House to that effect. That is not what the Joint Select Committee contemplated. They contemplated that where second Chambers were set up these Chambers should be regarded as an integral part of the Provincial Constitution with equal rights in matters of this kind with the first Chamber. That being so, I am afraid I cannot accept the hon. and gallant Member's Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 44; Noes, 222.1079
|Division No. 222].||AYES.||[10.12 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Grenfell, David Reel (Glamorgan)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Mlddlesbro', W.)||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfleld)||Groves, Thomas E.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cape, Thomas||Grundy, Thomas W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cleary, J. J.||Hall, George H. (Morthyr Tydvill)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jenkins, Sir William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||John, William||White, Henry Graham|
|Duggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Vallay)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhouhton)||Leonard, William||Wilmot, John|
|Dobbie, William||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Mr. Paling and Mr. D. Graham.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel.||Boulton, W. W.||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Bracken, Brendan||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Croft, Brigadier General Sir H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Broadbent, Colonel John||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootie)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cross, R. H.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Assheton, Ralph||Burghley, Lord||Culverwell, Cyril Tom|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Burnett, John George||Curry, A. C.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Butler, Richard Austen||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Denman, Hon. R. D|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Dickie, John P.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Carver, Major William H.||Doran, Edward|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portm'th, C.)||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Elmley, Viscount|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C|
|Bernays, Robert||Colfox, Major William Philip||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Blindell, James||Cook, Thomas A.||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Copeland, Ida.||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Remer, John R.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Levy, Thomas.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Liddall, Walter S.||Rickards, George William|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Llewellin, Major John J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Ganzonl, sir John||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Rote Taylor, Walter (Woodbridgt)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Loftus, Pierce C.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Gibson, Charles Granville||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Goff, Sir Park||MacAndrew, Major J. O. (Ayr)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||McKie, John Hamilton||Salt, Edward W.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Magnay, Thomas||Selley, Harry R.|
|Graves, Marjoris||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Greene, William P. C.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John.||Show, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Shepperson, sir Ernest W.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard.||Milne, Charles||Shute, Colonel Sir John|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-ln-F.)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Morgan, Robert H.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine.C.)|
|Hales, Harold K.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Hamilton, Sir George (llford)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Morrison, William Shepherd.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry.||Nail, Sir Joseph||Stewart, J. Henderson (File, E.)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Stones, James|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Storey, Samuel|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Stourton, Hon. John J|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col, Cathbert M.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Orr Ewing, I. L.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Patrick, Colin M.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Peake, Osbert||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Pearson, William G.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Peat, Charles U.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Penny, Sir George||Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Percy, Lord Eustace||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Hame, Sir George Hopwood||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Petherick, M.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Radford, E. A.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, J.)|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsden. Sir Eugene||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Rankin, Robert||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, B.W.)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Leckie, J. A.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|and Sir Walter Womersley.|
Question put, and agreed to
§ 10.19 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
I beg to move, in page 176, line 8, after "time," to insert:before or after the commencement of Part III of this Act.This is consequential on the previous Amendment.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
Might I ask the Secretary of State to tell the House why this Amendment appears here? The fact that it is consequential is not clear to me, because there may be a. fundamental alteration of the whole position. I understand that the Communal Award, under which the status quo was promised for 10 years with separate electorates for minorities, could be completely altered if this Amendment were carried, and I 1080 should be grateful, should I have wrongly interpreted it, if the Secretary of State would tell us exactly why he proposes the Amendment.
§ 10.19 p.m.
§ Mr. BUTLER
When I used the word "consequential," I meant consequential on the explanation of the Amendment which I had already given. I will briefly, if I may, give the explanation again. When I moved that Amendment I said—
§ Mr. BUTLER
This particular Amendment. I do not know whether the Noble Lady was present when I asked permission of the House to explain all these Amendments together. I gave an explanation at that time, and, with the permission of the House, I am quite ready to explain the position again. This Amendment operates from the beginning of Sub-section (4) and makes clear that alterations might be made by His Majesty's Government by Order-in Council under the Clause, if necessary, before the Act actually comes into operation. As I explained to the House when I moved the Amendment, the purpose is to give power to correct mistakes which might be found, for example, in the very long franchise Schedule which we discussed in Committee, and which would have to be very closely examined with a view to the necessary action being taken. It is in order to give us power to make any final alteration which might be necessary that we ask the House to insert the Amendment. That is the object of it, in order to be quite sure that we have complete accuracy, so that when any action is taken on these very long and complicated Schedules no legal difficulties shall result.
§ 10.23 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I would like to comment upon the extraordinary position into which the Government are getting now. We have before us an Amendment which is said to be consequential upon an explanation. That is a very curious position, which is very rarely accepted in the House. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, in one of those clear and excellent speeches, proceeded to say that the Amendment was for the purpose of correcting mistakes. I should have thought that the Government would not need to put in an Amendment for that purpose, because we have been undoing mistakes most of the day. The Government are putting forward a consequential Amendment without the usual quotation of the Clause to which it applies. I admit the difficulty of the Government, but the position is not clear to many of us. People afterwards, reading the Debate, will wonder what we have been doing when they read of an Amendment which is consequential upon an explanation, but which is an important consequential Amendment.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am very sorry to have given my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary the trouble of making an explanation a second time.
Duchess of ATHOLL
With all respect, Sir, I venture to say that this Sub-section raises much bigger questions than drafting considerations.
§ 10.25 p. m.
§ Sir A. KNOX
I would like to ask the Secretary of State if it is not true that even before the new Provincial Government is tried out, the whole arrangement for the franchise can be scrapped under this Amendment? If hon. Members will cast their minds back to Sub-section (2) of the Clause, I think that they will see that the Amendment to that Sub-section practically covers everything in the Bill. Are we to understand that by Order-in Council the Government at the last moment may change everything
§ 10.25 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR -GENERAL
Of course the House might, if it chose, before the Act comes into operation, pass an amending Bill repealing the whole Measure. If the House completely changes its mind, it can, by its ordinary procedure, completely reverse its previous decision. My hon. and gallant Friend is absolutely accurate in saying that the scope of the powers of the Order-in-Council procedure is extended by this Amendment to the period after the Bill has become an Act and before the commencement of its operation. But in that period Parliament could exercise all the powers which can be exercised by Order in Council equally on the Bill as it is presented to the House. It could have exercised them the day after the Act came into operation. Therefore, no point of substance arises. The Amendment, as I have said, does extend the power which, under the Bill as drafted, could be exercised immediately after the Act came into 1083 operation, to the period between the passing of the Bill and the coming into operation of the Act. The reason for asking for that extension is that, in, for instance, a very complicated Franchise Schedule, there might be some minor points on which it would be very undesirable to have to go through the whole business of passing an amending Bill to put them right where they could be put right by an Order in Council immediately the Act came into operation.
§ Sir JOSEPH NALL
I hope the House understands, that under Sub-section (2) as it is now, it would appear that by Order in Council the whole proportion between British India and the States could be upset. Have the States been consulted about that?
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I beg to move, in page 176, line 30, at the end, to insert:(5) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Section, if, when the electoral rolls for the territorial constituencies in any Province are first prepared under this Act, it appears that of the total names included therein less than two-elevenths are the names of women, it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to prepare and submit to Parliament the draft of an Order in Council under this Section making such Amendments in the provisions relating to the franchise in that Province as will, in his opinion, secure that at least two-elevenths of the names contained in the said rolls when next revised will be the names of women.In this Sub-section?territorial constituencies' means the territorial constituencies mentioned in paragraphs 5 and 8 of the Fifth Schedule to this Act.?This is an exceedingly moderate Amendment—so moderate that I could scarcely bring myself to move it if it were not that attempts to extend the women's franchise more adequately have already been made and failed. The Amendment would simply ensure that, if at the time of the first general election held under the Act the ratio of women enrolled proved to be less than the two-elevenths which has all along been regarded by women as a reasonable ratio, then, before the second general election held under the Act, steps should be taken so to alter 1084 the women's qualification as to achieve this minimum ratio. In this Amendment we are not asking for anything more than the Joint Committee has clearly emphasised as desirable, nor are we asking for anything which can cause any serious administrative difficulty. Following the Statutory Commission, the Round Table Conference, and the Indian Franchise Committee, the Joint Select Committee used words which can scarcely be regarded as too strong concerning the importance of an adequate women's vote. I will not quote the words because I did so in a previous speech in relation to another women's Amendment, and I do not want to weary the House. It will be found in the report of the proceedings when last the question was discussed. The Joint Select Committee also recognised equally clearly the desirability of attainingat as early a date as possible, and if practicable before the second election under the new Constitution, the ratio of not less than approximately one woman to five men electors.It was recommended by the Indian Franchise Committee. That is the pro portion for which we ask in this Amendment, because the actual proportion mentioned by the Franchise Committee was more nearly one woman to four men than one woman to five men. Further, the Joint Select Committee recognised that it was very probable that this ratio which it considered desirable would be prevented by the effect of the requirement of application placed on a majority of women voters. Therefore, it is suggested that there should be application, at any rate, in the case of wives or widows qualified in respect of a husband's property, as early as practicable. Our Amendment is on the lines of what the Joint Select Committee recommended, except that we do not ask that the form of application shall necessarily be with drawn, because we recognise that the reasons for that reform which are alleged in certain Provinces is that social difficulties may not have disappeared before the date of the second general election. We have left it entirely to the judgment of the Government to decide, after communication with local governments, how the ratio of women to men should be raised. I think that the ratio could be raised by several alternatives, either by removing the conditions that a voter must apply for a vote 1085 or by extending the vote to the wives or widows referred to, or by selecting some of the groups of men voters whose wives are not at present, under the Bill, entitled to vote. Hon. Members will remember that in the Schedule there are in every province a large number of different qualifications for men voters. Some of these qualifications entitle wives to vote, and some do not. There can be no real difficulty in selecting some additional groups of men voters and entitling the wives to vote, especially, as, in view of the experience of the first general election, there will be ample indication of the number of potential and actual voters likely thus to be secured.
I would beg of the Secretary of State for his own credit and for the sake of the good repute of Parliament, to accept this proposal. Consider the position that might arise. In Debates in this House and elsewhere for the last four years, it has been held out to the women of India that the proposals that we intended would enfranchise about 6,000,000 women voters. That was the figure which was given in this House in Committee only about a fortnight ago by the Under-Secretary. Suppose through the retention of the condition that wives must apply for votes in advance, the actual number of voters in any province is cut down, as it easily may be, to one-half or less of the anticipated ratio, the large majority of the women voters will be wife voters to whom the condition of application will apply. The Joint Select Committee recognised the very serious effect of that condition. Inevitably it will be represented in un friendly quarters in India that the talk of 6,000,000 women voters has been a mere piece of window-dressing, and that there has never been any serious intention on the part of Parliament to realize it.
The application condition has been re moved in certain Provinces. It is very likely therefore that the full intended ratio of women voters will be achieved in those Provinces, whereas something in finitely less will be found to have resulted in those Provinces which happen to include some of the most advanced and progressive Provinces, such as Bombay and Madras, where the application condition is retained. Is not that likely to give rise to a strong sense of unfairness where the women find them- 1086 selves in so much less favourable position? It cannot be desired by this House that Indian women, many of whom are very much inclined to move towards the left, towards Congress, should have reasonable excuse for thinking that Parliament has played fast and loose with them and that hopes have been held out to them which there was no real intention to enable them to realise.
I anticipate that the Secretary of State may say that the Amendment is not necessary, because it is possible under the Clause as it stands, by Order-in Council, to increase the qualifications of women electors and therefore their ratio. Let us consider the practical possibilities. We all know the difficulty of getting Parliament to reconsider a subject with in a short time which has already been elaborately discussed, studied and settled. We shall be told if we try to do that in a few years, that it is too soon. Personnel changes very quickly both in governments and in the House of Commons, and we can have no certainty that five years or seven years hence if this question is brought up the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary or any of us will be in a position to press The point. The responsibility of acting fairly by the women of India, and helping them to realise the hopes that have been held out to them must rest upon this Parliament, and the opportunity for doing it is now. It would not be wise for the right hon. Gentleman to shift his responsibility on to an unknown successor acting under political conditions which are unpredicted.
When the women Amendments were before the House a little while ago the Under-Secretary suggested that the women had not shown themselves grateful for some of the concessions made already, but a little later he showed that gratitude had been expressed, indicating that the women were satisfied. It re minds me of the old maxim of our nursery days that those who ask do not care, and those who do not ask do not want. We who are pressing this matter are not in satiable, nor are we satisfied. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether the women of India have reason to be grateful for what has been done. What is the position? Four years ago, after an exhaustive examination, the Indian Franchise Committee, of which the Under- 1087 Secretary of State was a member, scheduled proposals which would have given women considerably more than they would get even if the Amendment was accepted; a much better proportion of voting strength. When the White Paper was issued these proposals were drastically cut down. We remonstrated vigorously and the Joint Select Committee said that our remonstrances were well justified. The Bill made certain improvements on the White Paper and since then we have had a substantial concession of certain seats for women on the Council of State. But still the proposals are less than those which were held out to the women of India a year ago.
We know the reason. We know that there is no reluctance on the part of the Secretary of State and those who act with him, but that they have to consider the opinion of local governments in India. As far as that opinion is based on the practical difficulties the Amendment fully meets them, and I do not think that the Secretary of State would claim that there are any administrative difficulties in granting the Amendment. If he does not accept it is it not because he is again yielding to the prejudices and superstitions which have all along been the undoing of the women of India? What have the authorities in India, either British or Indian, done for the women of India that there should be so much yielding to these prejudices You have only to look at the Report of the Statutory Commission to see what they have done for women in the educational sphere and in removing those social evils of child marriage and imperfect medical facilities which weigh so heavily upon them. The Secretary of State recognises just as well as a Joint Select Committee that the only real hope for the future of the women of India lies in giving them the power of influencing their own destinies through the recognised constitutional means of the vote and representation. This is the last effort we shall be able to make on this Bill to secure for women their pound of flesh, that modicum of voting strength which the Government itself have always recognised as their right.
§ 10.44 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I should like to associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for the English University (Miss Rathbone) except that I think her 1088 reference to the pound of flesh was rather unfortunate. It is neither her desire nor ours to reproach the Secretary of State in that way. I would not of fend the House by pretending that the right hon. Gentleman is less concerned about this matter than the rest of us. Indeed, I am sure that we are pushing an open door as far as his sentiments and opinions are concerned on the franchise for women. He was not in the House, un fortunately, owing to the illness from which we are glad to see he has fully recovered, when this matter was discussed a short time ago, but it was very evident when the Schedule came under consideration that an apprehension was left on our minds that what we had hoped for under the suggestions of the Joint Select Committee and what we had hoped for under the Bill, was not likely to be achieved. The Under-Secretary put very powerfully the arguments of those who resist the removal of the necessity for application, and he spoke of the strong social objections that there would be in many parts of India to the removal of the necessity for application. I was satisfied, and I think many of us were, that the very reasons that made unlikely the removal of that necessity for application would probably tend to reduce the vote, would have the same effect in preventing women from exercising their franchise. At any rate if this Bill passes through this House and passes through another place and it is found that the number of women taking part in the exercise of the vote is very much short of what we had anticipated, there will be great disappointment in India and in this country.
It is very interesting to find ourselves in territory where there is no division of views at all. I think we all agree that the Constitution of India and the Government of that country cannot succeed without some commensurate assistance from the women of that country. The number that is proposed, taking the maximum, we think is too small, but we do not want to see that small number reduced, as we fear it will be, if that necessity for application is continued. It may be that the Secretary of State is not able to accept this Amendment in the terms in which it is proposed, but is it not possible for him to give us some assurance, particularly in relation to the application for the vote as to certain 1089 Provinces, that would lead us to hope that women will be able to take some fuller share in the government of the country when this Bill comes into operation?
This is a subject that we have discussed again and again. It is now very late and the arguments are very well known to all Members. The arguments were constantly before us on the Joint Select Committee. The arguments were put before us in 1930 when two women's representatives of the two great sections in India very powerfully stated their case. It is that case which we desire to meet. I believe that the Secretary of State is desirous of carrying out what the Joint Select Committee intended to give, and if he can meet the Amendment in some way I believe that he will give great satisfaction to the Members of this House without distinction of party, and I am sure that any concession in that direction would be welcomed by those in India upon whose shoulders—I am speaking of thewomen—will increasingly rest the burden of government, and not only the burden of government, but such legislation as will bring about economic improvement and social uplift.
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ Mrs. TATE
I do hope that the Secretary of State will be able to regard this Amendment with sympathy, in as much as it merely asks that if, after the first general election, the proportion of women recommended not only by the Franchise Committee but by the Joint Select Committee is not given voting power, they shall then be assured that they shall have it. I do not wish to keep the House at this late hour. If the Secretary of State cannot accept this Amendment I hope he Will at least give us some assurance that the promises which were given to the women of India will be fulfilled.
§ 10.50 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I would like to associate myself with this Amendment on behalf of the Opposition. The name of the Leader of the Opposition is attached to the Amendment. One of the things which have disappointed me most in the course of the whole of these Debates is the attitude taken by the unofficial die-hard opposition below the Gangway. The whole of their case has been that we are handing over helpless millions to ancient 1090 tyrannies, and yet whenever we suggest that they should be defended by being given the vote where are the members of that opposition? Most of them are absent. When we are protecting the women of India one would have thought that a thousand swords would have leapt from their sheaths. Where is the Achilles of Epping? Sulking in his tent, or, like Kempenfelt, his sword is in its sheath, his fingers hold the pen. Where are the banners of the old ladies of Bournemouth, beneath which the hon. and gallant Member has dealt such resounding thwacks? Where are the Galahads? Even the Noble Lady opposite is quite unusually silent.
We all think that the communal evil is one of the greatest evils of India. We think that the women of India will break across that dreadful thing. This is the evidence given by the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. She was asked:Are you of opinion that the development of political consciousness in Indian women is one of the factors which is most likely to break down in the future the communal and caste distinctions?She replied:Without doubt.?Finally, the point is put whether the women of India are in the hands of the priests, and whether it is they who chiefly support the rule of the orthodox religions. Her reply was:Undoubtedly they are religions, and the older generation of women are orthodox, I cannot deny it; but I think you will find that there is a rapid advance in the outlook of women, and the younger generation can in no way be said to be orthodox or conservative, and not only that, as I say, the women go even further than the men do to-day.?That is the voice of the women of India. That I believe is the voice of the future of India. I do ask the Government to allow that voice to be heard clearly on the councils of India, in the constituencies, in the legislatures. I ask the Government therefore to accept the Amendment.
§ 10.53 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I am as anxious as any hon. Member to see the women's vote really effective. I am anxious to see the percentages reached that we have had in our minds during our previous discussions. I therefore approach this Amendment with the fullest possible sym- 1091 pathy. I must, however, say that I cannot accept it. I do not believe that it would work. I do not believe that you can deal with the question with the kind of percentage prescription that the hon. Lady offers to us. I believe that there would be great difficulties in providing this kind of differential franchise for women supposing the percentage was not reached. I therefore take the view that if we are to make an advance the practical line to take is the line suggested by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), namely, the line along which we can advance in the direction of dealing with the condition of application for the vote. The hon. Lady will remember that in the past I have done what I could to get that application condition removed where it was practicable to remove it.
I am glad to inform the House that since the Committee discussion upon this question I have made further investigation in India, and I am able to tell the House that I think we can make substantial advance in that direction. I find from my further inquiries that in all the Provinces in India, apart from the two or three Provinces where social conditions make too quick an advance dangerous, it seems possible to remove the application qualification at the second election. When I say "the second election" I mean an election which takes place within a reasonable time after the first election. I wish to safeguard myself against the possibility of a, snap election almost immediately after the first election. But taking the normal period of the lifetime of assemblies, I see no reason why the condition of application should not be withdrawn in all the Provinces other than the three or four in which the social conditions would make it dangerous to attempt to impose that duty upon the Government here and now.
I am prepared to undertake that the Government will introduce in another place an Amendment upon those lines, first, with the reservation of the Provinces in which the social conditions would make it impracticable, and, secondly, on the condition that there is a reasonable period between the first and second elections, making it clear that we will withdraw the conditions in those other Provinces. I think when the hon. Lady sees the Amendment which we are prepared to put down on the question she 1092 will recognise that we are making a great advance in the direction she desires and that there is every likelihood of the desired percentage being reached, or, if not actually reached, being nearly reached. I hope that statement will meet the views which I know are held by a great many hon. Members in all parts of the House.
§ Miss RATHBONE
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement and thanking him for the consideration which he has given to the matter, I beg leave to with draw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.