§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for India (1) When the opinions of the Provincial Governments of India on the Report of the Viceroy and Secretary of State, and the Reports of Lord Southborough's Committees will be made public; (2) What steps are being taken in demobilising the Indian Army and especially the units which have been more than four and a-half years away from India.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (VISCOUNT PEEL)
My Lords, owing to the absence of my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for India, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to answer the Questions. As to the first Question, the reports of Lord South-borough's Committees were formally presented to Parliament on May 6, and copies were available on Monday last. A Despatch from the Government of India giving their views on the Report of the Secretary of State and the Viceroy, and forwarding the views of the Local Govern 710 ments, will be formally presented within the next week, and it is hoped that copies will be ready shortly afterwards.
I pass to the second Question—namely, "What steps are being taken in demobilising the Indian Army and especially the units which have been more than four and a-half years away from India." The special recruiting arrangements in India ceased early in November, 1918, and the demobilisation of the Indian Army commenced later in the same month. The arrangements made provided that all men who had earned pension and recruits of under three months' service should, together with ex-soldiers re-enrolled for the period of the war, be the first for discharge. The demobilisation has been proceeding as rapidly as circumstances would permit, and about 250,000 combatants had been discharged up to the end of March, 1919. A considerable number of new units were raised in India during the war; some of these have been disbanded, some reduced to cadres of about 40 per cent of full strength, and some are still serving. It is, of course, necessary that a sufficient force should be maintained to provide for the normal requirements of the defence of India and for keeping up the strength of Indian troops employed in occupied territories and at Colonial stations. A number of Indian units have returned to India from Mesopotamia, and Egypt and come under the general scheme for demobilisation. In the case of Indian units which are remaining on service overseas for the present, special arrangements have been made to enable men who have been away from India for long periods to return to that country either on leave or by replacing them by means of drafts from India. Although the Secretary of State for India has received no information on the subject, it is probable that the threatened trouble with Afghanistan may temporarily delay demobilisation of troops in India.