HL Deb 19 March 1925 vol 60 cc606-8

My Lords, I beg to move the Resolution which appears on the Paper in my name as to the desirability of appointing a Standing Joint Committee on Indian Affairs. It may be within the recollection of your Lordships that I was invited some days ago to state whether I proposed to set up this Committee, and I answered that question in the affirmative. It is, I think, unnecessary to elaborate arguments in favour of setting up this Committee, which has been established each Session since the year 1921, consistently with a recommendation of the Joint Committee of both Houses which, as your Lordships will recollect, considered the Government of India Bill in 1919. It is apparent, I think, to everyone that great advantages may be derived from having in existence a body representative of both Houses, and including much Indian administrative experience. The Secretary of State can readily, with the aid of such a body, ensure this result, that there is a considerable number of members of Parliament specially qualified to deal with Indian subjects who will be in touch with the development, from month to month, of Indian affairs, and who are available to advise on questions arising from time to time as to the amendment of Rules framed under the Government of India Act, and, more rarely, on the Act itself.

I am anxious not to make any general statement on Indian affairs either to the Committee or to the House itself until I have had the advantage of personal discussion with the Viceroy after his arrival in this country at the end of next month, but I hope the House will agree in due course to refer to the Joint Committee the Bill which I have introduced to-day, and to which the House has given a First Reading, to amend the Government of India Act, which has been framed in order to enable effect to be given to certain recommendations in the Report of the Royal Commission on the Superior Civil Services in India, presided over by the noble Viscount, Lord Lee of Fareham. The terms of the Motion which define the functions of the Joint Committee follow precisely those of the similar Motion adopted last year and the year before.

Moved, That it is desirable that a Standing Joint Committee on Indian Affairs of both Houses of Parliament be appointed to examine and report on any Bill or matter referred to them specifically by either House of Parliament, and to consider with a view to reporting, if necessary, thereon any matter relating to Indian Affairs brought to the notice of the Committee by the Secretary of State for India.—(The Earl of Birkenhead.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Ordered, That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint them therewith, and to desire their concurrence.

House adjourned at half past four o'clock.