Orders of the Day — Government of India Bill.

– in the House of Commons on 3rd July 1919.

Alert me about debates like this

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Government of India Bill be committed to a Select Committee of Seven Members to join with a Committee to be appointed by the Lords."—[colonel gibbs.]

Photo of Colonel Charles Yate Colonel Charles Yate , Melton

I rise to object on behalf of the provincial governors of India. When this Bill was first brought in by the Secretary of State for India, I put a question to the Prime Minister as to whether it would be within the powers of the Joint Committee of both Houses on the Government of India Bill, after the second reading, to introduce an Amendment to give effect to the alternative proposals submitted by the majority of the provincial governors in India in opposition to the system of diarchy embodied in this Bill. The answer was, "It is certainly our intention that this should be within the competence of the Committee," and the Bill has been drafted with this in view. As the House will remember, the majority of the Provincial Governors have objected to the principle of diarchy advanced by the Secretary of State and have made an alternative proposal, and I feared that that alternative proposal might not get a proper hearing before the Committee. The Leader of the House, however, reassured me, and I mentioned this when the Bill came before the House on the next day. I stated that I was satisfied with the assurance given me by the Leader of the House, and in the Debate on the Second Reading of the Government of India Bill I went on to say that I hope the Bill would now go forward as quickly as possible, that we all wished to see this Bill brought forward on the basis of the announcement of August, 1914. I emphasised further to the Leader of the House the great importance of the Joint Committee which had to thresh out the Bill. I pointed out that the Committee had a most serious inquiry to undertake. I said: We do not know what their Report may be. It may throw back India into chaos. I also added: I appeal to the Leader of the House to sea that on this Joint Committee all views are im- partially represented and that all parties may have an equal chance of giving evidence before it, especially those Members of provincial Governments of India who have experience and knowledge of the Government of India,, and whose representations would be of first rate value. The Governors of the Provinces in India are the men who have the real experience of what India requires. The Secretary of State, as we know, has only the experience of two cold weather tours in India. I was as a Governor of a Province in India myself, and I am the only one here who is able to speak a word on their behalf. I openly supported their view in opposition to the system of diarchy introduced by the Secretary of State, a system never heard of in the world before, and one which almost all these experienced men have decided against. I would ask the Leader of the House to consider what chance these Governors of Provinces have of getting their opinions adequately dealt with in the Committee that it is now proposed to set up?

In the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill, with the exception of the Secretary of State and one other Minister, I think there were ten hon. Members who spoke. I myself, I think, was the only one who spoke in favour of the alternative system proposed by the Provincial Governors. One other or two others committed themselves in no way. The remaining speakers committed themselves definitely in favour of the proposals of the Secretary of State. Of the seven men to be appointed to this Committee, six are professed supporters of the Secretary of State in this, principle of diarchy. They cannot give an impartial opinion on this matter because they have already stated that they are in favour of the Bill's proposal. I and possibly one other Member spoke against the proposal, but I and that other Member have been deliberately left out of this Committee, and the Secretary of State has selected six men who are absolutely pledged to support him in it. Then, finally, he has gone and put himself on it. I wish to bring to the notice of the Prime Minister that, so far as I am aware, it is an unheard of thing for a Secretary of State to appoint himself to a Committee of his own. Secretaries of State and their assistants have been present and watched their Bills, but they were not members of Committees and they did not vote. Here is a Committee which is to be, in fact, a Judicial Committee, deciding on evidence that is to come before it, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State is not only the advocate, but the judge and jury as well. Can any one of the Provincial Governors in India consider that the proposal he supports has had a fair hearing, when he has been appointed to go before a Committee of which six out of seven members are prejudged to vote against him? It is an impossibility. So far as impartiality is concerned, the nomination of this Committee is a mere farce. We have heard of packed juries. We have here a packed advocate, a packed judge, and a packed jury as well. I, therefore, lodge my protest against it, and ask the Prime Minister definitely to reconsider this matter, and to appoint a Committee of men who are not prejudged to vote one way or the other, but who will hear the evidence in an impartial spirit and will give their judgment accordingly.

Photo of Mr Edwin Montagu Mr Edwin Montagu , Cambridgeshire

I think I can lay before my hon. and gallant Friend a certain number of arguments which may at least modify his feelings. This Committee was not nominated by me; it is brought before the House on the authority of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. Our desire was to get a Committee as representative as possible of the; House on this particular subject. It is quite true that the majority of the representatives from the House of Commons expressed a preference for one sort of scheme in the Debate, and just because the Debate was an indication of the feeling of the House so it seemed that those responsible for the nomination of the Committee found that in order to represent the House they had to appoint a majority of the same colour as those who expressed their view on Second Reading. The minority is represented. The Committee represents all parties. The Leader of the parties in opposition nominated or suggested their own members. That accounts for two out of the seven members. My hon. and learned Friend expressed a strong preference on Second Reading against diarchy. He was chosen because he expressed that view, and also because he had always taken a great interest in Indian affairs in this House. That accounts for three members. As to the others, they all took a part in the Debate. They all have studied the subject. Two of them have spent long years in India, and one is the only representative of the Civil Service of India in this House. There- fore they seemed to those responsible to be entitled to nomination. In regard to myself, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that he is quite wrong. In every precedent that I can find, with one exception, on a Bill going to a Select Committee the Member of the House in charge of that Bill was a member of the Committee.

Since the Bill was read a second time I have received suggestions for Amendments in it. Before the Committee I want to move Amendments to the Bill, and it seems to me that I could be of great service if the House will agree to my nomination, for the simple reason that I can be a link between the Committee and the Government of India. I can see that their views are considered. I am the representative by my office not only of the Government of India, but of the local Governments. Nobody is pledged to any system. I have stated over and over again that I am guided by a whole hearted desire to get a Bill which will be sound. I have stated that I do not think we ought to do less than is proposed in the Bill, but any alternative method will be equally welcome, both to the Viceroy and myself, if it carries out the pledges which I think we have made in the past. The hon. Member asks, "What about the local governors, where are they?" I would remind him that the seven Gentlemen nominated from this House are to sit with seven representatives of the House of Lords. I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman has noticed their names. We have Lord Selborne, Lord Midleton, Lord Sydenham, and Lord Crewe, all of them, I think, with experience of Indian affairs, and certainly not parti pris in favour of this Bill. In the proposed Joint Committee we have submitted to the House names which are not

unrepresentative of the two Houses and of the feeling in the two Houses. There are two Liberals, one Labour representative, and five Conservatives. Looked at from that point of view it cannot be said that any influence that I have had to bring to bear has been weighted in favour of my own party. Looked at from the standpoint of the views of the House on Indian affairs I do not think it can be said that they are not represented proportionately. May I add for my hon. and gallant Friend's satisfaction that there is in this country to-day probably the most eminent of all the five local governors, Sir Michael O'Dwyer. He has come home opportunely at the conclusion of his term of office, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that as the local Governments are not represented in either House except by the Secretary of State, and as the local Governments are not represented on the Committee any more than the Government of India, care will be taken that their views are represented before the Committee. The Government of India is not in agreement. It has suggested modifications from which with great respect I and my advisers have differed. The local Governments, if they had been asked, could not have suggested a better witness from their point of view than Sir Michael O'Dwyer.

Therefore there is no possible chance that the Committee, which I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend has been chosen with are, will not represent all points of view from both Houses, and there will be every opportunity of receiving the views of all parties.

Question put, That the Government of India Bill be committed to a Select Committee of Seven Members to join with a Committee to be appointed by the Lords.

The House divided: Ayes, 336; Noes, 23.

Division No. 57.]AYES.[6.0 p.m.
Adair, Rear-AdmiralBenn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)Bridgeman, William Clive
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamBonn, com. Ian Hamilton (G'nwich)Briggs, Harold
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.Benn, Capt. W. (Leith)Brittain, Sir Harry E.
Allen, Col. William JamesBentinck, Lt.-Col. Lord H. Cavendish-Broad, Thomas Tucker
Arnold, SydneyBetterton, H. B.Bromfield, W.
Ashley, Col. Wilfred W.Bigland, AlfredBrown, J (Ayr and Bute)
Astor, Major Hon. WaldortBirchall, Major J. D.Bruton, Sir J.
Bagley, Captain E. A.Bird, AlfredBuchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.
Baldwin, StanleyBlair, Major ReginaldBurdon, Colonel Rowland
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. N. (Gorbals)Blake, Sir Francis DouglasBurn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Borwick, Major G. O.Butcher, Sir J. G.
Barnett, Captain Richard W.Bowles, Col. H. F.Campbell, J. G. D.
Barnston, Major HarryBoyd-Carpenter, Major A.Cape, Tom
Barrand, A. R.Brace, Rt. Hon. WilliamCarew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)
Beauchamp, Sir EdwardBrackenbury, Captain H. LCarlile, Sir Edward Hildred
Beckett, Hon. GervaseBreese, Major C. E.Carr, W. T.
Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.Briant, F.Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.
Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)Hambro, Angus ValdemarNicholson, R. (Doncaster)
Carter, W. (Mansfield)Hanson, Sir CharlesNicholson, W. (Petersfield)
Casey, T. W.Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness-shire)Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)Haslam, LewisO'Connor, T. P.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)Henderson, Major V. L.O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.
Chadwick, R. BurtonHerbert, Denniss (Hertford)Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)Howart, Rt. Hon. Sir GordonParker, James
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)Higham, C. F. (Islington, S.)Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonHilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.Parry, Major Thomas Henry
Chilcott, Lieut.-Com. H. W. S.Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)Pearce, Sir William
Clough, R.Hirst, G. H.Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)
Coates, Major Sir Edward F.Hodge, Rt. Hon. JohnPerkins, Walter Frank
Coats, Sir StuartHope, Harry (Stirling)Philipps, Sir O. C. (Chester)
Cobb, Sir CyrilHope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)Pilditch, Sir Philip
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Hope, John Deans (Berwick)Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles.
Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.Hopkins, J. W. W.Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray
Conway, Sir VV. MartinHoward, Major S. G.Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)Hudson, R. M.Pratt, John William
Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)Hughes, Spencer LeighPrescott, Major W. H.
Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)Hume-Williams, Sir Win. EllisPurchase, H. G.
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff)Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.Raeburn, Sir William
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)Hurd, P. A.Raffan, Peter Wilson
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.Ramsden, G. T.
Crooks, Rt. Hon. WilliamJackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Dalziel, Rt. Hun. Sir J. H. (Kirk'dy)Jephcott, A. R.Raper, A. Baldwin
Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H,Jesson, C.Ratcliffe, Henry Butler
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)Jodrell, N. P.Roes, Captain J. Tudor (Barnstaple)>
Davies, Major David (Montgomery Co.)Johnstone, J.Reid, D. D.
Davits, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Renwick, G.
Davies, T. (Cirencester)Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)Richardson, sir Albion (Peckham)
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)Kellaway, Frederick GeorgeRichardson, Alex. (Gravesend)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)Kenworthy, Lieut.-CommanderRichardson, R. (Houghton)
Dawes, J. A.Kenyon, BarnetRoberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall).
Dean, Com. P. T.Kidd, JamesRobinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Dennis, J. W.Kinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementRobinson, T. (Stretford, Lancs.)
Dixon, Captain H.Knight, Capt. E. A.Rodger, A. K.
Doyle, N. GrattanKnights, Capt. H.Rogers, Sir Hallewell
Duncannon, ViscountLambert, Rt. Hon. GeorgeRowlands, James
Du Pre, Colonel W. B.Lane-Fox, Major G. R.Royds, Lt.-Col. Edmund
Edge, Captain WilliamLarmor, Sir J.Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)
Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)Law, A. J. (Rochdale)Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)
Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Neath)Lloyd, George ButlerSamuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)
Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)Samuels, Rt. Hon. A. W. (Dublin Univ.)
Entwistle, Major C. F.Lonsdale, James R.Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur
Eyres-Monsell, CommanderLorden, John WilliamScott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayLort-Williams, J.Seager, Sir William
Farquharson, Major A. C.Lunn, WilliamSeely, Ma],-Gen. Rt. Hon. John
Fell, Sir ArthurLyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Lynn, R. J.Shaw, Tom (Preston)
FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.Lyon, L.Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Flannery, Sir J. FortescueM'Curdy, Charles AlbertShortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)
Foreman, H.M'Donald, Dr. B. F. P. (Wallasey)Simm, Colonel M. T.
Forestier-Walker, L.Mackinder, Halford J.Sitch, C. H.
Forster, Rt. Hon. H, W.M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)
Fraser, Major Sir KeithMaclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Spencer, George A.
Galbraith, SamuelMaclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Ganzoni, Captain F. C.Macleod, John MackintoshStanier, Capt. Sir Beville
Gardiner, J. (Perth)McMicking, Major GilbertStanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.Stanton, Charles Butt
Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Cambridge)Macquisten, F. A.Stephenson, Colonel H. K.
George, Rt. Hon. David LloydMaddocks, HenryStevens, Marshall
Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamMagnus, Sir PhilipStrauss, Edward Anthony
Gilbert, James DanielMalone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)Sturrock, J. Long-
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel JohnMarks, Sir George CroydonSugden, W. H.
Glanville, Harold JamesMartin, A. E.Sutherland, Sir William
Glyn, Major R.Mason, RobertSwan, J. E. C.
Graham, W. (Edinburgh)Mildmay, Col. Rt. Hon. Francis B.Sykes, Sir C. (Huddersfield)
Gray, Major E.Mitchell, William Lane-Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)
Green, A. (Derby)Moles, ThomasThomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey).
Green, J. F. (Leicester)Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)
Greenwood, Col. Sir HamarMoore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Greig, Colonel James WilliamMorrison-Bell, Major A. C.Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Gretton, Colonel JohnMosley, OswaldThorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Griggs, Sir PeterMount, William ArthurTickler, Thomas George
Grundy, T. W.Murchison, C. K.Tootill, Robert
Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)Townley, Maximillian G
Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic, Loughboro')Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)Tryon, Major George Clement
Guinness, Capt. Hon. R, (Southend)Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)Turton, Edmund Russborough
Hacking, Captain D. H.Murray, John (Leeds, W.)Waddington, R.
Hallwood, A.Murray, William (Dumfries)Walker, Col. William Hall
Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)Neal, ArthurWallace, J.
Hallas, E.Newbould, A. E.Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull>
Wardle, George J.Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)
Waring, Major WalterWilliams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.
Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.Williams, J. (Gower, Glam.)Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)
Warren, Sir Alfred H.Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)Woolcock, W. J. U.
Waterson, A. E.Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)Worstold, T. Cato
Watson, Captain John BertranoWilliamson, Rt. Hon. Sir ArchibaldWorthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Weigail, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)
White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)Wilson, w. T. (Westhoughton)Young, William (Perth and Kinross)
Whitta, Sir WilliamWinfrey, Sir Richard
Wigan, Brig.-General John TysonWood, Major Hon. E. (Ripon)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.
Wild, Sir Ernest EdwardWood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)F. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. MartinGritten, W. G. HowardOman, C. W. C.
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.Hayday, A.Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.Stewart, Gershom
Campion, Col. W R.Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Child, Brig.-General Sir HillHunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud
Clay, Capt. H. H. SpenderJones, J. (Silvertown)
Cohen, Major J. B. B.Moreing, Captain Algernon H.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Col.
Courthope, Major George LoydMorgan, Major D. WattsYate and Lt.-Col. Meysey-Thompson.
Foxcroft, Captain C.Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Government of India Bill be committed to a Select Committee of Seven Members to join with a Committee to be appointed by the Lords.

Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.

Sir Henry Craik, Mr. Bennett, Sir Donald Maclean, Mr. Secretary Montagu, Captain Ormsby-Gore, Sir J. D. Rees, and Mr. Spoor were nominated Members of the Committee.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.

Ordered, That four be the quorum."—[Colonel Gibbs]