asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the All-India Congress Committee is about equally divided now as to the propriety of so far modifying the non-co-operation policy as to sanction election to the Legislative Councils, and that the chief obstacle to this change of policy is that nearly all the Congress leaders have been in gaol, whereby they are debarred from standing for election unless some individual pardons or a general amnesty is declared; and, with a view to ending the present unsatisfactory position, will he consult with the Viceroy as to the best method of getting round the difficulty so that these leaders may have the chance to stand for the councils?
I do not know how opinion stands in the Congress Committee. The members of the Civil Disobedience Inquiry Committee were' equally divided on the point, and it appears to be the case that one section among them put forward the view that so long as there was a rule disqualifying persons who had been con- victed it would be inconsistent with their self-respect and dignity to lift the ban upon the Legislatures. I am not prepared to recommend the Secretary of State to suggest to the Viceroy that he should, or to consult him as to how he can, remove the scruples of these gentlemen.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether, considering that it is the want of protection from vilification by the non-cooperation Press in India that, amongst other reasons, is driving many officers of the Civil Services and police in India to apply for proportionate pensions before completing their service, the Secretary of State will consider the question of bringing into force some more effective method of putting a stop to this abuse of its servants, both British and Indian, than exists at present?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my answer to his question last week regarding actions for defamation against newspapers. These actions appear to be having some effect, but I am sure that the Government of India would willingly consider any more effective method that my hon. and gallant Friend can suggest. According to the latest information that has reached me, there has been appreciable improvement, and conditions may fairly be said to be more hopeful than they were 18 months ago.