Clause 2–35. — (Reserved posts.)

Orders of the Day — Government of India Bill. – in the House of Commons on 4th April 1935.

Alert me about debates like this

8.49 p.m.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I beg to move, in page 129, line 15, to leave out, "are normally," and to insert: subject to the provisions of this subsection, are. The Committee will see that the conditions under which persons other than the Secretary of State's men shall have reserved posts are to be prescribed by rules which will deal exhaustively with the matter. Therefore the words: which are normally to be filled by persons appointed by the Secretary of State. are not only unnecessary but might be misleading in that they might suggest that there was some other standard than that prescribed by the rules.

Amendment agreed to.

8.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I beg to move, in page 129, line 25, after "Appointments," to insert "and postings."

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

Are we not to have a word of explanation, as this is a new point.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

The Noble Lord is quite right; this is a different point. As the Clause is drafted at present, it deals simply with appointments and says that they are to be made by the Governor-General in his individual judgment, or by the Governor in his individual judgment, as the case may be. It was always intended that appointments should include postings, which in one sense are appointments subsequent to the original appointments, but in case anybody should take "appointments" as simply referring to the initial appointments, it is proposed to insert the word "postings."

8.51 p.m.

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

Can the Solicitor-General explain what is involved in the word "postings"? I notice that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) has an Amendment which, I understand, is not likely to be called, which seeks to put in the words"— and the promotion, posting, transfer, orders relating to leave, and suspension of persons occupying the said posts. I should have thought that those particulars which my, hon. and learned Friend wishes are really covered by the word "postings," but I should like to have an assurance from the Solicitor-General on that point.

8.52 p.m.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

We think that the Amendment in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) goes too far. "Orders relating to leave and suspension of persons" cover a very wide field. What we desire to keep within the purview of this Clause are appointments and postings. We certainly intend to include transfers, and we are considering whether the word "postings" would include transfers. If there is any doubt about it, we will include "transfers" at a later stage.

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

Would it include promotions?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

Yes, it would. That is our intention, and we will consider whether the words "appointments and postings," with the addition of "transfers," include promotions, because it is our intention that they should.

Photo of Mr William Spens Mr William Spens , Ashford

May I express a word of thanks to my hon. and learned Friend. I agree that the word "postings" should include promotions, but it was too much to hope that orders relating to leave would be put in the Bill. If my hon. and learned Friend will make sure that whatever words are put in they include promotions, everyone will be satisfied.

8.53 p.m.

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

I understand that it is the intention of the Government to include appointments, promotions, postings and transfers, but not "orders relating to leave and suspension of persons occupying the said posts." I understand that the men serving in the Indian Civil Service attach the greatest importance to the latter words. While they accept with gratitude what the Government are doing by their Amendment, I am authorised to state that in the view of the Services it does not go far enough. Their view is that unless these words are put in, the position of a civil servant might be made very difficult by unreasonable orders in these respects. They have not confidence that in certain circumstances those particular conditions of their existence would be equitably dealt with. May I ask the Secretary of State whether representations have been made to him to that effect, and what was his reply to the point?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

This is certainly one of the points that some o the service associations have raised. We feel that really we are covering the whole position and that, in the case of unfair conditions being imposed upon a civil servant about leave, the case would be certain to come to the Governor-General. Under Clause 237 there is a series of provisions whereby he can make his case known to the Governor-General or the Governor, who, in the case of his own services, can deal with it under the powers be has in connection with his own services. In the case of the other Services, it would come under his general powers of safeguarding the interests of those Services. We think that Clauses 236 and 237 are an effective safeguard.

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

On both those points the Services have been turned down?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

We think they are met in the way I have stated.

8.56 p.m.

Photo of Sir Reginald Craddock Sir Reginald Craddock , Combined English Universities

'With reference to what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, I do not know whether he realises what a very dangerous thing it may be if a power of suspension is used against an officer without due discretion, or summarily and in haste, by reason of the penalties which suspension carries with it. A man who is suspended is not entitled to have more than subsistence pay, probably, during his period of suspension, and the investigation of his case may take months and months. There have been many cases in which great hardship has been caused. A man has been suspended, put on subsistence pay and not reinstated until after a long inquiry, which possibly involved proceedings before a court. Ultimately, if he is found not to be guilty, he may get his back pay, but in the meantime he has incurred heavy expenditure while receiving only subsistence pay. If such a man has a wife and children at home it will run him into serious debt. He has to support his wife and children at a time when his pay is barely sufficient for himself, and when he is involved in heavy extra expenses in the effort to clear his character. Therefore, it is most important that when we are reserving to the Government these special powers in regard to discipline that suspension should on no account be left out. There is a great feeling in the Services on this point. They can refer to cases in which men have been suspended for about two years pending an inquiry. The point ought to be reconsidered, because suspension is a powerful weapon in the hands of an enemy or anyone who may make false charges against a man. It may lookprima facie as though there were something in those charges and the man may be suspended, and the consideration of his case may be protracted owing to the dilatoriness of the courts or the delays inseparable from a Government office, where a Minister is apt to sit on a case. Therefore, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this question of suspension.

8.59 p.m.

Photo of Lord Eustace Percy Lord Eustace Percy , Hastings

Surely the way of dealing with suspension is found in Clause 229, Sub-section (2), where it says: No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed from the service of His Majesty by any authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Spens Mr William Spens , Ashford

Do not the questions of suspension and leave, both as regards these reserved posts and the others, come under Clause 237? Is not that an answer to those who say that the words ought to be inserted in this Clause? I had put down an Amendment, but on further consideration it seemed to me that both leave and suspension are covered.

9.1 p.m.

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Smethwick

I wish to add one plea on the point relating to leave. It is true that under Clause 237 any person who is aggrieved by an apparent injustice may have an extremely elaborate inquiry—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member unfairly, but it seems to me we are almost discussing Clause 237. It might be for the convenience of the Committee, as I think the hon. Member would agree, to deal with these points on Clause 237.

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Smethwick

If that is your wish I am prepared to raise the question on Clause 237, but I was not sure whether it would then be in order. What I want to put to the Committee is that under Clause 237 a person has inadequate powers—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member is now dealing with Clause 237. I am in the hands of the Committee and only want to facilitate business, but I think it will be better to leave this matter till we come to Clause 237.

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Smethwick

If I should be in order in raising it on Clause 237 I should be prepared not to deal with it now.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Certainly, that would be in order.

Photo of Mr Eric Bailey Mr Eric Bailey , Manchester, Gorton

Would it be possible when discussing Clause 237 to make suggestions for alterations in Clause 235, because it is Clause 235 that we want to get altered?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

No, the hon. Member knows that when we have passed a Clause we cannot go back to it to make alterations in it. The point is that by the arguments of hon. Members themselves, Clause 237 seems to be the one which deals with this matter much more directly than this Clause. If it should be found necessary to make Amendments in Clause 237 which make it inconsistent with this Clause, any consequential alterations in this Clause could be made on Report Stage.

Amendment agreed to.

9.4 p.m.

Photo of Major John Courtauld Major John Courtauld , Chichester

I beg to move, in page 129, line 34, at the end, to insert: Provided that any appointment to any such post as aforesaid of a person who is not a subject of His Majesty or the subject of a Ruler of an Indian State Shall be made by the Governor-General acting in his discretion or, as the case may be, by the Governor of a Province acting in his discretion, and no such person shall be appointed unless such person is possessed of special scientific or technical qualifications. The object of this Amendment is to ensure as far as possible that a, foreigner can only be appointed to a post in the services by the Governor-General or the Governor of a Province, and that no foreigner shall be appointed unless a British subject with the necessary qualifications is not available. It would, of course, have been easy to put down an Amendment to suggest that no foreigner should be appointed to any post, and that all posts should be confined to subjects of His Majesty or subjects of a ruling Prince, but I think it is agreed that in certain cases foreigners may have to be chosen, as I believe they are already, for special purposes and in respect of special qualifications. The Government will probably agree that we all want, other things being equal, that the maximum number of British subjects shall be chosen to fill vacant posts.

I dare say that the Labour party will not agree with me. They will no doubt be of opinion that the Indian people should have perfect freedom to choose a foreigner instead of an Englishman, and that the Indians should not be tied down by any order or rule or Act to select subjects of His Majesty. I do not agree with that point of view, and I do not know that the Labour party would agree with it, but I can foresee the argument being raised. From a good many points of view, British subjects should have a monopoly, as far as possible, of posts in the Service in India. The average Englishman is better than the average foreigner. I hope I shall not be accused of insulting any friendly nation in saying that. I think also that because of our previous position in India we have a certain prescriptive right to such posts as are available. I do not think I need labour this point, because I believe that the Government intend the same thing. It may be that my ideas and my intention in moving the Amendment could be expressed better or more clearly in other words, and in that case I shall be anxious to hear what my right hon. Friend may say.

This is an important point, and, if it can be secured with any words whatever, I believe it is advisable that such words should be included. If we could be perfectly certain that the people of India would have so much good will towards the British in the future that they would inevitably choose British subjects to help them in ruling their country, no words would be necessary, but it is often said in India that some people would prefer, if they got the chance, to appoint foreigners than Englishmen. There is much good will in India towards us, but there are certain sections of political opinion which bear us no good will and which would be very pleased if they could use their influence to secure the appointment of a German, or an American, or a Russian to a position, instead of Englishmen.

9.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I think the Committee will appreciate the hon. and gallant Member's point. These reserved posts mentioned in Clause 235 are reserved to the Civil Services recruited by the Secretary of State, and under Sub-section (2) it says: Appointments to the said posts (hereafter in this Part of this Act referred to as reserved posts') shall—(a) in the case of posts in connection with the affairs of the Federation, be made by the Governor-General, exercising his individual judgment; and in the same way with the Provinces. In each case the Governor-General or the Governor acts on his individual judgment. It would be impossible to appoint a foreigner to any of these posts without the Secretary of State having first appointed a foreigner to the Indian Civil Service, and the Governor-General, if he had appointed a foreigner, exercising his individual judgment. It is not our intention that the Secretary of State should appoint a foreigner to the Civil Service. If I give my hon. and gallant Friend an assurance that we shall see that that is carried out in the Bill, I hope that he will not press his Amendment.

Photo of Major John Courtauld Major John Courtauld , Chichester

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr Henry Raikes Mr Henry Raikes , Essex South Eastern

I beg to move, in page 129, line 34, at the end, to insert: (3) The provisions of the last preceding Sub-section shall apply to any person appointed by the Secretary of State in Council, or by the Secretary of State, to a civil service of, or civil post under, the Crown in India notwithstanding that such person is not for the time being holding a reserved post. This is little more than a drafting Amendment. One realises that the number of reserved posts will be very considerable, but it is possible that they may not cover all the officers appointed by the Secretary of State. The object of the Amendment is to suggest that those officers who will be over, pending their advance to reserved positions, should he given the same protection as other officers who are actually in the reserved posts.

9.12 p.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

In one or two sentences I think I can show my hon. Friend, first of all, that the Amendment is unnecessary, and, secondly, that it would do harm to the Service if it were passed. We intend that the list of reserved posts shall be comprehensive and shall cover all the officers. Secondly, if this Amendment were incorporated it would have this effect: Suppose that a civilian voluntarily obtained for himself, as very often happens in the Indian medical service, a post in a university, and was also seconded to the Government service. There are conditions connected with the Secretary of State's service of the Crown under which only the Secretary of State may dismiss. The result would be that the university would never make an appointment of that kind. While o he was a professor at the university he would be subject to the conditions of the post, but when that appointment came to an end he would revert to the Government service and he would come under the safeguards connected with the Secretary of State's post. The effect of passing an Amendment of 'this kind making it obligatory that the body which appointed him should be subject to all the Secretary of State's conditions would mean that the university would never make an appointment of that kind. The main answer is that all the posts will be covered in the reserved list, and that there will be no Secretary of State man out of it.

Photo of Mr Henry Raikes Mr Henry Raikes , Essex South Eastern

In view of my right hon. Friend's assurance, I have much pleasure, on this occasion at any rate, in begging to ask leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made and Question proposed, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

9.14 p.m.

Duchess of ATHOLL:

May I point out that it is possible, as the Clause stands, for the right hon. Gentleman to have abolished some reserved posts before laying any rules in regard to this before the House. I do not know whether I am right, but, if so, does that not seem rather serious from the point of view of the interests of the Service? I would ask my right hon. Friend if it would be possible under rules presented to this House for any reserved posts to be abolished. If so, this might have slipped through and become effective before the Committee had had an opportunity of considering it.

9.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

I think it might be possible for the Secretary of State to abolish posts, but it is our intention that the rules shall be made at once, and that is one of the objects of the procedure of this Clause. I am reminded also that if the Secretary of State did abolish any posts he would have to make new posts to replace them.

9.16 p.m.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

I want to ask the Secretary of State one or two questions, but I am not sure whether they will come most fitly on this Clause or on the next. However, I propose to ask them on this Clause. In the first place, will it be within the power of the Secretary of State under this or the next Clause to open the Indian Civil Service, or any other of the Services to which he has the power of appointment, to women and, secondly, will it be possible for the Secretary of State to establish a special branch of the Civil Service for women? If the answers to these two questions are in the affirmative, is there any way in which the initiative in the matter can be taken by Parliament and a question brought up in Parliament as to whether these services should be open to women? We have already had long discussions during the last few days about the necessity of safeguarding the interests of various other groups of persons, in the railway service, the irrigation service, and so on; but the one set of people whose potentialities of service in India are not in any way safeguarded under the Bill have not been dealt with. It cannot be said that it is for the purpose of safeguarding existing rights, because very little use has been made hitherto of women's services in India; but when in this Bill we are transferring great powers to the Indians themselves we should not forget that we are providing absolutely no safeguards for the interests of women except through the enlarged franchise and a certain number of seats on elected bodies. It is equally important, if the interests of women in all these social matters where it is recognised that women suffer so greatly in India are to be properly safeguarded, that as time goes on increasing use should be made of the services of women.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Lady is going far beyond the Clause.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

I am sorry if I am doing so, but I want to know exactly where we stand.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I am very sorry, but I am afraid it would be improper for me, or at least I am thankful to say not my duty, to advise hon. Members on all occasions as to where they should move Amendments or make speeches. My duty is to tell them when their speeches are improper, and I must on this occasion rule that the hon. Lady is going far beyond the Clause, as she may see from the marginal note.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

May I explain my position? Clause 235 begins with the words: The Secretary of State shall make rules specifying the number and character of the civil posts under the Crown, and so on. Clause 236 begins: The conditions of service of all persons appointed to a civil service by the Secretary of State shall, and so on. But nowhere in these Clauses or in any other Clause—and I have read them very carefully—can I find any expression which exactly indicates the qualifications of the people who are to hold these posts.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

On a point of Order. May I suggest to you, Sir Dennis, that this question is really quite out. of order on Clause 235, and that, if it did arise, it would arise on Clause 233. My answer in a sentence is that the Secretary of State is free to make appointments of women.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

Under the Civil Service as it is now constituted, or to create a fresh special branch for women?

9.21 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eric Bailey Mr Eric Bailey , Manchester, Gorton

I should be glad if the Secretary of State would clarify a little Sub-section (3) of Clause 235, in connection with the question which was asked by the Noble Lady just now. What we are troubled about is that Parliament in these days has such an enormous variety of Orders laid before it, and time is so congested, that in practice the laying of an Order before the House of Commons is no security whatever, because not a single Member of Parliament will consider or appreciate its contents. That is why we regard it as fundamental that Orders affecting such safeguards for personnel as remain should not be lightly east aside without full discussion in the House of Commons. We hope there will be no need for repeated alterations, and possibly, if the assent of the House had to be obtained, there would be fewer alterations of an unnecessary character.

We do not suppose for a moment that the present Secretary of State will require such supervision; we are sure that anything that he does will not in practice require the assent of the House. But, as he has been reminded before, a day may come—we hope it never will—when a Secretary of State sits there who is not animated by the same high principles and the same stern sense of duty in the alteration of these rules as my hon. Friend, and, while we are thankful for the best while we have it, we must provide for the worst. Supposing that a day should come when the then Secretary of State was determined to make radical alterations in the rules, is it not essential that there should be practical control by the House of Commons? At present there is no such practical control. It is not only those who sit on these Benches that would be reassured if my right hon. Friend could see his way to reverse the process and provide that the consent of the House must be obtained, rather than that the House may raise objections; it would also reassure those in the Services, who are very anxious as to what their position may be if there should come into power in this country a government lacking in sympathy with them and lacking in Imperial ideas. Therefore, I would appeal to my right hon. Friend to make the alteration which we so much desire.

9.23 p.m.

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Smethwick

I desire to ask your guidance, Sir Dennis. I know you cannot tell us where we should raise these points, but would it be more pleasing to you if questions regarding these Orders were raised on the Question that this Clause stand part, or on the Question that Clause 237 stand part?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Is the hon. Member referring to the question on which I ruled some time ago or the question of rules being laid before Parliament?

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Smethwick

It is the question on which you ruled before.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I have already dealt with that question. I told the hon. Member that he would have an opportunity on Clause 237.

9.24 p.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

I can explain in a sentence the position with regard to the rules. I suggest to the Committee that it is unnecessary to have an affirmative resolution in this case. I think the House must accept the fact that it cannot possibly attempt itself to administer India. It must trust somebody, and clearly that trust must be exercised with caution. But the caution in this case is the safeguard of the Secretary of State's advisers. He cannot make alterations in the rules without the concurrence of the majority of his advisers, and his advisers are expressly given the obligation of watching Service conditions. I think that my hon. Friend can rest assured that with the concurrence of a body of advisers and the publicity which will be involved in laying these rules on the Table of this House there will be sufficient safeguards.

9.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Mason Mr David Mason , Edinburgh East

In the last Subsection it states that 28 days is the period during which these rules must remain laid before this House. We know that that is too short a time even in the ordinary course of events in matters dealing with this country. There are many questions here under paragraphs (a)and(b)which involve the Governor-General, and which would take a considerable amount of time. I quite agree with the Secretary of State that we must trust somebody. At the same time, as the rules are subject to this House and as we are responsible we might be given some longer period than 28 days. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind the question whether the time could not be extended a little, having regard to the fact that we have to consider the views of the Governor-General and other authorities in India before finally deciding.