Political Situation

Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 10th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware of the pleas for renewed negotiations made by prominent non-Congress Indians and of the declarations respecting Indian freedom and self-government made both by the Hindu Mahasabha and the Moslem League; and what specific proposals were made recently to the Viceroy by either of these bodies?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I have seen Press reports of the statements and declarations referred to. I am not aware of any specific proposals having been made to the Viceroy by either the Hindu Mahasabha or the Moslem League, though I understand that Dr. S. P. Mookerjee, as acting chairman of the latter body, had an interview with His Excellency yesterday.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Is the right hon. Gentleman taking any steps to become acquainted with the views of these two non-Congress bodies; and will he, having become acquainted with their views, then make some response to their proposals?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

No, Sir; I am afraid that, being acquainted with the views of those two bodies, I find it difficult to make a response to views which are contradictory of each other.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

Would you not consider, Sir, taking steps to deprecate the use of such a term as "Indian freedom," which is entirely misleading and gives a false impression?

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

On a point of Order. Do I understand that it is out of Order now to speak of Indian freedom?

Photo of Sir Stanley Reed Sir Stanley Reed , Aylesbury

Are not the points of view put forward by these two bodies absolutely irreconcilable?

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

It is not a point of Order.

Photo of Mr William Dobbie Mr William Dobbie , Rotherham

asked the Secretary of State for India why, in view of references in the resolution of the Indian National Congress to the intention of the leaders to make further efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Viceroy and the repeated statements of non-Congress leaders that such negotiations might produce results, advantage was not taken of the opportunity thus offered of avoiding the present crisis?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

There is no room for negotiations in circumstances which Mr. Gandhi described as open rebellion. When the All-India Congress Committee endorsed the threat to start a mass campaign of civil disobedience failing satisfaction of demands which they well knew could not be satisfied, the Government of India had no option but to take immediate preventive measures. Subsequent events have fully justified their action.

Mr. Graham White:

Does the right hon. Gentleman, nevertheless, give his whole approval to such efforts as are made by Mr. Rajagopalachari and Sir Tej Sapru, who are working to produce a better atmosphere?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Yes, Sir; all efforts made by moderate and statesmanlike people to bring about unity in India are welcomed.