Oral Answers to Questions — India (Political Situation)

– in the House of Commons on 11th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can make a statement as to the efforts of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Mr. Rajagopalachariar to bring about an under standing between the major Indian political parties; and whether he will make it clear that His Majesty's Government would welcome the continuance of these and similar efforts for Indian national unity?

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

I gather from Press reports that the efforts of these distinguished statesmen to bring about an understanding between the major Indian parties have not so far been attended with any conspicuous success. His Majesty's Government, if there is any doubt about the matter, are glad to make it clear that they will welcome the progress of any efforts to establish Indian national unity on a firm and lasting basis.

Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply will give great encouragement to those who are working for unity in India?

Photo of Dr Leslie Haden-Guest Dr Leslie Haden-Guest , Islington North

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he will publish the documents purporting to be instructions for the carrying out of a civil disobedience campaign, and what proof he has that such instructions were issued on behalf of the Indian National Congress or any of its branches?

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

The Government of India will no doubt consider what information it may be desirable to publish, and I will consult them on the matter. The Press have already published, on 29th August, a summary of the instructions for the conduct of civil disobedience which were issued by Provincial Congress Committees in Madras shortly before the All-India Congress Committee passed its resolution on 8th August. Much that happened in other Provinces conformed to the pattern laid down in Madras. As indicated in the Congress resolution of 8th August, discretion seems to have been left to districts and individuals as to the manner of carrying out Gandhi's call for the complete paralysis of the Administration. The Government of India, however, have no doubt that the Congress leaders must bear the main responsibility for the disorders even though they may not have directly instigated every act of violence that has occurred.

Dr. Guest:

Is it not desirable in these very grave circumstances that the actual orders published, if they are available, should be made available to this House—the actual terms of any instructions given by the Congress?

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

It is for the Government of India to decide how much of the information which has reached them is suitable for publication.

Dr. Guest:

May I press this point? Is it not for this House to decide what information it requires to have in order to judge the situation in India correctly?

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

There is a great deal of the information which neither the Government here nor the Government of India can afford to publish.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

If substantial and grave charges are made against Congress, ought they not to be well founded and well authenticated; otherwise, how are we to decide, unless we have the information before us?

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

I think the answer I have given covers the point.