Political Situation

Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 8th October 1942.

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Photo of Mr Percy Barstow Mr Percy Barstow , Pontefract

asked the Secretary of State for India what leaders of unofficial Indian opinion has the Viceroy met since 8th August; what was the nature of such discussions; and whether he has refused to grant any such interviews?

Photo of Mr William Dobbie Mr William Dobbie , Rotherham

asked the Secretary of State for India what plans were discussed for ending the present deadlock at the meeting between the Viceroy and Mr. Mockerjee, the President of the Mahasabba; and what developments have taken place since that interview?

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

Apart from the constant contact which the Viceroy has with the non-official members of his Executive Council, who are in the closest touch with representative political opinion, he has since 8th August had a three days session of his National Defence Council which comprises representatives from every Province as well as of certain States and has had the opportunity of discussion with individual members of it. In addition, he has seen leaders of the Hindu Mahasabba as well as a number of other non-official persons. It would be neither proper nor in the public interest to disclose what has passed in these confidential conversations. So far from declining to see any leader of Indian opinion the Viceroy is well known to be ready to receive any representative of any party or organisation who is concerned to discuss constructive steps. As regards most recent developments, I understand from the Press that although no positive result has so far been reported the leaders of the Hindu Mahasabba propose to continue for a further period their negotiations with other political leaders.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he is now in a position to give the broad headlines of the conversations that have taken place?

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

I think that point will be covered in the Debate.

Photo of Major-General Sir Alfred Knox Major-General Sir Alfred Knox , Wycombe

Is it not desirable that the Viceroy should be allowed to carry out his difficult task without nagging suggestions?

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

asked the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to the joint statement of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Mr. M. R. Jayakar urging the opening of negotiations with the leaders of Indian political parties; whether he will assure the House that these suggestions are having careful attention; and whether he will make an early statement concerning these and other proposals contained in the joint appeal?

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

I can assure the hon. Member that careful attention is invariably paid to the suggestions of statesmen such as Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Mr. Jayakar. As regards the policy of His Majesty's Government in these matters, I shall have something to say in the forthcoming Debate.

Photo of Mr Percy Barstow Mr Percy Barstow , Pontefract

asked the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the unfortunate impression in India, and in this country, resulting from differences of opinion on the subject of Mr. Gandhi's contribution to the breakdown of negotiations, he will consider the publication of a supplement to the White Paper, Cmd. 6350, of April, 1942, which would contain the evidence on which the Lord Privy Seal's conclusions were based as well as any other relevant material which would end the controversy?

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

The question as to the part played by Mr. Gandhi directly or through others in the breakdown of negotiations must be a matter of opinion depending upon impressions gained from various sources on the spot at the time. I do not think therefore that any useful purpose would be served by the publication of a further White Paper.

Photo of Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson , Birmingham Handsworth

Will the right hon. Gentleman not advertise Mr. Gandhi any more than is necessary?