"Calcutta Diocesan Record" (Articles)

Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 18th March 1943.

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Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has considered the reprint sent to him of the two recent articles in the "Calcutta Diocesan Record," regarding requests by the civil police that inhabitants of a residential district in Calcutta should move elsewhere, their houses being required for brothels for the military; and whether he will inquire into the circumstances in which such action was taken?

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

I have made inquiries and am informed that no brothels for troops have been provided by the authorities in Bengal and that there has been no question of turning residents out of their houses to make room for such establishments. The Government of India have recently stated in the Legislative Assembly that it is no part of the policy of the civil or military authorities to provide brothels for troops or to assist in such provision. Brothels in Calcutta are out of bounds to troops, and an old order to that effect was reaffirmed last June.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that, if a responsible church publication like this and the Bishop of Calcutta make detailed and grave charges of this kind, it is evident that some official who has made a blunder is being protected and the matter is being hushed up? Will he reinvestigate and make sure that, if people have been turned out of their houses, they shall be restored to them?

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

I have answered the Question in regard to the policy of the Government of India, otherwise administratively the matter is entirely within the province of the Government and Parliament of Bengal.

Miss Rathbone:

Can it really be left at that? Can this country disclaim responsibility for the disgraceful state of affairs indicated in this very serious report?

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

The matter is one entirely within the powers which Parliament a good many years ago gave to the Indian Provinces.