Orders of the Day — INDIA (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) BILL [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th September 1944.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook 12:00 am, 27th September 1944

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

I do not think I need detain the House many minutes in explaining the minor Amendments to the 1935 Act included in the miscellaneous provisions of this Bill. The first Clause deals with the periodic renewal of the Upper Houses in those Provinces which have second chambers. These second chambers are, like the American Senate, permanent bodies renewable, in their case by one-third every three years. When the period for the second renewal of these chambers arose in 1943 it was possible to renew them in the case of Bengal and Assam, which have retained ministerial government, but under the disturbed conditions in the Provinces where Section 93 was in force, and with the danger of Japanese invasion, it was decided to suspend the elections. That fact would put the periodic renewal of those chambers out of gear, and the object of this Clause is to treat the period of Section 93 as non-existent, so that the renewals can take place in proper sequence. A margin of 12 months is provided in addition in order that elections can be held at a suitable period of the year.

The second Clause clears up a doubt which had been expressed as to whether, under the provisions of the Act, a judge transferred in India from one High Court to another or to the Supreme Court might not be considered as still holding his position in his original court. In our own Judicature Act of 1925 that point is made clear in Section 10. This Clause simply adapts the Indian conditions to the wording of our own Judicature Act. Clause 3 deals with the number of my advisers. The House will remember that before the Act of 1935 the Secretary of State worked very largely in all his relations with the Government of India through what was known as the India Council. Under the Act of 1935 the Council was abolished, the advisers were retained, and, provisionally pending federation, it was held that these advisers should be of the same number as the old Council, namely, within a minimum of eight or a maximum of 12. It was proposed that when federation came about the advisers should be reduced to a maximum of six and a minimum of three. As a matter of fact, federation has not come about nearly as soon as was expected, and meanwhile the war has created considerable practical difficulties in making certain at any one moment that the minimum figure of advisers is retained. Some of the men whom it would be most desirable to have as advisers are busily occupied with other war functions, and the difficulties of travel make it sometimes impossible, when an adviser is in sight, for him to reach England in time to prevent the statutory minimum not being reached. For that purpose I am asking the House to enable the statutory minimum to be reduced to five, not with any particular intention of reducing the minimum in the near future, but in order to give me a little more flexibility in securing the advisers I require.

Clause 4 is introduced in order to bring the leave conditions of the Commander-in-Chief and the Governor-General into line with modern facilities for air travel. As things stand at present, neither the Viceroy nor the Commander-in-Chief can leave India for any purpose more than once during the whole term of office. They are entitled, for reasons of health or private affairs, to leave India for four months once only, but obviously to-day and under war conditions it is rather absurd that the Commander-in-Chief, for instance, cannot fly to Teheran for a few days to take part in a conference or to visit the S.E.A.C. at Kandy. Similarly, it might very well be advantageous for the Secretary of State to be able to have a few days' special consultation with the Viceroy over here or in the Middle East. The object of the Clause is to enable the Viceroy or the Commander-in-Chief to go outside the narrow bounds of India for the purposes of special consultation over and above and apart from the leave for health or private affairs reasons which they are still allowed to have once during their term of office. From that point of view Subsection (2) makes it clear that when they come home for a short period or go outside India for a short period for that purpose, their emoluments shall not be reduced. It is provided that when they come home for a long period and their places are taken by somebody else, they should go from full pay to leave pay. On the other hand, when they come home, as an ambassador sometimes does, for a short period, it would be obviously unfair if their emoluments were cut down.

Clause 5 is consequential and makes it clear that it is not necessary during one of these short visits outside India to appoint an acting Commander-in-Chief in the place of the Commander-in-Chief. After all, if he flies to Kandy for a few days he is no mare out of touch with his duties at Delhi than if he were visiting Madras. On the other hand, it is desirable in the case of the Viceroy that, however short his absence, there should be an acting Governor-General, and this Clause simply makes it clear that, while the position with regard to the Governor-General remains unchanged, it is not Obligatory to appoint an acting Commander-in-Chief.