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Volume 148: debated on Tuesday 8 November 1921

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Married Officers


asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any further information to give the House regarding the position of the married officer in the Indian Army, and the recognition of brevet rank, so far as pension is concerned?

As regards the first part of the question, I am not in a position to add anything to the answer I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Devizes on the 22nd July last, of which I will send my hon. Friend a copy. The question of the recognition of brevet rank for pension purposes should he addressed to the Secretary of State for War, the rules for the Indian Army following those for the British Army in this respect.

Is the status of the married officer in India now receiving consideration, or has the question been shelved?

I would rather that my hon. and gallant Friend gave me notice. My impression is that a promise was given that the question would be considered when a permanent scale was being arranged. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will give me notice, or I will write him on the subject.

Press Legislation


asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can now state what action the Government of India have taken upon the Report of the Press Legislation Committee?

A Bill based upon the Committee's recommendation was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on the 15th September.

Amritsar Shooting


asked the Secretary of State for India whether the assessors appointed in that behalf have dealt with the claims put forward on behalf of those who lost their lives at Jallianwallah Bagh; and, if so, with what general results?

Trade Unions


asked the Secretary of State for India whether, considering that many of the so-called trade unions in India are stated to be little more than strike committees, and in view of the acts of violence and intimidation which have characterised a large proportion of the disputes in which these committees have been concerned, it is the intention of the Government of India to proceed with legislation for the purpose of giving legal status to trade unions in India, and to define the law of agency in such a way that no act could be made the ground of a claim on trade union funds unless it was definitely proved that the governing body had sanctioned the act; and whether, having regard to the difficulty of obtaining definite proof in a country like India, and to the fact that the majority of these loose organisations publish no accounts and assign no functions to their governing body, he will consider the question of the unfairness to the rest of the community of either legalising picketing or of putting these so-called trade unions outside the law?

The Government of India are considering the lines on which legislation should be undertaken for the registration and protection of trade unions and are consulting local governments with a view to submitting proposals. Pending receipt of actual proposals for legislation. I feel it would be premature to discuss the tentative conclusions on which the Government of India are cot suiting local governments.

Is the question justified in saying that many of these trade unions are little more than "strike committees"?

Seditious Leaflets (Indian Army)


asked the Secretary of State for India what steps have been taken to put a stop to the circulation of leaflets in India tampering with the loyalty of the Indian Army; how many of the authors and printers of these leaflets have been prosecuted and with what result; and whether any of those who signed these leaflets have been allowed to go free?

This matter has engaged the close attention of the Government of India and local governments. I understand that the only leaflet of this nature that has come to notice has been proscribed under Section 12 of the Press Act. There were no signatures on the leaflet, though a few names were mentioned in it out of a very large numbers who are reported to have signed the "fatwa," extracts of which the leaflet purported to reproduce. The Press at Delhi, which printed the leaflet, has been ordered to give security, but has failed to do so, and has ceased working.

Colonel Aitken


asked the Secretary of State for India if he can now state what form of recompense it has been decided to give to Colonel Aitken, whose conduct in East Africa was vindicated a year ago and who for several years has suffered owing to his not being employed?

Colonel Aitken is being permitted to retire with effect from 26th May, 1918, namely, the date on which he attained the age of 57, on the maximum pension of his rank, and is being granted the honorary rank of Brigadier-General on retirement.

Railways And Transport Service


asked the Secretary of State for India what action, if any, is being taken by his Department or the Government of India to hasten orders for machinery, materials, etc. required for railway and transport service in India of a nature which at present cannot be manufactured in India now that the value of the rupee has more or less stabilised; and whether there are considerable arrears of orders usually placed in this country, due to unstable currency values, during the past two years?

It is the case that, owing to unfavourable financial conditions of which exchange is only one factor, it has been found necessary in recent years to restrict railway expenditure to a lower amount than might otherwise have been deemed desirable, but orders have been, and are being, placed for machinery, etc. up to the limits of the funds allotted for expenditure on the services concerned.

Can the right hon. Gentleman do anything to encourage orders from India in order to give work to men who are unemployed in this country?

I am very anxious to do everything in my power to develop the resources of India. If some arrangement of mutual advantage to both countries can be devised I shall he only too delighted to do everything in my power to facilitate it.


asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is in a position to make any statement as to the policy of the Government or of the Government of India which will give effect to some of the proposals contained in the Report of the Committee set up to inquire into the position of Indian railways; whether any limit of time has been put to the period of consideration by the Government of India in view of the urgency of some of the recommendations?

I am not yet in a position to make a statement as to the policy arising out of the recommendations of the Indian Railway Committee. I have asked the Government of India for their general views on the Report, and it will be necessary to take the opinion of the Indian Legislature. I do not think it would be reasonable to impose any definite time limit for consideration but I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that I have been, and am now, in constant telegraphic communication with the Government of India on the more urgent matters reported on by the Committee with a view to action as soon as possible.

Government Printing


asked the Secretary of State for India how much money is each year spent by the Government of India and by the Provincial Governments upon printing; whether, if the habit of having each and every memorandum, minute, order, telegram, or other document printed was reduced, not only would a considerable financial saving be effected, but the secrecy and confidential character of official documents might be proportionately respected: whether a committee has been inquiring into the organisation and system of Government Departments in India; and whether this matter may be specially considered?

The recent Government of India Secretariat Procedure Committee, while recognising that Indian conditions necessitate official printing on a larger scale than in England, made certain recommendations for economy, which the Government of India have endorsed. Special steps are taken to secure secrecy for confidential documents. The total expenditure on Government presses in India in the current estimates is roughly 75 lakhs, this figure including cost of staff, material, and stores. I would point out that the estimates of the Government of India and the several Provinces are now subjected to close scrutiny by the respective legislatures.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that no documents printed in India can be regarded as absolutely secret and that the only way in which documents can be kept secret is by having them type written?

Agitators (Birthplaces)


asked the Secretary of State for India whether Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali and the four others who it is reported have been convicted and sentenced to two years' rigorous imprisonment are by birth subjects of British India or of native states; if the latter, of what states; and what is the birthplace and parentage of Mr. Gandhi?

Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali are by birth subjects of the State of Rampur in the United Provinces. All the other accused are described as residents of places in British India. Mr. Gandhi's father was the Diwan of the State of Porebandar in Kathiawar.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of deporting Gandhi to his native State, to see whether that native State can deal with him?

Moplah Rebellion


asked the Secretary of State for India whether the situation in Malabar shows as yet any sign of improvement or otherwise?

I have not for some days past received any general review of the position. On the 27th October the Government of India reported that the General Officer Commanding the Madras District was satisfied with the situation, but needed more troops, which were being sent, in order to bring the operations to a close as soon as possible. The last received reports cover the four last days of October, and indicate that the troops and police are actively engaged in locating and capturing the rebels, who are still offering resistance, whenever they are met. In view of the difficulty of the country and the absence of communications, it is obvious that the complete pacification of the district must take time.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the communiqué issued by the district magistrate on the 4th of November stated that a refugee, with ghastly wounds in the neck, had seen 50 Hindus beheaded and their bodies thrown into a well? Has he no information about this?

I think that it would be more courteous if the Noble Lord had given me notice of a question of detail of that kind. I have stated to the House over and over again that there have been the most shocking atrocities committed by these rebels on loyal Hindu fellow subjects.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of all the communiqués which are published in the Press, which are issued by the district magistrate? Do not all these things come to his notice in the ordinary course?

To the best of my recollection every official telegram containing news on the subject of Malabar received in my office has been published, whether they are communications which have been issued in India or are reported by Reuter by the ordinary cable. There have been several telegrams from both sources reporting atrocities by the Moplahs. I cannot say offhand whether I have seen that particular telegram or whether it was an official communiqué.

In view of the violence of these crimes, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability, according to precedent, of offering the Moplahs Dominion Home Rule?