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Orders Of The Day

Volume 155: debated on Monday 12 June 1922

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Government Of India Act, 1919 (Draft Rules)

I beg to move:

"That the Draft Rules under the Government of India Act required to give effect to the notification of the Governor-General in Council constituting Burma a Governor's Province under the Act, namely, the Burma Electoral Boles, amendments to the Council of State and Legislative Assembly Electoral Rides, the Burma Legislative Council Rules, and amendments to the Devolution Rules, which were presented to Parliament on the 25th day of May, 1922, be approved, subject, however, to the following modification in the Draft Burma Electoral Rules, namely:—
Page 4, Rule 4, first proviso, leave out 'of the following constituencies, namely:—
The Rangoon General Constituency;
The Rangoon Indian Constituency;
The Mandalay Urban General Constituency,'
and insert 'plural - member constituency.'"
Rule 4, leave out the second proviso.
Schedule 1, page 24, column 3, against the entry 'Tavoy,' in column 1, after 'Tavoy District,' insert 'excluding Tavoy Municipality.'"
My task, in moving this Motion, is, first of all, to recapitulate in the briefest possible fashion (because it is already known to all those hon. Members who take an interest. in Indian and Burmese affairs) the history of the application of the Government of India, 1919, Act to Burma, and, secondly, to explain the reasons why the Rules differ, with the approval of the Standing Joint Committee, from similar Rules in force in India. On my own behalf, and on behalf of the House, may I say, in passing, how sorry we are that one who was interested in Burma and would have taken a part in this Debate—the late Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees)—is not with us to-day? As those who have studied the Government of India Act, 1919, know, Rules under that Act are made by the Governor-General in Council, with the sanction of the Secretary of State in Council, subject to the approval of Parliament. The Rules can be approved in two ways—either by being laid on the Table of the House, after having been made, in which case, in order to alter them, an Address has to be presented by either House; or they can be dealt with by means of what I may call an affirmative Resolution, by laying them in draft upon the Table before they have the force of law, and by obtaining the consent of this House and of another place to them. It is the second of these two methods that my Noble Friend the Secretary of State has chosen to adopt, I am sure with the approval of the House as a whole. For any alteration of the Rules to be made, each House must agree to the Amendments made by the other House.

As is known, the Government of India Act, 1919, which reformed the constitution of the Central Government of India and of eight provincial Governments, was based upon the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. That Report, while recognising that constitutional reform was as necessary in Burma as in other provinces, did not profess to deal with Burma. As the authors had not time to visit that province, and considered that Burma., as its inhabitants were racially distinct and geographically separated from those of India proper, would require different treatment. Burma was, therefore, left out of the Act of 1919 on the understanding that its Government would consult public opinion and frame a plan of reforms to suit the peculiar needs of the province. But the Act of 1919 contained a Section which enables its provisions to he applied by notification, with or without modification, to any province.

The history of the decision to apply the Act of 1919 without change to Burma is briefly as follows: The Montagu-Chelmsford Report was published in 1918. In accordance with the invitation in it, the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma framed and published for criticism a provisional plan of constitutional reform, and in June, 1919, submitted to the Government of India officially a revised plan, based on his original plan, with modifications suggested by the criticism it received. This scheme was further modified by the Government of India, and as so modified was forwarded to the Secretary of State for his acceptance. The Government of India's plan, like that originally propounded by the Lieutenant-Governor, differed materially from the plan of the Act of 1919, and did not profess to provide, as the Act of 1919 attempted to do, any element of responsible Government. The Secretary of State in Council, after prolonged consideration, decided that this was an insuperable objection to the Government of India's plan. It was further decided that no plan could be devised other than that of the Act of 1919 which would afford a satisfactory solution of the problem in view of the fact that although Burma is, as I have said, racially and geographically distinct from India, constitutional problems there have more or less the same aspect as those of the provinces of India. The result was an announcement was made by the right hon. Member for Cambridge in 1920 to apply the Act to Burma.

The history of the steps taken to carry out that proposal is, briefly, as follows. A short Bill was introduced in the House of Lords last year, and was referred to the Standing Joint Committee on Indian affairs. The Committee reported in favour of the scheme of the Bill as the only satisfactory solution, and recommended the appointment of a Committee to inquire locally in Burma and report on the details necessary to be included under the rules. The Bill was not proceeded with, as it was thought best to appoint the Committee to inquire into the conditions in Burma, and then eventually apply the Act by means of the notification to which I have already referred, through these rules, by a Resolution in this House. The House will realise that my Noble Friend, the Secretary of State, instead of adopting, as he could have adopted, the plan of merely laying the rules on the Table, has adopted the plan of an affirmative Resolution by which they can be debated in the House.

I will now deal shortly with the the differences between these rules and the rules in other provinces. The House in the first place will realise that the Standing Joint Committee before which I gave evidence the other day on behalf of these rules, has accepted them and has published a report recommending their adoption to this House. Speaking generally, the rules follow very closely the model of the corresponding rules framed in 1920, but there are differences with regard to the composition of the Council and with regard to the scheme of the franchise. In addition there are one or two other important differences. In other provinces, in the case of India, women are debarred entirely from being eligible for candidature for the Provincial Council. They are also disqualified in other provinces from having a vote, though that disqualification may be removed by the Legislative Council of the particular province, carrying a resolution to that effect. My hon. Friend proposes in these rules to impose no sex disqualification, as regards voters, from the outset. Women will have the vote under these rules on the same basis as men. There is an Amendment dealing with this matter, and when we reach it I shall explain the reasons which led my Noble Friend to adopt that course. I will only remark here that women in Burma, with regard to the influence which they can exercise on public life, are in a very different position from the women of India. There is practically no purdah in Burma. Without meaning any reflection whatever on the women of India I may say that the Burmese women occupy a more advanced position than that of their sisters in India. There are other reasons with which I will deal more fully later on for removing, in the case of Burma, the disqualification which applies in the case of India.

Then in respect of transferred subjects, it is proposed to make "transferred subjects," in Burma, certain subjects which elsewhere are "reserved." The two important additions to "transferred subjects" are European Education and Forests. I do not think it is necessary at this stage to give the reasons why the Secretary of State has thought fit, with the entire approval of all the authorities who have been consulted, to make European Education and Forests transferred subjects. Those reasons will be found in the Whyte Committee's Report (paragraphs 34–36), in paragraph 7 of the Burma Government's letter and also in the Government of India despatch (page 35 of Command Paper No. 1671). Further, the Joint Committee has dealt with the subject, and commends this alteration to the House. An important difference between these rules and similar rules in India concerns the basis of the franchise and the size of the electorate—also the question of special representation, a point on which several Amendments have been put down. First with regard to the franchise. In India the payment of land revenues is the basis of the rural franchise. I believe the reason which led the right hon. Member for the County of Cambridge the late Secretary of State (Mr. E. Montagu) to adopt that was a desire that the electorate should not be unmanageably large. The Whyte Committee, which was appointed to inquire into conditions in Burma, went fully into the question there and heard a great deal of evidence, and they decided, owing to the radical difference between the land revenue systems in India and Burma, that the scheme which had been adopted in India was impracticable in Burma, and they recommended the adoption as a basis in Burma of the payment of the capitation tax in Lower Burma and the thathameda tax in Upper Burma. The effect of adopting this basis of qualification for the franchise means that practically all heads of households are enfranchised. As far as we can estimate, the rural electorate will be two and two-fifths millions which together with the urban electorate will make roughly an electorate of three millions of whom some 200,000 at the outset will be women. I believe that is a larger proportion than obtains in the electorates in other parts. In con- sequence of the proposal to make the payment of capitation tax and thathameda tax the basis for the franchise we propose to fix a minimum age for electors of 18 instead of 21 which is the minimum age in the provinces of India, the reason being that persons become liable to the payment of these taxes at the earlier age and are entered on the tax rolls accordingly. It is not necessary for me to call attention to the fact that both in Burma and in India these ages correspond to considerably higher ages in this country.

4.0 p.m.

I now come to the vexed question of special representation concerning which I understand several hon. Members feel very strongly. I propose to say very little about it now, but will deal with it in more detail when we come to the Amendment. Broadly speaking, to my mind the arguments for special representation—for community representation—under these rules are overwhelming. It is the only way by which the very considerable "foreign" communities, so to speak, in Burma will get fair representation in this new Council. We therefore propose to provide eight special communal electorates in five towns for Indians—four in Rangoon and one in each of four other towns—and in one seat in each of five rural areas for Karens, in addition to the representation which we give to Europeans and Anglo-Indians. The House will see from the Paper that I am asking it to approve of the Draft Rules, subject, however, to certain modifications. The first alteration is to carry out a proposal of which the Standing Joint Committee was in favour, and which, I believe, the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite supported. The rules, as originally drafted, gave power to split up four plural-member constituencies into single-member constituencies. It was suggested in the Committee that that should be made a general power and should refer to all plural-member constituencies. Accordingly, on the suggestion of the chairman of the Committee, and after being especially pressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Wedgwood), I agreed, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, to this alteration being made. The second alteration is merely a drafting Amendment which carries out the first, and the third alteration corrects a mistake in the, Schedule. We discovered, after the rules had been printed, that there was a separate Tavoy urban constituency, and it was therefore necessary, when constituting the Tavoy rural constituency, to exclude the town of Tavoy. The details of any constitution are generally dull, and I do not pretend that by my exposition of a very dull subject I have made it less so this afternoon. It should, however, be realised that the House is being asked to implement the new constituency of Burma, and that we are, therefore, taking another important step in the progressive development of self-governing institutions in those parts of the Empire which are mainly inhabited by races other than our own. I may say that, Tory as I have always been, and still claim to he, though a Member of a Coalition Government, I am convinced that our history for the last 100 years does prove up to the hilt both the possibility of the constant devolution of functions from the Imperial Government to other representative Governments within the Empire without affecting in the long run the strength or the cohesion of the Empire as a whole and the impossibility in the end of maintaining an Empire such as ours by any other method.

On a point of Order. Does the fact that the Noble Lord is moving this Resolution with the Amend- ments on the Paper in any way rule out the Amendments which I have put down? Would it not be better if the Resolution were moved and then, as in ordinary legislation, the Amendments were taken in their proper place as we came to them? It seems to me that in that way we should be dealing with the matter more simply. For instance, the Government Amendments about single-member constituencies conflicts with one of my own Amendments and comes after it in point of place. I was just wondering whether we shall not complicate matters unduly by taking the Resolution and the Government Amendments simultaneously.

We are bound to take the Motion as it stands upon the Paper, and of which notice has been given to the House, but I do not think it will hamper the hon. and gallant Member in moving any of his Amendments. Perhaps he will assist me, and see that I take them at the right place. I think it will be possible in that way to deal with them seriatim if desired.

This Constitution which we are debating to-day is a matter of no very great importance to the people of this country, but it is a matter of intense importance to the people of Burma. Indeed, the Burmese people constitute the Gallery to-day, and I hope that hon. Members will realise that what is said in Debate to-day, although it will not be read by one in a million of the population in this country, will be read by at least half-a-million in Burma some four weeks hence. There is in Burma an intense agitation for self-government such as we have not seen in this country for the last 200 years. The Burmese people have come late into this struggle for self-government. Five years ago there was hardly any trace of a movement in Burma for responsible government, or even for representative government, and already we see that this Constitution which we are proposing to-day is regarded by the Burmese people as being far too reactionary for them to accept. That is the pace at which things move in the East. It is absolutely essential that this Constitution should be passed and that the Burmese people should understand that the Constitution which is now being pro posed by the Government is in reality an advance upon similar legislation that has been passed for the other major provinces of India. There are nine of these major provinces of India. Each has a Legislative Council of its own which deals with a vast variety of subjects, some of which are now transferred entirely to the management of Indians or Burmans and some of which are reserved still for treatment by the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy in India. In addition to each of these local councils, there is at present a Council of State and an Assembly, both meeting at Delhi. Up till now Burma has been represented on the Council of State and the Assembly at Delhi in a very ineffective way, being represented by indirect election. The Burmese people have boycotted the election, so that there is no proper representation at Burma on the Council of State or the Legislative Assembly at Delhi. They have been waiting for the real grant of self-government to Burma.

I want to show that, although we have down upon the Paper a. number of Amendments which we believe would make this constitution far better than the Draft before us, and while we urge the Government to make these Amendments now and while, if we had the power, we should make them, yet, even if these Amendments are not accepted, this constitution which is before us to-day is an improvement on the constitutions given to Bombay, Madras, or Bengal and is deserving of acceptance by the Burmese people, not as the final goal, but as a step forward in constitutional, responsible, and representative Government. It is far better than any constitution granted to the other major provinces of India. First and foremost, it gives a real live electorate. Out of 13 million people in Burma, two million or thereabouts will secure the vote under this scheme. That is as large a proportion as we had in this country before the last Reform Bill.

Well, I am not certain, but I should be very glad if it were three millions. Whether it be two or three millions, it is an enormous advance on any other province. The best province hitherto has been the United Provinces. There is a population there of 44,000,000 and an electorate of 400.000. Here we have two or three million electors for 13,000,000 people. You can see at a glance that this is a real, demo- cratic constitution so far as the franchise is concerned. Nor is that all. The Indian constitutions have been marred over and over again by stupid, impertinent restrictions upon the rights of the electorate. In many cases they are not allowed to elect any man to represent them unless he be a voter resident in the constituency which he wants to represent. I cannot think where our new constitutionalists get their knowledge of the British Constitution. One of the elementary principles of the British Constitution is that a constituency has the right to select its member where it likes. In spite of that, many of these Indian provinces have these absurd restrictions upon the people whom they are entitled to elect.

Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that in the United States, which is the greatest democracy in the world, a man must live in his constituency?

Of course I am perfectly aware of it, but, if the hon. and gallant Member had ever been there, and had studied politics there—

—he would know that every politician there who really understands democracy desires to see that restriction abolished and the same right conferred as we have in this country. At any rate, the British Constitution is a trifle older than the American Constitution, and a trifle better too. That residential qualification has been wiped out so far as Burma is concerned. They are entitled to choose their candidates where they like. That is another improvement. Then in the Indian constitutions, over and over again we had the deliberate gerrymandering of the constituencies. Even quite small towns were separated from the rural constituencies, so that the rural districts might be dominated by the landlord class in effect. The town people with their horrid radicalism were excluded and kept to their own constituency. That was most ably carried out in the Punjab, where no less than 50 towns were kept out. In the first scheme put forward by the local government, exactly the same segregation of urban from rural interests was attempted. That also has been wiped out. Finally, we have under the Burma rules a much larger number of transferred powers, powers transferred from the bureaucracy to the Ministers and administration of the Legislative Council. That, too, is a great advantage. Forestry, which in all the other provinces except Bombay has been reserved for the bureaucracy, and which of course means far more in Burma than in other Indian provinces, has been transferred, and quite rightly transferred. As a matter of fact, a great deal of the complaint against the Administration in Burma hitherto has been in connection with the exploitation of the forests. I am not at all certain—and I think several hon. Members will rub that in—that you will get more efficient administration of the forests by putting them in charge of Burmese Ministers instead of in the hands of the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy, but, at any rate, if they make mistakes, it will be their own fault, and we shall not have it always thrown in our face that the bureaucracy administer the forests in the interests of the Europeans instead of in the interests of the inhabitants of the country.

All questions dealing with gaming and questions of cruelty to animals are transferred, and quite rightly transferred, because there is no more kindly people than the Burmese, no people more imbued with the spirit of kindness to animals than the Buddhist inhabitants of Burma at the present time. These things are transferred, you have got greater powers, a much more democratic franchise, you have got an honest Constitution so far as constituencies are concerned, and for those reasons I put this Constitution far in advance of all those granted to the Indian provinces. At the present moment, in Burma the question of whether they are to boycott this Constitution, or whether they are to accept it, is trembling in the balance. The Congress met about six weeks ago and decided, by a very small majority, to non-co-operate, to boycott the Councils, not to go to the poll if the Constitution was passed, and, as I think, to throw away their chances just as they have thrown them away in the other provinces of India. The question is just at the turning point, and if we could get embodied in the Constitution some of these other Amendments that I have put on the Paper, I believe we should have a very good chance of persuading the Burmans to take their place in really building up this new Dominion in the Commonwealth, building up a Dominion which in time would compare with all the other great Dominions of the Crown.

We have got here a people who are very like ourselves. They are absolutely free from any of the servile faith which is so often thrown at the people of the East. They are an upstanding people, rather too fond of drink. They have many of our vices, but they have our virtues too, and one of our principal virtues which we share with them is a detestation of injustice and a real love of liberty, and I believe that, if these people are treated as they ought to be treated, as people just starting out on the road for real Dominion Home Rule, we should get from Burma perhaps the brightest example to the rest of India, and to the rest of our developing parts of the Empire in the East. One feature about Burma which is quite distinct from India is the position taken up by the women. The Noble Lord knows very well that the boycott of the Whyte Committee and the Government, the fight which the Burmese people have been putting up for the last two years against their Governor—because it has come to be now a dog fight between the Governor and the Burmese—has been really run by the women of Burma. They have organised the boycott of the universities and the boycott of the schools, and they have managed to steel the efforts of the Burmese people, an easy-going people, to make them carry out this constitutional fight in a way perhaps finer than has been seen in any of these other constitutional fights. The women form a big element in the Burmese constitutional question, and I hope the House, when we come to those Amendments dealing with the women's franchise, will see whether n e cannot do something to show the Burmese that we really mean honestly by them, and give them a sufficient inducement to come over and accept the Constitution, instead of hanging hack, resenting a half measure, and waiting for the possibility of getting a whole measure later on.

I want us to make our offer as generous as possible, in order to secure its acceptance, because the House is perfectly aware that at the present time, both in India and in Burma, you have the nation just at the dividing point. Either they may go off, as Ireland has gone, getting daily more hostile, more Sinn Fein, more anti-British, or you may get a genuine development on Dominion lines, turning that country into a prosperous pillar of the Commonwealth instead of into a running sore. It seems to me that, in the case of Burma, that decision has got to be taken directly this Motion is passed, and therefore we should make it a Measure which they will be tempted to accept., and not a Measure grudgingly given, which they may think has been extorted from the British Government by their strength and our weakness. In dealing with this subject, I think we ought to mention too the gratitude that all of us, both on this side and, I hope, on that side of the House, owe to Sir A. F. Whyte, formerly Member for Perth. The democratic features in his Report—which, I may say in passing, is far more liberal than the Rules framed by the India Office—all that is democratic in this Report is really due to the late Member for Perth, and I think those of us who were his colleagues in the old days ought to pay our tribute to him for what he has done. He did it tinder great difficulties. He was boycotted from the moment he set foot in Burma; no Burmese nationalist came before his Committee to give evidence; and yet, in spite of that, he put forward a Report which is ever so much more liberal than the Constitutions turned out by that Joint Standing Committee of Lords and Commons which produced the Rules and Regulations under the Government of India Act.

I will not say anything more at present, except this. I suppose I am the only Member of this House who has been in Burma or who knows the Burmese people. In speaking on this Measure, I am not merely speaking as an Englishman or as representing an English constituency. I am speaking for the Bur-mans, because I love the Burmese people. [Interruption.] It is true I was only there three or four days, but I have a great many friends in Burma, I have letters from them every week, and I am the only Member of this House who reads regularly the Burmese newspapers. Therefore I know their feelings, and I am certain I have their affection, as they have mine. The action one takes in this House is bound to be a compound. It is compounded in this case of love of the real development, as I believe, of the British Empire on the lines laid down by that stout, solid Tory constitutionalist opposite, and love of the Burmese people, whom I do want to see free, self-respecting, taking part in that great new Burman future. These people are at present helpless. They are undergoing a perpetual struggle with the Governor. The Governor does not like them, and they do not like the Governor, and they are always at war with each other We want to see peace made there, and we want to see the Burmese people with an implement in their hands which they can use for honest political struggling, instead of this perpetual non-co-operation that is going on, and has been going on for the last two years. That is the chance before them, if they accept this Constitution, and if we can improve the Constitution so that they can accept it, then we shall not only have done something for England and for Burma, but something to end the stupid, very largely ignorant, struggle that is going on between the local Government of Burma and the Burmese people to-day. They are the people for whom we are legislating. They are the future citizens of the British Commonwealth. For both those reasons I commend this Constitution to them and to this House. I believe that it could be improved, but, even unimproved, it is a step forward that is worth taking.

Hon. Members generally will agree with what has fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) in regard to the constitution which is proposed for Burma, but I think it is the duty of Members of this House to point out what is laid down in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report in regard to subjects which could be properly transferred and subjects which should be reserved. That Report states that subjects which could be transferred are those

"which afford most opportunity for local knowledge and social service, those in which Indians have shown themselves to he keenly interested, those in which mistakes which may occur, though serious, would not he irremediable, and those which stand most in need of development."
The forests of Burma are really the lifeblood of Burma, and if there be mismanagement of the forests through inefficiency, which the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme seems to expect, a very serious financial position will be created, which will have its effect upon the prosperity of the Burmese people. Those people connected with Burma with whom I have had an opportunity of speaking tell me it is only amongst a very small section that it is desired to take over the responsibility of administering these large forest tracts. The sale of timber in Burma is not a local question at all. Timber, if it is to be sold with advantage, must be sold in those markets where the best prices can be obtained, and since teak is the chief wood found in the forests of Burma, it follows that it requires great commercial skill and great financial knowledge in arranging contracts and in ensuring that the shipments of the timber, when ordered, will be delivered up-to-date. The Noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for India, when he spoke just now, said he would deal with this subject later, and I hope he will. I fully appreciate the fact that everybody except the people in a responsible position in Burma have said they think it is necessary to transfer the forests to a Burmese Minister, but that is not what is said by the Lieut.-Governor and by his Council. He has pointed out in a letter which was addressed to the. India Office on, I think, 23rd December, 1921, that, in the opinion of his Council and himself, to transfer the forests to a Burmese Minister would be fraught with great danger. I am quite fully aware—

This is a very important point, and the hon. and gallant Member must not forget what the Lieut.-Governor said in his last communication. He is not entitled to say that he has not agreed to the transfer. He has agreed.

If the Noble Lord will allow me, I am coming to that, but the Lieut.-Governor pointed out further on that there is a chance of revision by a Statutory Commission in the year 1929, and then no doubt, if there had been damage, it could be put right; but what I desire to point out particularly is that it is far easier then to give the power to the Burmans than it is to take away that power, and it seems to me that from now to 1929, as even my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme will recognise, a considerable amount of harm may be done to the finances of Burma. Other questions affect Burma very much in this proposed legislation, and I hope their attention will be fully occupied in questions of franchise, and so on, and it seems rather unnecessary to run this great risk of transferring the forests to a Burmese Minister in spite of the recommendation and the safeguards which, I quite admit, have been put forward with great ability by the Whyte Committee and the letter of the Government of India. I think it is right to mention this, because personally I am convinced that it will be found by 1929 that the revenues of Burma have fallen considerably as regards the safe of timber, and then it will be deplored that this step was taken which possibly might be reserved for a later decision. Personally, I think the Burmese people will be able to run their forests extremely well after they have had a larger amount of interest in running the forests than they now have, which can perfectly well be given them under the new Constitution. I think it is a matter of very great importance that before this great national wealth, the only national wealth of Burma which is marketable to-day, is transferred to Burmese Ministers, the House should realise the great risk which is being run.

I should like to join with the Noble Lord in what he said, and to express my regret that the late Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) is not with us to-day to join in our Debates. As regards the Draft Rules which the Noble Lord has put before us, I must confess that I am sorry no opportunity has been taken to do away with that very pernicious system of diarchy that has been extended to the rest of India. Diarchy there, as we know, was not the original pronouncement of the Government of the 20th August, 1917. It was a system brought in by the late Secretary of State on his own personal responsibility, and has been proved to be unworkable in India. All the Lieutenant-Governors of India at the time said it would be unworkable, but they were not allowed to come over here to give evidence to that effect. Sir Valentine Chirol, in his letter describing the working of the Constitution in India, has drawn attention to the fact that in the Provincial Councils diarchy has been "skipped"—that is the expression he used. I think this system of divided government would be one of the greatest curses to inflict on Burma. It is a system which has never been tried in the world before, and cannot possibly go on. It has been proved to be unsuccessful in India. I ask the Noble Lord to "skip" diarchy. It is an impossible thing to divide a Government. If you have 12 men in the Council—

My hon. and gallant Friend is dealing with a subject which is really out of order on this Resolution. This Resolution applies the 1919 Act to Burma.

I am now asking the Noble Lord to put before the Secretary of State the inadvisability of becoming responsible for applying it to Burma so far as diarchy is concerned. That is the point between the Noble Lord and me. I should like to join with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Major Glyn) in his remarks as to the great injury that may be done to Burma on this question of forests. I would refer to the Report of the Standing Joint Committee. The question is one of the greatest importance to Burma, and I do not think it ought to be allowed to rest as it is. As the Report says:

"The Whyte Committee recommended the transfer to the jurisdiction of Ministers in Burma of the subject of forests. The Committee do not oppose a recommendation so supported, but they accept it with some misgiving, and they wish to record their sense of the heavy responsibility thereby laid upon Ministers in view of the extreme importance of the forests of Burma to the general prosperity of the Province,"
Why should the Noble Lord go out of his way to risk the general prosperity of the Province? It is a very great risk. We know that the whole prosperity of Burma depends on forests. It is true there are ruby mines and other things, such as oil and paddy, but forestry is the most important industry, and I do say the Noble Lord is absolutely risking the prosperity of the Province if he agrees to this. We cannot have a greater argument in favour of the abolition of diarchy than this proposed transfer of the forests. I say, put one unified Government in charge of Burma, and let that unified Government deal with this question; but to transfer it to Burmese Ministers, in opposition to official Ministers, is sure to create trouble. If diarchy were abolished, it would settle the question at once, but if it be not abolished, I say that the question of forests should be a reserved subject, and not a transferred subject. There is another point, and that is the question of the European franchise. The Joint Committee says:
"As regards the representation of Europeans and Anglo-Indians, the Whyte Committee and the Burma Government both recommended one seat each for these communities. The Government of India were of opinion that one seat was insufficient for these communities, and proposed to raise the number to three."
The Committee, however, preferred to accept the recommendations of the Whyte Committee and the Burma Government. Why should the Special Committee accept the opinion of these Committees in preference to that of the Government of India? I think the Government of India are perfectly right. In the correspondence we have before us, the question is dealt with, and there it says that there is a larger proportion of Europeans in Burma than in Bengal, or any of the other Provinces. In giving a new constitution to a set of people who have never had a constitution before, is it not of the utmost importance that you should have as many men in the Council who have been born and bred and brought up to understand constitutional Government? Here you are having a Council of men entirely new to anything of the sort. The Report says:
"The proportion of Europeans in Burma to the rest of the population is, in fact, more than twice that in Bengal, and there is, in fact, little doubt that on these figures, as compared with Bengal, there should be at least four, if not five. European seats in Burma."
That is the opinion of the Government of India. I ask the Noble Lord to reconsider this. It is a most important point. You want as many experienced men in starting a new Council like this as you can possibly have. Why, then, should the Noble Lord cut down the proposal of the Government of India, and only give one seat, when the Government of India say that there ought to be four or five seats? I ask the Noble Lord to put that point before the Secretary of State. As to the age of 18 for the franchise, I think it is a ridiculous age. Personally, I was not qualified for a vote under 21. Before that I did not know the difference between the Lord Chancellor and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and how could a boy of 18 in Burma know anything about the constitution? If you had made it 25, it would have been a different matter.

There is another question which, I hope, will be considered, and that is the absolute necessity, to my mind, of candidates for election giving a deposit, which should be forfeited if a proper number of votes were not recorded for that candidate, the same as in this country. We have just given a new Constitution to Malta, and that provision is inserted There We see that air sorts of what, I think, the Noble Lord calls "freak candidates" have been brought forward in India. I want to stop freak candidates. I want to see every candidate who comes forward put down his deposit, and if he does not get a. certain number of votes, that deposit should be forfeited. It is the only safeguard that well-supported and reliable men will be brought forward as candidates. There is another point which I should like to see in these new Draft Rules. As the Noble Lord may, perhaps, remember when the Government of India Act was passed, it was moved in the House of Lords that retired Indian Officers of the Indian Army should have a, vote for the legislative assembly and the Council of State. Lord Sinha, then Under-Secretary of State for India, gave a promise in the House of Lords that on the first change in the Rules, that should be inserted. There is a chance now to insert it here, and I ask the Noble Lord to insert it. A native officer who has served his country should have this vote. I ask the Noble Lord to bring these points before the Secretary of State, and to have them considered by the Council of India and by the Government of India.

I hope I shall be in order in assuring my hon. and gallant Friend that diarchy is by no means dead in India. I admit that it exists with various degrees of vitality, those degrees of vitality being dependent, more or less, upon the co-operation of the executive side and the Ministry, but, apart from that, diarchy is not yet dead, and I think it is rather premature to say it is going to die. As regards the conferring of a Council status upon Burma, it is a great experiment. We all admit that, even those of us who are entirely in favour of the natives' claims. There is a great deal to be said against it, I willingly admit. First of all, there has been very little political train- ing in Burma. Whether that be the fault of the Government or not, I will not say now, but it is a fact that Burma has had much less experience in the working of local self-government than any other part of British India. Further, the higher education of the country is far behind what it ought to be. As regards elementary education, it is widespread and efficient; but as regards secondary and higher education, it has been very deficient. So much so, that I believe not a single Burman has been able to enter the Indian Civil Service through competition. These are reasons which dispose one at first sight to be against conferring Parliamentary institutions upon the Burmese.

There is another side to the question, and I am impressed more by that side than the other. It is this: A wide-spread prevalence of fairly-efficient elementary education. Then there is the absence of caste, and of those caste difficulties which exist in India; though they have been for political purposes enormously exaggerated. There is the higher position of women in Burma which is a point to be taken into consideration as an added qualification for self-government. Again, there is the higher standard of living and comfort amongst the people. So that, on the whole, I think we can go so far in giving self-governing powers to the Burmese as we have gone in India. In fact, one Lieutenant-Governor of Burma, who is not credited—though I sometimes think an injustice is done to him—with being a liberal-minded administrator, has said that on the whole he thinks that Burma has a better chance of making progress in the ways of self-government than even India has. These are points to be considered. I was rather alarmed at one aspect of this scheme. I hope the Noble Lord was incorrect—he is not often—in speaking of 3,000,000 as the number of people who would be enfranchised under this scheme. If I remember rightly there will be a million-and-a-half rural voters, and an indeterminate number of municipal voters. Something like 2,000,000, rather than 3,000,000, is likely to be the number enfranchised.

The liberality and generosity with which the vote is to be conferred upon the people of Burma has been largely determined, unconsciously, perhaps, by considerations of convenience. The question of the franchise is in all reform schemes a question of great difficulty. I believe that Lord Morley, when he was working out what are known as the Morley-Minto scheme of reforms, told a member of the present Government that the question of the electoral franchise was what troubled and puzzled him more than anything else. He said: "I keep awake at nights trying to solve this problem of the franchise." We have here the franchise ready to hand. It will make the thing easy. And that accounts for the enormous number we propose to enfranchise. Both in Upper and Lower Burma the Capitation Tax and the Income Tax provide us with a ready-made roll of electors, and we shall not have to have registration courts in Burma or anything of the kind. That is a great recommendation. I hope we shall not find that we have yielded too easily to considerations of convenience, and that we have got over-swamped by an electorate which will he difficult to manage, for 2,000,000 is a large number out of a population of something like 12,000,000.

There are features in the franchise which arrest attention. I am glad—and I am sure the majority of Members of this House will be glad—to find that means of enfranchising, at all events, a certain number of the women of Burma has been found. Female householders and female contributors to the Income Tax have, ipso facto, the right to vote. We have been rather holder on this occasion than in passing the India Bill. Then—against the feelings of the Noble Lord himself—we left it to the various provincial councils to decide whether or not they would give the vote to women. We are deciding it already, and have not left it to Burma. We have been justified, I think, by the decision we have taken in regard to India because of the varied feeling in regard to the female franchise in the provincial councils. We have in effect said to the people, "If you want it, have it, and if you do not you can do without it." The consequence is that Madras and Bombay have accepted the franchise, and Bengal has declined it. But we know something of the women of Burma. I wish I had as much knowledge of their merits as my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) opposite—

I have not had three days, or three hours even. However, from all we have been told of the qualities of the women of Burma, we may hope that they will properly exercise the franchise. The hon. and gallant Gentleman in the opening of his remarks spoke of the people of Burma in four weeks hearing all that has been said in this House on the subject of their enfranchisement. I wish he had been a little more impressive in advising his Burmese friends cheerfully and thankfully to accept this scheme. One of the worst features in the discussion on the Indian Bill was that some hon. Members encouraged and helped the opposition in India by saying that the Bill was a trumpery one, and that they ought not to be satisfied with it, so encouraging them to agitate. If we have an opportunity here of telling the people of Burma that certain politicians in Burma might mend their ways, and that it was discreditable to them that the proceedings of a liberal-minded Committee like that conducted by Sir Frederick Whyte should be boycotted, we should do it. Such men do not deserve the franchise. If, I say, my hon. and gallant Friend opposite would tell his Burmese friends that, if they do not give up their boycotting and practises of that kind, they will deserve nothing that we can give them, so much the better.

We had from two hon. Members some very proper comments upon the proposals to make forests a transferred subject. I am not disposed to go so far as to oppose the decision and recommendations of the Whyte Committee. I let it pass. But I wish to say that I have great misgivings on the way in which the Burmese Ministry will exercise the powers conferred upon them in regard to the forests. My recollection of forest policy in India is that we had long and sometimes bitter controversies in the Bombay Presidency as to the forest problem and the forest policy of the Bombay Government. The attitude of popular politicians in regard to the question of forestry is not a conservative attitude, and I trust hon. Members on the opposite side will not misunderstand me when I say that a policy in regard to the forests which is not conservative is a wasteful and may be a disastrous policy. It is immediate benefit that the people ask for. They do not look to the larger and later results. There is a passage in one of the printed Papers (Whyte Report, page 41), in connection with this matter which I think expresses fairly well the risks that will be run and the way in which the forests might be managed under a popular administration:
"Scientific conservation of an asset of this nature, in favouring future generations, is naturally not, popular, and it would not be wise to place the responsibility for it in the hands of a Minister who will be responsible to, and naturally largely influenced by, the wishes of an electorate which is as yet completely untrained and incapable of appreciating the importance of a policy of scientific and far-sighted development."
As I say, I am not going so far as to oppose that suggestion, but I do say that it will be an advantage if in Burma it is known that in this House grave doubts have been expressed as to the wisdom of this proposed transfer, and if we urge upon Ministers to be careful in dealing with so valuable an asset, and not to give in to popular clamour and make wasteful and hazardous concessions.

We are asked, as regards the future, how the Burmese are likely to exercise the privileges and rights we are about to impose upon them. Some have said that you will not get in Burma a, political class; you will not get anything equivalent to the Moderates or the Liberals of India. In the Council of State last year there was a Debate upon the Burmese question, and the European representative of Rangoon, Sir E. Holberton, said:
"Provided the Government meet them on two points, reform and education, young Burmans will remain on the right side, and will develop into a most useful political organisation whose services will be of a permanent utility to the local governments."
We may be told we are running risks in passing these regulations and in introducing Burma to the privileges of the Diarchy. We run risks. But we shall run greater risks if we allow Burma to remain outside the Indian Constitution. I for one—and I am sure the Noble Lord will say the same thing—would hesitate and fear to pass by the claims of Burma at this moment. They are recent, but they are growing, and are very strong, and though the people of Burma are a mild and gentle, and on the whole, a reasonable people, they would not stand without something more than a mere protest much longer the withholding of their rights. Therefore, we may, I think, look forward with confidence to the future. We have got good advice on the various points, and we will look forward to the Burmese accepting the privileges which are being bestowed upon them, and using them wisely. I am altogether with the Noble Lord in his belief that the development of representative institutions and constitutional liberties in outlying parts of the Empire does greatly tend to strengthen the Empire, otherwise I should not support this Resolution.

5.0 P.M.

I am one of those who have always regretted that Burma was in any way connected with India, and I look forward to the day when Burma will be regarded, not as part of the Indian conception of nationality, but as a separate nation altogether from India. If I thought that the constitution which is now proposed was in any way likely to make that policy more difficult in the future, and less likely to be realised, I should hesitate to support this scheme. I do feel that we have in Burma and the Burmese people a very distinct nationality of its own, with a distinctive culture and race and, above all, a distinctive religion which has permeated the whole social outlook of the Burmese people, and whatever may be the destiny of India and the Indian peninsular proper, the evolution of Burma will be different and on quite different lines, producing an entirely different civilisation.

It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the one part of the world under the jurisdiction of the India Office which has been the last to receive a Constitution of this kind is the one part of that territory which stands out as being more pre-eminently suited to this new Constitution and, indeed, for more suited than some of the other Indian provinces. I rejoice with the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) that in Burma the non-Indian view has been taken at last with regard to the franchise, and I do think it is possible, in view of the condition of Burma, to have an extremely low general franchise, because there you have no caste traditions and there are not a large number of very rich or poor people. You have a wide distribution of property and elementary education, and taking the Burmese as a whole they are much of a muchness, a very attractive and simple people with extremely attractive virtues and very few vices. I believe, on the whole, that Burma of all Asiatic people, together with the Siamese and people of kindred racial conditions, are people who can most readily absorb what we call democratic ways of doing things, and I believe they can absorb those ideas even more readily than India, where there is a great Mahommedan ascendancy through the Sultans and the Princes, and where there is a caste system stratifying the whole of society. Therefore in granting Burma a democratic Constitution, I regard it as much more likely to be the real permanent foundation of the ultimate Constitution which will be worked out by the Burmese in the course of time.

With what has been said about the diarchy I quite agree. I hope that from the very start, as was the case in Madras, there will be an effort made to work the thing more or less as a united Government. After all, a diarchy is simply a stepping stone to something else—not a thing in itself to be preserved at all costs, but only a thing to work through in, order to obtain another thing. What is the object of it? Simply to make it perfectly clear that the responsibility for a very considerable field no longer rests with the British Government and the British Raj. Considering the difficult time those Officers are having at the present moment and the difficulties with which they are faced, I think they have been very unfairly treated and criticised. After all, they are the agents of Parliament who are responsible to us, and if there is anybody responsible for any mistakes they commit, then it is the British Minister sitting on the Treasury Bench and the Members of this House who are equally responsible for not bringing the Ministers to account who are at fault. This idea of bureaucracy. I think, is a little hard at this stage, and, surely, we want to get away from those rather trite and easy phrases into the newer atmosphere. Personally I believe that this Constitution for Burma is overdue by nearly five years, since the historic declaration of 20th August, 1917. I think there has been a most unfortunate delay in bringing this matter to a final con- clusion. In the beginning there certainly seemed to be a considerable lack of vision, not as to how opinion was likely to move in Burma, but as to how it was moving throughout Asia, because this movement has been synchronous throughout the whole Continent. I think a little more vision ought to have been shown in this matter, and I regret very much that. Burma was not given this new Constitution at the time when the other provinces were dealt with.

I would like to say a word or two about the forests. I notice there is no Amendment on the Paper dealing with forests, and I am rather surprised at this, because it rather implies that the matter is not going to be dealt with any further. The people who will suffer first from any mismanagement of the forests are the Burmese people themselves through the revenues of Burma, and this will be brought home to them extremely soon if any unscientific management of the forests is undertaken. In view of the evidence which we have had before us, I am rather inclined to take the view that we should not anticipate that the Burmese Minister and the Burmese Council will act in a manner so contrary to the true and proper scientific interests of their country as has been indicated. On the whole, I should think that it is more likely to be exactly the other way, and that a Burmese Minister, in dealing with scientific matters, will be inclined to lean even more than the ordinary European official to purely scientific advice. Therefore I do not think we need have any fear on that ground.

There is one point in connection with the forest service and the development of that service, and that is the control of the forest officers. The relations between the forest officers and the Minister depend very largely upon the personal sympathy of the Minister and the readiness of that Minister to enter into the life of the man who is engaged in forest work. That is one of the difficulties which we have to face. If one may be allowed on this occasion to say things which may be reported in Burma, I hope that when this transfer is made that, whatever Government becomes responsible for that great trust of the nation, the forests, they will enter fully into the difficulties and the hardships which faced the forest officers who have served the Minister and the country so well, and who have during the last 20 or 30 years made the forest administration of Burma admittedly one of the finest and best administered forestry districts of the world. I know that scientific men who are well known all over the world are ready to pay that tribute to the forest management of Burma.

With regard to the other questions which have been raised, I must confess that I have considerable sympathy with the object of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme in seeking to limit in Burma, as far as possible, the application of what is to my mind the unfortunate Indian system of communal representation. We had to apply communal representation in India, but I understand from what I have heard this afternoon that there is to be laid on the Table of the House a report of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies on the West Indies, in which, I understand, there is a new constitution suggested for Trinidad. I remember that there we were asked for communal representation, and I am glad to say that we turned it down very decisively. Where-ever it can be avoided, I think communal representation should be avoided, because it has a tendency to stereotype racial and religious differences and prevents the cohesion of different classes of the community. Therefore I venture to express the hope that even yet it may be possible to minimise the grant of communal representation which is proposed.

I know I am saying this rather against the Indians in Burma, but there is in Burma a large floating population who have really no permanent interests in Burma and, in fact, have no real connection with its interests, and therefore I think to stereotype their representation for all time in the Burmese Council would be most unfortunate. In a country like Burma, which is overwhelmingly populated by men of one race, one language, and one religion, we want to do everything we can to make that community one, and not allow it to be split up into fragments, factions and small divisions. I notice that my right hon. Friend opposite says, "No Home Rule." But obviously, unless you have something of this kind, the government of Burma will become impossible. It is perfectly clear that not only in the British Empire, but all over the world, there is a movement in the direction of devolution, and, as education spreads, men of different races and different traditions become more and more keenly interested in public affairs, in the future of their country, and in developing more and more strongly a quite definite local patriotism. One sees all over the British Empire strong local patriotism springing up everywhere. It is imitating us. I remember a criticism once made to me by a Frenchman with regard to English administration. He said, "You Englishmen go to Egypt and other places, you play your polo, your cricket and your tennis, and if the natives of the country attempt to imitate you, you tell them that it is awful cheek on their part to attempt to play your games"

Yes, I might have made the reply in that case that we learned the game of polo from India. Still, there is this somewhat unfair criticism passed upon us, that we resent being imitated by the people with whom we come into contact in these countries After what we have done in India, it is clear we cannot prevent Burma having a similar desire. My right hon. Friend opposite shakes his head. He has on his face an expression of regret and almost of disgust—

I do not belong to the Coalition Government any more than my right hon. Friend opposite. Like him, I have never claimed to be a very keen Coalitionist, and I am entitled to sit where I like in the House However, I do not wish to pursue that line of argument. I venture to say that this Burma reform scheme, now considerably overdue, backed up as it has been largely by the work of Sir Frederick Whyte, is a thoroughly satisfactory proposal which Members of all parties, irrespective of party prejudice, may now hope to see effectively worked in a spirit of true cooperation by all sections of the inhabitants of Burma. One thing is remarkable, and that is the support which the scheme has received from unofficial Europeans resident in Burma. They do not take the hostile attitude assumed by my right hon. Friend opposite. They do not take an extremely narrow, reactionary view. Having regard to the advice we have received from the Government of India and the Government of Burma, and from the Secretary of State in Council, having regard, too, to unofficial European opinion in India and the overwhelming demand of thousands of the Burmese people themselves, I think we shall be right in doing what my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary has requested this House to do this afternoon.

The hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat has been kind enough to attribute to me opinions which I have never expressed.

At any rate, he complained because I did not show entire admiration for the very divergent views which he has expressed this afternoon. He remarked that I shook my head at certain passages. What I shook my head at was certain absolutely ludicrous nonsense to which he was giving expression, about Englishmen being unwilling to play polo and other games with Indians. I have no wish whatever to oppose the passage of these rules, or, indeed, to give a grudging assent to the Bill. But at the same time my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary knows quite well that here I am not expressing my own views solely. I am giving expression to the views of a great many people in Burma and in India who know those countries far better than the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) or the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore). I say there are grave doubts as to the wisdom of what we are doing, and I cannot listen calmly to speeches which uniformly offer a sort of dope to our consciences such as those we have heard this afternoon—speeches which convey the idea that there are no dangers visible and no doubts possible as to the course we are pursuing. Anyone who has served, as I have served, on these Indian Committees for some years, or who has had close relations, as I have had for 30 years, with India, naturally resents the abuse in which the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme indulged in regard to the ruling classes there.

I have never wished, and never intended, to abuse the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy, and if the right hon. Gentleman can supply me with a better term to use in place of bureaucracy, I shall be delighted to use it in the future. It is the fault of the English language that I have to use the word "bureaucracy."

I do not think the hon. and gallant Member by his remarks showed any deep admiration of those who are serving their country in India. After all, we have had to grope our way in India. I have served for years on this Joint Committee. I studied every step and stage of the so-called Indian reform, and I have equally studied every stage of this Burma question. Is the House aware of the shifting and rather doubtful steps by which the administration and the Government have advanced to the present position? First, under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge County (Mr. E. Montagu), the late Secretary of State for India, proposals were made by the Government of Burma for certain reforms. These were turned down by the Government of India, which then put forward its own proposals. These were carefully considered in their turn by the India Office at home. The right hon. Member for Cambridge promised that after due consideration a reply should be given, but before that was done he issued an entirely new scheme—a course often pursued in connection with Indian administration which sometimes makes us doubt whether the steps suggested are not a little unwise and ill-considered. The Government of India thereupon abandoned their proposals. They said that the further reforms proposed by the India Office here had made it impossible for them to revert to their former proposals, and they must now abandon them, and would agree to proposals which in the first instance they had attempted to combat very strongly. This shows that we have been led along a very doubtful path. There have been various proposals made, and the final one is the outcome of very sudden turns and changes by those responsible for it. We have now got this extraordinary diarchy scheme, never applied to the government of any country, civilised or uncivilised, and which may well be described as a maggot bred out of the brain of some pedantic constitution mongerer. The scheme creates a division of the functions of Government by putting certain functions into the hands of one set of people and certain other functions in the hands of another set of people of totally opposite views, and then calling them both parts of the same Government, although it is a Government composed of men divided by fundamental differences on one side and the other.

That is what you have adopted in India, and what I assert is not working well, and will not work well, in India. It will do infinite injury to the Indian people. Do we remember, in groping about for a new Constitution, in using glib phrases about advancing Western ideas of representation into the East, of implanting new ideas of self-determination and self-government there—do we remember that we have vast responsibilities in these places, and that, if the result of our experimental introduction of Western ideas of representative government proves ruinous, proves, indeed, to be again the source of struggles such as those from which India suffered for centuries—internecine struggles between creeds and castes and dynasties—if we indulge in constitution-mongering so easily and so quickly, and reached by such groping and doubtful progress, do we remember that, all the same, our responsibility remains? I am not going to oppose these Rules, but I will take as a specimen only one question, that of forestry. In the Committee we all agreed upon that, but how many of us did so with misgiving? I say without fear of contradiction that the majority of those who accepted that proposal did so with the greatest misgiving. Will it be a blessing to Burma, if you find that you have ruined their forest industry, that you have given to two or three millions a vote in which they really have very little interest? What will that advantage them if, in return for this imitation of modern Western ideas, you turn their forests into a source of ruin rather than of wealth? The hon. Member for Stafford says that he has his doubts, but asks, "Are we sure that the forests will be ruined?" I would put it in this way: I would say that we have no right to give up our responsibility unless we see almost the certainty or, at any rate, a very great amount of probability, that they will rise to the responsibility and preserve this great source of wealth. It is not a matter of asking whether we are sure they will be ruined; it is a matter of asking, are we sure or, at any rate, have we every ground for believing it to be most probable, that they will be preserved? The hon. Member says they must keep those great officers who have carried on the work with so much skill and with such beneficent results.

If you give them the Constitution in a grudging spirit, saying, "We are giving you this, but you have frightened us into it," that is the way to ruin it.

I contradict that absolutely. It is a misrepresentation of what I said, and the hon. Member knows that perfectly well. I said that I was not giving it grudgingly, but I pointed out that I was not blind to the responsibility that rests upon us. It is altogether unfair and unworthy of the hon. Member to say that an attitude of that sort, which recognises our responsibility, is one that involves a grudging grant of what is their due. I repudiate it altogether, and deny that the hon. Member has any right to assert it. I would give it in no grudging spirit, but with the deepest sense of responsibility and the deepest foreboding that evil may come. We gave a wide measure of responsibility to the Government of India. Have you found that the officers there, those bureaucrats who spent their lives there, have been treated so well by Indian Ministers under the system of diarchy? Have they been treated so well by the Legislative Assembly? Have not their names been a centre for abuse from one end of India to the other? Do you think that the officers of Burma are likely to be treated any better? We have a responsibility to those officers, but, although it is a great responsibility, and I myself am deeply interested personally in these services, yet to my mind it is the smallest of our responsibilities there. The real responsibility that we have is to the people of India and the people of Burma. While I am grudging no grant of constitutional government that has been made, and am not opposing it, I do say, and I am certain that I am expressing the opinion of many of those who know India well, that we should remember that we do not shuffle off the vast weight of responsibility which rests upon us, in the eyes of Providence and in the eyes of the world, for the fate of India and of Burma. If by any rashness or recklessness, by any procedure that is carried out too quickly and without due consideration, you lead to a period of disorder and difficulty such as has dogged India for centuries, then your gift, however ungrudging, however good-intentioned, will be in itself ruinous for India.

I should like to say one word with regard to forestry, having had some connection with the history of forestry in this country. In the Forestry Reconstruction Sub-Committee, of which I happened to be chairman, we made it very clear that we thought it necessary to a proper policy that forests should not be at the perpetual risk of change according to the change of Ministers or parties in a Legislative Assembly. I remember drafting a sentence in that Report which said that it would do as much harm to be for ever pulling up your forestry policy by the roots as it would do to the trees which had been planted. Therefore, in the first legislation passed in this House, care was taken that forestry should be under some continuing body, and should not be liable to sudden changes according to changes of administration; and to my instinct, derived from my previous experience, it is rather a shock to find that it is proposed at once to hand over forestry to a Minister responsible to a legislative assembly. On the other hand, however, this Constitution points to the intention to do that some time, to make that transfer sooner or later, to be progressive in Burma just as in the different provinces of India. From that point of view, and also because I am sure that Sir Frederick Whyte and his colleagues must have considered the matter very carefully before they made the recommendation, I think the right course is being taken in proposing to make the transfer at the present time.

It is, of course, very tempting for an administration to say, "Let us make more money by making larger profits out of our forests," without making proper provision for replanting, and so forth; but I have a very strong feeling that the Ministers in Burma are to be trusted, in regard to their forest policy, to take the same view as the present forest administration there takes, and to make real provision for the future, seeing to it that, even if the matter is transferred to them by what we are now doing, they will not yield to the temptation of making sudden profits for the sake of temporary revenues without making proper provision for permanence. It is true that, if you make a mistake with regard to forestry, it will sometimes take 150 years for that mistake really to be discovered and put right, but, nevertheless, particularly in view of the fact that we must look forward to this service being a transferred service at some time, I believe the course of wisdom is being taken in making it a transferred service from the first, as I understand it is proposed to do.

I should like, with the leave of the House, to reply now to the various points made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have spoken in the Debate. First of all, may I say that I was very glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland) intervened? I do not know whether he has read the evidence given before the Whyte Committee. I do not think it has been published, but I think it would be worth his while to read it if he has not done so already, and, in that case, I shall be happy to lend it to him. His name and authority were constantly referred to by the witnesses, and he was quoted as having said that forest policy should be taken altogether out of the realm of politics. I have no reason to complain of the criticism that has been directed against this scheme this afternoon. On the contrary, most of it has been friendly. The only exception that I would make to that is in regard to the criticism directed against the transference of forestry by the hon. and gallant Member for Clackmannan (Major Glyn), whom I am sorry not to see now in his place. I did not like to interrupt him, although I did ask him to quote the whole views of the Government of Burma, because the impression that he gave was that the Government of Burma do not agree with the transference. Of course the Government of Burma have agreed, and all the authorities have agreed. The Government of India indicated their agreement, and then came the question of the Government of Burma, who previously had objected to the transfer. I begged the hon. and gallant Member to quote the whole of their views, but he did not, and I think he gave a totally wrong impression. The Government of India said:

"It will be seen from the foregoing paragraphs that we do not minimise these risks"—
that is to say, the risks of handing Over—
"but that we nevertheless record our deliberate opinion that foresight demands that they should be faced and overcome in the early stages of the Constitution. We do not consider that the making of forests a transferred subject is likely to affect the forest revenue to any appreciable extent."
That was what was said by the Government of India. This is what the Government of Burma said:
"On its merits, therefore, Sir Reginald Craddock adheres to the view that forests is essentially a subject which ought to be reserved. On the other hand, as the Committee point out, this question of the transfer of forests was one of the crucial points of their inquiry, and all the Burmese witnesses were emphatically in favour of the transfer, owing, as the Committee consider, to a general feeling that in Burma, to a greater extent than in other Provinces, the administration of forests is intimately bound up with the life of the people, who have, therefore, a right to a voice in their management.' The consequence of this is that the decision whether to transfer forests or not will undoubtedly be regarded as the acid test ' by which the sincerity of Government in granting reforms to Burma will be judged. For alit; reason, in view of the paramount importance of securing the acceptance of the Reform Scheme by as large a section of public opinion as possible, the Lieutenant-Governor is not prepared to advise that forests should he kept as a reserved subject."
That being so, no hon. Member is entitled to make such an attack and to give the impression that we were acting in face of the views of the different authorities. The Secretary of State has made the proposal because it was unanimously accepted—it is true at first with reluctance in the case of Burma—by both the Governments. Of course we all realise that in handing over these forests there is a certain amount of risk, but-and I would say this particularly to my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik)—there has never been a constitutional experiment made yet, there has never been any step in constitutional progress, which did not involve some risk. It was the case even with the Reform Bill of 1832. No one denies that, but when you have the Government of Burma saying that this is going to be the acid test by which the sincerity of these proposals will be judged, it shows that the Secretary of State had no option but to take the action that he did take.

As regards the points raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for Melton (Sir C. Yate), whom also I do not see in his place, I can only say that I cannot accept his view that a perfectly fair representation of Europeans is not provided for. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said he did not consider that he was qualified even for a vote at 21. I do not know what the state of his mind was at 21, but I hope he does not suggest that I was not qualified to take my seat in this House at 21, thereby doing what very many other Members have done before and since. It is absurd at this time of the day to use as an argument for forbidding the franchise to Indians at 18 that a person in this country is not fit to exercise the franchise at 21. My hon. and gallant Friend raised another point on the question of enfranchising ex-officers and ex-soldiers. He does not realise fully what the rules do. On page 26 of the draft Rules, these words occur:
"Subject to the provisions, etc., a person shall be qualified as an elector who is a retired, pensioned, or discharged officer, noncommissioned officer, or soldier of His Majesty's regular forces."
As far as I could gather his point, we have fully carried it out in our draft rules. He referred also to what he described as freak candidates. For some reason best known to himself he said that I have used the term "freak candidates." I am unaware of ever having used the phrase. If he supposed that by demanding from every candidate at every election in this country or India or anywhere else a deposit of money before he stands you can prevent freak members being elected to any deliberative assembly, his political history for the last 100 years is strangely at fault, because, after all, if he objects to persons of eccentric view standing as candidates, surely the harm is done, not in the act of standing, but in the act of their being elected. As far as I know, no means exist for preventing a person from being elected if the electors elect him. I am looking forward to the opportunity of replying to the very thoughtful and valuable contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby- Gore) on the Amendment which is to be moved dealing with communal representation. I should like once again to express my thanks for the fairness of such criticism as there has been and the way hon. Members have received these Rules.

I beg to move, after the word "namely" ["Draft. Burma Electoral Rules, namely"], to insert:

"Page 2, Rule 4, line 3, after Con6tituency ' insert and the number, if any, of seats reserved for Burman or Indian members (hereinafter in these Rules referred to as reserved seats.)'"
The object of the Amendment is to restore Rule 4 to the way it read when it was sent to this country by the Governor of India. The words I am proposing to insert were cut out by the India Office, and I am now suggesting that the view taken by the Government of India in the first place should hold, and that the view taken by the India Office here should be altered. The Amendment affects what is known as communal representation. Communal representation is a method of attempting to protect minorities, either of race or religion. The idea is, if one applied communal representation to this country, for instance, all Scotsmen living in England would not have their names on the general voters' list, but there would be a special Scotsman's register, and all the Scotsmen in England would vote for a Scotch representative. That would be communal representation for the Scotch.

It would be rather a good thing for some people. If you carried it out still further, you would have special representation in this country for Roman Catholics. All the Roman Catholics in the country, instead of having a couple of hundred votes in each constituency, would be lumped together in a dozen constituencies and would elect a dozen Roman Catholic Members to the House of Commons. They would be communably represented. Exactly the same treatment would apply to the Plymouth Brethren and the Anabaptists. They would all have communal representation and would elect their own representatives to this House. Although that is a thoroughly un-English idea, that is the idea we have imported into this new Indian Constitution. We have started a special representation of these minorities of religion or race in order that they be protected against the brutal treatment of the majority. You have only to state the case in that way to show conclusively that that is the very worst way of protecting minorities. Every Member in this House with a few hundred Roman Catholic voters in his constituency is bound to be more tender towards the views of the Roman Catholics than if he had none. We have to think of the views of Scotsmen because we have a few Scotsmen in our constituencies. We have to cease to 'be anti-Semite because there are a few Jews in our constituency. If we had no such constituents we could legislate for those minorities, and outvote their special representatives in the House with perfect ease and a good conscience. As it is, it is perfectly well known in this country that minorities are safe because all minorities have votes on the general list, and even though they cannot elect their own man, by using their votes they can turn the electoral balance between two candidates who are both asking for their suffrages. If you want to protect minorities, I would say for God's sake adopt the English method which has been tried for 800 years rather than the method which has been introduced, not really and honestly to protect minorities, but from a very different point of view.

In Burma itself there are certain minorities which have been considered in all these schemes which have been brought forward. There is a large Chinese commercial element and there are the Indians. Three-quarters of the population of Rangoon are Indians. I do not know why they are called a minority. They are the majority in Rangoon. They are a large element in Mandalay. Altogether there must be over 1,000,000 Indians in Burma. Then there are the Karens. They are very largely Christian and they are mixed throughout the whole of Burma. You will find villages of Karens in one place and Burmans in another and they are always mixed in the villages themselves. They speak the same language, and where they are not Christianised they have the same religion. There is also a minority of Anglo-Indians—what we used to call Eurasians—and there are the Europeans themselves. In the first scheme, which was brought forward by the present Governor, a man who is still the Government of Burma, there was only communal representation for the Indians and the Chinese, and when the scheme had been considered even that communal representation was struck out, and the first scheme went forward without any communal representation at all. It was realised that the best safeguard for minorities was either nomination by the Governor of special representatives to look after the interests of those minorities, or else a vote on the general list. The first considered scheme, therefore, had no communal representation, at, all.

Then came the Whyte Committee inquiring into the exact details of the Constitution. Two years afterwards, the Whyte Committee went out to Burma to go into the details of the Constitution. They received evidence both from Karens and Burmans. Unfortunately, the only people who would give evidence were those who braved the boycott, or took up a moderate line, and naturally you did not get the most radical views expressed by those people. The Committee itself, after considering all the evidence before them, came to this conclusion:
"We were and still are unanimously of opinion that communal electorates are an undesirable feature in any representative system."
Mr. Whyte was a member of the House, and knew what the real British Constitution was. He goes on:
"Indeed, after the evidence presented, we have no course but to recommend certain special measures for minority representation."
He goes on to point out that they were driven to provide those special measures, in the teeth of the opposition of the two members of the Committee who were Burmans, who both published protes against the scheme, and I should like to read the objections taken by these Burmans, because they seem to me to go to the whole root of the question. This is what Maung Po-Bye, who is now a member of the Legislative Council, says:
"The people of Burma as a whole resent deeply the claims of others for the communal representation, which is rousing a great deal of suspicion that the policy of 'divide and rule' is put to the forefront."
There you have the whole thing. Every time communal representation is brought forward the Burmans or Indians say, "This is the old English dodge of dividing and ruling. You set up a number of communities to fight each other in order that you can carry on." He writes a long screed upon the question and points out that the Frenchmen in Canada have no communal representation nor the Englishmen in South Africa, nor the Jews in England, nor the Parsees in the Bombay Presidency. He might have completed his list by pointing out that the only case in the British Empire up till now of communal representation is an example of how it fails to protect minorities in the case of New Zealand, where you have special communal representation for the Maoris. There are three Maori representatives in the New Zealand Parliament. No Maori has a vote for any white Member of Parliament. They have their special list of voters, and their special representatives, and the result is lamentable for the interests of the Maoris. Three Maori representatives are naturally a small minority, and are voted down each time. How much better would for them if they had been in the position of the Roman Catholics in having a few votes in each constituency.

The other Burman representative, Maurg Myint, says:
"The Burmese public will view this sort of scheme as a 'divide and rule policy' and as uncalled for in Burma endowed with her natural favourable conditions."
6.0 P.M.

It is only 35 years since we conquered Burma. It is true it was badly governed before we conquered it, but there was no persecution of minorities. They are essentially a peaceful people who do not go in for the good old religious hatreds of Europe or even for the national hatreds of Eastern Europe at present. They live together peacefully. There is no evidence from the facts to show that any special care for minorities is necessary. Both the Burmans on the Committee objected even to the proposals of the Committee. Those proposals were that there should be special measures taken to protect minorities, and not communal representation as carried on in India. There was to be no separate voters' list. There was to be one voters' list for the whole of the country so that every candidate who came before a constituency had to ask for the suffrages of Karens, Indians and Burmans, so that he had to make his policy pleasing both to the Karens, the Indians and the Bur-mans. They had no separate representation whatsoever. All they suggest in this Committee's Report is that in a certain number of constituencies, one-third should be reserved for minorities. That is what was carried out in Bombay in order to secure representation for the Mahrattas, and in Madras in order to secure representation for the non-Brahmins. So far as Madras was concered, it was found that when they went to the poll the non-Brahmins practically swept the Brahmins out of existence and there was no need for this minority representation at all. The system of reserved seats has very few of the objectionable features that apply to the system of separate communal representation The Whyte Committee recommended that there should be certain seats, not more than 12 in all, reserved, some for Indians and some for Karens. The local Government, who previously had introduced a scheme which provided no communal representation whatever, took objection to this, and urged that instead of having reserved seats there should be special communal representation. This went up to the Government of India at Delhi, and they turned down the local Government and backed up the Whyte Committee's Report. They said: "We will have no communal representation. We have had enough of it. We will have, instead, reserved seats, which have worked satisfactorily in Bombay and Madras." Then it came from the Government of India to the India Office. Unfortunately, it came back after there had been a change in the administration of the India Office. I feel certain that the right hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Montagu) with his experience of communal representation in India in practice would undoubtedly have supported the system of reserved seats, rather than the system of communal representation. The India Office, however, reversed the decision of the Government of India. I am bound to say that the Government of India when their scheme had been reversed accepted the alteration, although I think the Noble Lord will say that they accepted it without enthusiasm. The scheme now is that the representation of the minorities in Burma, whether they be Indian minorities, Karen minorites, Eurasian minorities or European minorities, should be met by their having a separate list of voters, and that they should elect their own people and have nothing in common with any other religion, colour or creed.

The seats are not what matters. What matters is the separation of interests. It is not a question of how many people they may elect. If I were a candidate for a seat on the Council I could not ask one of these separate communities to vote for me. I could not be heckled by them. There would be a gulf fixed between us. What matters is not the number of seats but who are the electors behind the people elected. I ask the House to consider whether we could not, even at this time, accept the scheme as originally proposed by the Governor himself, accept the scheme as proposed by the Whyte Committee and as adopted by the Government of India, and reject the scheme which has behind it, in the first place, merely the local government of Burma, which has changed its mind, and the India Office, which has changed its Secretary of State. That is what we are up against. We had this Amendment put before us on the Standing Joint Committee, and on that Committee not only the hon. Member for Sevenoaks {Sir T. Bennett) but the late Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, voted fox the original scheme and against the Government scheme on this point. Could we not by the alteration I propose give another pledge to the people of Burma that we are not seeking to divide and rule, whether by bureaucracy or by the agents of force, but that we desire to give them the best means for working out a democratic solution of their Government?

This manuscript Amendment raises the whole question of communal representation as opposed to what I will, for the purpose of ease, describe as reserved representation. I want, at the outset, to make clear my position, and to ask the House in advance to excuse me if on this very complicated question I do not make all the points clear. I dissent entirely from the view put by the hon. and gallant Member that there is any great fundamental difference between communal representation, pure and simple, which we propose in this case, and the system of reserved representation, which he suggests by his Amendment. Both of them are a form of communal representation. If there is any meaning attached to the word "communal," our form of communal representation—I admit there are arguments both ways—is the fairer means of securing special representation than the system of reserved seats proposed by the hon. and gallant Member. Here may I say that I do not think it is fair for the hon. and gallant Member to suggest, even inferentially, that under the administration of my Noble Friend everything is stepping back. This proposal has been considered by my Noble Friend, and those who are qualified and whose duty it is to consider it, purely on its merits, and we believe that this is the fairest way of giving representation.

The hon. and gallant Member did not quote what the Standing Joint Committee said on the subject. It is true that the hon. Member for Sevenoaks, whose assistance, both on the Standing Joint Committee and in this House, in regard to Indian affairs is greatly valued, and Lord Chelmsford were opposed to this particular proposal; but the proposal was carried by a large majority of the Committee, who in their report said:
"The Committee have decided that, in all the circumstances, the preferable solution is the provision of eight separate communal seats for Indians in five towns, and of five separate communal seats for Karens in rural areas—a total of 15 communal seats (including one for Europeans and one for Anglo-Indians) out of 79 elected seats."
This proposal applies in those cases where Indians and Karens are in communities, and where as a distinct race it would be impossible, in the opinion of the authorities concerned, to deal with them except by some system of special representation. The House is asked to choose between asking for communal representation pure and simple, and the scheme of reserved seats. What would be the effect if the hon. and gallant Member's Amendment was accepted? I have carefully considered this matter, and, as I understand it, the effect would be that you would have, say, a district returning three members, and one seat would be reserved for an Indian. The electors would consist of the whole of the qualified electors of the town, of whatever race. There might be five candidates—two Indians and three Burmans. The three Burmans come first, second and third on the poll, and the two Indians fourth and fifth. The Indian coming fourth on the list would take the reserved seat, and the two Burmans who came first and second on the poll would take the other two seats. This is a proposal which is made by one of the leaders of democracy in this House. He actually proposes that a man who is elected by the votes of the electors is not to sit. Surely, that shows that this cannot be seriously suggested. If you are going to have a communal system a representation at all our plan is the best, namely, that where these Indians and Karens are in large numbers, where they are a homogeneous community, we give them communal representation of their own. The hon. and gallant Member says that the Burmans have not asked for it. It is true that the two Burman representatives on the Whyte Committee were not in favour of communal representation. They may have been influenced by the fact that if communal representation was not granted the Indian voters in places where they were strongest would not get fair representation. The hon. and gallant Member also said that no Indians had asked for it. Not only did Mr. Ginwala, who was the Indian member of the Whyte Committee, put an addendum to the Whyte Committee's Report in which he was strongly in favour of it, but I have had a telegram from Indians in Burma asking that this communal representation may be granted to them.

It is a telegram from the chairman of a public meeting and President, Indian Association, Mandalay, dated 9th March, 1920, and is as follows:

"Public meeting Indian residents Mandalay consisting of Surtees, Zerbadees, Gujuratis, Mannans, Punjabees, Hindoostanis, Madrassees, Bengalese, Poonas, Marwaris, Chetties, and other communities, unanimously passed following resolution that in any scheme of Reforms introduced in Burma Indian communities ought to be given adequate and separate representations having regard to very important part played by Indians in development of trade, commerce, agriculture, education and public works in the Province."
Our scheme is much better than the one proposed by the hon. and gallant Member. Where the Indians and the Karens are in homogeneous communities, they will get special representation by means of the provision of separate seats, and will be able to elect one of their own members. If we accept the hon. and gallant Member's proposal there will be dissatisfaction from both sides. There will be dissatisfaction on the part of the Burmans, because in the case I have illustrated they would say that one of their number had been elected and was not allowed to sit. They would say: "Although Mr. So and so has been elected as one of the three members for the town, you do not allow him to sit, because of your absurd plan of reserved seats." There would be dissatisfaction on the part of the Indians, because they would say that he had not been allowed to vote from one of their own number. I hope in these circumstances the House will reject the Amendment. Whether they reject it or not, I hope they will not think that it is a more democratic proposal than the one I have made. I think it is distinctly less democratic.

I am sure my Noble Friend is right in regard to this Amendment. To give the Indians and the Karens certain reserved seats is just as vicious, or almost as vicious, as giving them separate communal lists of voters. I am prepared to vote for an Amendment which will give them no communal representation at all, but not for this further dodge of securing the election of a certain number of Indians and Karens into the Burma Council. If it is right and proper that a certain number of Indians and a certain number of Karens should be elected, I believe they would be elected in the ordinary way. We have the recent experience of a country like British Guiana, where there is a motley race of Portuguese, Indians, Africans, East Indians, Chinese, and whites. They all stand for constituencies in which there is one roll of voters. You do get an extraordinarily mixed representation. All the seats do not go to one race. The man who takes a part in public life, and who is a suitable member of the Council, is not debarred by his race and will get in.

The system which my hon. and gallant Friend proposes is the system which you have imposed upon India, or rather it is the system which India has imposed upon herself, which India demanded from this country and which we gave most regretfully. To introduce this Indian system, which is really the result of Mahommedan and Hindu divisions in India, into Burma for the purpose of protecting these minorities is unnecessary. He was right in what he said about Roman Catholics and Jews in this country. The mere fact that in each place there are a few Roman Catholics and probably a few Jews who are constituents makes sure that we shall attend to their needs and aspirations. The great Nonconformist Parliament in 1906 was all for giving special treatment to Church of England, Roman Catholic, and Jewish schools. That is a typical example of how a minority on the general voters' list can exercise its influence and get its way, and I believe that the Indians and Karens would be far better protected by the power of a vote on the general list than by having one or two representatives, who would necessarily

Division No. 132.]

AYES.

[6.20 p.m.

Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Rendall, Athelstan
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamHirst, G. H.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-spring)
Banton, GeorgeHodge, Rt. Hon. JohnRoyce, William Stapleton
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hogge, James MylesShaw, Thomas (Preston)
Bennett, Sir Thomas JewellIrving, DanSpoor, B. G.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Cairns, JohnLawson, John JamesThorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)Lunn, WilliamWaterson, A. E.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Lyle-Samuel, AlexanderWedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Wignall, James
Entwistle, Major C. F.Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)Wilson, James (Dudley)
Gillis, WilliamMurray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Glanville, Harold JamesMyers, Thomas
Grundy, T. W.Naylor, Thomas Ellis

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—

Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)Newbould, Alfred ErnestMr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy.
Hallas, Eldred

NOES

Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.Conway, Sir W. MartinHilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank
Adkins, Sir William Ryland DentCraik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryHohler, Gerald Fitzroy
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteDalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard
Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Hood, Sir Joseph
Baird, Sir John LawrenceEdge, Captain Sir WilliamHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyEdnam, ViscountHoward, Major S. G.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Evans, ErnestHudson, R. M.
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayHurd, Percy A.
Barnett, Major Richard W.Fell, Sir ArthurJesson, C.
Barnston, Major HarryFlides, HenryJodrell, Neville Paul
Barrand, A. R.FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Ford, Patrick JohnstonKellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertForestier-Walker, L.Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Galbraith, SamuelKing, Captain Henry Douglas
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Ganzoni, Sir JohnLewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Gee, Captain RobertLowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)
Borwick, Major G. O.Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamLyle, C. E. Leonard
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Gilbert, James DanielM'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnMacdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Glyn, Major RalphMackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasGreen, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Macnaghten, Sir M.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveGreenwood, Rt. Hon, Sir HamarMaddocks, Henry
Brown, Major D. C.Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamMitchell, Sir William Lane
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.Molson, Major John Elsdale
Campion, Lieut. Colonel W. R.Hall, Captain Sir Douglas BernardMoreing, Captain Algernon H.
Cautley, Henry StrotherHall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)Morris, Richard
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryMunro, Rt. Hon. Robert
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Murchison, C. K.
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonHarris, Sir Henry PercyMurray, John (Leeds, West)
Clough, Sir RobertHennessy, Major J. R. G.Neal, Arthur
Coats, Sir StuartHerbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)

be always in a minority, on the Council, so that when the Karen interest or the India interest comes up the Burmans would say, "You have got your special representation. Let those members who are interested in your special representation deal with this matter." The Indians who sent that telegram to my Noble Friend are some of the most shortsighted Indians of whom I have ever heard. Therefore, in the interest of these minorities, I wish to give a clear vote against any form of communal representation or reserved seats, and I cannot support this particular Amendment of my hon. Friend.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 43; Noes, 156.

Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Roundell, Colonel R. F.Tickler, Thomas George
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Royds, Lieut.-Colonel EdmundTownley, Maximilian G.
Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)Wallace, J.
Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Nield, Sir HerbertSanders, Colonel Sir Robert ArthurWilliams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir HenryScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Williams, C. (Tavistock)
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. HughScott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamSimm, M. T.Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry
Parker, JamesSmith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)Winterton, Earl
Pearce, Sir WilliamSmith, Sir Harold (Warrington)Wise, Frederick
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Perkins, Walter FrankSteel, Major S. StrangWood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)Stewart, GershomWood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)Strauss, Edward AnthonyYate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest MurraySturrock, J. LengYeo, Sir Alfred William
Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray FraserYoung, E. H. (Norwich)
Purchase, H. G.Sugden, W. H.
Rawilnson, John Frederick PeelSutherland, Sir William

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—

Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Cherlsey)Thorpe, Captain John HenryMcCurdy.
Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4 leave out the second proviso "], to insert:

"Page 4, Rule 5, line 4, leave out '(b) is a female or.'"
The first Amendment on the Paper has been accepted by the Minister. It was put on the Paper before I saw that he had made that alteration. The point of this Amendment is to enable a woman who has a vote to stand for the Legislative Council. It seems to me absurd that a woman should be given a vote and at the same time should not be allowed to stand. I do not understand the principle upon which that provision is based. In this country, as soon as women got the vote they were allowed to stand, and in all other countries it has been the same. The gift of the vote has been the gift also of the right to stand. I would certainly urge that women should be allowed to stand in Burma, even though they were allowed to stand in no other country on earth. In Burma women are the politicians of the country. In every village association men and women are organised politically. There is only one organisation in Burma stronger than the Young Burmans. That is the Buddhist Educational Society, most of whom are women. Women play such a part in politics in Burma as they play in other part of the world. They are the politicians of the country.

We are very anxious to get Burma to accept this Constitution, because this is an alternative of having Burma an Ireland or having Burma an Australia. We want them to accept this Constitution, to come into the British Commonwealth of Nations, and to avoid race hatred. I want the women to have the power to sit in Parliament, because I believe that that would be one of the factors which they will consider important. They are politicians. If you shut them out of Parliament they will say, "Why should not we continue the want of co-operation and leave the Government to carry on their diarchy without us?" That is exactly what happened in the Punjab. If it had not been for the Constitution given to the Punjab, which practically prohibited any one of the Indian leaders in the Punjab ever getting into Parliament, except one leader from Lahore, you would have had most of the Punjab leaders in the councils to-day instead of in jail representing the extremist view. Non-co-operation, to a certain extent, is created by the private grievance of not being allowed to stand or take any part in the legislative work. Therefore I urge, apart from all questions of right or wrong, or of the futility of giving women the vote, and then saying to them, "You shall not stand"—apart from that, for the practical reason of getting the scheme to work, I urge that the Amendment should be accepted.

I could not possibly accept this Amendment. My hon. and gallant Friend's speech illustrates how difficult it is to please the school of thought which he represents. The proposal made here on behalf of the Government is a great advance on proposals in the Government of India Act. First of all, we give the women the vote ab initio. Secondly, in India a woman cannot be a, member of the councils, and in order to give her power to be a member of any of the councils we should have to amend the Act. All we say here is that a woman shall not be eligible for candidature for a council until a resolution is passed by the council, after not less than one month's notice has been given, and the local government may then, with the consent of the Governor, make au order on his behalf providing that no woman shall be disqualified, etc. In other words, we

Division No. 133.]

AYES.

[6.35 p m.

Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamHenderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Banton, GeorgeHirst, G. H.Raffan, Peter Wilson
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abetillery)Hodge, Rt. Hon. JohnRendall, Athelstan
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hogge, James MylesRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Cairns, JohnIrving, DanRoyce, William Stapleton
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Shaw, Thomas (Preston)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lawson, John JamesSpoor, B. G.
Entwistle, Major C. F.Lunn, WilliamThomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Galbraith, SamuelLyle-Samuel, AlexanderWaterson, A. E.
Gillis, WilliamMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Glanville, Harold JamesMaclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Midlothian)Wignall, James
Grundy, T. W.Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)Myers, ThomasWood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Hallas, EldredNaylor, Thomas Ellis
Halls, WalterNewbould, Alfred Ernest

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—

Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy.

NOES.

Adkins, Sir William Ryland DentGanzoni, Sir JohnNeal, Arthur
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteGee, Captain RobertNewman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Baird, Sir John LawrenceGilbert, James DanielNicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyGilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnNicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamNield, Sir Herbert
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-Grenfell, Edward CharlesO'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.Parker, James
Barnett, Major Richard W.Gwynne, Rupert S.Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry
Barnston, Major HarryHall, Captain Sir Douglas BernardPearce, Sir William
Barrand, A. R.Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l,W. D'by)Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPercy, Charles (Tynemouth)
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertHarmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Harris, Sir Henry PercyPerkins, Walter Frank
Bellairs, Commander Canyon W.Haslam, LewisPhilipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)
Borwick, Major G. O.Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel FrankPurchase, H. G.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Hohler, Gerald FitzroyRawilnson, John Frederick Peel
Breese, Major Charles E.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardReid, D. D
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHood, Sir JosephRichardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Brown, Major D. C.Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Richardson, Lt.-Col, Sir P. (Chertsey)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Howard, Major S. G.Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)Roundeil, Colonel R. F.
Carr, W. TheodoreHurd, Percy A.Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)
Cautley, Henry StrotherJesson, C.Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonJodrell, Neville PaulSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm.,W.)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonKellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. GeorgeSanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Clough, Sir RobertKing, Captain Henry DouglasScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Coats, Sir StuartLewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Conway, Sir W. MartinLowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Simm, M. T.
Cope, Major WilliamLyle, C. E. LeonardSmith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryM'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)
Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. HMackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Edge, Captain Sir WilliamMacnaghten, Sir M.Steel, Major S. Strang
Ednam, ViscountMaddocks, HenryStewart, Gershom
Evans, ErnestMarks, Sir George CroydonStrauss, Edward Anthony
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Mitchell, Sir William LaneSturrock, J. Leng
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayMolson, Major John ElsdaleSueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Fell, Sir ArthurMoreing, Captain Algernon H.Sugden, W. H.
Fildes, HenryMorris, RichardSutherland, Sir William
FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.Munro, Rt. Hon. RobertThomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Ford, Patrick JohnstonMurchison, C. K.Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Forestier-Walker, L.Murray, John (Leeds, West)Tickler, Thomas George

give power to the councils to remove sex disqualification so far as candidature is concerned. That, I hold, is the correct way to proceed. It is far better to leave the matter to the local council so that it can act if it sees fit to do so.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 43; Noes, 155.

Townley, Maximilian G.Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir HenryYate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Wallace, J.Winterton, EarlYeo, Sir Alfred William
Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)Wise, Frederick
White, Col. G. D. (Southport)Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—

Williams, C. (Tavistock)Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)McCurdy.

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4, leave out the second proviso"], to insert:

"Page 4, Rule 5, line 12, leave out '25' and insert '21.'"
This Amendment is almost a personal Amendment. Under the Constitution which we are giving to Burma, no man may stand as a candidate for the Legislative Council unless he is twenty-five years of age. This is proposed by the Noble Lord, who, as he has told us, himself came into this House at twenty-one years of age. I believe his Parliamentary Private Secretary is at present under twenty-five years of age. Many of us can recall the days when the Noble Lord entered this House. Could any Member have been more active or more effective than was the Noble Lord? He asks us now to say that the Burmese people shall be allowed to send only aged statesmen to their Legislative Council, instead of being allowed to send representatives in their green youth. The Amendment raises the question whether we are to stand by the old traditions of this House or to adopt the new-fangled methods of the new constitutionalists. There was a time in this House—in the 1614 Parliament—when seventy-seven Members of his House were not of age, and it was that Parliament which held Mr. Speaker in the Chair. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, it was the next Parliament. There was a time when the son of the Duke of Albemarle—I forget his name—was elected at the age of fifteen. Very well they managed it in those days. Why should we go back on all those excellent principles? Pitt was Prime Minister at twenty-one. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Many of my distinguished predecessors in the Borough of Newcastle were elected at seventeen years of age. In old days it was never held that youth was a bar to taking part in the councils of the nation.

I do not see why we should have this restriction introduced for Burma, when we have gone out of our way to give every one the vote at 18 years of age. I ask that they be allowed to come in at 21 instead of wet-nursing them as is pro- posed under this Rule. If any constituency in the world choose for its Member a person who is an infant or an idiot, I should say, let that constituency so choose. The responsibility is with the constituency and not with a Government 6,000 miles away. Let the Burmese people choose what they want. They will make their mistakes. We made our mistakes. The Burmese will learn, as we have learned, only by making mistakes. If they choose young people, sometimes there will be a mistake and it will be discovered. Let us allow them the risk of mistakes in order that they may have the possibility also of discovering the right man.

I find myself suffering from unaccustomed blushes in replying to my hon. and gallant Friend after all the kind things he has said about me, and the time when I was 21 years of age. My reason for proposing these Rules is not that I am ashamed of my conduct between the ages of 21 and 25 years, but for a far simpler reason, namely, that in the case of both the provincial assemblies and of the All India Assembly the age is 25, and there is no good reason that I can see for altering it to 21 in Burma. The only conceivable reason is that in Burma the voting age is 18 instead of 21. As I endeavoured to explain in my original speech, the reason for that is to be found in the system adopted in connection with the franchise. Those who pay Capitation Tax or the Thathameda Tax are entered on the roll as heads of households, and are entitled to vote, and they may become liable to pay those taxes at the age of 18. If we were to make the voting age 21 it would lead to confusion, and would add to the difficulty of discovering those who were entitled to vote and those who were not. In the case of persons elected to the Assembly, we have chosen the same age as that in force in India. Another reason why the House should not accept this Amendment is that the change it proposes would lead to great jealousy. I suggest that the age of 25 is, in these circumstances, a perfectly reasonable limit to fix.

That provision was pushed backwards and forwards between the Standing Joint Committee and this House. Speaking from recollection, I believe it was unanimously accepted by the Standing Joint Committee, and I do not think it was much objected to by the House at that time.

The Mover of the Amendment brought forward two or three extraordinary reasons in support of it. First he referred to the age at which my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary for India entered this House. I am not quite certain what that age was, but the exception proves the rule, and the fact that we happened to get a particularly satisfactory Member in the case of my Noble Friend, is no reason why we should admit any person of 21 years of age into the particular assembly which is now in question. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) gave as his next reason the fact that the vote had been given to those who were 18 years of age or over. In that respect I think a mistake has been made. I am against giving the vote at the age of 18—giving manhood suffrage as these Rules apparently do—but the fact that we have done one wrong thing is no reason for doing another. We should, at any rate, endeavour to secure that this assembly will consist of persons who can bring mature judgment to bear upon the questions submitted to it. The hon. and gallant Member went back to prehistoric days and talked about the year 1614. Will he support an Amendment which will put the suffrage upon the same footing as it was in those days? I doubt very much if I would have the support of the hon. and gallant Member in such an Amendment as that, though, no doubt, we should have a much better House if we adopted it. In the circumstances, I am very glad that my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary resists this Amendment.

On the other hand, I confess I am sorry that the Noble Lord has not seen his way to accept the Amendment. I am surprised at the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), and I did not think he could surprise me. After all, this Rule as it stands is a reproach to the traditions of this House. It is not necessary to go back to 1614. My hon. and gallant Friend the Mover of the Amendment was much too moderate in his appeal to precedent. Fox was less than 21 when he came into the House. Pitt was only 21 when elected, was Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was 22, and Prime Minister when he was 24. Gladstone came into the House before he was 25, and, if I may venture to say so, I think the late Lord Salisbury entered the House before he was 25. I believe that it will be found that a very large proportion of those who have distinguished themselves in this House were elected to it before they were 25.

That was in the old days, when the House was quite different from what it is now.

It may be that the House was different, but I do not know how that affects the question of whether a man is more or less fitted for Parliamentary life when he is young. The truth is there is a great deal of advantage in people coming into the House young. Without any disrespect to the present House of Commons, everyone would be glad to see a larger proportion of young men in the House. It takes a, certain time to acquire the knowledge and the information requisite to deal properly with the subjects which come before this House, and it is better that one should begin as early as possible if one is otherwise able to do so. I was not much impressed by my Noble Friend's arguments against the Amendment. His only argument seemed to be that this is not what we did in India. I do not think that has much to do with the matter. The point is, was it right to do it in India? It is said that to make the alteration proposed in the Amendment would create jealousy, but a much greater alteration is proposed by my Noble Friend himself by allowing people in Burma to vote at the age of 18, whereas the age in India is 21. If it is right that English people should sit in this House at 21, it is more right that Orientals, who grow up more quickly than people of the Western races, should be allowed to sit in their legislative assemblies at that age. There is not the least danger of the assemblies being swamped by very young men. On the contrary, unless things in that part of the world differ very much from what they are in other places, the difficulty will be to induce the electors to return young and unknown men. It is so found in this country, though we have a most elaborate system of organised parties which, despite all its defects, does enable young men to get into Parliament. I regret that this provision has been introduced, and I hope the Government even now will see their way to accede to the proposal contained in the Amendment.

I should like to reinforce the appeal of the Noble Lord who has just spoken to my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary to accept this Amendment, and for this reason: It has already been pointed out—and this is the crux of the whole matter—that for reasons which I am quite sure are sound, and which my Noble Friend explained quite conclusively, we are giving the franchise in the case of Burma to people of 18, mainly on the ground that they are liable to be regarded as heads of households at that age, on the basis of their inclusion in the taxpaying roll, to which reference has been made. Otherwise,

Division No. 134.]

AYES.

[6.57 p.m.

Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.Halls, WalterNewbould, Alfred Ernest
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamHenderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Adkins, Sir William Ryland DentHirst, G. H.Raffan, Peter Wilson
Banton, GeorgeHodge, Rt. Hon. JohnRawilnson, John Frederick Peel
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hogge, James MylesRendall, Athelstan
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasHolmes, J. StanleyRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Irving, DanRoyce, William Stapleton
Cairns, JohnJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Shaw, Thomas (Preston)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Spoor, B. G.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Lawson, John JamesThomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lunn, WilliamWaterson, A. E.
Entwistle, Major C. F.Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C
Galbraith, SamuelMaclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)Wignall, James
Gillis, WilliamMallalieu, Frederick WilliamWood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Grundy, T. W.Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)
Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)Myers, Thomas

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—

Hallas, EldredNaylor, Thomas EllisMr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy-

NOES

Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteBarrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Brown, Major D. C.
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertBuckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.
Baird, Sir John LawrenceBell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyBellairs, Commander Canyon W.Carr, W. Theodore
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Cautley, Henry Strother
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.Borwick, Major G. O.Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)
Barnett, Major Richard W.Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Cheyne, Sir William Watson
Barnston, Major HarryBreese, Major Charles E.Cope, Major William
Barrand, A. R.Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveCralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry

one would not have been surprised had the age for the franchise been fixed at 21. But when they have got the franchise at 18 and can be recognised as heads of households at that age, surely it is desirable in the interests of stability that the period between the time when their position as heads of households is recognised and the time when they are eligible to sit in the Council should be as short as is reasonably possible. If we make the age of eligibility for election three years more than the age at which the franchise is given, we shall be approximating very closely to the time which is allowed in the case of India where the respective ages are 21 and 25. We shall be more nearly approaching that analogy than if we make the interval in the case of Burma between the ages of 18 and 25, and that in a country which does not compare unfavourably with India in its aptitude for civic life. I hope my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State will not be led to look on the Amendment with disfavour because of the historical analogies, some of them irrelevant and nearly all of them inaccurate in detail, with which the Debate has been lightened. I appeal to my Noble Friend to consider the Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 48; Noes, 146.

Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)Jodrell, Neville PaulRichardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Davidson, J.C.C.(Hamel Hempstead)Johnson, Sir StanleyRoberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Edge, Captain Sir WilliamKellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. GeorgeRutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Ednam, ViscountKing, Captain Henry DouglasSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Lambert, Rt. Hon. GeorgeSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Evans, ErnestLewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayLyle, C. E. LeonardScott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Fell, Sir ArthurMackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)Simm, M. T.
Fildes, HenryMacquisten, F. A.Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.Maddocks, HenrySmith, Sir Harold (Warrington)
Ford, Patrick JohnstonMarks, Sir George CroydonSmith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)
Forestier-Walker, L.Middlebrook, Sir WilliamStanley, Major Hon. C. (Preston)
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMitchell, Sir William LaneSteel, Major S. Strang
Gee, Captain RobertMolson, Major John ElsdaleStewart, Gershom
Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamMoreing, Captain Algernon H.Strauss, Edward Anthony
Gilbert, James DanielMunro, Rt. Hon. RobertSturrock, J. Leng
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnMurray, John (Leeds, West)Sugden, W. H.
Gould, James C.Neal, ArthurSutherland, Sir William
Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick ENicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Hall, Captain Sir Douglas BernardNicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Tickler, Thomas George
Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)Townley, Maximilian G.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryO'Neill, Rt. Hon. HughWallace, J.
Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Parker, JamesWard, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Harris, Sir Henry PercyParry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas HenryWard, William Dudley (Southampton)
Haslam, LewisPearce, Sir WilliamWhite, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert PikeWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Pennefather, De FonbianqueWinterton, Earl
Hilder, Lieut,-Colonel FrankPercy, Charles (Tynemouth)Wise, Frederick
Hohler, Gerald FitzroyPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardPerkins, Walter FrankWood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, Watt)
Hood, Sir JosephPhilipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)
Howard, Major S. G.Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—

Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)Purchase, H. G.Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Hurd, Percy A.Remer, J. R.McCurdy.
Jesson, C.Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4, leave out the second proviso "], to insert:

"Page 5, Rule 5, leave out Sub-clause (2)."
This Sub-clause prevents a constituency selecting as its candidate a person against whom a conviction by a criminal court involving imprisonment for six months or more has been registered. The arguments I would urge for the omission of that interference is that it caused great inconvenience in the Punjab. It is well known that after the Punjab troubles a great many people in the Punjab were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of much more than six months. Some of them got capital sentences, and amongst them was Lala Harkissen Lal. After he had been in prison for about six months he was released, but he was not pardoned. He was the particular man in the Punjab who was selected by the Governor and the Government of India to be one of the new Ministers under the reform scheme, but the difficulty was that as he had been sentenced to death, and was serving a long term of imprisonment, he was ineligible for election. They had to get round that somehow, and they did so by pardoning him. As soon as he was pardoned he became automatically a white man, eligible for the local council and a Minister of State. That is not a, very dignified way of operating these things, and the question will be far more difficult in the time to come.

At the present moment, you have in gaol in India and Burma all the politicians who in future years will be in the Indian and Burmese Councils. Even in Ireland you would have made the position much more difficult if you had permanently ruled out of the Dail Eireann or the Irish Parliament every member of that Parliament who had been in gaol. Mr. Barton, I think, was sentenced to two years, and there were many others. It would be very inconvenient if he were prohibited from sitting in that Parliament. A great many of the Irish people of the present day would be barred out under this particular Sub-clause. Exactly the same thing applies to India and Burma to-day. All the Radical politicians of India are either in gaol, or are in to-day and out to-morrow.

I do not think there are any particular people in gaol in Burma whom I particularly want to see in Parliament, but you have, unfortunately, a progressive system of repression going on in India to-day. More and more people are going to gaol, and it is not easy to say that at any moment you will not be inconvenienced by this particular Sub-clause barring out any man who has been convicted not of a moral but of a political offence. It may be very convenient for the Government at the present moment, but it may be very inconvenient if terms are come to with the non-co-operation movement in Burma or India, whereby we try to bury the hatchet and to start a democratic reform on a really representative basis. We shall then be up against it, as the Punjab Government were up against it when they tried to make Lala Harkissen Lal a Minister of State. I would suggest that we should adhere to the principles which we have in this country, of preventing a man sitting in Parliament who has been convicted of a felony, but that we should not say that any man who has been convicted of a political offence should be debarred for a period of five years.

My hon. and gallant Friend has forgotten the speech he made—I have been fortunate enough to find it—on the occasion of the passage of the Rules of the Government of India. When he made that speech he Objected to exactly the same provision in the Rules of the Government of India as that. which I am now proposing. He based his opposition to the Resolution as it stood because he was afraid it would be applied to the Punjab. Let me read what he said:

"Normally speaking—"—
to which I invite his attention—
"one would agree with some such provision as that, but we must recollect that these rules are applied to the Punjab."
These Rules cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be applied to the Punjab. As they apply to Burma, I should have hoped that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's original opinion, namely, that normally speaking, he approves of these Rules, would have held good.

Does not the Noble Lord really see that in those days, when those Indian Rules were going through this House, the Punjab was the only part of India where politicians were in gaol? The non-co-operation movement had not been started then, and there were not then the enormous number of political leaders in prison. I objected then because the Rules ruled out the leaders of the Punjab. The Government overruled my objection, and kept this Regulation in. They were immediately faced by the difficulty in the Punjab to which I have referred. They wanted these men in the Government, and they pardoned them. Because I objected in the case of the Punjab then, I object in the case of Burma now, where you have politicians in gaol.

My hon. and gallant Friend is not consistent in his argument. I carefully listened to it, and I knew he was going to make the statement that the Government had imprisoned a lot of agitators. In fact, he said that most of the people likely to be elected by the Burmese were in prison. I carefully noted that statement, and in a later portion of his speech I challenged him to say whom he meant. He then said that he could not think of any of them.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman then went on to say that those who were in prison were not the sort of people he wished to see elected. The real truth is that, so far as I know, with one or two inconspicuous exceptions, no leaders of the Burmese have been in prison for agitation, and the conditions in Burma are not similar to those in the Punjab.

No, I assert that they are not similar. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is really doing great disservice to the cause, which, I believe, ho has as much at heart as any of us in this reform scheme in Burma, by suggesting that we are repressive. He speaks as though this Rule were solely framed to keep out what he calls "political agitators." I sometimes question whether the word "political" should be put in front of the names of some of these men in India whose views he supports. I think the simple word "agitator" would be more appropriate than the words "political agitator." He assumes that the Rule is framed to deal with the political agitator. It is framed to do nothing of the sort. On the contrary, as he has said, certain people who were imprisoned were afterwards released and pardoned, under the Rules, so that they might serve the State. The late Secretary of State for India, the right hon. Member for Cambridge County (Mr. Montagu), in moving the Rules, said then—I say it to-night—that it was most desirable that in the case of a new Legislature, such as that of Burma or India, to have the best possible men available. He said that they should not be men who had suffered imprisonment, but if it should happen that they were agitators who had suffered imprisonment, the Government had power to pardon them, as we have here.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4, leave out the second proviso"], to insert:

"Page 5, Rule 6, line 4, leave out from 'province' to end of Sub-clause (a)."
Sub-Clause 1 (a) reads as follows:
"No person shall be eligible for election as a member of the Council to represent a general constituency unless his name is registered on the electoral roll of a constituency in the province.…."
I do not propose to press my objection to this part of the Clause to a Division. I merely wish to enter my protest against the introduction into the Burmese Constitution of a qualification which we do not adopt in this country, and which we never have adopted. We do not say in this country that no man shall stand for Parliament unless he is an elector; we allow the electorate to choose whom they like. I do not see why the constitution-mongers who invented this Constitution should foist upon Burma any un-English qualification. So far as that part of the Sub-clause is concerned, I do not think it is worth while quarrelling about, and we shall put it right when we can, but the second part of the Sub-clause is more important. The words I want to leave out are these:
"and unless in the Case of a Karen, Indian, European, or Anglo-Indian constituency he is himself a Karen, an Indian, a European, or an Anglo-Indian, as the case may be."
The grandmotherly idea of the Rules is that the only person who can represent a Karen must be a Karen, that a European must not dream of representing a Karen, though he may represent a general constituency, that a Eurasian can be represented only by a Eurasian and not by a European, that an Indian must be represented by an Indian. I do not know why these regulations are made. Why should not the Indians, for instance, be at liberty to choose a man who is not an Indian? Why should not, above all, a Christian Karen be entitled to elect, if he chooses to do so, one of the English missionaries living in the Karen district? Everybody knows that if you want to protect a helpless minority—and we are assuming that the Karen minority is a helpless minority—the best people to do it will be the missionaries who live among them. Under these Rules a missionary may represent a general constituency or a Burmese constituency, but not a Karen constituency. Let me make it clearer. There are two or three Englishmen in Burma who have the complete confidence of the Burmese people. There are also two or three in this country—I hope I am one myself—in whom they have confidence, in spite of the fact that we sometimes differ in policy; but there is notoriously Mr. Bernard Houghton, who has done more for Burma in the last five years than any other Englishman, or indeed than any politician whatsoever. Why is Mr. Bernard Houghton, if he goes back to Burma, to be prevented from representing one of these constituencies, and why indeed should I be prevented, if I went to Burma, from representing one of these constituencies?

Am I not fit to represent them? Everybody knows that one of our difficulties in all these new, countries is the lack of men of some experience of political life to put on the Councils. The best way of starting all these Councils on democratic lines is that Englishmen, and particularly Englishmen like my friend Whyte, who have had soma experience of Parliament, should go on to the Councils and help the Indians or Burmans to start their democratic machine on sound, experienced lines, and I merely ask that Englishmen who may have lived all their lives in Burma, and not for three days, as I did, as civil servants, who have very often married Burmese wives, who have the love of the country in them, should not be debarred from representing a Karen, or an Indian constituency, or even an Anglo-Indian constituency. I know we debated this on the Joint Committee, and the Noble Lord made it quite clear, though it is not quite clear on the face of it, that it is possible for an Englishman to represent a Burmese general constituency, but if so, is it not all the more ridiculous that he should be prevented from representing a less educated Karen or even an Indian constituency Why not trust your own countrymen and assume that, although they may be extremists and although they must be people who are friendly to the natives, they may, when on the Councils, do good work? I cannot imagine anything more useful than that a man like Mr. C. F. Andrews should take a seat on the Council in Burma and help to get that Burmese Council going on satisfactory lines. If hon. Members read the Report of the Whyte Committee, they will see, among those who gave special evidence before the Committee, men like Mr. S. G. Grantham, Superintendent of Census Operations. Anybody who reads his evidence—magnificent Radical evidence—will see at once that that man is a lover of Burma and would make an admirable representative on the Burmese Council. The same applies to Mr. C. F. Grant, Deputy-Commissioner of Mandalay. In going through this evidence you find Englishman after Englishman—I am accused of attacking them as being the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy, but men like that have the love of the country in them and are giving evidence in favour of the people and of a Liberal Constitution. They are the people we want in, and the old-fashioned Government and the constitution-mongers come along and say, "No; the uneducated minority of Karens or Jews must elect an equally uneducated Karen or Jew to represent them." Do leave them the opportunity to know best for themselves.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman seeks to give power, in the case of these special communities which have this communal representation, to a person other than one belonging to that community to represent them. The argument he used with reference to missionaries hardly seems to bear on the point, because a missionary can stand for an ordinary Burmese constituency, and the Karens have presumably leaders of their own race whom they would wish to represent them. I am surprised at this Amendment. I should have thought the hon. and gallant Member, holding the principles that he does, would like to see a community represented by one of their own race and one belonging to them, but, if I may be permitted to say so to a most courteous opponent., the longer I sit on this Bench and watch my hon. and gallant Friend and hear his speeches, the more confused I am as to what his real policy is. I should have thought everything he has ever said or done was in favour of giving to any community the right to represent itself by a member of that. community.

No. that is not so. I am, I think, a closer student of the hon. and gallant Member's words than are some hon. Members of this House, and he used the argument that these communities are poor ignorant Indians who could not find anybody to represent them and that therefore they must try and get him or someone else to do so. I should have thought they would be able to find some among their own people, perfectly proper persons, to represent them and although I am sure the hon. and gallant Member would make an admirable representative, personally I should be very sorry to lose him. Among these communities I think they could find those. perhaps, who would make as good members of a legislative assembly as the hon. and gallant Member.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4, leave out the second proviso"], to insert:

"Page 5, Rule 6, leave out Sub-clause (b)."
This Sub-clause is another special qualification for election. It reads:
"(b) No person shall be eligible for election as a member of the Council to represent a special constituency unless his name is registered on the electoral roll of the constituency."
It is not enough that they must select one of their own race, but he must also be a voter, and he must be a voter in the special constituency. This is adopting the American plan, which was so loudly advocated earlier in the evening by the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Lieut.-Colonel Archer-Shee). If hon. Members really prefer the American system to ours, I suppose they must vote for this Resolution, but if, on the other hand, they prefer the British Constitution, if they prefer to allow a constituency to select as their representative a man who does not live in the constituency, even a carpet-bagger, like the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward), they should support my Amendment. We have got along very well hitherto electing people who do not reside in the constituency. I should say, roughly speaking, that three-quarters, or even seven-eighths, of the Members of this House do not live in their constituency, and yet, when it comes to Burma, you say: "No; every communal representative must live in his constituency if he is to be elected." What is the principle involved? For the rest of Burma, for the ordinary general constituencies, anybody who is an elector can stand, but for the special constituency they are bound to select their representative from their own district. There is no use arguing against this Government. The Noble Lord opposite is not the Secretary of State, but the Under-Secretary of State, and he is bound to oppose every Amendment I bring forward, but I wish the House would appreciate once for all that I am favouring the English Constitution, which we enjoy, and which, after all, in spite of its many blunders and many stupidities, has worked better on the whole than the Constitution of the United States or, indeed, of any other country, and when in doubt it would be better to follow our model rather than to follow an alien model of which we have had no experience. I, therefore, beg to move this Amendment, giving to all communal electorates the right to select their candidate from any member of the community, rather than simply from those members of the community who live in that particular electoral division.

The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment said that as the Under-Secretary I am not able to accept his Amendments, but I must say that they do not seem to strengthen these Rules in any way, and in this particular case my hon. and gallant Friend has misread the Rule. This particular Sub-clause refers only to the University constituency, which is one of the four constituencies which, he will recollect, are in the Rule consisting of members of certain trade organisations. He will see on page 6 of the Rules that it says:

"Special constituency means a University or Commerce constituency constituted by these rules."
The hon. and gallant Member spoke of general communal constituencies. It is hardly conceivable that any of those four special Commerce constituencies and one University constituency could possibly want to choose as their representative anyone whose name is not on the electoral roll of that constituency. The whole object of their having special representation is to be able to elect one among their number who is familiar with their particular problem to represent them, and I cannot possibly accept the Amendment, which would make nonsense of the Rules.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4, leave out the second proviso"], to insert:

"Page 7, Rule 8, line 3, leave out Community.'"
Rule 8 sets out the qualifications of electors, the first being based on "Community," and this Amendment clearly goes to the root of the whole of this communal representation scheme. Directly you set up these separate communal lists, you create a vested interest in separate representation, which it will he very difficult to upset. I still maintain that, if you want to protect minorities, the best way is to give them a vote in every constituency on the general list of voters; that the vote is the protection for the minority; that representation by a member of a community in an assembly where that special community will be in a small minority is no protection comparable to having votes for every member. If you really want to protect minorities, abolish communal representation. If, on the other hand, you want to protect this balance of power, this divine rule that has been so long upheld in the East; if you want to perpetuate the division of race, the colour bar, and class, which every true democrat wants to break down, then have your communal representation. I believe that, at the bottom, the opposition to this communal representation comes from all true democrats, and that the supporters of communal representation want to preserve dissension, through the division of subject races. We shall before long be able, I hope, to revise communal representation in India. Anyone who has studied the working of diarchy in India must be aware of the fact that communal representation in India is now regarded as a blot. Why, then, should we fall in with this obsolete system of attempting to carry on the whole system of Government, when every instinct of real democracy teaches us that the only way to bring races and religions together is to put them on one electoral list, and leave them to protect themselves by their votes, in the only way in which civilised communities can protect themselves?

On a point of Order. Is this Amendment in order? The House has already determined that Clause 6 of the Rules shall stand. Sub-section (1, a) provides that

"No person shall be eligible for election as a member of the Council to represent a general constituency unless his name is registered on the electoral roll of a constituency in the province; and unless in the case of a Karen. an Indian, a European, or an Anglo-Indian, as the case may be."
The House, therefore, has already determined that there shall be in these particular cases representation appropriate to the community. The Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member now is that this word "community" shall not stand. For the purpose of carrying out Rule 6 as it stands, and as it has been adopted by the House, it is necessary that one of the qualifications of an elector shall be based on "community," and it is for the purpose of carrying into effect Rule 6 that the word "community" stands here. I submit, therefore, that this Amendment is not in order.

Before you rule, Mr. Speaker, may I point out that what we have dealt with in previous Rules is the special representation of the community, but in this Clause we are putting an end once for all to the general electoral list? There is nothing in what we have decided already which prevents us having one general electoral list. What we may be assumed to have decided is that there shall be certain special representation with which we do not deal until we come to the Schedule. I still urge that if the word "community" stands, it puts an end to the possibility of having one general list, and that is the point on which it is most suitable to discuss the whole question of communal representation.

I am afraid the learned Attorney-General is right. We have passed the point at which this matter can be raised. Supposing, for instance, the hon. and gallant Member carried his present Amendment, it would leave Clause 8 in conflict with Clause 6.

I do not think it would be in conflict, because we have not yet come to the question of what constituencies shall be represented by these communities. We have said that there shall be certain communal representation for certain minorities, but we have not said yet that these minorities shall not have votes also oil the general list. In many cases, where there are no constituencies set aside for Karens, for instance, Karens will be on the general list, and I want to see every Karen, every Indian, every European and every Anglo-Indian on the general list of voters, in spite of his having a vote elsewhere, because being on the general list is his best protection from oppression.

I do not think that alters my view with regard to the present Amendment. It may be possible, when we come to the Schedule to raise it.

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4, leave out the second proviso"], to insert:

"Page 7, Rule 8. line 16, at end, insert '(h) Or is the wife of an elector.'"
The Under-Secretary has made great point of the fact that in Burma, without waiting for any decision of the Legislative Council, he has given votes to women. Of course, as a matter of fact, he has done that most annoying thing, given it on paper, and, in practical effect, hardly a woman in Burma will get the vote at all. That is a most unfortunate result. It really would have been better if the Noble Lord had left the woman's vote to the Legislative Council, rather than pretend to give it, and in actual effect not give it. You are giving the vote to everyone who pays capitation tax or is on the assessment roll, but in most of these cases the voter is a man. The married women in Burma between the ages of 20 and 40 are the politically conscious, and hardly one will get a vote under these Rules. When these Rules have been passed, it will be said that in Burma votes have been given to women, but when they come to look into the Rules they will find nothing of the sort. It will be possible, with great difficulty, for some women to get votes, because husbands will be able to divide up their property, and put part in their wives' names, but that is not. very largely taken advantage of, even in a politically conscious country, and you are much more likely to increase ill-feeling in Burma by passing your constitution as it is, than even by leaving out all question of the women's franchise, and allowing the assembly to vote on it later on. If this Amendment be carried, as I hope it will, you will have real women's suffrage in Burma. It will mean, no doubt, an enormous addition to the electorate, but, after all, when you have taken the bit between your teeth, and given the vote to two and a half million Burmans, you really may as well take on the women as well. The risk is no more. The possibility of their working the scheme willingly is far greater. If we give these votes to women, the Burmese Council will have the difficulty; if we do not give them the vote, the local Government will have the difficulty. I prefer that the Council should have the difficulty. Knowing these Burmese women, I say they are every bit as qualified as the men, and they are, in fact, more politically conscious, and the best way to make a success of democracy is to trust the people, and give them the vote.

Anyone entering the House during the latter part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech would have imagined that we were enfranchising no women under these Rules. As a matter of fact, under our proposals, of the total electorate of something like 3,000,000—the hon. and gallant Member persisted in thinking it was only 2,000,000—there are 200,000 women voters.

Of course, I cannot guarantee it. No one can guarantee round figures, but I am sure that is the figure. The hon. and gallant Member, having asked me to ascertain, I telegraphed to the Government of India to find out the figures, and the reply is to the effect that, in Lower Burma, 22 per cent. of those who will be qualified to vote will be women, and in Upper Burma the number will be 26 per cent.

The Noble Lord said just now that the number was 200,000 out of 3,000,000, which is quite a different proportion from 22 and 26 per cent.

Let me make it quite clear. I will read it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is quite right. I perhaps did put it wrongly for the moment, but these are the figures, and it is the percentage that is the important point.

"In selected typical survey blocks in each district, Lower Burma 22 per cent. of persons holding this qualification are females; Upper Burma 26 per cent,. of persons holding this qualification are females. On above basis rough estimates of females paying five rupees and over land revenue, is 200,000 for the whole of Burma; but many of above will also be qualified in Upper Burma by paying Thathameda, as it is estimated on figures supplied by two districts the 12 per cent. of heads of households assessed to Thathameda are females."
The House will see from these figures that so far from being a small percentage that a very large number will be enfranchised, and I certainly could not agree to a proposal which at the outset will widen the franchise so largely. I could not agree to a proposal which says that the whole of the wives in addition to the electors should have the vote.

I confess I am very much puzzled by the figures given to the Noble Lord. He speaks of 26 per cent. in one district of Burma and 22 per cent. in another—women qualified under this franchise. Then, again, in the whole of Burma there will be only 200,000. That is what he said. Now 200,000 out of 3,000,000 is a very small proportion. That is if you are affecting to give the franchise to the women. An hon. Friend near to me says it is only 6 per cent. I could conceive that the Governmental proposal might well create more discontent than content on the assumption, of course, that you consider it desirable to give the women the franchise at all. There is some confusion about the figures, and I venture very respectfully to press the Government in this matter. I do not know the circumstances of Burma as do some other hon. Members, but I could quite understand it if the decision of the Government had been that it was undesirable to give the votes to women. That is a perfectly comprehensible decision. I understand the Government have not decided that way. On the contrary, they think it is desirable that the women should have the vote—that other things being equal, the women are as competent to exercise the vote as are the men.

If that be their position, it seems to me a very strong order to say, notwithstanding all that, we will only give the vote to a very small proportion of women. Surely the right thing is, putting aside all technicalities, to give the vote to the women who are, roughly speaking, in the same position as the men. That can be the only test the moment you have abandoned the sex distinction. I cannot think that the question of whether they have already a few hundred thousand more votes really has much to do with it, or whether or not this experiment will succeed or fail, or whether there are three, four, or five millions of voters. There is a good deal in what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) says. If you are going to do this thing, if it is really important and—as he asserts—and it has not been denied—that it is really important for the success of this experiment that you should consult the women, who apparently are playing a very large part in Burma, then you ought to make your concession and the votes for women, roughly, on the same terms as those for men.

Perhaps I might deal a little more specifically with the figures which the Noble Lord the Under-Secretary has given to the House. I think he is quite justified in giving the figures of 22 per cent. and 26 per cent. respectively. The telegram seems to refer to several qualifications. It says:

"In selected typical survey blocks in each district Lower Burma 22 per cent. of persons holding this qualification are females: Upper Burma 26 per cent, of persons holding this qualification are females"—
That is the land revenue qualification only. Then the telegram goes on:
"On above basis rough estimate of females paying rupees five and over land revenue is 200,000 for the whole of Burma. But many of above will also be qualified in Upper Burma by paying Thathameda as it is estimated, on figures supplied by two districts, that 12 per cent, of the heads of households assessed to Thathameda are females."
Hence you have to add to your 200,000 who are qualified by payment of land revenue those who pay the other tax I have named who also may become qualified. In addition to that you have to deal with the urban constituencies where there is the payment of the municipal taxes of 4 rupees and over. In two municipalities, out of 2,862 persons so qualified, 635 or 22 per cent. are women. So the figures given in the telegram of 22 per cent. and 26 per cent. are quite justified.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will forgive me if I say I do not think that can possibly be a proper explanation. Take Lower Burma alone. You have 22 per cent. The additional number referred to only applies to Upper Burma. Only 200,000 voters all over Burma are to get the vote. Apart from some of the obscurities in the telegram as to the additional voters, it is quite clear that less than 200,000 are to be allowed to vote. It seems to me incredible that less than 200,000 will equal 22 per cent. of the whole of the electorate of Burma. There must be something wrong about the figures, and I say respectfully to the Government it is clearly wrong to ask the House to come to a decision on figures presented which certainly are quite confused.

There is certainly something wrong with the figures and about the telegram altogether. Let me quote the evidence of a Census Officer, page 61 of the Whyte Report, which says:

"Local Government's Note on the subject appears a little disingenuous in its declaration that there trill be no disfranchisement on account of sex. In practice the proposals would exclude nearly every woman.…"
What about that telegram now?

I did not interrupt the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil), but do not want to discuss a matter of arithmetic very closely with him. It really shortly comes to the question of whether or not the arithmetic of the. Noble Lord is right, or whether the figures of the telegram are right. At any rate for present purposes I am going to take the telegram. It is a very simple matter of addition, and can easily be done. If I recollect the Noble Lord was at Oxford and not Cambridge, and, therefore, perhaps is not so good at figures as at some other matters. Perhaps he will allow me to quote the telegram again. The figure of 200,000 is given, and then these are the words:

"On the above basis the rough estimate of females paying the tax is 200,000 over the whole of Burma. Many of the above will also he qualified in Upper Burma by paying Thathameda."
If you add to the 200,000 the further 12 per cent, in the various districts, you get the total figures of 22 per cent. and 20 per cent. After all, these figures of the Noble Lord may be right or they may be wrong, but it does mean this: that so far from the female franchise being illusory, a very large number, estimated at 22 per cent. and 26 per cent. respectively, will be granted the franchise, and though there may be some Imperfection in the telegram and the full figures may not be public, still those of us who are anxious to see that this franchise is not illusory have this information to support us. The

Division No. 135.]

AYES.

[8.3 p.m.

Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)Hirst, G. H.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamClynes, Rt Hon. John R.Hodge, Rt. Hon. John
Ammon, Charles GeorgeDavies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Hogge, James Myles
Banton, GeorgeEntwistle, Major C. F.Holmes, J. Stanley
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Galbraith, SamuelIrving, Dan
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Gillis, WilliamJones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasGrundy, T. W.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)Lawson, John James
Cairns, JohnHalls, WalterLunn, William
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)

statement of the Government of India is that 22 per cent,. and 26 per cent. will secure votes. It would be unfair to say on these figures that what you are giving with one hand you are taking away with the other. Leaving open the precise nature and result of the figures, I venture to say that my Noble Friend is quite right in saying that this is conceding, so far, the franchise to women.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not dealt with my point—my quotation from the Census Officer. He says:

"Paragraph 16 of the Local Government's Note on the subject appears a little disingenuous in its declaration that there will be no disfranchisement on account of sex. In practice the proposals would exclude nearly every woman, although it would generally be open to families paying land revenue to have part of the land assessed (or rented) in the name of the husband and part in that of the wife."
He goes on to say:
"The trouble seems to be a curious superstition that husband and wife should not have two votes."
If the Census Officer says that that proposal will exclude nearly every woman, surely I am right in taking what the Census Officer says, and inquiring whether the telegram is quite clear, and who it comes from?

Certainly, I do not say but that really any piece of information which my hon. and gallant Friend desires should be brought in, if possible. The observations I have made, and the information I have given to the House, are based on a telegram from Simla dated 10th June, and is the most recent information possible. The figures are up to date. The information is not that given by a Census Officer but information given upon the collective responsibility of the Government of India.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided; Ayes, 50; Noes, 117.

Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Mosley, OswaldRoyce, William StapletonWhite, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Shaw, Thomas (Preston)Wignall, James
Myers, ThomasSpencer, George A.Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Naylor, Thomas EllisSpoor, B. G.
Newbould, Alfred ErnestSwan, J. E.

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—

Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy.
Raffan, Peter WilsonWaterson, A. E.

NOES

Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteGould, James C.Parker, James
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamPease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Barnett, Major Richard W.Grenfell, Edward CharlesPerkins, Walter Frank
Barnston, Major HarryGuest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Barrand, A. R.Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Purchase, H. G.
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertHenderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)Remer, J. R.
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Borwick, Major G. O.Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel FrankRoberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. GriffithHolbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRoundell, Colonel R. F.
Breese, Major Charles E.Hood, Sir JosephRutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brown, Major D. C.Hurd, Percy A.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Jodrell, Neville PaulScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonJohnson, Sir StanleyScott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)Johnstone, JosephSmith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonJones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryKellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk GeorgeSteel, Major S. Strang
Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)Kidd, JamesSturrock, J. Leng
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.King, Captain Henry DouglasSugden, W. H.
Doyle, N. GrattanLane-Fox, G. R.Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Edge, Captain Sir WilliamLewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)
Ednam, ViscountLewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Lorden, John WilliamThorpe, Captain John Henry
Evans, ErnestMackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)Townley, Maximilian G.
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Macnaghten, Sir M.Turtan, Edmund Russborough
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayMacquisten, F. A.Wallace, J.
Fell, Sir ArthurMallalieu, Frederick WilliamWard, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Fildes, HenryMarks, Sir George CroydonWard, William Dudley (Southampton)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Middlebrook, Sir WilliamWhite, Col. G. D. {Southport)
FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.M lichen, Sir William LaneWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Forestier-Walker, L.Molson, Major John ElsdaleWinterton, Earl
Foxcroft, Captain Charles TalbotMoreing, Captain Algernon H.Wise, Frederick
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMurray, C. D. (Edinburgh)Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Gee, Captain RobertMurray, John (Leeds, West)Wood. Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamNeal, ArthurWorsfold, T. Cato
Gilbert, James DanielNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnNicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—

Goff, Sir R. ParkNicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
McCurdy.

I beg to move, after the word "proviso" ["Rule 4, leave out the second proviso"], to insert:

"Page 9, Rule 12, line 19, Sub-clause (5), leave out accumulate all of them upon one candidate or to'."
According to this Rule you can have plumping, which is a bad system of election. The Committee presided over by Sir Frederick Whyte deliberately reported against plumping, and this proposal has been inserted against the wishes of that Committee. If you allow plumping you will introduce the system which used to apply in the old School Board days, which were found to be most undesirable elements. Wherever the plumping system has been tried, it has always been found to be a most undesirable method.

This Amendment is less anti-democratic than it might at first sight appear to be. I do not want, however, to argue as to the theoretical merits of plumping. The only reason why this proposal has been put in is because it is impossible to have a system of token vote without these words. This is more essential still in the case of an ignorant electorate, and you cannot have token voting without plumping. As was clearly shown in the letter from the Governor of Burma, under this system it is clearly impossible to prevent plumping, but he says that the objections to plumping are far outweighed by the advantage of having a simple system of voting.

I am dealing now with the rules for the Government of Burma and, personally, I do not think

Division No. 136.]

AYES

[8.15 p.m.

Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.Halls, WalterNewbould, Alfred Ernest
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamHenderson, Rt. Hon. A (Widnes)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHirst, G. H.Royce, William Stapleton
Banton, GeorgeHodge, Rt. Hon. JohnShaw, Thomas (Preston)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hogge, James MylesSpencer, George A.
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Holmes, J. StanleySpoor, B. G.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Irving, DanSwan, J. E.
Cairns, JohnJones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Lawson, John JamesWaterson, A. E.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Lunn, WilliamWedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Galbraith, SamuelMaclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)Wignall, James
Gillis, WilliamMurray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Roes)Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Grundy, T. W.Myers, Thomas
Guest, J. (York, W. A., Hemsworth)Naylor, Thomas Ellis

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—

Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy.

NOES.

Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteGilbert James DanielNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnNicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Goff, Sir R. ParkNicholson, Reginald (Doncastar)
Barnett, Major Richard W.Gould, James C.Parker, James
Barnston, Major HarryGreen, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry
Barrand, A. R.Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertHarmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Perkins, Walter Frank
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Purchase, H. G.
Borwick, Major G. O.Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasHilder, Lieut.-Colonel FrankRemer, J. R.
Breese, Major Charles E.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRichardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHood, Sir JosephRichardson, Lt.-Col, Sir P. (Chertsey)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHurd, Percy A.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W).Jesson, C.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonJodrell, Neville PaulScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Clough, Sir RobertJohnson, Sir StanleyScott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Johnstone, JosephSmith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)
Doyle, N. GrattanJones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Edge, Captain Sir WilliamJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Steel, Major S. Strang
Ednam, ViscountKellaway, Rt. Hon, Fredk. GeorgeStrauss, Edward Anthony
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Kidd, JamesSturrock, J. Leng
Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)King, Captain Henry DouglasSugden, W. H.
Entwistle, Major C. F.Lane-Fox, G. R.Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Evans, ErnestLewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Falls, Major Sir Bertram GodfreyLorden, John WilliamWallace, J.
Fell, Sir ArthurMackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Flides, HenryMacquisten, F. A.Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.Mallalieu, Frederick WilliamWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Ford, Patrick JohnstonMiddlebrook, Sir WilliamWinterton, Earl
Forestier-Walker, L.Mitchell, Sir William LaneWise, Frederick
Foxcroft, Captain Charles TalbotMoreing, Captain Algernon H.Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Fraser, Major Sir KeithMurray, C. D. (Edinburgh)Worstold, T. Cato
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMurray, John (Leeds, West)
Gee, Captain RobertNeal, Arthur

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—

Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
McCurdy.

I beg to move, at the end of the Resolution, to add the words

"Page 25, Schedule 2, Rule 2, leave out (e)."
I am rather hoping that the Noble Lord will give me this Amendment, The Rule lays it down that no person shall be there can be any grave objection on constitutional lines to the Rule as it stands.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted,"

The House divided: Ayes, 43; Noes, 114.

qualified as an elector for any other general constituency if he be a European or Anglo-Indian. What I want is that Europeans and Anglo-Indians shall be on the general list of voters. It is true that in that case they would have double votes—a vote for their own constituency as well as a vote on the general list. I par- titularly want them to be on the general list. It may be suggested that the Burmese would not like Europeans to be on the general list and to have two votes, but that is not so. After all, they would be an insignificant minority, but they would be a means of giving character to the general list of voters, and if Europeans and Anglo-Indians and Eurasians were on the general list they would attend ordinary political meetings and Europeans would take the chair at such meetings. I was in Ceylon during the elections. Ceylon is not under the Government of India. There you have a general list of voters and not communal representation. Every European is on the general list. Every Cingalese candidate had to go to the Europeans and ask for their vote. He had to make himself agreeable to European views. At many meetings Europeans acted as chairmen and spoke and exactly that good feeling was started which I want to see started in India and Burma. It seems to me that the first thing to be done is to see that the Europeans—and, I think, also the Eurasians—are on the general list of voters, so that they may be in the community and not an outside community by themselves. We have already agreed to their having special representation, and I really do not see any harm in having special representation for Europeans and Eurasians. All I ask is that they should come into the general list, and, while being able to stand as candidates, as they are to-day, should be electors and citizens of the country in the full sense that being an elector really gives.

I can deal very shortly with this Amendment. I suppose my hon. and gallant Friend realises that if it were accepted the result would be to give plural voting, to which I should have thought he was opposed. Once again we have a curious example of the working of my hon. and gallant Friend's mind on this question. I think that it is undesirable to give two votes, and that it would be better to leave matters as they stand and let them vote in the community.

Amendment negatived.

The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, at the end to add:

"Page 25, Schedule 2, Rule 2, leave out (2),"
is consequential.

On a point of Order. I do not think that this Amendment is consequential. If the words of Sub-clause (2) are not left out, it will mean that every Karen will have two votes, one on the general list of electors, and one on the special community list. It is true that we have decided that the Europeans shall not have two votes, but I do not see that any argument, except the plural voting argument, can be used against the Karens being on the general list of voters besides having special representation. In spite of the jeers of the Noble Lord at my apparent advocacy of such an undemocratic—

I understood that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was putting a point of Order to me. I have to make up my mind as to whether his Amendment is consequential or not, and I am quite prepared to hear him or anyone else on that point of Order, but I must ask him to direct his remarks to assisting me to make up my mind. I understand that this Amendment has been disposed of by the decision on the previous Amendment.

If it is consequential at all, it is consequential upon the immediately preceding Amendment which I moved. On that, we have negatived the idea that Europeans should be on the general list of voters. I am now suggesting that, even if Europeans cannot be on the general list, Karens can be, and that this particularly helpless community might have that privilege as well as communal representation. I do not intend to press the Amendment, if there is any doubt upon the point of Order. I know that it would have no chance of being carried in any case.

For the purpose, of assisting the Chair on the point of Order,. may I say that, after my hon. and gallant Friend's explanation of the purpose of his Amendment, I do not think it would be out of Order, unless it is ruled out of Order as inconsequent after the decision come to on the last Amendment which my hon. and gallant Friend moved, when it was decided that plural voting should not be granted. It will be a question for the Chair as to whether or not plural voting can be allowed in the case of a Karen or an Indian under Sub-clauses (2) and (3). To leave out those Sub-clauses would in effect be to give a plural vote in both those cases. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion that, if the Chair interprets the decision of the House on the question of leaving out (e) as governing these two other Amendments, they cannot be moved, but otherwise I think they can be moved. Perhaps I may also remind you that, under Rule 10:

"Every person registered on the electoral roll for the time being in force for any constituency shall, while so registered, be entitled to vote at an election of a member or members in that constituency; provided that no person shall vote in more than one general constituency."
I am rather inclined to think that, if either of these new Amendments were carried, they would be inconsistent with the decision of the House already given on Rule 10, but on the special point taken by the hon. and gallant Member I am in agreement with him.

I feel bound to rule that this Amendment has been disposed of by the decision to which the House just now came.

I am quite prepared to accept that. The point that I wanted to make was that it is advisable even to give plural voting in order to get everyone on the same register.

I beg to move, at the end of the Resolution to add:

"Page 25, Schedule 2, Rule 2, in Sub-rule (2), after 'Thaton' insert general rural.'"
These words were inadvertently omitted from the White Paper, and consequently they have had to be put in now. The Amendment is really a drafting Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the words:

"Page 26, Schedule 2, Rule 4, in Clause (a.), after 'agricultural year' insert as head of the household and liable to pay thathameda-tax.'"
This Amendment is required in order to remove ambiguity. There is no intention of enfranchising those people other than the heads of households who pay the tax, but we are informed that the names of certain such persons are entered on the roll. This is merely carrying out the intention of the Standing Joint Committee.

I do not rise to oppose this Amendment, but to protest against the moving in manuscript form of an Amendment of this character, which has really point and substance. It is not really treating the House with the usual courtesy that one has experienced from the Noble Lord. I trust that when manuscript Amendments have point and substance the House will be duly informed, in order that we may give them careful study and come to a fair decision. The Noble Lord mentioned this as the second Amendment, which seems to foreshadow that there are others to follow, and I think a most emphatic protest should be entered, because it does not give us an opportunity to express a fair and judicial opinion upon them.

I should be the first to sympathise with the hon. Member, though his views are different from mine, if these were Amendments of great substance. I have tried to explain that this is a drafting Amendment. Inadvertently the words were not put in in the first place, and it is asking a little too much to suggest that, with a number of Rules of this kind, a Minister should not have the power to bring before the House a manuscript Amendment to amend a small fault in drafting, which ho did not notice the first time.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the words

"Page 27, Schedule 2, Rule 7, line 3, leave out member of the Senate or an honorary fellow or a fellow of the university, or a graduate of the university of not less than three years' standing,' and insert fellow or an honorary fellow or a registered graduate of the university.'"
This is an Amendment of more substance—it is the last manuscript Amendment—because it has been pointed out by the authorities in India that the Rule in the form in which it stands is defective. In the first place, it is defective in form because the fellows of the Rangoon University consist of the members of the Senate and also the members of the Council, so that there is no need to men- tion the Senate separately, which is done in the Rule as it is now. It is defective in substance because there are at present no graduates of Rangoon University of three years' standing, the University having only been constituted in December, 1920. The effect of the alteration will be in the direction of enlarging and not curtailing the franchise, thereby meeting to some extent the view of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The effect will be to enfranchise graduates of Rangoon University of five years' standing when there are any such and those who have registered themselves under the Rangoon University Act. More important, it will enfranchise immediately Burmese who took their degrees at Calcutta University, and, thirdly, any person who has taken the master's or higher degree from the Rangoon University since its inauguration. A Burmese could take a degree at Calcutta University under the old system after he had taken a course at the two Burmese colleges which were affiliated to Calcutta University before the Burma University was started. It will therefore enfranchise those people. The reason I prefer my Amendment to that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is that, as I understand it, his Amendment, if carried, so far as the first elections are concerned, would not enfranchise any of those people who have taken degrees at the Rangoon University during the last 18 months. The bulk of the Burmese members are graduates of the Calcutta University before the Burmese colleges were affiliated. The matter is a complicated one, but I am advised that it will remove those mistakes in form which occurred originally.

The matter is not very clear to me any more than it is to the Noble Lord, but if it would increase the number of electors, that is what I want. My Amendment was to prevent the franchise being limited to those of three years' standing because I knew there were none at present. This seems to extend it and, therefore, it is in the right direction, but I am a little doubtful about the word "registered." Only a few persons register. Does it mean giving votes to M.A.s instead of B.A.s and that registration involves a fee?

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add:

"Page 32, leave out No. 3."
I move this in order to find out what is the position as regards the separation of Burma from India. I think it is still desirable that the door should be left open to the separation of Burma from India. The people of Burma are an entirely different race, the problems in Burma are entirely different from those in India, and I hope this Constitution in Burma has a much better prospect of success than the similar Constitutions have in India, but I should like to be quite certain now that we are including Burma that we are not thereby in any way closing the door to the separation of those two countries. I look forward to seeing India a Dominion under the British Crown and Burma a separate Dominion under the British Crown. To my mind the sooner they are separated the better. I wish that separation naturally to be the act of the people of the country themselves, and not to be forced upon them, but I do not want to establish any sort of vested interest under No. 2 or No. 3 which will prevent that separation taking place directly the Legislative Council of Burma wishes to effect that separation.

This is not the time to raise the whole question of the future relationship of Burma to the Government of India. The only reason for the alteration contained in this "Draft Notification" is to alter the amount of assessment, with the effect that the basis of the franchise will be broadened. The effect of the hon. and gallant Member's Amendment, if it were carried, would be to leave the position exactly as it is. Therefore, he would be asking us to take a retrograde step instead of going forward. We ask the House to go forward and to make the franchise broader for the election of members to the Assembly. This does not affect the root principle of the relationship of Burma to the Government of India, which question will, no doubt, have to be discussed at some future time.

Am I right in assuming that the election to the Legislative Assembly at Delhi is now direct instead of indirect?

That is not affected at all now. It is merely a question of an assessment and a wider franchise.

Amendment negatived.

I have other Amendments on the Paper with regard to the procedure Rules, but as they do not materially affect the Constitution, I do not propose to move them.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Resolved,

"That the Draft Rules under the Government of India Act required to give effect to the notification of the Governor-General in Council constituting Burma a Governor's Province under the Act, namely, the Burma Electoral Rules, amendments to the Council of State and Legislative Assembly Electoral Rules, the Burma Legislative Council Rules, and amendments to the Devolution Rules, which were presented to Parliament on the 25th day of May, 1922, be approved, subject however, to the following modification in the Draft Burma Electoral Rules, namely:—
Page 4, Rule 4, first proviso, leave out 'of the following constituencies, namely:—
The Rangoon General Constituency;
The Rangoon Indian Constituency;
The Mandalay Urban General Constituency,'
and insert 'plural-member constituency.'
Rule 4, leave out the second proviso.
Schedule 1, page 24, column 3, against the entry 'Tavoy,' in column 1, after 'Tavoy District,' insert 'excluding Tavoy cipality.'
Page 25, Schedule 2, Rule 2, in Sub-rule (2), after 'That on' insert 'general rural.'
Page 26, Schedule 2, Rule 4, in Clause (a), after 'agricultural year' insert 'as head of the household and liable to pay thathameda-tax.'
Page 27, Schedule 2, Rule 7, line 3, leave out 'member of the senate, or an honorary fellow or a fellow of the university or a graduate of the university of not less than three years' standing,' and insert 'fellow or an honorary fellow or a registered graduate of the university.'"

Allotments Bill Lords

Order for Second Reading read.

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

This Bill has already passed through its various stages in another place, where it has been altered to some extent. It may be necessary for us to put back some of the Clauses and provisions that were originally in the Bill, although the alterations made in another place are not of a very grave character and do not seriously affect the objects of the Bill. I propose to reserve what I have to say upon that matter until we get into Committee. This Bill is based on the unanimous Report of a. Departmental Committee, which was appointed by the Secretary for Scotland and myself, about a year ago, to inquire into the whole question of allotments, with a view to seeing if there are any alterations of the law or procedure which would make it easier to obtain allotments in the future. The main recommendations of this Committee are contained in the present Bill. Before describing them, it may be a matter of some interest if I say a few words about the history of this most important allotment movement.

The allotment movement, the provision of small patches of ground for cultivation by householders, not immediately adjoining their houses, began in the latter part of the 19th century, through a desire on the part of many occupiers of houses, both in town and country, who had not an opportunity of cultivating a cottage garden of their own, to do something in the way of food production and land cultivation. By degrees the allotments grew up, originally by private arrangements with landowners. It was felt in this House and elsewhere that this was a movement to be encouraged, and certain persons took up the matter very warmly. There is one name which will always be associated with the allotment movement, that of the late Mr. Jesse Collings, who perhaps did more than anyone else to bring the matter forward at a time when its importance was imperfectly realised. It was largely through his influence that the first Allotments Act was passed by Parliament in 1887. Then, for the first time, public authorities were given powers to provide allotments in plaices where allotments could not otherwise be obtained. After that, various minor Measures were passed, but no great progress was made till the year 1907, when the well-known Agricultural Holdings Act was passed, which gave much greater and wider powers to local authorities to provide allotments than existed before. It is worthy of notice, as showing how all parties in the State did what they could to promote the allotment movement, that the original Act of 1887 was passed by a Conservative Government, and the later and much bigger Act of 1907 was passed by a Liberal Government. That Act became effective about the year 1909, and its effect was very manifest.

Between 1909 and 1914 the number of allotments provided by local authorities increased from 58,000 to 130,000, and at the outbreak of war in 1914 we had, so far as we were able to ascertain, exact statistics being impossible, 580,000 allotments in England and Wales, of which 130,000 were provided by local authorities, 41,000 by railway companies, who have always shown themselves to be very much alive to the necessity of providing allotments, and have made very liberal provision on their vacant land, and the remainder, the greatest number, by private individuals. During the War there was a tremendous increase. The Government appealed to the population generally where they could to take a bit of land and to cultivate it in the way of market gardens for the purpose of food production. Very wide powers were conferred upon the Board of Agriculture by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act, enabling them to take land which was not being immediately used for any other purposes, and to enter upon it and convert it for use as allotments, and this power was extensively used. There was an enormous increase in the number of allotments during the War. In 1914 we had 580,000, and in 1920 we had 1,330,000. That is an increase, roughly, of 750,000. They sprang up all over the country. I am speaking entirely of England and Wales. In the case of Scotland a similar process took place. There was a great extension of the allotments movement there too, but the Scottish case will be presented separately by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, who is bringing forward a separate Bill dealing with Scotland, where the present state of the law and the conditions are somewhat different. In the case of England and Wales there was this great increase of 750,000 allotments between 1914 and 1920.

Food production was taken up with great enthusiasm, and a really large contribution to the amount of food produced in this country was made by plot holders in this country. Not only that, but a great keenness developed on the part of our town populations to engage in the cultivation of allotments, and it is a very fine movement. It went a long way to break down the barriers which, you sometimes hear, exist between the interests of the urban and those of the rural populations. The people dwelling in the town took for the first time an interest in the cultivation of the land and in the close study of nature. There was emulation between one allotment association and another, and between one allotment holder and another, and, apart altogether from the value of the food produced, the social value of the allotment was very great owing to the healthy recreation in the open air, the incentive to work, and the interest in natural pursuits which it engendered, and which have been a very valuable thing for the country.

9.0 P.M.

This keenness went right through our town population. It has been said that a new disease, called allotmentitis, seized the people. I do not call it a disease. I call it a new and healthy cult, because I wish to see this great forward movement continue. I do not wish to see any setback. For that reason we are bringing in this Bill at the present time, because it will be realised that, owing to what took place during the War, the allotment question became much more of a town question than it was a country question. In the country districts there is not as a rule very great difficulty in acquring suitable land. In many cases there are already gardens attached to cottages. I would like to see cottages never built without gardens. As regards the towns, in many eases the land that was taken during the War for allotments was land that was ripe for building, and which would have been built upon if War conditions had not prevailed. Land which otherwise would have been applied to other and important industrial purposes had been taken, or land which might now be required for rounding off roads, and so on.

We were, therefore, face to face with this position after the War, that this keen desire for allotments must be met. More allotments were required, and at the same time, having taken the land temporarily as an emergency, it was necessary that we should, by degrees, restore as much of the land as possible to the original holders for the purposes for which they required it. Of the new allotments formed during the War, 200,000 were in respect of land acquired and entered upon under the D.O.R.A. Regulations. Some 56,000 other allotments were in respect of land already the property of local authorities, but for the time being diverted from their proper use to the purposes of allotments. For example, parks and recreation grounds and other open spaces of that sort which, during the War, it was right, owing to the necessity for food. production, to use as allotments, could not justly be continued to be used for that purpose, thereby depriving the general public of their open spaces and recreation grounds.

Therefore, it became obvious that grave difficulty would arise soon after the War with regard both to the extension of allotments and maintaining the allotments which we already possessed. We had, therefore, to deal with the situation in the best way we could by the Defence of the Realm (Acquisition of Land) Act; we have taken powers to retain D.O.R.A. allotments for two years after the War, except where land was originally required for building purposes, or where the compensation involved would be altogether too large having regard to the value of the food produced on the allotments. Two years after the War means two years from the formal cessation, that is down to September, 1923. But the formal conclusion of the War was put off so long after the Armistice that it was necessary for us to fix a date at which we should allow this land to go back, and we fixed 25th March next year as the date on which this land, taken during an emergency period, should revert to its proper owner.

There were three reasons for this. We felt, in the first place, that to rely on war emergency measures five years after the Armistice was not right. Then we realised that as long as we retained D.O.R.A. land its possession was but of a temporary character, and we wished, therefore, to take steps to acquire land in a more permanent way. Thirdly, we felt that we could not justify the great expense entailed in retaining the land so long. We endeavoured, however, to meet the situation by certain Clauses in the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act of 1919. That. gave to local authorities greater powers for the acquisition of land for allotments. These efforts have been to some extent successful. We have lost in the last two years 21,000 allotments, in the case of D.O.R.A. land, but local authorities have acquired 81,000 additional allotments under the powers they possess. That shows, at all events, that what we did in 1919 has borne fruit. But the fact that 180,000 of the D.O.R.. A. allotments will have to disappear next March, the fact that some local authorities were not as active as others, and that it was felt that the powers, even after 1919, were not sufficient, caused a great deal of anxiety among allotment holders. It was in order that we might ascertain whether any further powers should be granted by Parliament that there was appointed the Committee on whose unanimous Report we are proposing this legislation to-night.

The provisions of the Bill look rather complicated at first sight, but are fairly simple. They follow the main lines of the Committee's Report. Clauses of great importance are 1, 2, and 9. The Bill deals with a matter to which allotment holders attach great importance, namely, security of tenure. Above all things, the allotment holder wants to feel some kind of security. You cannot expect him to go to a lot of trouble in preparing and manuring his land and putting in seeds, if during the cropping season he may be deprived of the allotment. Although by the Agriculture Act we gave him compensation for disturbance, the allotment holder says quite rightly, "I do not so much want compensation for disturbance. I want to be able to gather in my crops. I want, if possible, to have longer and greater security." We felt, therefore, that we must deal with security of tenure. We could get. absolute security where a borough, council or urban, council acquired the land. If the land were acquired out-and-out, there would be absolute security; if it were hired for a long period the holder would be practically right. If, as was the case in my own constituency, a borough is fortunate enough to have land presented by a generous donor for allotments, it is secure, too. But the acquiring of land in the neighbourhood of a town is a very expensive process, and in most cases it is impossible on any economic basis. Therefore we are doing, and have done all we can to enable local authorities to hire land compulsorily and to be charged only an agricultural rent for it.

We have tried to deal with another point of security of tenure which will give some satisfaction to the allotment holder. In most cases, in ordinary cases, in cases where land is not required for building, mining or industrial purposes, there must be in future six months' notice before the tenancy of an allotment can be ended, and that notice will be null and void if it expires between Lady Day and Michaelmas; in other words, it must not expire during what might be called the summer cropping season. That will be a very great advantage to the allotment holder. As a sort of set-off against that, the allotment holders have agreed to give up compensation. If the notice can expire only in the non-cropping season there is no question of the compensation for crops to be paid. Then the allotment holders are willing to give up the compensation for disturbances granted to them by the Agriculture Act. That is a compromise made on the Committee between the representatives of what you may call the owners and the representatives of the allotment associations. The compromise has been embodied in the Bill. It has been amended in another place, but I hope we shall maintain the provision in this House.

We had to deal with the further cases where the land is required for building, mining or other industrial purposes. I yield to no man in my desire to forward the allotment movement; but you cannot allow allotments to stand in the way of such things as housing or industrial development. Therefore, there must be an easier form of resumption in cases of that sort. In such cases the notice may he three months instead of six months, and it may terminate at any time, even in the cropping season. In that case, however, there will be full compensation payable for crops and unexhausted manure. There is another exception which did not exist as the Bill was originally introduced, but was inserted in another place. That is in the case of a railway, dock. canal or other statutory company which has acquired land for its own purposes and has temporarily allowed it to be used for allotments. In such cases there will be practically no notice, except such as is contained in their agreements, but there again there will be compensation. A difficult question arises as to whether a notice claiming that an individual wants his land for industrial purposes or housing is bonâ fide, or where, as is often alleged, land is nominally resumed for this purpose and then nothing takes place. It has been felt that there should be some kind of appeal on the question of the bonâ fides of the claim for resumption of that kind. As the Bill was originally introduced, the decision as to the bonâ fides of the man giving the notice was to be referred to the Minister of Agriculture as the arbitrator. I am not sorry to say that in another place they knocked out the Minister of Agriculture and put in an arbitrator. It would be an exceedingly difficult thing for any Minister of any Government Department to undertake work of this sort, which is far better done by an ordinary arbitrator.

There was the word "reasonably" in the original Bill. Where does the arbitrator come in?

They have left out "reasonably" in Clause 1 (b). I do not pledge myself to every word of the Bill as it comes from another place. If my right hon. Friend will look at Clause 10 he will see that the question is there raised whether the notice has been given for the purpose for which it is claimed, and that within ten days of notice being served a demand may be put in against this claim and the matter shall be referred to arbitration.

That refers only to where land is being resumed from local authorities or associations. It refers only to cases where

"land has been let to a local authority or to an association."
There is no power of arbitration conferred in respect of the private person from whom land is being resumed by a public company or for building or anything of that kind. The Bill as originally drafted allowed an appeal because it contained the word "reasonably." Now the word "reasonably" has disappeared.

That and a great many other points can be dealt with upstairs. In Clauses 1 and 2 we have endeavoured to deal with the question of security of tenure, and now I come to Clause 9, which is a very important one. It. gives to every local authority with over 10,000 inhabitants what I may describe as the D.O.R.A. powers enjoyed by the Board of Agriculture during the War. That is to say, they can enter upon land which is not now subject to any rateable occupation—any land, in fact, of which use is not being made for the time being. They can split that land up, convert it and use it for allotments for the time being. That, I think, will be a very valuable power. There is always in towns a good deal of land of that description—land which may be used a few years hence, but to which no particular value attaches at the moment. Not only in towns, but in large colliery and industrial districts like the Black Country there is a good deal of land which is not being beneficially used at the present time, but which could be most suitably used for allotments. Therefore, these very extensive powers are being conferred on authorities—borough or urban or county councils with over 10,000 inhabitants—to enter upon that land, use it and let it as allotments for the time being. It follows—and this matter has been argued before now in the House—that if such wide powers of entering upon land are granted there must be an easy method of resumption. The land might become. suddenly ripe for building or some other use for it might be found, and if we enable people to take land in this very drastic manner, the least we can do is to provide an easy method of resumption. It is proposed, therefore, that in the case of these emergency or temporary allotments there shall be power of resuming on one month's notice.

There is another Clause to which I would direct the attention of the House. Although most local authorities have shown great keenness in carrying out their duties in connection with allotments, there are always laggards and sluggards even among local authorities, and some have not been very active. That may be due to the fact that they have not got any members on their councils who are really keen on allotments, though there may be a big demand for allotments outside. It is, therefore, laid down by Clause 13 that it shall be the duty of every urban district council or borough council with a population of 10,000 or upwards to have an allotment committee, and that there shall be co-opted on that committee a substantial number of persons who are actually allotment holders themselves. I think that will have the effect of gingering up such authorities as have not been active in the past, and will have a very good influence in pushing forward the. allotments movement. It is quite true that there is under the Clause a power of exempting from its provisions such authorities as the Minister of Health may think desirable. There are some authorities for whom an allotments committee would be useless. There are certain metropolitan boroughs where probably the authorities could not find any allotments if they tried. Therefore, it is just as well to have this power of exemption, but, generally speaking, the rule will be that there must be an allotment committee in the case of every urban district council and town council with the population mentioned, and there must be a substantial proportion of allotment holders co-opted on that committee.

Clauses 3, 4 and 6 are new Clauses inserted in another place and they are really for consolidation purposes. We found when we came to deal with the question that the law was very involved and difficult to understand largely due to the fact that in previous Acts of Parliament, allotments had been defined in very varying terms. For example, by the Allotments and Cottage Gardens Compensation for Crops Act, 1887, an allotment might be anything up to two acres. By the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1908, an allotment might be anything up to five acres. In our judgment an allotment, in the sense of the ordinary use of the word, is something much smaller than live acres or two acres, and we have all through the Bill used the expression "allotment gardens" and by an allotment garden we mean a parcel of land of not more than forty poles cultivated for the production of vegetables. That is really what the general public means by allotments, and if you go up to two acres or five acres you are dealing with what would commonly be called small holdings. Therefore the principal proposals of the Bill, namely security of tenure, provision as to notice, compensation for disturbance and power to enter upon land, apply exclusively to allotment gardens of forty poles or under.

We were met with the fact that there were certain provisions applying to bigger allotments in previous Acts. We have therefore repealed the Allotments and Cottage Gardens Compensation for Crops Act in respect of allotments between 40 poles and two acres, and have re-enacted its provisions substantially in Clauses 3 and 4. As regards the even larger so-called allotments, many up to five acres, they will be treated as small holdings, and dealt with by the Small Holdings Act. No good is done by trying to glorify allotments into small holdings, and it is much better to draw a sharp line between the two. These are the principal provisions of the Bill, but I will just mention one or two other Clauses in passing. By Clause 8 we give to local authorities the power to purchase land, not for cash but for perpetual annuities.

Were Clauses 3 and 4 part of the original Bill, or were they put in during the progress of the Measure in another place?

They were put in at the instance of the Government, because complaints were made that the Bill was entirely a matter of legislation by reference. Therefore, what we did was to repeal the Allotments and Cottage Gardens Compensation for Crops Act and another Act, and to re-enact them substantially in Clauses 3 and 4. That is done really for convenience. By Clause 8 we give power to local authorities to buy land for perpetual annuities, and that power is extended from small holdings to allotments. Clause 10 is the arbitration Clause, to which I have already alluded. Clause 15 enables local authorities, where they are the owners of tramways or other means of conveyance, to give special travelling facilities to allotment holders. This is a valuable Clause, in the sense that it is a very good thing to encourage allotments at some distance from the centre of a town. You may get land cheaper, and there is no reason whatever why those interested in allotments should not travel to their allotments some way off. If it is possible to give them cheap travelling facilities, I think it will be an advantage.

Clause 16 to some extent readjusts the financial provision of allotments. It lays down distinctly that allotments must be self-supporting. There has been a good deal of demand for Government assistance to allotments in the shape of subsidies from the Treasury or from the local rates. We do not think that anything of that kind is either possible or desirable, especially at the present moment. Therefore we lay it down that these allotments must be self-supporting. But we make just this amount of exception, that we provide relief in respect of expenses incidental to the acquisition of the land, which may be paid out of the rates. There is a precedent in the case of land acquired for small holdings under the Small Holdings Act, 1908. Secondly, the cost of public roads can be paid for out of the rates, and, thirdly, the sinking fund charges for the repayment of the loan should be paid for out of the rates and should not fall on the allotment holder. If they fall on the allotment holder a position of injustice arises because, at the end of the term of the years of repayment, if the land belongs to the local authorities exclusively and at the same Lime the sinking fund charges have been paid by the allotment holders. In Clause 17 we deal with the rates. That is not a very big point. At the present moment the individual allotment holder is rated. We propose in future that the authority which takes the land and sublets it to an individual plot holder, whether that authority be a local authority or an association, shall be rated.

Clause 19 is a special Clause dealing with particular conditions in the New Forest. There are other Clauses dealing with matters of minor importance but all of them, I think, are based upon recommendations of the Committee to which I have already referred. I will not weary the House by going into further details, but I will say this, that though I know that the Bill does not, satisfy everybody, no Bill that I ever heard of did, and though it does not go so far as some of the keenest advocates of allotments might have gone, I think it is a very considerable step in the right direction. Not only is it based upon this unanimous report, but it has the approval of allotment societies all through the country. Only a few weeks ago I had the privilege of addressing a very big meeting in London, where I believe allotment associations of the whole kingdom were represented. I outlined all the general heads of the Bill, and I was able to ascertain that as a rule it was approved.

You can hardly say that, because it was before the Bill was introduced at all, and my speech therefore was of rather a vague character. Seriously, I do not think the alterations are a very important matter and the main principles and provisions of the Bill as introduced are retained, though, as I have already said, I am not prepared to say now that I accept all the Amendments made there. Some of them we shall have to alter. I should like to reserve those detailed points for Committee. I do claim, however, that the Bill goes a very considerable way in the direction of giving greater security of tenure and making it more easy to acquire land for a local authority. We had this great movement which went on right through the War. During the War, it produced most valuable results, and most valuable social effects which were of the very best character. I think this movement has come to stay, and I should be very sorry to see it checked. Unless, however, we give greater facilities than obtain to-day, there may be a set back which will be a very disastrous matter. Therefore, I hope the House will give the Bill a. Second Reading and will allow us to send it to a Committee upstairs where its proposals will be considered.

I am not sure whether it will be for the convenience of the House that we should be informed before we get much further if the Government anticipate getting the Second Reading of the Bill to-night.

Of course, that is a matter for the House. We should very much like to get the Second Reading to-night, because the sooner we can get it up to the Committee the better.

I quite recognise that that is all that I can ask the right hon. Gentleman to say at the present stage. I am not going to weary the House by following him in the part of his speech in which he described, in a way with which we all agree, the very great importance of the allotment movement in this country, the great amount of good it did during the War, and the wonderful way in which the keenness of all allotment holders, especially in the urban centres, which was manifested during the War, still survives. The allotment habit has become almost as much a definite habit as that of taking the baby out in the perambulator on a Sunday afternoon. In fact, sometimes, I am not at all sure they do not leave the baby at home and go to the allotment instead. I cannot have worked as Chairman of the allotment side of the Agricultural Organisation Society for several hours a week for many years without being very greatly impressed by the very great good which the allotment movement does in this country. I think it a most wonderful safety valve for big towns that the populations should be well provided with allotments, and it does an enormous amount of good, particularly in times of lock-outs, strikes, and other industrial disputes, that the men should have their allotments to go to. They can do a great deal more good killing slugs on their allotments than abusing Members of the Government round street corners, which they are otherwise rather inclined to do.

My right hon. Friend has treated some parts of the Bill as rather thin ice, and has skated over them rather rapidly, and before we conclude the Second Reading stage I think it is right that the House should know rather more fully about some matters which arise in the history of this question than they may know at the present time. The Bill, as my right hon. Friend said, takes its rise from a demand which is mainly urban—an urban demand to get extra and improved powers of obtaining land, largely to replace the land which was taken by the Ministry under the Defence of the Realm Act. The beginning of the allotment movement was, as he, I think, also explained to us, rural, and the great stimulus to the urban side of it came, as he said, in the War, and he has done, I think, as well as any Minister could be expected to do in having retained the Defence of the Realm Act land as long as he has done. It is only reasonable that those special powers should come to an end some time, and although we and the people interested in allotment holders did our best to urge on him, in season and out of season altogether, the extension of the period during which land should be kept under the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations, yet. I am bound to say I think he is right in bringing that period to an end, as he does, on 25th March next year. But, of course, allotment holders, and, to some extent, local authorities, on whom they are represented, have been very anxious that extra powers should be given by legislation, so that the land which otherwise they will lose when the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations are finally abandoned shall be retained to them, and as one of those who was present when the original deputation waited on him which proposed that this Committee should be set up, I know, what he will agree with, that it was largely that fear about what might happen to the Defence of the Realm Act land which prompted the setting up of the Committee on whose Report the Government is now acting.

The Committee made a unanimous Report, and that Report has gone through one or two stages before reaching the form which it now presents to us in this Bill. It was a unanimous Report, as my right hon. Friend has said, and it is worth remembering that the Committee contained not only representatives of the allotment holders and societies interested in allotment holders, but also representatives of the local authorities. In fact, I think there were on it, not unreasonably, perhaps, more representatives of the local authorities than persons particularly interested in allotment holdings; nevertheless it was a unanimous Report Therefore presumably it represented what might have been regarded as a fairly balanced compromise between the views of the allotment holders and those of the local authorities. At any rate, there was ample room on the Committee for the expression of the local authorities' views, and they were expressed. The Report having been presented, it went through one stage. It was first to some extent whittled down by Ministers and by the Government, perfectly legitimately, of course, before its recommendations were embodied in a Bill. In the financial state of the country it was almost inevitable that the recommendations of that Committee which in any way touched on increase of public expenditure should be abandoned, for the present, at any rate—I hope not permanently—but one finds in that connection that it was recommended that financial assistance under certain circumstances should be given to local authorities to acquire land for allotment purposes and, of course, that is not reproduced in the Bill. No such financial assistance is proposed to be given, but there are certain things which were recommended in the Report which we do not find in the Bill.

First of all, it was suggested, I think, surely very reasonably, that permanent provision should be made, that allotments should be planned for, on a permanent basis, in all schemes under the Housing and Town Planning Act. That may be impossible to introduce in a Bill of this kind, or it may have been dropped for some other reason.

At any rate, before we have done we shall, I hope, get an assurance from the Government that when a suitable opportunity does occur the Housing and Town Planning Act may be so amended as to make permanent provision for allotments, because, as the allotment holders well say, nothing but permanence gives them real security—nothing but real ownership by an authority, or by a society, or by themselves of their plots will give them real security; and you ought, instead of pushing the allotment holders always further out into the country districts, to make quite as definite provision for allotment areas as you do for parks and open spaces, recreation grounds, and things of that kind. Then, of course, the question of codification was proposed to be dealt with in the codifying Bill with regard to agricultural holdings, and has been altered—I am not sure without one or two little differences having inadvertently crept in—by the present proposal, which, as my right hon. Friend said, was introduced at the instance of the Government on the Report stage in another place, to make this a codifying Bill and to bring all the provisions in regard to allotments together here. Then there was the recommendation in regard to a National Advisory Committee on Allotments. That would not, I think, be a matter for Statute. I do not want a statutory Committee set up again, like the Agriculture Committee, but still one would like, before we finish with this matter, to know whether my right hon. Friend does intend to set up any Committee to advise him on allotment questions. I think there is a great deal to be said for that course.

Then there was a recommendation that there should be some encouragement to local authorities to let land to co-operative associations, which is a very important matter. I do not go into the question as to whether those associations should be under the National Union of Allotment Holders, or the society which I happen to be connected with, the Agricultural Organisation Society, but undoubtedly, if allotment land be taken up and looked after by associations, it can be used very much more to the general advantage than if the land has to be let in individual plots to individual allotment holders. The associations can lay down proper rules much more easily than local authorities can with regard to the avoidance of nuisances, with regard to not allowing sub-letting, and various things that make all the difference on the question as to whether the allotment holder and his land is really popular, or whether it is not really altogether satisfactorily conducted. On the question of rating, the Committee recommended, in Section 59 of their Report, that the rating of allotments should always be at the agricultural value. That is not referred to in the Bill, and before the end some of us will want to know the reason why that appears to have been left out.

The only other point I wish to make is the recommendation of the Report, in Clauses 67 and 68, that powers should be given to the Minister of Agriculture to act in default of the greater local authorities, as he is empowered to act in default of some of the minor local authorities. I do not think local authorities very often err, but I am not wholly convinced that the liability to err is altogether confined to the smaller authorities, and if it be reasonable to give the Minister power to review the actions of some of the minor authorities, I am not sure that that power of review, and of action on default, ought not to apply also to Metropolitan boroughs, and to urban and town councils, and to county boroughs as well as to boroughs. At present the Minister can act in default of a borough, but not of a county borough, and I do not see why that should be so. Those things, and others that I might have mentioned, rather whittled clown the powers which were hoped for by this composite Committee, on which a great many local authorities and allotment holders were represented. I have suggested that we must not grumble, in difficult financial times like the present, so far as the financial terms are concerned, but I do say that if and when we can afford a little money again, no money can be better spent than in helping these allotment holders to have real security of tenure, which only comes from the actual purchase of their land, and the feeling that they have got it for ever for cultivation.

Then we come to what the Bill does really provide, or rather provided, as introduced. My right hon. Friend has covered that ground, of course, properly, and I am only going to skim over it a very little, I am bound to say, for the purpose of bringing out. what I do not think he has brought out quite completely, and that is, that to a considerable extent, in my humble opinion, the original provisions inserted in this Bill have been whittled away, or, in some cases, altogether cut out in another place before reaching us. I will just mention them in the order they are summarised in the summary of the Report. The provision with regard to special travelling facilities remains. The provision that there shall be six months' notice before a person is turned out of an allotment, except when the land is wanted for public purposes, or by a corporation, such as a railway company, and so on, remains, although the question of cutting out the word "reasonably" is a small question of some importance. Then there is the Clause for the setting up of Statutory Allotment Committees of the local authorities. Many attempts were made in another place to modify that, but I am glad to say, on the whole, that Clause has come through untouched. I think that is very important indeed. The power was given to local authorities to purchase land with annuities, instead of out and out payment, and that has come through. The original Bill provided for the extension of the period during which compulsory powers exercised by local authorities need not be confirmed by the Ministry of Agriculture. That has disappeared The Ministry, after all, drafted the Bill, and they must have known whether it would be perfectly safe or not to dispense with the sending down of inspectors in all those cases at considerable expense. I am very sorry that extra bureaucratic expense has been reintroduced, and I hope it will not stay in the Bill very long. Then there is the power of local authorities temporarily to hire land in the possession of railway companies, and so on. That has been kept to some extent, with this qualification, that the corporations, railway, canal, and water companies, and so on, were to be able to resume the land again, if it were reasonably required, and the word "reasonably" has gone. Then there has been a fairly definite modification in the Clause which gives to a local authority compulsory hiring provisions with regard to the breaking-up of grass land. It is a Committee detail, which I will not go into, but the Clause comes out a good deal weaker than it went in. I am skipping some of the less important, ones. The extension of the loan period to 80 years has survived. The Clause saying that rents are to be calculated to exclude certain items of expenditure, which had previously been habitually, or usually, charged against the allotment holder survives. I come, I think, to the most important point to which I want to draw attention in this connection, and that is, that the power of local authorities to enter unoccupied land, which was recommended by the Committee and included by the Government in the Bill as introduced, has been very considerably whittled away.

Yes, unrated land. The Bill, as introduced, gave the local authority power, at 14 days' notice, to take hold of, for temporary use as allotments, any land which was unrated, and to use it for allotments, subject to it being taken back again at short notice for the purpose for which it was originally required. That power applied to land which was the property of corporations or companies for railway, dock, canal, or similar purposes, and so keen has another place been that that power of taking this unrated land should not apply to any land in the occupation of such corporations, that in Clause 9 of the Bill they have forbidden that sort of land to be taken, not only once but twice. They have said in.Sub-section (6) of Clause 9:

"except land which has been acquired by any corporation or company"
and later in the same Sub-section they say:
"or land which has been acquired by any corporation or company."
They mean to make doubly sure of it. I think the original Clause was one which enabled such land to be taken, provided always that such corporation would take it back on really short notice if they wanted it for purposes of their own. We see, therefore, that with regard to five matters of some considerable importance, the Bill has in another place been considerably weakened—in five out of what I call the eleven leading provisions of the Bill. There will be now no appeal from the owner of the land requiring the land back again. The question whether his requirement is reasonable or not will not be able to be adjudicated upon. There will he no appeal upon the decision of a corporation to resume its own land for its own purposes. They may in some cases, I think, be tempted to resume really long before they want the land, and I think it was right in the original Bill to say that the question whether the resumption was reasonable or not might be gone into.

It is quite true that in Clause 1 the word "reasonably" is left out, but if the hon. Member will look at Clause 10, Sub-section (2), he will see that the question is raised whether the resumption of possession "is required in good faith." Those words were put in in place of the word "reasonably." Personally, I think they are stronger, because whether a thing is "reasonable" or not is very difficult to say.

That is a small and a sporting point, a narrow point, I think. The word "reasonably" is much broader. But there is a point where I interrupted my right hon. Friend, that where the person from whom the land was resumed, whether the action which was taken was reasonable—I am thinking of the Armitage case—or whether the action of the person taking back has been in "good faith" and can only be taken by the local authority or by an association. However, that is a point I am perfectly willing to leave to the Committee, but it is an important point. So I say that I do not repeat myself; I merely recall to the House the fact that in these two cases there has been considerable whittling down of the original Bill. I will shortly just run through these five matters in which I think the Bill has been worsened. Thirdly, there is the extension of the period allowed during which compulsory orders, if need be, can be referred to the Minister, and, fourthly, there are the compulsory powers of hiring, only to apply to the breaking up of grass land, if the Minister has failed to find any arable land available—the point to which I have just referred. Lastly, there is no power in the local authority to take incorporated corporation land.

Let us see, therefore, to what extent the balance of the Bill—and the Bill as originally introduced represented a balance—has been disturbed by these Amendments to which I have alluded. My right hon. Friend rightly said that in its essence the Bill, in many of its provisions, represented a compromise. He said that the allotment holders were keen about their greater power of getting hold of land, and if they could get greater power in that respect they were perfectly willing to give up some of their present powers in regard to compensation if land was taken away. They have undoubtedly found it more difficult to get the land they wanted—agricultural land in particular—because of the rather heavy compensation if the land was resumed for building purposes. That has been an advantage in the rural districts, where there is not very much desire to resume at short notice, and it is a disadvantage in urban districts. It is that disadvantage which the Bill sets out to cure. It sets out to give something better, for those concerned say that "for keeping hold of the land we will give up something with regard to compensation." If we are to judge whether the Bill is a fair quid pro quo we ought to see what sort of compensation will be provided by it, as it now is, and what sort of compensation there was to be which will now be given up. There will be, as I understand it—though the matter is not without difficulty—in Clause 1 three sorts of notice which can be given for the giving up of allotment gardens. First of all, there is the normal notice, which must be six months. Then there, is notice for public purposes—if that is provided for in the contract—which may be three months. There is notice given by a corporation or a company—also if it is provided for in the contract—which may be nothing at all. That sort of body may go in any day after the clay when they say so, and give no notice at all. They may go in with no notice, and no compensation, unless they go in between 6th April and 29th September. In all these cases, six months' notice, three months' notice for public purposes, or resumption by a public undertaking, no notice whatever and no compensation whatever is to be given under this Bill, unless the notice expires between the dates I have named.

That is not so. In the case of the six months' notice there will be no compensation; but in the other cases there will he compensation.

10.0 P.M.

I have read the Bill very, very carefully—though I shall be very glad to be corrected and to admit my error if I find that it is one—but as I read it, unless the notice expires during the summer, there will be no compensation at all. That is an advantage given in another place, and may be set off against what I have suggested as to the worsening of the Bill. But the point should still be borne in mind how very favourable the compensation was which is superseded by this new Clasue. In the Act of 1920 there was a special Clause, No. 11, which the, House will remember we sat up a great deal of one night over, during the 18 hours sitting—when we were dealing with the Amendments from another place. We have debated the whole question of compensation to be paid far disturbance of allotment garden holders, and we settled it after a very great deal of argument and compromise on a very liberal basis so far as the allotment holder was concerned. However long the period was, he got a year's notice, and a year's rent at the end of it. If the notice were less than a year we gave him a year's rent, or possibly as much as two years, with the cost of removal, which was considerable, or the vale of the year's occupation of the allotment, whichever was the greater, in addition to the value of the crop, and unexhausted manures which had given under the Act of 1887. The Agriculture Act gave these very heavy and generous compensations, of which he is now to be entirely deprived. Under no circumstances will he get that sort of compensation at all. Under the most favourable circumstances, whether the notice expires in summer or winter, all he will get is the value of the crops and the unexhaunted manures put in since the last crop, and the compensation given under Clause 11 of the Act of 1920 is entirely wiped out, because that Clause is repealed in the Schedule.

Therefore it seems to me that as the allotment holder is to be asked to give up so much in regard to compensation, that he might well ask whether now the Bill any longer represents the balanced settlement which he is willing to accept. I hope it may be found that it does, but there has not been full time for the country and those interested to understand the exact effect of the Lords Amendments. I have myself just been convicted apparently of not understanding one point, in spite of the close study I have given to it, and I should counsel my right hon. Friend, if I may humbly do so, after he has got the Second Reading, not to rush the Committee stage until he has been kind enough to do what I gather he is going to do, see deputations of societies and allotment holders interested in the matter, and discover to what extent they feel that the balance has now been upset really against them by the Amendments which have been made in another place. He has explained what he intended the Bill to be. As he introduced it it was regarded as a balanced settlement which the allotment holders and the authorities concerned were willing to accept. Considerable alterations have been made since then, and I think my right hon. Friend will find that his path will be quickened in the long run in this House if he will do his best to talk the matter over afresh with those who were mainly instrumental in pressing the allotment holders' views upon him.

But there is one other matter which I must mention. The Bill originally, I think we all agree, sprang from an urban demand. There was a fear lest when the Defence of the Realm Act regulations were abandoned they would not get any real substitute, and that a great deal of Defence of the Realm land would have to be given up, and the local authorities would not be able to get any fair substitute for it. That matter arose in that way—the urban demand to get extra powers of getting land, and, if necessary, to give up the compensation in return for these extra privileges. The Bill, so far as compensation was concerned, was confined when it left this House entirely to allotment gardens, and they, instead of being left undefined altogether as in the Act of 1920, have been defined—I think rightly. I think the definition is quite a sound one, and refers to land of less than 40 rods held for certain purposes. It was perfectly right to make such a definition and the line has been drawn in the right place. My point is that it was only with regard to urban allotments that the question really arose, and that any willingness has been expressed to exchange a certain amount of compensation on the one side against a certain amount of improvement in the powers of getting hold of the land on the other side. The law with regard to allotments, as distinguished from allotment gardens, has been joined to the law dealing with allotment gardens, and it is hoped that this Bill when it becomes an Act, will be the law of allotments pure and simple. In doing that, I think inadvertently, a very considerable disservice and injury has been done in the case of pieces of land which will now be defined as allotments between a quarter of an acre and two acres. There will no longer be allotments up to five acres at all if this Bill consolidates the allotment law and defines an allotment as being a piece of land between one-quarter of an acre and two acres. Under these conditions, the power of acquiring five acres will go altogether.

What is going to be done in regard to compensation in the case of allotments of a quarter of an acre to two acres? Under the Agriculture Act, those pieces of land were left with, at any rate, a year's rent as compensation for disturbance. The Act of 1920 dealt with small holdings and allotment gardens, but it was doubtful whether that Act dealt with allotments; in fact, there was a doubt whether it dealt with them at all, either in Section 10 or Section 12. My main point is that whereas the Bill as originally drafted represented the whole of the proceedings of the Committee, and was intended with regard to compensation to refer only to small plots, now defined as an allotment garden, and to refer only to the urban question, now by the action of another place it refers only to the plot of land between a quarter of an acre and two acres, and instead of leaving these plots under the liberal provision as to compensation provided in the previous Act, this Bill cuts out the compensation for disturbance altogether. Really, the allotment question is now left hanging between heaven and earth in this respect. The special compensation provided for under Section 11 of the Agriculture Act is to be repealed, and that Act will apply only to a holding which cannot be defined as including an allotment.

At first I feared that there was some deep plot on the part, of another place to get a bit of their own back, and whereas they were required to give heavy compensation to their agricultural tenants, they are now taking advantage of this opportunity to cut down compensation even when it applies only to the small allotment holder. As no compensation is to he given to the allotment holder, the temptation will be very great, in the case of anyone applying for a small piece of land, for the owner to say, "We will let it to you as a small allotment, between a quarter acre or two acres, but if you want a larger allotment it must be divided up between two or more persons, because then if I desire to do so I can get rid of you without paying compensation, whereas if it is a small holding I shall have to pay considerable compensation." I am quite certain that the Government never intended to interfere with the compensation to be given to smallholders in such cases.

I am sufficiently encouraged by the interruption of the right hon. Gentleman to know that this matter has only got to be gone into in order to have it put right. This question of compensation in these cases is a very important one, and even a 30- or a 40-rod plot is on a different basis to that of a one or two-acre plot on which a man may make his living, and we ought not to interfere with those areas under this Bill. I know this matter will be looked into. I am sure the Minister of Agriculture will be making more haste in the long run if he will go into some of these matters with the representatives of local authorities and allotment holders before he rushes this Measure through its remaining stages.

I think the House will agree with me when I say that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland) has been a very exhaustive one, although I do not believe that the balance of that speech has been fair to the Bill. Speaking for the National Union of Allotment Holders, and representing the great body of allotment holders in this country, they certainly regard this Bill as a great step forward, and T wish the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne had been able to point to many of the undoubted benefits which will occur to allotment holders as the result of this proposed legislation. This Measure is based upon the Report of the Departmental Committee which sat recently. The Report of that Committee was unanimous. On that Committee there sat representatives, not only of the allotment holders, but of local authorities up and down the country. It is perfectly true to say that the balance of the Bill has, to some extent, been disturbed in its passage through another place, but it is also true to say, in justice to what has been done there, that alterations have taken place which on the one hand benefit allotment holders, although perhaps on the other hand there may be some alterations which are detrimental to them. My right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne was not quite correct in regard to the question of compensation, and I think it is only fair to say that a Clause was inserted in another place which gave full compensation to the allotment holders—I am referring to Clause 7 of the Bill, Sub-section (2).

I agree that the allotment holders of the country do not require compensation so much as security of tenure, and the action that was taken in another place but hardly recognised that fact. They were anxious in another place to give full compensation to allotment holders when they were disturbed or evicted from their holdings, but so far as the provisions of the Bill dealing with security of tenure are concerned, they were considerably weakened. I hope that before this Bill obtains a Second Reading the Minister of Agriculture will give us a more positive assurance as to what he proposes to do in regard to the alterations which have been made in the Bill. The most serious part of this matter is this. In March, 1923, no fewer than a quarter of a million of allotment holders are to be evicted from their holdings. I suppose there are in this country to-day upwards of 1,000,000 allotment holders, and it is a very unfortunate fact that one quarter of these will, unless something is done, have to give up their allotments without any provision being made for them. Most of these men, it will be agreed, have proved themselves perfectly efficient in their work, and they ought certainly to be encouraged by this House to continue this very excellent national effort. Another matter of which seriously complain is in reference to what has taken place in the other House. When the Noble Lord, on behalf of the Government, introduced this Bill he stated, as one of the reasons for its urgency, that 250,000 allotment holders were about to be evicted and that under the first Clause of the Bill power was to be given to the local authorities practically to take the place of the Minister of Agriculture and in all proper cases to obtain land for the allotment holders who were about to be evicted. They were to obtain that land by a shortened process without reference to the Minister. Yet when that Clause was dealt with in another place it was wholly deleted, and I am afraid that, as a result, and owing to the complications and delays which must of necessity take place under the provisions of the Land Settlement Act, by which reference has to be made to the. Minister of Agriculture in every case before the local authority can acquire land—a very severe blow will be dealt to the movement, if my right hon. Friend is not prepared to put that matter right when the Committee stage of this Bill is reached. I want to tell him that, so far as I am associated with this movement, we shall bring every possible pressure to bear upon him to restore to the Bill the Clause which was deleted in another place, by which power was given to the local authorities to quickly and compulsorily acquire land for this 250,000 allotment holders.

Again, when this Bill was introduced power was given to the local authorities to acquire land. If the owner desired to terminate the arrangement he had in certain cases to give six months' notice, and in certain other cases three months' notice to obtain repossession of the land. Three months' notice was to be given if the land was required for important and urgent purposes. Under the Bill as originally introduced by my right hon. Friend all land was treated alike, but in the other House a very considerable alteration has been made. Land has been divided into two classes. If a private owner has let his land for allotments, he has to give the six months' or the three months' notice. as the case may be, but an alteration has now been made whereby, if the land belongs to a railway company, a dock company, a water company, or, in the words of the Clause, "other public under taking"—whatever that may mean—that particular body of persons can immediately re-enter upon the land without giving any notice at all. I regard that as a most important and vital alteration. I cannot conceive why great undertakings such as those referred to should not be just as able as the private individual to look ahead and to give the three months' or six months' notice required under this Bill. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend, when he comes to reply, will give some indication of his intentions in this connection, and will at any rate indicate to the House that he intends to proceed upon the lines on which the Bill was originally introduced.

Clause 13 of the Bill provides for the setting up by local authorities of allotment committees, and that provision was severely attacked in the other House. I venture to say, however, that, if the allotment movement is to progress, its best means of progression is by cordial co-operation between the allotment holders and the local authorities, and, having regard to the splendid work that has been done, and to the value of the movement, I consider that, when a local authority says, "We are not prepared to set up an allotment committee," it is perfectly right that the Clause enacting that a local authority must set up a committee should be put into operation. I venture to say that very little harm can come to the local authorities from the setting up of such a committee. In the first place, the allotment committee is a committee subject to the jurisdiction of the council as a whole; and, secondly, the committee only has to include a minority of representatives of allotment holders. Therefore, I think that very little harm indeed can be done by that provision, while a great deal of good can be done to the movement. I trust that when my right hon. Friend replies he will say that he is determined to stand by this provision in the Bill, to which the allotment holders of the country attach the greatest importance.

My last point is with regard to an omission from the Bill. It was suggested in the other House that the greatest need of the allotment holder to-day is security of tenure. That is true, and the only way, or, at any rate, the best way, in which the allotment holder can obtain security of tenure is by purchasing the freehold. At the end of the discussion in the other House a Clause was suggested, but, owing to lack of time, it could not be considered. Its object was to authorise the Public Works Loan Commissioners to make advances to allotment societies to enable them to purchase allotments under the provisions of this Bill. I venture to say to my right hon. Friend that that is a Clause which he might well consider. It is perfectly true that the allotment holders accept this Bill, and they accept it on the basis that the allotments of the country are to be self-supporting. They are not asking the country or the State to assist them as far as money is concerned. I do think, however, that it is a reasonable request, even at this present time, that, at any rate, so far as loans are concerned, upon proper and reasonable security, the Public Works Loan Commissioners should come to their assistance and help to enable them to purchase the land for their allotments. I do not want to finish my remarks upon a basis of criticism, because apart altogether from politics, which counts very little, because one of the great benefits of the allotment movement is that there is no politics in it at all, I wish to say, on behalf of a very large number of allotment holders, that they thank the right hon. Gentleman for the introduction of the Bill, and for the great personal interest he has always shown in the movement, and they hope he will be able to continue his interest in it and to stand, so far as he can, by the Bill as originally introduced.

I wish to support the Second Reading for two principal reasons, the first being that it goes a very long way towards meeting that wish for security of tenure, in so far as it is possible and compatible with the major interest, the industrial interest, to give that security of tenure, and at the same time provide for the new industrial development. In the second place it is going to give a certain measure of compensation when allotments are given up, and to that extent it meets the legitimate and proper wishes of allotment holders. I also welcome the Bill as one who has served on local authorities for many years, and in the capacity of Chairman of a county council for the Clause which empowers county councils to provide allotments and deal with the allotment movement direct themselves. They are bodies which should be entrusted with these powers, and in the course of the development of the smallholdings movement it frequently happens that they require land, and have been unable, so far, satisfactorily to deal with the situation that then arises. I should like to say a word in regard to Clause 13 (1), in regard to which we want more information and more light. Under this Clause it is to be in future a statutory obligation that the council of every borough and every urban district council shall establish an allotment committee, to which all matters relating to allotments shall stand automatically referred. It has been argued elsewhere that the reason for this mandatory provision is that certain local' authorities have proved dilatory and recalcitrant and have not satisfactorily dealt with the wishes of allotment holders in their districts. In a general way I hold that the more you trust local authorities to carry out their duties, the less you tell them the way in which they are to carry them out, the more efficiently will they discharge their duties, and it is far better for them to determine the method, the machinery, the manner and the system by which they shall discharge their statutory obligations themselves than it is for them to be told by Act of Parliament. Moreover, I hold that it is in the public interest that matters should be dealt with, not on a sectional line, in the interest of one particular section, but by general committees in which there is that very necessary balance of interests which alone leads to good local government. Therefore I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us if it is owing to recalcitrant authorities that he requires these special powers. We are unable to obtain the evidence given before the Departmental Committee on Allotments, on which this Bill is largely based. I am strongly in favour of economy, but there are some things we should not economise on. In cases like this, where we are dealing with the interests of no fewer than 1,163,000 allotment holders, it is a pity that the evidence is not available so that we could probe the matter and see how far the findings of the Committee are in accordance with the views expressed before them. I support the proposal, provided that due evidence is forthcoming that certain councils have been recalcitrant, to set up Statutory committees in this particular case, because I believe it will tend to focus the attention of urban dwellers upon the agricultural situation generally. Agriculture, which employs more persons than any other industry, is terribly in need of the assistance and support of the urban dweller. Many urban dwellers take the view that you have only to tickle the earth and she will automatically smile plentifully upon the cultivator, not realising the great and grave difficulties which he is always up against. I suggest that more elasticity might be given, so that groups of committees might be formed. It may be that the best way of operating the Bill would be by means of grouping up committees. I find no such power incorporated in the Bill.

On Clause 13 (2) I should like to draw attention to the co-opted members. This Sub-section lays it down that the allotments committee shall comprise co-opted members less than one-half, but not less than one-third of the total members of the committee. It may be considered desirable in the special circumstances that there should be co-opted members, but I Would remind the House that hitherto Parliament has laid down somewhat rigidly in regard to most matters, the exclusion from local authorities of persons whose interests, by reason of contracts or otherwise, might at any time tend to differ from the general interest of the ratepayers as a whole. That, perhaps, is not an analogous case. It is possible out of a committee of 100 to be 49 co-opted members and 51 members elected by the ratepayers. How has the 49–51 basis been selected? That seems to exceed the legitimate arid proper needs of the case, and it is undesirable to have such an extensive system of co-option introduced into the Bill and imposed upon the authorities concerned. Many local authorities object, lock, stock and barrel, to co-opted members, and claim that some of their difficulties, particularly in connection with education, are due to the presence of co-opted members. I do not know whether that is the case. I think the infusion of a certain number of co-opted members, who bring a view which is largely an independent or personal view, is desirable, but it is only desirable so long as the total membership is kept low I hope there will be no tampering with the principles upon which local government has been built up. We do not want the substitution of Sovietism. I hope that councils which have long attained their majority will be given more power in this matter, and that there will be no unnecessary treading upon their toes, because these councils are essentially, above and beyond all else, democratic bodies. They are publicly elected, answerable directly and at very frequent intervals to the ratepayers. What would be the attitude of this House if, when any special subject or interest were under consideration and were sent up to a Committee, the proposal were made that no fewer than 49 out of every 100 members of that Committee were to be added as co-opted members? It would lead to very unsatisfactory results. I hope that a wise discretion will be used in this matter, and that the obligation to have a great many co-opted members will be reduced considerably. The first consideration should be that in all acts handed on to local authorities we should look for efficiency of government, and, above all, economy; and we cannot get economy if we have large blocks of members who stand for themselves and are not answerable to the ratepayers.

My hon. Friend who has just sat down has dealt with one Clause in this Bill which is of great consequence, both by what it has in it and by the example and precedent which it might easily become. Before I say a word or two from a point of view somewhat similar to but not identical with that of the last speaker, I should like to join previous speakers in thanking my right hon. Friend for bringing this Bill before another place and bringing it here. There can be no question that this Bill does help what is a very good cause. It does encourage the development of allotments, particularly in urban areas. I am confident that the House, without a Division, will give it a Second Reading. Even when we are discussing the Second Reading of a Bill which we welcome, we cannot help taking up a large portion of the time given to the discussion with criticism of the Measure, though we approve of it as a whole. But this Bill shows many signs of being the outcome of various negotiations and arrangements and compromises which have taken place outside this House. My right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland), who treated the matter with so minute and balanced an analysis, referred to a certain balance which he said was arrived at by the Departmental Committee. Departmental Committees are very valuable in their way, as all who have had the privilege of serving on them recognise. But balances arrived at by such Committees have no inherent authority binding this House. Bills brought here are to be decided upon their merits, and by Members of the House according to their varying points of view and experiences. I hope that I am not wasting the time of the House in uttering a respectful protest against a heresy which seemed to lurk in my right hon. Friend's mellifluous sentences, when he said that a balance arrived at by persons more or less eminent had any binding force whatever in this House.

I am warmly in agreement with this Bill. But, as is the case with respect to many things with which I am in cordial. agreement, I desire sincerely to remove what I believe to be blemishes. There are one or two blemishes in this Bill which are unnecessary. Whether they have their origin in another place or in the Department over which my right hon. Friend presides or in the minds of the million and a quarter people for whom the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) speaks, I do not know. Blemishes they are. One is the extraordinary proposal that where councils take land for allotments some little way out of the town, they are to be authorised to reduce tram fares for the allotment holders. Surely, if they know their business, the councils will get allotments some little way out of the town more cheaply than they could get them nearer, and they will, therefore, be in a position to, and ought to, let those allotments at lower rents, and the persons who hold the allotments will thereby be in a position to meet the expense of going out to their land, whereas if the allotments were close at home in an urban district they would have higher rents. If we are to have special facilities for this class and the other class, there is no end to it. I hope we have not yet got to the point at which any and every Bill brought forward for good purposes and with good in it is not to be considered finished and rounded unless there is a taint of dole about it. Surely this proposal is quite unnecessary to the structure of the Bill, and I hope my right hon. Friend will see that it will not help allotment holders, but will form a very bad precedent in local administration.

The other point is that with which the last speaker dealt on Clause 13. I am one who has been supporting allotments and working for them, as far as my abilities permitted, for at least 30 years. I am most anxious to help. But, speaking as one who has been on a good many local bodies for a long time, I say it is not the way to help in a matter of this kind if you weaken the authority of representative government and depend on hybrid committees whose responsibility is diffused, so that the impetus of public feeling is easily choked. The proper method is one which has appeared over and over again in Acts of Parliament. It is to say to a local authority, "There are certain duties put upon you by Parliament. If you do not discharge those duties, then the Government Department most, concerned will have power of default." I agree as to that, and I would have those powers of default extended to the larger local authorities as well as the smaller. I am all for coming down on a local authority if it does not do its duty. But when you tell it to do its duty, tell it what its duty is, and say you will act in default of it if it neglects that duty; do not tie it hand and foot as to how it is to do its duty. Leave it to do its duty in its own way. If you tie it down and say, "You are to have a special committee and that committee is to be constituted in a special way," what happens? You are weakening the interest which the local authority will take in that subject as compared with other subjects in which it is not similarly fettered, and you are weakening the very forces of local government which depend upon power being in the hands of persons elected by the whole community and not by persons brought in here and there to represent sections, or represent, it may be, the transient judgment of the Minister of the Department in question. That is bad administration. Many of us who are as anxious as possible to help the development of this great allotment movement are most concerned that that development.should, in this Bill, be mixed up with bad administrative proposals such as this. English local government has suffered, democratic feeling has suffered, the quickening of local public interest in matters of administration has suffered, by this late-born fashion for hybrid committees of all kinds. There was some excuse for it in the War, otherwise you would not have got things done at all. There is no excuse for it now, and it ought to be diminished in the subjects to which it applies instead of being made to apply to other subjects.

I ask my right hon. Friend most earnestly, not to weaken and prejudice the Bill by linking up with it this bad method of procedure. The air is full of rumours as to some mysterious bargain with interested people elsewhere. It is not worthy of the Government or this House to pay particular attention to any such matter as a preliminary to legislation. Make every council, as set out in the Bill, with over ten thousand population, responsible for dealing with the problem of allotment gardens within its area. If they do not do so, then exercise stringent powers of default, but do not put it on them that they must have a particular committee, or at any rate do not prescribe how the committee is to be composed. It will be composed in the proper way if you engage the interest of the local authorities in the matter. If you flout the local authorities, you will find in the end you are not getting out of them the good work which we all desire to get out of them in connection with allotments. It is extremely important that the House should look very jealously on any proposal to disturb democratic administration under the guise of helping one particular section or even for the purpose of advancing one particular matter towards which the House is properly sympathetic. With the Bill in general I am in strong agreement. I think some of the modifications made in another place might be re-modified, but even as it stands, if Clause 13 were put on a proper basis it would be a valuable Bill, and I sincerely hope it will result in strong and permanent advantage to the allotment movement in this country.

I understand the Minister of Agriculture is anxious to get the Second Reading of this Bill to-night; therefore I shall not detain the House long. While welcoming the Bill generally. I am not sure that the Minister has done well to permit the removal of those Clauses which gave compensation under the Agriculture Act, 1920. My feeling is that this step will not help, in any way, in the acquisition of land. It will not make the landowners who now object to giving land, ready to give it more freely. While the abandonment of these Clauses may result in some extra facilities for acquiring land, it is a dangerous step. It is bargaining away to a certain extent, the birthright of the allotment holders in return for a very uncertain advantage. The question of compensation for rural allotment holders, as affected by the Bill, is a very serious one, and we shall certainly introduce Amendments to secure that the holders of these allotments of one to two acres, will not suffer by the removal of the Clauses giving the compensation originally allowed under the Agriculture Act, 1920. So long as that is secured to the rural allotment holders it will go far to satisfy them. We must have the country allotment holder secured so that there is the least possible chance of disturbance.

It is unfortunate that an important question of this sort should come on at the fag end of the Sitting and that we should have considerably less than three hours in which to consider it after having spent a much longer period in discussing matters at the end of the earth which are not of the same interest to the people of this country as this question of allotments. With regard to Clause 13, which has aroused the ire of two hon. Members who preceded me, whilst with all humbleness differing from the hon. Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins), I must confess that with some experience, though not equal to his, of local government, it has been the practice of many local authorities up to the present to co-opt members of allotment committees. Having done so, they have found that the expert knowledge and experience possessed by those Members has enabled them to get on with the work even under the old regime. It is something of a fetish to suggest that local government must be left entirely in the hands of those elected to local authorities. That was no doubt sound constitutional practice when the local authority was concerned with only two or three subjects, but in modern days, when the local authority has to consider everything that concerns the commercial, industrial and social wellbeing of the community, it is impossible for any authority to give the time to make itself cognisant with all those subjects. I welcome the fact that while the local authority controls the policy it does co-opt members who are experts in order to get their guidance. I submit that that makes for economy, and that the allotment holders who have to pay the rent themselves and make the holdings work on a sound, economic, self-supporting basis, are better able to organise and run the allotments than the members of a local authority elected entirely from themselves. Therefore, I hope the Minister will adhere to that part of the Bill.

I must express my regret that after the most sympathetic speech which the Minister made in regard to this measure it is not more sweeping and stronger in substance. I hope that he will restore those portions which were rejected in another place. I hope that, realising the disadvantages from which allotment holders suffer in not being able to get land as cheaply and quickly as possible, and the want of facilities under which the Local Loans Commissioners can lend money to societies interested in allotments, the right hon. Gentleman will, in Committee, put in that Clause which was rejected elsewhere after a somewhat cursory examination, and so enable the Local Loans Commissioners to lend money to societies to acquire land. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will strengthen the Bill by restoring this proviso.

Everyone who has travelled about the country must be convinced of the fact that allotments are desired in every direction. My right hon. Friend who introduced this Bill was able to explain to us that a very great deal of the demand for allotments arose in urban districts. There is no doubt that that is so. This Bill is largely devoted to urban subjects, and I suggest that in order to work it satisfactorily and enthusiastically, and in order that it may be taken up by as many people as possible, it is certainly advisable that the municipal corporations of this country should be perfectly satisfied with all the terms and conditions of this Bill. My right hon. Friend will allow me to say that at the present time that is not so. Attention has been directed by hon. Members to two important points, and reference has been made with force to the obnoxious proposal of co-opting on these committees men who are associated with allotments. Whatever may be our view, that which I am putting forward now is the view of the municipal corporations themselves. They very strongly object to this specially co-opted committee. They say it is contrary to the principle attending local organisations and local authorities, and if this kind of thing is going to be introduced into Bills it will create a great deal of difficulty in future. If you have special committees for allotments, why not special committees for other things that are very important in connection with the administration of local affairs? Mention has been made of the co-optation of teachers, and I am not so sure that that is working as satisfactorily as was hoped.

As to the question of tramway fares, the municipal corporations contend that in order to benefit any particular class of people like allotment holders, you do it at the expense of the other ratepayers. Not being satisfied with that, my right hon. Friend has introduced in his Bill certain expenses which are to be excluded from the cost of these particular allotments, and he mentioned three, but I do not think he mentioned them in the correct words. They are to be exempted from
  • "(a.) expenses in relation to the acquisition of land other than the purchase price or rent, or other compensation payable in respect of the land;
  • (b) expenses incurred in making roads to be used by the public;
  • (c) sinking fund charges in respect of loans raised in connection with the purchase of land."
  • The views of the municipal corporations are these, that they do not object to the expenses in making roads to be used by the public being thrust on the ratepayers generally, because those roads are used by all the ratepayers throughout the district, but they object to the other items being thrown on the ratepayers. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture in his introduction stated that these things should be self-supporting, but if that be the case, these items to which I have referred should certainly have been taken into consideration. There is another point to which I wish to call attention, and that is in Clause 19, relating to parts of the New Forest now used for allotment gardens, and, in particular, I want to call attention to Sub-section (4) of that Clause. My right hon. Friend knows, I presume, that there is a great deal of discontent amongst certain classes of people in the New Forest in connection with this Bill. In particular, there is a class of persons there who claim to have relief under the Poor Relief Act, 1831, that enabled the then churchwardens and overseers to provide for each parish allotments not exceeding 50 acres in extent, and that that should be out of the Forest or waste lands of the Crown lands, and with the permission, of course, of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer. That enables poor people in those districts to get that class of land more cheaply than any other kind of land, and they feel very keenly in regard to this Bill. They are very much in arms in the New Forest to think that this particular class of Forest land—

    I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but I would appeal to him to let us get the Second Reading of the Bill to-night. I promise fully to consider all the points he has mentioned and the other points that have been raised to-night in the Debate.

    11. 0 P.M.

    I have been waiting a long time, and I do not see why I should not be allowed to discuss this question. If my right hon. Friend only knew how keenly this particular point is felt amongst the poor people in the New Forest, largely consisting as they do of ex-service men, he would appreciate the importance of my bringing it up on Second Reading. At the same time, I do not want to spoil the right hon. Gentleman's chance of getting the Second Reading of the Bill to-night.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.

    Post Office (Pneumatic Tubes Acquisition) Expenses

    Resolution reported,

    "That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys provided by Parliament, of any expenditure incurred by the Postmaster-General under any Act of the present Session to confirm an agreement between the Pneumatic Despatch Company, Limited, and the Postmaster-General in relation to the acquisition of a certain tube running between St. Martin's-le-Grand, in the City of London, and Eversholt Street, in the Metropolitan borough of St. Pancras, and for purposes connected therewith."

    Resolution agreed to.

    Guardianship, Etc, Of Infants Bill Lords

    Ordered, "That so much of the Lords Message [26th May] as communicates the Resolution "That it is desirable that the Guardianship, etc., of Infants Bill [ Lords] be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament" be now considered.—[ Colonel Gibbs.]

    So much of the Lords Message considered accordingly.

    Resolved, "That this House doth concur with the Lords in the said Resolution."—[ Colonel Gibbs.]

    Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.

    Gas Regulation Act, 1920

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920. on the application of the Aylesbury Gas Company, which was presented on the 16th May and published, be approved."

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the Coatbridge Gas Company, which was presented on the 1st May and published, be approved."—[Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson.]

    Motion made, and Question proposed,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the Felixstowe Gas Light Company, which was presented on 8th May and published, be approved."—[Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson.]

    May I ask my hon. Friend the reason for this sudden rush of Gas Regulation Orders? I think we might have the rest of them to-morrow.

    The reason for this rush at this particular moment is that, owing to an error in the Department, some of these Orders which ought to have been presented before the Whitsuntide Recess failed to he presented.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the Hinckley Urban District Council, which was presented on the 25th May and published, be approved."

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the Holyhead and North Wales Gas and Water Corporation, Limited, in respect of their Holyhead gas undertaking, which was presented on the 23rd May and published, he approved,"

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the Rhymney and Aber Valleys Gas and Water Company, which was presented on the 10th April and published, be approved."

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act. 1920, on the application of the Sittingbourne and District Gas Company, which was presented on the 23rd May and published, in-approved."

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the. Southport Corporation, which was presented on the 25th May and published, be approved."

    Resolved,

    "That the draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the Farnham Gas and Electricity Company, which was presented on the 26th May and published, be approved."—[Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson.]

    British Nationality (Married Women) Bill

    Read a Second time.

    Ordered, "That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee."—[ Sir J. Butcher.]

    The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

    Norman Fairfowl (Reformatory School Detention)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[ Colonel Leslie Wilson.]

    I am sorry to detain the House for a few minutes, but one of the glories of the House of Commons is that it looks after the interests of the humblest member of the community. The matter I wish to bring before the House is one on which I asked a question to-day. It relates to a boy of 15 who has been sent to a reformatory for four years for giving way to the temptation in a chop to take a pocket-book, which turned out to contain money. The case has, I understand, been brought before the Secretary for Scotland by the hon. Member for Inverness (Sir M. Macdonald), in whose constituency the boy lives. Thu people in the locality held a public meeting, but they have exhausted their resources, as the Secretary for Scotland can see no reason to interfere with the judgment of the Sheriff's substitute. Therefore, the chairman of the meeting asked me to bring the matter before the House of Commons. Perhaps I had better read a few paragraphs from the letter of the chairman, who is a London physician, but who happens to be living in that locality at present, and in whose word I place the greatest reliance:

    "This boy, who is only 15 years of age and attending school, went recently into the shop of Ewen Macfarlane, Edenbane, to buy some cigarettes. On seeing a pocketbook and purse lying on the counter, he, no one being in attendance, picked up the pocket-book and handled it, and hearing someone corning, hurriedly slipped it into his pocket, being totally ignorant of its contents, and with a sixpence he had from the schoolmistress bought his cigarettes and went away. Unfortunately, the pocketbook contained some £14 odd in notes, etc., and had been inadvertently left on the counter, I am told, after some money transactions with a commercial traveller had been completed. On being missed, he, as the only one, or the last who had been in the shop that evening, was suspected, and, on being faced the following morning by the policeman, who lives in Macfarlane's house, admitted his fault and delivered up the book with contents intact."
    I know that the Secretary for Scotland says that the pocket-book was not intact; but my case does not depend upon that at all. When the theft was discovered, a neighbour asked the boy why he did not return the pocket-book, and he said that he got frightened, and it was fright that prevented him from returning it. Later, the boy was charged with the offence, and, thinking that the matter would be treated leniently, his friends advised him to plead guilty, because they naturally assumed that he would be treated under the First Offenders Act. They were, however, amazed to hear that a sentence of four years' detention in a reformatory was inflicted. I know that reformatories are not so bad as they used to be in the past, but the same class of criminals is still sent there. A Judge told me the other day that he never knew of a boy being sent to a reformatory for a first offence, and I have never heard of such a case before. This boy bore an excellent character. The schoolmistress says that be was one of the best boys in the school, and the neighbours have passed a resolution protesting against the severity of the sentence.

    I am sure this boy would have been taught a quite sufficient lesson by being admonished by the Court, but instead of this he has been sent for four years to a reformatory and his life will be ruined in consequence, to say nothing of the perpetual disgrace. His father is a joiner, and his parents are highly respectable and honourable people, and they will, naturally, feel the continued disgrace of their boy being four years in a reformatory and having to pay 4s. a week during his detention in that institution. I do not want to use strong language, because I believe that most sheriffs and judges try to do their duty, but this sheriff has recently come to the place where a theft of this sort is of very rare occurrence, and, therefore, there was no reason why he should give a lesson to the rest of the community by inflicting a savage sentence of this sort. I am not going to discuss whether the boy stole these articles or not. My point is that when the boy went into this shop he had no intention of stealing. He did not know that the pocket book was on the counter, and it was a sudden temptation. The boy succumbed to temptation, but surely this was not the way to punish him. I read in an English paper this morning an account of a case in which very different treatment was meted out to the offender. In that case a man was convicted of obtaining a motor cycle and £5 with intent to defraud. He pleaded guilty, and the magistrate said that he would take the risk of criticism which suggested that he was showing favour to the well-to-do, for he considered that the man had yielded to sudden temptation. He would remand him in custody for a month, so that if by that time permanent work had been found for him he would be released. In that case the man was 27 years of age. His offence was committed two years ago, and he cheated his own aunt by using her cheque book. The man was well connected, but as the magistrate said he had evidently given way to sudden temptation, and he was thus leniently dealt with. Yet this poor boy in Skye, the son of respectable parents, has been sent for four years to the most degrading form of punishment I know of. I do think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland ought to have listened with more sympathy to the appeal made to him by the hon. Member for Inverness. He should use whatever authority he possesses to let this boy go free and to give him a chance of making up for this sudden lapse from the integrity he had hitherto shown. I hope my right hon. Friend has not said his last word on this subject. In not letting this boy down he will not be letting himself down. By tempering justice with mercy he will be promoting the cause of justice, and he will not perpetuate this savage punishment.

    I rise to support the expression of opinion which the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray) has given with regard to this case. He has said, and I think rightly so, that an unduly harsh sentence has been passed on this boy. I have received quite a number of letters on the subject from my constituents, and in passing them on to the Secretary for Scotland I asked the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider, if possible, the decision come to in this case. Before he expresses his opinion I should like to say that shortly I am going to the Island of Skye, and I hope, if possible, to examine the evidence afresh, as I understand there is some discrepancy between the evidence in the possession of my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles and myself, and that which I understand the Secretary for Scotland placed before the House this afternoon. If it should so happen that on examining again the evidence on the spot, I should be able to make a new and a better case, I hope the Secretary for Scotland will not say anything in the House to-night which would preclude a re-examination of the case, should I be able again to present it to him.

    I have no difficulty at all in giving the undertaking which my hon. Friend asks me to give, namely, that if he is able to present any new facts with regard to this case, it shall be fully and seriously reconsidered in the light of those new facts. So far, however, as the present facts of the case are concerned, I have no doubt at all as to what my duty is. I have given the most careful and repeated consideration to this casein the first place, after the representations which were made to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Sir M. Macdonald) and in the second place after the representations which have been made to me by my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray). The sentence may at first sight appear to be a harsh one, but one has always to remember there are two ingredients in every sentence which is pronounced in a criminal Court. The first is that due punishment of the offender shall be meted out. The second is that the sentence shall be a deterrent to other persons in the same position as the offender. [HON. MEMBERS: Children!"] We are not dealing with children here; we are dealing with a youth of 15, whose father was present in Court and assented to the plea of guilty which he then presented. These are the two ingredients in every sentence pronounced in a criminal Court. What are the facts in this particular case so far as they are known to me? There is no evidence, so far as the Sheriff Substitute is concerned, that the act was committed on a sudden impulse. You are dealing with a boy of 15 who stole £15. That is not a light offence. He pleaded guilty to the charge of stealing £15, and his father was present in court and assented to the plea of guilty.

    Did the boy know he was stealing £15, or think that he was merely taking a certain packet which he saw on the table?

    I should have thought that a boy who took £15 from a drawer, even though he lived in the Western Isles, would fully appreciate what he was doing.

    The money was in a drawer at the time, and seeing that he was a boy of 15, and knowing the intelligence of those who live in the Western Isles as well as my hon. Friend, I think he must have fully appreciated the nature of his act. He pleaded guilty to the charge, and his father was present when the charge was brought. My hon. Friend has suggested that he might have been placed under the First Offenders' Act. That, however, was a matter for the Sheriff Substitute to deal with. I have no doubt that the Sheriff Substitute—an experienced judge—must have had these possibilities before him. He reports to me that this was a boy who lived at home, but whose father, a joiner, following a quite honourable occupation, was almost never at home. His mother was in poor health, and accordingly the Sheriff Substitute thought it best, in the interests of the boy himself, that he should be placed in a reformatory rather than in a prison. So far as the punishment is concerned, looking to the nature of the offence, to which an unqualified plea of guilty was tendered, it was not excessive. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is a matter of opinion, and at any rate, that is my opinion. Apart from that there is the question of the deterrent influence of a sentence of this nature passed in a locality with regard to which the Sheriff Substitute reports—differing from my hon. Friend—that there has been a prevalence of such crimes by young people recently. That consideration undoubtedly, and I think properly, influenced the Sheriff and it influences me. I am asked to quash this sentence. That is the only thing I can do. I cannot place this boy under the First Offender's Act. I cannot diminish the punishment which has been appointed to him in the reformatory.

    You are asking me to do a thing which is quite impossible under the powers I possess. I cannot reduce the sentence to a reformatory. I cannot sentence him to be imprisoned, and I cannot order that he should be re-tried. Accordingly, the only alternative open to me is that I should entirely quash the sentence and acquit the prisoner of the crime to which he has pleaded guilty. I do not consider that that is in accordance with the duty that lies upon me as Secretary for Scotland. I want to put before the House the grounds upon which the Sheriff, who is an experienced Judge, and has presented me with a most careful report on the whole matter, reached the conclusion which he has reached. He says:

    "In the present case, I respectfully submit, first, that the boy is likely to have a better chance in life by being sent to a reformatory."
    [Interruption.<