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India

Volume 236: debated on Monday 10 March 1930

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Detenus

1.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any in formation and can state the number of persons that are at present awaiting trial in British India for political offences or offences against the State?

If my hon. Friend will kindly tell me to what sections of the Code he refers, I will endeavour to obtain and supply to him up-to-date figures.

Khalsa College, Amritsar (Bomb Outrage)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any details of the bomb explosion at Khalsa College, Amritsar, on 23rd February; how many persons were killed or injured; what arrests, if any, have been made; and whether the perpetrators of the outrage have been definitely traced?

I have received a report on this case. I regret to say that the outrage cost the life of one student and inflicted injuries on 11. No arrest has yet been possible.

Civil Disobedience Campaign

3.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information to show that Government telegraphic offices are being used for the purpose of sending messages recommending a refusal to pay taxes; and what action does the Government of India propose to take in the matter?

6.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can give any information as to the letter to the Viceroy of India, signed by Mr. Gandhi, wherein it is stated that the civil disobedience campaign will be launched within eight days unless some considerable concession is made to the Congress demand for complete independence; and what action it is proposed to take in the matter?

7.

asked the Secretary of State for India, what action he is taking to protect India from internal disorder and to counteract the activities of the Indian extremist leaders who are preaching a campaign of open civil disobedience and mob violence?

11.

asked the Secretary of State for India, whether he has any information with regard to the ultimatum that has been sent by Mr. Gandhi to the Viceroy; and what action the Government propose to take in this matter?

12.

asked the Secretary of State for India if his attention has been drawn to the despatch of an ultimatum by Mr. Gandhi to the Viceroy; and whether he has communicated the views of His Majesty's Government on this matter to the Viceroy?

13.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information as to the commencement of the civil disobedience in India; and whether a meeting has taken place or is proposed between the Viceroy and Mr. Gandhi?

14.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information respecting the position in India with regard to Mahatma Gandhi's civil disobedience campaign?

The fullest account I have seen of Mr. Gandhi's recent letter and of the Viceroy's reply to it is that published in the Press. As to the other matters, the Viceroy made a considered statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government on 25th January; and I do not think I need add anything to it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that next Wednesday steps are to be taken to commence this civil disobedience, and will the Secretary of State not take some steps to prevent it before it leads to bloodshed?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the effect of a policy of repression even on moderate opinion in India, and is he prepared, even at this hour, to take further steps to secure a settlement of this problem by agreement?

As my hon. Friend is aware, we are anxious, by means of a conference, to get this question settled. As regards the other part of the supplementary question, no one is more conscious than I am of the need for a spirit of understanding.

Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest to the Viceroy that, when he is writing again to Mr. Gandhi, who, whatever his merits or demerits may be, is endeavouring to stir up rebellion, the Viceroy should instruct his secretary not to sign his letter "yours very truly"?

I should like to say that I consider the suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman is impertinent.

Does the Secretary of State not consider that the mere fact of answering these agitators has let down British prestige in India?

Constitution (Conference)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is yet in a position to state the approximate date of the meeting of the round-table conference on Indian constitutional reforms; and whether he can state the approximate number of delegates he expects to attend?

I am afraid that at this stage I can add nothing to the Viceroy's statement.

With reference to the second part of the question, may I ask my right hon. Friend if it is intended to send a formal invitation to the National Congress to send their representative?

If the right hon. Gentleman is not in a position to tell me this, can he let me know next week or later?

I am very anxious to give my hon. and gallant Friend all the information at my disposal.

Opium Factory, Ghazipur

5.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can state the amount of the Various alkaloids of opium manufactured at the Government's factory at Ghazipur during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date; the amount derived from the sale; and the countries to which it is generally exported?

Following is the information:

In the 12 months ended with September, 1928, 916 lbs. of alkaloids of opium were manufactured at Ghazipur. The proceeds of sales during that period were Rs. 97,463. None was exported except to the United Kingdom, and since the period in question export has been suspended.

Dehra Dun College

8.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether in regard to the proposal of the Government of India to open another college like Dehra Dun, he will state the proposed constitution and capacity of the college and where it is proposed the institution shall be located?

I have not yet received proposals from the Government of India in this matter.

Lac Trade

9.

asked the Secretary of State for India if he will give information to show what action has been taken to improve the condition of the lac trade in India, following the result of the investigation into the condition of the trade made in 1920 by Mr. H. A. F. Lindsay and Mr. C. M. Harlow?

Full information on this topic will be found on pages 575 and 576 of the Report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture in India. I am also sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy of the Indian Lac Cess Bill, 1930, together with the official statement of objects and reasons.

Agriculture

10.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is now in receipt of the Report of the Government of India showing the progress that has been made in carrying out the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Agriculture in India; and if he can make any statement on the matter?

Meerut Prisoners (Interviews)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that since the opening of the conspiracy trial in the Sessions Court at Meerut the accused are not allowed to have interviews even in Court; that this prohibition restricts the liberties which they enjoyed while the magisterial inquiry was in progress; and whether he will move the competent authorities with a view to securing that the accused may at least be permitted to have interviews in Court?

I have no information on this matter, which appears to be one for the discretion of the Court. I will, if my hon. Friend desires, make inquiries.