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Commons Chamber

Volume 302: debated on Monday 27 May 1935

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House Of Commons

Monday, 27th May, 1935.

The Rouse met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

Private Business

London and North Eastern Railway Bill, Southern Railway Bill,

Read the Third time, and passed.

Bury and District Joint Water Board Bill [ Lords],

As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.

Urmston Urban District Council Bill [ Lords] (by Order),

Read a Second time, and committed.

Ipswich Corporation (Trolley Vehicles Provisional Order Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order made by the Minister of Transport under the Ipswich Corporation Act, 1925, relating to Ipswich Corporation Trolley Vehicles," presented by Captain Austin Hudson; read the First time and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, and to be printed. [Bill 74.]

Oral Answers To Questions

India

Silver Exports

1

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can state in terms of British currency the amount of silver exported from India in the years 1932, 1933, and 1934, and the countries principally concerned in the import of this silver?

The information in terms of rupees, which may be converted into sterling at lS. 6d. the rupee, is given on page 149 of the Accounts relating to the Sea-borne Trade of British India for 1934, a copy of which is being placed in the Library of the House.

Trade Relations With Burma

2

asked the Secretary of State for India whether the terms of the India-Burma trade convention have now been agreed upon?

As I indicated when describing the position in the Committee on 10th April, the discussions between the representatives of the Government of Burma and the Government of India have come to an end, and the two Governments have arrived at conclusions between themselves as to the arrangements which should govern the trade relations between India and Burma after separation. It now rests with Parliament to consider the outcome of these discussions, and the opportunity of doing so will arise when the appropriate draft Order-in-Council is submitted for approval.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it was the intention to send a deputation from both Houses of Parliament to wait upon him to make representations as to the terms of the proposed trade agreement; if the deputation does wait upon him, will it be competent for the terms to be modified; if not, would he explain why be has not waited for representations to be made, since he stated, in a speech in this House, that modifications could be made, subject to representation?

Lancashire representatives, of course, decide, looking at their own interests, whether they wish to send a deputation to discuss the matter with me or not. I am always ready and anxious to see them, if they wish to see me. At the same time I would point out, both to the hon. Member and to them, that Parliament is in no way pledged or compromised. The agreement which has been reached is an internal agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Burma. I have always made it clear that Parliament is uncompromised by an agreement of that kind, and Parliament will have to decide upon the merits of the question, when the Order-in-Council comes up for discussion, which will, I imagine, be in the autumn. I undertake to circulate the draft agreement to the House in plenty of time for the discussion, so that the various interests concerned will have full opportunity of considering the ques- tion in detail before Parliament has to take a decision.

Is it not a fact that my right hon. Friend said in this House that the Government, apart from Parliament, were prepared to receive representations on details and in respect of the time, and is it not a little discourteous for the matter to have been disposed of—

The position is exactly as I stated in the Debate. The details will be circulated and will be open to discussion, and the suitable time for discussion, both of the Lancashire interests and the other interests, will be when the draft agreement has been circulated, in plenty of time for the discussion to take place in this House.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, as a result of the agreement between India and Burma, a very large number of people in this country fear that British interests will be excluded?

It will be much better to discuss questions of that kind when we have the specific debate on the Order-in-Council.

Manchuria (Oil Interests)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any reply has yet been received from the Japanese Government to the further note addressed to them by the British Government with regard to the establishment of an oil monopoly in Manchukuo, and indicating that the Japanese Government would be held responsible for any loss on this account by the British interests?

No, Sir. I cannot add to the reply I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend some 10 days ago.

Germany (Herr Hitler's Speech)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will arrange for a full and accurate text of Herr Hitler's speech of 21st May to be issued to Members.

I am obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend for his suggestion, and I am arranging for a number of copies of a translation of Herr Hitler's speech on 21st May to be placed in the Library of the House.

Tangier

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the uneasiness created among some sections of the Moslem population by his recent statement on the Tangier question, and whether he can give an assurance that British policy in no way implies an attack on the Moslem religion and institutions?

I am aware of an uneasiness among the Moslem population of Tangier, and I am glad to have this opportunity of stating that the policy of His Majesty's Government is in no way directed against Moorish religion and institutions, nor has any proposal been made that could imply any such intention. So far from seeking to change the existing international regime in Tangier, the policy of His Majesty's Government is to strengthen that regime by seeking improvement in the administration of the zone, more particularly in the financial and judicial spheres.

Spain (British Student's Arrest)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the arrest in Spain of a British student, Mr. A. G. Ling, who was twice imprisoned for periods of three-and-a-half days for alleged espionage; and whether he will make representations to the Spanish Government with regard to the confiscation by them of Mr. Ling's thesis on architecture?

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid requested the Spanish Government on the 18th May to furnish an explanation of Mr. Ling's detention. Steps are being taken to recover any of Mr. Ling's property remaining in their hands.

Has my right hon. Friend any information when these are likely to be recovered, because the thesis has to be submitted on Monday next for Mr. Ling's examination in architecture?

I did not know the fact added by my hon. Friend. I hope it will be done speedily, but I am not sure when it will be.

Eggs (Imports)

9.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether foreign countries have responded to his appeal to reduce imports of eggs in shell by 10 per cent.; and whether he can explain the increase from the Netherlands for the four months ended 30th April of this year from 247, 626 great hundreds to 1,047, 144 great hundreds as compared with the same period last year?

Imports of eggs in shell during the first four months of this year from foreign countries other than the Netherlands showed a reduction substantially greater than the 10 per cent. proposed. I understand that the increase in Netherlands supplies is given as being due to a variety of circumstances, the most important being a decline in the German market for Netherlands eggs.

Post Office

Telephone Charges

10.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will consider extending the policy of reducing charges as a means of popularising the telephone in preference to spending money on its advertisement?

The reduction of telephone charges continues to be a main aim of Post Office policy; but I am satisfied that the present expenditure on publicity is of financial advantage to the telephone service and thus assists the policy of rate reduction.

Can my right hon. Friend state how much has been spent on advertising?

Savings Bank Deposits

12.

asked the Postmaster-General the amount of savings in the Post Office Savings Bank, and the number of individual holdings represented in May, 1931, and at the present time, respectively?

The amount of deposits with accrued interest in the Post Office Savings Bank is approximately £369,750,000 and the number of individual accounts 9,720,000. The corresponding figures for May, 1931, were £294,000,000 and 9,370,000 respectively.

Facilities, Channel Islands

13.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the poor facilities for the collection and delivery of mails from Guernsey to the island of Alderney; whether he can state the times of daily collections and deliveries of mails both to and from the mainland; and whether he intends taking any action in the matter?

Postal Rates (His Majesty's Forces)

asked the Postmaster-General for what reason the specially favourable postage rates for letters and parcels to members of His Majesty's Forces abroad are not extended to officers and men of the British Army or Air Force stationed in Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, India, Iraq, or Hong Kong, and elsewhere?

Except in the case of the China Command (Shanghai Area and Tientsin Area) to which an Army Post. Office is attached, letters and parcels for officers and men of the British Amy or Air Force stationed abroad are delivered through the Civil Post Office and must therefore be subject to the same rates and conditions as civil letters and parcels. The Imperial rate of letter postage (1½d. for the first ounce and ld. for each additional ounce) applies, however, to letters for all the countries mentioned by my hon. Friend except Iraq.

Does not my right hon. Friend think that this is a matter for serious consideration? As these men are sent out there by this country to serve, should they not, therefore, have the same postal rates as in this country?

Site, Stepney

16.

asked the Postmaster-General whether any decision has been arrived at yet with regard to the using of the plot of land at the corner of Deal Street and Hanbury Street, Whitechapel, Stepney, for the erection of houses or flats, so that the urgent demand for housing facilities in that district may be relieved to some extent; and, if no decision has been reached, what is the cause of the delay?

It has been impracticable up to the present to obtain a suitable alternative site for the Post Office services for which the site in question was purchased, but the matter is being actively pursued.

In view of the fact that this matter has been pursued since December last, will the right hon. Gentleman see that greater expedition is now shown?

Air Mails

11.

(forMr. JOEL) asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the Netherlands Government have decided that letters posted in Holland for other European countries shall go by air without extra charge if the senders so desire; and what would be the cost of a similar innovation in this country?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. So far as the second part is concerned, the whole question of European air postage charges is under examination, and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as I am in a position to do so.

Paddington Telephone Exchange (Learners)

(forSir PAUL LATHAM) asked the Postmaster-General whether the percentage of learners, telephonists, in the Paddington exchange is greater than that in other exchanges; and whether the chief supervisor attends personally to complaints?

The percentage of learners at Paddington exchange is somewhat above the average, but learners are additional to the normal staff of the exchange. The chief supervisor attends personally to complaints of a serious character which are brought to her notice. If my hon. Friend has any specific complaints in mind, I shall be happy to make inquiry, if he will give me particulars.

Public Health

Blind Persons

asked the Minister of Health what changes, if any, are contemplated in regard to the scheme governing the grant of financial assistance to unemployable blind persons; and what recommendations his Department has made to local authorities for the revision of their present schemes?

I understand that my Advisory Committee on the Welfare of the Blind is at present considering the model clauses issued by my Department on this subject, and pending their report no changes in these clauses are contemplated. My Department has not made any general recommendation to local authorities for the revision of their present schemes, but the attention of individual authorities is drawn as occasion requires to matters in which revision appears to be desirable.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why he called attention to West Ham, which has operated a scheme for 10 years satisfactorily, and why he asked them to revise it?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to give me notice of the question in order that I may give a satisfactory reply.

I put down a question last week and got a reply which was not very satisfactory. That is why I put this question down to-day.

18.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in some municipal workshops for blind persons a large stock of mats, brushes, etc., are on hand because of the inability of blind people to produce such articles at a rate likely to successfully compete with those produced by sighted people; and whether he will circularise various Government Departments to purchase these articles more frequently?

I am aware that some workshops for the blind have a large stock of unsold goods on hand but as regards the relation between costs and selling prices I would refer the hon. Member to the recent report on Marketing by a sub-committee of my Advisory Committee on the Welfare of the Blind (page 50). I understand that some Government Departments are at present purchasing articles made by the blind and I will consider whether I could usefully press for a wider adoption of this practice.

Births

asked the Minister of Health the number of births in England and Wales for the years 1932, 1933, and 1934?

As the answer involves a tabular statement, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:.

England and Wales.

Live Births.Stillbirths.Total (Live and Stillbirths).
1932613,97226,471640,443
1933580,41325,084605,497
1934 (provisional)597,64225,209622,851

Schools (Milk Supply Scheme)

22.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is taking any action in respect of the refusal of certain county council medical officers to sanction the supply to schools of other than pasteurised milk; and whether his Ministry holds it to be within the competence of medical officers to exercise their discretion in a manner contrary to instructions from their councils?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the second part of the question, I am advised that under the arrangements made by the Milk Marketing Board for the supply of milk at reduced rates, the approval of the source and quality of the supply is a matter for the professional discretion of the Medical Officer of Health.

May I take it that the Ministry does not intervene in this matter between the county council and the medical officer?

Contributory Pensions Fund

21.

asked the Minister of Health the balance in the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Fund, and the income and expenditure during the last year?

I would refer the hon. Member to Table V on page 28 of the recent report of the Government Actuary (H.C. 82 of 1935), of which I am sending him a copy.

Coal Industry (Closed Mines, Durham)

24.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether the can state the number of mines closed and not reopened in the county of Durham since the end of the War, November, 1918, and also the number of persons employed when they were closed?

As the hon. Member was informed in answer to his question on 16th June, 1931, the information asked for is only available for the period since 1st June, 1924. I am afraid I cannot obtain the figures at such short notice, but if the hon. Member will repeat his question in a few days' time, I will give him such information as is available.

Unemployment (Pit-Head Bath Attendants)

25.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that attendants at pit-head baths at certain collieries in Yorkshire have been informed that they are not now insurable for purposes of unemployment insurance although they have been paying contributions for more than three years; and whether he will make a statement on the position?

I understand that the hon. Member refers to certain pit-head bath attendants at the Fryston Colliery, Castleford. My inquiries show that these men were wrongly regarded as insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts. Applications for the refund of the contributions paid in error will be considered as soon as they are received.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that this particular class of workmen will be brought under the Unemployment Insurance Acts; and, further, can he say how it comes about that contributions have been taken for three and a-half years and that men have been paid benefits when they have been out of work, but that they are now told that they are no longer insured?

As to the second part of the question, the position arises from a High Court decision. In regard to the first part of the question, as hon. Members know, this matter has been referred to the Statutory Committee, who are now considering it.

The Committee have a great many matters of importance before them. I know they are giving a good deal of attention to this matter, but I could not say when they will be ready to report.

Does not the Minister think that these men ought to be inside the unemployment insurance scheme?

London General Insurance Company

27.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give the House any information in connection with the winding up of the London General Insurance Company, Limited; whether anyone will be allowed to represent the policy holders and those having a claim on the company; whether he is aware that a widow with two young children was awarded £3,000 and costs in November, 1934, as compensation for the death of her husband in a road accident, and that she will have to pay the costs of obtaining this judgment; and whether those having compensation claims on the assets of the company will be awarded a percentage by the court of arbitrators?

29.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it has been brought to his notice that the winding up of the London General Insurance Company, Limited, entailed the loss of ·3,000 compensation and costs to a widow and two very young children, whose husband and father, a working man, was killed in a road accident in July, 1933; that, in addition, the widow has to pay the cost of obtaining the judgment; and whether he can now state what steps are being taken to ensure that all existing companies, as well as those to be formed, are financially sound, so as to avoid cases of this kind?

The case referred to by the hon. Members has been brought to my notice. An Order for the winding-up of the London General Insurance Company, Limited, was made on the 7th May, and I am not yet in a position to make any statement regarding the affairs of the company. I would, however, point out that it is the duty of the liquidator to consider every proof of debt lodged with him and that it is open to any creditor to be professionally represented at any stage of the liquidation. As regards the position arising from the failure of certain companies doing motor vehicle insurance business, I am unable at present to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) on the 30th April.

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the announcement of the tragic occurrence in Birmingham last week—the case in which a man had been awarded £800 odd. It preyed on his mind, and he murdered his wife and committed suicide?

I saw a newspaper report of the case to which my hon. Friend refers, but I am not aware that it has any reference to this insurance company.

In view of the great calamity that has befallen so many people in consequence of the failure of this company, do the Board of Trade intend to look into the problem to see whether such occurrences cannot be prevented in future?

Yes, Sir, certainly. On 30th April last, in response to a question to which I made reference in the original answer, it was announced that the question of legislation was under active consideration.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that disasters such as have overtaken these people will be repeated until the Board of Trade take steps to enforce annual examinations of accounts such as will reveal whether mushroom insurance companies have assets equal to the risks they underwrite?

I think the problem is a good deal wider than that. There is no short cut by legislation ordering accounts. The matter is rather wider.

Admiralty Contract, Huddersfield (Wages)

30.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can state the result of his investigations in the case of Messrs. L. B. Holliday and Company, of Huddersfield, Chemical Manufacturers, who are contractors to the Admiralty, who have not observed the fair wages clause; and what action he intends taking in the matter?

These investigations are not yet complete, since they necessarily occupy some little time, but I will inform the hon. Member of the result as soon as possible.

Royal Air Force

Municipal Airports

31.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether any steps have been taken or are contemplated to militarise municipal airports or to make representations to local authorities on the matter?

There is no intention of militarising municipal airports. It is proposed, however, in view of expansion requirements, to endeavour to arrange as a purely temporary measure for some squadrons to be accommodated at municipal aerodromes, pending the establishment of permanent stations. Under any such arrangement the aerodromes would, of course, continue in use for civil purposes.

Air Armaments (Contracts)

32.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is now in a position to state what steps the Government are proposing to take to prevent profiteering in air armaments?

As was stated by the Lord President in the House on 22nd May, the Government are resolved that no profiteering shall be allowed to arise in the course of the expansion of the Royal Air Force. The question is under active consideration in All its aspects, and my Noble Friend is confident that the aircraft industry will itself be most ready to meet the requirements of the Government in the matter.

In view of the fact that there is a widespread feeling that profiteering is going on in armaments now, and the general disgust among the public that this should be so, will the Government recognise that this is a question of great urgency.

Do the Government intend to bring in legislation or to achieve their purpose by taxation, or are they depending merely on promises from the interests concerned?

Education (Teachers' Pensions)

34.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he is yet in a position to state what steps it is proposed to take to safeguard the pension rights of teachers affected by the economy cuts?

I am glad to be able to announce that my Noble Friend has informed the teachers' representatives that the Government are prepared to initiate legislation to secure that as from 1st July, 1935, no teachers affected by the salary cuts shall suffer any reduction in their annual superannuation allowances exceeding 2 per cent., the present position with regard to other allowances, e.g., lump sums and death gratuities remaining unaffected. The cost of this proposal will be borne by the Exchequer. I may add that the offer has been accepted by all the teachers' associations represented on the Burnham Committees as an agreed and final solution of the matter.

In thanking my hon. Friend, is he aware that this announcement will give great satisfaction, because a legitimate grievance has been removed?

Has any scheme been worked out to deal with teachers who suffered from a cut previous to July, 1935 —in the previous two years?

All teachers whose pensions were reduced as from 1931 will be benefited by the proposal, which has been received cordially and has been welcomed by the teachers representatives.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether similar arrangements are proposed for Scottish teachers?

That question is one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is necessarily absent in Edinburgh on account of the meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, but I am authorised by him to say that Scottish teachers have accepted the scheme and similar arrangements will be proposed for dealing with their pensions.

Are we to understand that teachers who had their pensions fixed prior to 1st July, 1935, will suffer a reduction owing to the cuts made in 1931?

Yes, it is true that the reduction between 1931 and 1935 remains. I have explained that the reduction in the superannuation allowance is not to exceed 2 per cent. There will be a reduction, but they will have the rest made up. The solution is an agreed one.

Is the date 1st July, 1935, a date prior to which everybody suffers a grievance which will not be remedied?

The teachers have agreed to this and accept it and welcome it. It is perfectly true that in the case of teachers retiring between 1931 and 1935 there will be a reduction.

Have the teachers between 1931 and 1935 who suffer a reduction accepted it?

Conviction, Stoke-On-Trent (Successful Appeal)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will inquire into the case of Lawrence Smith who, in March, 1935, was convicted at Stoke-on-Trent Quarter Sessions on a charge of fraudulent conversion and sentenced to 15 months' hard labour, and whose conviction, on 14th May, was quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal and whether he will consider if this case calls for compensation to be paid, in view of the fact that Lawrence Smith was in custody for six weeks on remand and served 10 weeks of the sentence pronounced upon him, and has, in consequence, lost his entire business?

I have been asked to reply My right hon. Friend is not aware that there is anything in this case to distinguish it from others in which a person has appealed successfully against a conviction by a lower court, and he knows of no grounds on which he would be justified in recommending that any grant should be made to Mr. Smith from public funds.

I beg leave to say that I shall raise this question on the Adjournment, at the earliest possible moment.

Factories And Workshops (Inspectors' Report)

38.

asked the Home Secretary whether he can now state whether he has been able to arrange to expedite the publication of the annual report of the chief inspector of factories and workshops?

As my right hon. Friend stated in reply to a question by the hon. Member on the 14th March, every effort is being made to expedite this report, so as to have it issued by the end of next month.

Aliens (Bruce Anderson)

39.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the conviction of a man called Bruce Anderson, a Swedish subject, at Barking, for counterfeiting; why the deportation order against him has never been enforced and what is the policy of the British Government in respect to men of this type who belong to other countries, but are not sent home apparently because their country of origin will not receive them?

Yes, Sir. This man's deportation has proved impracticable because, though he was born in Sweden, he left that country in infancy, and under Swedish law he is not recognised by the Swedish authorities as a Swedish subject. As my right hon. Friend explained in answer to a question by the hon. Member for Dorset East (Mr. Hall-Caine) on the 31st January, it is usual in such cases to make an order requiring periodical report, at stated intervals, to the police, and such an order was made in this case.

Royal Mint (Distribution Of Gold Pieces)

40.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state the names of the 25 persons who were successful in the draw for the 25 gold £50 pieces struck by the Royal Mint in connection with the Jubilee; and what is the objection to striking a further quantity of these coins in view of the demand?

A list of the names will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. These gold pieces are not coins, as my hon. Friend seems to think, but pattern pieces of no nominal value as currency, a limited number of which were struck with particular care for the benefit of collectors. To increase the supply now, after the allotment has taken place, would constitute a departure from the conditions under which collectors were publicly invited to apply for the original issue.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the British Museum or any other of the national collections have received any of these gold pieces?

Will the hon. Gentleman put one of them in the Library, so that we can look at it?

Following is the list of names:.

Mrs. Grindey, Stoke-on-Trent.

Gilbert Beale, Esq., Teddington.

Colonel Hugh Knowles, London, W.2.

Doughty, Esq., Bow, E.3.

Webber, Esq., Highgate, N.6.

N. K. Shelmerdine, Esq., Macclesfield.

H. E. A. Fleming, Esq., Shanklin, I.W.

L. P. Argenti, Esq., London, E.C.2.

P. J. Richardson, Esq., London, E.C.3.

A. M. Searle, Esq., North Finchley, N.12.

H. W. Joslin, Esq., Uckfield, Sussex, David Goldblatt, Esq., Shootup Hill, N.W.3.

N. B. Kark, Esq., London, W.C.2.

C. H. R. Robertson, Esq., London, S. W.1.

Miss M. Morgan, London, S. W.1.

G. W. Dreyer, Esq., Edinburgh.

A. Gosschalk, Esq., Hampstead, N.W.6.

L. C. Liddell, Esq., Ringwood, Hants.

Mrs. Layton, Wallington, Surrey.

Miss Singleton, Littleborough, Lancs.

Arthur Johnson, Esq., West Bridgford, Nottingham.

Mrs. Hindley, Blacko, Nelson.

G. G. Exner, Esq., London, W.1.

Mrs. Swain, Brighton.

G. Lawrence, Esq., Dumbarton.

National Finance

Entertainments Duty

41.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, with a view to facilitating matters for amateur dramatic societies, he will have drawn up a list of plays and operas which have been held during the past five years by his Department to be wholly or partly educational, and on admission to performances of which accordingly Entertainments Duty has not been charged?

The law governing the grant of exemption from Entertainments Duty on partly educational grounds provides that the Commissioners of Customs and Excise must satisfy themselves that the entertainment is provided for partly educational purposes by a society, institution or committee not conducted or established for profit, and the Commissioners are advised that in considering claims to the exemption they must have regard, not merely to the particular work performed, but to the whole of the attendant circumstances. The compilation of a list such as my hon. Friend has in mind would thus not provide a list of works which are exempt per se, and would not, I fear, serve the purpose he has in view.

Income Tax Law

42.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he anticipates it will be possible to introduce legislation for the codification of Income Tax law during the current year; and whether he is satisfied that the preparation of such legislation is being pressed forward as rapidly as possible?

The Committee which is engaged on the codification of Income Tax law is approaching the end of its labours and hopes to present its report before the close of this year.

Have the Committee considered the advisability of obtaining Income Tax from the wife as well as from the man?

Late Colonel T E Lawrence

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether arrangements will be made for a memorial to be erected to Colonel T. E. Lawrence?

While I am sensible of the motive which prompts my hon. and gallant Friend's question, I do not feel that the matter is one for official initiative.

Air Armaments (Limitaion)

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether it is intended immediately to convene a conference to negotiate on the basis of Herr Hitler's proposal to limit air armaments; and, alternatively, whether any and, if so, what, steps are being taken by His Majesty's Government to mitigate the tension that prevails internationally?

I have been asked to reply. As regards the first part of the question, His Majesty's Government, who have throughout urged the importance of promoting agreement on this subject, have for some time past been in communication with the other Governments concerned, respecting the possibility of negotiating, between the Five Powers mentioned in the London Communiqué, an air pact and an air limitation agreement. As regards the second part of the question, it is unnecessary for me to assure my hon. Friend that His Majesty's Government are devoting their most earnest endeavours to the promotion of a general settlement, acceptable to all parties concerned, of the various questions now outstanding in the international sphere. For the moment, I have no further statement to make.

Transport

Motor Drivers' Hours

48 and 50.

asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether any danger was caused to the public owing to the variation order granted to C-licence holders in 1931; and, if not, whether he will consider his decision to refuse such orders in future; and

(2) why he did not feel justified in granting the application of C-licence holders for a variation order; and in what way it would depart from the principle of Section 19 of the Act of 1930, in view of the fact that an order was granted under this Section in 1931?

My hon. Friend carefully considered this matter, before coming to the decision that he was not justified in making an Order the effect of which would he very substantially to relax the requirements of Section 19 of the Act of 1930 in favour of drivers of all goods vehicles. While he cannot point to particular accidents which could be said to be due to the Variation Order granted in 1931, which expired two years ago, over-fatigue is a potential source of danger on the roads, and in present circumstances he cannot take the view that a wholesale extension of driving hours, such as was recently sought, would not be likely to be detrimental to the public safety.

If the Minister can grant a variation to holders of A and B licences, why can he not grant it to C-licence holders?

There is a difference between the A and B and the C-licence holders. In the case of the former there was no opposition to the variation, but there is opposition in the case of C-Licences. There are also other points of difference.

Are not the trade unions opposing this to force conditions on the employers, and is not the Minister allowing himself to be dictated to by these unions?

Is there not some dissatisfaction among traders at the differentiation in treatment?

That may be so, but Parliament gave sanction to insert this Section for purposes of road safety, and, if the Minister were to make the suggested variation, every commercial vehicle user would be able to drive for a greater number of hours, thus thwarting the will of Parliament. My hon. Friend is not prepared to do that without very much fuller information as to the working of the existing arrangement.

49.

asked the Minister of Transport what advice was given to him by the Industrial Court which considered the application for a variation order for C-licence holders?

My hon. Friend is not prepared to depart from the established practice of not publishing the reports or indicating the nature of the advice which he receives as a result of the statutory references to the Industrial Court in these matters.

London Omnibus Services (Stopping Places)

51.

asked the Minsster of Transport whether he will call the attention of the London Passenger Transport Board to the system of omnibuses ending a route run in front of traffic lights, and then, when the lights show green, turning across the street to return on the other side, with the result that the other traffic is held up and the lights change back to red before it can move, whereby confusion and delay is entailed; and whether he will, in this connection, lay stress on the case in point at the bottom of Putney Hill?

I am glad to inform my hon. Friend that arrangements will be made which will remove the existing difficulties.

Glamorgan And Monmouth Shire (Population)

20.

(forMr. GEORGE HALL) asked the Minister of Health the estimated population in each of the local government areas in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire for 1921, 1925, 1930, and 1935?

I would refer the hon. Member to Table 14 in the Registrar-General's Statistical Review (Tables Part I) for each of the first three years mentioned. The figures for 1935 are not as yet available.

Government Departments (Women Cleaners)

26.

(forMr. DENVILLE) asked the Minister of Labour whether since his Department employs a large number of women cleaners in Employment Exchanges for more than 30 hours per week during the winter months and reduces the hours of employment to less than 30 per week during the summer months, he will consider changing this policy since it brings their average to less than 30 hours per week all the year round, entailing the loss of gratuity on retirement, 30 hours a week being the minimum which constitutes a full-time cleaner?

As my hon. Friend will appreciate, the hours of work of cleaners must be related to the amount of time required for the proper performance of their work. This point is at present being discussed by a Committee of the Departmental Whitley Council.

43.

(forMr. DENVILLE) asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the Government offices which employ women cleaners direct and which offices employ these cleaners through contractors; whether he is aware that these employés in the latter case do not, in any circumstances, receive a gratuity at the end of their period of service, although the former do; and what is the objection to employing all these women cleaners direct by the State, qo that they can all receive the gratuity?

The cleaning of Government offices is normally carried out by direct-paid staff. In certain cases, however, for example, when the landlord has made arrangements for the cleaning of the premises generally and a charge for this service is included in the rental, it would not only be inconvenient and uneconomical but also impracticable to employ direct-paid staff. I regret that a comprehensive list of the offices where cleaning work is performed otherwise than by direct-paid staff is not available, and could not be obtained without a disproportinate amount of labour. As regards the second part of the question, I am aware that direct-paid whole-time women cleaners are, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, eligible to receive a gratuity from Government funds on termination of service, and that cleaners employed on a contract basis, like the employés of Government contractors generally, are not so eligible. I cannot, however, accept the suggestion contained in the third part of the question, that on this account all cleaning work in Government offices should be performed by direct-paid staff.

Scotland (Fishery Cruisers)

33.

(forMr. NEIL MAC-LEAN) asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the registered crew, as required by the Board of Trade, of each of the fishery cruisers; and the number of crew actually employed?

I have been asked to reply. The fishery cruisers are not required to be registered under the Merchant Shipping Acts in respect of the numbers of the crews. The numbers employed are as follow:.

"Norna"21
"Freya"20
"Minna"20
"Brenda"18
"Vigilant"15

These numbers are in excess of the numbers required by Board of Trade regulations for merchant ships of similar size.

Metropolitan Police

(forMr. N. MACLEAN) asked the Home Secretary whether any action has been taken to investigate or refute the charges made by Leopold Harris on 3rd December, at Bow Street police court, that he had bribed important officers at Scotland Yard?

These charges have been exhaustively investigated by the Commissioner of Police, who has had the advantage of assistance and advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions. In the result it has not been possible to obtain evidence upon which it would be justifiable to take any action.

(forMr. MACLEAN) asked the Home Secretary the number of police of all ranks who have been dismissed or suspended from duty since 1st January, 1935; and whether he can state the reasons for any of the dismissals or suspensions?

In the Metropolitan Police Force 27 men have been dismissed or required to resign as an alternative since.1st January, 1935, and 43 men (including 23 of those dismissed or required to resign) have been suspended from duty. The action taken arose in all cases out of charges under the Discipline Code laid down in the Police RegulationS. My right hon. Friend regrets that he has no such recent information for other forces.

Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether the men in question have a right of appeal?

Italy And Abyssinia

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make on the recent League Council resolutions regarding the dispute between Italy and Ethiopia?

My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply. Before the Council meeting His Majesty's Government were engaged in active discussions on this matter with the other Governments chiefly concerned, and during last week these discussions continued, both between the Governments and between their representatives at Geneva. In the early hours of the 25th May the League Council adopted two resolutions dealing with the halo-Ethiopian dispute, which were accepted by the representatives of the two parties. The texts of these resolutions will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. They contain specific reference to Article 5 of the halo-Ethiopian Treaty of Friendship of 1928, the terms of which the President recalled to the Council. The English translation of the relevant portion of this article is as follows:

"The two Governments undertake to submit to a procedure of conciliation or of arbitration the questions which may arise between them, and which they may not be able to decide by the normal procedure of diplomacy, without having recourse to force of arms."
The resolutions also define, within specific time limits, the application of the conciliation and arbitration procedure mentioned by the treaty. Resolution No. 1 records the agreement of both parties that this procedure must be completed by 25th August next. Resolution No. 2 confirms this understanding by declaring that, in the event of the four arbitrators forming the Conciliation Commission being unable by 25th July either to agree on the appointment of the fifth arbitrator or upon an extension of time in which to continue negotiations on this point, the Council shall meet. In any event the Council will meet on 25th August if by that date the dispute has not been settled by conciliation and arbitration. It will therefore be clear that the Council will remain in close contact with the situation, and will meet again to deal with the matter should circumstances render this necessary.

The proceedings before the Council indicated that the liberty of the arbitrators would not be limited. They may consider all the circumstances bearing upon the differences between the two parties. It is understood that the actual delimitation of the frontier on the ground will not be part of the arbitrators' duties. This task, which will no doubt take time, will be carried out in due course by a special Italo-Ethiopian boundary commission. It is, however, satisfactory that both parties have renewed their assurances to proceed to an agreed demarcation of the frontier as soon as their present differences have been peacefully settled. Without suggesting that the Council's resolutions finally dispose of the tension which has unfortunately arisen between Italy and Ethiopia as a result of the Walwal and other incidents, I am confident that they represent an important advance towards a friendly solution. Both parties have accepted the co-operation of the League in seeking a settlement. By so doing the Governments concerned have made a contribution which it is earnestly hoped will lead to the early restoration of mutually satisfactory relations between them. But for the spirit of conciliation displayed by the Italian Government and its representative at Geneva (Baron Aloisi), together with the invaluable co-operation of the French Foreign Minister (Monsieur Laval), the progress which we are now able to record could not have been realised.

It would not be proper for me to try to attempt to discuss the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I hope that I may be allowed, I think in the name of the whole House, to congratulate the League Council, and certainly our representative, the Lord Privy Seal, upon the results of the conferences and negotiations, and to say also that everyone in the House will hope that this is the first and most important step towards an equitable and permanent settlement of the dispute which has arisen.

Following are the texts of the two resolutions adopted by the Council:.

Resolution No. 1.—(1) Whereas at the meeting of the Council in January, 1935, the Italian Government and the Ethiopian Government agreed to settle the dispute which has arisen between them as the result of the incident at Walwal on 5th December, 1934, in conformity with Article 5 of the Italo-Ethiopian treaty of 2nd August, 1928.

(2) Whereas direct negotiations through diplomatic channels having been exhausted, the two parties have nominated their arbitrators as provided for in Article 5 in the above-mentioned treaty;

(3) Whereas since 5th December, 1934, other incidents have taken place on the Italo-Ethiopian frontier and the two Governments are in agreement in entrusting the settlement of these incidents to the same arbitrators in accordance with Article 5 of the Italo-Ethiopian treaty;

(4) Whereas the Italian Government in view of the request which has been made to it, makes no objection regarding the nationality of the arbitrators nominated by the Ethiopian Government;

(5) Whereas the two Governments agree to fix 25th August next as the date on which the procedure of conciliation and arbitration shall be concluded;

The Council;

Requests the Secretary General of the League of Nations to communicate in the meantime to the members of the Council all information which may reach him from the two parties in particular regarding the development of the arbitrators' work.

Resolution No. 2.

The Council;

Leaving to the two parties full liberty to settle the dispute in question in accordance with Article 5 of the Italo-Ethiopian treaty of 2nd August, 1928;

Decides to meet if, in default of agreement between the four arbitrators for the settlement of the dispute, an understanding shall not have been reached by 25th July between these arbitrators as to the selection of the fifth arbitrator (unless the four arbitrators agree to the extension of this period); the Council also decides to meet to examine the situation if on 25th August a settlement by means of conciliation and arbitration should not have taken place.

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make with regard to the situation on the frontier between Abyssinia and the territory under British control?

I presume that my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind a series of statements recently published in Rome according to which His Majesty's Government have been concentrating troops on both the White and Blue Niles and the Sobat and near Lake Rudolph; have enrolled African natives; have built strategic railways towards the Abyssinian frontier; have constructed camouflaged landing grounds under the guise of playing fields; and have concentrated aeroplanes at various frontier centres and especially at Khartoum. I am glad to have the opportunity of stating publicly that the whole of these statements are destitute of any foundation whatever. I may add that the Abyssinian Ministry for Foreign Affairs has informed Press correspondents that the Abyssinian Government place no credence in such reports.

Water Supplies (Committee Of Inquiry)

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Health the extent of the proposed inquiry by a Select Committee into Water Resources and Supplies, and what powers it is proposed to give to the Committee.

The law relating to water supplies requires amendment in various particulars, and proposals for this purpose have been made from time to time, including proposals in three reports of the Water Advisory Committee of my Department. It is considered that the most appropriate method of investigating what amendments are desirable is by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, who can hear the various interests concerned. The Committee will of course be at liberty to investigate other aspects of the matter which they consider relevant to this purpose. It is proposed that the Committee shall have the usual powers, that is, to hear evidence and to make recommendations.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the terms of reference of this committee will be wide enough to enable them to investigate the whole question of water supplies, or whether they are merely to consider certain changes in the law?

It is certainly the intention that the committee should not be prevented from making any recommendations or suggestions in connection with the central purpose of their inquiry.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the terms of reference will be available?

I think that that is rather a matter for consultation through the usual channels. I cannot actually state the date 'at the moment.

Will it be within the purview of the Committee to consider questions of drainage and sewerage, which have over and over again been included in recommendations as going with the water supply in similar areas?

The first answer to that question must be "No." The specific purpose of the inquiry is to deal with the question of water supplies. But, as my hon. Friend will be the first to know, one cannot consider that question without also giving some consideration to the question of sewerage.

Orders Of The Day

Government Of India Bill

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [23rd May] proposed on Consideration of the Bill, as amended:

Which Amendment was, In page 30, line 21, to leave out from "months," to the end of the sub-section, and to insert:

"Provided that, if and so often as a resolution approving the continuance in force of such a proclamation is passed by both Houses of Parliament, the proclamation shall, unless revoked, continue in force for a further period of six months from the date on which under this sub-section it would otherwise have ceased to operate
(4) If at any time the government of the Federation has for a period of three years been carried on under and by virtue of a proclamation issued under this section, then, at the expiration of that period the proclamation shall cease to have effect and the government of the Federation shall be carried on in accordance with the other provisions of this Act, subject to any amendment thereof which Parliament may deem it necessary to make, but nothing in this sub-section shall be construed as extending the power of Parliament to make amendments in this Act without affecting the accession of a State."—[Sir S. Hoare.]

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill.".

3.31 p.m.

This very important Amendment came before the House at about 10 minutes to 11 o'clock on Thursday night, and I am sure that the Secretary of State would agree that it was not a question which should have been, even for the convenience of the House, disposed of in two or three moments. In fact, it opened up one of the very important parts of the Amendments to the Clauses for our consideration. When the Clause was before the Committee, the representative of the Opposition Front Bench, the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) moved an Amendment to secure that Parliament, at intervals of six months, should renew or discontinue the operation of the breakdown machinery in India. Although six months might appear to be a too frequent interval in certain circumstances—indeed, it might be a positive embarrassment to the Governor-General to have such frequent reopenings of the question—yet at the same time all sections of the Committee agreed to the principle that there should be a Parliamentary review from time to time. The Secretary of State stated in col. 460 of the OFFICIAL REPORT:

"I dislike … any suggestion of turning the Federation into a more or less permanent dictatorship."
He therefore agreed to meet the point, and he said that he would
"see whether Parliament should not continue to review the situation within a certain period."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1935; col. 460, Vol. 299.]
That point has been met in the proviso in the Amendment. None of us can test the principle, although personally I should have preferred to have seen the review once every 12 months. It is when we come to the consideration of Sub-section (4) that I desire to ask the Secretary of State for further elucidation. This Subsection seems completely to conflict not with the decision, because it certainly was not that, but with the suggestion thrown out by the Secretary of State in Committee. He then suggested, it will be remembered, first of all, that British India would resent a permanent dictatorship and that the Federal States would resent seeing their constitution abrogated and the dictatorial powers asked for purposes outside the Federal Government by the Governor-General. We all agreed to that, but, driven by the logic of these facts, the Secretary of State then made the following most important suggestion. He said:
"First of all, I have to look into it with a view to Parliament keeping a check on any renewal, and also from the point of view of whether it is wisest to say that after a period of years, say three years—1 suggest that as possible—the Constitution should lapse—the whole constitution, for I cannot conceive myself either British India or the Indian States resting content with what really would be a permanent system in place of Federation; nor can I conceive that the Imperial Parliament here would possibly allow a situation of that kind to continue. I think it may be well to put some such term into the Bill."
That statement caused a, very great deal of satisfaction to all my friends in this House, and also to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), because here we saw a possibility, if this breakdown continued for the period suggested, of escape both for the Princes and the peoples of India from permanent entanglement in this reform scheme. These words, which the Secretary of State then indicated were open for his consideration, mean, if I understand them correctly, that if a breakdown took place the whole experiment would be abandoned.

If my hon. and gallant Friend will read a little further he will see a fuller explanation, which I gave of these few words.

His concluding words were:

"I will look into this question again from those two points of view. I think can find means of satisfying both of them. This has been the happiest day in Committee.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1935; col. 461, Vol. 299.]
.

My hon. and gallant Friend will see that I spoke again just at the end of the Debate.

I will come to that in a moment. I had intended specifically to refer to it, because it would not be fair to the right hon. Gentleman not to do so. Some of us have from time to time urged this House to consider the real danger of some such breakdown for which this Clause provides, and we have not been satisfied that the machinery set up in the Bill is adequate to deal with such a situation. I would like to recall the words of the late Lord Birkenhead contemplating a similar situation, for whatever the views of Members of this House may be of principles enunciated by Lord Birkenhead, I think that everybody will agree that he was a realist in politics. He said in his last essay:

"I am deeply alarmed lest a great lack of experience may not he preparing for us and the Empire a tragedy of inconceivable magnitude."
This Clause provides for such a break- down, and, if the new Amendment which is now on the Paper is carried out in the spirit of the first speech of the Secretary of State to which I have referred, I should most certainly be glad to accept it, while protesting that it is a deplorable fact that we have to contemplate even the possibility of a breakdown and asserting that we would very much have preferred to proceed step by Step in the Provinces instead of going right ahead with the Federal solution. I cannot, however, discuss that question because the Government have decided otherwise, and, quite rightly, have provided this breakdown Clause. They did not adopt the original suggestion of the Secretary of State of the 13th March. The right hon. Gentleman intervened later in the Debate to the extent of giving his assent to the remarks of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Molson), who rose at 7.30 p.m., about 15 minutes after the Secretary of State's first speech, and said:
"Do I understand that under Ids proposal that a suspension of the Constitution of this Bill, because of a crisis or emergency, is to endure for a maximum period of time, however many Addresses are voted by Parliament, and that after the lapse of that time either the Federal Constitution under the Bill comes into operation again or there will have to be new legislation dealing with the whole question.
Sir S HOARE indicated assent."— [OFFICIAL RETORT, 13th March, 1935; col. 467, Vol. 299.]

That means that the right hon. Gentleman assented to the quite contradictory suggestion from the hon. Member for Doncaster. It seems to me that if the Federal Constitution under the Bill comes into operation again as suggested by the hon. Member for Doncaster it clearly does not square with the Secretary of State's first statement that after a period of years, say, three years, the whole Constitution would lapse.

I think I have said enough to show that this matter is a serious one for the consideration of the House, and that I shall be exonerated for having carried the discussion over until to-day, because it is a matter which requires a little further elucidation. Surely, the first thoughts of the Secretary of State were the wiser, before he was lured by the hon. Member for Doncaster into assenting to what I submit would be an absurdity in the Bill. I suggest to the Secretary of State that if this Amendment is to stand as it appears on the Order Paper, it becomes something which is almost unthinkable. It should not go into the Bill, for it is impossible in the circumstances envisaged that after three years breakdown the Federation should be carried on in accordance with the other provisions of the Act as if nothing had happened. The Secretary of State's first suggestions were clearly wise, that the whole Constitution should lapse. If the Constitution has completely broken down, it is impossible that the wreckage of that Constitution should be suddenly brought into operation again. Would not the honest course for the House to adopt be to say that the Constitution will lapse unless Parliament in the meantime has passed amending legislation? That would be understandable.

I should like to ask one or two plain, blunt questions. Do the Government realise that in the Constitution which this Clause purports to provide, the Governor-General and the Governors will in the meantime have been deprived of what the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) described as the steel framework of the Civil Service, that rapid Indianisation will have taken place and instead of gradualness and training of subordinates for superior positions, the very instrument on which the Secretary of State relies will have been blunted if not destroyed. Will he not have to ask the Services which have meanwhile passed under Indian administrators to come out of their new environment into which they have been placed and take control of staffs which owe their appointments and draw their pay from Indian Ministers? Is it surprising that distinguished Civil servants in India fear that they will be called in as a breakdown gang?

When difficulties like these are brought before us sentimentally say, "Why raise these questions? Why not wait and see what happens? Have we not waited for goodwill in Ireland? Let us hope for the best." All that talk and paraphernalia to which we are becoming accustomed is indulged in, but the fact is that this Clause forces us to face up to the possible situation, and I submit that you are asking super-men, the Governor-General and the Governors, to exercise powers which they cannot possibly exercise. I would remind the Secretary of State of an opinion which has been expressed in regard to the powers to be exercised by the Governor-General. Let me remind him of the words of one whom I might describe as old faithful, Mr. Jayaker, who has been faithful like Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, his late teacher. In trying to persuade his colleagues to support these proposals he said:
"He deplored the Viceroy's powers as proposed in the later Round Table Conferences, but they did not matter as the Viceroy would have no machinery to give effect to them."
That is what I and my friends have been contending, and that is what is going to happen under the breakdown Clause. Let us before it is too late face up to the perils of the situation. Do not let us insist on Sub-section (4), which imagines a vain thing in the paragraph to which I have referred, namely, that the Indian Constitution having completely broken down you will merely ask Parliament to press the button, and produce resolutions of both Houses and that by such a self-starter the machine can work again, that the personal rule of the Governor-General at the end of three years must cease and that the Constitution will automatically re-start whatever the state of the country. That means for the Secretary of State or his successor conflict with your advisers in India. It is playing into the hands of the extremists and the revolutionaries in India who, as the three years draw to a close, will make the task of the Governor-General very difficult if not impossible. If we are going to declare that at the end of three years we shall revert to the status quo and plan accordingly to meet the lapse of the Constitution, well and good; but failing that I suggest that it is unwise to put any fixed date for the termination or revision of the Constitution, for you thereby make that date the date for revolutionary activities. The extremists will take advantage of the time and will make trouble in India. The Clause as it is proposed to amend it by the insertion of the suggested words is a slipshod piece of make-believe, and I earnestly hope that the Secretary of State will be willing to omit the words:
"be carried on in accordance with the other provisions of this Act"
and insert the word "lapsed," or something to that effect, in order to carry out his first thoughts on the occasion of the Debate on the 13th March, otherwise we shall be putting something into the Bill which we do not mean and which cannot be carried out.

3.50 p.m.

The point that was raised in the previous Debate on this important issue has in our view been met by the new Clause which the right hon. Gentleman has presented. The possibility of a breakdown in implementing the operation of the Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament was apprehended first by hon. Members on these benches, but I join issue with the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) on the breakdown problem. He seems to take it for granted that the whole thing will break down—I am not so sure that he would not be rather delighted if it did. Anyway, I take it that whatever may be said in favour or against the Measure it is no use commencing with the fear that there is going to be a breakdown. If, however, you must call in the break-down gang to do repairs consequent upon an accident you do not suspend the whole services of the railway system.

The Clause says that if the Proclamation is issued it is to be reviewed every six months by both Houses of Parliament, and it can be in force on those lines for three years. The right hon. Gentleman has suggested in the new provisions that the two Houses of Parliament in this country might then amend the Act of Parliament which has broken down. The hon. and gallant Member wants the whole regime gone into if there is a breakdown at all. He wants the Act suspended or its operation in India set aside consequent on the breakdown of a single point in the constitution. I am not so much concerned with the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member. During the War we "played Hamlet"with the constitution of this country which had been in operation for centuries. I was rather surprised to hear the hon. and gallant Member using the word "extremists." He seems to think that everybody who disagrees with him falls into that category. There are many people in India who when they read his speeches will regard him as an extremist. As already stated, the point we raised as to the possible breakdown of the Bill and the consequences of that in India has been met by the Secretary of State, and without being unduly obliged to him he has done very much better than we expected.

3.54 p.m.

The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) has drawn special attention to a question I put to the Secretary of State on the Committee stage with regard to an Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), and rather suggested that my question induced the Secretary of State to change his mind. During the Committee stage there were a number of occasions when I endeavoured to persuade the Secretary of State to change his mind, but I found that once the right hon. Gentleman has made up his mind all the pressure one can bring to bear is ineffective, except when he thinks one is right. The question I put to him on that occasion was only an elaborate paraphrase of what the Secretary of State had himself said in an earlier speech, but because of the misunderstanding, in which I shared, as to what the right hon. Gentleman meant in his opening speech I wanted to be quite clear what the actual meaning was. As I say, the question was only an elaboration of what the right hon. Gentleman had already said, which the hon. and gallant Member will find on column 466:

"It occurred to me after I had sat down that I had not made it clear. … We should then"—
That is in the event of a breakdown—
"revert to the provisions of this Act, and Parliament then would have to choose between reverting to the provisions of this Act or passing an amending Act."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1935; col. 466, Vol. 299.]
When the Secretary of State spoke on the first occasion it rather seemed as if his intention was that in the event of there being a breakdown of the Constitution there should be a reversion from the whole of the constitutional scheme as contained in the Bill to the present Constitution of India, but in his second speech he made it plain that all he intended was that in the event of a, partial or complete breakdown and the Governor-General exercising dictatorial powers under Clause 45 for a certain period of time, it could not be indefinitely renewed by both Houses of Parliament merely passing a Resolution approving the Proclamation, but that there would have to be a reversion to the general structure set up by the Bill or new legislation. I would point out to the hon. Member for Westhoughton that this proposal does not contemplate merely a general 'and complete breakdown of the whole Federal Constitution, but also provides for a partial breakdown that, as regards some particular subject or some particular authority, the Railway Board or perhaps some particular area, the powers connected with the particular subject may be suspended during the period approved by this Rouse. I only rose in order to point out that as far as I can see there has been no change of intention and that the Amendment on the Order Paper carries out the intention of the Secretary of State. Where you are setting up a Federal Constitution of this kind, it would be entirely in conflict with the whole Constitution if after A breakdown had taken place it was possible by the means of the breakdown, which may have been engineered, for the Government to be secured in a more irresponsible and dictatorial fashion than it has been at any time since the Regulating Act of 1774.

3.59 p.m.

The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) pooh-poohed the idea of any serious breakdown in the constitutional machinery of the Bill being possible. A few years ago there were breakdowns in the machinery set up by the Act of 1919 in more than one province. In Bengal and the Central Provinces the Legislatures refused to provide sufficient salaries for Ministers put in charge of departments, and we had in miniature a breakdown of the constitutional machinery. Therefore, it is obvious that something of the kind might happen. The Government think it is possible or they would not provide for this Clause in their Bill. In legislating for such a tremendous subject as the future government of the sub-continent of India, we should try to fashion a ship which will be able to sail the seas in foul as well as fair weather.

It is clear to me that the amended Clause which the Government propose for meeting this contingency is one which is quite out of keeping with the Preamble of the 1919 Act which they are to keep in being in spite of the proposed repeal of the rest of that Act if this Federation comes into being. The whole spirit of that Preamble is to make any further advance towards self-government in India depend on the use which is made by Indians of the powers transferred to them. That seems to me a policy which must commend itself to all people of common sense. The Government evidently must appreciate it, or they would not propose to keep it in existence. Yet the Amendment seems to propose the very reverse, and says in effect, that however terrible the chaos may be in India, however clearly it may be seen that the Indian machinery is incapable of working in existing circumstances, however serious a revolutionary agitation may be, at the end of three years the Federation has got to be set up in full again, unless an amending Act is passed by the Imperial Parliament.

We know only too well the difficulty there is sometimes in getting important Acts passed through Parliament at the time desired. I imagine that no Government in this country would be anxious to embark on amending legislation until towards the end of the three-year period. They would not wish to anticipate that at the end of three years order would not be restored. They would, therefore, put it off until late in the three years, and many mischances might occur—electoral mischances, or pressure of legislation urgently needed at home, or continental complications. Any one of those, or other circumstances, might make it very difficult to pass an amending Act in the time. And let it not be forgotten that legislation of that kind might well be controversial, and if there were legislation needed at home many people might ask why they should take up the time of the Imperial Parliament with affairs which, perhaps, they did not understand, or in which the electors did not feel interested as they did in their own domestic matters. Therefore, there does seem to me a very real danger that it might be difficult to get amending legislation through within the three-year period, and, anyhow, the principle seems to be wrong, because it practically says to possible agitators in India that the chances are that they will have a Federal Government restored, however unsuitable it may prove to be, and, therefore, for that reason they will be encouraged to continue agitation and make it difficult for the Imperial Parliament to pass amending legislation.

I suppose that this Amendment is to be put into the Clause in order to try to meet the views of the Princes, because we understand it is one of the Clauses about which they were particularly anxious. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us if this meets their view. If he cannot tell us that, can he tell us whether all the legal advisers of the Princes agree to the Clause as amended? However anxious one may be to meet the anxiety of the Princes—and I and my hon. Friends, I think, have shown abundantly that we are most anxious to meet their legitimate apprehensions—is it fair to plunge India as a whole possibly into the difficulty of working an unsuitable federal machinery because of apprehensions that have been felt before the machinery has been tried out? Therefore, I feel that it would be much better if the wording suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend were adopted, namely, that the constitution would not be restored unless legislation were passed.

4.6 p.m.

The Amendment says:

"at the expiration of that period the proclamation shall cease to have effect and the government of the Federation shall be carried on in accordance with the other provisions of this Act."
I do not understand to what "the other provisions of this Act "may refer. I understand that this Amendment refers only to the constitution of the Federal government. I imagine that in case of a breakdown in that government, the provincial governments would go on as heretofore. After three years, if the Governor-General found, while the Provincial Governments were functioning, that the Central Government could be
"carried on in accordance with the other provisions of this Act",
what other provisions are there except the Provincial provisions of this Measure, to which I understand this Amendment does not refer? Perhaps my hon. and learned Friend will make it clear that this has nothing to do with Provincial Governments, which would probably go or all the time, and that only the Central Government would have to reorganised. I would like to know what the words I have quoted mean.

4.8 p.m.

I rise with a feeling of optimism, because I hope I may be able to convince my hon. Friends that the apprehensions expressed are largely due to a misreading of the Amendment. The suggestion that my right hon. Friend has shown some inconsistency is also, I think, due to a misreading of the Amendment. Perhaps I may make a reference to the arguments which were put forward, and which were accepted by my right hon. Friend in regard to putting into the Bill a three years' limit. This Clause is called familiarly "the breakdown Clause," and I think it is right that the vast sub-continent of India should not be governed for an indefinite period under a breakdown Clause, that is, under a Clause which is used for emergency purposes. The effect of the three years' provision is, of course, that if you want to continue some form of government other than the government in this Bill apart from this Clause, then Parliament must legislate. My hon. and gallant Friend read out that part of the Amendment which says that at the end of three years

"the government of the Federation shall be carried on in accordance with the other provisions of this Act."
He did not, however, read the following words:
"subject to any amendment thereof which Parliament may deem it necessary to make."
Those words are very important, and, obviously, in the case which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has envisaged of the same conditions continuing in India which made it necessary to bring the emergency Clause into operation, it would be the bounden duty of Parliament to see, that although the Clause could not be used beyond three years, Amendments were made to the Bill to enable the proper government to continue. I think my hon. and gallant Friend will see that, as a matter of mere drafting, it is necessary that the Clause should take this form. He suggested that we might insert the word "lapse". Did he mean by "lapse" that the Governor-General's powers under Clause 45 were to continue? If he meant that, it is in direct contradiction to the three years' limitation which, on the whole, I think, is generally accepted by the House.

The only reason I suggested it—I do not understand the legal phraseology—was that I had in mind what the Secretary of State said when he asked:

"Whether it is wisest to say that after a period of years, say three years … the constitution should lapse."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 13th March, 1935; col. 461, Vol. 299.]
.

The draftsman has to put in proper legal form the intention as expressed by my right hon. Friend. It is generally admitted that there must be some limitation of time. That is the basis on which we proceed. What will then be the position? The draftsman has got to provide for Parliament not passing an amending Act. If after three years the power of the Governor-General is to come to an end, the draftsman must say what will happen should Parliament, in fact, not legislate. Therefore, the words must be in the Clause that the other statutory provisions shall come in unless Parliament has taken them off the Statute Book and put something in their place. If you are drafting a Clause to remove powers under Clause 45, there must be some words to meet the contingency, no other amending legislation having been passed by Parliament. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that there is nothing in the drafting of this Clause which goes back upon, or is inconsistent with, the statement my right hon. Friend made the other day. It is quite obvious that if the conditions should arise—we hope they will not—which make it necessary to fall back on these emergency powers, to continue in force during the whole of the three years, then all that this Amendment effects is that that situation must be met by a Bill which will take any form Parliament may think proper, and cannot be continued by a succession of proclamations.

The Noble Lady, who I am glad to see addressing the House from the same seat, suggested that under this Clause the Constitution would automatically start again at the end of three years. That is really a complete travesty of the effect of an Amendment of this kind. We must, of course, assume that Parliament will do its duty. It is quite incorrect to suggest that the idea of this Amendment is, whatever the position of India may be at the end of the three years, automatically to revert to the old position. In reply to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Brown), it is quite right to say that this proposal does not affect the Provincial part of the Bill. The "other provisions" are the Federal provisions. Now a few words in reply to the question asked by the Noble Lady as to the States. This is a matter on which the States made representations, and very proper representations. They said, "You are asking us to join a Federation in which we have a measure of control through the responsibility at the centre. We do not in the least complain of there being an emergency clause of this kind, but it would not be right that the Federation should be governed under emergency powers by the Governor-General year after year and that we should still be held to our instrument of accession." That is a perfectly fair and proper point. Therefore, if these emergency powers have to be used beyond the three years period one of two things must happen Either conditions are such that Parliament decides that it need not legislate and it is possible to go back to the Bill; or Parliament will decide that it cannot go back to the Federation as it is at present in the Bill.

This Amendment would safeguard the rights of the States in exactly the same way as they are safeguarded in Schedule 2, namely, if in the Amendment which Parliament makes it alters the protective Clauses which affect the States, then their instruments of accession are voided. They need not go out automatically, but they have a right to say, "This is a different Federation." Negotiations will take place, but in the last resort they have the right to say, "In spite of your negotiations this is not the Federation which we joined, and therefore our accession is no longer a valid instrument." The Noble Lady asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State whether we had reason to believe that this Amendment met the views of the Princes. We have every reason to believe that it does meet the representations which they made and the views which they put forward. That must not be taken to mean that each individual Prince has said, "This is acceptable to me and I give my final view upon it." That is not the way in which these negotiations are dealt with. But we have every reason to believe that the provisions of this Amendment meet the point put forward and will be regarded as acceptable by the States and their advisers.

4.20 p.m.

I think that my learned Friend the Solicitor-General has met very fairly the arguments that were addressed to him by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and by the Noble Lady the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl). As far as the position of the Princes is concerned, I think that they were entitled to a protection which was not provided in the original Bill and which is provided here, namely, that they should not find themselves voluntarily acceding to Federation on one ground and then be bound to remain in a Federation completely different. I think that their position is saved. The more I think about this matter the more anxious I get. My real interest scarcely lies within the wording of the Amendment, which contemplates a period of difficulty and tension that requires a temporary suspension of the Constitution. If we name so short a period as six months for that, do we give any real chance of the situation altering sufficiently for us to be able to revert to normal at the end of that period? I do not think I ought to say a word more, because I am very much afraid of what Mr. Speaker may say in another moment if I do; but I beg my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in spite of all the arguments we had in the Joint Select Committee on this subject, to consider whether the six months' period is adequate to give a chance to this Clause to restore the situation, and whether the appeal to Parliament would not be, better made after 12 months than after six months.

4.22 p.m.

There seems to be a complete gap in this Clause. A breakdown occurs, a proclamation is issued, it runs for six-monthly periods, and then Sub-section (4) begins to operate. What does Sub-section (4) do? Either we can go back to the full scheme o f Federation, that is to say, partial responsibility at the centre, or we carry on under a scheme which Parliament then shall make. At what stage is Parliament going to pass the Amendment? How long is it going to take to pass a Bill amending an Act when dealing with a state of emergency? Such a Bill is bound to give rise to the acutest controversy in this country. There will be those who will say, "You are not trusting the Indians," and those who will say, "You trust the Indians too much." Obviously a Bill of that kind, proposing drastic Amendments, would occupy the greater part of a Parliamentary Session, from the date when the Government make up their minds and announce the Bill to the date when the Bill receives the Royal Assent. In other words, if the Government contemplate a three years period they are going to start legislating at the end of two years and three months. There seems to be very grave risks. When Parliament is on the edge of legislating there will be people who will come forward and say, "Do not do it now. The situation is getting better and if you only hold your hands things will be all right in three or four months. "Then we come to a period so close to the expiration of the three years that the opportunity for effective legislation by Parliament is gone, and time is the essence of a contract.

Ou the other hand, this Amendment or the Clause could have a further subsection added to the effect that in the event of the three years period having elapsed, and in the event of Parliament not having had an opportunity to make such amendments as Parliament may desire, there shall come into operation Part 13 of the Act, that is the transitional provisions. They would need some amendment. Take Clause 304. What does it provide? It provides, broadly speaking, that the administration in India is to he carried on during the transitional period as it is carried on to-day, that is autocracy, subject to the modifications which arise from the fact that there is a Legislative Assembly. It is true that the Executive is responsible to that Assembly, but nevertheless that Assembly must of necessity by its actions and debates and power pass laws and refuse to pass laws. The existing Legislative Assembly must act to some extent as part of the administration. Therefore if you provide what I will call the principle of Clause 304, and if it is to operate at the end of the three years period during such time as Parliament may need to pass the further legislation that may be necessary, it seems to me that you provide a watertight scheme; but as this Amendment stands, you may suddenly find yourself at the end of three years with complete chaos existing in India, and with no power to do anything except to hand back administration to the people who have created the chaos.

I, see that the Secretary of State shakes his head. Let us assume the worst kind of folly, and that for some reason the situation is allowed to drift until the three years are up. Parliament has not legislated because people have said, "Don't do it now and the situation will improve." The three years run out, the power to make proclamations has come to an end, and quite clearly Part 2 of the Act has then to come into operation. It seems to me quite evident that this Amendment is incomplete for the reasons I have given, and also incomplete for the reason indicated by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain).

4.27 p.m.

My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General said he had every reason to believe that the Clause as it is proposed to be amended would meet the views of the Princes, but he did not say specifically whether the Princes' legal advisers had agreed to recommend it. I would ask whether all the counsel briefed by the Princes have agreed to it.

What I said was a perfectly fair answer to the Noble Lady's question. I do not think it is proper to go into the negotiations between the Princes' legal advisers and ourselves.

4.28 p.m.

I wish very respectfully to say that all the way through this particular Debate I have had very grave doubts as to the advisability of the period of six months, and very great weight has been added to my doubt by what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). Before the Bill goes to another place would it not be possible for the Government to go into the matter again? It seems perfectly clear that if we have this six months period, and the Constitution goes on for three years, and then there is a reversion to the original Constitution, under the original Constitution the Governor-General again has the power to make these proclamations. That is as I understand the Bill. It seems only reasonable to ask whether that is the solution of the problem which is in the Government's mind, and whether there is not a definite period at the end of the three years when the Governor-General can again exercise this power. The House has a right to be informed on these points. If you are going back to the Constitution, then within the Constitution itself there are powers and, as far as we can understand this Amendment, it will be possible to use those powers straight away.

I only rise to ask whether the Secretary of State has any observations to make on the question put to him by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) about the six months period.

4.31 p.m.

I can only speak again by leave of the House, but with the permission of the House I accede to my right hon. Friend's suggestion. I do not regard the question of the period of time as a question of principle at all. At the same time, I hesitate to substitute here and now one period for another. Hitherto, in the many discussions that we have had during recent years on these matters we have always assumed that the period should be six months. Six months is the period in the other Clauses of the Bill connected with the ordinances. India is used to the period of six months. Moreover, the representatives of the Princes, with whom we have more than once discussed this Clause, have always assumed that the period would be six months. Therefore, before any change could be made it would be necessary to consult the various interested parties. More than that I could not say to-day. I repeat, that I myself do not regard it as a matter of principle whether the period is six months or 12 months. I do not think I need go further into the questions which have been raised. Let me answer in a single sentence the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). If there is to be an amending Bill it will not be a Bill of 470 Clauses like the present Measure. It would be perfectly easy to bring in a one Clause Bill and pass it through all its stages, if necessary, in a single day. I think therefore the anxieties which he has expressed are groundless.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 48—(Appointment Of Governor)

4.33 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 32, line 11, to leave out from "by," to the end of the sub-section, and to insert:

".the Governor-General by a Commission with the approval of His Majesty."
As the Bill stands, the position is that the Governor of a Province is appointed by His Majesty by a Commission under the Royal Sign Manual. It appears that H a Governor is so appointed there can be no real control or advice from the Centre in regard to his appointment. In fact it means that Parliament is directly appointing the Governor in the Province. We suggest this Amendment in order to bring in the Governor-General and in order that there may still be a measure of advice and control from the Centre. It proposes that the appointment in each case should be made by the Governor-General, thereby bringing in the Centre, instead of having the appointment made directly from Parliament.

4.34 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

It seems to be in exact accord with the underlying idea of Federation. The Governor of a Province will be part of the Federation as will be the Governor-General who will be appointed by His Majesty to represent him in India. It seems essential therefore that the duty of appointing Governors should be performed through the Governor-General, so that all the parts of the Federation should be welded together.

4.35 p.m.

I support the Amendment because, if the appointments of Governors were made formally through the Governor-General, it would allow the Central Government to retain some power of supervision and guidance in regard to the Provinces. If original powers are granted to the Provinces from the Crown, there can be no effective power in the Central Government unless it is specially put into the Bill. This brings out one of the differences which exist between the conception of provincial autonomy held by myself and my friends, and the conception embodied in the Bill. Already, in connection with inquiries into the transferred departments, we have had forcibly stressed the need for more guidance and direction from the Centre than is being given now. The trend of the many representations made by the Linlithgow Commission on Agriculture was to that effect, namely, that there was need for the Central Government to do more in the way of guidance of the Provinces in regard to research and many other matters. That is also the trend of the report of the Committee on Education set up by the Statutory Commission—that more guidance and more information from the Centre was desirable for the various provincial education departments which were meeting with great difficulties and rapidly deteriorating in their work.

The Statutory Commission showed its sense of the importance of those recommendations by itself recommending, in the middle of the second volume of its report, that the Central Government should have more powers, constitutionally, in the transferred sphere than they have at present. When I raised this subject some weeks ago the Secretary of State referred me to some other statement in the Statutory Commission's Report which were, he said, to a different effect, but he did not give us the exact reference in the Report and I have not been able to find it. I have found nothing in the chapter of recommendations at the end of the second volume that conflicts with the recommendation made in the middle of the second volume that the Central Government should have greater powers constitutionally in the transferred sphere than they have at present. I feel that the restoration of efficiency in these transferred departments largely depends on the Central Government baying more power of direction and guidance, or rather, exercising more power of direction and guidance than it exercises at present. At present it has powers but, as far as I can see, does not exercise them. It is because I feel, as I say, that the restoration of efficiency largely depends on the exercise of more power by the Central Government than they have been exercising recently; because I feel that there is so much inefficiency in these transferred departments and because, if original powers are given to Provincial Governments, it will obviously be very difficult for the Central Government to exercise its powers effectively that I support the Amendment.

4.39 p.m.

I am glad to note the reorientation in the views of the Noble Lady since she has decided to cease supporting the present Government. She is now, I understand, supporting a proposition that Governors of Provinces should be appointed by the Governor-General acting on the advice of his ministers. There are no words here to say that it shall be in his discretion. I welcome the Noble Lady's new view of the question of increased responsibility at the Centre. I know the importance which she attaches to efficiency and I understand she thinks that efficiency will be secured by having Provincial Governors appointed on the advice of Indian Ministers rather than by the Crown on the advice of Ministers here. That is a distinct advance. The Amendment may raise certain difficulties in the Federation, but in so far as it gives more responsibility to Indian Ministers I should be glad to support it.

4.40 p.m.

I must resist the temptation to follow the Noble Lady into a general discussion on the relationship between the Centre and the Provinces, a subject in which I know she is deeply interested but I maintain that the case would have been better put by her had she followed up this apparently simple Amendment, 'by a statement on the scores of consequential Amendments which would be necessary to make it operative. To take even Clause 49, I notice that in connection with it there is no consequential Amendment down which would make this Amendment properly operative. Clause 49 says that the executive authority of the Province shall be exercised on behalf of His Majesty by the Governor. There is no reference to the Governor being appointed by the Governor-General. The Amendment on the Order Paper, in the first place, does not achieve the very vast and far-reaching effect which the Noble Lady intends and in the second place it would mean that her conception of provincial autonomy would be simply non-existent. Our conception of Federation is based upon the idea of autonomous units and as we have frequently explained during these Debates our conception of provincial autonomy is that the Governors should be appointed directly by His Majesty.

This matter has been before the House for some time. The original Explanatory Memorandum set out that the purpose of the present Bill was to resume into the hands of His Majesty all powers hitherto exercisable in or in relation to India by any authority and then to redistribute them to the various authorities set up by the Bill. The consequence of that is seen in the drafting of the Bill. It is regarded as essential that the Governors should be appointed directly by His Majesty. Therefore, without going into all the problems of the relations between the Centre and the Provinces which would arise, in the sense desired by the Noble Lady, from the passage of this Amendment, I can only say that in accordance with our conception of provincial autonomy, which is the genuine autonomy of genuine units, we are unable to accept the Amendment.

4.43 p.m.

There is a great deal of substance in what the Under-Secretary has said and a certain amount of mischievous irony in the remarks which were made from the Front Opposition Bench. I think my hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment was somewhat oppressed by the fear that the authority of the Governor-General, in day-to-day work, over the Governors of the Provinces in matters in which it will be proper for his authority to be exercised, might be diminished or impaired unless, as it were, their commissions flowed from or through the Governor-General instead of being held directly from the Crown. I am bound to say I do not feel that the proposal in the Bill would have that effect. At present the Governor-General exercises immense influence, apart from legal authority, over the Governors of the Provinces although those Governors are appointed like the Governor-General himself, originally from the central power of the Crown acting on the advice of Ministers responsible to Parliament. Now that an explanation has been given by the Under-Secretary and in view of the many complicated consequential Amendments which would have to he made in the Bill if we were successful in the Lobby in carrying this change, I feel that my hon. Friend, after the illuminating discussion which has just taken place, should be content to withdraw his Amendment.

In view of what has been said by the Government, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 52—(Special Responsibilities Of Governor)

I beg to move, in page line 12, after "State," to insert:

"and the rights and dignity of the Ruler thereof."
This is a repetition of an Amendment made in the corresponding Federal Clause 12.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 55—(Advocate-General For Province)

I beg to move, in page 35, line 24, after "person," to insert:

"being a person qualified to be appointed a judge of a High Court.
This is a repetition of a provision already inserted in the corresponding Federal Clause.

4.47 p.m.

I take it that the words of the Amendment refer to Clause 218, Sub-section (3), paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d). It seems to me that paragraphs (a), (c), and (d) are good, but we are seeking to describe the qualifications of a learned person to perform, in a Province of India, the same functions as are so well performed here by my right hon. and learned Friend who moved the Amendment, and I do not think, if my right hon. and learned Friend's experience had been 10 years in the Civil Service with three years as a district judge, he would in fact have acquired that knowledge of law which an Attorney-General ought to have. We are here defining the qualifications of an Attorney-General, and it seems to me that they are all right except with regard to para- graph (b). That it should be possible to appoint a. person who is not a lawyer at all to the high legal post of the chief legal adviser to the Government of a Province seems to me to be a mistake.

4.48 p.m.

We have discussed this kind of question over and over again. We discussed it in connection with the qualifications of judges, and I thought then that my right hon. and learned Friend gave a complete answer to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). He pointed out then that, the kind of experience acquired by Indian civil servants amply qualified them for judicial posts. Moreover, this is a repetition of a, Clause which we passed in the Federal Chapter, and I hope, therefore, we need not delay longer with this discussion.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 56—(Provisions As To Police Rules)

4.49 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 35, line 41, to leave out from "his," to the end of the Clause, and to insert:

"discretion with respect to that proposal provided that the Governor shall not make, repeal, or amend or approve the making, repeal, or amendment of any rules, regulations, or orders as aforesaid without the previous consent of the Governor-General given by him in his discretion."
Everyone who is familiar with the police evidence laid before the Joint Select Committee will remember what importance witnesses attached to no alteration in the rules regarding their service being made without the consent of the Governor. This Amendment would strengthen Clause 56 in three respects. In the first place, it would make clear that the Governor was to exercise his discretion rather than his individual judgment in the matter. We know that the difference between those two phrases means that "in his discretion" the Governor does not have to consult his Ministers, but if he exercises "his individual judgment" he has to consult his Ministers first, and in a matter of this kind it might be difficult for him in the latter case to make the decision that he felt was best.

The second respect in which the Amendment would strengthen the Clause is that, as the Clause stands, the Governor has only power to object to an alteration of the rules which would affect the organisation or discipline of the police force. The police committee showed themselves particularly anxious about the retention in full of their present powers. The Clause would give the Governor no power to object to any rule which was going to reduce the existing powers of the police force, and that seems to me a very important respect in which the Amendment would propose to strengthen the Clause. Finally, the Amendment would require
"the previous consent of the Governor-General given by him in his discretion"
to an alteration of the rules. That again seems important, because the Governor might be in a. very difficult position. We have to remember that, unlike the Governor-General, he has no counsellors whatever to advise him. He is a lone figure with no responsible persons around him at all. Therefore, it may be extremely difficult for him to be fully apprised of everything that is relevant to the matters that may be proposed to him, and it may be very difficult for him to stand up against the pressure of Ministers who may wish to have a rule altered. It seems to me very desirable that in that case there should be the Governor-General behind him.

4.53 p.m.

This Amendment is unnecessary in my view, and, if it were inserted, it would be unworkable. It would be quite unworkable for the Governor to have to pass all the alterations and all the police rules. I have never heard the representative of any police association make a demand for such powers, and I wonder if my Noble Friend, if I may still so call her—

Then I had better substitute the phrase "the Noble Lady." I wonder if the Noble Lady has ever studied these rules. They are encyclopaedic; they go into volumes of hundreds of pages, and it would be totally impossible for a Governor to follow, or to wish to follow alterations in all these innumerable rules, many of which have nothing to do with the morale or the organisation of the police. Still more impossible would it be for the Governor-General. I suggest to the House that in a case of this kind the Governor ought to be acting on his individual judgment rather than in his discretion. I disagree with the Noble Lady that this is the kind of case in which you should exclude the Ministers. It seems to me to be just the kind of case in which, in the first instance, the Governor, who presumably will be following very closely what is happening in the Provincial Government and will probably be presiding at Ministers' meetings, should have consultation with his Ministers before he takes his final action. I hope the House will not accept the Amendment, therefore.

If the Minister feels that the task of following all the amendments to the rules that might be proposed would be too much for the Governor, and if he feels that any decision should be taken by the Governor after consultation with the Ministers, would he consider widening the existing Clause in order to give the Governor power to object to any alteration of the powers of the police?

Amendment negatived.

Clause 58—(Sources Of Certain Information Not To Be Disclosed)

4.57 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 36, line 3.5, after "section," to insert:

"or with respect to the operations of persons preparing or attempting to take any action likely to hamper or paralyse the exercise of the executive authority."
My hon. Friends and I consider this Amendment to be one of some importance, because Clause 58, as it stands at present, does not appear to be wide enough to deal with the situation envisaged. The Clause reads:
"The Governor in his discretion shall make rules for securing that no records or information relating to the sources from which information has been or may be obtained with respect to the operations of persons committing, or conspiring, preparing, or attempting to commit, such crimes as are mentioned in the last preceding section, shall be disclosed or given."
These crimes which are covered by the Governor's discretion are merely crimes of violence intended to overthrow the Government. It is quite possible that you may have crimes which are not intended actually to overthrow the Government, but which at the same time may seriously hamper or paralyse the Government in a number of ways. You may very well have persons engaged in some form of crime who do not propose to overthrow the Government, but merely to hamper it until they have got done the things which they are determined to have done. At the present time the Governor-General has no power to prevent the sources of information in regard to such crimes being disclosed. He has been given power with regard to crimes of violence, which presumably the Government fear, and I think rightly fear, that unless that information can be kept secret, no one will ever dare give information to the Governor which will enable him to deal with serious crime. In just the same way persons will never dare deliberately to disclose efforts that are being made by a number of people to stir up trouble if they think their names will come out and they will in consequence get into trouble with those people. We take the view that the present Clause is too narrow, and we ask the Government to consider making it rather wider, in order that all persons who desire to give information to the Governor for the prevention of crime can do so in the sure and certain knowledge that the records will not be disclosed.

5.2 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

I do so with the greatest pleasure, because my hon. Friend below me has made what I think is an unanswerable case. It is clear that one of the objects of these two Clauses, and they are two of the most important in the Bill, is to ensure, generally speaking, the smooth working of the new Constitution and that it shall not be upset by persons trying, for whatever reason, to make the new form of Government unworkable. There is nothing which would make these two Clauses, operating together, wider than by providing that they would still be designed to protect persons who will be assisting the Government in giving information from having that information disclosed and from getting themselves penalised by people who would object to their plan for wrecking the Government being given away. It seems to me an obvious advantage and, as my hon. Friend has said, the Clause is very limited in its operation. It is limited to information given in the cases contemplated in Clause 57, namely, information as to
"committing, or conspiring, preparing or attempting to commit, crimes of violence. …"
There are more ways than that of making Government impossible and of wrecking a Government, and it seems to me to be equally important whether it is proposed to upset the Government by bomb and pistol and things of that sort or by other, perhaps less bloodthirsty but equally effective, action. If the Government feel sure of getting information from well-disposed persons who know of any such plans or conspiracies against the Government, and if they are to he protected, it is essential that this should be put in the Bill.

5.4 p.m.

An Amendment was moved on the Committee stage to omit the words "of violence" in order to extend the protection given to sources of information to crimes which do not fall in the special category of crimes of terrorism. I felt, when I heard the Government reply that they had an extremely good debating answer to the argument we were then putting forward, but, on thinking it over further, I cannot quite see why they should refuse some concessions upon the general lines that have been asked for by my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment. As I understand the position, the Governor has unrestricted powers to do whatever is necessary to discharge his special responsibilities, and I think the Government reply to an Amendment such as that moved by my hon. Friend is that that is an unlimited and unrestricted power to take all such measures as are necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the Province, and that that is 411 it is necessary to do. Because of the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee with regard to crimes of terrorism, they have introduced an additional Clause which gives, so to speak, a special procedure by which the Governor may deal with crimes of the kind contained in Clause 57. Clause 58 follows from that, and gives special protection to the sources of information which are dealing with crimes of that kind.

It may be that in the vast majority of cases there would be no need for the source of information to be kept secret, except in cases of crimes of terrorism. For example, in the case of crimes of terrorism, those who are believed to be guilty are frequently not tried in open court, because of the danger of the assassination of witnesses. The Government may say that if the person who is suspected has to be tried in open court the sources of information will come out when the evidence is given. In the second place, they may say that even in the case of the civil disobedience campaign such as those which have on two occasions been launched by Mr. Gandhi, there is not the danger of assassination and therefore there is not the need for keeping the source of information secret. That may be a good argument as far as it goes, but I do not quite understand why a greater discretion should not be given to the Governor-General to maintain the secrecy of sources of information in all cases where he has thought it necessary to exercise his special responsibilities. I see no reason why Clause 58 should not be made coextensive with the exercise of his special powers. I do not see why it should be restricted to those very narrow and limited kinds of crimes which fall under Section 57. I can think of two kinds of crimes in which it might be important that there should be secrecy. In the first place, a crime may not be, nominally at any rate, a crime of violence. My hon. Friend has referred to cases of civil disobedience. There was no intention, we know, that they should lead to violence, but some of the most Appalling tragedies that have happened in India, as the Chauri-Chaura murders, arose directly out of civil disobedience, when there was no intention on the part of Mr. Gandhi, who launched them, that anything of the kind should follow. I can imagine cases of civil disobedience where social boycot might be employed and where, in order to deal with that, it might be of the utmost importance that it should not be known whence sources of information were derived.

Taking another case, crimes of violence under Clause 57 have to be crimes of violence which, in the opinion of the Governor, are intended to overthrow the Government as by law established. There have been several cases of attempted assassination, as in the case of Mr. Villiers, then president of the European Association, where it would be difficult for the Governor to hold that an Attempt to assassinate the president of the European Association, or, indeed, of anyone who had taken an active part in politics but was not in any way connected with the Government, could be intended to overthrow the Government. I hope that the Government will be prepared to consider the suggestion that has been put forward. I see no logical reason at all why Clause 58 should be narrowly limited to the crimes that fall under Clause 57. We have been told that the safeguarding of law and order depends very largely upon the special responsibilities which are imposed on the Governor, and I should have thought that it would be better for him to be left to act in his discretion in all cases where he thought there was Adequate and sufficient reason; that in all those cases he might exercise the powers contained in this Clause.

5.10 p.m.

The remarks by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Molson) show very clearly what our difficulties are on this Clause. He has spoken of enlarging the Governor's discretion to make rules in respect of all sorts of crimes in so far as they fall within his special responsibilities. That is not what this Clause does. The whole emphasis of this Clause is on the words "The Governor … shall make rules …" No discretion is left to the Governor at all. The rules he is obliged to make are specifically laid down. That is quite apart from the Governor's power, both under his special responsibilities and, as the hon. Member for Doncaster did not mention, his general powers to make rules. I can see that the Governor ought to have full discretion, even beyond the limits of his special responsibilities, to make rules of business requiring the maintenance of secrecy about certain kinds of police information. The question of paralysing or hampering the executive Government does not itself in the least exhaust the cases in which the Government ought properly to make rules of business of that kind. You can hardly say that the activity of anti-prohibition gangsters in America a few years ago were designed to hamper or paralyse the executive Government. They were designed to get liquor in with facility. There are many branches of organised crime where it is very important to maintain the secrecy of your informants.

What I want to suggest to the Secretary of State is this It is obvious from the speeches we have heard that there is a general assumption in this House that this Clause, contrary to all the intentions of the Government and of the Joint Select Committee, is being interpreted as limiting the Governor's power to make rules for the secrecy of police information to the particular case where he is statutorily obliged to make such rules. It seems to me that the confusion will only be increased by adding further categories, as is proposed in the Amendment. But if this House has gained that impression, people outside, and the interpreters of this Constitution, may have gained the same impression, and it might be well to preface this Clause with some such words as "Without prejudice to the Governor's powers under his special responsibilities and under his powers to make rules of business." I believe that would cover the case better than would this particular Amendment.

5.14 p.m.

Throughout the discussions which preceded the discussions in this House—particularly in the Joint Select Committee—these Clauses were thought to be sufficient for achieving the general purpose which, for example, the hon. Member for Doncaster had in mind, that in cases covered by these two Clauses, 57 and 58, the Governor would be able to make definite rules in his discretion—or rather he should make deinite rules in his discretion—for the purpose of safeguarding the sources of information. I gather that the hon. Member for Doncaster requires to be quite sure that the Governor has adequate powers for taking this step when it is absolutely necessary. We considered this matter in Committee and the hon. Member thought that we had a good debating case. I think we have more than a good debating case. Let us just examine for a moment the operation of the Criminal Intelligence Department which will operate in a normal Indian Province. Information will come in. It is not as if this very important and secret information will be published from the housetops. It will be used for the purposes of the police and of the executive Government, and in normal cases—in every case, one might say—it will be secret information upon which the executive Government will act. It was thought necessary on the Select Committee to insert the special powers which are given by Clause 58 to safeguard the sources of information and to safeguard the lives of the informers. When we came to the drafting, we used these words:

"any persons committing, or conspiring, preparing or attempting to commit, crimes of violence which, in the opinion of the Governor, are intended to overthrow the government as by law established."
Those are the types of crime upon which Clause 58, dealing with certain sources of information not to be disclosed, operates. If we examine those words and the criterion of the hon. Member for Doncaster, which is that the Governor should take this special action when he considers it vitally necessary, we consider that the Governor has sufficient power, when he considers it vitally necessary, to take this action of making these rules in his discretion, particularly with regard to the crimes described. The hon. Member for Doncaster referred to certain regrettable attempts made on gentlemen in India and to the danger of the early stages of crime which are not regarded as sufficiently serious to result in the overthrow of the Government by law established, and to the difficulty of not having words which would enable the Governor to use this power in those circumstances. We have looked sympathetically into the point of view which the hon. Member and the hon. Members who moved the Amendment have put forward. We have examined the matter since the Committee stage, and we consider that the words "preparing or attempting to commit" cover the preliminaries of any actions which are likely in the end to result in the overthrow of the Government by law established. The overthrow of the Government is very often the object of anybody who starts in the early days to conspire, and if the Governor considers that the earliest forms of insurrection, whatever they may be, would result in the undesirable effect of overthrowing the Government by law established—

—yes, by crimes of violence—he will be entitled to take the steps suggested in Clause 58.

The words in Clause 57 are limiting. That Clause says,

"conspiring, preparing or attempting to commit crimes of violence "
calculated to upset the Government. The Under-Secretary argued as if those words were not there, and as if Clause 58 would apply to cases of
"persons committing or conspiring, preparing or attempting to commit, crimes"
of any sort or do anything which in the opinion of the Governor was liable to upset the Government.

The hon. Baronet may rest assured that I had no intention of giving the impression that the meaning of the Bill is any different from that which appears on the face of it, because I know, from my long experience of the hon. Baronet, that he would have pointed it out if I had attempted to deceive him. If in the early stages of the preparation of these types of crime of violence the Governor can destroy an ultimate danger to the Government through such crimes, it will be possible for him to take the steps which are mentioned in Clause 58. We consider, therefore, that, if the Governor considers there is any danger or if any particular activity is likely to result in this undesirable end, he has power to take the necessary action. We therefore think that the interpretation of the wording of Clause 57 and the operation upon it of Clause 58 give the Governor in his discretion the powers necessary, provided he interprets them in the way in which we confidently expect he will.

5.20 p.m.

I am impressed by the argument which the Under-Secretary has put forward, but he has not said whether he accepts the argument put forward by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). The Noble Lord said that in the case of crime which fell under Clause 57 it is mandatory upon the Governor to keep the sources of information secret, and that he has discretionary power to make rules of business.

I would remind the hon. Member that we are not in Committee and that he can only ask a question and not make a speech.

May I ask whether the Governor has the discretionary power to make rules preserving secrecy with regard to other crimes not included in Clause 57?

5.21 p.m.

On this Clause we are proceeding upon a very broad basis of general agreement. Everyone in all parties is agreed, I think, however they may differ in other respects, that we could not possibly trust the responsible Indian Ministers, who are to have so much power under this Bill, with the knowledge of the names of the secret agents who furnish the executive Government with the means of protecting themselves against terroristic and other activities. The fact that we have this agreement is a very remarkable commentary upon the whole structure and character of this legislation. It is not my purpose to emphasise that now, for if we are agreed there is no need to batter in an open door. The only question is whether the words suggested by the Government may not in some way obstruct their own purpose. From that point of view the misgivings of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Molson), reinforced as they have been by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy)—I do not know whether there is any hope of a death bed repentance on the part of these two faithful supporters of the Government—their misgivings certainly appear to fall in with the views of my hon. Friends that the words that have been chosen by the Government have a narrowing effect. If they have, surely it would be appropriate to insert here or there the necessary Amendments to give effect to the purpose of the Government and the House, whether it be by the preambulatory words of my Noble Friend or by the actual Amendment that has been moved, or by both, for they both seem to have a valid purpose. I trust that the Government will have this matter considered if it is raised in another place.

The object of Clause 58 is to protect the Agents who discharge an enormously important duty. These agents, whose fathers sometimes were agents, and who hold an office which is almost hereditary, are buried in the depths of the vast population of India, and give the timely information without which the lives of the white inhabitants would very soon be reduced to a lamentable state of danger. It is dangerous to disclose the names of the agents. That is what the Clause seeks to provide, and that is why it seems to me that to limit the application of the Clause to crimes of violence, or to seem to do so, may lead to an agent's name being revealed to a responsible Indian provincial minister in connection with some crime of a menial character of which he has given information. Then, owing to the fact that for the first time it is known that this man is a police spy, owing to the fact being known that he is a secret service agent of the Government, it will be easy for the responsible Indian minister to draw deductions. The mere fact that such a man was in contact with the police and was giving information to the police, even only on a most innocent form of conduct—and very often information will come into their possession covering small crimes—the mere fact that he is known to be on the list may be fatal to his life and to the entire system of police government which we are still endeavouring to preserve when so much has been cast away, and which is the main security against terroristic violence. Therefore, I hope the Government will, in a matter on which we all agree, take the necessary steps to make clear that the Governor of a Province will be expected to protect the secret agents of the State from the disclosure of their names to the responsible minister. I am certain that that should not depend on whether the crime in question is a crime of violence or actually levying war on the King Emperor, or whether it is only a smaller offence. It would only be prudent and would only give effect to what the Government have in mind, if the wording of this Clause were made so that no one could fall into the impression, which has been so general in the House this afternoon, that the words exercise a narrowing and limiting effect.

5.27 p.m.

I hope that those who read the right hon. Gentleman's speech, in which he indicated his belief that there was general agreement in all parties in regard to what he has said, will not deduce that he spoke for the Labour party. For myself, I repeat what I have often ventured to say, even before this Bill came before the House. I have the utmost repulsion and repugnance against the whole system of police spying. I am not going to argue whether the system is fair, but it is obvious that it plays a big part in connection with the Government of India. The point raised in this Clause is the measure of protection that should be given to informers. A system such as this is capable of the most wicked abuse, for it is possible, so long as you give this complete protection to the informer, for innocent people to be landed in the most dire penalties. Under a police system of this sort, once you guarantee to the informer that under no consideration will the source of his information be disclosed, the person denounced has his chance of adequate defence largely taken away from him. He does not know who accuses him. All he knows is that a statement has been made by someone against him.

I am not at all concerned to defend people who seek to overthrow the Government by violence. That is not my intention because on that we would all obviously be agreed; but I do say that when a person is accused of an offence he is entitled to be judged as innocent until he is proved guilty, and he cannot prove himself innocent or cannot prepare his defence adequately unless he is able to know the source of the information against him. If he has the source of the information, he may know something of the impulses that led to the information being deposited against him. The argument is not entirely one-sided. A person accused of a serious offence is surely entitled to access to all the information regarding who it is that accuses him. I leave that one one side, and come to the phraseology of the Amendment itself. It is framed in the most general terms. It is enough only to prove that someone is "preparing." What is the definition of preparation? It is a wide term to use. Then there is the word "attempting "and also the phrase "likely to hamper." I suppose it could be said that the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and his friends have been hampering the work of the Government in the last six months or so.