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India

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 13 May 1943

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Royal Air Force Personnel (Income Tax)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that members of the Royal Air Force serving in India have the Income Tax payable in that country on their Service pay deducted at source, irrespective of whether tax is paid at home, without filling in a form and without any married or family reliefs, upon the full daily rates of pay including allotments made to dependants at home; that this practice is creating hardship for the men concerned; and whether he will take steps to abolish it.

Under Indian Income Tax law no provision is made for rebates for earned income, for married persons, and for children. The result is that although the rate of Indian Income Tax is considerably lower than that of British tax it may happen that a senior N.C.O. or junior officer who has a family is liable to tax in India where he would escape liability in this country. United Kingdom tax is not deducted from pay issued in India, nor from allotments of pay or family allowance paid in the United Kingdom. In the case of officers, Indian tax is levied on gross pay, including family allowance, but in the case of other ranks the compulsory allotment is included in gross income for the purpose of determining the rate at which Indian tax is to be charged, but it is not taxed in India. The Government of India have recently had under consideration the adequacy of the pay of other ranks and of junior officers, with reference both to the cost of living in India and to the tax position, and certain ameliorative measures have already been introduced. I am, however, closely watching the situation.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, might I ask whether, in view of the fact that this was a specific complaint from members of the Force serving in India, he can make it clear whether they are liable to pay tax in both countries?

The Indian Income Tax is on an entirely different principle from ours, and is levied in India. If an officer has an income in this country, and is taxed on that as well as paying in India, that is a question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Orders, Validity (Federal Court Judgment)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any statement to make respecting the recent decision that Congress leaders and members had been illegally imprisoned since their arrest; whether legislative action has now legalised this irregularity; and what redress or compensation is being made to those who for several months have been illegally deprived of their liberty?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) on 4th May. In view of the Ordinance made by the Governor-General confirming the validity of orders previously made under Defence of India Rule 26, no question of redress or compensation arises.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is extremely grave to keep men in detention for nine months or more, and would it not be some compensation at least to release them for nine months as an equivalent?

Will the right hon. Gentleman take this matter into consideration again, in view of the case around about 1923 when natives of Ireland were similarly treated and all received compensation for illegal detention?

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the Government of India really have the power to make retrospectively an illegal imprisonment legal by legislative action?

Hindus And Moslems (Mr Jinnah's Speech)

3o.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any statement to make respecting the recent speech of Mr. Jinnah, in which he appealed for joint action between Hindus and Moslems in antagonism to British Government in India; and whether the internment of Mr. Jinnah along with Congress leaders is contemplated?

We are all, I think, agreed that a lasting solution of the Hindu-Moslem question is indispensable to India's constitutional advance. The reports of Mr. Jinnah's speech do not, however, indicate that in stressing the need for unity he outlined any specific solution likely to be acceptable to Hindu opinion. In any case he did not associate himself with the kind of subversive activity for which it became necessary to intern the Congress Party leaders. On the contrary, in the same speech, he is reported to have said in reference to them:

"If it had been our own Government I would have put these people in gaol in order to prevent a powerful organisation from letting loose an anti-war campaign."
The last part of the Question, therefore, does not arise.

Would it not at least be equitable, since Mr. Jinnah used deplorably strong language against this country, that the Congress. leaders should be put into the same position as 'Mr. Jinnah and given their liberty?

Is it not the fact that Mr. Jinnah, in contradistinction to the Congress leaders, has constantly and persistently supported the war effort of the Government of India, however much disagreement he may have with them on other questions?

Electoral Machinery

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can now make a statement with regard to the intentions of the Government in bringing up to date the electoral register to enable an increased number of the electors to exercise the franchise?

34.

asked the Home Secretary whether he has now come to a decision about electoral reform, particularly in regard to a scheme of redistribution of the large electorates?

I would refer to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State gave yesterday to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White).

Can my right hon. Friend say whether all local authorities are now placing men and women on the register that are entitled to be placed on the register?

In view of the assurance given on this matter some weeks ago, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any chance of the House having his statement before the Whitsuntide Recess?