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India

Volume 408: debated on Thursday 8 March 1945

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Legislative Assembly (Government Defeats)

65.

asked the Secretary of State for India, how many times the Government has been defeated in the Legislative Assembly during the last six months, and on what issues.

I understand from Press reports that the Government of India have been defeated six times in the present budget session of the Legislative Assembly. The first occasion was a vote of censure relating to the grievances of Indians in South Africa; the second issue was that of the methods used for the sale of National Savings Certificates by Government agents in Bihar; the remaining four issues arose in connection with the railway budget.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say which he considers more adequately expresses the opinion of India—the Government of India, on the one hand, or the Legislature, on the other?

Political Situation

69.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the desirability of effecting an early solution of the Indian problem, he will consider, without prejudice to the Cripps proposals, taking the initiative in bringing the various interests together for the purpose of another discussion.

66.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the recent speech by Sir Zafrulla Khan to the Commonwealth Conference regard- ing another approach by His Majesty's Government to the Indian situation, he can make any statement on this matter.

I do not think there is need at this juncture to make any fresh statement on the Indian policy of His Majesty's Government, which has been made fully clear to the world in the Draft Declaration published on 29th March, 1942, and in subsequent pronouncements by His Majesty's Ministers. The fulfilment of that policy depends on a common measure of agreement between the principal parties which His Majesty's Government sincerely wish to see attained. The fact that a committee of Indians under the distinguished chairmanship of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru is at present studying the problem is welcome evidence that Indians appreciate the importance of the part they must themselves play in shaping the political future of their country.

In view of the conciliatory speeches made recently by Sir Zafrulla Khan and other moderate Indian leaders on this subject, which seems to indicate a new line of approach to a solution of this problem, and, as it is necessary that somebody must take the initiative, is it not desirable that His Majesty's Government should make a friendly gesture in the hope of effecting a rapprochement?

While attaching every importance to a speech made by any distinguished Indian, the fact remains that, at present, the leading parties have not yet come into sufficient touch to enable the corresponding gesture from His Majesty's Government to be of any real effect.

But, at a time when every effort is being made by the British Government and the Allied Governments to effect a solution of world problems is it not desirable that the Indian problem, at some stage, should be included?

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether this is not the time to make a démarche of the kind suggested in the Question, and whether he will take very serious note of the practical nature of this suggestion, which may be, at some time, the proper measure to be taken by the Government?

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it would be useful if he would renew his assurances on the efforts constantly being made in the Section 93 Provinces to bring about a resumption of constitutional government?

It is well known that, in all these Provinces, as soon as there is a willingness to resume constitutional government. Governors will respond to that willingness, as they have done in several Provinces.