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Volume 416: debated on Monday 19 November 1945

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asked the Under secretary of State for India if, in view of the coming election, he will give an assurance that Nehru will not be re-arrested because of his speeches relating to the release of the Indian National Army men and officers.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. S.O. Davies) on I5th November.


asked the Under secretary of State for India whether, in view of the importance of securing an in formed public opinion in this country regarding the Indian elections, he will consult with the B.B.C. with a view to facilities being granted to Indian leaders to give broadcast talks to the British public; and arrange for a Parliamentary delegation. to visit India before or during the elections.

I fully share my hon. Friend's view of the importance of keeping the public in this country as fully informed as possible about the forthcoming elections in India. The most suitable methods of achieving this end are under examination.


asked the Under secretary of State for India whether, in view of the importance of securing the best possible atmosphere for the elections in India and of making them as free as possible, he will declare a policy of general amnesty for political prisoners and press the responsible authorities to expedite their examination and release; as far as possible lift the ban on political organisations; and lift from individuals released from prison any restrictions limiting freedom of political action.

In reply to the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on I5th October to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. P. Freeman) and the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin). Since that date the number of political detenus has diminished still further, and the process of examination and release is being carried on by the authorities in India as expeditiously as practicable. The removal of bans on political organisations has been carried as far as is considered to be possible at present, having due regard to the need for maintaining law and order.

The disqualifications contained in Section 69 (c) of the Government of India Act, I935, is being removed on application in all cases where the offence did not involve violence. I understand that the Central Government has no order in force restricting public speaking or other political activities of such individuals. I am making inquiries as to whether any Provincial Government has imposed any such restriction.


asked the Undersecretary of State for India if he is aware that the new electoral register in the Punjab will be published after the date for nominations in the forthcoming elections; and no person may be nominated unless he is on the existing electoral register; and many persons who were in detention or otherwise debarred from being on that register, and who will be qualified for inclusion in the new register, will thereby be disqualified from nomination; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy the situation.

I am making inquiries into the matter and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as I receive a reply from the authorities in India.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman responsible for those regulations, or are the Provincial Government?

In that case, what power has the hon. and learned Gentleman over the Provincial Government? Is it not solely in their power?

I do not think we have any power. What I have undertaken to do is merely to make inquiries.

I am sure arrangements can be made for a Question to be put on the Order Paper so that I can give a reply in the House.

Is not my hon. and learned Friend aware that Lord Wavell gave a promise that the new electoral list would be prepared in the course of the past year, and that the voting would be carried out on the basis of that list? Will my hon. and learned Friend see that Lord Wavell's promise is carried out in the Punjab?

Any matters coming under Schedule 6 of the.1935 Act are a matter for the House. Other matters that are within the discretion of the Provincial Government are the responsibility of the Provincial Government.