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Volume 437: debated on Monday 5 May 1947

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Secretary Of State's Services (Leave Pay)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is now in a position to give a final decision as to pay due to members of the Indian Civil Service, Indian police and others, for periods of leave accumulated during the war, particulars of which have been sent to him.

I would refer the hon. Member to paragraph 6 of the statement made by the Prime Minister on 30th April.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that those British subjects who have served India so faithfully and so long will not have their position made worse by the surrender of India by the Socialist Government?

I think that if the hon. Gentleman cares to read very carefully the statement that the Prime Minister made on 30th April he will realise that that is the position.

But is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, since then, I have had a letter which is not at all satisfactory?

Andaman Islands (Aborigines)


asked the UnderSecretary of State for India whether any estimates have been made at any time of the numbers of the aboriginal tribes of the Andaman Islands such as the Jarawas, Onges and Sentineles, in view of the fact that it is known that there are 30 Chinese and 35 Europeans; and what steps he will take to obtain such estimates if they are not available.

According to the Administration Report for the year ending March, 1940, there were then 63 Andaman aborigines living on North Andaman. There were also some Onges living on Little Andaman and Rutland Islands, and two parties of Jarawas living on South and Middle Andaman. The numbers of these two communities were not, however, reported. I have no information about the Sentineles or as to the number of these communities subsequent to the Japanese occupation, but I am asking the Government of India for the latest detailed information available. I should like this answer to be taken as correcting the statement made in reply to a supplementary by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) on 10th March, that there are 5,000 aboriginals in these Islands.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, during the time the Andaman Islands were used as a penal settlement, they were almost entirely denuded of their aboriginal inhabitants, whereas those of the Nicobar Islands, a neighbouring group, have retained their identity? Is it too late to take active steps to preserve the aboriginal tribes, who have been there a long time?

That is an entirely different question. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put it down.

Is it proposed to have any sort of plebiscite, to see if those people want to be handed over to India?

British Interests


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what arrangements are being made to safeguard British trading and business interests in India after June, 1948.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether this question will be incorporated in a treaty, and if so, by whom it will be made, by one authority or a series of authorities?

No, Sir, I am not able to go beyond the terms of the statement I have just made.

Will the Under-Secretary of State see that no action is taken aimed directly at firms of this type?

I think the hon. Gentleman may take it that we shall seek to take the steps required to protect the legitimate interests of the trading community.

Will the different schemes of reconstruction now in progress in the Indian States receive the attention of His Majesty's Administration?

Disturbances, Bengal (Use Of British Troops)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India how many British troops were involved in the recent communal disturbances in Bengal; and what is now the position there.

There has been no occasion to employ British troops in aid of the civil power during the past month, except in Calcutta. The number so employed in Calcutta at the beginning of this month was 750. The present position in Calcutta is that, although sporadic acts of violence are still occurring, the situation has been kept in control, and there has been hardly any rioting. Curfew orders have been freely employed and found effective. In Howrah and Dacca considerable tension continues and some incidents have occurred. Elsewhere in the Province there have been no important communal incidents, though general mistrust and tension between the communities prevails in most parts, despite appeals for unity and peace from the leaders of all parties.

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that the root cause of all this discontent and tension is Communist propaganda, and will he bear that in mind?

I have not that information, but my impression is that they have suffered no casualties.

Gurkhas (Future)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is now in a position to report on the negotiations regarding the future of the Gurkha Brigade and of recruitment and use of Gurkhas in the armed forces of the Crown.

Discussions have been held in Delhi between representatives of His Majesty's Government and the Government of India. A visit to Katmondu is now being paid in this connection by representatives of His Majesty's Government and the Government of India. I am not in a position to make any further statement at present.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman particularly bear in mind that the Gurkha race owes its allegiance and friendship to the British Crown, and not to the Indian Government, and that the negotiations should, therefore, take place between those two authorities, and not the Indian Government?

I think it would be better to make no comment at the moment until we see the course of those discussions.

Indian Army (Pensions)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what steps are being taken to bring the pension terms for officers and other ranks of corps of the Indian Army not governed by the Royal Warrant into line with the recent improvements granted to other corps which are so governed.

The Government of India with whom the decision rests, have under urgent consideration the question of applying the new British Pension Code to those officers of the Indian Army to whom it has not already been applied, and I hope to be able to make an announcement in the near future. The new code has already been applied to all British other ranks.

Could the Minister say whether this new pay code will be applied to the Royal Indian Navy?

That question is under consideration by the Government of India at the present time.

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that a matter lies with the Indian Government, does he by that indicate that His Majesty's Government take no responsibility in the matter supposing that the decision proves to be what they would regard as inequitable?