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Government Service (Contracts)

Volume 439: debated on Monday 23 June 1947

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for India, what is the position, when the transfer of power takes place, of a person who joined the Indian Government service and had a contract with the British Indian Government, with the right of appeal to the Viceroy; and what provision is being made for their future.

As part of the process of the partition of India there will be a division of existing obligations, assets and liabilities and no doubt also of the existing staff of the Government of India. I have no reason to suppose that the new Governments will not observe the contracts of their predecessor. It is, however, intended, when the new authorities have been set up, to negotiate agreements with them in regard to matters arising out of the transfer of power and the position of persons of United Kingdom origin hitherto in the service of the existing Indian Government including the security of their pensions in respect of their past service will be for discussion in these negotiations.

Is it not a fact that the Under-Secretary of State has used the term "no doubt"? Is he aware that all these loyal people, who so devotedly served India for so many years, are now not at all certain what is to happen to them? They all feel that they are being left high and dry.

Careful study of my reply will, I think, reveal that their fears are groundless.

Can the Minister give an assurance that this matter will be dealt with in the new Government of India Bill?

I think we might wait until the new Bill is introduced. I think it will be found to cover the point.

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the Secretary of State is under a legal obligation, by the terms of the former Government of India Act?

No, Sir. The Secretary of State is not under any statutory obligation, except in regard to what are called the Secretary of State's Services. I think the hon. Gentleman who raised the matter had in mind those people who have contracts with the Government of India, and not the members of the Secretary of State's services.

As a matter of fact, there never was a right of appeal to the Viceroy in his discretion. Appeal lay to the Governor-General in Council.

Do the remarks of the right hon. and learned Gentleman apply to Indian civil servants as well as to the Army and Navy?

We must leave it to the Government of India and to the various Provincial Governments of India to do the right thing with their own nationals.

May we take it that the Government are aware of the anxiety of those who are employed in the un-covenanted services and by Provincial Governments? Although I am not pressing for an authoritative statement on this matter at the moment, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure the House that his Department has this matter constantly in mind?

Yes, Sir. As I have said, this is one of the matters which will have to be discussed when treaties or agreements are negotiated with the new Governments.

I hope I made it clear that I am talking about the uncovenanted services and those who are employed by the Provincial Governments. Does the answer cover that?

The members of the Secretary of State's Services have already been dealt with in the announcement recently made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The reply I have given today covers the other Government services.