14 September 1948
The Marquess of Salisbury Before I come to that, however, there is one matter which I cannot allow to pass without comment, and that is the recent deplorable happenings in Hyderabad. Your Lordships will have read the news of the invasion of that State with a sense of severe shock. The Nizam is an old and faithful friend of this country. He has stood by us in fair weather and foul. Until the passage of the Indian Independence Act last year, he was our ally, and he would be our ally now if we had not unilaterally abrogated our Treaty of Alliance with him. Now we observe with grief his territories invaded by a neighbouring State. When the new Dominion of India was set up, we were assured that it would be actuated by a spirit of high idealism and that it would be inspired by the creed of non-violence of which Mr. Gandhi was a life-long apostle. Now we see this State, within a few months, conducting an armed invasion upon the territories of a neighbouring peaceful ruler. That is—and I am sure we shall all agree about this—a deplorable business.
What I want to ask is: What are His Majesty’s Government doing about it? Have they protested to the Indian Government? Have they supported the appeal of the Nizam to the United Nations? They cannot absolve themselves from all responsibility—we none of us can—for this situation. In the debate on the Second Reading of the Indian Independence Bill on July 16 last year, the Secretary of State for India, Lord Listowel, referring in particular to the Indian States, said in your Lordships’ House: They will be entirely free to choose whether to associate with one or other of the Dominion Governments or to stand alone. It was in the light of that assurance that the Parliament of this country, and we in this House, passed that measure. Can anyone say that the Nizam is at present being given a free choice? It seems to me that the good name of the Government and, what is more, the good name of this country, is involved in the present happenings. I would like from the Government, if they can give it, an assurance—no more than that—that at any rate they will support any appeal that may be made by the Nizam to the United Nations for a full and impartial inquiry. I hope the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will be able to give us that assurance in his reply.
Viscount Addison I think it will be right before I come to the main part of the noble Marquess’s speech if I deal with two very important matters upon which he asked for some statement. First, I would refer to the very unfortunate state of affairs in Hyderabad. I will not trouble your Lordships with an account of the history of the dispute between India and Hyderabad. That was dealt with, as your Lordships are aware, by the Prime Minister himself, a few weeks ago, but I would like to say how much His Majesty’s Government deplore the situation that has arisen in Hyderabad. We have consistently urged moderation on all parties, and as my right honourable friend, the Prime Minister, said in the speech to which I have referred: We are hoping for a settlement of this matter, and, of course, we have consistently urged on all parties in India—and that does not apply only to Hyderabad, it applies to other parts of India too—that on neither side should there be pressure. The House will remember that there is or was a standstill agreement under which the Nizam handed over the external relations of his State to the Government of India. This being so, during the duration of that agreement we could not act on the suggestions that were made to us that we ourselves should intervene. In any case, intervention by us was not likely to be successful unless it was acceptable to both parties. But we offered mediation if both parties were agreeable to our mediating. The situation has been covered by that standstill agreement under which the Government of India is responsible for the external relations of the State of Hyderabad. A week or two ago Hyderabad referred this matter to the Security Council and has since requested that it should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. It will, however, of course he for the Council themselves to determine what they shall do. I should like, however, emphatically to repudiate the suggestion, which has been made by some, that His Majesty’s Government have taken any steps whatever to prevent Hyderabad’s appeal going to the United Nations. We have not done so. I find it difficult to say more except to explain that the President of the Security Council has already summoned the Council to meet to consider the message from the Government of Hyderabad, and the Secretary-General has circulated it to the members. As to what action will be taken when the Security Council meet, I am afraid that I can go no further at this moment than to say that the matter will be dealt with in accordance with the usual principles and practices. I am sure we should all welcome a full examination and settlement of this difficulty, if the Security Council can settle it.
The Marquess of Salisbury I am most grateful for the full account which the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has given us of this matter. Of course, he well realises what great anxiety exists on this question. I understand that the special position created by the standstill agreement made it difficult, in the view of His Majesty’s Government, for them to take action in a mediatory capacity.
But we are members of the Security Council. I do not know whether, when this matter is considered, it will go to a vote or not; but it may. All I asked was that if the Nizam requested a full and impartial inquiry, as I understand was the case, the Government should support his request. There could be no question of His Majesty’s Government taking one side or the other, if indeed they felt embarrassed about that. They would merely be fulfilling what I believe to be the proper function of a member of the Council, to see that the matter is properly examined. I am sorry the noble Viscount the Leader of the House cannot give me an assurance on this point, but I hope he will bring the matter again very urgently before his colleagues. In the circumstances, the least we can do is to use what influence we have, as members of the Council, to obtain a full and impartial inquiry.
Viscount Addison I welcome the intervention of the noble Marquess. I have not the precise form of the application before me, and at the moment I am afraid I cannot go further than I have done, but I am sure that we are just as anxious as the noble Marquess that the matter should be fully investigated and dealt with. I hope that a settlement will be achieved, as I believe it can be. Further than that I cannot go at the present time.
17 September 1948
This day, the story is just tripe.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd with regard to the situation in Hyderabad, I think that it is right to tell hon. Members who have been in the House for some time, and who perhaps have not had an opportunity of seeing the tape machine recently, that there is a report from New Delhi that the Hyderabad Prime Minister has announced today that he is ordering a cease-fire from 5 p.m. this afternoon, according to a report on the Hyderabad radio, and that the Nizam has accepted the resignation of his cabinet. That fact, if it is a fact, does not alter the gravamen of what I have to say.
I wish to record my amazement and disgust at the way in which the House has been treated this week by the Government on that question. I raised the matter on 30th July on the Debate on the Adjournment. The circumstances then, as the House will remember, were of an almost total ruthless blockade by the larger State of the smaller State. It was a difficult and delicate situation, and one had some qualms about raising it. Many peoples feared that the next step after that blockade would be war. In fact, our fears have been shown to be justified. It seemed to me then that the only chance of averting war in Hyderabad was for the Government on 30th July to have made a clear statement of their position in the matter and of the way in which they would have regarded the outbreak of hostilities. I agree with what the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) has said, that this Government and particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer have a peculiar influence with the Government of the Dominion of India. It would be very strange if that were not so. If it had not been for the efforts of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think it would have been doubtful whether Pandit Nehru would be in a position to frame acts of aggression against anyone. All that was contributed to the House by the Prime Minister on 30th July was personal abuse of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), a defence at all points of the India Government vis-à-vis the Nizam’s Government, and the tepid expression that he hoped that there would be no pressure on either side. That was a ridiculous statement to make when considering a small State blockaded by a large State, and the idea that the Nizam’s Government would commit an act of aggression or bring pressure to bear against India is much the same as the idea of Abyssinia having committed acts of aggression against Italy, or Holland and Belgium against Hitler’s Germany. I believe that the Government’s negative attitude on that occasion was an incitement to the Government of India to proceed; and just as the blood of many hundreds of thousands of men, women and children killed in the communal disorders lies on the hands of Members of this Government to a large extent owing to their arrangements for the transfer of power, so, I believe, the blood which has been shed in these recent hostilities also to some extent rests on the hands of Members of the Government, because I believe that they could, by a definite and resolute statement, have averted the hostilities which have taken place. [Interruption.] Whether I am agreed with or not, I do not greatly care, but I make that remark in all sincerity because I believe it to be true. What are the facts, which I do not think can be disputed in any quarter of the House? There has been an armed invasion of the State of Hyderabad. We read in the newspapers of the advance of columns of tanks, guns and armoured cars, and we read today of the bombing and bitter fighting taking place there; and now it appears that there is to be unconditional surrender. What arises out of those facts? First of all, there is the point as to the merits. I have never expressed any opinion on the merits of the matters in dispute between the two Governments, and I do not think that many hon. Members on this side of the House have done so. Whatever the merits of the matters originally in dispute, our point is that in no circumstances was either party entitled to have recourse to war. The second matter is the status of Hyderabad. Again, I suggest that under the present circumstances of warfare status in fact is irrelevant. Even if it is relevant, we have the Prime Minister’s statement of 30th July in which he said that he agreed that Hyderabad is an independent State. He went on to say that that independence was qualified by the Standstill Agreement. I think that he was hardly frank in not revealing to the House that Article 4 of the Standstill Agreement itself provided that “any dispute arising out of this Agreement or agreements or arrangements hereby continued shall be referred to the arbitration of two arbitrators, one appointed by each of the parties, and an umpire appointed by those arbitrators.” Even if Hyderabad’s relations with India were governed by the Standstill Agreement, there was every possible provision in that Agreement for the reference of disputes under it to arbitrators and an umpire. In either case, in no circumstances was either party entitled to have recourse to war. In all quarters of the House we stand for the rule of law in international affairs. We fought two wars for the principle that disputes between nations should not be settled by the method of war. During the past week we have had from the Government a statement by the Foreign Secretary that he regrets the warlike spirit being shown. It is not a question of a warlike spirit being shown, but a question of actual hostilities, and definite acts of war or aggression, or whatever one might like to call it. The right hon. Gentleman took refuge behind the fact that the matter had been referred to the Security Council, and some of us are not greatly surprised to find that the Security Council have now adjourned for four days. In other words, they adjourned to such a time when the resistance of Hyderabad would in all probability have ceased. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), in a significant interjection, implied that there was something to be said for a quick, vigorous, armed solution of a dispute between two parties of this sort. It is also very significant that not one single Member, so far as I am aware, on the benches opposite has raised a voice of protest against this recourse to war. The hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) spoke not long ago on this matter and he said that no one should take sides. I should have thought it was not a question of taking sides on an issue as to whether disputes shall be solved by war or not. I should have thought all Members of this House would have been on one side with regard to that matter. I believe myself that all decent people will utterly condemn the Government for its supine, spineless indifference to this breach of international morality. Their conduct has been such that they have been guilty of committing, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said on 30th July: an act of shame with which their names would be burdened for generations which otherwise might not have paid attention to them.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1948; Vol. 454 c. 1737.]
Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire) There is something which rather appeals to me in the note that has been struck by the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). I understand he objects to war in India between India and Hyderabad. I do not know whether he extends this hatred of, and opposition to, war to any other parts of the world.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd My objection is to aggressive warfare. In my view the only circumstances in which warfare can be supported is if it is in defence of one’s own nation or of another nation which has been attacked by an aggressor State.
Mr. Emrys Hughes Now the position is cleared up. The hon. and learned Member does not believe in aggressive war in India and he objects to the action taken against Hyderabad, but he is prepared to support the kind of war which leads to the dropping of atomic bombs. So far as Hyderabad is concerned, in one of the papers this week there was a very good cartoon by Low which sums up the whole situation. There was a picture of Nehru looking at troops being taken over the frontier of Hyderabad and behind him stood Gandhi, who was saying, “Not that way, my son.” I endorse that not only in Hyderabad, but everywhere. When we get this deep-rooted opposition to war we shall begin to see the way out of the complexities of our international problems.
Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth) Before the right hon. Gentleman goes on, may I ask whether we are not going to hear something about Hyderabad? Has not the right hon. Gentleman heard that it has capitulated, and that this has happened within the British Empire?
Colonel Gomme-Duncan What will be the state of Hyderabad next week?
Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite (Holderness) Guilty men.