Item 8 - Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

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MONT II/A/3/1/8

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Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

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  • 3 Aug. 1921 (Creation)

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Refers to A3/1/5. Is ready to see Jinnah at any time. There is nothing special in his demands regarding the Punjab. (1) There are two Indians of minor importance in the employ of the Punjab Government whose dismissal was asked for by the Congress Committee’s report, but it would be impossible to dismiss them without dismissing superior British officers, which is impossible. (2) Regrets have been expressed more than once for mistakes made, and he does not believe there is much in this point now. (3) Has stated publicly that humiliation on a racial basis cannot and must not happen, has affirmed the principle of racial equality, and has stated that he is considering what amendment of the law is necessary. (4) At a recent meeting of the Executive Council regarding the Committee on Repressive Legislation they discussed the disclosure of the Martial Law Manual to the members of the Committee. The general view opposed disclosure but left the matter to the discretion of Dr Sapru and Sir W[illiam] Vincent, if and when a demand was made. None has yet been made, and the Committee is nearing its conclusion. It is doubtful whether disclosure would allay discontent. A rumour that Reading intends to dissolve the Councils towards the end of the year and to announce a considerable advance in reforms has led to anxiety among moderates, and they are issuing a communiqué to deny it. Agrees that no-one can predict the pace at which reforms should occur, and will probably discuss the point at the next session of the Legislative Assembly, but points out that the reforms are only a few months old and have not been tested. Agrees with Montagu regarding Jinnah’s suggestions about the army. Will not express any views regarding reforms of Councils at present. Praises their work so far. Thinks it natural that they should talk of further powers, as they have to meet the propaganda of non-co-operationists who claim they have none at present. The results of the Press Act Committee and the Repressive Legislation Committee show that the Assembly has been able to obtain relief which the non-co-operationists could not secure.

(Typed.)

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