British give date for Indian independence

LONDON, Feb. 20, 1947 (UP) -- Prime Minister Clement R. Attlee told the House of Commons today that the government intends to hand India over to the Indians not later than June, 1948.

Attlee told the House that Viceroy Viscount Wavell has resigned and that Lord Louis Mountbatten, war-time chief of the Southeast Asia Command, has been named to succeed him.


It will be Mountbatten's task, said Attlee, to accomplish the transfer of India to the Indians and achieve the establishment of an Indian constitutional regime.

The present state of affairs in India, Attlee said, is fraught with danger and cannot be allowed to be prolonged indefinitely.

"His majesty's government," he said, "wish to make it clear that it is their definite intention to take the necessary steps to effect the transference of power into responsible Indian hands by a date not later than June, 1948."

Attlee said that the British government "agreed to recommend to Parliament a constitution worked out in accordance with the cabinet mission's proposals by a fully representative constituent assembly.

"If it should appear that such a constitution will not have been reached by such an assembly before June, 1948, the government would have to consider to whom the powers of the central government in British India should be handed over on the due date."


Attlee revealed that Britain did not propose automatically to yield its paramount powers in the Indian princely states to the proposed new Indian government. The Indian principalities comprise about one fifth of India and are ruled directly by the Indian princes, although Britain has "paramount power" over all of them.

"It was not intended to bring paramountcy to a conclusion earlier than the date of the final transfer of power," he said, "but it was contemplated that in the intervening period the relations of the crown with the individual states might be adjusted by agreement."

"The British government will negotiate agreement on issues arising out of the transfer with representatives of those to whom they propose to transfer power," Attlee said. "It is important that the efficiency of civil administration be maintained and the defense of India provided for."

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