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Minto-Morley Reforms 1909

The British Government devised an amendment in the Indian Councils Act 1861, and Indian Councils Act 1892 and the Government of India Act 1835. Lord Morley, the Secretary of State for India, announced in 1906 that the British government planned to increase the empowerment of the Indians in the Legislative Council. Along with Minto, the Conservative Governor General of India, he worked on the Indian Councils Act commonly known as Minto-Morley Reforms after the names of Lord Morley and Minto.

The main purpose of these reforms was to stabilize the British rule in India while granting some representation to the Indians in the legislation.

Lord Minto

These reforms are reckoned as a remarkable milestone on account of its features which are as follows:

  1. The number of the members of the Legislative Council was increased from 16 to 60.
  2. The number of the Provincial Legislatives was also increased. It was 50 for Madras, Bombay and Bengal while 30 for the other provinces.
  3. The representation of the Indians in the Central and the Provincial Legislative Councils was categorized into four namely ex-Officio Member (The Governor General and the members of the Executive Councils), Government Officials and the government officials nominated the Governor General, Members nominated the Governor General but nor government officials and the members elected by the people of India.
  4. Muslims were given the right of separate electorate.
  5. In the Center the majority was of official members while the provinces had the majority of non-official members.
  6. The Members of the Legislative Council were given the authority to have their opinion on budget, suggest amendments in it and vote on it. They could ask questions on the legislative affairs.
  7. The number of Executive Councils of Bombay and Madras was increased from two to four under the authority conferred upon the Secretary of the State for India.
  8. One Indian member could be nominated in the Executive Council by the Governor General.
  9. Two Indian members were to be nominated in the Council of the Secretary of the State of India.

The Minto-Morley Reforms allowed the Indians to elect their representatives in the legislatives for the first time in history. Prior to this, the representatives were only the appointed people having no say of the Indians and were generally from the selected and elite class. The right of discussion and asking the legislative questions admitted their position in the legislative councils but still there were certain “No-Go Areas” where the Indians were not allowed to voice out for example the foreign relations of the British government from Indian land, railway expenditures and debt and interest etc. The reforms provided the sound basis of Indian representation but the real authority was still vested in the hands of the British government. It also granted the right of separate electorate which, later on, paved the way to the creation of Pakistan as the Muslims were first time acknowledged by the British government as a separate entity.


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