Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
So far as labour legislation is concerned the question of outstanding importance is that of the power which should be exercised by the central and provincial legislatures respectively. The arguments in favour of keeping legislation in the hands of a central legislature are strong. The chief argument is that without uniformity, at any rate in respect of the main principles, sound legislation is extremely difficult to secure. When the question was first raised in India more than fifty years, ago in connection with the first Factories Bill, the recognition of this point led to the rejection of the idea of a provincial Act. Since that date the economic and industrial unification of India has proceeded steadily, and the difficulties inherent in provincial labour codes are greater now than at any previous stage.
Recently, indeed, the world has awakened to the fact that lack of progress in one country constitutes an obstacle to progress in others, and the need of dealing with labour questions on a scale transcending national boundaries resulted in the formation of the International Labour Organisation. To divide India, at this stage, into a series of units which could only progress independently would be, a definitely retrograde step. If legislation were left to the provinces, there would be many occasions in which a province would have a difficult choice. It would either have to refuse to adopt a salutary reform or run the risk of placing its own industrialists at a disadvantage as against their rivals in another province, and possibly of encouraging industry to migrate outside the province. The difficulties in the way of introducing a shorter working week in industries in one province would be very serious if the same industries in an adjoining province were permitted to work for a longer week. Even if public opinion in every province desired some such reform, industrialists would insist on a guarantee that their rivals would accept the reform before binding themselves to it. Each province would thus tend to wait upon action elsewhere, and all would be at a disadvantage. In more than one connection we have stressed the advantage of co-operation and co ordination, and we feel that in respect of labour legislation, particularly, co-ordination is one of the valuable assets for progress in India. The position of India in respect of international labour relations has been urged as another ground for keeping labour legislation as a central subject. We do not think that India's, treaty obligations involve any insuperable obstacle to the constitutional changes which would result in transferring labour legislation to the provinces; but, it is certainly true that India's relations to the world of international labour make it desirable that she should preserve her unity in this matter.