Panesar, Amerdeep, Stoddart, Amy, Turner, James, Ward, Paul and Wells, Sarah (2017) J.H. Whitley and the Royal Commission on Labour in India 1929–31. In: Liberal Reform and Industrial Relations : J.H. Whitley (1866–1935), Halifax Radical and Speaker of the House of Commons. Routledge Studies in Modern British History . Routledge, London, pp. 129-142. ISBN 9781138293984

J.H. Whitley, recently retired as Speaker of the House of Commons, was appointed to chair the Royal Commission on Labour in India in 1929. Whitley’s founding of the joint industrial councils was well known and he had some interest in imperial matters, as was unavoidable for British politicians in the early twentieth century. Whitley was a member of the Empire Parliamentary Association and as Speaker had welcomed parliamentarians from across the dominions and Empire to the Palace of Westminster. In this chapter, we explore Whitley’s relationship to India, and what the Royal Commission did in India including what its recommendations were. We argue that the Royal Commission was initiated in context of the rise of trade unionism, industrial unrest and especially the threat to Empire as Britain struggled to maintain its rule, while it also sought seriously to understand and improve conditions for the labouring poor in India.
The research for this chapter and its accompanying exhibition at the Whitley conference in September 2016 has been an exercise in the co-production of historical research, in which we worked together as a group of university students and staff to undertake the primary and secondary research, with co-interpretation and co-writing drawing together from discussions in a series of workshops.

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