HC Deb 14 March 1917 vol 91 c1083

had given notice of the following Question: To ask the Prime Minister whether there is any constitutional rule or usage by which the Legislatures of the United Kingdom and the self-governing Dominions are debarred from discussing and expressing opinion upon matters mainly or primarily concerning the domestic affairs of some other self-governing State within the Empire; and, if not, whether he will afford an early opportunity for the House to discuss the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for St. Augustine's on the subject of compulsory military service in Australia?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question will he answer a question of which I have given him private notice: Whether he is aware that an exact precedent against the course suggested by the hon. Member was the opposition of Mr. Pitt, the Prime Minister, when Ireland had a Parliament of her own, to a Motion for an Address to the Crown on the state of Ireland by the British Parliament on the ground that such intervention in the internal affairs of a self-governing country would be highly unconstitutional with respect to Ireland and an unwarrantable interference with the legislative and executive Government of that country?


I do not think that the precedent is exact. Mr. Pitt referred to the action of the House of Commons. My hon. Friend's question refers to the action of a Conference representing a large number of self-governing countries, but it does not affect the answer which I intend to give:

I think we can safely rely upon the good sense of members of the Conference in the selection of subjects for discussion.


May I point out to my hon. Friend that he has missed the whole purport of my question? There is no reference to a Conference.

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