HC Deb 16 May 1918 vol 106 cc542-4
Colonel Sir HAMAR GREENWOOD (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the statement in the Canadian Press that the Colonial Office is responsible for the creation of the Order of the British Empire, and that the Colonial Secretary has repeatedly pressed the Prime Minister of Canada to submit lists of recommendations, and if he can give the House any information on this subject?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Long)

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for giving me an opportunity of making a statement on this matter, as to which considerable misapprehension seems to exist. The Colonial Office was not consulted on the question of creating the Order of the British Empire, as this arose out of considerations which had no special reference to the Dominions or Colonies. But when it was decided to make use of this Order for the purpose of recognising notable war service rendered by civilians of both sexes in this country, I claimed that services of no less merit had been rendered in the Dominions and that it should be made possible for their Prime Ministers, if they thought fit, to submit names for similar recognition on precisely the same scale as that adopted here. My claim was readily allowed, and, after ascertaining the scale proposed for this country, I communicated to the various Governors-General and the Governor of Newfoundland the number of honours in each of the five classes of the Order for which it would be open to their Prime Ministers to make recommendations. I think I made it perfectly clear that the numbers given represented merely an upward limit, and that within those numbers it was—as, of course, it must have been—entirely a matter for the Prime Minister's discretion to put forward as many or as few names as he chose, or, indeed, to put forward none at all if he so decided.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, before making these representations, he inquired of the representatives of the Overseas Dominions in this country whether the countries they represented were desirous of an extension of these shoddy ornaments?


The hon. Member's suggestion is one which it would be most improper for any Minister to act upon. I make my communications to the Governments concerned.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the grant of these honours causes much more dissatisfaction to people who do not get them than to people who get them?