HC Deb 21 July 1924 vol 176 cc858-61

asked the Prime Minister what arrangements have been come to with regard to the representation of the Dominions and India at the present Inter-Allied Conference; whether the High Commissioners are kept informed of the day-to-day work of the Conference and its Committees; whether the High Commissioners or the Colonial Office are responsible for keeping Dominion Prime Ministers informed of the developments of the Conference; and whether he proposes to publish the correspondence with the various Dominions on the subject of their representation at and commitment by the decisions of the Conference?

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

As regards the first part of the hon. Member's question. I would refer him to the statement which I made in this House on Friday, 18th July. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative. It is difficult to answer the third part of the question precisely at this stage, but the hon. Member may be assured that the arrangements made will ensure that the Dominion Prime Ministers will be kept fully informed. As regards the last part of the question, he will appreciate that it will be necessary to consult all the Dominion Prime Ministers concerned before the complete correspondence can be published. This matter will have further consideration. In the meantime the Canadian Government have, I understand, published the communications between His Majesty's Government and themselves on the matter.


Did the Canadian Government consult not only His Majesty's Government but the other Dominions before they published that part of the correspondence which was laid in the Parliament of Ottawa on Saturday?


I am not sure whether they consulted the other Dominions. They did consult us, and we gave permission. As to whether they consulted the others, I cannot say, but equally it would be necessary for us not only to consult Canada but the whole of the Dominions before we agreed to publication.


May I ask whether the document as laid in the Parliament of Ottawa is a complete document representing all the telegrams on this subject passing between the Canadian and British Governments?


So far as I am aware, yes. I have not seen what was laid, but, so far as the authority for laying them was concerned, no exception in any case was made by us.

Captain BENN

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to give the necessary consent so that this document may be laid on the Table?


We have no objection whatever, but the whole point arises whether, in the midst of a Conference taking place, it is desirable to raise what is a domestic matter. We are not afraid of anything, but we are anxious that no domestic difference, now happily settled, should be made the medium of discussion in the Conference.

77. Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can explain why the Prime Minister of Canada was unable to get any information on the subject of the Allied Conference from the Imperial Government and was dependent upon Press reports; and if anything will be done to prevent such misunderstandings with the Dominions?

79. Marquess of HARTINGTON

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now make a statement regarding the failure of the British Government to inform the Prime Minister of Canada of the arrangements in connection with the Inter-Allied Conference in London before the Leader of the Opposition in Canada had obtained the information from Press sources?


I dealt with the point raised in the replies to supplementary questions which I gave in the House on 18th July after my statement on Dominion representation at the Inter-Allied Conference. I would only add that very full communications have been passing for some weeks past between His Majesty's Government and the Dominion Governments as to the arrangements in connection with the Conference.

Marquess of HARTINGTON

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the delay of which the Canadian Prime Minister complains did take place, and, if so, why?


The very fact that I was able, within a few hours of the Prime Minister's statement in Canada, to assure the House that the matter was settled ought in itself to be the best answer, and no useful purpose would be served by raking it up again.

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