§ 45. Mr. DICKIE
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the departure of the Western Australian delegation next week, arrangements could be made for the discussion of the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Moreing) and other Members before the delegation leaves this country—That the Petition of the people of Western Australia (as presented to this House on the 17th day of December, 1934, and on that date ordered to lie upon the Table) and the Report of the Joint Select Committee thereon (House of Commons Paper No. 88) be considered by this House, with a view to taking a decision of the House as to whether it will receive or not receive the said Petition, or make such other order thereon as the House may deem fit.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
I regret that owing to the pressure of public business I cannot undertake to make special arrangements, as suggested by my hon. Friend, for the discussion of the Motion standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Moreing) and other Members. The subject matter was discussed on the Motion for the Adjournment on the 20th June.
§ Mr. DICKIE
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, having regard to the length of time that this delegation has been in this country, it is very unfortunate that the members should be compelled to return to Australia without having had their grievances discussed on the Floor of this House?
§ 47. Mr. DICKIE
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will issue as a White Paper all the correspondence between the Dominions Office and the Western Australian and Commonwealth of Australia authorities and other relevant papers in connection with the Western Australian Secession Petition?
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
I have examined again the correspondence which has passed between the Dominions Office and the Western Australian authorities on the subject of the Western Australian secession petition, and I do not consider that the correspondence, which for the most part relates to questions of procedure, is of sufficient general interest to justify me in arranging for its presentation to the House as a Command Paper. I shall, however, be happy to arrange for a copy of the principal correspondence to be placed in the Library of the House if the hon. Member so desires. I should perhaps add that there has been no correspondence on this subject between the Dominions Office and the Commonwealth of Australia authorities, except that the information given to the Western Australian authorities on various questions connected with Parliamentary procedure was also supplied to the Commonwealth authorities.
§ Mr. DICKIE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the members of this delegation has expressed the view that the opinion expressed by the Select Committee is in, direct contradiction to the opinion expressed by the Imperial authorities prior to the delegation leaving Western Australia, and, in view of that very important fact, will he reconsider his decision?
Surely the very fact that I am agreeing to place a copy of the principal correspondence in the Library of the House gives every Member an 1046 opportunity of seeing it, and there will be no occasion to incur the expenditure of publishing it as a Command Paper. I am aware of the statement of this member of the delegation, and it reflects not on the Government, but on the House of Commons, because in that statement it assumes that the Committee that examined the petition were nominees of the Government. They were not.
My hon. Friend surely misunderstands the situation. The first people concerned would be the Western Australian Government. The position of the Dominions Office in the matter has been often stated. It is not for us to intervene as between a State and the Commonwealth. They presented their petition, and we gave them every opportunity for that petition to be considered in the proper way. The Dominions Office was not and will not be drawn into a purely Australian controversy on this matter.