HC Deb 05 February 1942 vol 377 cc1275-6
44. Mr. Mander

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider the advisability, in connection with any Dominion representation in the British Cabinet, of arranging that these shall be on a reciprocal basis, giving the British High Commissioner or some Minister appointed for the purpose access to Dominion Cabinets?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

I do not at present see any need for such an approach as the hon. Member suggests in his Question.

Mr. Mander

Does the Prime Minister not think that there will be a certain grievance if the Dominions have access to our Cabinet and we have none to theirs? While we might not wish to make use of it, would it not be a reasonable thing to ask as part of the arrangement?

Sir H. Morris-Jones

Can the Prime Minister indicate when he will be in a position to make a statement to the House on the matter of the Imperial War Cabinet?

The Prime Minister

There is another Question on that subject.

45. Sir T. Moore

asked the Prime Minister when the new Imperial War Cabinet or Directorate will begin to function; and whether it has yet been decided who shall be its members?

The Prime Minister

The proposals which I referred to in my statement the other day for associating Dominion representatives with the War Cabinet do not involve any change in the United Kingdom membership of the War Cabinet. The proposal of the Australian Government was that they should have a representative at the War Cabinet who should have the right to be heard in the formulation and direction of policy. I replied that we were in agreement with this proposal, and for a good many months past Sir Earle Page has been exercising these rights. We have informed the Governments of Canada, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa that the same facilities are available for them if they wish to take advantage of them. We have as yet had no formal reply from New Zealand. I understand that Canada and South Africa are satisfied with the existing arrangements for consultation—indeed they expressed themselves strongly an this point—and do not at present wish to attach special representatives to the War Cabinet here.

Sir T. Moore

Could the Prime Minister say, in the case of those representatives who do wish to attend our War Cabinet, whether they will have a say in the decisions or whether they will merely be there to give advice?

The Prime Minister

Giving advice is having a say in the decision. It is not the custom to decide these matters by counting heads.

Mr. Granville

Does not the Prime Minister's answer mean that there will be no real change at all in the existing practice?

The Prime Minister

So far as I gather, the request of the Australian Government makes no change in what has actually been going on here since Sir Earle Page arrived, and been going on with very satisfactory results.