BRITISH INFORMATION SERVICES
AN AGENCY OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT
OF THE DAY
Speeches Made During
of Dominion Prime Ministers
09.9 5 London, May, 1944
t fU j. -[HER WITH SOME RECENT SPEECHES ON THE
BRITISH EMPIRE AND COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS
Vol. II, No. 6-Supplement
NEW YORK 2(1 .
WASHINGTON, D.C. S
SAN FRANCISCO I I
30 ROCKEFELLER PLAZA .
1336 NEW YORK AVENUE, N.W.
. 360 NORTH MICHIGAN AVENUE
260 CALIFORNIA STREET
1. Speech by Field Marshal Jan Smuts, November 25, 1943.
2. Speech by Lord Halifax, January 24, 1944.
3. Statement by Mr. Mackenzie King, January 31, 1944.
4. Speeches made in the House of Commons, London, in the
Debate on Commonwealth Unity, April 20 and 21, 1944.
(a) Mr. Shinwell, (b) Sir Percy Harris, (c) Mr. Churchill.
5. Speeches at the opening meeting of the Commonwealth Con-
ference, London, May 1, 1944.
6. Broadcast by Mr.' Curtin, May 7, 1944.
7. Address by Mr. Mackenzie King, May 11, 1944.
8. Speeches made at the closing meeting of the Commonwealth
Conference, May 16, 1944.
9. Text of Declaration signed by the Dominion Prime Min-
isters after the close of the Commonwealth Conference,
May 18, 1944.
Appendix A. Text of Agreement between His Majesty's
Government in the Commonwealth of Australia and His
Majesty's Government in New Zealand, January 21, 1944.
Appendix B. Text of the Statute of Westminster.
i i li m
This supplement to British Speeches of the
Day has been compiled in answer to the many
requests received by British Information Services
for a record of the Conference of Dominion Prime
Ministers held in London in May 1944 and
for various other speeches on Commonwealth
subjects delivered during the past few months.
It is not a complete record of such speeches,
but contains those most in demand.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
1. A speech made by Field Marshal Jan Smuts,
Prime Minister of South Africa, at a private
meeting of the United Kingdom branch of
the Empire Parliamentary Association in
the Houses of Parliament, London, on
November 25, 1943.
I intend to have a general informal talk with you this afternoon. I have no
set opinions; I have no dogmatic beliefs to place before you. I am going to put
before you certain lines of thought which are running through my own mind.
I think the times in which we live do not really permit of very rigid, fixed opin-
ions, or of any dogmatic outlook on life or on the problems before us. We are
facing today probably the most perplexing, complicated human situation that has
confronted the world for many generations, and anybody who thinks he has a
panacea at his command to deal with these problems must either be subhuman or
superhuman. I simply want to suggest certain lines of thought, and you must not
hold me responsible for them hereafter.
There are two dangers that face us in a situation such as ours today. One
is the danger of over-simplification in a world where the problems are so complex
we may feel tempted to over-simplify and thus falsify the real character of the
problems before us and miss the real solutions. The other danger is what I may
call the danger of following slogans or catchwords and so missing the real inward-
ness of the problems before us.
Let us look at these two dangers, which are really the same though I wish to
keep them separate for the moment. Let me refer briefly to the first danger of
over-simplification. Where you are faced with a situation and problems such as
we are faced with, you dare not over-simplify. In such circumstances, you can
only proceed towards a solution step by step in the old empirical British way, for
if you begin to theorize and rationalize and simplify you are lost.
I think particularly of several occasions when we have been confronted with
such a situation. Take our situation at the time of the last peace, 25 years ago.
We had before us very grave problems but we proceeded to solve them in a few
months. The Peace Conference met in January, 1919, and it dissolved in May.
Within that period, by a process of side-tracking real issues and over-simplifying
others, we produced the peace treaty, and I am sure if we were to follow the same
procedure in the situation before us today in the world-or the situation which
will be before us at the end of this war-we shall move to even greater disasters
than we have seen in the past.
When I look at the sort of problems that we shall have to deal with at the
end of this war, the problems of the new Europe and the world, I doubt whether
any peace conference will be able to settle those questions in a reasonable time
unless it proceeds by the process of over-simplification and falsification. I am,
myself, doubtful whether we shall ever come to a peace conference at all at the
end of this war.
It may be that we shall be faced with questions so vast, so complicated, so
difficult and intractable, that in the end we shall have to be satisfied with making
a pretty comprehensive armistice dealing with the general military question of
ending the war, and leaving the rest of the problems to a long series of conferences
-to a long process of working out solutions-without coming to any general
peace conference at all.
That is one sort of situation that I consider probable; that we may never
come to a peace conference at all and that we may have to be satisfied with a
British Speeches of the Day
comprehensive armistice on a basis of unconditional surrender-an armistice
which will open the door to a long series of investigations and researches which
may take a long number of years before finality is reached.
I am also thinking, when I talk of over-simplification, of the situation which
exists in our own British Empire. I do not think that either today or in the near
future you could have any more complicated situation than that in our own group,
quite apart from the general world situation. Take one particular problem, the
problem of race and color, which is a root problem in our Empire. There are,
no doubt, people who have a patent solution for that sort of problem. They have
a general formula; they have a simple, standard procedure for its solution.
But it will not be the right one. To my mind, we have there in the Empire
a problem which is going to test our wisdom, our farsightedness, our statesmanship
and our humanity probably for generations before any solution can ever be
reached. You can have no simple, standardized solution; you can have no simple
straightforward approach to a problem such as the vast diversity of race and color,
culture and levels of civilization existing in our Empire. That is the sort of
problem with which we have dealt in the past and which will face us even more
so in the future. It calls for continuous experiment, for variety of treatment and
for very prolonged practical experience before any satisfactory solution can be
I mention this because I know it is one of the questions on which people are
thinking deeply, and with which they are very much concerned nowadays. Many
well-meaning people think you can, by short cuts, arrive at a solution, but you
will not. Simplification will not help you; simplification will mean falsification of
the real difficulty. It is only by a long process of experience and patient experiment
that you can deal with situations such as these.
Take my own continent, with its problems of color and race. In West Africa,
in East Africa, in South Africa, everywhere you have great differences of culture
and conditions generally; and in all these cases you can only proceed empirically,
making experiments, trying to follow lines that suggest themselves as practicable
and wise in the particular circumstances, and avoiding general preconceived, stand-
Again, take the other danger I have referred to: the danger of following
slogans and catchwords. Today we hear a great deal of "democracy." We are
fighting the battle of democracy, we are fighting for freedom, of course we are.
But these words become cliches, they become catchwords and vague slogans which
in the end do not lead you very far. Our opponents have another set of formulas.
They fight for the leadership principle, the Fiihrer principle. With them the
objective has also become a catchword, a cliche.
It must be quite clear to anybody who thinks of the real problems that face
us that you will only get to practical solutions, in the end, if you have a good
mixture of both democracy and freedom on the one hand and of leadership on
the other. It is no use simplifying your problem and using one simple formula
and thinking that you will reach the solution in that way. Here in this country
you are a great democracy, perhaps the most outstanding democracy of history.
But here, too, we have learned what leadership means in a great emergency. With-
out leadership, freedom by itself will not help you. Freedom, like patriotism, is
I mention this simply as a case where you cannot blindly follow one general
trend of thought alone. The world is much too complex, and the problems to
be solved are much more complex too. In the difficulties before us we shall want
both leadership and democracy. We shall want not only freedom, but also dis-
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
cipline. Discipline is just as essential. We shall have to bear that in mind in the
days before us.
I mention another case of one-sided simplification and of following one trend
of thought. I remember before the last war, and during the last war, we were
very much concerned with the danger of what was called "the balance of power."
We wanted to get away from it because it was the old system in Europe that had
led to wars before. We were determined to avoid the balance of power and so
went in for another formula. We wanted a universal, allin system of security, a
system of universality and of idealism, and we followed it in the League of
Nations. We recognized equality, we brought all the nations together, and in the
end there was a very large number of them. In that way we thought we would
avoid the problem of the balance of power. But we fell into the opposite danger.
This war has taught us not only that idealism is not enough and that universality
is not the solution for our security problem, but it has also taught us that we
cannot get away from the problem of power.
That is where this greatest war in history had its origin. We have found that
all our idealism, all our high aspirations for a better world and a better human
society, stand no ghost of a chance unless we reckon with this fundamental factor
and keep power well in our minds when we search for the solution of the problem
of security. The question of power remains fundamental and it is, I think, the
great lesson of this war. Peace not backed by power remains a dream.
Therefore, looking at the situation that faces us in the near future, I would say
that in arranging for a new world organization for security-as we shall have to
do-we shall have to provide not only for freedom and democracy, which are es-
sential, but we shall also have to provide for leadership and for power. If we
leave the future security of the world merely to loose arrangements and to aspira-
tions for a peaceful world, we shall be lost.
We shall have to attend to the lesson we have learned, and see to it that in
the new organization to preserve peace for the future we give a proper place
to leadership and to power. To my mind, that can be done much more effectively
than in the Covenant of the League of Nations by giving a proper place to the
three great Powers that are now at the head of our United Nations.
Great Britain, the United States and Russia now form the trinity at the head
of the United Nations, fighting the cause of humanity. And as it is in war, so
will it have to be in peace. We shall have to see to it that in the new international
organization the leadership remains in the hands of this great trinity of Powers.
These three Powers must retain the leadership in war and in peace and be respon-
sible, in the first instance, for the maintenance of security and for the preservation
of world peace; and this primary responsibility will not be affected by any duties
resting on the rest of the United Nations.
I think it was largely because in the League of Nations, as constituted after
the last war, we did not recognize the importance of leadership and power, that
everything went wrong in the end. What was everybody's business' in the end
proved to be nobody's business. Each one looked to the other to take the lead
and the aggressors got away with it. Leadership had not been firmly settled by
the constitution of that organization, and it all went to pieces in the general hesita-
tion and confusion, and that is why we are fighting this war now.
To my mind, we shall have to see to it that in the new organization there is
leadership and there is power, both in their proper place and exercising their
proper function among the United Nations.
Apart from this flaw, I should say, judging from my own reading of events,
that there was nothing much amiss with the League of Nations in other respects.
British Speeches of the Day
It was a well thought out scheme and it worked well, and for the first ten years
of the League it was a surprising success. Until aggression and the question of
power turned up, the League of Nations functioned very well indeed. It looked
after matters of social welfare, health, labor and other social activities of man-
kind in a way which could not be bettered, and from that point of view the League
system remains, on the whole, a good and proper one to continue in the future.
But when it comes to questions of world peace, security and aggression, for
which we did not make sufficient provision, we shall have to revise the Covenant
on the lines I have suggested.
Just one word more about the League of Nations and I pass on to other sub-
jects. I think one other flaw or weakness in the League organization after the
last war was the fact that we did not pay sufficient attention, or, indeed, any par-
ticular attention to the economic question. The Covenant much too exclusively
followed political lines; we looked too much to political solutions. We have
learned our lesson there, too. Just as we have learned our lesson that power is
fundamental in the international order, so we have learned our lesson that unless
the new organization which we are going to erect after this war attends efficiently
and well to the economic conditions among mankind, we shall again get into the
troubles which ruined world recovery after the last war, and I hope that our new
organization will have its economic activities as properly defined and regulated
as its political activities.
I think that, so far, you will be inclined to agree with me. I now come to
much more explosive things, for which I hope you will not hold me responsible
I am suggesting some new lines of thought.
We have moved into a strange world, a world such as has not been seen
for hundreds of years, perhaps not for 1,000 years. Europe is completely chang-
ing. The old Europe which we have known, into which we were born, and in
which we have taken our vital interest as our mother continent, has gone. The
map is being rolled up and a new map is unrolling before us. We shall have to
do a great deal of fundamental thinking and scrapping of old points of view
before we find our way through that new continent which now opens up before us.
Just look, for a moment, at what is happening and what will be the state
of affairs at the end of this war in Europe. Three of the great Powers will have
disappeared. That will be quite a unique development. We have never seen such
a situation in the modern history of this continent. Three of the five gre tt Powers
will have disappeared. France has gone, and if ever she returns it will be a hard
and a long upward pull for her to emerge again. A nation that have once been
overtaken by a catastrophe such as she has suffered, reaching to the foundation
of her nationhood, will not easily resume her old place again. We may talk about
her as a great Power, but talking will not help her much. We are dea ing with
one of the greatest and most far-reaching catastrophes in history, the like of
which I have never read. The upward climb will be a bitter and a long one.
France has gone and will be gone in our day and perhaps for many a day.
Italy has completely disappeared and may never be a great Power again. Ger-
many will disappear. Germany, at the end of this war, will have disappeared perhaps
never to emerge again in the old form. The old Bismarckian Germany may per-
haps never rise again. Nobody knows. The Germans are a great people with
great qualities, and Germany is inherently a great country, but after the smash
that will follow this war Germany will be written off the slate in Europe for long,
long years, and after that a new world nay have arisen.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
We are, therefore, left with Great Britain and with Russia. Russia is the
new colossus in Europe, the new colossus that bestrides this continent. When we
consider all that has happened to Russia within the last 25 years, and we see
Russia's inexplicable and phenomenal rise, we can only call it one of the great
phenomena in history. It is the sort of thing to which there is no parallel in
history, but it has come about.
These are questions of power which I say we should not neglect. Russia is
the new colossus on the European continent. What the after-effects of that will
be, nobody can say. We can but recognize that this is a new fact to reckon with,
and we must reckon with it coldly and objectively. With the others down and
out and herself the mistress of the Continent, her power will not only be great on
that account, but it will be still greater because the Japanese Empire will also
have gone the way of all flesh. Therefore any check or balance that might have
arisen in the East will have disappeared. You will have Russia in a position which
no country has ever occupied in the history of Europe.
Then you will have this country of Great Britain, with a glory and an honor
and a prestige such as perhaps no nation has ever enjoyed in history, recognized
as possessing a greatness of soul that has entered into the very substance of
world history. But from a material economic point of view she will be a poor
country. She has put in her all. This country has held nothing back; there is
nothing left in the till. She has put her body and soul and everything into it to
win the battle of mankind. She will have won it, but she will come out of it
poor in substance.
The British Empire and the British Commonwealth remain as one of the
greatest things of the world and of history, and nothing can touch that fact. But
you must remember that the Empire and the Commonwealth are mostly extra-
European. These are the overflows of this great British system to other continents.
The purely European position of Great Britain will be one of enormous prestige
and respect, and will carry enormous weight, but she will be poor.
Then, outside Europe, you have the United States, the other great world
Power. You will therefore have these three great Powers: Russia, the colossus
of Europe; Great Britain, with her feet in all continents but crippled materially
here in Europe; and the United States of America, with enormous assets, with
wealth and resources and potentialities of power beyond measure. The question
is, how are you going to deal with that world situation? I am just painting before
you the picture of the new world that we shall have to face, which will be some-
thing quite unlike what we have had to deal with for a century, or, indeed,
Many people look to a union, or closer union, between the United States of
America and Great Britain with her Commonwealth and Empire as the new path
to be followed in the future. In this world which I am describing as facing us,
I myself am doubtful about that. I attach the greatest importance to Anglo-American
collaboration for the future. To my mind it is beyond all doubt one of the great
hopes of mankind. But I do not think that, as what I might call a political axis,
it will do. It would be a one-sided affair. If you were to pit the British Com-
monwealth plus the United States against the rest of the world, it would be a very
lop-sided world. You would stir up opposition and rouse other lions in the path;
you would stir up international strife and enmity which might lead to still more
colossal struggles for world power than we have seen in our day. I do not see
human welfare, peace or security along those lines.
So we come back to where we started: namely, the trinity. We shall not act
wisely in looking to an Anglo-American union or axis as the solution for the
British Speeches of the Day
future; we shall have to stick to the trinity that I have referred to. I think we
must make up our minds to that as the solution for the present and the near
But then, I am troubled with this thought, and this is the explosive stuff I
am coming to. In that trinity you will have two partners of immense power and
resources-Russia and America-and you will have this island, the heart of the
Empire and of the Commonwealth, weak in her European resources in comparison
with the vast resources of the other two. An unequal partnership, I am afraid.
The idea has repeatedly floated before my mind, and I am just mentioning it
here as something to consider and to ponder, whether Great Britain should not
strengthen her European position-apart from her position as the center of this
great Empire and Commonwealth outside Europe-by working closely together
with those smaller democracies in Western Europe which are of our way of
thinking, which are entirely with us in their outlook and their way of life and in
all their ideals, and which, in many ways, are of the same political and spiritual
substance as ourselves.
Should there not be closer union between us? Should we not cease, as Great
Britain, to be an island? Should we not work intimately together with these
small democracies in Western Europe which, by themselves, may be lost as they
are lost today and as they may be lost again? They have learned their lesson;
they have been taught by the experience of this war when centuries of argument
would not have convinced them that neutrality is obsolete, is dead. They have
learned the lesson that, standing by themselves on the Continent, dominated by one
or other great Power-as will be the future position-they are lost. Surely they
must feel that their place is with this member of the trinity, their way of life is
with Great Britain, their outlook and their future is with Great Britain and the
next world-wide British system. We have evolved a system in the Commonwealth
which opens the door for developments of this kind. Today in the Common-
wealth we have a group of sovereign states working together, living together in
peace and in war under a system that has stood the greatest strain to which any
nations could be subjected.
They are all sovereign states; they retain all the attributes and functions and
symbols of sovereignty. Other neighboring nations, therefore, living the same
way of life and with the same outlook, can with perfect safety say: "That is our
group. Why are we not there with full retention and maintenance of our sovereign
status? We choose that grand company for our future in this dangerous world."
It is naturally a question for the states of Western Europe to settle themselves.
It is for them to say whether in the world as they have learned to know it, as
history has proved it to be, it is safe for them to continue in the old paths of
isolation and neutrality, or whether they should not help themselves by helping
to create-out of closer union with Great Britain-a great European state, great
not only in its world wide ramifications, great not only as an Empire and a
Commonwealth stretching over all the continents, but great as a power on this
continent and an equal partner with the other colossi in the leadership of the
I think this trinity will be the stabilizing factor, the wall of power behind
which the freedoms and the democracies of the world can be built up again. It
will be the protecting wall. But I should like to have that trinity a trinity of
equals; I should like to see all three of them equal in power and influence and in
every respect. I should not like to see an unequal partnership.
I call this very explosive stuff, but we are living in an explosive world. I
want you to bear in mind that we are living in a world where we are forced to
fundamental thinking and to a fundamental revision of old concepts.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
The old world that we knew has gone and it will not return. To my mind,
it is a question whether those who think alike and feel alike, whose interests
and whose safety rest on the same broad human political basis, should not be
together in building up that splendid trinity to which we look forward for the
So much for Europe, and I am saying nothing about America and the Axis.
It is all very speculative, and I am saying nothing dogmatic, but I am sure we shall
have to do a great deal of fundamental thinking. I shall not be surprised to find
that not only in this country but elsewhere outside this island, and especially in
Western Europe, many thoughtful people are thinking in the same direction.
They have learned much in this, the bitterest experience of their lives and the
lives of their countries, and their minds are probably following some such line
of thought as that to which I am giving expression.
Let me say a few words about the Commonwealth and Empire, because, after
all, we remain a very great world community. It is not only the spiritual power
which we command, as no other group on earth commands; it is not only that
we possess that strength of soul, that inner freedom, which is greater than all the
freedoms of the Atlantic Charter; but we are also a very powerful group, scattered
though we are all over the world, and we must look to our own inner strength,
our inner coherence, our system, our setup and pattern to see that it is on safe
lines for the future.
What is the present setup in our group? We are an Empire and a Common-
wealth. We are a dual system. In that dual system we follow two different prin-
ciples. In the Commonwealth, we follow to the limit the principle of decentral-
ization. In the Commonwealth, this group of ours has become wholly decentral-
ized as sovereign states. The members of the group maintain the unbreakable
spiritual bonds which are stronger than steel, but in all matters of government
and their internal and external concerns, they are sovereign states.
In the Colonial Empire, on the other hand, we follow quite a different prin-
ciple. We follow the opposite principle of centralization, and the centralization
is focused in this country, in London. The question that arises in my own mind,
looking at the situation objectively, is whether such a situation can endure.
To have the Empire centralized and the Commonwealth decentralized, to have
the two groups developed on two different lines, raises grave questions for the
future. Is this duality in our group safe? Should we not give very grave thought
to this dualism in our system?
I hope you will forgive my doubts, Mr. Chairman, but I do not speak critically
here. I am not a critic of the Empire. I am just thinking objectively and giving
expression to my concern. I am not out to criticize, but I know as a fact that
wherever I have gone in the Colonial Empire, I have found criticism of this
situation. Your own British people, outside this island living in Crown Colonies,
are very critical and restive under this system which is centralized in London.
It is the nature of the beast. You know the Britisher resents being run by others;
and from a distance the question is whether there should not be an approach
between the two systems so as to eliminate gradually this dualism, have a closer
approach between the two, and bring Empire and Commonwealth closer together.
Following that line of thought, it has seemed to me that our colonial system
consists of too many units. If there is to be decentralization, you will have to
decentralize from the Colonial Office in London and give administrative powers
of all sorts and all degrees, sometimes to very small units or to some still in a
very primitive stage of development, and that might be a risky thing to do.
British Speeches of the Day
Our colonial system consists of a very large number of units in all stages of
development, and if there is to be decentralization and devolution of power and
authority, it becomes, in my opinion, necessary to simplify the system, to tidy it up,
to group smaller units and in many cases to do away with units which have simply
arisen as an accident, by historic haphazard. They should never have existed as
separate units, and in many cases their boundaries are quite indefensible.
You know how this great show has grown up-historically, by bits of history
here and there, without any planning, and, of course, inevitably so. But the time
has come, or the time may be coming now, when it is necessary to tidy up the
show, to reduce the number of independent colonial units, to abolish a number
of these separate administrations scattered pell-mell over the Colonial Empire and
to reduce the consequent expenditure which is a burden on the local peoples, many
of them very poor, undeveloped, and with very small resources. It is a heavy
burden on them, and their slender resources might be devoted to better purpose
than carrying on a heavy administrative machine, perhaps beyond their capacity.
As I say, it is a question whether we should not abolish a number of units
and group others and so tidy up the show. Then, in such a case, you can decen-
tralize. You can safely give larger powers and greater authority to those larger
groups that you will thus create, where it might be unsafe and unwise to give larger
authority to a number of small units. It might be safe and wise and the proper
course to give authority and to decentralize administrative power in the case of
larger units grouped under a better arrangement.
I do not wish to go into details, but the case I know best is my own African
continent which contains a large number of British Colonies and Territories. There,
it seems to me quite a feasible proposition to group the British colonies and territories
into definite groups. You have West Africa, you have East Africa, and you have
South Africa. It is quite possible to group those Colonies into larger units, each
under a Governor-General, and abolish not a few of them that need not continue
to enjoy a separate existence. In that way you will overcome the difficulty of the
highly centralized system centering in London which is irksome to the local people,
is perhaps not serving their highest interests and their best development, and gives
outsiders the occasion to blaspheme and to call the Colonial Empire an imperial-
ist concern run in the economic interests of this country.
As you will solve this problem of centralization in the Colonial Empire, you
will also solve another equally important problem, and this brings me to the
Commonwealth. In many of these cases of colonial reorganization, where there
will be new and larger colonial groups under a Governor-General, you will find
that it is quite possible to bring these new groups closer to a neighboring Domin-
ion and thereby interest the Dominion in the colonial group. In this way, instead
of the Dominions being a show apart, so as to say, having little or nothing to
do with the Empire and taking very little interest in it, these regional Dominions
will become sharers and partners in the Empire.
You will tighten up your whole show, you will create fresh links between the
Empire and the Commonwealth and create a new interest and life in the system
as a whole. You will create better cooperation, and you will bring to bear on
the problems of these colonial groups the experience and resources and leader-
ship of the local Dominions. Too, in this way you will tighten up your whole sys-
tem, and instead of being two separate systems-the one decentralized and look-
ing after its own affairs, and the other centralized and centered in London-you
will have a much more logical, cooperative and statesmanlike arrangement. Per-
haps I am now over-simplifying here, but I simply put this picture before you
as it has developed in my mind, the picture of a larger, more cooperative world
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
community. The time is coming when the colonial system will have to be simpli-
fied and tightened up and to a large extent decentralized, and when the Domin-
ions will have to be called in to play their part also in the new setup.
Not only Great Britain and not only London, but the Dominions also should
by loose consultative arrangement have a hand in this new colonial pattern, and
the Dominions should also bring their resources and their experience to bear in
the development of the Colonies. I think the suggestion is very well worth
Perhaps the new link could be introduced by means of a system of regional
conferences which would include both the local Dominion and the regional
colonial group of the area concerned. Perhaps to begin with nothing more is
needed than merely an organized system of conferences between them, where
they could meet and exchange ideas, and by means of which they could settle
common policies, discuss common interests, and in that way link up the Domin-
ions and the Colonies with the Mother Country in a common, more fruitful
These, in broad outline, are our future arrangements as I see them, not only
for our own future but for the future of the world. And I want to see our group
strengthened and coordinated and elements of risk and of danger removed from
its path. I want to see it launched forth, after this war, on the new paths of his-
tory with a better prospect of cooperation and collaboration among all its parts.
I want a common pride to develop on the basis of better cooperation and under-
standing. I want the Dominions to'take both interest and pride in the Colonies
within their sphere, and in that way to create in our great world-wide Common-
wealth a new esprit de corps, a common patriotism and a larger human outlook.
Mr. Chairman, these are some of the explosive thoughts that I have taken the
liberty of mentioning here this afternoon. This is a very good and proper occasion
for ventilating such ideas. I am speaking to very responsible men. I am speaking
to an audience whom I greatly respect and honor. I am speaking to men who
are responsible for what is probably the largest human community that has ever
existed in this world. I see that we are moving to a point in history when there
will be great changes in the world, when the new world situation will call for
changes among all nations such as they have never faced before, and I have
asked myself whether this is not the time for us, too, to look into our own house-
hold a bit.
It has done wonderfully well in this war. It has done very well both in peace
and in war, but not least in this war it has done miracles. And I want those
miracles to continue. I want us, on the future paths of history, to have a fair,
clean run because I think we mean a great deal to the world. I think this world
needs our British system. I think we, in our group, play a part which is essen-
tial and vital to the future of mankind, and whatever we can do to put our own
house in order, to remove anomalies, to remove the sources of internal friction
or of misunderstanding, is a service not only to our group but to mankind at
large and must have its effect on the rest of the world.
Surely people all over the world will look to this group of peoples com-
prising one-fourth of the human race and see how they guide their destinies in
peace and war along human lines of mutual helpfulness. Surely such a spectacle
must have a far-reaching influence for good. I look upon this Empire and
Commonwealth as the best missionary enterprise that has been launched for
1,000 years. This is a mission to mankind of good will, good government, and
human cooperation; a mission of freedom and human helpfulness in the perils
that beset our human lot.
British Speeches of the Day
Where we are helping ourselves in ways such as I have mentioned, putting
our house in order on lines I have suggested, or on similar lines, we shall not
only be serving our own cause and strengthening ourselves internally, but we
shall be making our contribution to human destiny and to the promotion of those
ideals for which our young men are fighting and bleeding and dying today. I
think we shall be serving that greater human cause which we all have at heart
and for which we are prepared to make such sacrifices in our day.
I utter no dogmatic conclusions. I have no set ideas. I am simply giving you
the lines of thought that run in my mind when I survey the new situation fac-
ing us in the world.
I want us not only to think about the other countries who are today laboring in
dire trouble all over the world, but also pay some attention to our own show,
which I think also requires a little looking after-and especially at a time like
this when a new world is in the making.
2. A speech made by Lord Halifax, British
Ambassador to the United States, at Tor-
onto, Canada, on January 24, 1944-the
100th Anniversary of the Toronto Board of
A hundred years is a long time in the life of any organization; and for this
reason, among others, I feel it a real privilege to be here tonight in one of the
greatest cities in the North American continent to celebrate the hundredth birthday
of the Toronto Board of Trade.
For this is more than the birthday of an organization. The Board of Trade
has played a notable part in the development of this city. The history of the
one is inseparable from the history of the other as that of two persons who have
grown up together.
It is by the vigor and enterprise of her sons that Toronto today occupies so
proud a place among the cities of our Commonwealth; and surely no single
organization represents and expresses those qualities more faithfully than does the
Board of Trade.
To say that is to say a good deal more. I need not remind you of what Toronto
stands for in the life of this Dominion. Nor need I remind you of its place in
the remarkable progress of the last half-century, which before the war had con-
verted Canada into one of the leading industrial countries of the world, and during
the war has made her a veritable supply base for the armed forces of the United
Nations. We may be sure that this progress will not only continue, but will assume
a new importance when the war is over. For Canada, as for the United Kingdom,
a primary need in any post-war economic arrangements that may be made is to
secure full employment of both people and resources; and this can only be satisfied
by an expanding world economy, in accordance with the principles to which you
and we have subscribed.
For the fulfillment of this purpose we are pledged to great and difficult tasks,
which will demand the fullest measure of cooperation, especially between the
members of the Commonwealth and your great neighbor, the United States; and
in all this Canada, from her geographical position, her rapidly developing industry,
and her vast natural resources, is obviously and intimately concerned.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
These matters are much in the minds of all of us today, and especially in the
minds of members of a body like the Board of Trade, with its long record of public
service. But you would, I am sure, be the first to recognize that these problems
which lie before us are political as well as economic; and so tonight, when you
have every right to look back with pride on the past hundred years, and forward
with confidence to the next hundred, it will not perhaps be out of place if, for a
few minutes, I attempt a rather similar task in a rather wider field.
A hundred years is indeed a long time in the history of an organization; but
it is not very long in the history of a country; and some may find it strange to
recall tonight that only a little more than a hundred years have passed since Lord
Durham wrote his famous Report, which was to be so large a landmark in the
history of Canada, as in that of all the Dominions.
Less than a century separates the Durham Report from the Statute of West-
minster, and, as we look back upon the history of the Commonwealth, that period
stands out as a distinct, clear-cut stage in its development. In 1838, the Dominions
were still Colonies; in 1931, the process of peaceful development by which they
had reached complete equality of status with Great Britain was formally recorded in
Imperial Statute. That particular stage was over eight years before the whole
Commonwealth and Empire were subjected to the strains and stresses of a second
world war, which must have tested to the uttermost the strength and flexibility of
any political society.
I often think that to the outsider the British Commonwealth must surely
appear an almost inexplicable freak of nature. We can imagine the bewilderment
of an intelligent visitor from another planet on being confronted with its manifest
contradictions. He would see something of which the component parts were united
under a single Head, but constitutionally so ordered that while that Head, in his
'capacity as King in Great Britain, might be at war with a foreign power, as King
in a Dominion he might continue to enjoy normal friendly relations with the
The visitor, baffled by this extraordinary confusion of functions, would suffer
a further shock if he went on to study what actually happened in September, 1939.
He would find that on September 3, Great Britain declared war on Germany;
that Australia and New Zealand declared war on the same day, and that South
Africa and Canada followed a few days later.
He might well wonder why. He would naturally be puzzled to determine what
possible interest the Polish Corridor could have for a Canadian, or Danzig for an
Australian, or the western frontier of Poland for a South African.
The Dominions had not been parties to the Treaty of Guarantee to Poland
which was the immediate cause of Great Britain's action. They were themselves
in no danger of direct attack. They had influenced, but had not been responsible
for, the foreign policy of Great Britain.
They had, it is true, been kept regularly informed of events, and been in
constant consultation. But the day-to-day control of policy had been in the hands
of a Minister whom they had not appointed, and who was responsible to a Parlia-
ment in which they were not represented. In fact as well as in theory, they were
entirely uncommitted. The best proof of this reality is that Eire pursued, and still
pursues today, a policy of abstention and neutrality.
Yet, not only did the great Dominions enter the war without hesitation; they
showed at once that theirs was no formal acquiescence in a situation which, though
disagreeable in the extreme, could by no means be avoided. They realized that
Great Britain was the first line of their own defense. They immediately threw all
British Speeches of the Day
that they had in men, money, and material, into the struggle. They held nothing
back; and in the summer of 1940, when Britain faced the probability of invasion
and the possibility of conquest, they were unflinching in their support.
Even now I find it hard to put into words all that this has meant to us. I am
not thinking only of the actual physical assistance, great as that is, which has come
and is coming to us from overseas. I am not even thinking only of your valiant
airmen, who fought beside ours in the battle of Britain; or of the Australians, New
Zealanders and South Africans, who helped to turn defeat into victory in the
Middle East and to conquer a great empire in Africa; or of those stout-hearted
troops you had sent over months before, and continually reinforced, to strengthen
a perilously weak defense; or of the Royal Canadian Navy on its sleepless vigil in
the North Atlantic.
I am thinking also of of the sense of comradeship you gave us.
In the grief and tragedy of the war, many mothers have drawn new strength
and courage from the example of their sons; and so the Old Country, in that which
was at once her darkest and her greatest hour, drew strength and courage from the
younger members of our family of nations.
When the history of those fateful days is written, I do not doubt that the
unshaken staunchness of the Commonwealth will be recognized as a decisive factor.
If once again Britain was "a bulwark for the cause of men," it was because when
the storm broke she was so stoutly buttressed. And had Britain not been able to
stand firm then, where would today be the United Nations, or where tomorrow the
certainty of victory, or in the future, hope of security and peace?
So much is surely incontestable, but because it is incontestable, there is a real
danger that, with this experience before our eyes, we may be tempted to conclude
that all is for the best in our affairs. Why, it may be said, should we tamper with'
what has so stoutly met the stern challenge of these times. I think we should
pause before we accept that argument as final.
During the period of which I have spoken, between the Durham Report and
the Statute of Westminster, the whole trend of development in the Dominions
was towards equality of status. But there was hardly an equivalent effort towards
securing what I would call equality of function. By that I mean that while the
Statute of Westminster assured to each and every Dominion complete self-govern-
ment, it perforce left unsolved the more obstinate problems arising in the fields of
foreign policy and defense.
The essential unity of the Commonwealth of course owes much to the existence
of a common Head, at once the living representative of the whole society before
the world, and the embodiment of history and tradition in which all parts of the
Commonwealth may feel themselves to have equal share and pride.
In a sense not the less real because few might be able to translate the instinctive
emotions into language, the Crown stands for an ideal of ordered life and service,
and is thus the interpreter to all its subjects of standards and purposes, which at
their best they would make their own. As a great Governor General of Canada,
the late Lord Tweedsmuir, once wrote:
"In any deep stirring of heart, the people turn from the mechanism of
government, which is their own handiwork and their servant, to that ancient,
abiding thing behind governments, which they feel to be the symbol of their
past achievement and their future hope."
There was thus the unifying influence of a common Head. We were also at
one in seeing how directly the Nazi philosophy cut at the roots of our whole way
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
of life and how irreconcilable therefore was the difference between the Nazis and
ourselves. We do not always reflect that our belief in freedom is the direct out-
come of the value we have learned to attach to human personality; or remember
that the principal source of this reverence for personality has been the age-long
emphasis of Christian teaching upon the eternal worth of each human soul. We
have not always given these things much thought, and too often have been content
to live upon the accumulated capital of the past. But on the day that we realized
how near we were to losing this inheritance, we awoke to a new sense of what
That was true of Britain. It was equally true of the great Dominions. But
S when this has been said, it remains a fact that, much as the unity of the Common-
wealth owed to a common Head and a common thought upon the things that
matter most, it found little expression in outward form.
The right of each member to determine its own external affairs may mean a
gain or it may mean a loss. It is plainly a loss if, with our essential unity of ideal,
the responsibility for action which represents that unity is not visibly shared by all.
It is an immeasurable gain if on vital issues we can achieve a common foreign
policy expressed not by a single voice but by the unison of many.
So, too, in the field of defense, while there must be individual responsibility,
there must also be a unity of policy. I suggest that in the years of peace it was a
weakness, which we should try to cure, that the weight of decision on many prob-
lems of defense was not more widely shared.
That in fact all the Dominions save one entered the war with us is not sufficient
answer. Nor is the fact that they have made a total war effort which matches that
of the United Kingdom. For we must rightly concern ourselves not so much
with what happens when war has come, but with what in future we can do to
prevent it coming. The magnificent response of the Dominions in 1939, was not,
thank God, too late to save the cause for which the Commonwealth and Empire
stood and stands; but there is a real sense in which it was too late to save the peace.
I speak frankly, as I know you would have me speak. On September 3, 1939,
the Dominions were faced with a dilemma of which the whole world was aware.
Either they must confirm a policy which they had had only partial share in framing,
or they must stand aside and see the unity of the Commonwealth broken, perhaps
fatally and forever. It did not take them long to choose, and with one exception
they chose war.
But the dilemma was there, and having occurred twice in twenty-five years, it
may occur again. That is the point at which equality of function lags behind
equality of status. The Dominions are free-absolutely free-to choose their path;
but every time there is a crisis in international affairs, they are faced with the same
inexorable dilemma from which there is no escape.
What then is the solution? Well, there are, broadly speaking, two roads which
the Dominions may take. There is the road of national isolation. They can
choose in peace, and after full deliberation, the course that they rejected in 1939.
They can say-and who should attempt to gainsay them ?-that their foreign
policy will be unconcerned with any but their own immediate national interests;
that it will not reflect an underlying unity of ideal or strive towards unity in action;
that they will neither defend others, nor expect others to defend them.
I am not going to argue against such an attitude, least of all in days like these,
or in a city such as yours; beyond observing that isolationism is an old policy and
that, in the shrinking world where we all have to live today, it is not an easy policy
to pursue, and is unlikely to get easier.
British Speeches of the Day
Once upon a time, a great many people in Great Britain were isolationists in
the sense that they wished to avoid entanglement in the affairs of Europe; just
as in the United States there was an overwhelming opinion against becoming
involved in disputes outside the Western Hemisphere. Indeed, it might be said
that in 1939 almost every country-certainly almost every small country-was
isolationist; and today the map of the world is strewn with the wreckage of small
states. With such a record of failure before us, they would be optimists in any
country who supposed that such a policy would be more successful in the future
than it has been in the past.
But for most of us there is a stronger and more compelling argument towards
choosing the second road. We believe that the British Empire has proved, not
once nor twice, but many times, a powerful and beneficent world-force. We
believe that without it the cause we uphold today would have been lost long ago;
and therefore that the remedy for the difficulties which I have tried to describe is
not that we and you should draw apart, but that we should try to fortify our
By that I do not mean that we should attempt to retrace our steps along the
path that led from the Durham Report to the Statute of Westminster. To do so
would be to run counter to the whole course of development in the Commonwealth.
But what is, I believe, both desirable and necessary is that in all the field of
interests, common to every part of the Commonwealth-in Foreign Policy, in
Defense, in Economic Affairs, in Colonial Questions and in Communications-we
should leave nothing undone to bring our people into closer unity of thought and
It may be that we shall find it desirable to maintain and extend our present
wartime procedure of planning and consultation, which itself adapted and extended
the methods we practised in time of peace. The question admits of no easy answer.
It should be constantly in our minds, and I have no doubt that it will be among
the first problems to be considered, whenever the responsible ministers of the Crown
from every part of the Commonwealth are able once more to meet together.
But there is one thought which I would like to leave with you now. The
Statute of Westminister was in a sense a Declaration of Independence. But it was
more than that. It was also a Declaration of Interdependence, a recognition that
in the world of the 20th Century no country can live by itself and for itself alone.
It did not attempt to make a stereotyped pattern or mould to which the Common-
wealth must conform; but it did .leave the greatest latitude for development, in the
conviction that, in working out our fate together, we should discover that indepen-
dence and interdependence, so far from being incompatible conceptions, were not
only complementary but necessary to each other.
For surely that is true. Today we begin to look beyond the war to the re-
ordering of the world which must follow. We see three great Powers, the United
States, Russia and China, great in numbers, areas and natural resources. Side by
side with them is the United Kingdom, with a population of less than 50.000,000
with a territory which could easily be contained in one of the larger States of the
American Union, and with natural resources which, though great in proportion to
her size, are by themselves scarcely comparable with those of her companions.
In the company of these Titans, Britain, apart from the rest of the Common-
wealth and Empire, could hardly claim equal partnership. It is none the less likely
that, when the war is ended, Western Europe, as never before, will look to her
for leadership and guidance. She has been the one inviolate fortress of freedom
in the West. Once again her people have shown their ancient virtue.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
They have disclosed unsuspected reserves of strength. Much will be asked
Yet, while they will assuredly emerge from this war with a new self-confidence
and feel rightly proud of their achievement, they will certainly be poorer. They
will have drawn heavily upon their manpower and resources. They will have spent
their accumulated capital without stint. If, in the future, Britain is to play her
part without assuming burdens greater than she can support, she must have with
her in peace the same strength that has sustained her in this war. Not Great
Britain only, but the British Commonwealth and Empire must be the fourth power
in that group upon which, under Providence, the peace of the world will hence-
forth depend. There, summed up in a sentence, is the need as I see it.
To say this is to make no selfish claim. The unity of the Commonwealth is
no mere British interest. So far from being an obstacle, it is a condition necessary
to that working partnership with the United States, Russia and China to which
we look. If we are to play our rightful part in the preservation of peace, we can
only play it as a Commonwealth united, vital,, and coherent. By so doing, and
only by so doing, can we hope to achieve the high purposes to which we are
dedicated by the suffering and sacrifice of war.
3. Statement by Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime
Minister of Canada,. in the House of Com-
mons, Ottawa, January 31, 1944.
A concrete issue in external policy has been raised in recent speeches delivered
by Lord Halifax and Field Marshal Smuts. It relates to the domination of certain
great Powers. Both speeches expressed the view that the future peace of the world
depended on the attainment of an equal partnership in strength and influence
between the great Powers among the United Nations. Both took the position that
the resources and manpower of the British Isles were too small to enable the United
Kingdom to compete with the United States and the Soviet Union in power and
authority after the war. Both, therefore, argued that it was necessary that the
United Kingdom should have the constant support of other countries, in order to
preserve a proper balance. Field Marshal Smuts thought that this might be achieved
by a close association between the United Kingdom and "the smaller democracies
in Western Europe"; he had little to say of the place of the British Commonwealth
as such. Lord Halifax on the other hand declared: "Not Great Britain only, but
the British Commonwealth and Empire, must be the fourth Power in that group
upon which, under Providence, the peace of the world will henceforth depend."
With what is implied in the argument employed by both these eminent public
men, I am unable to agree. It is indeed true beyond question that the peace of
the world depends on preserving on the side of peace a large superiority of power,
so that those who wish to; disturb the peace can have no chance of success. But
I must ask whether the best way of attaining this is to seek a balance of strength
between three or four great Powers. Should we not, indeed must we not, aim at
attaining the necessary superiority of power by creating an effective international
system inside which the cooperation of all peace-loving countries is freely sought
It seems to me not to be a matter of matching manpower and resources, or in
other words military and industrial potential, between three or four dominant states.
What we must strive for is close co-operation among those great states themselves
British Speeches of the Day
and all other like-minded countries. Behind the conception expressed by Lord
Halifax and Field Marshal Smuts there lurks the idea of inevitable rivalry between
the Great Powers. Could Canada, situated as she is geographically between the
United States and the Soviet Union, and at the same time a member of the British
Commonwealth, for one moment give support to such an idea?
The Moscow Declaration on General Security forecast a system which would
involve for its effectiveness firm commitments by all peace-loving states to do their
share in preserving peace. Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union were
all represented at the Moscow Conference. What would seem now to be suggested
is that the prime Canadian commitment should be to pursue in all matters of
external relations in "foreign policy, defense, economic affairs, colonial questions
and communications," to cite Lord Halifax' words-a common policy to be framed
and executed by all the Governments of the Commonwealth. I maintain that apart
from all questions as to how that common policy is to be reached, or enforced,
such a conception runs counter to the establishment of effective world security, and
therefore is opposed to the true interests of the Commonwealth itself.
We are certainly determined to see the closest collaboration continue between
Canada, the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries. Nothing that
I am saying should be construed as supporting any other view than this. Collabora-
tion inside the British Commonwealth has, and will continue to have, a special
degree of intimacy. When, however, it comes to dealing with the great issues which
determine peace or war, prosperity or depression it must not, in aim or method,
be exclusive. In meeting world issues of security, employment and social standards,
we must join not only with Commonwealth countries but with all like-minded
states, if our purposes and ideals are to prevail. Our commitments on these great
issues must be part of a general scheme, whether they be on a world basis or
regional in nature.
We look forward, therefore, to dose collaboration in the interests of peace not
only inside the British Commonwealth, but also with all friendly nations small
as well as great.
4. Speeches made in the House of Commons,
London, in the Debate on Commonwealth
Unity, April 20 and April 21, 1944.
(a) Speech by Mr. E. Shinwell.
(Mr. Shinwell is a Member of the Na-
tional Executive of the Labour Party, and
has been M. P. for the Seaham Division of
Durham since 1935. He was Financial Sec-
retary, War Office, 1929-30, and Parliamen-
tary Secretary to the Department of Mines
in 1924 and 1930-31.)
I beg to move "That the United Kingdom should do its utmost by close co-
operation and regard for the different points of view of the nations of the Com-
monwealth to preserve in time of peace the unity of purpose and sentiment which
has held them together in time of war."
The Motion standing in my name and that of my right hon. Friends and other
hon. Members is couched in temperate and conciliatory language. It will excite
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth 19
no violent controversy. It will, generally speaking, be acceptable in all quarters
of the House. I learn on unimpeachable authority that it may even prove agreeable
to the Government. It is desirable in this matter to speak with the utmost candor.
I do not approach this subject in any spirit of mawkish sentiment, but, recognizing
the practical difficulties, seek to promote the utmost co-operation in all quarters
of the Empire on a basis of reality and having regard to the interests of all con-
cerned. But, Sir, to promote Empire co-operation is not our final aim. We have
greater and finer aims in view. It is our purpose, through and by Empire co-
operation, to make valuable and practical contributions to an enduring world
peace, to create appropriate means of defense against possible aggression, to utilize
adequately the vast resources of the Empire, and above all, for this is our primary
purpose, ,to raise the standard of life for all elements within the Empire, whether
they are black or white.
This Motion should not excite any undue hostility among other nations. It has
become fashionable in certain quarters to indulge in sneers at the British Empire.
I readily admit that in the past mistakes were made. Our treatment of native
peoples was not without blemish. Perhaps here and there our administration was
far from perfect. But it does not lie in the mouths of other nations and other
peoples to speak in derogatory terms of our administration until they put their own
houses in order. We have within the British Commonwealth of Nations a native
problem. The United States of America, with the greatest respect, has a negro
problem. And in the sphere of the acquisition of territory, a matter not unfamiliar
to those who have studied this problem, even our friends of Soviet Russia, for
sound and proper purposes, in order to safeguard themselves against possible
aggression in the future, have sought to exercise, I shall not put it higher than
this, a protectorate over other territories. I propose to speak bluntly, but I hope
with courtesy, to the peoples of the United States of America and elsewhere. I
occasionally have found myself in disagreement with my right hon. Friend the
Prime Minister, but I am in hearty accord with the view he expressed some time
ago on the suggested liquidation of the Empire. Sir, we have no intention, any
one of us, of throwing the British Commonwealth of Nations overboard in order
to satisfy a section of the American Press, or indeed anyone else.
We must readily admit, much as we deplore the fact, that Empire ties were in
process of weakening before the war. The Dominions regarded themselves, and
quite properly within the Statute of Westminster,* as self-contained units exercising
complete independence. That is a fact that all of us recognize. Over and above
that, in the sphere of trade and commerce, we had to consider the rise and expan-
sion of secondary industries in the Dominion countries. But when the war emerged
all those ambitions, those weaknesses, those resolutions of independence and
sovereignty were set aside, and we discovered that those Dominion countries,
indeed, all parts of the Empire, willingly, with enthusiasm, almost with intense
passion, came to the rescue of the Motherland and themselves against the common
aggressor. When the war emerged Canada-I use this merely as an illustration-
did not plead inability to enter hostilities on the ground of her proximity to the
United States of America-her geographical position, her economic associations.
Canada did not wait until America entered the war, did not wait for the advent of
Pearl Harbor. Canada set aside all those economic and geographical considerations
and leapt with intensity into the conflict. The same can be said truly and freely
of all the Dominions.
What do those facts and that attitude demonstrate? That independence and
sovereignty were matters upon which too much reliance could not be placed, that
* see Appendix B.
British Speeches of the Day
sovereignty was an empty phrase, and that to regard it exclusively as the basis of
national life might prove disastrous. And if the war was necessary in order to
demonstrate interdependence and in part the renunciation of sovereignty, in my
judgment, and it is implicit in the terms of this Motion, it is important to retain
them for the purposes of peace.
We have been informed that shortly there is to be a conference of Dominion
Prime Ministers in London, and we welcome such a conference, and so far as they
can hon. Members seek to offer some guidance. Indeed, that is the purpose of
this Debate. I understand that the Government will welcome such proposals as
hon. Members can make. It is understood that the subject of war organization
will be under review, and on that matter I propose to say nothing beyond this:
it is as important to vanquish the enemy in the Pacific as it is to destroy the enemy
in Europe. This is total war. We cannot engage in hostilities on a piecemeal
basis, and it would afford poor consolation to our friends in Australia and New
Zealand if, having vanquished the enemy in Europe, they found themselves in a
precarious plight because we had not taken adequate steps for their protection in
that theatre of war. Beyond that it is not for me to offer any opinion. I am but
an amateur strategist, quite unlike the professionals opposite, and therefore quite
incompetent to make any suggestion in that sphere. But machinery has been
created for the purpose of co-ordinating Empire war policy in all theatres of war.
That is a simple fact, it is indisputable. All I say about it is this. So far as I
am able to judge on the facts before me, if more or less the machinery created
for the purpose of co-ordinating the Empire war effort is regarded as effective and
satisfactory, it should be retained for the social, cultural, political and economic
purposes we envisage for after the war. It would be, in my judgment, disastrous
if we abandoned a tithe of that machinery, that organization, when the war came
to its conclusion.
I recognize that there are political difficulties that have been referred to repeat-
edly in the course of Debates on Dominion and Empire Affairs. They have been
referred to by our friends Lord Halifax and various High Commissioners and
Dominion Prime Ministers, and reference has been made to those difficulties by
those who are not friends of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Let us appre-
ciate the difficulties, the question, for example, of whether the Dominions are pre-
pared to renounce any of their sovereignty. Let me make it clear beyond any
possibility of doubt that there is nothing in my mind, and I gather nothing in the
minds of my hon. and right hon. Friends, which suggest the possibility) of any
domination by this country over the Dominions. Indeed, the call to closer Empire
co-ordination did not come from us. In recent times it emanated from Australia,
from the forthright and in my judgment realistic utterances of Mr. Curtin, endorsed
-I have taken great pains to ensure authenticity in this matter-by all the Prime
Ministers. Let me say that even Mr. Mackenzie King in the course of this week,
in spite of certain past pronouncements and certain allegations that have emerged
from those pronouncements, endorses the view expressed by Mr. John Bracken, the
Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada, which, in effect, follows
the line that was taken by Mr. Curtin himself.
Therefore, there can be no question of domination by the Motherland in a free,
independent and co-operative Commonwealth such as we envisage, which will
emerge and will not be based on population alone. There is something more
important than population, something more important than economic prestige,
underlying the basis of the British Commonwealth. All parties must exercise
rights, privileges, and influence in relation to the affairs of the Empire as a whole,
of course reserving to themselves those autonomous privileges which, in fact, also
belong to the States of the United States of America or the States of Soviet Russia.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
With that qualification, it appears to me that a renunciation of sovereignty, in part
at least, does not, at any rate, indicate the desire of any member of the Dominion
countries-ourselves or any other-to exercise anything in the nature of domination.
It was suggested by Mr. Curtin that there should be an Imperial Conference
sitting regularly and alternately sitting in this country, Canada, Australia, as the
case may be. That was suggested, of course, a long time ago, but rejected on
geographical grounds. But those geographical grounds no longer apply. Air
transport has dissipated that argument completely. As we know, Australia is within
measurable air distance from this country and, therefore, the physical difficulties
cannot be advanced to militate against the possibility of holding a regular Imperial
Conference. Whether that Conference is to be advisory, consultative, deliberative,
or executive is a matter for consideration and discussion, and it may well be found
that no rigid, hidebound organization is required to regiment every member of the
British Commonwealth, but that a loose, free association, based upon the proper
spirit and temper such as is appropriate to the circumstances we envisage for the
future, can perform the functions we have in view. Be that as it may, it is a
matter of controversy for the Dominion countries, in conference, to decide.
I now come to what I regard as the crux of the whole problem. Political prob-
lems, such as are envisaged in the forthcoming consultations and are associated
with this Empire question, and, indeed, political problems of all kinds, can only
be solved on the basis of an appreciation of economic realities. I want the Houfse
to consider, with me, these economic realities. I ventured to cross swords very
humbly with General Smuts who declared that after this war we should be a poor
country. Of course we shall be a poor country, of course our plight will be pre-
carious, of course we shall have to reduce the standard of life of our people, and,
of course, we shall become a second-rate, or even a third- or fourth-rate Power
unless we take appropriate steps to prevent it.
We have to consider what our position is. No wishful thinking, no relying
on our traditions, great as they are-and our resources while not inexhaustible are,
nevertheless, very considerable-and no relying on our prestige in the world, which
diminishes as the prestige of all countries and Empires diminishes as their eco-
nomic resources and populations dwindle, will help us. We have to face the facts
and unless this House and, indeed, the members of the British Commonwealth,
face the facts realistically and not on the basis of sentiment or cousinly ties-all very
important indeed, but not realistic-unless they face the facts on the basis of
enlightened self-interest, of what is best for ourselves, and, indeed, what is best
for the world, not only will our plight be precarious, but the plight of the
Dominion countries will be more precarious still. Not even Canada, and I say
so with the greatest respect, in spite of her vast resources and proximity to the
United States, in spite of trade associations, can afford to ignore the facts, even if
there are elements in Canada who look forward to the time, 20 or 30 years hence,
when Canada will be the greatest country in the world.
Let us consider the fact that the Dominion countries can only survive by selling
their primary products. That is a simple explanation of the facts. Australia
must dispose of her wool, which is her largest export, and South Africa must dis-
pose of her gold, which is her primary product. Whether anybody wants it or
not, South Africa wants to dispose of it. It is a problem, but, nevertheless, there
it is. But in order to dispose of their primary products, there must be markets to
absorb them. Where are those markets? That is the problem. Markets do not
emerge simply because you are anxious to export; markets only emerge if you assist
in creating them, and, having created them, maintain them. In addition, the
Dominion countries have created in the past, as I have already observed, secondary
industries. There are apprehensions in our own country that the creation of these
British Speeches of the Day
secondary industries may conflict with our own economic ambitions. I do not
believe that the creation of secondary industries in the Dominions can harm this
country unless the creation and development of those industries are accompanied
by stagnation as regards population and the failure to develop resources. Industries
can be created anywhere, but unless there is a population ready to absorb their
products, and unless there is a constant development of resources raising the
standard of life, obviously there must be stagnation which is not good for anybody.
Let us look at the asset side of the picture. There are vast resources within
the British Commonwealth of Nations wholly undeveloped. This is said in such
a trite fashion that I beg hon. Members to forgive me, but what is the good of
embellishing it with rhetoric? It is a simple statement of fact, and I know that
some hon. Members are more conversant with the subject than I am. There is
something more. There is a British market still, perhaps-I hope people in other
countries will forgive the expression-one of the most important bargaining factors
in relation to trade and commerce. I speak quite frankly and without any prejudice
on the subject of fiscal policy. I think there has been too much talk of fiscal
policy in the past and too little recognition of what was best for the country as
a whole. But I say that even with these vast resources, unless we develop them
and unless we seek by their development and their expansion to minister to the
needs of the people, obviously, we are likely to be in a worse position than before.
Let us look at our own position. Before the war there was a decline in our
import and export position. After the war we shall have, for the purpose of the
revival of our industrial life, to import almost twice as much as we did before the
war, and, by the same reckoning we shall have to export twice as much, and per-
haps two and a half times as much. Where shall we look for this increased trade?
Where are the markets? I do not object to the promotion of an Anglo-American
trade agreement. Not at all. We had an Anglo-American trade agreement before
the war. It is nothing new, and there is nothing unfamiliar in the process. It is
perfectly true that the Anglo-American trade agreement did not prove very bene-
ficial to this country, although we pretended it was. I do not object to agreements
if they prove beneficial; that is the point. Does anyone suppose that after the war
the American market will expand so liberally, so adequately, as to enable us to
find a repository for our exports? Does anyone imagine that as a result of an
Anglo-American trade agreement that we shall be able to export more than
40,000,000 worth of goods annually, which is pretty much what we exported
before the war to the United States, while we imported 100,000,000 worth from
that country? By all'means have a trade agreement with the United States, but let
us look elsewhere if we are seeking for markets to absorb our products. And
thete is nothing exclusive in this or hostile to other nations.
There is, within the Empire, a vast market, a goodwill market. Let us avail
ourselves of the possibilities inherent in those facts. In addition, we have to
recognize this possibility. America, during the war, has developed her resources
with amazing efficiency. They have reached almost maximum production. But
they will discover, after the war, that a problem will emerge of how to dispose
of their surplus products. Where are they to find markets? In our markets and
by entering into agreements, one by one, with the Dominion countries to their
disadvantage and, subsequently, to the disadvantage of us all? That would be
unwise. There are elements in the United States who would like to have individual
agreements with each of the Empire countries. I regard that as disastrous for
ourselves and disastrous for the Dominion countries. Moreover, in the American
market, unless they can raise the standard of life in order to coincide with their
increased production, we shall discover that there is no market for us in that
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
These are the facts that we must recognize. I approach this Empire problem
in order to ascertain whether it is possible, by a process of expansion and co-opera-
tion, to find markets for our goods, and at the same time discover markets through-
out the Empire, including the Colonies, for the Dominion countries. That is the
proposal I am putting before the House and which, I hope, will be discussed at
the forthcoming Conference. Surely there is nothing objectionable in seeking to
promote increased trade within the Empire? Is that objectionable to the United
States, or Soviet Russia, or China, or the United Nations as a whole? Surely it
cannot be if it is to the advantage of our people.
Now I come to the question of colonial development, and I am bound to
speak plainly to the Government in this regard. The Colonies are not being devel-
oped in an economic sense as they ought to be. We are not spending enough
money on colonial development. The amount of money we have set aside for a
colonial development is handed out in the most meager and parsimonious fashion.
It is suggested there are difficulties in the way, difficulties about labor and the like.
When we know that there are thousands of West Indian laborers who have been
transferred to the United States to engage in useful employment there, though
they might very well have been employed in the West Indies if we had developed
a satisfactory colonial economic policy, we must look at the picture in another
way. I hope that that matter will be considered by the Government, and not only
by the Government but buy the Conference that is shortly to meet.
In relation to colonial development-and this is a matter which may lead to
controversy-there is a strong case for Empire collaboration, particularly in the
economic sphere, for bringing the whole of the Empire countries into the picture
and allowing them to exercise something in the nature of supervision, certainly
in the sphere of expansion and development for the whole of the Empire countries,
including the Colonies. I have not in mind the regional organization which has
been referred to in relation to South Africa. Indeed, I deplore the possibility of
such regional organization and believe that it will lead to serious difficulty. But
the whole of the Dominion countries should have some voice, say, in the economic
development of India, which is so desirable, or of the West Indies, or elsewhere.
That is a matter that ought to be seriously considered and it certainly accords with
my own point of view.
I venture to put before the right hon. Gentlemen and the Government certain
positive proposals. To begin with, there ought to be established an economic
council for the whole of the Empire. There is, of course, the Imperial Advisory
Economic Council but it is a less satisfactory form of organization, and something
much more practical is required. Such an economic council should consider, first
of all, an inventory of Empire resources-what the Empire has got at its disposal:
raw materials, machinery, land, fertility and all the rest of it. That task should
be undertaken almost at once to ascertain really what we possess. It may be that
it has already been undertaken and, if so, it would be very useful to have some
information on that subject. Secondly, an inquiry conducted by such an economic
council should begin not at the end of the war, but now. A beginning should be
made now in preparation for the conclusion of hostilities.
There should be an inquiry into the possibilities of expansion in all the Domin-
ion countries, in India particularly, and in our colonial possessions. In that
regard, we ought to take into account the financial implications. If the people of
this country do not want a sham Empire, but a real Empire, and if they are heart
and soul with those throughout the Empire who are anxious to promote a higher
standard of life on the basis of economic expansion, they must be prepared for
certain sacrifices, and I would suggest one. We ought to take accumulated national
savings and invest a great proportion of them in those Empire countries who need
British Speeches of the Day
them-some of them do not need them, having large sterling balances-and
particularly in the Colonies. It is better to expend these national savings through-
out the Empire than to invest them in South American countries, from which, in
the long run, we gather very little return. In relation to India I would say-
this is all very disconnected but I am trying to put positive proposals before the
House-to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, whose
knowledge of this subject is far greater than mine, that the problem that confronts
us in India, and which certainly confronts the people of India, is more of an eco-
nomic than a political problem. What does it matter about Hindus and Moslems,
if you can raise the standard of life of 400,000,000 people in that country? If we
can raise the standard of life of 400,000,000 in that vast territory, we not only ac-
complish something worthy and desirable for those people, but we provide extensive
markets for ourselves, and indeed, for the whole of the Empire countries.
I sum up by repeating that there is nothing exclusive in what I have suggested
in this Motion nor anything hostile to the countries associated with our cause. Nor
is there hostility to the United States of America, or Soviet Russia, or any other
country. There are problems common to all Empire countries-problems of
Defense. Let us make no mistake about it-the Defense problem will be as acute
after the war as it is at the present time, and I would observe in passing that, if
the Empire countries, 20 years before this war began, had collaborated for the
purposes of Defense, it is very doubtful whether this war would have occurred at
all. There is a common problem with regard to trade, a subject to which I have
already referred, and there is certainly a common problem in relation to living
standards. There is much we can do in our own country, and certainly a great
deal to do in Dominion countries, and a vast amount of work to be done in our
Colonies. The question that has to be pondered is, Shall we deal with these com-
mon problems independently, that is to say, as far as the Dominions are concerned,
or shall we undertake the task in co-operation? To that, the answer must come
from the Dominion countries. If they prefer complete independence, they will
have taken upon their shoulders a great risk and an immense responsibility. If the
answer is in the affirmative, that they prefer co-operation and they recognize that,
although there are virtues in independence, some renunciation of sovereignty is to
the advantage of the whole Empire and subsequently the whole world, then it .will
be a step that will profoundly affect not only this country and the Empire, but the
world at large.
Finally, in a consideration of the Commonwealth problem, you have to take
account of the position in Western Europe. I cannot deal with the matter ade-
quately today, but on the subject of migration and on the subject of economic
arrangements, for example, we ought to consider the possibility-I recognize that
there are practical difficulties in the way, but they are not insurmountable-of effect-
ing some kind of arrangement with the Western European countries, the Scandi-
navian countries, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, and certainly a free and
independent France, which can be dovetailed into an economic Commonwealth
policy. It is impossible at this stage to enter into details. Sir Walter Layton
recently made a suggestion, against which I enter a strong caveat, that we should
only assist in rebuilding Europe and that, having done so, we should remain as
sponsors. I regard that as disastrous. We are so closely linked up with the Euro-
pean States in trade and culture, in political thought and in our general outlook
that we cannot afford to dissociate ourselves entirely from those countries, even
to satisfy certain other elements abroad. Our desire, and the purpose of this
Motion is to see that this country, with the Dominion countries in the closest col-
laboration possible in the long run, takes its proper place in the leadership of the
world. We are not prepared to play second fiddle to any other nation or any other
Speeches on the Empire.and Commonwealth
(b) Speech by Sir Percy Harris.
(Sir Percy Harris has been Liberal M.P.
for South-West Bethnal Green since 1922,
and Chief Whip of the Liberal Parliamen-
tary Party since 1935.)
I do not think it is inappropriate that at a time when we are faced with prob-
ably the greatest test of the British Commonwealth that we should have a dis-
cussion on its present and future organization. I am second to no one in my
belief in the importance and the value of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
It is a fine example to the world of a free association of free peoples showing
how they can co-operate for the common good, as my right hon. Friend so well
said, without any definite ties and without the sacrifice of their essential sover-
eignty. The Dominions, which spread over the four quarters of the world, have
shown how British Parliamentary institutions can be adapted to varying circum-
stances and conditions, with allegiance to the British Crown as the only definite
tie that holds the Commonwealth together, a point which is always accentuated
by Field Marshal Smuts when he has discussed the constitution of the British
Commonwealth. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding of the British
Dominions by friends and foes. Outside critics will still speak of them as one
entity. In fact, they are separated by vast distances and have very different con-
ditions, both political and economic. Even Australia is four days' journey by sea
from New Zealand; South Africa is far away, in the Indian Ocean; Canada on
the other hand is geographically on the American Continent, adjacent to a power-
ful State, the United States of America. The conditions vary, their constitutions
are different and their political and economic problems are very varied.
I have been somewhat surprised that there has been so little mention of India.
My hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) in opening this 'Debate
did make a slight reference to India, saying their problems were more economic
than a political problem. I wish that was true. I am sure the Secretary of State
for India wishes it was true. At no time in its history has the financial position
of India been better. Large sterling balances have been accumulated. Just as
political conditions react on economic conditions so economic conditions react on
the political, and the appalling poverty of the mass of the people has a bearing
on the political question. There is a feeling in India that her economic problems
will not be solved until the Indian peoples are provided with a constitution under
which they can govern themselves. I mention India because we have a definite
promise that after the war India shall be a Dominion and have Dominion status.
That is a genuine promise and it represents the really sincere desire of the whole
of the British people and of this House of Commons. After the war, and the
earlier the better, I want to see India become the sixth Dominion. I should like
to know that India will be represented in the discussions to take place shortly with
the Dominion Prime Ministers. India has been represented at all previous con-
ferences, and I understand she will be represented at the forthcoming one by at
least one distinguished Indian statesman. I think it would be unfortunate if India
were not represented in our councils, because the British Commonwealth will not
be complete until we have a friendly India co-operating with us in our common
I do not think we can too much emphasize in these Debates how greatly the
Dominions value their independence. They attach great importance to the Statute
of Westminster. When that Act was passing through the House of Commons
many doubted the wisdom of it, but in the light of experience the gesture of
passing that Act has been justified. Just as we learned from the last war so we
British Speeches of the Day
can learn from this. Interesting experiments are being made in different parts of
the Commonwealth. Reference has been made to the Canberra Conference, at
which the suggestion was made by Mr. Curtin for a kind of floating Imperial
Conference, not an impracticable proposition in the light of improved transport.
What is particularly important is the very practical proposal, which Mr. Curtin
and Mr. Fraser have already endorsed by a formal agreement,* for regional
conferences in which all powers bordering on the Pacific should be asked to co-
operate in economic, political and, above all, defense problems. In other words,
in the light of the experience of this war it is right that we should adjust our
institutions to our present-day conditions.
I am very much interested in the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the
Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett). I agree with him that the Dominions
Office is something of an anachronism. What is really required and what the
Dominions are seeking is some form of Secretariat. It might be a practicable
proposition for the Dominions Office to disappear-I am sorry that there should
be one member of the Government the fewer-and that in place of the Domin-
ions Office there should be a Dominions Secretariat, with a staff such as the
I. L. O. had at Geneva, comprising civil servants, experts and trained officials
from all parts of the Commonwealth. It cannot be too much emphasized how
jealous each Dominion is of its own economic policy. In this discussion that
sometimes has been forgotten. We have, I hope, learned the lesson of the Boston
tea party, and never again shall we attempt to interfere or even advise the Domin-
ions how to manage their economic affairs. I am not going to say anything to
suggest that after the marvellous contribution that the Dominions have made we
should go back on any agreement made with them. Twice in 25 years they have
come to our aid without question and without criticism, and we certainly could
not go back on any agreement made with the Dominions without mutual consent.
I have never been repentant about my attitude to the Ottawa Agreement, but the
Ottawa Agreement is there, and obviously, in 1944, after we have been comrades
in arms, we should not throw over the principles of that Agreement without dis-
cussion or mutual consent. The world of 1944 is not the same as the world of
1932. We have to think in different terms. Problems are different. Professor
Fisher is an economist who has probably more right to speak on Dominion
problems than any other economist. He was born in New Zealand, he was
educated in Australia and is now Price professor of economics at Chatham House.
"In the best interests of harmonious Commonwealth relations themselves,
the Commonwealth's place in the world economic structure demands a turning
away from the exclusive tendencies of the last decade and a closer integration
with world economic development as a whole."
I believe that represents the sentiments of the Dominions. They want a larger
industrial life. They do not want to go back. They are not ungrateful for the
help the British Commonwealth has given, but they now feel that they have come
of age, that they have developed industrially and economically, and they want to
trade with and cooperate with other countries outside the British Commonwealth.
The fact is we cannot leave out of the picture the United States. In this Debate
the Lease-Lend Agreement 'has loomed rather large. On 23rd February, 1942,
we signed an agreement with the United States arising out of a policy of Lend-
Lease. Clause 7 of that Agreement has been mentioned on several occasions, and
I think it is one which should be quoted in full, because there has been some mis-
understanding about it. Clause 7 says:
* See Appendix A.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
S "In the final determination of the benefits to be provided to the United
States of America by the Government of the United Kingdom in return for
aid furnished under Lend-Lease Act, the terms and conditions shall be such
as not to burden commerce between the two countries but to promote mutually
advantageous economic relations between them and the betterment of world-
wide economic relations. To this end they shall include provisions for agreed
action by the United States of America. and the United Kingdom open to
participation of all other countries of like mind directed to the expansion by
appropriate international and domestic measures of production, employment
and the exchange of goods which are the material foundation of the liberty
and welfare of all peoples"-
These are the important words-
"to the elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment in international
commerce and to the reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers; and in
general to the attainment of all the economic objectives set forth in the
That Agreement was signed over two years ago at the time of our direst peril,
when we were militarily weak, short of arms and short of materials. Our only
hope was generous treatment by the United States. As a result of the leadership
of Mr. Roosevelt the remarkably generous policy of Lend-Lease was initiated. In
this Agreement not very much was asked in return, and it would be most unfor-
tunate at a time like this, when our armies, our airmen and our navies are fighting
side by side, if it were thought on the other side of the Atlantic that we wished
to find fault with or be critical of an agreement of that kind.
No doubt the way in which America interprets those words is important.
America has always insisted, rightly or wrongly, that the Dominions .are separate
economic units and from that point of view undoubtedly they are when it comes
to tariffs. The Agreement did provide for discussion in the light of governing
economic conditions so that there might be agreed action between like-minded
Governments. These discussions have been going on, particularly on the question
of monetary policy, and I was glad to hear from the Chancellor that at last some
form of agreement has been come to by the experts. It has taken a long time to
negotiate. I would like to know whether there has been any progress in the trades
discussions. I would emphasize that in these discussions the Dominions should
be present and should be allowed and encouraged to put their own point of view.
It is quite true that the United States is against discrimination. It has always
been insisted in the United States, and the Government now in authority in Wash-
ington equally insists, that we should retain the Most Favored Nation Clause. I
have never had great belief in the Most Favored Nation Clause. I think countries
should be encouraged to come together and negotiate agreements for the lowering
of tariffs or the removal of trade barriers. We had some experience of that in
Europe when the Oslo Powers attempted to come to an agreement. That agree-
ment was never implemented because of insistence of the Most Favored Nation
Clause. It is vital for us to have the cooperation and good will of the United
States, not only during the war, but after the war. It is essential to the peace of
the world that the great English-speaking peoples-I indude the whole of the
British Commonwealth-should cooperate in peace as in war. In my view, after
this war the important question is not going to be so much one of tariffs as of
exchange and currency. That is why I welcome so much the possibility of an
agreement on exchange problems.
In many countries the tariff problem is going to fade into the background.
Russia has no tariffs. In that country there is one buyer and one seller. I think
28 British Speeches of the Day
it is agreed that in the interests of civilization no policy should be devised that
would leave Russia out of account. The Dominions, I understand, favor bulk
purchases. During the war purchases of raw material have been made by the
State, and I understand that Australia, and particularly New Zealand, are going
to put forward a proposition of that kind. On the other hand the United States,
I understand, do not favor, and view with great suspicion, collective or bulk
purchase. I suggest that that is a matter for negotiation. We should not take the
line "This is our policy; we demand Imperial Preference, we insist on bulk pur-
chase. We want this or that policy, and we are going to have it willy nilly." We
should discuss round a table how we can adjust our economic policy to work in
with that of the United States of America.
There are those in America who wish to cooperate and on the other hand
there are Isolationists. There is a strong school of thought in America which in-
sists on isolation of their economy and favor economic nationalism. Are we now
at this time to cooperate with those who support the policy of collaboration per-
sonified by Mr. Cordell Hull and Vice-President Wallace or play into the hands
of the Isolationists? We have constantly to keep in view the problem of full
employment. We are pledged in principle to the country and to Servicemen that
after the war we shall have a constructive policy'that will employ the population
and eliminate mass unemployment. That is a very difficult purpose to achieve. If
we are to have full employment we must have full production and if we are to
have full production we must have full trade. It is not going to be easy. In the
meantime, during the war, we have become a debtor nation instead of a creditor
nation. The right hon. Gentleman who wound up the Debate yesterday pointed
out very wisely that we must have imports to secure full employment. That will
mean an increase of 50 per cent in our exports. If we have to increase our
exports by one half, a very large figure, the world must be our market. It would
be fatal to suggest that our policy is to isolate ourselves economically from the
rest of the world.
Believe me, other nations are listening to our discussions. When we signed
the Ottawa Agreement, we thought it was a purely domestic matter not affecting
the economic and political problems of other nations. It was interpreted very
differently on the continent of Europe and in America. The year 1932, the year
of Ottawa, was the year of the spread of the power of Hitler and of the Nazi
doctrine and of the totalitarian theory throughout Germany. Many felt that if the
great British Commonwealth was to be closed to their trade they must devise
their own economic policy. It may be that Hitler would have achieved power
anyhow, but it was a great stimulus to his rise, this gesture of ours at Ottawa
which seemed to point to the closing of one of the greatest markets in the world
for their goods.
In my view we have to tread warily and be wise in this most critical period of
our history. The last thing we want to see again is power politics. We do not
want the public to feel that we have learned no lessons by the happenings of the
last 20 years. We do not want it to be suggested that the British Commonwealth
is going to be a closed Empire, that the world is going to be divided into economic
groups. That is the way to lead to a third great war. Devastated Europe is going
to face economically far more difficult problems than we shall have to face, though
ours will be difficult enough. The United Nations are working together now
during the war; I insist they must collaborate in peace. What can be done has
been shown in the U.N.R.R.A. organization. The United States has given a lead
there. Surely the policy that inspires U.N.R.R.A. is the right policy, rather than a
narrow interpretation of our economic life. Many people in America are suspicious
of our policy, they think it stands for Imperialism. We know better, but some of
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
the speeches that have been made during the Debate would give color to that
charge. The very last thing that should happen at a time like this is that it should
be thought that the policy of the Government stands for a closed economy. Do
not let it be thought that we are cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world
or, at any rate, give the great American people, who are now standing side by
side with us in the most serious period of our history, the impression that we are
devising a policy in any way unfriendly or hostile to them.
(c) Speech by Mr. Churchill, Prime Minister.
When we planned this Debate together through the usual channels, it was
well understood that its main purpose was to enable the House to express its
opinion, and that the Government would have no far-reaching declaration of
policy to make. Indeed, it has been everywhere recognized that for us to commit
ourselves to hard-and-fast lines of policy, or even to the advocacy of particular
suggestions or proposals, would not be appropriate on the eve of the first meeting
we have been able to arrange-after many attempts-of all the Dominion Prime
Ministers since the war began. Thus viewed, I think it will be almost universally
admitted that the Debate has been a great success, and has been of far-reaching
usefulness; that the Motion on which the Debate is founded is acceptable to all;
that there is, as the Noble Lord has said, an all-party agreement on most funda-
mentals; and that the level of the discussion has been worthy of the breadth of
the subject, and has been distinguished by speeches of a statesmanlike character,
for I can use no other word for speeches such as I heard yesterday. . I must
regret that I could not hear all the speeches which have been made, but I sat up
till half past two this morning leading the full report of every speech, and I crave
the indulgence of the House for not having been constantly on the Bench during
this Debate, on account of some other things which, hon. Members may know,
it is my duty to look after.
What has struck me most about the speeches to which I have listened or have
read or upon which I have been kept well-informed, has been the great number
of enormous topics, some of which have formerly been matters of heated con-
troversy, and may be again, which Members have found it necessary, indeed have
found it inevitable, to take for an airing. A great number of these questions con-
cern our future, and they have been raised directly or indirectly. What changes
are to be made in the political, economic, and defense structure of the British
Commonwealth and Empire? In what way will an ever more closely knitted
British Commonwealth and Empire become also, at the same time, more closely
associated with the United States? How will this vast bloc of States and Nations,
which will walk along together, speaking, to a large extent, the same language,
reposing on the same body of common law, be merged in the supreme council for
the maintenance of world peace? Should we draw closer to Europe-there is
another question-and aim at creating, under the Supreme World Council, a
living union, an entity in Europe, a United States of Europe? Or, again, should
we concentrate upon our own Imperial and Commonwealth organization, or upon
our fraternal association with the United States, and put our trust in the English
Channel, in air power, and in sea power?
Other more familiar topics than these-because it is easy to see, from the
recurrence of these topics in so many speeches, the way in which the modern
"That the United Kingdom should do its utmost by close co-operation and regard for
the different points of view of the nations of the Commonwealth to preserve in time of peace
the unity of purpose and sentiment which has held them together in time of war."
British Speeches of the Day
mind of the House is moving-have been raised, like Free Trade versus Protection,
Imperial Preference versus greater development of international trade, and inter-
national currency in relation to the policy of the United States and the existence
of a vast sterling area. One even sees the gold standard peering around the corner,
and, of course, British agriculture close at hand. My hon. Friend the Member
for Eye said yesterday that the sole, or the main, lesson of the war was that the
world was one and indivisible. I should myself have thought that the main
obvious fact before our eyes is that the world is very seriously divided, and is
conducting its controversies in a highly acrimonious manner. Certainly it seems
sufficiently divided to give the peacemakers quite a considerable task to weld it
into one common mutually-loving whole at the peace table. I cannot pretend to
have provided myself with the answers to all these questions, with answers which
would give satisfaction to all parties here at home, and cause no complications in
our relations with foreign States, but I bid the House to take comfort from the
fact that, great as our responsibilities are, no reasonable person could expect us to
solve all the problems of the world while we are fighting for our lives. We must
be generous, we must be fair to the future, we must leave something to be done
by our descendants, if any.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn), whose
laudable desire to probe into the distant past is not always accompanied by his-
torical precision, quoted-and I make no complaint of it-a speech which I made
40 years ago against Mr. Joseph Chamberlain's policy of Protection and Imperial
Preference which certainly does not, whatever else may be thought about it, reveal
me as a very ardent supporter of those policies, and certainly makes it very odd
that I should have, for the time being, the honor of leading the Conservative
Party. I have no intention of passing my remaining years in explaining or with-
drawing anything I have said in the past, still less in apologizing for it; but what
I am concerned to do is to show to the House, and also to Members of my own
Party, how strictly I have, during my stewardship, safeguarded the structure of
Imperial Preference, which has arisen out of the controversies and achievements
of the last 40 years, against any danger of being swept away in the tumult of
this war. At my first meeting with the President of the United States, at Argenta
in Newfoundland, at the time of the so-called Atlantic Charter, and before the
United States had entered the war-a meeting of very anxious and critical im-
portance-I asked for the insertion of the following words which can be read
in that document:
"With due respect for their existing obligations."
Those are the limiting words, and they were inserted for the express purpose of
retaining in the House of Commons, and the Dominion Parliaments, the fullest
possible rights and liberties over the question of Imperial Preference. Again, in
February, 1942, when the United States was our closest Ally, I did not agree to
Article 7 of the Mutual Aid Agreement, without having previously obtained from
the President a definite assurance that we were no more committed to the abolition
of Imperial Preference, than the American Government were committed to the
abolition of their high protective tariffs. The discussions as to how a greater
volume of trade and a more harmonious flow of trade can be created in the im-
mediate post-war years in agreement, leaves us, in every respect, so far as action
is concerned, perfectly free. How could it otherwise be, when Parliament itself
would not only have to debate the matters, but would have to legislate upon them,
when they were brought before it? I am convinced myself that there should be
a careful, searching, far-ranging discussion on the economics of the post-war
world, and a sincere attempt made to reconcile conflicting interests wherever pos-
sible. There must be a wholehearted endeavor, begun in good time, to promote
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
the greatest interchange of goods and services between the various communities
of the world, and to strive for that process of betterment of standards of life in
every country without which .. expanding markets are impossible, and without
which world prosperity is a dream which might easily turn into a nightmare.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) made
a remark which I particularly liked, when he said that the Empire is not a sick
body. I cordially agree. But even I can look back to the days when it was con-
sidered to be moribund. There were, when I was young, some statesmen whose
names are honored, who spoke of the Colonies as burdens, and of the Dominions
as fruit which would fall from the tree when ripe. I did not live myself in the
days when those speeches were made, but I remember well times of great anxiety
about the Empire, at the end of the last century. I remember the South African
war, and how shocked the War Office was, when Australia and New Zealand
actually wanted to send contingents to fight, and how they eventually overcame
their reluctance by adopting the immortal compromise unmountedd men pre-
ferred." My right hon. Friend, who is not here, has made great improvements
since then. I have never thought myself that the Empire needed tying together
with bits of string. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport
that natural development, natural forces, mysterious natural forces, will carry
everything before them, especially when those forces are fanned forward, as they
will be, by the wings of victory in a righteous cause.
Then came another phase. Looking at the British Empire, say, 30 years ago,
in 1914, on the eve of the first Great War, all foreign opinion, especially German
opinion, was convinced that this vast structure of Empire, created and coming into
full life in Victorian times, had reached a condition of ricketiness and looseness
when a single violent shock would bring it clattering down and lay it low forever.
Then came upon the world a most frightful war, incomparably greater than any-
thing we had ever known, with slaughter far greater than any, thank God, we
have suffered in this struggle. I remember coming out of the Cabinet meeting
on an August afternoon in 1914, when war was certain, and the Fleet was already
mobilized, with this feeling: "How are we to explain it all to Canada, Australia,
South Africa and New Zealand; nay, how are we to explain it all to our own peo-
ple in the short time left?" But, when we left the fierce controversy of the Cabinet
room, and came out into the open air, the whole of the peoples of the British
Empire, of every race and every clime, had already sprung to arms. Our old
enemies, recent enemies, Generals Botha and Smuts, were already saddling their
horses to rally their commandos to the attack on Germany, and Irishmen, whose
names I always bear in my memory with regard, John Redmond and his brother,
and others of the old Irish Parliamentary Party, which fought us for so many
years in this House in pleading the cause of Ireland with great eloquence and
Parliamentary renown-there they were, making these speeches of absolute support
and unity with this country until everybody said everywhere "The brightest spot
in the world is Ireland." It may be that a grand opportunity was lost then. We
must keep our eyes open. I always keep mine open on the Irish question.
We had a pretty dreary time between these two wars. But we have great
responsibilities for the part we played-so we have, all of us-and so have the
Americans in not making the League of Nations a reality and in not backing its
principles with effective armed forces, and letting this deadly and vengeful foe
arm at his leisure. But, underneath, the whole Empire and ourselves in these
islands grew stronger and our resources multiplied. Little was said about our
growth. Little was visible of our closer union, while the forces which had sent
the Anzac Corps to the Dardanelles, and afterwards to the Hindenburg Line, and
carried the Canadians to Vimy Ridge, were all growing, unseen, unnoticed,
immeasurable, far below the surface of public life and political conflict. These are
British Speeches of the Day
the natural processes to which my right hon. Friend so aptly referred. Then, this
war broke out. The Mother Country-I must still ask leave to use this name;
anyhow, I think it is rather dangerous to plunge into new nomenclature, and I am
not sure that anything like "The Elder Sister Country" would be a very great
success. There was that old song, which I remember in my youth, "A Boy's
Best Friend is his Mother," and which seems to me to be sometimes worth
humming again. The Mother Country I say was geographically involved, once
again, in the struggles of Europe, and found it right and necessary to declare
war upon Germany because Germany had violated Poland and we had guaranteed
to defend Poland. Instantly, from all parts of the British Empire, with one
lamentable exception, about which we must all search our hearts, came the same
response. None of the disillusionments that had followed "the war to end wars,"
"the homes for heroes" and so forth-all good slogans in their day-none of the
disillusionments which we had gone through, with the ups and downs of unem-
ployment and great privations, none of these had affected, in any way the living,
growing, intensifying inner life of the British Commonwealth and Empire.
When the signal came, from the poorest Colony to the most powerful Dominion,
the great maxim held, "When the King declares war, the Empire is at war."
The darkest moment came. Did anyone flinch? Was there one cry of pain or
doubt or terror? No, Sir, darkness was turned into light and into a light which
will never fade away.
What is this miracle? I think the word was used by some hon. Gentlemen
yesterday. What is this miracle, for it is nothing less, that called men from the
uttermost ends of the earth, some riding 20 days before they could reach their
recruiting centers, some armies having to be sent 14,000 miles across the seas
before they reached the battlefield? What is this force, this miracle which makes
governments, as proud and sovereign as any that have ever existed, immediately
cast aside all their fears, and immediately set themselves to aid a good cause and
beat the common foe? You must look very deep into the heart of man, and then
you will not find the answer unless you look with the eye of the spirit. Then it
is that you learn that human beings are not dominated by material things but by
ideas for which they are willing to give their lives or their life's work. Among
the various forces that hold the British Empire together is, and I certainly do not
object to the expression which my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham used,
"enlightened self-interest"; that has a valued and important part to play, but I am
sure he would make no mistake in placing that in front of those deeper and more
mysterious influences which cause human beings to do most incalculable, impro-
vident, and, from the narrow point of view, profitless things. It is our union in
freedom and for the sake of our way of living which is the great fact, reinforced
by tradition and sentiment, and it does not depend upon anything that could
ever be written down in any account kept in some large volume.
We have had the Statute of Westminster, which some thought would involve
the breaking of ties. There was a lot to be said about that on either side. It has
not impeded in the slightest degree the orward march of the Commonwealth and
Empire. It has not prevented the centripetal forces of our vast organization from
exerting their full strength. Here, after our failures-we are not the only nation
which had failures between the two wars-here, after the Statute of Westminster,
here after getting into this war, and dragging in the Empire so unprepared-
and they themselves no better prepared either in arms or opinion-here amid
the wreck of empires, states, nations, and institutions of every kind, we find
the British Commonwealth and Empire more strongly united than ever before.
In a world of confusion and ruin, the old flag flies. We have not got to consider
how to bind ourselves more closely. It would pass the wit of man to do so.
It is extraordinary what a poor business it has become to sneer at the British
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
Empire. Those who have tried it in the United States have been discredited. Those
who have tried it in the Dominions have found no public backing, although there
is free speech for all opinions. Those who decry our Commonwealth of Nations
and deride the Mother Country have very little support.
The question before us is, How can we make things better? How can we gain
greater results from our already close ties? I do not think we should embark upon
that task with a sort of feeling that, if we do not do something, everything is
going to crash. I do not understand that. I do not feel like that. The forces
underlying our unity are superior to any temporary shortcomings for which any of
us may become responsible. We have to consider practical steps and to consider
these coolly and sagely. The world is in crisis. The British Commonwealth and
Empire within itself was never more united. Rudyard Kipling, that refreshing
fountain of British Imperial ideas, wrote of the Dominions:
"Daughter am I in my mother's house,
But Mistress in my own."
We have to take a step beyond that now. There is a family council. Methods
must be devised, without haste and without rest, to bring the nations of the
British Empire into intimate and secret counsel upon the march of world events
not only during this war-because that is done with great labor and efficiency-
but after the war, so that they know fully our position and we theirs in regard
to the march of events and the action which may have to come from them. My
right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport spoke wisely and suggestively
of "functional unity" within the Empire and also of another applicable to the
world at large. The question had been raised: Should we have a permanent
machinery like the Committee of Imperial Defence, only on a larger scale, a kind
of lively extension of the principle which, is embodied in the name of the Chief
of the Imperial General Staff, which Lord Haldane created by a farseeing
decision, a sort of continuance, in an Imperial form, of the machinery which I,
at present, direct as Minister of National Defence, should we set up something
like this to be a standing and perpetual committee of the British Empire? This
is no more than an expansion on a much greater scale and in much more precise
detail of the work hitherto done by the Committee of Imperial 'Defence, which
my right hon. Friend mentioned. But should it extend into the sphere of maritime
affairs, of economic affairs and of financial affairs, and how far?
These are obviously matters which we must begin to explore together when
we meet informally our colleagues from the great Dominions. There are some
who would clothe the machinery of union with Ministerial authority, there are
others who would have it extended to both economic and military affairs. I
must says, speaking for myself, I see very little difficulty about the first, about
international bodies being developed with more vigor. We have, of course,
representatives of the Dominions on the bodies which function under the
Minister of Defence now. I see very little difficulty about the first; I see very
great advantage about the second, namely, Ministerial contact. There must be
frequent meetings of the Prime Ministers, and they must be attended by those
they choose to bring with them, to discuss all aspects of Imperial policy and
Imperial safety. Here as in so many cases time marches forward with a friendly
step. The vast developments of air transport make a new bond of union-I
think attention was drawn to it by my right hon. Friend opposite-and there are
new facilities for meeting, which will make the councils of the British Common-
wealth of Nations a unity much greater than ever was possible before, when the
war is over and when the genius of the air is turned from the most horrible forms
of destruction to the glories of peace.
British Speeches of the Day
It will be quite easy to have meetings of Prime Ministers or Imperial
conferences, whatever you like to call them, every year or more often, on every
serious occasion when we get to the times of peace, and we shall encourage them at
any time in the period of war. It is not necessary that these meetings should always
take place in London. They may take place in other great centers of our United
Empire. Although I am still old-fashioned enough to consider Cockney London
as the heart of the Empire, I am quite ready that we should take wing in the
future. In this war we have already held, quite apart from the conferences
with the President of the United States, a conference in Quebec where I sat
for several days with the Dominion Cabinet, and we were all the guests of
Canada, which I may say is a very agreeable thing to be. It is very likely, as the
somber marches of the war succeed one another, when Hitler and Hitlerism are
finished and blasted from the face of the earth, we shall have conferences of the
British Empire and the United States in Australia about all these matters-and
there are certainly some in which we find cause of complaint against the Japanese.
When peace returns, and we should pray to God it soon may, the Conferences of
the Prime Ministers of the Dominions, among whom we trust India will be
reckoned and with whom the Colonies will be associated, will, we hope, become
frequent and regular facts and festivities of our annual life.
One last word before I sit down. Some assume that there must be an inherent
antagonism between a world order to keep peace and vast national or federal
organization which will evidently be in existence. I do not believe this is true.
Both the world order and this great organization may be so fashioned as to be
two parts of one tremendous whole. I have never conceived that a .fraternal
association with the United States would militate in any way against the unity of
the British Commonwealth and Empire, or breed ill-feeling with our great
Russian Ally, to whom we are bound by the 20 years treaty. I do not think we
need choose this or that. With wisdom, and patience, and vigor, and courage,
we may get the best of both. We have often said of our own British Empire:
"In My Father's house there are many mansions."
So in this far greater world structure, which we shall surely raise out of the
ruins of desolating war, there will be room for all generous, free associations of a
special character, so long as they are not disloyal to the world cause nor seek to
bar the forward march of mankind.
(House of Commons Debates)
5. Speeches at the opening meeting of the
Commonwealth Conference, No. 10 Downing
Street, London, May 1, 1944.
Mr. Churchill: I desire to extend to the representatives from oversea a most
hearty and cordial welcome to these shores. This meeting is undoubtedly one of
the most important events that have taken place since the outbreak of war. Here
in the most deadly climax of the conflict of the nations, at a time when, although
we need no longer fear defeat, we are making the most intense efforts to compel
an early victory, there are gathered together representatives of all the self-
governing Dominions, together with their advisers, military and civil, to take
stock of our affairs. I do not expect that we shall reach complete solutions to all
the problems that confront the British Empire and vex mankind. We can hardly
expect to do so in the heat of war. But it is high time that we got round a table
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
to exchange views and ideas. These ideas are, I think, convergent. But it should
be our duty to seek to find where divergencies, or potential divergencies, exist and
see how such divergencies can be adjusted while they are still small. I am sure
we shall do so in this friendly atmosphere.
And there is a second major reason for these conversations. The British
Commonwealth and Empire now have fighting on their side very powerful
Allies. The Empire has been joined in the struggle against Germany by the
mighty force of the Soviet Union and by the great Republic of the United States.
It is right that the British Empire in its collective united aspect should put itself
solidly on the map, and make all the watching world realize that it stands
together, woven into one family of nations capable of solving our common
problems in full loyalty to the supreme cause for which we have drawn the sword,
and which we shall not cease to pursue until complete victory has been won.
Mr. Mackenzie King (Prime Minister of Canada): I express my warm
and sincere thanks to the Prime Minister of Great Britain for the words of
welcome which he has so cordially extended. I welcome this opportunity of our
meeting together. Great responsibilities rest on the nations of the CommonWealth,
and the purposes for which these meetings are taking place, as outlined by the
Prime Minister of Great Britain, will find an echo in the hearts of all present
today. The Government of Canada is as anxious as the Prime Minister of Great
Britain and his colleagues to display to the world the solidarity of the Common-
wealth in loyalty to the cause for which we fight, and in seeking a solution of its
many problems to have its different parts kept at all times in the closest possible
relationship. After the united way in which nations of the Commonwealth have
joined to prosecute the war, I myself anticipate no difficulty in reaching agreement
on all essential matters by a convergence of views, as suggested by Mr. Churchill.
I desire to convey warm greetings from the Canadian Government. The
Government at Ottawa has its own heavy responsibilities, smaller in scope
perhaps, but not less complex in nature. The discharge of common responsibilities
has given all our Governments better understanding of each other's problems,
and brought us all closer together. I feel, Prime Minister, that this island's
leadership in the fight for freedom has brought Canada closer than ever to
Mr. Curtin (Prime Minister of Australia): It is a very great privilege and
a high duty to be present here today. The Commonwealth of Australia needs no
statement from me for its presence today to be understood here and in the world
at large. We are with you in your undertakings because of the high cause that
animates them. We are with you in that high cause completely and unequivocally
to the ultimate finish.
The Australian people have been delivered from a mortal peril. This has
been effected by the gallantry of the Australian and American forces, the ability
of the High Command, the aid of Britain and the United States and the war effort
of the Australian people. The world-wide nature of the war has placed us in
a sphere of American strategic responsibility, and we are deeply grateful for
the aid of the American people. Although British resources were largely
committed elsewhere, we nevertheless received valuable aid from the people of
Mr. Fraser (Prime Minister of New Zealand): It is not necessary for New
Zealand to say what it has done and will do. From the outset New Zealand has
pledged herself to fight in the war until victory is won, with all the power and
resources in men and materials at her disposal. That pledge holds good today,
and I reiterate it on this occasion.
British Speeches of the Day
There are many important questions on the agenda for discussion and I will
not at this stage comment upon them. But I would like to say that New Zealand
is anxious to know how you are getting on in dealings with the many matters
of vital significance that are before you. We, too, have had, and still have,
some difficult questions to face, differing in magnitude, but of great importance
to the Dominion. We admire most wholeheartedly the handling of the many
and difficult problems that have confronted the Government of the United
Kingdom, not only on the military field but also in that of diplomacy, the
difficulties of which do not appear to be lessening. For my own part I do believe
that with the continuation of the firm friendship, good will, and cooperation
between the nations of the British Commonwealth we can establish the founda-
tions of the Commonwealth more firmly still: we can strengthen the already
strong bonds of unity which, based on free and willing association and partnership,
bind us so permanently together and link us with the other United Nations.
There are some problems ahead that may loom large. As the Prime Minister
of Australia and I have both said in the United States, there are in the Pacific-
the region which affects us so closely-no problems that cannot be solved by
good will, collaboration, and cooperation. New Zealand is anxious, Mr. Prime
Minister, to express its admiration for those in this country who have carried so
great a burden through so critical a period in the history of our Commonwealth
and of mankind.
Field Marshal Smuts (Prime Minister of South Africa): I wish to join
with my colleagues in thanking you for your welcome, and for your having
given us this opportunity of meeting. This is a very significant conference, held
at a great and significant time. In the coming months there will be decided one
of the great issues in the history of the world. It was therefore right for us to
meet together at this juncture.
I said that this meeting was significant. It is significant, in my judgment,
because not in the wide world could you get a similar widespread group together.
The old country, the old people, who have led the world and dominated human
affairs for the last 100 years and more, with the younger nations from all the
continents, are gathered here today around this table. The gathering is one
unique in history because of the spiritual bonds that have held its members
together as no group has ever been held before. Now in this great crisis we are
held together in addition by a common danger, a mortal one, from which we have
only just emerged. We are united too by the wider cause of man, for which we
have stood during the last five years, and for much of it alone. I hope that from
these deliberations will emerge not only measureless victory for ourselves, and a
strengthening of the ties that have united us, but the furthering of the greater
human causes for which we have stood. Our group of nations is a torchbearer.
It has always had its message for the world. I hope that from this meeting and
what emerges from it there will come forth a further message of deliverance and
hope. That is what I mean when I say that this is a significant occasion.
I thank you for your kind personal reference to' myself. This is more than
a family or social group. This group is more than a British family. It is a
human family of different races as my presence here signifies. And so I am
led to think of what has knit and will, I hope, forever bind us together and
make us a blessing not only for one racial front but for all mankind.
Sir Firoz Khan Noon (Representative of India at the War Cabinet): It
is a matter of special pleasure to his Highness the Maharaja of Kashmir and to
myself to represent India at this meeting of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
India's position is unique in the sense that she does not belong to the same race
as the United Kingdom and the Dominions. But she is united to the Empire
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
by bonds even stronger than blood and relationship-by the love of freedom and
of democratic institutions that Great Britain has developed in India over the
last hundred years. Few outside India realize how much India has already
achieved by being a partner in the Empire. There are no two opinions in India
so far as the maintenance of ties with Great Britain and the prosecution of the
present war are concerned. There is no one in India, not even Mr. Gandhi himself,
who does not want the United Nations to win.
And there are no two opinions about the maintenance, when the war is won,
of India's connection with Great Britain and with the other Dominions. For all
time she will stand as an equal and free member of this community of nations,
and she is gaining in political and economic stature all the time.
The Princes of India have ties with the Empire closer even than those of
British India. I am very happy to see the representatives of other Dominions
here today, and to think that we shall all be united not only through the war
but through many generations to come, and that India will be able to play her
part in solving the problems that confront us all. If there are any differences of
opinion between Great Britain and India, or between India and the Dominions,
they are only such differences as occur from time to time between kith and kin.
I am confident that these will be solved to the satisfaction of all parties. India
looks forward to an equal and growing partnership in which she hopes to play
her full part.
The Maharaja of Kashmir (Representative of the Indian Princes at the
War Cabinet): I desire to associate myself wholeheartedly with what has been
said by Sir Firoz Khan Noon. This is a great day and I am indeed privileged
to be present on it. The Indian States have been, are, and will be with the
Empire heart and soul throughout.
Sir Godfrey Huggins (Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia): I desire to
associate myself with what has been said by the Dominion Prime Ministers in
thanking the Prime Minister of Great Britain for inviting us to this meeting
and for his cordial welcome. The small community that I represent is heart and
soul with Great Britain in its difficulties. The gesture of inviting me to this
meeting will be much appreciated by the smaller countries in the Commonwealth
which have not yet reached the status of Dominions, and I desire sincerely to
express my thanks.
6. Broadcast by Mr. John Curtin, Prime Min-
ister of Australia, May 7, 1944.
I speak to the people of Britain on behalf of 7,000,000 Australians.
Australia is the greatest land mass south of the Equator held by the British
race. Along with 2,000,000 white people in South Africa and 1,500,000 in
New Zealand we are the bastion of British institutions, the British way of life '
and the system of democratic government in the Southern World.
I suppose that the average citizen of the British Isles has some conception
of Australia and Australians, whether it be because of the A.I.F. in the First
World War, or Don Bradman's performances at Lord's, or the kangaroo and
the Koala bear. Many, no doubt, have relatives who made their home in
Australia. But that conception must have been enlarged enormously when Japan
came into the war and Australia was faced with extinction as a free nation.
British Speeches of the Day
Then you must have realized that if Japan's onward march south engulfed
Australia and New Zealand then all vestige of British freedom and liberty
would have disappeared from the South Pacific. The Australian people stood
firmly in the path of the aggressor because they knew that their most precious
possession-their liberty-was the stake in the struggle. But they also stood as
the trustees for you, the people of Britain, for everything for which British people
everywhere stand. Today, I can say with just pride, that that trusteeship has
been carried out honorably and successfully.
What we did, we did to preserve our British way of life. We did it, too,
for the United Nations. We did it for civilization itself against a barbaric,
ruthless and fanatical enemy.
Let me tell you how we did it-how Australians undertook to marshal the
maximum strength of which they were capable so as to meet an entirely trans-
formed position in the Pacific. That was a task suddenly thrust on Australia after
she had sent three A.I.F. divisions to the Middle East, another division to Malaya,
maintained the flow of Australian air crews for the Battle of Britain and
garrisoned numerous islands around Australia.
No country-not even this gallant little island-faced a greater danger with
less resources than did Australia and the threat of invasion became such a grave
possibility that the absolute priority of the fighting forces and their requirements
became paramount over every other consideration.
That threat has now been removed because of four main factors. These are
the gallantry of our own and the American forces; the skill of the com-
manders; the aid given by the United States and the splendid effort of the
Australian people themselves. While Britain's resources have been committed
in other theaters, we are grateful for the assistance you have extended to
Australia. I can tell you that when the fact that British Spitfires had been in
action against the Japanese was made known a great thrill ran through the
Australia is now grappling with a task of no less magnitude. That is to
maintain Australian combat forces, to feed and service Australian and Allied
forces, to feed and maintain the Australian civil population and to produce vital
food for Britain. All that imposes a terrific strain on Australia's manpower
pool. Of the total male labor force, 40 per cent are serving in the forces or
are engaged in direct war work while 60 per cent are engaged in providing food,
clothing and other services for the Allied forces, in maintaining the civil popula-
tion and in providing food for Britain.
Seventy-two per cent of Australian manpower is engaged in the fighting
forces, in munitions-making and other essential industry. The corresponding figure
for Britain is 75 per cent.
As I have said, that has imposed a strain. It has meant, too, that Australians
have learned something of the rigors imposed on the British civil population.
Food and clothes rationing, pegging of wages, curtailment of amenities and a
general "do without" have combined to bring war very realistically to Australians.
Australians suffer shortages which do not occur even in Britain.
Since Pearl Harbor, Australia has been almost completely pre-occupied with
the war against Japan. But our airmen and our sailors have continued their fight,
side by side with you, against the European enemy. Australian fighting men have
given a new birth to the Anzac tradition established in the First World War.
They have pushed the Japanese back from the very coast of Australia until the
Allied retreat of 1942 has been turned into an Allied re-conquest of 1944.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
Our men have fought under conditions worse than any army in any war anywhere
in the world has suffered since the beginning of human combat.
I make it dear that Australia's pre-occupation with the war against Japan
involves more than Australia. The interests at stake concern the whole British
Commonwealth, the whole of the democratic nations throughout the world. The
issue in the Pacific, as in Europe, is between slavery and freedom. We, like you,
have stood and fought for freedom. We, like you, do not mean to see the
freedom we have helped to win for all people, everywhere in the world, dimin-
ished when peace comes.
The British Commonwealth, therefore, must recognize that the interests of
all its members are involved in the ability of Australia to maintain and expand
British institutions in the Pacific.
In particular, Australia wants her partners in the Commonwealth to under-
stand the vital position Australia occupies in British Commonwealth affairs.
That understanding has been amicably and fully reached with New Zealand and
the Australia-New Zealand Agreement gives fullest recognition to and provides
efficient machinery for that understanding.
Australia lays stress on the importance of the combined Allied military effort
against Japan, and, while recognizing and accepting the strategy of "beat Hitler
first," points out that because that will mean a prolonged war in the Pacific it is
essential that a certain minimum effort must be maintained in the Pacific so that
prolongation will not become stalemate.
I am happy to say that this point of view has been completely accepted by the
Prime Ministers' Conference. The Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military
Forces (General Sir Thomas Blamey) who is in London with me, together with
Australian naval and air force representatives in Britain, will discuss with the
British Chiefs of Staff, the technical aspects of the case submitted by Australia.
These discussions will aim at devising a satisfactory procedure for further
consideration by the British and Australian Governments.
There is one thing more for me to say to the people of Britain. I have left
it until the last, not in any sense of secondary or tertiary importance, but so that,
I hope, my final words will remain with you.
I echo the thoughts of every Australian when I say: We Australians are proud
to be of the stock which populates the British Isles. Our forebears were your
forebears. Our sons and daughters are as your sons and daughters.
What has been done in the past four years in this fighting fortress of Britain
will ring through the halls of fame forever. For ourselves, we say that when
Britain alone stood against Hitler we are proud that we had the honor to be
What has to be done in the future is in the hands of the peoples of the
British Commonwealth and of men and women of goodwill elsewhere who
subscribe to very much the same ideas and ideals. Our generation will have left
its mark. Before we hand on the torch to our sons and daughters our remaining
task is to think and plan so that their world may, in truth, be a new world.
There can be no going back to the "good old days." They were not good
days and they have truly become old. We have to point the way to better days.
The responsibility is a grave one. In one of the Allied nations the other day
it was said that the "British Commonwealth may well be studied as an object
lesson in free association." The important word in that comment was "associa-
tion." The partners in that association have a primary responsibility to each other,
British Speeches of the Day
jointly and individually. By their behavior in the future, they may very well
present to the world the blueprint for future.happiness for all mankind. If they
fail to do that, then they fail not only themselves but they may precipitate more
misery, unhappiness and degradation into this suffering world.
So I say to the people of Britain, as I say to the people of my own country,
we inherited something priceless, we have enhanced that heritage, let us be sure
it is handed on untarnished.
Goodnight and may God bless you all.
7. Address by Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Min-
ister of Canada, to both Houses of the
British Parliament, London, May 11, 1944.
Mr. Mackenzie was welcomed by Mr. Churchill in the following words:
We meet here today to give a hearty welcome to Mr. Mackenzie King, the
Prime 'Minister of the Dominion of Canada. We have known him for a long
time, and the longer we have known him the more we have loved him. He comes
here from Canada to attend our gathering of Empire leaders; he comes here as
one who has played an unrivalled part in the forward march of Canada.
Like most of us here, he is a party politician. Well, there is nothing to be
ashamed of in that. But I say without hesitation that there was no other man,
and perhaps there was no other career which any man could have followed, which
would have enabled our honored guest to lead Canada united into the heart of
this world-shaking struggle.
He has brought Canada to the greatest development of her power. It is
extraordinary to think what Canada has done in this war. The unending crash of
events, one scene of drama succeeding and overlapping another, the intense absorp-
tion of people of every age, sect, and class in the war effort, hardly enabling them
to draw breath-all this makes us incapable of appreciating a tithe of what has
been going on in Canada, under its Government headed by one who has been 25
years leader of a party and 18 years Prime Minister of the Dominion. With all
that is being done there we might well be asked to be excused if we have not
been able to follow it all in the detail it deserves.
Canada, with its 11,000,000 people, has guarded the heart and citadel of the
British Empire through the most perilous months in all its history. There was a
time when the Canadian Corps stood as our principal method of defense between
the enemy's gathering invasion hordes and this vast city of London. And Cana-
dians have become a naval people. Not only do they build ships, of peace and
war, but they man them and fight them, and have contributed in a notable degree
to the destruction of the U-boat menace. As for the air, Canada is the home of the
British Empire and Commonwealth in central organization. Her geographical
and other conditions have facilitated this, and from the airfields of Canada liave
come a race of airmen who have not only gathered unsurpassed honor, but will
continue to be an asset for the greater unity which underlies all the written or
legal constitution of the British Empire.
My friend Mr. Mackenzie King I have known for well over 40 years, first in
politics and then in personal friendship, and I know well the many steps he has
taken through that period leading up to this great climax of the development and
demonstration of the power of, Canada. Canada has a future which none can
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
measure. The representative of this magnificent people will give us today a con-
ception not only of the general participation of Canada in the Empire but the
particular character of the contribution which, in our vast and varied organiza-
tion, is always to be welcomed.
Canada is the link which joins together the old world and the new, which
links us with the vast American people with whom, I trust, we shall ourselves
develop a fraternal association. Canada bound by sacred ties to the Mother Coun-
try, and also by terms of the deepest intimacy and friendship to the United
States, damps the whole structure of this benignant, unfearing, glorious British
Empire together into one homogeneous mass which, when crisis comes for the
world as a whole, will never fail in its duty.
Mr. Mackenzie King said:
When I received from you, Prime Minister, the invitation to address mem-
bers of both Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, I found myself
at a loss for words in which'to acknowledge so high an honor. Your kindness in
presiding on this occasion, your words of introduction, the traditions and asso-
ciations of Westminster, and the presence in such numbers of members of the
Lords and Commons add greatly to my sense of obligation.
I am only too well aware of all that it means to be the guest of the people of
Britain, and to be speaking to them, and to others, from the heart of the British
Commonwealth and Empire, at this moment of supreme crisis in human affairs.
Your friendship and mine over many years of peace, and our dose companionship
throughout the years of war, to which you have made so kindly a reference,
afford me a support I greatly welcome in addressing this distinguished assembly.
As for my part in the entry of Canada into the war, it was but the discharge of
a responsibility which was mine to give expression in a decisive hour to the will
and spirit of the Canadian people and to serve their highest interests.
Four years have now passed since you accepted the leadership of the people
of Britain, and the leadership of the cause of human freedom. You and your
colleagues have led this country, and the cause for which it stands, from the dark
days of extreme peril, to this hour when at last the light is beginning to break.
It is a source of confidence throughout the free world that you, Prime Minister, are
continuing your leadership with a vision and a courage which have already become
I recognize that, for me, this occasion is designed as a welcome to Canada's
representative at the meeting of Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth.
For the high compliment being paid to Canada today, I should like to express
my gratitude and pride. I know that the welcome you accord to me is equally
heartfelt and generous towards the representatives of Australia, New Zealand, and
Sodth Africa. I should like to say to Mr. Curtin, Mr. Fraser, and Field Marshal
Smuts how great is the admiration of the people of Canada of their leadership
and of the heroic part which their countries have taken in this war. I should
also like to say to them how glad I am that our presence in London at this time
affords us not only exceptional opportunities of conferences with the Prime Min-
ister of Britain and his colleagues but of making clear to the world the oneness
of nations of the Commonwealth in the winning of the war and in seeking inter-
national cooperation after the war.
Perhaps I may be allowed to convey a special message from the Parliament and
people of Canada to the people of Britain. No memory of happiness in the past
is more cherished than the recollection of the visit of their Majesties the King
and Queen. In Canada, as in Britain, the years of war have heightened the admira-
British Speeches of the Day
tion and increased the affection felt by men and women everywhere for our King
and Queen. We have been inspired by their courage and devotion in sharing the
dangers and sorrows of the people. In all the nations of the Commonwealth,
their example has deepened the meaning and significance of our common alle-
giance to the Crown.
The heroic endurance of the people of Britain is ever present in our minds.
We shall never forget your resolution in the darkest days of the war. Nor shall
we ever cease to remember the determination with which, amid destruction of your
homes and in peril of your lives, you, the men, women, and children of Britain,
have continued to carry on your work, and to maintain your confidence in the
future. Clearly the maintenance of human freedom has depended upon the pres-
ervation of the freedom of Britain. It is our greatest pride, as it is the greatest
pride of other British nations represented here, that when, for so long a time,
you alone bore the brunt of the attack, we stood with you in arms against the
might of Nazi Germany. The free nations of the world can never forget that it
was the indomitable resistance of the people of Britain that bought the precious
time for the mobilization of the forces of freedom around the globe.
Britain has been an example to the world of the organization 6f a free people
for a common task. You have astonished the world by the marvels of your indus-
trial production, and by the skill and efficiency of your workers. You have never
lost your faith. A new energy, a new confidence have been generated in your
people. These will endure. And your faith, tested and tried in the fires of afflic-
tion, will be firmer and stronger than it has ever been.
When victory is won, you will still possess the same initiative, vigor, and
endurance; the same skills of hand and brain; the same qualities of mind and
spirit. These have enabled the people of Britain to make a contribution to the
winning of the war, which, man for man, no other nation has surpassed. In peace,
as in war, these qualities will remain. In the building of a better world after
the war, Britain will be able, by the force of her example, to give the same leader-
ship that she has given in the waging of war.
It is, however, not of Britain but of Canada that I am expected to speak on
this occasion. I should like, therefore, if I may, to speak to you particularly of the
spirit of Canada, as exemplified in Canada's war effort. I do this with less em-
barrassment, as a like spirit, I know, animates the war efforts of all the nations
united in a common allegiance to the Crown. I should like to speak as well of
what that spirit signifies for the future of the British Commonwealth, and of its
relations with other nations in the building of a new world order.
In speaking of Canada's war effort, it is not my intention to describe our con-
tribution to the present world conflict in terms of men and materials. What I
should like to refer to are certain aspects which, viewed collectively, reveal the
spirit of the Canadian people.
I place first the aspect I regard as most significant. Canada's war effort is a
voluntary effort. It is the free expression of a free people. Like the other nations
of the Commonwealth at war today, we entered the war of our own free will, and
not as the result of any formal obligation. Ours was not primarily a response
to a call of blood or race. It was the outcome of our deepest political instinct-
a love of freedom and a sense of justice.
As our decision was a voluntary decision, so the effort of our people in
carrying on the war has become a voluntary effort. In Canada, as in other coun-
tries, controls and restrictions have been imposed in order to prosecute the war
with vigor and efficiency. But at every stage these measures have received the
overwhelming support of the Canadian people.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
Canada's population numbers 11,500,000. Three-quarters of a million of our
finest young men are serving in the armed forces. This military demand on our
manpower resources has not prevented our country from doubling its pre-war
production. Thanks to the skill and devotion of our men and women, Canada is
a granary, an arsenal, an aerodrome and a shipyard of freedom. Our country
has become increasingly proud of the fact that every fighting man from Canada
serving across the sea, on the sea, and in the air is a volunteer. We can say, in
very truth, that Canada's effort in this war is a voluntary effort.
Canada's decision to enter the war was an immediate decision. When, in 1939,
the last hopes of peace were fading from the world, I announced that, if Britain
took up arms in the defense of freedom, our Government would ask Parliament
to place Canada at Britain's side. When war came there was no hesitation. As
soon as Parliament could act Canada was at war.
In those days few, if any, of our people believed our country stood in imme-
diate danger of attack. What we sensed immediately was the issue. We saw that
a bitter struggle had begun between freedom and domination, and that the con-
flict would certainly spread. For the second time in a generation Canada went to
war to help prevent tyranny in Germany from extending its domination to other
parts of the globe.
When the last war ended the people of Canada, like other freedom-loving peo-
ples, hoped and believed that peace and freedom had been assured to mankind
for generations. In our National War Memorial that hope and that faith were
symbolized by inseparably joined figures of peace and freedom. But all our
history, all our political experience, told us that freedom in Canada could not
survive in a world that was no longer free.
From the beginning our war effort was so planned and organized that we
might reach, as rapidly as possible, the maximum effort our people could sustain
during a long war. We expanded our Navy as fast as we could build or acquire
the ships and train the men. We expanded our Army to the highest strength
we believed we could maintain in a long war. We expanded our Air Force to
the limit of our capacity to secure the needed equipment and to train personnel.
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was expedited and expanded beyond
all anticipations. The 100,000th fighting airman has just completed his training.
The cooperative training in Canada has vastly increased the joint strength in the
air of the United Nations.
We have expanded our war industries far beyond the needs of our own armed
forces. Despite the withdrawal of hundreds of thousands of men from the farms,
the fisheries, the mines, and the forests, we have greatly enlarged our production
of foodstuffs and raw materials. We are devoting about half our total production
directly to the waging of war. We are paying about half of the financial cost
of our war effort out of current revenue from taxation. Through victory loans and
war savings, nearly every family is helping to finance the war.
In fighting men, in weapons and munitions, in food and in finance, we are
seeking as a people to make our utmost contribution to the fight for world freedom.
Our objective has been a total effort for total war, and we believe that objective
is being attained. Of the nations of the western hemisphere, Canada was the
first to defend in arms the frontiers of the freedom of the new world. For more
than two years our country, alone in the Americas, was at war. In more ways
than one our effort has been a pioneering effort.
Canada's contribution to the present war has been the greater because we live
side by side with the United States. Without the harmony and reciprocity which
exist between our two countries, neither could have achieved so much in the
British Speeches of the Day '
common cause. The ability of both Canada and the United States to defend the
North American continent, and to fight abroad, has been greatly increased by our
arrangements for joint defense, and by the pooling of resources.
We have sought to make our war effort, wherever possible, a cooperative
effort. The extensive military works undertaken in Canada in conjunction with
the United States have provided a remarkable instance of dose and friendly
cooperation. Ours is surely the supreme example of a smaller nation living in
the fullest security and harmony side by side with a.very powerful one.
As a part of our war policy Canada is sharing, with other of the United Na-
tions, ships, machines, weapons, and other supplies which we are producing far
in excess of the needs of our own armed forces. Since the war began we have
supplied to Britain and to Britain's armed forces, war materials and other supplies
worth nearly 900,000,000. Almost half of these supplies represent an outright
contribution. Under our system of mutual aid war materials have for the past
year been supplied without payment to the United Nations, in accordance with
strategic need. Canada is now supplying mutual aid to Britain, Australia, the
Soviet Union, China, and the French Committeeof National Liberation.
As the war has progressed our effort has -become more and more a world-wide
effort. Canadian-made machines and munitions of war have been used on all the
fighting fronts. Canadian sailors and merchant seamen have served on all oceans.
Our airmen have fought in the battle of the skies around the globe. From the
early days of the war our soldiers have helped to guard this island. They have
seen active service in the Pacific area as well as at Dieppe and in the Italian cam-
paign. Today our Army awaits the word of command to join with their comrades
in the liberation of Europe. The morrow will witness Canadian forces taking
part in a final assault upon Japan. Canada's effort has truly become a world-wide
I need scarcely say that we are in this war to the end. Canada's fight for
freedom will be a fight to the finish. It is clear to our people that this war is all
one war: a monstrous conspiracy of the Fascist Powers to dominate and enslave
the world. Having taken up arms of their own free will, the Canadian people
will not relax until freedom is secure. Canada's effort will be an enduring effort.
We have also sought to look beyond the war; to make our effort a long-range
effort. The Canadian people, no less than the people of Britain, whose sacrifices
have been so great, need the promise of a brighter future. To sustain us in our
endeavors, we all need the vision of a new world order. By coordinated action,
by mutual aid, by continuous cooperation, the United Nations are achieving mili-
tary victory. The widest measure of cooperation will be no less needed in the
making and keeping of peace. While our primary aim, like yours, is military vic-
tory; our ultimate aim, hke yours, is a better future for mankind.
Above all, our war effort must be viewed as a national effort. Our decision in
1939 was more than the free choice of a free Parliament. It was the most solemn
act of a free nation. Our war effort appeals to our national pride. We have
sought to make it worthy of Canada.
I have spoken of the war effort of Canada. May I hasten to say again that a
like spirit has animated the war efforts of each of the other nations of the Com-
monwealth? With due allowances for varying conditions, the several aspects of
Canada's war effort have been paralleled in Australia, New Zealand, and South
Africa. When war came four nations, all of them thousands of miles from the
scene of the conflict, ranged themselves at the side of Britain. To each the issue
was plain; from each the response was immediate. Each is seeking to put forth
the utmost effort. The contributions of all bear the imprint of the initiative and
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
self-reliance of the pioneer. Cooperation has marked their course throughout.
Each is making a long-range effort which will prove to be an enduring effort. It
is the pride of each that its war effort has been a national effort.
Nor have we far to seek to discover the cause of this identity of effort. The
spirit of a nation is not readily defined. It is known only as it is revealed. It re-
sembles the flow of waters hidden beneath the earth's surface. From time to time,
and from place to place, the waters having their origin in'some secret source reveal
themselves as springs, or streams, or rivers. So also, from time to time, a nation's
spirit wells up from its source and manifests itself in the collective acts of a people.
Such collective action is quickened and heightened at a time of war.
The war efforts of the nations of the Commonwealth owe their inspiration to
a common source. That source is the love of freedom and the sense of justice
which, through generations, have been nurtured and cherished in Britain, as no-
where else in the world.
The terrible events of 1940 revealed how great was the menace to freedom,
and how suddenly freedom might be lost. So long as freedom endures, free men
everywhere will owe to the people of Britain a debt they can never repay. So long
as Britain continues to maintain the spirit of freedom, and to defend the freedom
of other nations, she need never doubt her own pre-eminence throughout the
world. So long as we all share that spirit we need never fear for the strength or
unity of the Commonwealth. The voluntary decisions by Britain, by Canada, by
Australia, by New Zealand, and by South Africa, are a supreme evidence of the
unifying force of freedom.
The common effort springing from a common source has given a new strength
and unity, a new meaning and significance to the British Commonwealth and
Empire. Without attempting to distinguish between the terms "British Empire"
and "British Commonwealth," but looking rather to the evolution of this asso-
ciation of free nations, may I give to you what I believe to be the secret of its
strength and of its unity, and the vision which I cherish of its future?
"We... who look forward to larger brotherhoods and more exact standards of
social justice, value and cherish the British Empire because it represents, more
than any other similar organization has ever represented, the peaceful cooperation
of all sorts of men in all sorts of countries, and because we think it is, in that
respect at least, a model of what we hope the whole world will some day become."
This vision, I need scarcely say, is not mine alone; indeed, the words in
which I have sought to portray it are not even my own. They were spoken 37
years ago by one whose fame today is not surpassed in any part of the world, if,
indeed, it has been equalled at any time in the world's history. They are the
words of the present Prime Minister of Britain-uttered by Mr. Churchill in
1907. As they continue to reverberate down the years, they bring fresh inspira-
tion to all who owe allegiance to the Crown, and increasing hope to mankind.
Visions of youth, sometimes, "die away, And fade into the light of common day."
They fade not because the vision is ever wholly lost but because resolution
wavers, because determination fails, because of seemingly insuperable obstacles.
It has not been so with Mr. Churchill. He has not to ask
"Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?"
The glory and the dream-are they not being, realized at this very hour, in the
strength and unity of the nations of the Commonwealth?
From time to time it is suggested we should seek new methods of communica-
tion and consultation. I believe very strongly in dose consultation, close coopera-
British Speeches of the Day
tion, and effective coordination of policies. What more effective means of co-
operation could have been found than those which, in spite of all the handicaps of
war, have worked with such complete success?
It is true we have not, sitting in London continuously, a visible Imperial War
Cabinet or Council. But we have, what is much more important, though invisible,
a continuing conference of the Cabinets of the Commonwealth. It is a confer-
ence of Cabinets which deals, from day to day, and, not infrequently, from hour
to hour, with policies of common concern. When decisions are taken, they are
not the decisions of Prime Ministers, or other individual Ministers, meeting apart
from their own colleagues, and away from their own countries. They are eci-
sions reached after mature consideration by all Members of the Cabinet of each
country, with a full consciousness of their immediate responsibility to their re-
Let us, by all means, seek to improve where we can. But in considering new
methods of organization we cannot be too careful to see that, to our own peo-
ples, the new methods will not appear as an attempt to limit their freedom of
decision or, to peoples outside the Commonwealth, as an attempt to establish a
separate bloc. Let us beware lest in changing the form we lose the substance; or,
for appearance's sake, sacrifice reality. I am told that, somewhere, over the grave
of one who did not know when he was well off, there is the following epitaph:
"I was well; I wanted to be better; and here I am."
In the passage I quoted from Mr. Churchill a moment ago I gave only a
part of what he said. He set forth as well the means of realizing his vision of
peaceful cooperation. "Let us," he said, . seek to impress, year after year,
upon the British Empire, an inclusive and not an exdusive character." Like the
nations of which it is composed, the British Commonwealth has within itself a
spirit which is not exclusive but the opposite of exclusive. Therein lies its strength.
That spirit expresses itself in cooperation. Therein lies the secret of its unity.
Cooperation is capable of indefinite expansion. Therein lies the hope of the
It is of the utmost importance to the Commonwealth that there should con-
tinue to be the greatest possible cooperation among its members. In like manner
it is, I believe, of the utmost importance to the future of mankind that, after the
war, there should be the greatest possible cooperation among the nations of the
world. Our wartime cooperation of the Commonwealth is not the product of
formal institutional unity; it is the result of agreement upon policies of benefit to
all. Moreover, they are policies that make an appeal "to all sorts of men, in all
sorts of countries," provided only they are men of good will.
If, at the dose of hostilities, the strength and unity of the Commonwealth
are to be maintained, those ends will be achieved not by policies which are
exclusive, but by policies which can be shared with other nations. I am firmly con-
vinced that the way to maintain our unity is to base that unity upon principles
which can be extended to all nations. I am equally sure that the only way to
maintain world unity is to base it upon principles that can be universally applied.
The war has surely convinced all nations, from the smallest to the greatest,
that there is no national security to be found in the isolation of any nation or
group of nations. The future security of peace-loving nations will depend upon
the extent and effectiveness of international cooperation. It is no less true that
it is not the great Powers only that are needed to defend, to preserve, and to ex-
tend freedom. We should be false to the freedom for which we are fighting if, at
any time, we failed to remember that no nation liveth unto itself; and that na-
tions great and small are members one of another.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
It is not merely the security of nations that is indivisible. Their prosperity
also is indivisible. Few would wish to return to the years before the war when
almost every nation sought economic security in economic isolation from its
neighbors. What happened was that the economic security of all nations was
destroyed. Now is surely the time for the world to realize that, just as no nation
of itself can ensure its own safety, so no nation or group of nations can in isola-
tion ensure its own prosperity.
For my part, I profoundly believe that both the security and the welfare of the
nations of the British Commonwealth and, in large measure, the security and
welfare of all peace-loving nations will depend on the capacity of the nations of
the Commonwealth to give leadership in the pursuit of policies which, in char-
acter, are not exclusive, but inclusive. How far such policies can be successfully
pursued will, of course, depend on the extent to which other nations are pre-
pared to pursue similar policies. But let us, at least, wherever that is possible,
give the lead that is in the interest of the world as a whole.
Over many years Canada's relations with the United States have been espe-
cially friendly. Throughout the war we have followed the path of cooperation.
We like to think that our country has had some part in bringing about a har-
mony of sentiment between the United States and the whole British Common-
wealth. That harmony is the foundation of the close military collaboration which
is proving so fruitful in this war. It will ever be a prime object of Canadian
policy to work for the maintenance of the fraternal association of the British and
American peoples. When peace comes it is our highest hope that the peoples
of the British Commonwealth and the United States will continue to march at
each other's side, united more closely than ever. But we equally hope that they
will march in a larger company, in which all the nations united today in defense of
freedom will remain united in the service of mankind.
We are approaching, in the European theatre, the supreme crisis of this long
and terrible struggle. In this fateful hour it is imperative that everything be done
to maintain single-minded concentration on the achievement of victory. That is
our first obligation. It is our duty to the humble people in all the Allied countries
whose patient endurance, unremitting toil, and ready acceptance of the burdens of
war have made possible the immense strength in war materials and supplies to the
United Nations. It is our duty, above all, to the millions of fighting men who
with their lives are defending our freedom and the freedom of mankind.
The assurance of unfailing support to our sailors, soldiers, and airmen is
the supreme objective of the present meetings of the Prime Ministers. We have
met here, first and foremost, in order to do everything possible, by cooperation
and by united action, to assure that support in largest possible measure on all the
The present war is different from any war in the past. It is different in scale.
In any accurate geographical sense, it is the first world war in history. It is a
war that is being fought not only on land and at sea, but also in the clouds, miles
above the surface of the earth. It is, moreover, a war that is not confined to the
material realm. It is a struggle for the control of men's minds and men's souls.
Its outcome will shape the moral destiny of the world.
The support of our fighting men, and our debt to all who are near and dear
to them must extend beyond the theatres of war. It must look beyond the end of
hostilities. We owe it to all who bear the heat of the strife; we owe it to those
who'are crippled and maimed; we owe it to the many homes that are bereaved;
we owe it to the memory of those who give their lives, to do all in our power to
ensure that their service and their sacrifice shall not have been in vain.
48 British Speeches of the Day
In the past the sacrifice of human life in war has been commemorated in monu-
ments of stone or bronze. After this war we must create a more fitting memorial.
That, I believe, will be found only in securing for others the opportunity of a
more abundant life. Already we, of the British Commonwealth and Empire, are
a community of many nations, of many races, and many tongues. Already we have
advanced far in the art of responsible government, in the practice of international
cooperation, and in the application of the principle of mutual aid. Surely it is
ours to help fashion a new world order in which social security and human wel-
fare will become a part of the inheritance of mankind.
The war has been none of our making. We sought, above all else, the promo-
tion of peace, of understanding, and of good will. We deplored the extension
of war to all parts of the world. Yet in the perspective of time, this world-
encircling danger may prove'to have been a blessing in disguise. Only in this
way, perhaps, could other nations, as well as our own, have come to see that the
interests of mankind are one, and that the claims of humanity are supreme.
Our first duty is to win the war. But to win the war we must keep the vision
of a better future. We must never cease to strive for its fulfillment. No lesser
vision will suffice to gain the victory over those who seek world domination and
human enslavement. No lesser vision will enable us fittingly to honor the memory
of the men and women who are giving their all for freedom and justice. In the
realization of this vision, the Governments and peoples who owe a common alle-
giance to the Crown may well find a new meaning and significance of the British
Commonwealth and Empire. It is for us to make of our association of free British
nations "a model of what we hope the whole world will some day become."
8. Speeches made at the closing meeting of
the Commonwealth Conference, London,
May 16, 1944.
Mr. Churchill: We have this morning concluded the formal and official parts
of our labors to which we have devoted the last fortnight, and I take this oppor-
tunity of expressing on behalf of His Majesty's Government in this country the
very deep sense of pleasure which this visit from all parts of our Empire and
Commonwealth has given to those who have the honor to be the hosts on this
occasion. We have found comfort in hours of stress and anxiety. In days when
great military operations are proceeding with vigor, and at last not uncheered by
hopes of success, we have found pleasure in meeting men whose companionship
is a comfort, whose comradeship is strong as a rock. We have got to know
each other in some cases much better than we did. For my part I have known
Mr. Mackenzie King and Field Marshal Smuts for about 40 years. I was delighted
to meet the representatives who have come to us from Australia and New Zealand,
and particularly to meet for the first time Mr. Curtin.
My confidence in the future is enormously strengthened by all that has passed
round this council board, and I am sure that this meeting will in future years be
looked back to as one of the important milestones in the history of our united
association. We do not know how far we have to go; we do not know how
long victory will be denied or what tribulations we shall have to ask our people
to endure, but we are absolutely sure that they will not be found unequal to
the tests and the trials, however long, however heavy, and that after these are
over we shall preserve in union, in association that poise and calm for which
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
we like to feel'we have been honored in the world and take at least as large a part
in leading mankind out of the miseries into which they have fallen as we took
in bearing the brunt of the struggle which broke upon us some five years ago.
His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom trust indeed that their
guests may have safe journeys home across the war-scourged seas and with the
hazards of the air. We are most grateful to them for the exertions they have
made in coming. We hope they will carry back to their countries a good tale
of what they found here, and tell them that we will all go along together in the
fullest war effort till peace and justice have been established on unshakeable
Mr. Mackenzie King: I cannot reciprocate too warmly the sentiments which
you have so feelingly and eloquently expressed. I can say with deep confidence
that all who are present deeply appreciate the invitations, which His Majesty's
Government in Great Britain extended to us to meet in London at this time,
and we all feel that the meeting in this council chamber on this momentous
occasion has meant much not only to us personally but will mean a great deal
to the Governments which we represent.
There has been but one opinion as to the importance of the meetings which
we are now concluding; there can be but one opinion. They have been most
helpful and useful to all who have participated in the proceedings. Particularly
do I value the opportunity they have provided for the discussion of common
problems with the other Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth, with the
representatives of India and Southern Rhodesia, and with members of the
United Kingdom War Cabinet and Government.
I shall never be able adequately to express, Prime Minister, what your own
contribution as chairman and in our deliberations has meant to us. Time and
again we have been moved and inspired by your memorable utterances. We shall
return to our respective countries more impressed than ever with the magnitude
and complexity of the problems which confront the world today, but also with
our hopes heightened and with a profound appreciation of the courage and
resolution with which they are being faced.
London at this moment in history has been the right and proper place for
our discussions. We have all been deeply impressed and affected by the spirit
of this country. Since that very different spring four years ago, the will and
spirit of the people of Britain have been a source of inspiration to all the peoples
of the Commonwealth. At no time was this truer than at the present. I came
here fully aware of our oneness of purpose. I was certain there was full agreement
on essentials. I know that our soldiers, sailors, and airmen have been taken
into your hearts and homes and that the High Command under which they serve
is worthy of the trust we place in them. During these short weeks I have been
strengthened in that knowledge.
I shall be able to tell the people of Canada, at this crest of our collective
effort, that the fighting forces are being given full and hearty support, and that
all is being done well. The singleness .of purpose with which the task is being
accomplished and with which tasks ahead are being undertaken adds to the
assurance of final victory and a constructive peace.
The declaration we signed this morning is a clear and firm indication of what
the British Commonwealth means to its members and to the world. The statement
will be enthusiastically welcomed in all parts of Canada. Thanks to the swift
and smooth machinery of consultation which has steadily improved under the
stimulus of the conditions of war, we came to these meetings knowing much
of each other's problems and points of view. But I should like to say how
much it has meant to hear those problems and points of view explained and
British Speeches of the Day
interpreted by those who themselves are responsible to their own Parliaments
for the conduct of their countries' business.
Since the beginning of the war we have welcomed to Ottawa many visitors
from the other nations of the Commonwealth. The Government and people of
Canada are looking forward with much pleasure to a visit from Mr. Curtin, the
Prime Minister of Australia. It will provide an opportunity to pay tribute to him
and to the achievements of his countrymen in this present war. We are eager
also to welcome again Mr. Fraser, the Prime Mihister of New Zealand, who is
happily no stranger to Canada. It is many years since Field Marshal Smuts, the
Prime Minister of South Africa, has been to Canada. I speak for all the
people of our country when I urge him to visit us again. You, Mr. Churchill,
need no assurance of the welcome which will always await you on Canadian soil.
Prime Minister, I cannot depart without expressing my appreciation and
that of those who have accompanied me for the cordial and generous hospitality
which the United Kingdom Government has extended to us. If I may say so, the
arrangements for our meetings have been admirable and businesslike. We have
had a good many sessions, covering a good deal of ground in a very brief time.
That this has been possible is, I am sure, largely due to the efforts of the joint
secretariat provided by the War Cabinet and the Dominions Offices. I should like
to convey to them our warmest thanks.
May I add again, no words of mine can express what we all feel of the
many courtesies that have been extended to us, and, above all, how exceptional
has been the opportunity of gaining a wider vision and a clearer and closer
understanding in respect of the problems which we have in common. I go away
very much pleased indeed with the proceedings of this gathering.
Mr. Curtin: It is not very easy for me to say all that is in my heart. The
people and the Government of Australia were most anxious that this consultation
should take place. They desired it because they felt that the time had come when
this council should review the war in the state which it has now reached, so
that the heads of Governments could be informed more clearly as to the probable
course that it might take and the problems that have to be overcome in order to
mount to the summit the strength which has gradually been gathered from all
parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire and also the resources and
efforts of our Allies.
I can only say that we are deeply indebted to you and to your colleagues
for the attention you have given not only to the war itself but also to those
multitudinous. difficulties for the Commonwealth which the war has caused.
During these council meetings you have given to us the amplitude of your
great mind and heart, and I know nobody anywhere who could have steered us
through these deliberations more graciously, more inspiringly, or more successfully.
I count myself, if I may offer a personal word, happy to have taken part in
these discussions. I came not only from a sense of duty but also with a deep
desire to be associated in a humble way with deliberations which I knew would
reach conclusions of historic significance not only to the Commonwealth and
Empire but I do believe to the world at large. The declaration which we have
agreed upon and which is to be issued, indicates broadly the essential unity which
marks this Commonwealth and Empire, and it expresses to other nations its
deep purpose, that is, to be with them with all that we have until the war is
over, and also our determination to do all we can in the years to come to make the
world a safer and a better place.
I believe that the episode through which we are passing-I call it an episode,
though it is markedly an occasion when aggressors have been able to wage war
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
upon peace-loving people-is an episode which has heartened the evolution of our
association, has strengthened it and, as it were, has given much acceleration and
greater speed to our complete fraternization as peoples offering homage to the
King and to that association over which he rules as marking the greatest confra-
ternity of governmental relations the world has yet witnessed.
Our association is one of kinship, one of common ideals and common purposes,
and we say to the world at large that we ourselves feel that a world organization
for peace, for ensuring peace, and for the prevention of war, is an association
into which we will enter and to which we will give all those qualities which we
have and which we believe have enabled us to play a very, very significant part
in the life of the world as a whole.
I give you the pledge of my country, and I am sure any other Government
of the Commonwealth would give you the same pledge of inflexible determination
to be with you until the victory is won. That determination shall have imported
into it every quality which marks the people of the Commonwealth, those qualities
of high endeavor, of endurance, of fortitude, and, may I say, of fighting capa-
bility which the sons and daughters of our race in the Antipodes have displayed
and which I think has been recognized as one of its greatest gifts.
I have great pride in the people of Australia. They have great pride in the
British Commonwealth, and we say too that this occasion when we have gathered
here in the midst of this terrible war in order the more solidly to wage the struggle
will be regarded by them as one of the great contributions to the earlier termination
of the struggle.
I should like to express our thanks for the great aid your officers have given
to us and for the arrangements which have been made for our comfort and for
our travel, and to say we will go back to our respective countries, as I know I
shall in Australia, with an even clearer insight into the heroic gallantry and the
unflagging endeavor which have enabled this bastion of the freedom of the world
*to reach its present state when it can look forward to peace with confidence.
Mr. Fraser: This meeting of Prime Ministers has been of great value and I
am sure has inspired and strengthened all of us. I am most deeply gratified with
the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation which has throughout pervaded
the discussions, as it does the relationship among the respective members of the
Commonwealth and Empire. It is this spirit, more than any other factor, from
which our great Empire and Commonwealth derives its strength and upon its
continuance rest our high hopes of the future.
As a result of these completely frank exchanges, each of us has an understand-
ing of the point of view and feelings of the other units of the Commonwealth
and has been given glimpses of the way our respective Governments are likely to
consider proposals to meet changing circumstances. This will be invaluable as
in our own countries we have from day to day to make decisions on the important
questions which continually arise.
It has been a great benefit to me, as I am sure it has been to all of us, to have
attended this historic meeting held at this critical period of the war in Europe-at
a time which vitally affects the destinies of our own Commonwealth of British
nations and is fraught with momentous consequences for the peoples of the world.'
We have had an opportunity at this conference to review the strategy of the
war, to learn of the plans upon which it is being conducted. We have exchanged
views on the world organization which we trust and pray will be devised to main-
tain future peace.
Most immediate and overwhelming in importance has been our agreement on
the policy of concentrating on the defeat of Germany and Japan and their satellites,
and upon the building of an international organization and a world order which
British Speeches of the Day
will make possible ordered political and economic development and better standards
of social welfare, full employment, and good and assured standards of living and
culture for all.
We have not been concerned so much with constitutional machinery as with
specific purposes to be achieved. Our aim has been to determine in this critical
and tragic time in the history of mankind which are the matters upon which it is
essential we should stand united in cooperation, and then to consider the methods
by which we can best achieve these purposes.
I would like to take this opportunity of expressing my very deep appre-
ciation of the manner in which you, Mr. Churchill, have presided over our
conference. We have derived the greatest benefit from your inspired leadership,
as we have throughout the war, and from your great wisdom as well as from
your outstanding courage.
I would like to thank also the Prime Minister's colleagues and the Ministers'
who have assisted us for the statements they have so ably presented to us. We
are also grateful to the efficiency of the secretariat which has contributed so much
in time and effort towards the smooth running of these meetings. They have
worked long hours, and the preparations they have made and the drafts which
have been presented have contributed greatly to the success of our meetings.
In conclusion, Mr. Prime Minister, I would only say that, sure of our aims,
we have demonstrated not only the desirability but the absolute necessity in the
interests of the world as a whole, as well as of the peoples of the British Com-
monwealth and Empire, of maintaining and strengthening the Commonwealth, not
merely as an organization but as a mighty instrument for achieving great purposes
in the highest interests of mankind.
Strengthened and inspired as I have been with the clear ringing reaffirmation
by the conference of the faith expressed in our various declarations since the out-
break of war, and particularly in the Atlantic Charter, I repeat and renew solemnly,
but with great pride, the pledge given by our late Prime Minister, Mr. S.vage, inr
1939: "Where Britain goes, we go; where she stands, we stand."
Field Marshal Smuts: I wish to express my pleasure and my deep agree-
ment with what has been said by you, Prime Minister, and my other colleagues.
This is the end of a very remarkable conference. I have attended many of the
Imperial Conferences of the past, but thinking back today over those conferences,
I cannot think of one which has had a character like the present.
This has not been an Imperial Conference, but it has achieved a success that is
amazing under war conditions. There have been a spirit and an atmosphere at
this conference unlike any that I have experienced in previous conferences. In a
large sense, Prime Minister, that is due to your leadership of this conference, which
has had the same high quality that your leadership has had in your conduct of the
affairs of the world in the times through which we are passing.
The difference is also due to the importance of the subjects that we have dis-
cussed; at no previous conference that I can remember has there ever been such a
range of far-reaching fundamental problems touching not only this group of ours
but the whole world, as at this conference. We have discussed questions of war;
we have discussed questions of international affairs; we have discussed the matters
that go to the root of our own society and of all the nations, and it has all been
done in an atmosphere, in a spirit of comradeship, friendship, and understanding
such as I have never experienced before.
I go back to my country from this conference with a renewed feeling of
strength, courage, and good cheer to meet the heavy tasks that lie ahead. At no
conference has it been more necessary than at this one for us to have personal
contact. We have been discussing, we have been writing, we have been correspond-
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
ing with each other for these four years on problems that have engaged our atten-
tion, but it has always been at a distance, and never with that personal contact
which now, for the first time, we have been able to realize in the war. That per-
sonal contact, meeting face to face, has been the greatest value.
I am sure we have all been strengthened in our resolve, our minds have been
clarified, and'we have derived a benefit and an advantage from this conference
such as could never have been achieved by long and intricate correspondence.
We have discussed our own affairs, we have discussed the affairs of the world;
but we have discussed our own affairs in no sense of'self-interest; we have always
had in view the fact that we are working not only now and here but in a much
greater world chain; we are many partners, great and small, and we realize that
no success can be achieved, no objects can be realized, unless there is unity, unless
the advantage and the welfare of all are kept in view, and in all the discussions
we have had we have always been imbued with that spirit, the spirit which looks
to the wider human welfare and not to the individual advantage of our own
We go back to our countries from this conference with the message that we
have signed this morning, a message of good cheer, a message which I hope will
put all our peoples in good heart. They have carried heavy burdens, they have
carried intolerable burdens, and this message coming to them from this conference,
after nearly five years of war, will help them in the final phase, the climax of
this war which we all hope will be the end. Our message will mean to them
an expression of the hope, the faith, the confidence, the strength that there is in
this group of ours and in the hearts of our Governments.
I thank you for your great service to this conference, for the leadership you
have given, for the help you have been to us. I thank all your colleagues, all our
British colleagues, who have been more than helpful, because coming from afar
we have had to deal not only with the large problems of war and peace, but in
many cases with the problems of our own countries. The United Kingdom Gov-
ernment, the members of his Majesty's Government in this country, have been
most helpful to us in these domestic questions which we have had to discuss with
them outside this conference.
I wish to thank very sincerely also the officials for the work they have been
doing for us. By this conference we have added very largely to their heavy bur-
dens, but they have helped us and they have made their contribution to an achieve-
ment which I think will stand out as one of the great successes of this war. This
conference has raised many great problems, but what has been achieved is a
victory of great promise, as it opens the prospect of wise counsels and wise deci-
sions and great settlements for our world.
Sir Firoz Khan Noon: It has been a source of real pleasure for us, the
Maharajah and myself, to come here and sit round this table with the Prime
Ministers and discuss Empire problems, and we sincerely hope that there will be
similar opportunities in the future for consideration of matters of mutual interest.
We have many chances of coming to England and making contact with His
Majesty's Government but we feel that for the development of friendly relations
and a powerful Commonwealth it is very necessary that we should make contacts
with the representatives of the Dominions also, and it is from that point of view
that we consider this meeting is of special value.
This meeting has also shown to us that in the wider policy of the Common-
wealth there are no differences at all between the Dominions and ourselves, or
His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and ourselves, and it is on that
ground that we can look forward with hope and patience to the growing spirit
of this political association.
British Speeches of the Day
I should, however, like to mention one thing, that this is all due to one great
factor, and that is the characteristics of the British people. I was here in 1940
and I know the troublous times through which we passed in those days, and I for
one was enormously impressed by the determination and bravery- and sense of duty
to freedom displayed by all the men and women of this country; and may I be
permitted to say that that determination is typified in the leadership that you, Mr.
Prime Minister, have provided personally for this Commonwealth of Nations.
It is the clear-headedness of the leader and his policy which enables the various
component parts to stay together, and you personally have, through your leader-
ship, taken the Empire and the Commonwealth from strength to strength, and
we are confident for the future not only of this country but of the whole Common-
wealth and of the Empire. And I need hardly say how carefully the peoples of
India have watched the proceedings of this conference, and how grateful they must
all be that their representatives along with the Prime Ministers from the Dominions
have deliberated jointly and come to conclusions which are acceptable to all.
Sir Godfrey Huggins: I would like to say that I rejoice in the spirit of unity
displayed at this conference, and if there is no relapse, when fear departs, this
Commonwealth and Empire, which with courage, enterprise, and self-discipline
has saved the world from barbarians, will remain in the lead and help return
this sorely stricken world to days of peace.
The United Kingdom with her associates under the Crown has characteristics
which will be required after the war; their love of freedom, their ability to com-
promise, to give and take, and to play the game. They need have no fear for the
future if under Divine Will selfishness is kept in check and good will and unity
under the Crown are maintained. We saved the world in war, and if we main-
tain this unity in peace we can preserve the world for the service of humanity
and make it worthy of inheritance.
9. Text of Declaration signed by the Dominion
Prime Ministers after the close of the Com-
monwealth Conference, May 18, 1944.
We, the King's Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand and South Africa, have now, for the first time since the outbreak
of the war, been able to meet together to discuss common problems and future
plans. The representative of India at the War Cabinet and the Prime Minister of
Southern Rhodesia have joined in our deliberations and are united with us.
At this memorable meeting in the fifth year of the war we give thanks for
deliverance from the worst perils which have menaced us in the course of this
long and terrible struggle against tyranny.
Though hard and bitter battles lie ahead, we now see before us, in the ever-
growing might of the forces of the United Nations and in the defeats already
inflicted upon the foe by land, by sea and in the air, the sure presage of our
To all our armed forces, who in many lands are preserving our liberty with
their lives, and to peoples of all our countries whose efforts, fortitude and con-
viction have sustained the struggle, we express our admiration and gratitude.
We honor the famous deeds of the forces of the United States and of Soviet
Russia and pay our tribute to the fighting tenacity of the many states and nations
joined with us.
We remember, indeed, the prolonged stubborn resistance of China, the first
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
to be attacked by the author of world-aggression, and we rejoice ih the unquench-
able spirit of our comrades in every country still in the grip of the enemy. We
shall not turn from the conflict till they are restored to freedom. Not one who
marches with us shall be abandoned.
We have examined the part which the British Empire and Commonwealth of
Nations should bear against Germany and Japan, in harmony with our Allies.
We are in cordial agreement with the general plans which have been laid before
us. As in the days when we stood all alone against Germany, we affirm our,
inflexible and unwavering resolve to continue in the general war with the utmost
of our strength until the defeat and downfall of our cruel and barbarous foe
has been accomplished. We shall hold back nothing to reach the goal and bring
to the speediest end the agony of mankind.
We have also examined together the principles which determine our foreign
policies, and their application to current problems. Here, too, we are in complete
agreement. We are unitedly resolved to continue, shoulder to shoulder with our
allies, all needful exertion which will aid our fleets, armies and air forces during
the war, and therefore to make sure of an enduring peace. We trust and pray
that victory, which will certainly be won, will carry with it a sense of hope and
freedom for all the world.
It is our aim that, when the storm and passion of war have passed away, all
countries now overrun by the enemy shall be free to decide for themselves their
future form of democratic government.
Mutual respect and honest conduct between nations is our chief desire. We
are determined to work with all peace-loving peoples in order that tyranny and
aggression shall be removed or, if need be, struck down wherever it raises its head.
The people of the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations willingly make
their sacrifices to the common cause. We seek no advantages for ourselves at the
cost of others. We desire the welfare and social advancement of all nations and
that they may help each other to better and broader days.
We affirm that after the war a world organization to maintain peace and
security should be set up and endowed with the necessary power and authority
to prevent aggression and violence.
In a world torn by strife we have met. here in unity. That unity finds its
strength not in any formal bond but in the hidden spring from which human
action flows. We rejoice in our inheritance, loyalties and ideals, and proclaim
our sense of kinship to one another. Our system of free association has enabled
us, each and all, to claim a full share of the common burden.
Although spread across the globe, we have stood together through the stress
of two world wars, and have been welded the stronger thereby. We believe that
when the war is won and peace returns, this same free association, this inherent
unity of purpose, will make us able to do further service to mankind.
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL,
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland.
W. L. MACKENZIE KING,
Prime Minister of Canada.
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Prime Minister of New Zealand.
J. C. SMUTS,
Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
British Speeches of the Day
Agreement between His Majesty's Government'in the Commonwealth
of Australia and His Majesty's Government in New Zealand.
(Signed at Canberra, 21st January, 1944)
Definition of Objectives of Australian-New Zealand Co-operation
1. The two Governments agree that, as a preliminary, provision shall be made
for fuller exchange of information regarding both the views of each Government
and the facts in the possession of either bearing on matters of common interest.
2. The two Governments give mutual assurances that, on matters which appear
to be of common concern, each Government will, so far as possible, be made
acquainted with the mind of the other before views are expressed elsewhere by
3. In furtherance of the above provisions with respect to exchange of views
and information, the two Governments agreed that there shall be the maximum
degree of unity in the presentation, elsewhere, of the views of the two countries.
4. The two Governments agree to adopt an expeditious and continuous means
of consultation by which each party will obtain directly the opinions of the other.
5. The two Governments agree to act together in matters of common concern
in the South-West and South Pacific areas.
6. So far as compatible with the existence of separate military commands,
the two Governments agree to co-ordinate their efforts for the purpose of prose-
cuting the war to a successful conclusion.
Armistice and Subsequent Arrangements
7. The two Governments declare that they have vital interests in all prepara-
tions for any armistice ending the present hostilities or any part thereof and also in
arrangements subsequent to any such armistice, and agree that their interests should
be protected by representation at the highest level on all armistice planning and
8. The two Governments are in agreement that the final peace settlement
should be made in respect of all our enemies after hostilities with all of them are
9. Subject to the last two preceding clauses, the two Governments will seek
agreement with each other on the terms of any armistice to be concluded.
10. The two Governments declare that they should actively participate in any
Armistice Commission to be set up.
11. His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia shall set
up in Australia, and His Majesty's Government in the Dominion of New Zealand
shall set up in New Zealand, Armistice and Post-Hostilities Planning Committees,
and shall arrange for the work of these Committees to be co-ordinated in order to
give effect to the views of the respective Governments.
12. The two Governments will collaborate generally with regard to the loca-
tion of machinery set up under international organizations, such as the United Na-
tions Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and, in particular, with regard to
the location of the Far Eastern Committee of that Administration.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
Security and Defence
13. The two Governments agree that, within the framework of a general system
of world security, a regional zone of defense comprising the South-West and South
Pacific areas shall be established and that this zone should be based on Australia
and New Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands North and North-East of
Australia to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.
14. The two Governments regard it as a matter of cardinal importance that
they should both be associated, not only in the membership, but also in the plan-
ning and establishment of the general international organization referred to in the
Moscow Declaration of October, 1943, which organization is based on the principle
of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving States and open to membership by
all such States, large or small, for the maintenance of international peace and
15. Pending the re-establishment of law and order and the inauguration of a
system of general security, the two Governments hereby declare their vital interest
in the action on behalf of the community of nations, contemplated in Article V of
the Moscow Declaration of October, 1943. For that purpose it is agreed that it
would be proper for Australia and New Zealand to assume full responsibility for
policing or sharing in policing such areas in the South-West and South Pacific as
may from time to time be agreed upon.
16. The two Governments accept as a recognized principle of international
practice that the construction and use, in time of war, by any Power of naval, mili-
tary or air installations, in any territory under the sovereignty or control of another
Power, does not, in itself, afford any basis for territorial claims or rights of sov-
ereignty or control after the conclusion of hostilities.
17. The two Governments agree that the regulation of all air transport services
should be subject to the terms of a convention which will supersede the Convention
relating to the Regulation of Aerial Navigation.
18. The two Governments declare that the air services using the international
air trunk routes should be operated by an International Air Transport Authority.
19. The two Governments support the principles that:
(a) full control of the international air trunk routes and the ownership of all
aircraft and ancillary equipment should be vested in the International Air
Transport Authority; and
(b) the international air trunk routes should themselves be specified in the
international agreement referred to in the next succeeding clause.
20. The two Governments agree that the creation of the International Air
Transport Authority should be effected by an international agreement.
21. Within the framework of the system set up under any such international
agreement, the two Governments support:
(a) the right of each country to conduct all air transport services within its own
national jurisdiction, including its own contiguous'territories, subject only
to agreed international requirements regarding safety, facilities, landing
and transit rights for international services and exchange of mails;
(b) the right of Australia and New Zealand to utilize to the fullest extent their
productive capacity in respect of aircraft and raw materials for the produc-
tion of aircraft; and
British Speeches of the Day
(c) the right of Australia and New Zealand to use a fair proportion of their
own personnel, agencies and materials in operating and maintaining inter-
national air trunk routes.
22. In the event of failure to obtain a satisfactory international agreement to
establish and govern the use of international air trunk routes, the two Governments
will support a system of air trunk routes controlled and operated by Governments
of the British Commonwealth of Nations under Government ownership.
23. The two Governments will act.jointly in support of the above-mentioned
principles with respect to civil aviation, and each will inform the other of its exist-
ing interests and commitments, as a basis of advancing the policy herein agreed
Dependencies and Territories
24. Following the procedure adopted at the conference which has just con-
cluded, the two Governments will regularly exchange information and views in
regard to all developments in or affecting the islands of the Pacific.
25. The two Governments take note of the intention of the Australian Gov-
ernment to resume administration at the earliest possible moment of those parts of
its territories which have not yet been re-occupied.
26. The two Governments declare that the interim administration and ultimate
disposal of enemy territories in the Pacific is of vital importance to Australia and
New Zealand, and that any such disposal should be effected only with their agree-
ment and as part of a general Pacific settlement.
27. The two Governments declare that no change in the sovereignty or system
of control of any of the islands of the Pacific should be effected except as a result
of an agreement to which they are parties or in the terms of which they have both
Welfare and Advancement of Native Peoples of the Pacific
28. The two Governments declare that, in applying the principles of the
Atlantic Charter to the Pacific, the doctrine of trusteeship (already applicable in the
case of the mandated territories of which the two Governments are mandatory
Powers) is applicable in broad principle to all colonial territories in the Pacific and
elsewhere, and that the main purpose of the trust is the welfare of the native
peoples and their social, economic and political development.
29. The two Governments agree that the future of the various territories of
the Pacific and the welfare of their inhabitants cannot be successfully promoted
without a greater measure of collaboration between the numerous authorities con-
cerned in their control, and that such collaboration is particularly desirable in
regard to health services and communications, matters of native education, an-
thropological investigation, assistance in native production and material develop-
30. The two Governments agree to promote the establishment, at the earliest
possible date, of a regional organization with advisory powers, which could be
called the South Seas Regional Commission, and on which, in addition to repre-
sentatives of Australia and New Zealand, there might be accredited representatives
of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America
and of the French Committee of National Liberation.
31. The two Governments agree that it shall be the function of such South
Seas Regional Commission as may be established to secure a common policy on
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
social, economic and political development directed towards the advancement and
well-being of the native peoples themselves, and that in particular, the Commission
(a) recommend arrangements for the participation of natives in administration
in increasing measure, with a view to promoting the ultimate attainment
of self-government in the form most suited to the circumstances of the
native peoples concerned;
(b) recommend arrangements for material development, including production,
finance, communications and marketing;
(c) recommend arrangements for co-ordination of health and medical services
(d) recommend arrangements for maintenance and improved standards of
native welfare in regard to labor conditions and social services;
(e) recommend arrangements for collaboration in economic, social, medical
and anthropological research; and
(f) make and publish periodical reviews of progress towards the development
of self-governing institutions in the islands of the Pacific and in the
improvement of standards of living, conditions of work, education, health
and general welfare.
32. In the peace settlement or other negotiations the two Governments will
accord one another full support in maintaining the accepted principle that every
government has the right to control immigration and emigration in regard to all
territories within its jurisdiction.
33. The two Governments will collaborate, exchange full information and
render full assistance to one another in all matters concerning migration to their
International Conference Relating to the South-West and South
34. The two Governments agree that, as soon as practicable, there should be a
frank exchange of views on the problems of security, post-war development and
native welfare between properly accredited representatives of the Governments with
existing territorial interests in the South-West Pacific area or in the South Pacific
area or in both, namely, in addition to the two Governments, His Majesty's Gov-
ernment in the United Kingdom, the Government of the United States of America,
the Government of the Netherlands, the French Committee of National Liberation
and the Government of Portugal, and His Majesty's Government in the Common-
wealth of Australia should take the necessary steps to call a conference of the
Permanent Machinery for Collaboration and Co-operation between
Australia and New Zealand
35. The two Governments agree that:
(a) their co-operation for defence should be developed by-
(i) continuous consultation in all defence matters of mutual interest;
(ii) the organization, equipment, training and exercising of the armed
forces under a common doctrine;
British Speeches of the Day
(iii) joint planning;
(iv) interchange of staff; and
(v) the co-ordination of policy for the production of munitions, air-
craft and supply items, and for shipping, to ensure the greatest
possible degree of mutual aid consistent with the maintenance of
the policy of self-sufficiency in local production;
(b) collaboration in external policy on all matters affecting the peace, welfare
and good government of the Pacific should be secured through the ex-
change of information and frequent Ministerial consultation;
(c) the development of commerce between Australia and New Zealand and
their industrial development should be pursued by consultation and, in
agreed cases, by joint planning;
(d) there should be co-operation in achieving full employment in Australia
and New Zealand and the highest standards of social security both within
their borders and throughout the islands of the Pacific and other territories
for which they may jointly or severally be wholly or partly responsible;
(e) there should be co-operation in encouraging missionary work and all other
activities directed towards the improvement of the welfare of the native
peoples in the islands and territories of the Pacific.
36. The two Governments declare their desire to have the adherence to the
objectives set out in the last preceding clause of any other Government having or
controlling territories in the Pacific.
37. The two Governments agree that the methods to be used for carrying out
the provisions of Clause 35 of this Agreement and of other provisions of this
Agreement shall be consultation, exchange of information and, where applicable,
joint planning. They further agree that such methods shall include:
(a) conferences of Ministers of State to be held alternately in Canberra and
Wellington, it being the aim of the two Governments that these con-
ferences be held at least twice a year;
(b) conferences of departmental officers and technical experts;
(c) meetings of standing inter-Governmental committees on such subjects as
are agreed to by the two Governments;
(d) the fullest use of the status and functions of the High Commissioner of
the Commonwealth of Australia in New Zealand and of the High Com-
missioner of the Dominion of Newi Zealand in Australia;
(e) regular exchange of information;
(f) exchange of officers; and
(g) the development of institutions in either country serving the common pur-
poses of both.
38. In order to ensure continuous collaboration on the lines set out in this
Agreement and to facilitate the carrying out of the duties and functions involved,
the two Governments agree that a Permanent Secretariat shall be established in
Australia and in New Zealand.
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
39. The Secretariat shall be known as the Australian-New Zealand Affairs
Secretariat and shall consist of a Secretariat of the like name to be set up in
Australia and a Secretariat of the like name to be set up in New Zealand, each
under the control of the Ministry of External Affairs in the country concerned.
40. The functions of the Secretariat shall be:
(a) to take the initiative in ensuring that effect is given to the provisions of
(b) to make arrangements as the occasion arises for the holding of conferences
(c) to carry out the directions of those conferences in regard to further con-
sultation, exchange of information or the examination of particular ques-
(d) to co-ordinate all forms of collaboration between the two Governments;
(e) to raise for joint discussion and action such other matters as may seem
from day to day to require attention by the two Governments; and
(f) generally to provide for more frequent and regular exchanges of informa-
tion and views, these exchanges between the two Governments to take
place normally through the respective High Commissioners.
41. His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia and His
Majesty's Government in the Dominion of New Zealand each shall nominate an
officer or officers from the staff of their respective High Commissioners to act in
closest collaboration with the Secretariat, in which they shall be accorded full
access to all relevant sources of information.
42. In each country the Minister of State for External Affairs and the resident
High Commissioner shall have joint responsibility for the effective functioning of
Ratification and Title of Agreement
43. This Agreement is subject to ratification by the respective Governments
and shall come into force as soon as both Governments have ratified the Agree-
ment and have notified each other accordingly. It is intended that such notifica-
tion will take place as soon as possible after the signing of this Agreement.
44. This Agreement shall be known as.the Australian-New Zealand Agree-
The Statute of Westminster
An Act to give effect to certain resolutions passed by Imperial
Conferences held in the years 1926 and 1930.
(11th December 1931.)
Whereas the delegates of His Majesty's Governments in the United Kingdom,
the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New
Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland, at
British Speeches of the Day
Imperial Conferences held at Westminster in the years of our Lord nineteen hun-
dred and twenty-six and nineteen hundred and thirty did concur in making the
declarations and resolutions set forth in the Reports of the said Conferences:
And whereas it is meet and proper to set out by way of preamble to this Act
that, inasmuch as the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members
of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are uriited by a common
allegiance to the Crown, it would be in accord with the established constitutional
position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that
any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style
and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the
Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:
And whereas it is in accord with the established constitutional position that no
law hereafter made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall extend to
any of the said Dominions as part of the law of that Dominion otherwise than at
the request and with the consent of that Dominion:
And whereas it is necessary for the ratifying, confirming and establishing of
certain of the said declarations and resolutions of the said Conferences that a law
be made and enacted in due form by authority of the Parliament of the United
And whereas the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the
Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and
Newfoundland have severally requested and consented to the submission of a
measure to the Parliament of the United Kingdom for making such provision
with regard to the matters aforesaid as is hereafter in this Act contained:
Now, therefore, be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty by and
with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons,
in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
1. In this Act the expression "Dominion" means any of the following Domin-
ions, that is to say, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the
Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and
2.-(1) The Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, shall not apply to any law
made after the commencement of this Act by the Parliament of a Dominion.
(2) No law and no provision of any law made after the commencement of this
Act by the Parliament of a Dominion shall be void or inoperative on the ground
that it is repugnant to the law of England, or to the provisions of any existing
or future Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, or to any order, rule or
regulation made under any such Act, and the powers of the Parliament of a
Dominion shall include the power to repeal or amend any such Act, order, rule
or regulation in so far as the same is part of the law of the Dominion.
3. It is hereby declared and enacted that the Parliament of a Dominion has
full power to make laws having extra-territorial operation.
4. No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commence-
ment of this Act shall extend, or be deemed to extend, to a Dominion as part of
the law of that Dominion, unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that
Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof.
5. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Act,
sections seven hundred and thirty-five and seven hundred and thirty-six of the
Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, shall be construed as though reference therein to the
Speeches on the Empire and Commonwealth
Legislature of a British possession did not include reference to the Parliament of
6. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Act,
section four of the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890 (which requires certain
laws to be reserved for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure or to contain a
suspending clause), and so much of section seven of that Act as requires the
approval of His Majesty in Council to any rules of Court for regulating the prac-
tice and procedure of a Colonial Court of Admiralty, shall cease to have effect in
any Dominion as from the commencement of this Act.
7.-(1) Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to apply to the repeal, amendment
or alteration of the British North America Acts, 1867 to 1930, or any order, rule
or regulation made thereunder. (2) The provisions of section two of this Act
shall extend to laws made by any of the Provinces of Canada and to the powers of
the legislatures of such Provinces. (3) The powers conferred by this Act upon the
Parliament of Canada or upon the legislatures of the Provinces shall be restricted
to the enactment of laws in relation to matters within the competence of the Parlia-
ment of Canada or of any of the legislatures of the Provinces respectively.
8. Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to confer any power to repeal or alter
the Constitution or the Constitution Act of the Commonwealth of Australia or
the Constitution Act of the Dominion of New Zealand otherwise than in accord-
ance with the law existing before the commencement of this Act.
9.-(1) Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to authorize the Parliament of
the Commonwealth of Australia to make laws on any matter within the authority of
the States of Australia, not being a matter within the authority of the Parliament
or Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. (2) Nothing in this Act
shall be deemed to require the concurrence of the Parliament or Government of the
Commonwealth of Australia in any law made by the Parliament of the United
Kingdom with respect to any matter within the authority of the States of Australia,
not being a matter within the authority of the Parliament or Government of the
Commonwealth of Australia, in any case where it would have been in accordance
with the constitutional practice existing before the commencement of this Act that
the Parliament of the United Kingdom should make that law without such con-
currence. (3) In the application of this Act to the Commonwealth of Australia
the request and consent referred to in section four shall mean the request and
consent of the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth.
10.-(1) None of the following sections of this Act, that is to say, sections
two, three, four, five and six, shall extend to a Dominion to which this section
applies as part of the law of that Dominion unless that section is adopted by the
Parliament of the Dominion, and any Act of that Parliament adopting any section
of this Act may provide that the adoption shall have effect either from the com-
mencement of this Act or from such later date as is specified in the adopting Act.
(2) The Parliament of any such Dominion as aforesaid may at any time revoke
the adoption of any section referred to in subsection (1) of this section. (3) The
Dominions to which this section applies are the Commonwealth of Australia,
the Dominion of New Zealand and Newfoundland.
11. Notwithstanding anything in the Interpretation Act, 1889, the expression
"Colony" shall not, in any Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed
after the commencement of this Act, include a Dominion or any Province or State
forming part of a Dominion.
12. This Act may be cited as the Statute of Westminster, 1931.
Other Material Available from the
British Information Services Includes:
Britain. A monthly magazine. 10 cents a copy or $1 a year.
Information Division Circular. A fortnightly bulletin of
current background news on Britain. Free on appli-
Labor an)d Indutry in Britain. Monthly. Fre.; on appli-
Information papers on wartime Britain covering Taxation,
Education, Rationing, Women's Work, Industry, etc., may
be obtained free on application.
Britain Looks Ahead (Official Statements).
50 Facts about India.
50 Facts about Social Services in Britain.
The British Constitution.
Britain and the Common Pool.
Winning the Peace.
(All available free on application.)
For catalogue of Films available, terms of hire, etc., apply
to any office of the British Information Services.
;- -T--;-----==--- "l .. ........ T-- -
4Ea d "