We, of the different dominions beyond the seas, have tried to be unanimous up to the present time. I am sorry to say this is a question upon which we could not be unanimous. Therefore, Dr. Smartt can move it if he chooses or withdraw it, but if he presses it I should have to vote against it.
1 am absolutely in the hands of the conference. I do not want to press a resolution that is not likely to meet with the general approval of practically everybody on the conference, especially a resolution of this particular character. We might, perhaps, let it stand over until the next sitting. Between this and Tuesday I may be able to modify it in some way to meet Sir Wilfrid's view.
Nothing further was done and that represents the situation as far as naval defence is concerned.
Other questions of more or less importance were discussed, but I have not time to refer to any except the trade question With reference to the trade question, I will give the summary in the resolutions which after a debate were passed. I may say that the debate was an extended and a very able one, and all views were placed fully before the conference. The result was that the resolutions of 1902 were reaffirmed, with the representatives of the British government dissenting in so faT as the implication that it is necessary or expedient to alter the fiscal system of the United Kingdom. Those resolutions I read in discussing the conference of 1902 and it is not necessary at this point to recapitulate them. The ground that was taken was ground that had been strongly affirmed in 1902 and the conference did not see that they could go beyond that although several members of the conference were strongly of the opinion that a forward step by resolution, if it could possibly be agreed upon, ought to be made. A resolution was passed providing:
That all doubts should be removed as to the rights of the self-governing dependencies to make reciprocal and preferential fiscal agreements with each other and with the United Kingdom, and further, that sucb right should not be fettered by imperial treaties or conventions without their concurrence.
Among other subjects taken up were international penny postage and imperial Mr. FOSTER.
cable communication, and then, towards the latter part of the conference, the All Red Route resolution which we have already had discussed in parliament and to which I need not further refer. Such, in brief, were the results of the conference of 1907.
Now to conclude: We have had conferences commenced in the way I have stated, begun in 1887, repeated in 1894, 1897, 1902 and 1907; and this latest conference in 1909, of which, as it is fresh before us, I should say nothing at the present time. No one will doubt, I think, that these conferences have grown in public commendation, and they have grown in their sphere of action, grown in their usefulness, grown in the greater knowledge which public men of the empire have been able to form of the different questions affecting others than their own .countries, grown in that personal contact and sympathy which arises therefrom, and the mutually good understanding which takes place as a result of those conferences, that which is not by any means the least important of the benefits that have been conferred; until to-day they have taken a character of absolute permanency, with their own secretarial staff, the link -being thus found for their continuity and their action. They constitute in fact the only imperial parliament that we have, and a regal and worthy imperial parliament it is, in its way- consultative simply and solely, advisory one with the other, without any functions, legislative or executive, but still a parliament composed of the empire's strongest and best men from the different portions of the empire, collected on the basis of popular selection, and so supposed to be representative in the very highest way. It is this quadrennial parliament, which may meet more frequently, which has grown up almost without our noticing it, which has gradually taken to itself power and influence without any legislative or executive character, but influencing the very centre, and from the very centre the very outside limits of the empire, a parliament which draws the great men, the chief men of the empire, together at stated times for the development of plans, the consideration of sentiments. Therefore it must have a tremendous effect in coming to wise decisions, in avoiding comnlications which otherwise would be sure to take place, and in leading in a general sense the empire along the lines of certitude and of reasonable safety. It may be that we shall never have any other imperial parliament. I cannot say. In the meantime I, for one, am content with this, and I hope that in the future as in the past, the same able contingents may form the delegates and representatives to these conferences, that the same unanimity and wisdom may
characterize their discussions and their conclusions. History -not long in the future will write many pages about this new addition to the British constitution and the British system; and this history will not be written with the first pages that are made. I for my part look to it, however it may expand, gradually or more rapidly, as the one medium of the exposition of the best and strongest sentiments that prevail in the empire.
Rt. Hon. Sir WILFRID LAURIER
(Prime Minister). My hon. friend has presented the observations with which he has favoured the House in the manner that he promised us at the outset, that is to say, in no partizan spirit. If he will permit me to say so, I offer him my hearty commendation. The only observation I will make is that he has presented the conclusions of the different conferences that have taken place in a very fair and accurate manner.