June 15, 1917

PROCEEDINGS OF IMPERIAL WAR CONFERENCE, 1917.

PAPERS IN CONNECTION WITH THE CONFERENCE PRESENTED.

?

Right Hon. S@

I beg to lay upon the table of the House a despatch from the Right Hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies to His Excellency the Governor General, transmitting copies of a parliamentary paper containing extracts from the minutes of the proceedings of the Imperial War Conference, 1917, and papers laid before the conference. If my right hon. friend has no objection, I would move:

That rule 74 he suspended in order that the documents so laid upon the table of the House be printed forthwith for the information of the members.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS OF IMPERIAL WAR CONFERENCE, 1917.
Subtopic:   PAPERS IN CONNECTION WITH THE CONFERENCE PRESENTED.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I have no objection.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS OF IMPERIAL WAR CONFERENCE, 1917.
Subtopic:   PAPERS IN CONNECTION WITH THE CONFERENCE PRESENTED.
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Motion agreed to.


IMPERIAL WAR CABINET.

STATEMENT BY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER.

?

Right Hon. S@

With the consent of the House, it might be

appropriate for me to read in this connection the announcement in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom by the Prime Minister with respect to the holding of an Imperial War Cabinet during the present year, and the proposal that it should be held annually in future. That announcement would not be readily available unless it is placed in Hansard, and as the announcement is of some importance, I think it might be well to record it in that way. The report reads:

Mr. McKenna: May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make in regard to the Imperial War Cabinet?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) :

I think that I ought to report to the House a very important decision that was arrived at as a sequel to the recent meetings of the Imperial War Cabinet. It is desirable that Parliament should be officially and formally acquainted with an event that will constitute a memorable landmark in the Constitutional History of the British Empire. The House will remember that in December last His Majesty's Government invited the Prime Ministers or leading statesmen of the Overseas Dominions and of India to attend the sittings both of the Cabinet and of an Imperial War Conference to be held in this country. It is to the former body which assembled In March, and held fourteen sittings before separating, that I desire to refer. The British Cabinet became for the time being an Imperial War Cabinet. While it was in session, its overseas members had access to all the information which was at the disposal of His Majesty's Government, and occupied a status of absolute equality with that of the members of the British War Cabinet. It had prolonged discussions on all the most vital aspects of Imperial policy, and came to important decisions in regard to them-decisions which will enable us to prosecute the war with increased unity and vigour, and which will be of the greatest value when it comes to the negotiations of peace. I should like to add on be-ha'f of the Government that the fresh minds and new points of view which our colleagues from over the seas have brought to bear upon the problems with which we have been so long engrossed, has been an immense help to us all. So far as we are concerned we can say with confidence that the experiment has been a complete success.

The conclusions of the Imperial War Cabinet are of necessity secret, but there is one aspect of them which we feel ought to be communicated to the House without delay. The Imperial War Cabinet was unanimous that the new procedure had been of such service, not only to all its members, but to the Empire, that it ought not to be allowed to fall into desuetude. Accordingly, at the last session, I proposed formally on behalf of the British Government that meetings of an Imperial Cabinet should be held annually or at any intermediate time when matters of urgent Imperial concern require to be settled, and that the Imperial Cabinet should consist of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and such of his colleagues as deal specially with Imperial affairs; of the Prime Minister of each of the Dominions or some specially

accredited alternate possessed of equal authority: and of a representative of the Indian people to be appointed by the Government ot India. This proposal met with the cordial approval of. the overseas representatives and we hope that the holding of an annual Imperial Cabinet to discuss foreign affairs and other aspects of Imperial policy, will become an accepted convention of the British Constitution.

I ought to add that the institution in its present form is extremely elastic. It grew not by design, but out of the necessities of the war. The essence of it is that the responsible heads of the Governments of the Empire with those ministers who are specially entrusted with the conduct of Imperial policy should meet together at regular intervals to confer about foreign policy and matters connected therewith, and come to decisions in regard to them, which, subject to the control of their own Parliaments, they will then severally execute. By this means they will be able to obtain full information about all aspects of Imperial affairs and to determine, by consultation together the policy of the Empire in its most vital aspects, without infringing in any degree the autonomy which its parts at present enjoy. To what constitutional developments this may lead we did not attempt to settle. The whole question of perfecting the mechanism for continuous consultation about Imperial and foreign affairs between the autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth will be reserved for the consideration of that special conference which will be summoned as soon as possible after the war to readjust the constitutional relations of the Empire. We felt, however, that the experiment of constituting an Imperial Cabinet, in which India was represented, had been so fruitful in better understanding and in unity of purpose and action that it ought to be perpetuated and we believe that this proposal will commend itself to the judgment of all the nations of the Empire.

Topic:   IMPERIAL WAR CABINET.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER.
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LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

Was there any discussion as to what would be the best form to be adopted in prosecuting the war for a concerted action on the part of the different Dominions beyond the seas?

Topic:   IMPERIAL WAR CABINET.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The institution of the Imperial Cabinet itself was entered upon with the view that the consultation thus brought about would result in greater unity of purpose and in more effective cooperation.

Topic:   IMPERIAL WAR CABINET.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER.
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LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

Was any decision reached by the members of that Committee or Cabinet as to what concerted action should be taken by the Dominions beyond the seas?

, Sir ROBERT BORDEN: No special consideration beyond what I have already explained on another occasion was given to any matter of that kind. The deliberations were of a general character with regard to the conduct of the war and the task that had to be accomplished, and the best means of fulfilling that task.

Topic:   IMPERIAL WAR CABINET.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER.
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CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.

CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.

CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. A. E. KEMP (Minister of Militia):

The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) asked the number of Canadian troops in England, the number in France and the number in Canada. The answer is as follows:

1. On the 4th June, 1917, there were 136,400 troops (all ranks) in France; there were also 747 in the Near East, and 130 at St. Lucia.

2. On the 4th June, 1917, there were 108,736 troops (all ranks) in England-not counting those in hospitals and convalescent homes, but counting those on passage from Canada to England.

Of the foregoing total, however, only 26,000 men were immediately available for reinforcing purposes.

3. On the 1st June, 1917, there were 17,353 C.E.P. troops (all ranks) in Canada.

I have a document illustrating the manner in which troops are classified in England, dated 14th May, 1917. I shall lay about sixty copies of it on the table of the House for the use of members.

Topic:   CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.
Subtopic:   CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Would it be possible to have this statement giving the clasification of Canadian troops inserted in Hansard as part of the hon. gentleman's remarks this afternoon? These sheets are destructible, while if this were placed on Hansard it would be available for all time.

Topic:   CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.
Subtopic:   CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

There is no objection to that! With the consent of the House, it will be embodied in Hansard.

Topic:   CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.
Subtopic:   CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER:

I presume the Speaker will direct accordingly.

Topic:   CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.
Subtopic:   CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

If it would meet the

wishes of the House, I think it would be preferable if the motion were made to have this statement printed as a separate return. I think the custom of placing documents on Hansard should be curtailed as much as possible. I do not press the point, but simply make the suggestion.

Topic:   CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.
Subtopic:   CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER:

I am quite

agreeable.

Topic:   CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.
Subtopic:   CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

With the consent of the House, Mr. Maclean of Halifax moves, seconded by Mr. Guthrie, that Rule 74 be suspended, and that this statement be printed forthwith.

Topic:   CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.
Subtopic:   CANADIAN TROOPS IN PRANCE, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
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June 15, 1917