April 1, 1919

L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

We have, of course, the Pacific cable.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

We have the Pacific cable which is owned by the British Empire, but when it was first started, the governments concerhed had to contribute a substantial amount in order to make up the deficits. It has been paying its way now for some years, and is considerably more than earning its operating cost. We have had available a cable across the Atlantic during the period of the war.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

A French cable?

Mr, ROWELL: A German cable. Whether that will continue to be available will depend I presume somewhat upon the decision of the Peace Conference. It is at present being operated, I believe, by the Pacific Cable Board, the same board that is operating the Pacific cable.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Where does that cable land? i % . i i

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

Somewiiere on the eastern coast. If that is available of course the resolution is satisfied without further action. Australia and New Zealand pressed very strongly for this matter.

The next group of subjects that called for consideration was the development anc} utilization of Imperial resources.

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UNION

William Foster Cockshutt

Unionist

Mr. COCKSHUTT:

Before the minister proceeds, might I ask if the question of passports has been dealt with in the documents presented at this Conference, and what rules, if any, are being observed with regard to passports in the various parts of the Empire?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

The question of passports did not come up for consideration at the Conference.

The next group of subjects, as I have mentioned, was the development and utilization of Imperial resources and there were four or five resolutions dealing with various aspects of this matter. The first related to the exclusion of German alien enemies from participation in the non-ferrous metal industry. The British Government passed an Act, called tlie NonFerrous Metal Act, designed to exclude alien enemies from interest in the non-ferrous metal industry of Great Britain. That action grew out of the dominant position which the German metal interests held throughout the British Empire when the war broke out, and it was an Act to secure relief from that condition of affairs and to guard against its repetition in the future. The Conference passed this resolution, No. 2:

In pursuance of the policy of freeing the Empire from dependence on German controlled organizations in respect of non-ferrous metals and ores, the Conference endorses the principle of the Non-Ferrous Metal Industry Act of the Unite*! Kingdom and recommends the Governments of the Empire to adopt effective measures, in so far as these may he necessary and have not already been taken, to carry out this policy.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

May I ask a question?

I notice sometimes the hon. minister uses the word " commonwealth," which has a good Cromwellian smack about it, and at other times he uses the word " empire." Are these words synonymous or interchangeable?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

I think the word " empire," if used in its old meaning, has no proper application to the situation that now exists-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

-in relation to Great Britain and the Dominions. We must either give that word a new content, a new meaning, or use a word that is more appropriate to the present conditions. Personally, I prefer the phrase " the British Commonwealth."

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

At six o'clock the Committee took recess.

After Recess.

The Committee resumed at eight o'clock.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. N. W. ROWELL (Resuming):

Just before the committee rose, I was referring to the resolution passed by the Imperial War Conference relating to the exclusion of Germany from the non-ferrous metal industry. As the House will have observed, all I have attempted to do is to report the proceedings of the Conference rather than to discuss the questions which were raised there and discussed at length. The limits of time make it necessary for me to confine myself to what was actually done. But may I be permitted to observe, in connection with this and the other resolutions relating to Imperial resources the questions involved assumed peculiar importance during the period of the war. Germany had not only succeeded, in the twenty-five years preceding the war, in peacefully penetrating, industrially, all the countries of the world, but had secured a grip upon the metal industries of the world, particularly the non-ferrous metal industries, which gave her a commanding position at the time the war broke out; and the object of this resolution was to prevent so far as possible, a repetition of that situation in the future. Hon. members will observe that so far as Canada is concerned -and this would apply to some of the other dominions also-the matter is one not easy to deal with by legislation, because of the distribution of legislative powers between the Dominion and the provinces. The provinces, controlling their own lands, control the development of the mining properties within the provinces.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Has my hon. friend in mind any properties in Canada which were controlled by the Germans and were utilized for war purposes? There were a number of such cases in Australia.

. Mr. ROWELL: I was referring to the general principle involved. So far as Canada is concerned, this resolution is receiving consideration at the hands of the

Minister of Mines to see what action, if any, Canada should take in order to give effect to it.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

May I ask if the Conference had in mind, at the time this resolution was passed, the control of the nickel mines in Canada?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

The nickel mines in Canada constitute, of course, a very important and essential raw material, essential not only to Canada but to the Empire as a whole, and I had intended making some reference to that on a later resolution.

Another question which was dealt with by the conference, in. which perhaps our interest is less direct than in the resolution I have just mentioned, was the freeing of the industries of the Empire from dependence on German products, such as dyes. This resolution, No. 10, reads as follows:

The Conference takes note of the action taken and contemplated by His Majesty's Government with a view to freeing the industry of the United Kingdom from dependence on German dyestuffs, and recommends the Governments of. the Empire to consider immediately what steps can be taken to co-operate with- the efforts of the Imperial Government to promote the successful development of the dye industry in the British Empire, and so to avoid enemy domination over our essential industries.

The House will recall the unfortunate position in which Great Britain, the Empire and the United States found themselves when war broke out. 'They had to depend on Germany for dye stuffs and other essential materials and undoubtedly Great Britain has made up her mind that she will not be caught again in the same position, but will endeavour to see that there are developed within the limits of the Empire those industries which are essential to the maintenance of the larger industrial life of the country. I believe steps are being taken by Great Britain to give effect to this resolution.

One of the most important questions considered by the conference was the control of raw material.

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L LIB

Joseph Read

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JOSEPH READ:

Did the non-ferrous resolution contemplate the pooling of all the metals of Canada and the Empire, thereby putting us out of commission as a separate entity?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

No, it did not contemplate interfering in any way with our liberty of action. It was recommended that all portions of the Empire should take action similar to that taken by Great Britain, in order to ensure that those industries should not fall into enemy control, but be preserved under the control of citi-

zens of the British Empire. Hon. members of the House need not be reminded of the importance of raw materials in the conduct of this war. The control of raw materials was one of the great factors which enabled the Allies to succeed in this struggle, and the denial to Germany of access to essential raw materials was one of the important factors which reduced her to the position where she was compelled to conclude peace. The control of raw materials was one of the subjects which engaged much time and thought at the conference, and the action of the conference was embodied in three resolutions, the published portions of which I shall take the liberty of reading to the House, afterwards making one or two observations on them. Resolution No. 3 reads:

(1) The Conference agrees that it is necessary to secure for the British Empire and the belligerent Allies the command of certain essential raw materials in order to enable them to repair the effects of the War as soon as possible and to safeguard their industrial requirements.

(2) The Conference is of opinion that the Governments of the British Empire should make such arrangements amongst themselves as will ensure that essential raw materials produced within the Empire shall be available for the above purposes, and should arrange with the Allied Countries to utilize for the same purposes essential raw materials produced in those countries.

Paragraph 3 of the resolution is not printed. It set out a list of materials which were considered essential for the continued prosecution of the war and for the maintenance of the industrial life of the nation. It is only necessary, perhaps, to mention the two which we practically control in this country, namely, nickel and asbestos, both of which were included in the list.

I believe we control seventy or eighty per cent of the world's nickel supply, and a similar percentage of the world's asbestos supply. In those two essential raw materials, Canada holds a dominating and controlling position. Paragraph 4 of the resolution is as follows:

That this Conference has considered the provisions of the Imports and Exports (Temporary Control) Bill now before the Imperial Parliament, and is of opinion that, [DOT] whilst the circumstances of the different parts of the Empire differ widely as regards the extent to which it may prove desirable to pass similar legislation, the respective Governments should nevertheless take such action as may be deemed expedient to enable the objects of resolution 3 to be fully carried out.

To assist the Governments in determining their action in this respect the Conference recommends:-

(1) that 'a committee of its members should first consider the possible methods in each part

of the Empire of obtaining command of each of the essential Raw Materials specified in resolution 3.

(2) that the Governments represented at the Conference should, in the light of the information collected by their representatives on this Committee, consult with the representatives of the producers and trades concerned &s to the method of obtaining command of best suited to each individual commodity.

A committee of the conference was appointed in pursuance of that resolution. It held many meetings. It took into consideration all those raw materials essential for war and for the maintenance of industries, enumerated in resolution 3. It tabulated the information, showing the available sources of supplies throughout the world, how far those sources were controlled within the Empire and how far within Allied countries, and it outlined the best methods of developing and utilizing those raw materials for the benefit of the Empire and the Allies. That particular information gathered in that way was not published; it is kept in the possession of the Government, because to publish the information at that time would have been to give it to the enemies of the Empire.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The minister says that a sub-committee was appointed and suggestions made as to the best methods to meet the views expressed by the resolution. Were those suggestions kept secret, or are they to be distributed amongst the various self-governing dominions, so that common action may be taken on the subject?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

These suggestions are all distributed as confidential documents amongst the different governments. The full report of the sub-committee, which was adopted by the conference was not published in the record, but was published as a confidential document and is in possession of the cabinets of all the dominions, giving them full information as to raw materials, their sources, their present state of development, the Empire's needs, and with suggestions in many cases as to their development and utilization.

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April 1, 1919