Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I believe it will be the wish of hon. members that before we proceed further with the business of the house some slight tribute should be paid on behalf of our parliament to the name and memory of a former prime minister of the United Kingdom who had over many years close associations with Canada and who, in fact, was a member of the privy council of this country. I refer, of course, to the Right Honourable Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, who passed away at the advanced age of eighty years on Sunday morning.
The unparalleled events of the last few years have more or less overshadowed the careers of not a few of those who in the two previous decades were among the most prominent in public life. That is particularly true of the career of Lord Baldwin, who resigned the premiership of the United Kingdom at the time of the coronation, and who for some years past has been living in semi-retirement. When Earl Baldwin died, there passed from the scene of world politics, one who in his day was pre-eminent among British statesmen.
Baldwin was for some twenty-nine years a member of the British House of Commons. During those years he was outstanding as a parliamentarian. He was three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, covering in all a period of some twelve years. In that time he played a foremost part in a solution of the vexed problems which were then before the nation. It was his fate to have been in office and to have occupied the first place in British public life for most of the difficult years between the two great wars.
I shall not attempt in anything I say this afternoon to comment upon either the policies of his administrations or upon specific acts of his government. This would not be the time or place for that. But I should like to say a word in regard to the outstanding place which Stanley Baldwin, as he was known at the time, held at the time and will always
hold in relation to the affairs of the British commonwealth of nations. I believe it to be a fact that no one, at that particular time, had a better understanding of relations between the different nations of the commonwealth and of what was best calculated to further harmony and effective co-operation between them than had the late Earl Baldwin. I think his administration may be credited with having guided the development of the commonwealth along lines which made possible the close co-operation which existed in the testing time of war.
It may not be within the recollection of all present that it was during the conference of 1926, over which Baldwin presided, that the government of the United Kingdom, in combination with the governments of 'the other nations of the British commonwealth, gave formal recognition to what we now speak of as the doctrine of the equality of status of the nations of the commonwealth. That doctrine found expression in legal form in the Statute of Westminster, which will ever remain one of the great documents in British history.
Canadians regardless of party affiliations, retain many cherished memories of Lord Baldwin's visits to our country. Hon. members will remember that it was Stanley Baldwin who was the first prime minister of the United Kingdom to visit Canada while in office. Fortunately it has become a natural thing for us to have visits from prime ministers of the United Kingdom. This parliament and this country has been visited by others who have since held that high office-Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Attlee have all been here as prime ministers of the United Kingdom-but Mr. Baldwin was the first British statesman who while holding the office of Prime Minister felt it a duty to his own country and to the commonwealth to visit this dominion as the oldest and largest of the overseas nations. Hon. members will recollect that Baldwin came out at the time of the diamond jubilee of confederation and was accompanied by the then Prince of Wales. He visited Canada again in 1932 at the time of the economic conference. Wherever he went throughout Canada in 1927 and 1932 he received the warmest of welcomes from the people of this country.
It was also under Baldwin's government that the first high commissioner came to
The Late Earl Baldwin oj Bewdley _
Ottawa to represent the government of the United Kingdom in this country. The example thus set has since been followed in representation of their governments in the other countries of the commonwealth by all the nations of the commonwealth. These are links with Britain and with other parts of the commonwealth which have proved their enduring worth.
I should like to mention one other important matter, with which Stanley Baldwin was immediately concerned and which had an important bearing on our own relations with the crown. I refer to the part he played in what might have resulted in a critical constitutional crisis at the time of the abdication of King Edward VIII. So tactfully and ably did Baldwin act in that very difficult situation that, without lessening the friendship he enjoyed with the Sovereign to whom he had been prime minister, he was able, at the same time, to inform the British House of Commons of the situation that had arisen and advise acceptance of the abdication of the king.
I should perhaps also mention the general strike that took place in Britain in 1926, and w'hat was spared Britain at the time, and possibly other nations since, by the able manner in which that situation was also met by Mr. Baldwin. He possessed unquestionably a unique gift of reconciling differences as they arose in his own country. It was one of the great objectives of his life. In that very critical situation his conduct once more was such as to commend itself not only to Britain but to all parts of the British empire.
While sharp differences of opinion exist as to some of the policies of his administration, Baldwin himself was always highly respected for his whole-hearted and selfless devotion to Britain's welfare and to British interests as he conceived them. Patriotism and public service were the watchwords of his career. He was a great Englishman and a great gentleman. He had a close and personal attachment to the English countryside and country life; a keen appreciation of literature, to which he himself made important contributions. His natural simplicity and sincerity of manner endeared him to his followers, and brought him many friends.
So far as Canada is concerned, I might add, Mr. Speaker, that the name of the late Earl Baldwin of Bewdley will always hold a high place in the minds of our people, and, to those who knew him and were privileged to enjoy his friendship, a place of deep affection in their hearts as well.
Subtopic: TRIBUTE TO FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM