Right Hon. L. B. Pearson (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to make a report to the house on the commonwealth conference which has recently concluded its work in London. I should like to thank my colleagues in the house for their warm welcome on my return. From what I have read, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I should stay away, since the house seemed to do very well in my absence. Nevertheless, believe it or not, I am glad to be back.
I was assisted in representing the government at this conference by the high commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom, an old colleague of ours in this house, and by a small group of officials. I believe ours was the smallest of all the delegations. However, so far as the officials are concerned it made up in quality what it lacked in quantity. I should like to pay a very warm tribute to their hard work, and it was hard work.
When I was on the point of leaving for London the right hon. Leader of the Opposition, who has had much experience with meetings of prime ministers of the commonwealth, remarked that I would find it a great experience. Well, he was certainly right, Mr. Speaker. I found it, as I am sure he found it in the past, to be a fascinating and stimulating experience to meet with the leaders of this world wide association or club, as it was continually referred to in the discussions, which has now reached membership proportions not dreamed of in early days.
There were 18 representatives of commonwealth governments who sat around the table this time, a considerable increase since the last commonwealth conference, and they included many new countries which have emerged to independence since that last conference was held in London. I doubt, Mr. Speaker, if anything can do more to bring home to one the problems with which the new countries in Africa and Asia are contending than to participate in the kind of meetings 20220-355J
that were held in London during the last 10 days. I doubt also, Mr. Speaker, if anything can do more to remove doubts about the value the commonwealth can have-and I hope and believe will have in the years ahead-as a link between races and cultures and continents, and as an agency to promote co-operation and understanding among men and nations.
With the permission of the house, Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to have the final communique of the conference appear as an appendix to Hansard today.
Subtopic: REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN