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the outcome is the most uncertain thing in the world. The one fact which is perfectly clear is that the new idea cannot be realized with the old machinery. Either we must devise some practical form of union, or separation will in fact ensue, however little we may desire it.

But it is far more difficult to lay the foundations of any common system to-day than it would have been in the 'forties and 'fifties. It was possible in starting any Colony on its independent career and giving it the complete management of its local affairs, to provide for some co-operation in matters of common interest. A genuine Imperial Court of Appeal, an Imperial Trade Council with Colonial members upon it, regular representation of the Colonies, at home by political and not merely commercial agents, a certain preference to ships bearing the British flag in all British ports and waters, a light import duty on all foreign goods entering British territory, to form the nucleus of a common fund for common purposes-these things would have appeared, as indeed they are, so natural, that they could easily have been established at the outset. And a real Imperial system, once initiated, would have grown with the growth of the new countries, as part of their fundamental institutions, without in the slightest degree affecting their local freedom or hampering their de velopment.

But it is far more difficult to create such a system now, when both the Colonies and the Mother Country have got into the habit of acting without regard, or only with casual and inadequate regard, to one another, even in matters which obviously could be much better regulated by common agreement. Yet, difficult as it is, the problem has to be faced. And the agenda of the approaching Conference afford unmistakable evidence that

there is, in more than one quarter at least, a strong desire to tackle it.

It is the Colonies in this instance, or at any rate some of them, who are making the running. And that is all to the good. It is far better that proposals for co-operation should come from them than from us. If Great Britain were the first to move, it would be impossible to avoid the suspicion, amounting in some quarters almost to a mania, that we were seeking to interfere with Colonial self-government, to recover control for "Downing Street." True, no man in his senses dreams of such a thing. But though in this country we all know this, it is evident that in the Colonies, and especially perhaps in Canada, a good many people still do not know it. And if the Canadian Government still regard any proposals for organized and permanent consultation between the States of the Empire, like those contained in Mr. Lyttleton's despatch of April 20, 1905, as calculated to "interfere with the workings of responsible government," it is better that Mr. Deakin and Sir Joseph Ward should convince them that this is not the case than that any Englishman should attempt so to convince them. We British Imperialists will be better employed if we concentrate our efforts upon removing the prejudices which still prevent many people in this country from responding to such overtures as the Colonies are prepared to make.

It is extremely unfortunate that the one form of Imperial partnership, the one new tie of a practical kind, which all the Colonies, including Canada, are as yet unanimous in desiring, should have met with no better reception in the Mother Country. The historian of the future will rub his eyes with wonder, as foreign observers already do, at the national infatuation which has led us to look askance and to boggle over one of the fittest opportunities

ever offered to any nation of recovering what it had carelessly thrown away. "Preferential trade relations" with our own fellow kinsmen, a position of permanent advantage in some of the greatest and most promising markets in the world, is a boon which-apart entirely from its political consequences, great as they must be-would be worth securing even at a heavy price. And the price we should in fact have to pay is a bagatelle. It is difficult to regard with patience the disastrous accident of party warfare which has caused it to be so absurdly exaggerated. A sober examination of the question has been rendered for the moment impossible by the fact that it lent itself to a party cry. And those who raised that cry are evidently still convinced that it is good business to keep it up. Indeed, they now rely almost exclusively on the "dear food" argument, the more far-seeing of them having evidently come to the conclusion that it is not prudent to commit yourself too deeply against any and every modification of our tariff system. "You cannot give preference to the Colonies without a tax on corn. What a way of promoting Imperial unity—to make living dearer for the mass of the people!" That is practically their whole case. But it is not true, either that you cannot give any preference at all without a tax on corn, or that, with such a tax, the necessaries of life as a whole must be dearer. For, even granting that such a tax would come out of the pocket of the consumer (though that is far from certain) it is clearly possible to compensate him for a slight increase of cost on a single article by a corresponding reduction in other duties.

No doubt the day will come when "the mass of the people" will realize these facts. And no doubt also it is the duty of all who feel the vital importance of Preferential Trade to try

and make that day come quickly. They are bound to direct a steady stream of temperate economic argument against the misconceptions and exaggerations which stand in the way of the acceptance of so sound a principle, to pelt the "dear food" bogey, not with rhetoric or ridicule, but with facts and figures, till they destroy it. But it is wise to recognize that this process must take time-time which the Colonies will be well advised to give us and not to forget that there are other very important subjects before the Conference besides Preferential Trade. It is not impossible that the British Government may after all adopt a less hostile attitude to the principle of Preference. But even if it does not, there is no reason why the Conference should be barren of results in other directions, and certainly there is every reason why no Imperialist should try to make it so. Yet there is a real danger that, if public interest is concentrated exclusively on the question of Preference, other matters, however important, will be but perfunctorily discussed.

Such a result would be deplorable in the extreme. On the agenda of the Conference are to be found, apart from the question of Imperial trade, a number of problems the solution of which is essential to the building up of that new and larger political organization which we have seen to be our ultimate aim. Such are the creation of a genuine Imperial Court of Appeal and the adoption of a single system of naturalization throughout the Empire. But more important than all the rest is the question of the future of the Conference itself. That body is, after all, next to the Crown, the greatest Imperial asset we possess. It is our one really Imperial institution, and it is to its continued existence and heightened efficiency that we must look for the gradual establishment of a real part

nership between the self-governing States of the Empire.

No fewer than three Colonies, Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Colony, have submitted notices of motion tending to give permanence to the Conference under the title of an "Imperial Council." The Australian resolution is the most definite of the three. It defines the composition of the Council, which is to consist of "representatives of Great Britain and the self-governing Colonies, chosen ex officio from their existing administrations," provides for regular meetings of the Council, and contemplates the creation of a permanent secretarial staff, "charged with the duty of obtaining information for the use of the Council, of attending to the execution of its resolutions, and of conducting correspondence on matters relating to its affairs." Το leave no doubt as to the character of this new Office, the Australian resolution further proposes, consistently and rightly, that "the expenses of such a staff shall be borne by the countries represented on the Council in proportion to their population." The Office, however subordinate its duties, is to be a genuinely Imperial one.

essary. The "Council" which the Australian resolution contemplates is clearly nothing more than the present "Conference" converted into a permanent institution. Not only has it nothing to do with the internal affairs of the several States, so that the danger of its "meddling" with them is the merest scare-crow, but even in its own sphere, that of "matters of common Imperial interest," it will have no executive authority. It will simply be a medium of mutual information and the exchange of views. No doubt its resolutions would have great moral weight, but they would not be binding on any of the States represented at the Council against its will. It is difficult to imagine how the establishment of a regular means of consultation between the several States of the Empire in matters of common concern can be objected to except by those who are, in principle, Separatists.

The rejection of the Australian proposal would be a severe blow to the cause of Imperial unity-unless, indeed, its opponents were prepared with some better scheme for securing the same end. And I am firmly convinced that such a negative result would be contrary to the wishes of a great majority of the citizens of the Empire. The Governments of Australia and New Zealand are no doubt supported by the bulk of public opinion in those Colonies in the move that they are making. In this country there is a great preponderance of opinion in favor of some step of the kind. And even in Canada, while the groundless anxiety of a section of the people lest the proposal should interfere with their cherished autonomy may induce a hesitating or even a hostile attitude on the part of the Canadian Government, it is, to say the least, doubtful whether that attitude would be truly representative of average Canadian opinion. The recent debate in the Ca

It is probable that this resolution will be accepted by New Zealand and Cape Colony, and that it will form the basis of the whole discussion. On the other hand, a strong note of opposition is sounded from Canada, where the Toronto Globe, a paper of great influence, and standing in close relations with the present Administration, recently described an Imperial Council as "a mischievous scheme" and "a medium through which the various members of the Empire would be meddling intolerably in each other's affairs." And it is not only in Canada that the word "Council" seems to have caused a certain amount of perturbation. Yet a little reflection must surely show that the alarm is unnec

nadian House of Commons on Colonel Hughes's motion for a "full partnership union" between Great Britain and her Colonies revealed the existence of a large body of opinion prepared not only to go as far as the establishment of a consultative Imperial Council, but to go a great deal further. If the Australian proposal could be Inade the subject of a referendum to the citizens of all the self-governing States of the Empire, there would be little fear of the result.

From my own point of view, the Australian proposal, so far from going beyond the immediately practicable, does not appear to embrace all that might be reasonably asked for, even under present conditions. The truth is that there are two distinct, if related, problems to be dealt with, which the use of vague general terms has tended to confuse, and that, while the Australian proposal does take us some way towards the solution of one of them, it hardly touches the other at all. The first problem is how to ensure the maximum of co-operation between the several States in affairs of common interest within the Empire. Of this nature are identical legislation on commercial matters, mainly patents, trade marks, copyright, shipping, the currency, the metric system, &c. &c.or concerted action with regard to such questions as emigration, the development of intercourse by post and cable, and so forth. Here is a wide field, in which agreement in principle already exists on many points, and is easily attainable on many more. But the weak point is that the Conference, if only from want of time, cannot do more than lay down general principles. To ensure any practical results, an immense amount of detailed work will always remain to be done, and at present no regular machinery exists for dealing with it. There is no lack of expert ability, either here or in the

Colonies, to elaborate the plans agreed upon by the Conference, but in the absence of some permanent Imperial machinery it cannot be organized and set to work. By creating a permanent Office to carry out the instructions of the Conference, and to see that the business begun by that body does not come to a standstill in the long intervals between its sessions, the Australian resolution does go a long way to get over this difficulty.

But there is a second problem with regard to which, as far as I can see, it does not help us much. I refer to the difficulty of keeping the Government of the United Kingdom in touch with the Governments of the other States, when it is dealing with the external affairs of the Empire and primarily when it is dealing with those external affairs which directly affect one or more of the Colonies. Granted that no system for the common control of external relations is as yet possible, however desirable it might be, however necessary we may ultimately find it. But the very fact that the Imperial Government is under present circumstances in sole control of external relations makes consultation with the Colonies on all external matters which concern them-and the number of such matters is constantly increasing-absolutely essential. And the Conference, while sitting, affords an admirable means of consultation. But it is the essence of questions of this character that they crop up at all sorts of times. And except when the Conference is sitting, there is no ready and recognized means by which the Imperial Government can consult with any particular Colony, much less, as in matters of the highest moment would be eminently desirable, with them all. Nor does the Australian proposal prescribe such a means, useful as its adoption would be in other respects. What is wanted is perma

the Colonies to contribute, in money or kind, to the fighting strength of the Empire, in anything like proportion to their wealth and population, they must feel that they are partners in any policy which might involve a call upon that fighting strength. The idea of using them as mere tributaries, helping to support an Army and Navy, in which they have no part, and in the control of which they have no share, is wrong in principle. It is a survival of the old system of subordinate dependent States. As an expression of goodwill, a recognition of the value to the Colonies themselves of the seapower of the Mother Country, Colonial contributions to the Navy are indeed welcome. But we shall never get much farther on that road, and it is not desirable to attempt it. The true principle is to encourage the Colonies to develop their own forces, thus increasing the land and sea power of the Empire as a whole, but to develop them on lines which will enable them to co-operate in the most effective manner with the British Army and Navy, and with one another. The extent to which they can be relied upon actually so to co-operate, must depend on the success of the Imperial movement generally, on the extent to which we are able to develop common institutions and a common policy.

nent representation of the Colonies at the centre of the Empire by men of such rank, preferably members of the respective Cabinets, as would enable a body of a composition similar to that of the Conference, and of great if not quite equal authority, to assemble at any time, if occasion required it. Its functions would be deliberative merely. The present suggestion does not go beyond that. But the constant potential existence of a deliberative Council, or "Conference" if you prefer to call it so, representing all the States of the Empire, would go far to keep our policy on really Imperial lines.

I am conscious of the somewhat desultory character of this article, conscious also of its many omissions. The subject is too vast for the available space. But, before concluding, there are two more points to which I would briefly refer, if only to avoid the appearance of ignoring their immense importance. The first of these is, the question of Imperial defence. I know that to many people in this country, and especially perhaps to those who look askance at far-reaching schemes of Imperial union, the most urgent of the questions before the Conference appears to be that of obtaining from the Colonies some larger contribution to the cost of the defence of the Empire, and especially to the upkeep of the Navy. But to my mind this is putting the cart before the horse. Undoubtedly the greatest common interest of all the States of the Empire is security from external attack. Undoubtedly also the maximum of security can only be attained by organized co-operation, by a system in which all would contribute, according to their capacity and on some regular plan, to military or naval forces available for any Imperial purpose. As really United States they would be invulnerable. But defence depends upon policy. Before we can expect

And now for the second great omission of which I may appear to have been guilty. So far, not one word has been said here about India, or the other great dependencies. And it is remarkable how in all discussions concerning the Conference India appears to be ignored, although she is to be represented at that gathering, and occupies a position of such unique importance in our Imperial system. The reason for this apparent indifference, no doubt, must be sought in the fact that the position of India and the other dependencies in that system,

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