The chief innovation was the monarch titled as ‘head of the commonwealth’……..’trimmed the title of the British sovereign’
The Balfour Declaration was approved at the Imperial Conference of 1926. Named after the conference chair, Lord Balfour, it stated formally what was already in practice — that the Dominions of the British Empire were autonomous and equal in stature with each other and with England. A new association was created that was called the British Commonwealth of Nations. ..The members of the Commonwealth were “in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united in a common allegiance to the Crown.”
From the 1926 declaration the agenda would move on through Winston Churchill who was one of the first to advocate European integration to prevent the atrocities of two world wars from ever happening again, calling for the creation of a Council of Europe as a first step. In 1948, in The Hague, 800 delegates from all European countries met, with Churchill as honorary president, at a grand Congress of Europe.
IMPERIAL CONFERENCE 1926
INTER-IMPERIAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE
REPORT, PROCEEDINGS AND MEMORANDA
E (I.R./26) Series
(WITH SUBJECT INDEX)
Balfour Declaration 1926
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[This Document is the Property of His Britannic Majesty’s Government.]
Printed for the Imperial Conference. November 1926 __________________________________________________________________________________________
Copy No. 142
IMPERIAL CONFERENCE, 1926.
Inter-Imperial Relations Committee. _____________________________
Page I.INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………………. 1
II. STATUS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THE DOMINIONS ……………………………1
III. SPECIAL POSITION OF INDIA ………………………………………………………………. 2
IV. RELATIONS BETWEEN THE VARIOUS PARTS OF THE
BRITISH EMPIRE ……………………………………………………………………………….. 2
(a.) The Title of His Majesty the King …………………………………………………………………3
(b.) Position of Governors-General …………………………………………………………………….3
(c.) Operation of Dominion Legislation ………………………………………………………………4
(d.) Merchant Shipping Legislation…………………………………………………………………….5
(e.) Appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council…………………………………..6
V.RELATIONS WITH FOREIGN COUNTRIES
(a.) Procedure in Relation to Treaties…………………………………………………………………..6
(b.) Representation at International Conference…………………………………………………….8
(c.) General Conduct of Foreign Policy………………………………………………………………..9
(d.) Issue of Exequaturs to Foreign Consuls in the Dominions ………………………………..9
(e.) Channel of Communication between Dominion Governments and Foreign Governments ………………………………………………………………………. 10 VI.SYSTEM OF COMMUNICATION AND CONSULTATION………………………10
VII. PARTICULAR ASPECTS OF FOREIGN RELATIONS DISCUSSED BY COMMITTEE –
(a.) Compulsory Arbitration inInternational Disputes…………………………………………11
(b.) Adherence of the United States of America to the Protocol establishing
the Permanent Court of International Justice 11 (c.)…The Policy of Locarno 11
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We were appointed at the meeting of the Imperial Conference on the 25th
October, 1926, to investigate all the questions on the Agenda affecting Inter-Imperial Relations. Our discussions on these questions have been long and intricate. We found, on examination, that they involved consideration of fundamental principles affecting the relations of the various parts of the British Empire inter se, as well as the relations of each part to foreign countries. For such examination the time at our disposal has been all too short. Yet we Hope that we may have
laid a foundation on which subsequent Conferences may build.
II. STATUS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THE DOMINIONS.
The Committee are of opinion that nothing would be gained by attempting to lay down a Constitution for the British Empire. It’s widely scattered parts have very different characteristics, very
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different histories, and are at very different stages of evolution; while, considered as a whole, it defies classification and bears no real resemblance to any other political organisation which now exists or has ever yet been tried. There is, however, one most important element in it which, from a strictly constitutional point of view, has now, as regards all vital matters, reached its full development—we refer to the group of self- governing communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions. Their position and mutual relation may be readily defined. They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
now, as regards all vital matters, reached its full developmentwe
A foreigner endeavouring to understand the true character of the British Empire by the aid of this formula alone would tempted to think that it was devised rather to make mutual interference impossible than to make mutual co-operation easy.
Such a criticism, however, completely ignores the historic situation. The rapid evolution of the Oversea Dominions during the last fifty years has involved many complicated adjustments of old political machinery to changing conditions. The tendency towards equality of status was both right and inevitable. Geographical and other conditions made this impossible of attainment by the way of federation. The only alternative was by the way of autonomy; and along this road it has been steadily sought. Every self-governing member of the Empire is now the master of its destiny. In fact, if not always in form, it is subject to no compulsion whatever.
But no account, however accurate, of the negative relations in which Great Britain and the Dominions stand to each other can do more than express a portion of the truth. The British Empire is not founded upon negations. It depends essentially, if not formally, on positive ideals. Free institutions are its life-blood. Free co-operation is its instrument. Peace, security and progress are among its objects. Aspects of all these great themes have been discussed at the present Conference; excellent results have been thereby obtained. And though every Dominion is now, and must always remain, the sole judge of the nature and extent of its co-operation, no common cause will, in our opinion, be thereby imperilled.
Equality of status, so far as Britain and the Dominions are concerned, is thus the root principle governing our Inter-Imperial Relations. But the principles of equality and similarity, appropriate to status, do not universally extend to function. Here we require something more than immutable dogmas. For example, to deal
with questions of diplomacy and questions of defence, we require also flexible machinerymachinery which can, from time to time, be adapted to the changing circumstances of the world. This subject also has occupied out attention. The rest of this report will show how we have endeavoured not only to state political theory, but to apply it to our common needs.
IIISPECIAL POSITION OF INDIA.
It will be noted that in the previous paragraphs we have made no mention of India. Our reason for
limiting their scope to Great Britain and the Dominions is that the position of India in the Empire is already
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defined by the Government of India Act, 1919. We would, nevertheless, recall that by Resolution IX of the Imperial War Conference, 1917, due recognition was given to the important position held by India in the British Commonwealth. Where, in this Report, we have had occasion to consider the position of India, we have made particular reference to it.
IV.RELATIONS BETWEEN THE VARIOUS PARTS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE.
Existing administrative, legislative, and judicial forms are admittedly not wholly in accord with the
position as described in
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Section II of this Report. This is inevitable, since most of these forms date back to a time well antecedent to the present stage of constitutional development. Our first task then was to examine these forms with special reference to any cases where the want of adaptation of practice to principle caused, or might be thought to cause inconvenience in the conduct of Inter-Imperial Relations.
(a.)The Title of His Majesty the King.
The title of His Majesty the King is of special importance and concern to all parts of His Majesty’s Dominions. Twice within the last fifty years has the Royal Title been altered to suit changed conditions and constitutional developments.
The present title, which is that proclaimed under the Royal Titles Act of 1901, is as follows: —
“King , by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.”
Some time before the Conference met, it had been recognised that this form of title hardly accorded with the altered state of affairs arising from the establishment of the Irish Free State as a Dominion. It had been further ascertained that it would be in accordance with His Majesty’s wished that any recommendation for change should be submitted to him as the result of the discussion at the Conference.
We are unanimously of the opinion that a slight change is desirable, and we recommend that, subject to His Majesty’s approval, the necessary legislative action should be taken to secure that His Majesty’s title should
“George V, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the
Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.”
(b) Position of Governors-General.
We proceeded to consider whether it was desirable formally to place on record a definition of the position held by the Governor-General* as His Majesty’s representative in the Dominions. That position, though now generally well recognised, undoubtedly represents a development from an earlier stage when the Governor- General was appointed solely on the advice of His Majesty’s Ministers in London and acted also as their representative.
In our opinion it is an essential consequence of the equality of status existing among the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations that the Governor-General of a Dominion is the representative of the Crown, holding in all essential respects the same position in relation to the administration of public affairs in the Dominion as is held by His Majesty the King in Great Britain, and that he is not the representative or agent of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain or of any Department of that Government.
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It seemed to us to follow that the practice whereby the Governor-General of a Dominion is the formal official channel of communication between His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain and His Governments in the Dominions might be regarded as no longer wholly in accordance with the constitutional position of the Governor-General. It was thought that the recognised official channel of communication should be, in future, between Government and Government direct. The representatives of Great Britain readily recognised that the existing procedure might be open to criticism and accepted the proposed change in principle in relation to any of the Dominions which desired it. Details were left for settlement as soon as possible after the Conference had completed its work, but it was recognised by the Committee, as an essential feature of any change or development in the channels of communication, that a Governor-General should be supplied with copies of all documents of importance and in general should be kept as fully informed as is His Majesty the King in Great Britain of Cabinet business and public affairs.
* The Governor of Newfoundland is in the same position as the Governor-General of a Dominion.
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(c) Operation of Dominion Legislation.
Our attention was also called to various points in connection with the operation of Dominion legislation, which, it was suggested, required clarification.
The particular points involved were:
(e.) The present practice under which Acts of the Dominion Parliaments are sent each year to London, and it is intimated, through the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, that “His Majesty will not be advised to exercise his powers of disallowance” with regard to them.
(e.) The reservation of Dominion legislation, in certain circumstances, for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure which is signified on advice tendered by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain.
(e.) The difference between the legislative competence of the Parliament at Westminster and of the Dominion Parliaments in that Acts passed by the latter operate, as a general rule, only within the territorial area of the Dominion concerned.
(e.) The operation of legislation passed by the Parliament at Westminster in relation to the Dominions. In this connection special attention was called to such Statutes as the Colonial Laws Validity Act. It was suggested that in future uniformity of legislation as between Great Britain and the Dominions could best be secured by the enactment of reciprocal Statutes based upon consultation and agreement.
We gave these matters the best consideration possible in the limited time at our disposal, but came to the conclusion that the issues involved were so complex that there would be grave danger in attempting any immediate pronouncement other than a statement of certain principles which, in our opinion, underlie the whole question of the operation of Dominion legislation. We felt that, for the rest, it would be necessary to obtain expert guidance as a preliminary to further consideration by His Majesty’s Governments in Great Britain and the Dominions.
On the questions raised with regard to disallowance and reservation of Dominion legislation, it was explained by the Irish Free State representatives that they desired to elucidate the constitutional practice in relation to Canada, since it is provided by Article 2 of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty of 1921 that “the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and Government and otherwise shall be that of the Dominion of Canada.”
On this point we propose that it should be placed on record that, apart from provisions embodied in constitutions or in specific statutes expressly providing for reservation, it is recognised that it is the right of the Government of each Dominion to advise the Crown in all matters relating to its own affairs. Consequently, it would not be in accordance with constitutional practice for advice to be tendered to His Majesty by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain in any matter appertaining to the affairs of a Dominion against the views of the Government of that Dominion.
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The appropriate procedure with regard to projected legislation in one of the self-governing parts of the Empire which may affect the interests of other self-governing parts is previous consultation between His Majesty’s Ministers in the several parts concerned.
On the question raised with regard to the legislative competence of Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations other than Great Britain, and in particular to the desirability of those Members being enabled to legislate with extra-territorial effect, we think that it should similarly be placed on record that the constitutional practice is that legislation by the Parliament at Westminster applying to a Dominion would only be passed with the consent of the Dominion concerned.
As already indicated, however, we are of opinion that there are points arising out of these considerations, and in the application of these general principles, which will require detailed examination, and we accordingly recommend that steps should be taken by Great
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Britain and the Dominions to set up a Committee with terms of reference on the following lines: “To enquire into, report upon, and make recommendations concerning
(i.). Existing statutory provisions requiring reservation of Dominion legislation for the assent of His Majesty or authorising the disallowance of such legislation.
(ii.) (a.) The present position as to the competence of Dominion Parliaments to give their legislation extra-territorial operation.
(b.) The practicability and most convenient method of giving effect to the principle that each Dominion Parliament should have power to give extra-territorial operation to its legislation in all cases where such operation is ancillary to provision for the peace, order and good government of the Dominion.
(iii) The principles embodied in or underlying the Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, and the extent to which any provisions of that Act ought to be repealed, amended or modified in the light of the existing relations between the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations as described in this Report.”
(d.) Merchant Shipping Legislation.
Somewhat similar considerations to those set out above governed our attitude towards a similar, though a special, question raised in relation to Merchant Shipping Legislation. On this subject it was pointed out that, while uniformity of administrative practice was desirable, and indeed essential, as regards the Merchant Shipping Legislation of the various parts of the Empire, it was difficult to reconcile the application, in their present form, of certain provisions of the principal Statute relating to Merchant Shipping, viz., the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, more particularly clauses 735 and 736, with the constitutional status of the several members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
In this case also we felt that although, in the evolution of the British Empire, certain inequalities had been allowed to remain as regards various questions of maritime affairs, it was essential in dealing with these inequalities to consider the practical aspects of the matter. The difficulties in the way of introducing any immediate alterations in the Merchant Shipping Code (which dealt, amongst other matters, with the registration of British ships all over the world), were fully appreciated and it was felt to be necessary, in any review of the position, to take into account such matters of general concern as the qualifications for registry as a British ship, the status of British ships in war, the work done by His Majesty’s Consuls in the interest of British shipping and seamen, and the question of Naval Courts at foreign ports to deal with crimes and offences on British ships abroad.
We came finally to the conclusion that, following a precedent which had been found useful on previous occasions, the general question of Merchant Shipping Legislation had best be remitted to a special Sub- Conference, which could meet most appropriately at the same time as the Expert Committee, to which reference
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is made above. We thought that this special Sub-Conference should be invited to advise on the following general lines:
“To consider and report on the principles which should govern, in the general interest, the practice and legislation relating to merchant shipping in the various parts of the Empire, having regard to the change in constitutional status and general relations which has occurred since existing laws were enacted.”
We took note that the representatives of India particularly desired that India, in view of the importance of her shipping interests, should be given an opportunity of being represented at the proposed Sub-Conference. We felt that the full representation of
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India on an equal footing with Great Britain and the Dominions would not only be welcomed, but could very properly be given, due regard being had to the special constitutional position of India as explained in Section III of this Report.
(e) Appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Another matter which we discussed, in which a general constitutional principle was raised concerned the conditions governing appeals from judgments in the Dominions to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. From these discussions it became clear that it was no part of the policy of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain that questions affecting judicial appeals should be determined otherwise than in accordance with the wishes of the part of the Empire primarily affected. It was, however, generally recognised that where changes in the existing system were proposed which, while primarily affecting one part, raised issues in which other parts were also concerned, such changes ought only to be carried out after consultation and discussion.
So far as the work of the Committee was concerned, this general understanding expressed all that was required. The question of some immediate change in the present conditions governing appeals from the Irish Free State was not pressed in relation to the present Conference, though it was made clear that the right was reserved to bring up the matter again at the next Imperial Conference for discussion in relation to the facts of this particular case.
V.—RELATIONS WITH FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
From questions specially concerning the relations of the various parts of the British Empire with one another, we naturally turned to those affecting their relations with foreign countries. In the latter sphere, a beginning had been made towards making clear those relations by the Resolution of the Imperial Conference of 1923 on the subject of the negotiations, signature and ratification of treaties. But it seemed desirable to examine the working of that Resolution during the past three years and also to consider whether the principles laid down with regard to Treaties could not be applied with advantage in a wider sphere.
(a.) Procedure in Relation to Treaties.
We appointed a special sub-committee under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Justice of Canada (The Honourable E. Lapointe, K.C.) to consider the question of treaty procedure.
The Sub-Committee, on whose report the following paragraphs are based, found that the Resolution of the Conference of 1923 embodied on most points useful rules for the guidance of the Governments. As they became more thoroughly understood and established, they would prove effective in practice.
Some phases of treaty procedure were examined however in greater detail in the light of experience in order to consider to what extent the Resolution of 1923 might with advantage be supplemented.
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It was agreed in 1923 that any of the Governments of the Empire contemplating the negotiation of a treaty should give due consideration to its possible effect upon other Governments and should take steps to inform Governments likely to be interested of its intention.
This rule should be understood as applying to any negotiations which any Government intends to conduct, so as to leave it to the other Governments to say whether they are likely to be interested.
When a Government has received information of the intention of any other Government to conduct negotiations, it is incumbent upon it to indicate its attitude with reasonable promptitude.
So long as the initiating Government receives no adverse comments and so long as its policy involves no active obligations on the part of the other Governments, it may proceed on the assumption that its policy is generally acceptable. It must, however, before taking any steps
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which might involve the other Governments in any active obligations, obtain their definite assent.
Where by the nature of the treaty it is desirable that it should be ratified on behalf of all the Governments of the Empire, the initiating Government may assume that a Government which has had full opportunity of indicating its attitude and has made no adverse comments will concur in the ratification of the treaty. In the case of a Government that prefers not to concur in the ratification of a treaty unless it has been signed by a plenipotentiary authorised to act on its behalf, it will advise the appointment of a plenipotentiary so to act.
Form of Treaty.
Some treaties begin with a list of the contracting countries and not with a list of Heads of States. In the case of treaties negotiated under the auspices of the League of Nations, adherence to the wording of the Annex to the Covenant for the purpose of describing the contracting party has led to the use in the preamble of the term “British Empire” with an enumeration of the Dominions and India if parties to the Convention but without any mention of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Colonies and Protectorates. These are only included by virtue of their being covered by the term “British Empire.” This practice, while suggesting that the Dominions and India are not on a footing of equality with Great Britain as participants in the treaties in question, tends to obscurity and misunderstanding and is generally unsatisfactory.
As a means of overcoming this difficulty it is recommended that all treaties (other than agreements between Governments) whether negotiated under the auspices of the League or not should be made in the name of Heads of States, and if the treaty is signed on behalf of any or all of the Governments of the Empire, the treaty should be made in the name of the King as the symbol of the special relationship between the different parts of the Empire. The British units on behalf of which the treaty is signed should be grouped together in the following order: Great Britain and Northern Ireland and all parts of the British Empire which are not separate members of the League, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Irish Free State, India. A specimen form of treaty as recommended is attached as an appendix to the Committee’s report.
In the case of a treaty applying to only one part of the Empire it should be stated to be made by the King on behalf of that part.
The making of the treaty in the name of the King as the symbol of the special relationship between the different parts of the Empire will render superfluous the inclusion of any provision that its terms must not be regarded as regulating inter se the rights and obligations of the various territories on behalf of which it has been signed in the name of the King. In this connection it must be borne in mind that the question was discussed at the Arms Traffic Conference in 1925, and that the Legal Committee of that Conference laid it down that the principle to which the foregoing sentence gives expression underlies all international conventions.
In the case of some international agreements the Governments of different parts of the Empire may be willing to apply between themselves some of the provisions as an administrative measure. In this case they should state the extent to which and the terms on which such provisions are to apply. Where international
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agreements are to be applied between different parts of the Empire, the form of a Treaty between Heads of States should be avoided.
The plenipotentiaries for the various British units should have full powers, issued in each case by the King on the advice of the Government concerned, indicating and corresponding to the part of the Empire for which they are to sign. It will frequently be found convenient, particularly where there are some parts of the Empire on which it is not contemplated that active obligations will be imposed, but where the position of the British subjects belonging to these parts will be affected, for such Government to advise the issue of full powers on their behalf to the plenipotentiary appointed
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to act on behalf of the Government or Governments mainly concerned. In other cases provision might be made for accession by other parts of the Empire at a later date.
In the cases where the names of countries are appended to the signatures in a treaty, the different parts of the Empire should be designated in the same manner as is proposed in regard to the list of plenipotentiaries in the preamble to the treaty. The signatures of the plenipotentiaries of the various parts of the Empire should be grouped together in the same order as is proposed above.
The signature of a treaty on behalf of a part of the Empire should cover territories for which a mandate has been given to that part of the Empire, unless the contrary is stated at the time of the signature.
Coming into Force of Multilateral Treaties.
In general, treaties contain a ratification clause and a provision that the treaty will come into force on the deposit of a certain number of ratifications. The question has sometimes arisen in connection with treaties negotiated under the auspices of the League whether, for the purpose of making up the number of ratifications necessary to bring the treaty into force, ratifications on behalf of different parts of the Empire which are separate Members of the League should be counted as separate ratifications. In order to avoid any difficulty in future, it is recommended that when it is thought necessary that a treaty should contain a clause of this character, it should take the form of a provision that the treaty should come into force when it has been ratified on behalf of so many separate Members of the League.
We think that some convenient opportunity should be taken of explaining to the other Members of the League the changes which it is desired to make in the form of treaties and the reasons for which they are desired. We would also recommend that the various Governments of the Empire should make it an instruction to their representatives at International Conferences to be held in future that they should use their best endeavours to secure that effect is given to the recommendations contained in the foregoing paragraphs.
(b.) Representation at International Conferences.
We also studied, in the light of the Resolution of the Imperial Conference of 1923 to which reference has already been made, the question of the representation of the different parts of the Empire at International Conferences. The conclusions which we reached may be summarised as follows:—
1. No difficulty arises as regards representation at conferences convened by, or under the auspices of, the League of Nations. In the case of such conferences all members of the League are invited, and if they attend are represented separately by separate delegations. Co-operation is ensured by the application of paragraph I.1. (c) of the Treaty Resolution of 1923.
2. As regards international conferences summoned by foreign Governments, no rule of universal application can be laid down, since the nature of the representation must, in part, depend on the form of invitation issued by the convening Government.
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(a.) In conferences of a technical character, it is usual and always desirable that the different parts of the Empire should (if they wish to participate) be represented separately by separate delegations, and where necessary efforts should be made to secure invitations which will render such representation possible.
(b.) Conferences of a political character called by a foreign Government must be considered on the special circumstances of each individual case.
It is for each part of the Empire to decide whether its particular interests are so involved, especially having regard to the active obligations likely to be imposed by any resulting treaty, that it desires to be represented at the Conference, or whether it is content
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to leave the negotiation in the hands of the part or parts of the Empire more directly concerned and to accept the result.
If a Government desires to participate in the conclusion of a treaty, the method by which representation will be secured is a matter to be arranged with the other Governments of the Empire in the light of the invitation which has been received.
Where more than one part of the Empire desires to be represented, three methods of representation are possible: —
(i.) By means of a common plenipotentiary or plenipotentiaries, the issue of full powers to whom should be on the advice of all parts of the empire participating.
(ii.) By single British Empire delegation composed of separate representatives of such parts of the Empire as are participating in the conference. This was the form of representation employed at the Washington Disarmament Conference of 1921.
(iii.) By separate delegations representing each part of the Empire participating in the conference. If, as a result of consultation, this third method is desired, an effort must be made to ensure that the form of invitation from the convening Government will make this method of representation possible.
Certain non-technical treaties should, from their nature, be concluded in a form which will render them binding upon all parts of the Empire, and for this purpose should be ratified with the concurrence of all the Governments. It is for each Government to decide to what extent its concurrence in the ratification will be facilitated by its participation in the conclusion of the treaty, as, for instance, by the appointment of a common plenipotentiary. Any question as to whether the nature of the treaty is such that its ratification should be concurred in by all parts of the Empire is a matter for discussion and agreement between the Governments.
(c.) General Conduct of Foreign Policy.
We went on to examine the possibility of applying the principles underlying the Treaty Resolution of the 1923 Conference to matters arising in the conduct of foreign affairs generally. It was frankly recognised that in this sphere, as in the sphere of defence, the major share of responsibility rests now, and must for some time continue to rest, with His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain. Nevertheless, practically all the Dominions are engaged to some extent, and some to a considerable extent, in the conduct of foreign relations, particularly those with foreign countries on their borders. A particular instance of this is the growing work in connection with the relations between Canada and the United States of America which has led to the necessity for the appointment of a Minister Plenipotentiary to represent the Canadian Government in Washington. We felt that the governing consideration underlying all discussions of this problem must be that neither Great Britain nor the Dominions could be committed to the acceptance of active obligations except with the definite assent of their own Governments. In the light of this governing consideration, the Committee agreed that the general principle expressed in relation to Treaty negotiations in Section V (a) of this Report, which is indeed already to a large extent in force, might usefully be adopted as a guide by the Governments concerned in future in all negotiations affecting foreign relations falling within their respective spheres.
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(d.) Issue of Exequaturs to Foreign Consuls in the Dominions.
A question was raised with regard to the practice regarding the issue of exequaturs to Consuls in the Dominions. The general practice hitherto, in the case of all appointments of Consuls de Carriere in any part of the British Empire, has been that the foreign Government concerned notifies His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain, through the diplomatic channel, of the proposed appointment and that, provided that it is clear that the person concerned is, in fact, a Consul de Carriere, steps have been taken, without further formality, for the issue of His Majesty’s exequatur. In the
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case of Consuls other than those de Carriere, it has been customary for some time past to consult the Dominion Government concerned before the issue of the exequatur.
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs informed us that His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain accepted the suggestion that in future any application by a foreign Government for the issue of an exequatur to any person who was to act as Consul in a Dominion should be referred to the Dominion Government concerned for consideration and that, if the Dominion Government agreed to the issue of the exequatur, it would be sent to them for counter-signature by a Dominion Minister. Instructions to this effect had indeed already been given.
(e.) Channel of Communication between Dominion Governments and Foreign Governments.
We took note of a development of special interest which had occurred since the Imperial Conference last met, viz., the appointment of a Minister Plenipotentiary to represent the interests of the Irish Free State in Washington, which was now about to be followed by the appointment of a diplomatic representative of Canada. We felt that most fruitful results could be anticipated from the co-operation of His Majesty’s representatives in the United States of America, already initiated, and now further to be developed. In cases other than those where Dominion Ministers were accredited to the Heads of Foreign States, it was agreed to be very desirable that the existing diplomatic channels should continue to be used, as between the Dominion Governments and foreign Governments, in matters of general and political concern.
VI. —SYSTEM OF COMMUNICATION AND CONSULTATION.
Sessions of the Imperial Conference at which the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and of the Dominions are all able to be present cannot, from the nature of things, take place very frequently. The system of communication and consultation between Conferences becomes therefore of special importance. We reviewed the position now reached in this respect with special reference to the desirability of arranging that closer personal touch should be established between Great Britain and the Dominions, and the Dominions inter se. Such contact alone can convey an impression of the atmosphere in which official correspondence is conducted. Development, in this respect, seems particularly necessary in relation to matters of major importance in foreign affairs where expedition is often essential, and urgent decision necessary. A special aspect of the question of consultation which we considered was that concerning the representation of Great Britain in the Dominions. By reason of his constitutional position, as explained in section IV (b) of this Report, the Governor-General is no longer the representative of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain. There is no one therefore in the Dominion capitals in a position to represent with authority the views of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain.
We summed up our conclusions in the following Resolution which is submitted for the consideration of the Conference: —
“The Governments represented at the Imperial Conference are impressed with the desirability of developing a system of personal contact, both in London and in the Dominion capitals, to supplement the
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present system of inter-communication and the reciprocal supply of information on affairs requiring joint consideration. The manner in which any new system is to be worked out is a matter for consideration and settlement between His Majesty’s Governments in Great Britain and the Dominions, with due regard to the circumstances of each particular part of the Empire, it being understood that any new arrangements should be supplementary to, and not in replacement of, the system of direct communication from Government to Government and the special arrangements which have been in force since 1918 for communications between Prime Ministers.”
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VII. —PARTICULAR ASPECTS OF FOREIGN RELATIONS DISCUSSED BY COMMITTEE.
It was found convenient that certain aspects of foreign relations on matters outstanding at the time of the Conference should be referred to us, since they could be considered in greater detail, and more informally, than at meetings of the full Conference.
(a.) Compulsory Arbitration in International Disputes.
One question which we studied was that of arbitration in international disputes, with special reference to the question of acceptance of Article 36 of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, providing for the compulsory submission of certain classes of cases to the Court. On this matter we decided to submit no Resolution to the Conference, but, whilst the members of the Committee were unanimous in favouring the widest possible extension of the method of arbitration for the settlement of international disputes, the feeling was that it was at present premature to accept the obligations under the Article in question. A general understanding was reached that none of the Governments represented at the Imperial Conference would take any action in the direction of the acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the Permanent Court, without bringing up the matter for further discussion.
(b.) Adherence of the United States of America to the Protocol establishing the Permanent Court of International Justice.
Connected with the question last mentioned, was that of adherence of the United States of America to the Protocol establishing the Permanent Court of International Justice.
The special conditions upon which the United States desired to become a party to the Protocol had been discussed at a special Conference held in Geneva in September, 1926, to which all the Governments represented at the Imperial Conference had sent representatives. We ascertained that each of these Governments was in accord with the conclusions reached by the special Conference and with action which that Conference recommended.
(c.) The Policy of Locarno
The Imperial Conference was fortunate in meeting at a time just after the ratifications of the Locarno Treaty of Mutual Guarantee had been exchanged on the entry of Germany into the League of Nations. It was therefore possible to envisage the results which the Locarno Policy had achieved already, and to forecast to some extent the further results which it was hoped to secure. These were explained and discussed. It then became clear that, from the standpoint of all the Dominions and of India, there was complete approval of the manner in which the negotiations had been conducted and brought to so successful a conclusion.
Our final and unanimous conclusion was to recommend to the Conference the adoption of the following Resolution: —
Balfour Declaration 1926
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“The Conference has heard with satisfaction the statement of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with regard to the efforts made to ensure peace in Europe, culminating in the agreements of Locarno; and congratulates His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain on its share in this successful contribution towards the promotion of the peace of the world.”
Signed of behalf of the Committee, BALFOUR, Chairman
2, Whitehall Gardens, S.W.1, … November 18, 1926.
[END PAGE 11]
( See Section V (a.). ) SPECIMEN FORM OF TREATY.
The President of the United States of America, His Majesty the King of the Belgians, His Majesty the King [here insert His Majesty’s full title ], His Majesty the King of Bulgaria, &c.,&c.
Have resolved to conclude a treaty for that purpose and to that end have appointed as their Plenipotentiaries:
The President……………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………………….
His Majesty the King [ title of above ] :
for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and all parts of the
British Empire which are not separate Members of the League (of Nations) ,
for the Commonwealth of Australia,
for the Dominion of New Zealand,
IJ. KL. MN.
for the Dominion of Canada,
for the Union of South Africa,
for the Irish Free State, for India,
Balfour Declaration 1926
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who, having communicated their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed as follows:
In faith whereof the above-named Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Treaty.
AB……………………………….. CD……………………………….. EF ………………………………… GH……………………………….. IJ…………………………………. KL……………………………….. MN……………………………….
(or if the territory for which each Plenipotentiary signs is to be
(for Great Britain, &c.)………………………………AB. (for Canada)………………………………………….CD. (for Australia)…………………………………………EF. (for New Zealand)……………………………………GH. (for South Africa)……………………………………..IJ. (for the Irish Free State)………………………………KL. (for India)……………………………………………..MN.
Balfour Declaration 1926
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Interesting that the British Empire Exhibition was held a couple of years beforehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Empire_Exhibition(now Wembley stadium)