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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 80


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One of the most pressing political problems of our time is that of devising a means of welding together the component parts of the British Empire so that it may be consolidated and be enabled to move along the path of progress holding its own in the intense competition of rival nations and races in the near future. The problem is obscured at home by other questions that now occupy the public mind, such as the education of the people, the struggle for the schools, the functions and indeed the existence of the House of Lords, the taxation of land, and the powers of trade unions. But from time to time the columns of the daily Press deal with this Imperial issue, some papers quoting extracts from the leading Colonial papers, showing at one time in the case of South Africa, at another in the case of Newfoundland or Australia, the necessity for grappling seriously with this as a vital question, for such indeed it is.

The occasion which caused this problem to arise and brought the solution within the domain of practical politics was undoubtedly the South African War of 1899-1901.

That war was the first occasion in the history of our nation on which men from the Queen's dominions* beyond the sea fought side by side with the Regular Army maintained by the United Kingdom, and on which they bore more than their share of the sacrifices made by the Mother Country in defence of a remote part of page 2 the dominions of the Queen, The general sympathy and feeling of common interest aroused among all subjects of Her Majesty was far greater than had been anticipated. There is reason to believe that that manifestation was the outcome of a deep and abiding racial and patriotic feeling, which is independent of time or circumstances.

In the years that followed the war this policy of mutual interest was manifested from time to time in the speeches of Colonial Statesmen and in the columns of the Press. In conjunction with the visit of Mr. Chamberlain to South Africa and his policy of co-operation, it gave rise to attempts to consolidate the Empire by means of Imperial Conferences and offers of preferential trade.

Since 1901 the process of Colonial consolidation has evolved the Commonwealth of Australia and the Union of South Africa. Arrangements are in progress for mutual defence by the co-operation of the dominions oversea in an Imperial Army. These dominions have already taken a generous and patriotic share in the burden of maintaining efficient Naval Defence.

The time has therefore come for an attempt to bind still closer to the Motherland the Daughter States within the Empire.

"The strength of this nation depends on the unity of feeling which should pervade the United Kingdom and its widespread Dependencies. The first duty of an English Minister should be to consolidate that co-operation which renders irresistible a community educated as our own, in an equal love of liberty and Law."—Lord Beaconsfield.

* The word "dominions" is used in its general meaning. The distinctions between a "Dominion," a "Commonwealth," and a "Union" are quite immaterial in connection with the subjects discussed in these pages.