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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 80

The Effect on the United Kingdom

The Effect on the United Kingdom.

At first all the Chief Ministers would be members of the British Cabinet. The conditions of their holding office would be the same as at present, with the additional one that their respective policies must be approved by the majority of the Imperial Cabinet. The temptation to modify a policy to secure the support of a small extreme section of the House of Commons would be greatly diminished and greater stability ensured.

With regard to all questions on which the mind of the electorate is clearly expressed at a General Election or by any other means, the will of the nation can be carried out as under present conditions. As at least half the Imperial Cabinet would consist of representatives of the United Kingdom, the will of the "predominant partner" would prevail. But in matters of Foreign and Imperial Policy such a clearly expressed national opinion is rarely given, and as regards other questions that arise from time to time and are not submitted to the electorate the present conditions will be modified. Just as in the oversea dominions where issues of Foreign Policy and other questions with which their Parliaments are not competent to deal are removed from party strife, so at home there will be a tendency (in a less, but still a proportionate degree) to remove from our party strife questions relating to Defence page 23 and Foreign Policy, thus enabling us to present a more consistent and uniform policy with respect to the other nations of the World. The tendency to remove Imperial questions from party strife will follow from the presence in the Imperial Cabinet of members who are not concerned with considerations of parties in the United Kingdom, and the greater uniformity of our Foreign Policy will follow from the fact that those members will not go out of office at a General Election in the United Kingdom. A change of the personnel of the British representatives would not necessarily involve any change in Foreign or Imperial Policy. If the Chief Ministers were representatives from oversea this uniformity and stability would be further secured.

And further, with respect to those matters that do not require the consent of Parliament, such as the exercise of the Royal Prerogative in the grant of Colonial Constitutions, there will be a check on any hasty change of policy, just as there now is in the domestic legislation of the United Kingdom by the existence of the House of Lords. It will then be impossible to override the interests or wishes of our fellow subjects beyond the sea by an election appeal to the passions and prejudices of the electors at home. But in all questions concerning the United Kingdom, such as Electoral Reform, Licensing, Trades Disputes or Land Tenure, the power of the British electors will remain as it is. The general tendency and effect will be to confine party strife to the internal affairs of the United Kingdom. So it ought to be, seeing that the House of Commons represents the United Kingdom alone.