March 21, 1924 (14th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)



With regard
to the first question which my right hon. friend has asked: How is it ascertained that a bilateral treaty applies to one particular part of the Empire or more than one, I would answer that that fact would be ascertained by the terms of the treaty itself, its subject matter and by conference between the different parts of the Empire. The paragraph in the report of the Imperial Conference which deals with the subject of negotiation of treaties, contains, I think, what will answer
my right hon. friend's question. The paragraph reads:
(a) It is desirable that no treaty should be negotiated by any of the governments of the Empire without due consideration of its possible effect on other parts of the Empire, or, if circumstances so demand, on the Empire as a whole.
(b) Before negotiations are opened with the intention of concluding a treaty, steps should be taken to ensure that any of the other governments of the Empire likely to be interested are informed, so that, if any such government considers that its interests would be affected, it may have an opportunity of expressing its views, or, when its interests are immediately involved, of participating in the negotiations.
If that course is pursued, I think it will soon become apparent ro any particular selfgoverning dominion or the government of the United Kingdom, whether the treaty which it proposes to negotiate is one that concerns only one part of the Empire or more than one paH. In these, as in all matters, common sense has to govern in the last degree; hard and fast lines cannot be laid down; but the broad intelligence that is usually applied to matters of this sort would soon, I think make it quite apparent and clear whether a sell-governing dominion or the government of the United Kingdom would be justified in regarding a treaty as imposing obligations only upon itself.
As to the second question which my right hon. friend has asked

on whose advice does His Majesty act in ratifying a treaty, was it?

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