§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ EARL WINTERTON (Sussex, Horsham)
said that at Question-time the Prime Minister said that he had no yet received from any quarter sufficient proof of the breadth and extent of the movement for the recognition of Empire Day to induce him to depart from the policy laid down by his predecessors. He felt that such a challenge should not be allowed to go disregarded, and he would therefore venture, in a few words to put before the right hon. Gentleman at any rate some of the reasons why he should consider whether he should not depart from the policy hitherto followed. That was his sole excuse for detaining the House a few moments. The movement had been growing in importance and size during the last five years throughout the Empire, and it was especially recognised in Canada, where it originated. A very good answer to the contention that it was not recognised by the late Government was that it had made remarkable progress during the last three years and was very much larger than when the present Government came into office. Its object was to instil into the people, and especially the children, a love of the British Empire; and it was a purely non-political movement. It was generally supported throughout the Empire; it was growing very largely in this country; and, without discussing the relative merits of commercial and sentimental 204 bonds, they appealed with confidence to the Government, at any rate to give consideration to it, especially having regard to the fact that they at all times had regarded the sentimental bond between the mother country and the Colonies as of the greatest importance. If there was any movement which could strengthen that bond, it was this; and as the Prime Minister had, in his answer to their Questions, shown a tinge of sympathy in the matter, he respectfully appealed to him to give the matter consideration, so that even if he was unable to come to any decision this year, the present policy might in the future be altered and some official cognisance taken of that day.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. ASQUITH, Fifeshire, E.)
I do not in the least complain of the course the noble Lord has taken. I am delighted, but I am not surprised to hear that during the last three years the sentiment of Imperial patriotism and the common spirit and loyalty throughout the Empire has grown to dimensions previously unknown, and to that extent no doubt it is true there has been a change in the situation since the present Government has had the honour to assume responsibility. I admit that that is a very important factor and ought to be borne in mind in dealing with the question. I can assure the noble Lord that if he and his friends will convey to me from time to time such information as is at their disposal of the growth of a general desire for this particular form of manifestation or demonstration of patriotism on the part of children or adults—of those who are common citizens of the Empire to which we belong, it will be received with the most respectful consideration.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Adjourned at thirteen minutes after Eleven o'clock.