§ 3.30 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I think perhaps it would be convenient at this stage, before we pass on to the next business, if I take the opportunity of making a short statement. It has for some time past been clear that in certain quarters, both here and overseas, the view has been taken that the titles of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Dominions Office are no longer entirely appropriate and are liable to convey a misleading impression of the relations between the United Kingdom and the other members of the Commonwealth. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have accordingly reached the conclusion that it is desirable that these titles should now be changed and steps are accordingly being taken for the issue of an Order in Council under the Ministers (Transfer of Functions) Act to alter the titles to Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Commonwealth Relations Office respectively.
LIE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I should like, if I may, to say a few word of welcome on the announcement of the change in the title of the Dominions Office which has been made by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House. I know from my own experience when I was at that office that the present title of "Dominions Office" has been open to the objection that it may be interpreted as implying that the Governments of the Commonwealth are Dominions of Great Britain, and to that extent are of inferior status; whereas, as your Lordships know, the real position under the Statute of Westminster is that they are Overseas Dominions of His Majesty The King, and of exactly the same status as Great Britain, which is the Metropolitan Dominion of His Majesty The King. I hope that the new title will avoid such a misunderstanding in the future. There is only one question I would like to ask: I suppose 786 there has been some communication, at any rate, with the Prime Ministers of the other members of the Commonwealth.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, I should like to add a word of welcome to this statement, which I am sure will be generally approved throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. The term "Colonies," which was in use within the memory of the older among us for a very long period, became entirely out of date in respect of the great territories that are now being considered and was superseded by the word "Dominions." Similarly, the time has come now for another change, and I would ask the Secretary of State whether it is intended that the term "Dominion" should disappear from our ordinary political and constitutional vocabulary and whether, now that the Dominions Office is to be called the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Secretary of State is to include the name "Commonwealth" instead of "Dominions," each of these territories and the United Kingdom itself will be referred to officially in future as "members of the Commonwealth."
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I think that the reasons for the change were admirably stated by the noble Marquess who, as we all know, has had first-hand experience in these matters. With regard to the question asked by the noble Viscount, I should I should think that we may look, at all events, for the title, "Dominion" to be used in certain contexts; it may be used in a descriptive title; but officially I think we may take it that the use of the word "Dominions" in a collective sense will disappear. As to the other question asked by the noble Marquess, the decision as to the titles of the offices of the United Kingdom is a matter for the United Kingdom Government, but the Prime Minister, I can assure him, has been personally in touch with the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa on this matter, and it is clear that they welcome it.
§ LORD BROUGHSHANE
My Lords, I have no doubt that this matter has been thoroughly thought out, but personally I have only just heard of it, and I must say I do not like the word "Relations." It signifies, it seems to me, poor relations or smaller relations. I think the term "Commonwealth Affairs" would be more appro- 787 priate. I have no doubt your Lordships will be in favour of the Government proposal in this matter, but I do not like the word "Relations." I think the word "Relations" has become associated in the minds of most of us with the terms "poor relations" or "inferior relations." I like the word "Affairs"; as in the expression "Foreign Affairs," we should have "Commonwealth Affairs."
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
I can say that that matter has been present in our minds and that that particular choice has been mentioned but that the balance of opinion was a preference for the term "Relations" instead of "Affairs."