Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 24th November 1931.

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Lieut.-Colonel MOORE:

I beg to move, in page 1, line 14, after the word "British," to insert the words "Empire or."

I think possibly this is the second Amendment to-day which the Government may see their way to accept. If the right hon. Gentleman has really studied the meaning of the Amendment, he will be one of the first to see how reasonable it is and how much it would appeal to members of the component parts of the British Empire. It is only designed to provide the alternative and better known title of "Empire" to this comparatively new-fangled growth, the British Commonwealth of Nations. I have thought to myself, I will find out exactly what this word commonwealth means. I looked it up in the dictionary, and I found it was a form of government in which the power rests with the people. If that is accepted, surely it cannot apply to the British Commonwealth. In the British Commonwealth the form of government does not lie with the British people but lies with the will of the people of each individual component part of the Empire.

It seems to me that, while Commonwealth would be a proper term to apply to any one of the Dominions, it is a singularly improper term to apply to the Dominions as a whole. The word "Empire," although, according to the dictionary, it has a meaning which is perhaps not in consonance with our modern development of thought, means a tremendous lot to every person throughout the country, and throughout the Empire as well. After all, what does it matter what is in a name? It is what that name signifies to the people who use it that matters. Our Friend Lord Beaver-brook believes that Empire economic unity means Empire Free Trade. It is simply a question how you look at the phraseology that you are using and with what meaning you clothe it. I remember when Mr. Forbes was addressing a meeting of Members of the House he said, "I have no use for this new-fangled term "British Commonwealth." I am very happy and satisfied with the old term "British Empire." If we go further, I have an extract from a speech by the ex-Minister of Education in Ontario in the Empire Rooms when he said: I think in Canada we have come fully to realise what, after all, is the distinct and proper use of the term 'Empire' in relation to the British Empire. The wore 'Empire' has come down with perhaps rather a tradition and flavour of tyranny. It has usually meant a central power that has maintained its sway over out-lying, regions and compelled them to pay a tribute to it. Now the British use of the term 'Empire' has never been of that kind. … It does hot mean that we are an organisation out to dominate the world, to restrain the development of others, but it is a declaration that within our own Dominion we claim freedom and independence from outside interference. And that in my humble opinion justifies abundantly the use of the fine old term that stirs our very hearts, 'the British Empire'. The British Commonwealth of Nations has its place and use and meaning, but it is not as big, and not as ancient, and it is not as heart-stirring as that term 'The British Empire'". That is the declaration of one of our most distinguished Canadian Ministers, and represents the feeling held by every man and woman throughout the Empire, I cannot see what harm it would do to the phraseology of the Bill. I cannot see that it would alter it in any way, but it would give that alternative term, which has a far greater meaning to us all, and which is a term which is enshrined and honoured in the heart of every individual in the British Empire.