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Sir Gilbert Grindle, K.C.M.G., C.B., Assistant
Colonies Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies;
and Mr. H. G. Bushe, Assistant Legal Adviser to the Colonial Office.
Protectorates. Mr. C. M. Knowles, Home Office, and Major R. McK. Oakley, Comptroller-General of Customs, Commonwealth of Australia, acted as joint secretaries to the Committee.
The Workmen's Compensation Committee appointed by the Imperial Economic Conference at its meeting on Tuesday, the 16th October, 1923–
"to consider the desirability of a common Empire policy as regards the régime applicable under the Workmen's Compensation laws to non-resident workmen, to seamen and to the nationals of foreign countries according as reciprocity is or is not
given by the latter" submit their Report as follows :
The Committee have prepared the following Resolutions which they suggest should be submitted for adoption by plenary meetings of the Imperial Economic Conference.
Non-resident Workmen. The Committee recommend the adoption by the Imperial Economic Conference of the following Resolution :
That the Conference, taking note of the existing restrictions in the Workmen's Compensation laws of certain parts of the British Empire on the payment of benefits to workmen and their dependants on the ground of non-residence in the State in which the accident happened, and having regard to the tendency of such restrictions to discourage movement within the Empire, is of opinion that no British subject who is permanently incapacitated, and no dependant of a British subject who has been killed, by accident due to his employment in any part of the Empire should be excluded from any benefit to which he would otherwise be entitled under the Workmen's Compensation law of that part of the Empire on the ground of his removal to or residence in another part of the Empire."
Seamen. The Committee recommend the adoption by the Imperial Economic Conference of the following Resolution :
“ That the Conference, having had its attention drawn to cases where British sailors injured by accident while serving on ships registered in some part of the Empire have had no claim to compensation owing to the law of that part of the Empire being restricted, in its application to seamen, to accidents occurring within territorial waters or other limited area, is of opinion that the Government of any such part of the Empire should ensure that the benefits of its compensation law will extend to all accidents to seamen serving on ships registered within such part of the Empire wherever the ship may be when the accident takes place. And furthermore the Conference invites the Government of any British Colony or Protectorate where there is a register of shipping but where legislation giving compensation rights to seamen does not at present exist, to consider the adoption of such legislation.
Aliens. The Committee recommend the adoption by the Imperial Economic Conference of the following Resolution :
“That the Conference, taking note of the disabilities imposed under the Workmen's Compensation laws of certain foreign countries on British subjects residing in those countries and their dependants, invites each Government of the Empire, regard being had to its own particular conditions, to consider the possibility of adopting in workmen's compensation legislation, the principle of reciprocity, that is, that the benefits of such legislation should be accorded to subjects of foreign countries upon the condition that and to the extent to which such foreign countries accord reciprocal treatment to British subjects."
The Conference notes in adopting the foregoing Resolutions that, in certain of the Dominions, Workmen's Compensation falls wholly or partially within Provincial or State jurisdiction and is in those cases and to that extent outside the control of the Dominion Government.
Signed on behalf of the Committee,
W. C. BRIDGEMAN, Chairman. November 6, 1923.
IMPERIAL ECONOMIC COMMITTEE.
The question of the desirability of establishing some advisory or consultative body on an inter-Imperial basis which could look into and follow up questions of an economic character arising out of the work of the Imperial Economic Conference had been referred to by the Chairman in his opening speech, when he suggested that it might conveniently be discussed towards the close of the Conference. At the Nineteenth Meeting, held on Tuesday, the 6th November, 1923, Mr. Bruce moved a resolution in the following terms :
“ That in the opinion of the Imperial Economic Conference
“1. It is desirable to establish an Imperial Economic Committee, comprising representatives of the Governments represented in the Imperial Conference, and responsible to those Governments.
"2. The function of the Committee should be to consider and advise upon any matters of an economic or commercial character, not being matters appropriate to be dealt with by the Imperial Shipping Committee, which are referred to it by any of the constituent Governments."
Committee Needed to Carry On Work of Conference.
Mr. Bruce referred to the fact that this was the first Imperial Economic Conference which had ever been held. It had done valuable work, and he thought it a great pity if with the rising of the Conference the whole of its work should come to an end. Definite decisions had been taken by the Conference in certain directions, proposals had been made by the British Government with regard to additional preferences, and he thought that the Conference were convinced of the necessity in the interests of the whole of the Empire that a policy of general Imperial development should be carried into effect. This could not be done simply by passing a resolution. It would involve, first, action by the Governments concerned, and, secondly, improvements in methods of trading as between the countries of the Empire. The institution of the Imperial Shipping Committee showed the value of a body which, owing to its personnel and character, could give authoritative and impartial opinions upon the kind of questions which will undoubtedly arise in connexion with the fostering of inter-Imperial trade.
Example of Question for Investigation: Position of Australian Beef
industry. That the questions which would arise would not be merely questions of tariffs or preference was shown by the instance of the Australian beef industry. He referred to the unsatisfactory position of that industry and to the serious effects, from the point
of view not only of Australia but of this country, if the industry of raising of beef for export were to be abandoned. It is very difficult to open up virgin country in a great continent like Australia, unless cattle raising can be undertaken as the first step, so enabling the settlers to look round and ascertain whether further development (e.g., in the direction of sheep farming, agriculture, &c.), is likely to lead to good results. It had been publicly announced that His Majesty's Government did not propose to put an import duty on meat. Without expressing any views upon that decision, Mr. Bruce pointed out that there were many other avenues which would have to be searched to see whether something could not be done, for example, as regards marketing, unfair competition, &c., in order to improve the position of this industry. He quoted the instance of the beef industry because it was a case where at first glance one might be inclined to say that the only question was one of tariff and preference, and he wished to point out that even in such a case there was plenty of need for investigation,
A Prime Ministers' Committee.
Mr. Bruce said that he entirely agreed with General Smuts's observations at the first Meeting of the Conference as to the undesirability of creating new machinery, and he desired to make it clear that the present proposal was not one for the setting up of machinery to regulate the relations between this country and the Dominions. The Committee would be purely advisory. Further, it would be appointed by the Prime Ministers of the Empire, and responsible to them and not to any United Kingdom Minister or Department.
Type of Questions to be Referred to Committee.
Mr. Bruce then proceeded to indicate the type of questions which, in his view, the Committee could usefully concern itself with. He did not attempt to give an exhaustive list, particularly as experience would show what type of questions would arise. Any question that would affect inter-Imperial trade generally would, primâ facie, be a suitable one for consideration by the Committee ; and this would clearly cover the question of tariffs generally and their effects on trade between different parts of the Empire. He was referring here simply to the consideration of the effectiveness of a tariff in actual existence: the effectiveness of a preference, or, for example, of the proportion of Empire labour and material laid down as the minimum to enable imported goods to benefit by Empire preference. Such questions involve the consideration of a great number of facts, and it might well be that a Government would wish to invite the assistance of the Committee in ascertaining and considering how far the object of its tariff was, in practice, being achieved, or how far some particular complaint as to the operation of the tariff was justified, or whether the tariff was adequate or inadequate. It must, however, he pointed out, be
clearly understood that questions of this kind could on no account be referred to or considered by the Committee except at the specific request of the Government concerned. It would be an impossible position, and would simply break the Committee up, if it were suggested that any Government which thought it had a grievance against some other Government of the Empire was at liberty to have questions of this kind considered by the Committee. Subject to that understanding, he referred to a number of other questions as instances of the kind of question which the Committee might consider : dumping, depreciated exchanges, investment of capital in the British Empire, the operations of trusts or monopolies.
He also pointed out that the detail work of any Economic Conference which might be held in the future might be reduced, if a number of minor matters which would otherwise have to be dealt with by the Conference were investigated by the Committee. There would also inevitably be questions which the present Conference would have carried to a certain point, but which had not been exhaustively considered and finally disposed of, and the existence of a Committee which could carry on the investigation of these questions would prevent a future Conference having to take them up all over again.
Mr. Bruce did not suggest that the Committee would itself do all the work of investigation : it would be able to enlist the services of other people to furnish reports, and so on. He thought that having regard to the importance of such a Committee it would probably be able to command the services of almost any person whom the constituent Governments would desire to invite to sit
Proposal Welcomed by Great Britain.
The Chairman said that, on behalf of the British Government, he whole-heartedly welcomed the proposal put forward by Mr. Bruce. He had purposely at the outset suggested that this matter would be more conveniently discussed towards the close of the Conference, because he had felt that as the Conference went on two things would become plain. First, there was a general determination to make inter-Imperial trade a growing reality, and for that purpose not only Government action arising immediately out of the Conference, but detailed questions of administration, and (still more important perhaps) questions arising out of the day to day work of producers, manufacturers and traders throughout the Empire would have to be dealt with; and it would be the duty of the Committee to see that these matters were not pigeon-holed. Secondly, he felt, and the event had justified it, that the Conference had had to deal with a number of matters which might have been settled, some of them as much as two years ago, if the machinery bad been in existence. Although these were not big questions, it was very important to the trade of the Empire that they should be settled as quickly as possible, and the moment they had got round a table they had been able to deal with them ; he referred to such questions as