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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 57

Mr. E. Stanhope, M.P.:*

Mr. E. Stanhope, M.P.:*

I have so little practical experience in this matter that in reality what I have to say may perfectly well be summed up by expressing hearty concurrence with the general feeling of the meeting, and my desire to co-operate with the Committee to gain a practical agreement. I. do not think any one can exaggerate the growth of this movement. Some nine or ten years ago those who have spoken in this room would have been criticised as being practically visionaries. We have got, I am glad to say, far beyond that. What we have got to do to-day is to get tight hold of the idea we have in common, and endeavour to give it practical effect by the steps we shall take hereafter. I do not think anything more true was said than has been said by the Chairman in his excellent speech in 1875, when he stated that the adoption of an idea sometimes tends to its realisation. I believe that is so in this case, and that if we get tight hold of the idea of Federation or Imperial unity we may proceed step by step to impress on the public opinion of the country the great and growing importance of this question, the very great difference the realisation of the page 55 idea would make to us and the world in general, and the cowardice which would consist in abandoning the idea of maintaining the unity of the Empire simply because the Empire is already very large. (Hear, hear.) The feeling is growing, I believe, among our fellow-subjects abroad even more largely than in this country. They do not like to have the political cold shoulder from this country, and they are entitled to have from us, as we shall give them to-day, our hearty sympathy and our assurance that in the policy we desire to adopt for the future towards our Colonies we are looking to the idea, not of separation, but of giving them, in some mode or another, a more real part in the Government of this great Empire. (Hear, hear.) It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I beg to move—

"That for the purpose of enlightening and instructing the people, both in the United Kingdom and the Colonies, as to the incalculable advantages which will accrue to the whole Empire from the adoption of such a system of political organisation, a Society be formed of men of all parties, to advocate and support the principle of Federation.

"That this Conference refers to a Committee all details connected with the establishment and organisation of such a Society, for a report thereon to be submitted for the consideration and approval of an adjourned Conference, to be held at a suitable period in the ensuing year."

I know a great many persons have a strong objection to the formation at the present time of any new society, but I am sure there is no object for which the formation of a new society is more desirable than the cause of Federation, which we are here to advocate to-day.

* Conservative Member for Mid-Somersetshire. Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in Lord Beaconsfield's Ministry, 1875 to 1878. Under Secretary of State for India, 1878 to 1880.