The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume XII


Contents








12 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

12 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

Viscount
Haldane.

Mr. Macmillan.

12 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

12 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.




p. 920

character; you have the very voice of the persons who wrote these words speaking, and speaking in contemporary documents, as to their intention and as to what they thought they had achieved. That is why I say the problem here is considerably facilitated in contrast with problems of interpretation generally, when you have to go in search of the purpose. Here you are told the purpose, and you are told it not by extrinsic documents, you are told it actually by the documents them-selves, which are the foundation of the right claimed. My Lord, I will leave that controversy with that submission, and the position, therefore, is one of very exceptional character in that respect.

Viscount FINLAY : I cannot see what difference it makes?

Mr. MACMILLAN : No, my Lord.

Viscount FINLAY : It comes to the same thing.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Exactly, but it will not do to dissociate the two documents.

Viscount FINLAY : Oh no, that is clear.

Mr. MACMILLAN : That is why I say it is so important that we should have their own declaration of what was intended. I shall recur to that a little later on, but I want to take up one point where I differ from my learned friend. He produced a few additional documents, and announced that, in his submission, they evidenced that there had been a very sudden change of policy in reference to the relations between Newfoundland and the mainland. My Lords, the documents, on examination, disclose no such sudden change of policy at all, and I will ask your attention to them for a moment, because it perhaps has a little importance. The suggestion, of course, that lay behind it was this : that whatever may have been the idea of His Majesty originally, in dealing with this matter through his advisers, if it was at first an idea to protect and preserve a fishery, there was some volte face took place, and in consequence of that, it was made a territorial jurisdiction. My Lords, I find, as I say, no sufficient evidence of that in the documents which my learned friend produced, and would your Lordships just consider this for a moment—it is again not a very important topic, but I cannot afford to let it go without my comment on it. You may remember that the Lords of Trade, in Volume II, page 387, had spoken of the coast of Labrador with regard to the fishery " upon the coast of Labrador, it will be impossible to prevent the French continuing to have the full Benefit of their former Commerce with the Indians of that Coast, unless some British Settlement should be made there or sufficient Cruizers stationed with Instructions to the Commanders to seize all french Ships coming within a certain Distance of that Coast." Now it is quite true that there two methods of preventing the French continuing to have the full benefit of their former commerce with the

p. 921

Indians of that coast are mentioned. It is equally, I think true to say that neither of the methods was, in the event, adopted—neither. What the Lords of Trade are dealing with is, if I may remind your Lordships, the putting into force of the fith and sixth Articles of the definitive Treaty relating to the fishery at Newfoundland. Where I do agree with my learned friend is that the matter was taken up first, before they came to the question of Governments at all; but my agreement with him there results in a very great divergence from him the moment after wards. I do agree with him that this topic of the Labrador Coast was dealt with first of all and laid on one side as a completed mattter ; but observe what they were dealing with : they were dealing with the question of the fifth and sixth Articles of the definitive Treaty relating to the fishery at Newfoundland, and they were considering the question of what alterations should be made in the Instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland in order to conform them to the above mentioned stipulations of the definitive Treaty. That is what they were considering there. They were considering the question of fishery alone, and the remit to them was to consider how that can best be dealt with, what alterations must be made in the Instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland in order to ensure that these fifth and sixth Articles of the Treaty of Paris, which had just been concluded, relating to the fishery, may be effectively carried out ; and the Lords of Trade, as I say, were concerned with the problem of how that might be done.

Viscount HALDANE : You notice that at this juncture it is either that British settlements may be made there or British cruisers sent, as if it was the same thing.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Well, my Lord, I think there are alternative suggestions there, are there not ?

Viscount HALDANE : They are alternative, but the point is that the settlement and the cruiser is treated as having the same effect.

Mr. MACMILLAN : For the object in view, yes ; you could secure it either by having British settlements or British cruisers ; that is quite true. The next document we are referred to is New Document No. 10, of the 17th March, 1763. Here is Lord Egremont writing to the Lords of Trade that he has the King's Command to acquaint their Lordships that their representation has been taken into consideration, and he says, " I am therefore commanded to signify to Your Lordships His Majesty's pleasure, that you do, without loss of Time, prepare a Draught of Instructions for the Governor of Newfoundland for this Year, with such alterations from or Additions to, the Instructions, which have been formerly given in time of Peace, as your Lordships shall judge necessary or expedient, in order to render them conformable to the Stipulations of the Definitive Treaty, which I have already transmitted to you," he had transmitted to them the fifth and sixth Articles of the Definitive

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Treaty. Then, my Lords, on the 21st March there is Document No. 11 which is said to have evoked the change of policy. Would your Lord-ships look at it a little more closely. The Lords of Trade are replying to His Majestys and they say they have obeyed his instructions with regard to the draft.

Sir JOHN SIMON : And they forward it.

Mr. MACMILLAN: And they forward it ; then they say this : "It may be proper for us to observe to your Majesty that the Draught of of Instructions does not extend to the islands of Cape Breton or St Johns or to any part of the coasts of Acadia, Canada, or Labradore ; For those Islands and that tract of country having never been included within the limits of the Commission of the Governor of Newfound-land, to which we are confined by the words of the last reference made to us by your Majesty's Secretary of State, We have not thought ourselves at liberty to extend our consideration beyond the words of the Reference itself" ; therefore, what is happening is that these gentlemen having read the words of their reference on page 10, prepare a draft of Instructions for the Governor of Newfoundland for this year, and conceive themselves, rather pedantically as I submit, disabled from putting in anything about Labrador or putting anything in Labrador into the hands of the Governor of Newfoundland, because they were dealing with Instructions which they considered were limited to Newfoundland. My reading is different from my learned friend's. They say they have not felt themselves at liberty to go beyond the words of the Reference, because the Instructions to prepare a Draft of the Instructions to be given to the Governor of Newfoundland and if they had done so in their view would have been to exceed their Reference, so they drew attention to the limitation, and it is then that His Majesty, in Document No. 12, which is also printed in Volume 2 at page 389, tells them that he has judged it proper that all the coast of Labrador should be included in the Government of Newfoundland, whereupon they resume their task and they complete the draft of the Instructions by writing in "the Coast of Labrador " at all the appropriate places.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It is not to interrupt you that I am intervening, I assure you, but you will find that the last letter you referred to which you summarise, said : I want a new Commission to Graves, not only for Newfoundland, but also for the Coast of Labrador. Surely, the explanation is the relation between the Instructions and the Commission ; if the Commission was only going to be for the Island of Newfoundland, the Instructions could not have a bigger ambit, and it is because they want a bigger ambit that they have to alter the Commission. Is not that how it goes ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : I do not think so.

p. 923

Sir JOHN SIMON : You did not read it.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I will read all that is necessary, "It may be proper for us to observe to your Majesty that the Draught of Instructions does not extend to the islands of Cape Breton or St. Johns or to any part of the coasts of Acadia, Canada or Labradore ; For those Islands and that tract of country having never been included within the limits of the Commission of the Governor of Newfoundland, to which we are confined by the words of the last reference made to us by your Majesty's Secretary of State. We have not thought ourselves at liberty to extend our consideration beyond the words of the Reference itself" ; I suggest that these persons having a remit to deal with the Instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland found themselves in this position, that the existing Commission is, of course, a Newfoundland Commission only, and they cannot frame Instructions going beyond Newfoundland for a person whose existing Commission is for Newfound-land unless the Commission is expanded also ; therefore, they are not saying here this ought not to be done, they are simply saying : Within the terms of our remit we cannot do that until we get some Instructions as to what is to be done with regard to Labrador.

Viscount FINLAY : I think that is rather a narrow view.

Mr. MACMILLAN : If your Lordship pleases.

Viscount FINLAY : I am only speaking for myself, of course ; it is my individual impression.

Mr. MACMILLAN : It is no doubt a matter of impression. I should have thought what they were in difficulty about was this : how can we prepare Instructions for a Governor whose Commission limits him to Newfoundland which runs in Labrador.

Viscount FINLAY : But since that the Governor of Newfoundland has had imposed on him a certain bit of coast.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Not by this time, my Lord. With great respect, this was all before that was done. The whole point about this is that my learned friend sought to get that emphasis which I thought was not well founded.

Viscount HALDANE : This is written early, this is March.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, the point of it, or at least I assume it was the point, it must have had a point, was to suggest that there had been a reconsideration of the policy with regard to Labrador at some point here, and that if one read these letters, one would find evidence of a change of policy between the Lords of Trade's Report, the first document

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I have read, and the issue of the Commission. My submission is that there is no such abrupt change of front, or change of policy at all, and there is nothing more here than the question of how is this Labrador matter to be dealt with, and His Majesty says, " Put the coast of Labrador into the hands of the Governor of Newfoundland," and that is the object with which it is to be worked out, and that is what happened, of course—but that there is some startling change of policy in reference to the relation between Newfoundland and the Mainland, is in my humble submission, not supported at all.

(Adjourned for a short time.)



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